Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Wednesday 16 January 2008
  My 2007 I'm one for lists, and as this blog has basically supplanted a diary and my memory these days is rubbish I'm about to bore the hell out of everyone with my best bits of 2007, albeit slightly late.

For the majority of my life I have lived, breathed, and watched Charlton Athletic. Living overseas and relegation to the fizzies means I now just have the breathing and the eating to contend with, neither easy whilst trying to follow the Addicks by modern-day teletext, online.

I did however get to see the boys in the flesh 5 times in 2007, and amazingly after my previous appalling expatriated record, I didn't see us lose. I was also witness to three stirring away days. Fratton Park in January saw us put pay to an abysmal away record. It was my son's first ever away game and we celebrated wildly at the end with the other 800 hardy souls.

The fightback at Vicarage Road didn't mean an awful lot in the end but it was a spirited performance and kept the hope alive, and it was the hope that finally did for us.

However the highlight for me in 2007 was being at St Marys when a superb run and cross by Luke Varney picked out the much recently maligned Chris Iwelumo to head home in front of the away end sparking jubiliant scenes among the Addickted. Moo2kil joining in the celebrations and then the player's reactions afterwards kept my faith in a team I have followed through thick and thin for 33 years, despite one of the toughest years we have had in recent history.

Travelling is another great passion of mine, and as Rick recently pointed out, my carbon footprint is nothing to be proud off, however I'd rather see some places than read about them and I saw some wonderful places in 2007. I spent time in Argentina, Uruguay and Japan as well as numerous places in this vast nation. My favourite place was a tie between Buenos Aires and Kyoto, two places 11,620 miles apart, and different in about as many ways.

And it was in Buenos Aires that I experienced my favourite non-Charlton football moment of 2007. We went to the River Plate v Lanus game and what an adventure that was as surprise eventual champions Lanus (a bit like Bolton winning the Premier League) lost to a last minute River goal on what was the opening day of the season. The passion of the home crowd was indescribable, however this was tainted by news afterwards of crowd trouble before the game resulting in River's famous El Monumental being closed for their next 5 home matches.

My favourite trip within the U.S., was to Las Vegas, a place where what happens there stays there but the most beautiful was the mountains of Beaver Creek, which were freshly covered with snow when we arrived there in November.

2007 was a year for family visits to the Windy City. My parents came for two weeks in June which was a great time. They embraced the city and it was very sad when it was time for them to go home. My brother made another trip here in October, which was a great laugh and my son spent 2 weeks with me in August which was fantastic. In fact my joint favourite day of 2007 was playing football and winning the summer league title, and scoring whilst my son watched from the sidelines. He patrolled the touchline the whole game like he was a lino and he still can't understand why he wasn't allowed to play.

This tied with my very good mate's 40th birthday. This is a mate whose friendship grows the older we get. It was a surprise party at his parents house. Of course he knew all about it, but pretended he didn't and it was an absolute cracking day.

My favourite night was a dinner we had with my Mum & Dad in an old school restaurant in Chicago called Gene & Georgetti's. They loved the place with it's slightly querulous style and it was a truly good time and added to the wonderful memories I have of their first ever trip here.

Talking of restaurants, I am lucky to be able to eat out a lot although I don't reckon I will ever have a meal like we did in Kyoto at the Hiiragiya Ryokan. 12 courses of food heaven. My favourite restaurant meal though was at Spago in Beaver Creek, with Wolfgang Puck himself sat at the next table with his family. Chicago was once the bastion of meat and potatoes, so it is not surprising that they have some of the finest steak restaurants in the country and one of those was my favourite Chicago restaurant of 2007, Custom House.

I stayed in 21 hotels in 2007, that's one every two and a half weeks and my favourite was The Peninsula in Tokyo. It was luxurious with all the gadgets that you would expect from the Japanese and a location that could not be more perfect.

Slightly less grandiose was my old Hornchurch local, which closed in June last year. The only gadget was the hand-dryer in the bog that never worked but sadly now it's a pizzeria. I spent a fair amount of the 18 months I lived in Essex at the bar in that place and spent a fair amount on bottles of Febreze too.

People ask me every day what I miss about 'home' and of course it is the people I miss. My family and my mates but the habitual thing about living and working abroad is that you invariably hook up with like-minded people, often expats themselves and what do expats do? They go home or move on. Two great couples and a girl from Germany who I was very friendly with all left Chicago this year to go to London, Zurich and Munich respectively and I miss them all too.

Chicago was on a number of bands tour dates this past year, I have always loved going to see bands live and I had superb nights out watching Snow Patrol and Keane, but Bloc Party because they rocked an American audience like none other I have seen was my best gig of 2007. I also saw The Fray, John Legend, Corinne Bailey-Rae and the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin play live in 2007.

Judging by my ITunes list it was Keane's Under The Iron Sea that was the album I listened to the most and over Christmas I loved Landon Pigg's Falling in love at a coffee shop. Just call me an old romantic, but for someone who a few years ago would have rather cancelled Christmas, this really did make me feel very festive.

I can safely say that American television does not hold my admittedly goldfish attention-span one iota. I even have trouble sitting down to watch a film on a small screen and that is why I love going to the movies, sorry cinema.

With the Oscars set to be impacted by the Hollywood writer's strike, I will dish out my own Chicago Addick statues in due course but my personal favourite film in 2007 was the controversial Kite Runner. And finally my favourite live production was a powerful take on The Diary of Anne Frank shown at the Steppenwolf Theatre in May.

So that was 2007 in a nutshell. Let's hope I and Charlton both crack it in 2008! 

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After living in Chicago for four and a half years, I moved to the beautiful if bewildering island of Bermuda in July 2008. This blog is about being an exiled and depressed Charlton Athletic fan and whatever else the day brings.
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