Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Wednesday 28 September 2005
  New Orleans reports grossly exaggerated CNN's Aaron Brown and Anderson Cooper are my two favourite news presenters on American televison. I'm watching them now and still the main focus is New Orleans.

What has not been so widely reported is the media's complete over-reaction to Hurricane Katrina. Sure millions of people were displaced and many towns and villages with people's homes inside them have been destroyed and thousands of families face an uncertain future. It did cause me to shake my head this morning watching one family on NBC's Today Show thank god for their predicament. I don't get it but I admire their faith.

What is becoming clear was that media reports of bloodshed on the streets of the city were grossly inaccurate. Encouraged by officials, journalists spoke of more than "10,000 deaths", in fact it will be closer to 1,000 (986 is current count). Dead bodies were said to be floating along high streets, 200 were said to be dead in a freezer at the Louisiana Superdome (the total was in fact six, of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide).

We were told of sexual attacks and rapes in the Superdome (not one case has been reported to police), rampant mobs were supposed to have killed at least 40 people, carjackings, shootings in the Convention Center....

While President Bush still looks for a photo opportunity, people are carrying cans. First up is former FEMA director Michael Brown and yesterday 47-year old Police Chief Eddie Compass resigned to go on "in another direction that God has for me."

Admittedly Compass in front of TV camera's made the statement that "babies were getting raped" but he looks like he has taken the bullet.

Chief Compass stood by whilst up to 70% of his New Orleans force went AWOL, two committed suicide (apparently friends of the police chief) and what is unbelievable, uniformed officers joined in the looting.

That leaves Mayor Ray Nagin. He was prone to hysteria during the early days of Katrina "There have been in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

Blaming everything and everyone apart from himself and then trying to get people back into the city as Hurricane Rita bore down, as people like Eddie Compass shield him from blame, he will eventually run out of foot soldiers.

Update 10.10pm. CNN's Brown & Cooper run story on the Facts and Fiction of New Orleans. 
  Tall is not tall enough I have a slight obsession for tall buildings, fuelled by living in Chicago – the home of the skyscraper. One Chicago architect is on record as saying, “Chicago doesn’t have mountains so it has to build it’s own!”

What is it with tall buildings? I work in one (80 floors) every day, yet I still can’t resist a long hard stare up at it as I get closer each morning.

However after just reading 102 minutes by New York Times journalists Jim Dyer and Kevin Flynn I am starting to have second thoughts.

102 minutes is the story of the people inside the fatal twin towers from the first impact on 9/11 at 8.59am to the collapse of the 2nd tower at 10.41am. It is a harrowing, sad and disturbing story and tells openly for the first time the absolute failure of the subsequently acclaimed emergency services.

Nevertheless, in real estate memories seem in short supply as the race to be the earth’s tallest building doesn’t subside. Currently Tapei, the capital of Taiwan, is home to the world’s tallest building. The Tapei 101 Tower is 508m high and consists of 101 stories. This took over from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

In it’s time Chicago has had bragging rights to the accolade, as did the World Trade Center when it was first opened in the early 1970’s.

Recently I wrote about Chicago’s proposed new giant but as I saw in Dubai, money, land and planning permission is no object and the already named Burj Tower with the height still to be determined – all the Chicago architects will say is that it will be the tallest building in the world.

Lets hope they read 102 minutes and take heed of some harsh and heart wrenching lessons. 
Tuesday 27 September 2005
  Only the loanee Dean Kiely kept a clean sheet in his comeback game tonight in a reserve outing at Fulham. According to reports it was a game of very little goalmouth action with the eventual result ending 0-0. (Report)

After a few reserve run-outs it will be interesting to see if Curbs puts Deano back in over Andersen and if not how long before the Irishman allows himself, at almost 35, to be a 2nd choice 'keeper. So far, despite the return of Sorondo, Spector and El Karkouri, Curbs has not tinkered with a back five that has done us so well early in the season.

Other player news today was that young centre-half Osei Sankofa joined League One side Bristol City on a month's loan. In fact he went straight into the City side tonight and played the whole 90 minutes in their 3-0 win over Barnsley - the 2nd consecutive win for City's new manager Gary Johnson who joined from Yeovil only last Friday.

The question is whether Curbs has sent him out on loan with a view to offload him, in the same vein as Neil McCafferty or as an incentive to come back more experienced and hungry for a first team place.

Regular visitors to reserve matches suggest that Sankofa, despite a bad injury, has a future at the club, but he is way down the defender pecking order at present. Gary Johnson seems to like him though: "Osei's an intelligent footballer capable of handling a situation." (more)

Meanwhile our other loanee's were on the radar today. It is thought that Francis Jeffers may stand in for the tasty sounding Nacho Novo in Rangers Champions' League game at Inter's San Siro tomorrow night. Sounds impressive until you realise that the game will be played behind closed doors - a punishment for the poor behavour of Inter's fans last season.

A run of 5 wins on the spin for Accrington Stanley has seen them keen to keep young goalie Darren Randolph for another month. "I'm very happy to sign for another month, I'm getting games week-in, week-out which is exactly what I wanted. I've been pleased with my form."

Unfortunately that run came to an end tonight when Stanley lost away at Morecambe.

Kevin Lisbie started on the bench tonight for Norwich against Hull City but came on at half-time for Dean Ashton. I don't know what Canaries fan's make of him but this report tells of at least three gilt-edged chances that he missed and there were others in the weekend's defeat to Reading. A familiar story of him racing past defenders but unable to finish - there's bad luck and there's Kevin Lisbie. 
  Allsports owes CAFC "substantial amount" Allsports today entered into administration and according to reports Charlton are "owed a substantial amount in sponsorship fees."

The clothes retailer has been up for sale for some time and it is understood that majority shareholder David Hughes is said to want to buy the hub of the business. In the meantime the company, which employees 1,700, will close a "significant number of store, although it was too early to say how many." (More)

Meanwhile Peter Varney commented: "Once I am in possession of more facts and information, I will hopefully be able to make a further statement." 
Sunday 25 September 2005
  Almost nonchalant? Some other Addicks news surrounds the viability of shirt sponsors Allsports. The flailing company are thought to be up for sale for around £50m but with high street retail stores suffering there have been no takers.

Indeed last time I was in one of their stores it looked outdated and a mess. The Manchester based company once made profits in excess of £30m but with little venture capital interest it does not look good. Wyn Grant is following the situation closely at Addicks Diary.

On Saturday morning my brother woke me with a text reading: "Shit, got Chelsea in the next round." It was enough to make me fall back asleep and only this morning I remembered it. With Jose Mourinho participating in every competition to win it, unlike Arsenal and Man Utd previously, it looks like it might be another season when an early League Cup exit blots our copybook. But, would you bet against us at the moment?

Concerns that Alex Ferguson will recall Chicago Addick Jonathan Spector back to Old Trafford because of their defensive injuries have been squashed by Curbs. "He has come here to gain experience and nothing can happen until December anyway." (more)

The media here are following Spector's progress closely, there has been a noticable increase in 'soccer' press coverage since America's qualification for next year's World Cup and Spector is hopeful of making a return to his family roots in Germany.

"It would be especially important for me because I have a German background. We still have family over there," said Spector, whose mother immigrated to Chicago from Germany at the age of four.

"In pre-season, he looked perhaps our best defender, he's just waiting for his opportunity. I'm sure when it comes along, he'll grab it." Curbishley said. (full article)

Finally, just a word on the performance yesterday. It was a joy to listen to the radio and hear us come out of the blocks so quickly, playing fast attacking football. It was clear from reading the quotes during the week after the Chelsea game that Curbs and the players were looking ahead and not back and we moved on with our spirit and confidence intact.

We had the benefit of another game within a few days and players were rested and players came in as Hartlepool were dispatched, while other Premiership clubs stuttered.

I feel a new Charlton this season, almost nonchalant. I like it, I like it a lot. 
  Oman With history dating back to 5,000 BC when frankincense trading was at the centre of everything, the country of Oman is a land rich in culture and diversity.

But up until 1970 it was all a bit of a secret to the outside world. Whilst neighbours Kuwait & Bahrain were making names for themselves internationally, under the reign of Said bin Taimur Oman was an economic and political backwater with huge poverty and a very insular outlook. In 1970 Oman had just two schools, two hospitals and just 6 miles of road.

Not anymore. In a bloodless coup, covertly helped by the British, Sultan Taimur’s son Qaboos bin Said took over the throne whilst his Dad lived the rest of his life in the Grosvenor Hotel.

In 35 years the much-loved Sultan Qaboos has created a modern day renaissance with massive investment in the countries infrastructure and with a particular emphasis on education. Kids in the street will be talking a thousand words a minute in their native tongue and then turn to you and ask in perfect English “How are you?” Always a humbling experience.

Bearing in mind the countries size, remoteness and terrain, having water, electricity, health centres and schools in even the remotest mountain villages with roads leading to them is no mean feat. So its not surprising then that Sultan Qaboos, who drives and flies himself around the country to meet his people, is much revered in the country.

Oman has limited oil supplies and therefore you will see a lot less of the ‘costly’ expats than you do in the UAE. Natural Gas is an important export and the new port at Salalah in the south of country is already generating a lot of container business. Agriculture, mainly carried out by the mountain people called Jebbali’s is also invaluable.

Tourism however is a recent thing in Oman, centered around the old walled city of Muscat, it suffered initially after the American invasion of Iraq (American’s are very rare around these parts, but not necessarily unwelcome) it is gathering quite a reputation as the place to come (think Dubai 10 years ago) and the Oman government continue to seek overseas investment.

Most of the investment to date seems to be coming from the Far East with the new 630-room Shangri-La Hotel due to open early next year.

The Omani’s were incredibly friendly people and although generally more relaxed on their Muslim principles than some of their Arab neighbours, their culture, faith and attitudes are very important to them. Public modesty, particularly for women – ankles, wrists and hair to be covered – is respected and in certain public places avoidance of this tenet is met with strong disapproval.

Expect to be stared at, especially if you are a blonde woman, but this is in wonder and not threat. The Omani’s are known to invite complete strangers into their house for coffee and some goat curry.

Much different to Dubai but an excellent contrast, the beaches are untouched and fabulous, whales and dolphins swim of the shoreline (although a choppy morning out on a boat only very nearly reproduced my breakfast and not dolphins), far more authentic souqs and restaurants than can be found in Dubai and all for about half the price. One night dinner with beers cost about 10 quid for two.

A must-do is a bit of Wadi-bashing. Wadi’s are dry mountain river beds that are flooded for half of the year and desiccated for the rest of the time. Get a good driver and a 4WD and fly through the Wadi’s and ‘surf’ up and down the sand dunes. Great fun.

Also take a walk through the ancient port of Mutrah, past the fish souq and along the corniche into the Mutrah souq (stop at the Al-Ahli coffee shop for a fruit cocktail) and on towards the walled city of Muscat where the Sultan’s Palace is (currently being refurbished) and various impressive government buildings.

The Grand Mosque was a present to the people from Sultan Qaboos and is breathtaking inside where sits the worlds biggest carpet in the world. We were told it took 600 Iranian women four years to weave.

The Southern Indians and the Lebanese also influence the food here. Try Mumtaz Mahal for Indian, Automatic for Lebanese and the pretty Khargeen Café for an Arabic experience. The best restaurant belonged to the Chedi Hotel. For a dry country the wine list is impressive, if expensive. Alas, as we found out, Muscat is not the home of wine!

Oman was a relaxing time after the rush of Dubai, unless you are very adventurous and want to spend some time camping amongst the Bedouin nomads in the Jebel Shams (3,075m high) or searching for turtles along the Ras-al-jinz coast or explore Dhofar, a world away from Muscat across interminable rock desert, then Muscat and its surrounding ancient towns is a place to chill before it becomes like its bigger and older brother up the Gulf coast.

From top left to right: Waiter in Mumtaz Mahal making a snake coffee; Grand Mosque; Chedi Hotel x2; Muscat; Out on the Gulf; Muscat; The walled city of Muscat; Mutrah souq x2; Chedi; Wadi; Camel farm x2; Chedi gardens; Oman desert dunes. 
  Soapy commodity I have spent far too many nights in hotel rooms recently. Thank fuck they now list porn films as ‘media’ on the hotel bill.

Anyway I have come to discover an important new commodity and it must be more expensive and rare than oil and diamonds. This new commodity is called shower gel.

Yep, in Boots or Walgreens you can buy a big bottle of your favourite stuff for just over a quid or a dollar but in hotels it is considered such a luxury that you get given just a thimble of it and then you have to make it last a few days. Its bloody lucky I don’t have anything sizeable to wash.

I can understand the scrimping in low-rent places but I have stayed in some very nice hotels recently (well, off course) and a dollop of shower gel is like gold dust.

Shower caps, chalky soap, cotton balls - fucking tons of it. Great if you don’t want to get your hair wet while you’re wiping the babies arse but not so good if you want to have a shower and be clean and not just wet at the end of it.

When I ring room service and ask for some more shower gel its like I’ve asked for a kangaroo burger served with beluga caviar and a glass of Cristal. “Some extra shower gel sir? Mmmm, we will have to see what we can do.”

It’s ridiculous and when the bloke does come up with some more, he gives you one more tube of the stuff. I’m on a mission to find out why hotels give you 46 towels, 8 flannels, a dozen soaps but no shower gel. Perhaps I should get on to the Gideons and ask that next time they are doing a bible run they can stick some Imperial Leather in the hotel bathrooms too 
Saturday 24 September 2005
  West Brom away. What was the score? Won 2-1 We bounced back superbly today after the defeat at home last week to win another three excellent points on the road and the game echoed of the previous away match at Birmingham. In the first half we played some terrific attacking football led by an inspirational Danny Murphy and in the 2nd period we had to defend stoutly as West Brom finally got to grips with us.

Listening to the commentary it sounded like both wingers were at their tormenting best and a second penalty in a week, after 50 games without one, was dispatched by Murphy following a foul on Thomas in the 9th minute. Then a cross by Rommedahl was side-footed home by the same man on 31 minutes.

Only Chris Kirkland prevented us going in at half time with the game won but the Baggies stormed back in the 2nd half with us hanging on after ex-Luton youngster Curtis Davies pulled a goal back.

It was another fantastic away result for the Addicks and another top day out for the 1,000 or so supporters who made the journey.

The Premiership table has a strange look to it after 7 weeks of the campaign. Last season some football fans welcomed Chelsea to the elite as they assumed two would become three but in fact three has indeed become one as Man Utd and Arsenal find themselves already 10 and 11 points behind Ambramovich's toy respectively.

Meanwhile as well as us in 2nd, Bolton and West Ham occupy the 3rd and 4th places and just a bit further behind are Man City and Wigan. Liverpool I am told are in the bottom half of the table, wherever that is!

Chelsea's one-sided dominance of the Premiership maybe bad for football but surely a mix up in the top 6 and two of the promoted sides having good first season's must be good for the game.

More than two minutes on Match of the Day tonight then?

Reports from those that were there: Addicks Diary;; BBC Sport;; Guardian Unlimited
  Lost bag update I know most of you have been concerned about me wearing the same underwear for 4 days but actually the inside out, turnaround trick wasn’t required as I managed to squeeze some money out of American Airlines. This wasn’t easy mind as it took a lot of phone calls and subsequent shouting.

I was originally offered $25 a day and in Bermuda you would be lucky if that would buy you a pair of skippys let alone some work clothes. On day one I managed to get by with a newly purchased pair of smart shorts and a polo shirt but by day two I needed a pair of strides and a shirt. After much begging I finally coerced two lots of $125 out of the airline and this, combined with me taking the shorts back saying they didn’t fit (hey, I only wore them for a day) meant I could just about survive 4 days and nights in meetings with clients and underwriters.

Of course, American Airlines agreeing to offer me $250 and American Airlines reimbursing me the money are two different things.

“Just pop into the office at the baggage reclaim in Bermuda on the way back to New York and they will reimburse you,”
they said

Of course there wasn’t one. So, I went to the one at LaGuardia airport today. I bloke in front of me in the office was holding what was left of a suitcase. The women behind the counter was pointing at a sign, whilst shrugging her shoulders, which said that American Airlines cannot be held responsible for damaged baggage.

I was next up. “Hi, I have come to claim my reimbursement for your company losing my luggage. Here are the forms and the receipts.” I smiled.

The woman smiled back. In fact, I think it was more of a smirk. “Ok sir, we can’t give you your money back here, you will have to go to either JFK or O’Hare.”

“But, I’m flying to Chicago Midway,” I said.

“Oh, shame, in that case I can request a payment but it will take four months.”

"Four months?"

“Backlog!” she smiled.

I will be at O'Hare again in the next couple of weeks and I have a feeling this story could run and run. 
Friday 23 September 2005
  Rita rolls inland

I can't believe that the US is facing another huge natural disaster.

Hurricane Rita closed in on the Texas Gulf Coast and the heart of the U.S. oil-refining industry with winds in excess of 150mph. However late tonight before I turn-in a sharper than expected turn to the right set it on a course that could spare Houston and nearby Galveston a direct hit.

Instead the 17th named storm of the season heads now towards Port Arthur in Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma could all become familiar names with still six weeks of the hurricane season remaining. The Hurricane Centre does not name a hurricane beginning with a Q, U, X, Y or Z. After Wilma names switch to the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet. The largest number of named storms was 21 in 1933.

In the meantime people all across America and in particular the Gulf coastline watch the weather channel asking what they have done to deserve this. 
  Lost luggage I made an executive decision to bin going back to Chicago for one day on Monday and instead spend another day at home and then fly straight to Bermuda instead. Clever? Wrong.

I arrived at Bermuda's Hamilton airport on Monday night after having to change at JFK and watched the baggage carousel go round and round without my bag on it.

Why was it when I gave my bag to a bloke at the transfer desk in New York, a terrible feeling of dread came over me? I knew then that I should have wished it goodbye. The greasy fat non-English speaking airport employee clearly did not have the same desire as me to get my worldy goods to Bermuda.

So, Monday night I am told my bag is at JFK in security and it will be in Bermuda early the next morning. On Tuesday morning I am told my bag is at JFK in security and it will at my hotel later that day. On Wednesday morning I am told my bag was last seen "at the ramp" and it will be in Bermuda later that day. On Wednesay night I am told that they don't know where my bag is.

I shout and holler but to no avail and I make plans for the insurance job. You know the sketch.... Rolex, Gucci shoes, penny black stamp, all very close to my heart.

So at 7am this morning I go to check out and just for the heck of it I ask, for the umpteenth time, the sleepy-eyed lady at the reception if they have had a bag turn up from the airport and like an illusion she pulls my case out of a broom cupboard.

After I hugged and kissed her realisation set in. "How long have you had this," I ask. "Oh, I don't know," she said. Hmmm, oh well just bloody pleased to be able to change my pants!

I've been in New York since midday and here again tomorrow, then finally home to Chicago tomorrow evening and my place that I have only seen for 4 nights in the past five and a half weeks. Can't wait to get in my pit and sleep through the weekend. 
  Hartlepool home. What was the score? Won 3-1 I got a text late on Tuesday evening telling me of the Addicks progress in the Carling Cup. For some bizzare reason I was reasonably confident about us seeing off the Monkey Hangers. Heaven knows why because lady luck has not been on my side this week.

But despite a worrying first half with a team underpinned by the class of 2004/05 - JJ, Bartlett and Holland, changes were made at both half-time and early in the 2nd half. Accordingly both Murphy and Bent added to promising performances by Spector, Sam, Myhre and later on by Bothroyd.

These early rounds are never pretty but once again the squad looked durable and flexible. Say goodbye to those delusional's at White Hart Lane. Has the year got a 1 in it? Thought not.

Reports from others that were there: Build A Bonfire; Addicks Diary; All Quiet; SE7 Dreams
Tuesday 20 September 2005
  Chelsea home. What was the score? Lost 2-0 It was disappointing that my first game of the season ended in defeat, particularly after a stirring first half display against the backdrop of a noisy Valley.

Of course I knew what I was letting myself in for choosing this game as my first after 4 excellent results. I never really expected anything more but a couple of things irked me. The first was the obvious inevitability that one of Kishishev’s mistakes was going to lead to a goal – I know he has played well in the previous games, but he is still our Achilles heel – and secondly our 4-5-1 formation did not look like unlocking Chelsea’s defence at all after Robben effectively ended the contest with half hour left.

The wingers, although seeing a lot of ball didn’t support the lonely Bent enough. We clearly missed Smertin with Murphy more withdrawn and Powell struggled to compete with the world class Robben and then his replacement Wright-Phillips.

There were however plenty of plusses though. The Addicks thoroughly matched the Champions in the first 45 minutes and created some good chances against a strong and impregnable rear guard. Darren Bent impressed me immensely, strong, dangerous and willing up front. Perry again showed why he is the current number one choice centre half and whereas last season we would have buckled at the end, this season we ended the game with our pride and goal-difference intact.

It was also good to witness another Chicago Addick - on loan Jonathan Spector (right) made his debut for us after replacing Powell late on.

The strength of our squad was evident when Curbishley was able to throw on Darren Ambrose, Matt Holland and Spector and I wonder what kind of team will start tonight against Hartlepool in the 2nd Round of the Carling Cup.

I would be tempted to move Hreidarsson to left back and play one of Spector, Sorondo or El Khakouri (if fit) alongside Perry. I also wonder if resting Darren Bent would be in order but we mustn’t risk underestimating the opposition. To me this game is as important as any other of the five we have already played.

A final word on Chelsea. Most pundits have already handed the Blues the title but football was never that easy. Much has been written about their steely effectiveness as opposed to their riveting and exciting play.

Sure, they had the look of Champions about them, but when I look back at previous great title teams – Liverpool, Everton, Man Utd and Arsenal, I didn’t watch them in the same awe. Effective and accomplished yes but wonderful and extraordinary no.

Reports from others that were there: All Quiet; Addicks Diary;;
Thursday 15 September 2005
  Dubai It's the Vegas of the Middle East, it's one of the world's biggest construction site, only 20% of the people that live there are Arabic and economically its the 2nd most important emirate (out of seven) behind Abu Dhabi, the capital and the seat of the UAE's huge oil wealth (it's reserves are the 3rd largest in the world).

The discovery of oil was made in 1966 and it led to rapid economic growth and the ruler at the time Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Maktoum was quick to realise that the oil would not last forever. Dubai diversified and built the world's largest man-made harbour (oil is about the only thing that is not man-made in Dubai!), the banking and real estate sectors grew too and the emirate threw money into tourism.

In contrast oil contributes only 28% of Dubai's GDP, whereas for Abu Dhabi it is 90%

5m foreigners now visit Dubai each year, and they have been hugely successful in attracting shed loads of foreign investment. Most large global companies have their Middle Eastern offices based in the city of Dubai and most goods are tax free.

Only 20% of the people that live in the UAE are nationals and this number is probably even less in Dubai where the population consists mainly of Indians, Pakistani's, Filipinos, Iranians, Lebanese and Europeans.

Emirati's have proved themselves to the outside world to be shrewd and urbane but they continue to hold their Bedouin heritage dear. There is a new wave of generations that are looking to change the national psyche but meantime women are still covered from head to toe in long black robes that covers the body, called an abeyya, whilst men rule the roost and can still take upto 4 wives.

Nevertheless today Dubai is very westernised, seen nowhere better than at Starbucks where men sit around discussing the camel racing results and shouting into one of their two mobile phones. At the next table women with the most intricate eye make-up and dripping in gold sit giggling with their girlfriends with Gucci and Hermes bags sat at their feet.

Dubai has that pull that Vegas has, you know you just have to see it, feel it and walk around in it. It is exciting and exhausting at the same time. Vegas without the gambling and drinking (strictly adhered to of course!)

We spent 4 nights in the desert about 40 miles outside of Dubai. A remarkable setting with camels wondering around and just sand dunes in every direction as far as the eye can see. The hotel had opened 8 months and it was out of season and pretty quiet. However mainly British, German and French voices could be heard around the pool. Our most memorable dinner was here at a Bedouin festival night with dancers and music.

We visited the souqs, wondered around the old town at Deira, crossed the creek on a dhow for 8p, rode camels, drunk fruit juices at street vendors and had a fun day at the Wild Wadi Waterpark.

During the day we found a great place for lunch down past the Dubai Museum and near the Bastakia Quarter called the Basta Art Café. The Lebanese lady that owned it said that we were too friendly to be English!

At dusk in Vu’s Bar (50th floor of the Emirates Tower) we sat opposite some Arabs having a crafty glass of Merlot, whilst we sampled some cocktails.

What Dubai has became famous for is it hotels and its shopping. Emirates Tower was what we expected - top ticket brand names at prices disappointingly similiar to London and more expensive than Chicago. Even more disappointing was the Ibn Battouta Mall which is only worth a visit if you really want to shop at Next, BHS, and Debenhams!

The most sought after photograph is that of the Burj Al-Arab hotel. The only 7 star hotel in the world and the most opoulent I have ever visited. It stands on its own island 280 metres offshore and is one big temple of glitz. If you like glitz then you will love this place.

Dubai is determined to be a mecca for people that like luxury and like it in bundles. Palm Island is an enormous development being built out in the Persian Gulf in the form of two palm-shaped islands. It is near completion and Posh and Becks have already snagged a small place there.

A developement called The World, 300 islands stuffed with residences and boutique hotels can already be seen from space. On the drawing board is the world's tallest building. The height purposely kept under close secret so that no other world city usurps them with bigger plans. An underwater hotel, indoor ski resort, the worlds biggest shopping mall (9 million square feet, don't tell the other halves!) and more skyscrapers than you can shake a stick at.

They have thrown money at bars, nightclubs, DJ's, restaurants, Gordon Ramsey has a place here. Dubai hosts the richest horse racing event (end of March) in the world, it is also home to some of the planets finest race horses. The Dubai Rugby Sevens (December) is a highlight of the social calendar, the golf desert classic (March) attracts Tiger et al and Roger Federer is the current holder of the Dubai Tennis Championship (February).

We have made a promise that we will go back in 3 years because it will be unrecognisable from what we saw in August. It is must-visit place, it is hot and reasonably good value if you know when to put a lock on your wallet!

Dubai is different from a lot of places in the both the west and the east with culture and glam in equal measures. Walk along the creek (Khor Dubai) and look at the immigrant workers piling cargo sky high onto wooden dhows, wonder the spice souq and then pop into a roof-top bar for a champagne cocktail and a smoke on a shisha.

From top left to right: Riding camels; Bab Al Shams hotel; Gold souq; Dhow on Dubai Creek; View across Dubai; Bab Al Shams grounds; Smoking the Shisha; Construction city; Burj Al-Arab; Inside the Burj Al-Arab. 
Tuesday 13 September 2005
  Munchen Gladbach I am thinking of buying a house at the airport because that is where I appear to spend most of my time. Chicago’s O’Hare, Munich, Heathrow, Philadelphia, Bermuda, JFK, LaGuardia and Cleveland are all to be visited in the next couple of weeks. Perhaps I should write a book – Chicago Addick’s guide to airport Duty Free and Security searches.

I am now in London after a few days in Munich. I have been to the Bavarian capital a few times before but had only really seen the inside of an airport terminal, an office and a restaurant so it was nice to spend the weekend there and I did take the chance to have a scout around. More on that when I get back to Chicago.

I am now back in the smoke working with a client for most of the week but they bugger of on Thursday allowing me to go out and get extremely drunk with some old mates on Thursday night and have Friday night and Saturday to myself.

Looking forward to football Saturday, I didn’t renew my season ticket but I will be in the East Stand. Louder Inspector I can’t hear you!

I have a friend’s 40th on Saturday night (scary, I remember when it was 21st’s!) and then I am back to the windy city on Sunday. Then it’s Bermuda on Tuesday…. Right shall I get a one or two bedroom place? 
Sunday 11 September 2005
  Today Is the day 4 years ago when Americans woke up to Terrorism, a moment when everyone will remember when and where they were when they heard the incredulous story that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center buildings.

2,459 people perished in the twin towers, of which 176 worked for my company. Today I will be in Munich with some American colleagues and there will, I am sure, be a tremendous amount of reflection. 
  Birmingham away. What was the score? Won 1-0 Even Jerome can't believe it. You gotta love it.

Reports from those that were there: BBC Sport;; Addicks Diary; All Quiet
Saturday 10 September 2005
  More recognition Great to see Darren Bent win the Barclay's Premiership Player of the Month for August. All this recognition and you never know we might get more than 3 minutes on Match of the Day soon?

It will be interesting to see how Kevin Lisbie gets on at Norwich. His previous loan outings have ended in, surprise, surprise, injury. It's a good move for him and with McKenzie, Ashton, Thorne and Huckerby all struggling with injuries he should get a run in the first team.

Super Kev (sic) might even help my title tips to climb the table. 
Wednesday 7 September 2005
  20 years on.... Netaddicks stirs some not so good memories of a Saturday lunchtime 20 years ago today when 6,000 or so supporters (including me) were handed a piece of paper with some half-cock story and a map of another football ground on it.

I had had some prior warning - a mate of mine was a copper at Bexleyheath nick and told me the night before - but like other Charlton fans who had heard rumours we didn't dare believe it.

The game seemed to pass without incident (we beat Palarce 3-1) but it was the days after when it only started to sink in. There was demonstrations / trouble at the away games at Oldham and Wimbledon that followed I remember and of course the pitch invasion(s) at the final game at home to Stoke.

I know Rob Lee pretty well and I remember him telling me many years later that the players were pretty non-plussed by it all at the time and it was only when they were ensconsed at Selhurst that it started to sink in for them. All in all though in that first season away from the Valley the players seemed to handle the move a lot better than the fans as of course they went on to win promotion (which was a remarkable acheivement) under Lennie Lawrence.

20 years is a long time and my how things have changed during those two decades, well at Charlton anyway, Sellout is still the dump it always used to be. Today as current captain Luke Young - our best full back since John Humphrey - wins his 4th England cap, the board, the players and most importantly us the fans (new and old) can be very very proud of what we have witnessed in that time.

Staying in the (old) 1st Division against all the odds, the flourishing early management years of Alan Curbishley at Upton Park, the move back to the Valley, Roger Alwen's (who held down a day job too) determination, the astute refurbishment of the stadium, the openness and financial backing of the board and in particular it's Chairman, the successful youth system, the players that have worn the red shirt that have given us their best (that is all we ever ask) and the increasing support of Charlton in the little corner of SE London that is spreading throughout the world.

We should remember that day 20 years ago for ever, but not for bad reasons because it was the day that we became one. Us the supporters.

Let's remember that this season, when we are losing with a couple minutes to go, when we go a goal down early, when we are winning easily, when we consider if a trip to an away game is really worth it, when the person next to you or behind you stands up to sing - join him or her because they are one of us.

Come on you Addicks. 
Monday 5 September 2005
  Katrina My job means I understand that a damaging hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico is a given, like an earthquake in California or a terrorsim attack in Manhattan. Its not if, its when.

Computer models have for many years made detailed projections of what would happen if water flowed over the levees protecting New Orleans, which had been built up under sea-level. In fact in July 2004, 40 federal, state, local and volunteer organisations practiced this very scenario in a 5-day exercise in the city. Since then funding has continued to be cut by Bush's government as terrorism and war tunnel vision engulfs him and his policies.

Of course I have been out of the country and have not read any papers and seen any news here, although let me tell you that the English langauge Arab newspapers are slaughtering the US president. I can only assume then that after watching 60 million people vote the clown back into goverment last year, that there might be some shamed heads around the country watching the horror unfold on their television screens.

The people of New Orleans, stranded on roof tops, running from gun toting gangs, starving and dying of neglect might reasonably ask how the most powerful country in the world, who insist on spreading their seed in other countries probems, often in towns and cities that American's have never heard off, could fail to respond to its biggest civil disaster in history.

Bush's support rating here has never been lower, last weekend while people were dying in one of America's greatest cities, he was still on holiday. He slumbered into action belatedly making a half-hearted speech asking for the public to send money and grinned and promised "that everything would work out in the end."

Well it hasn't. The death toll is expected to reach 10,000, there are now huge race issues bubbling, a million homes are still without electricity, there will be millions of people displaced, profiteering is out of control, oil prices are sky high (by American standards), the war rages on in Iraq and heaven help us if terrorism did strike here again. If this is a national heightened alert, I hate to see what it would be like if it was un-heightened.

Oh, and of course, Mr Bush won't even acknowledge that global warming exists so heaven help other towns and cities threatened by named storms in the last few weeks of the hurricane season. 
  What have I missed? 2 weeks away from the computer, apart from 5 minutes after the Middlesbro' game and what have I missed? Two great results of course against Boro and at home to Wigan. The performances making the 6 points all the more sweeter.

Darren Bent and Luke Young in the England squad for the latest round of World Cup Qualifiers. By all accounts Young had a solid game against the Welsh and should gain his 4th cap against N. Ireland in Belfast on Wednesday. Bent has yet to get of the bench but it has been a dream start to the season for the boy and what a fillip it will be if our new captain can become a regular England squad member. See interview here, where Young talks about the Wales game and Curbs' chances of becoming the next England manager.

Darren Ambrose, whilst suspended for us, had another excellent game for the U21's, although Sky Sports tells me tonight that he is doubtful for the game with Germany onTuesday. Don't like the sound of that.

The transfer deadline passed and Curbs' made his 10th summer signing. Jay Bothroyd meets the tried and trusted Curbishley mantra of young player with something to prove, although he has the same temperamental monkey on his back as Franny Jeffers. Overall with Jeffers up in Glasgow, hopefully gaining confidence and goals and not night club memberships and Bothroyd a fairly risk free experiment, this could be sound business.

Still weird though that despite a reasonably good pre-season for the Scouser, temper tantrum at Brentford aside, he did not feature in the 16 for any of the three league games so far.

17-year old Icelandic midfielder Rurik Gislason has signed a two-year contract for a fee of up to £180,000 from HK Kopavogur. Young 'keeper Darren Randolph also went to Accrington Stanley on a months loan.

After the Chelsea game, at which I will be at, we start this season's exciting foray into the Carling Cup. Hartlepool are our first opponents in Round 2 at the Valley. I won't tempt fate here by commenting on us and the Cups, but lets just get past the round(s) when the flood lights don't have to come on until half-time eh?

Lastly I can't help but ask, like others, what possessed 20,000 Geordies to skip work and welcome Michael Owen to St James Park. There has never been any doubting their loyalty to their club, despite being treated like shit by the people in power there, but it was a very strange reaction.

Fat Freddy comparing the signing's of Shearer and Owen as similar events only further underlines the differences of Newcastle then and Newcastle of now. Shearer turned down Man United and joined at that time the 2nd best club in the country, with no one feeling the need to risk unemployment and flock to St James' to welcome him.

Owen openly courted a move to anywhere but Newcastle but Liverpool's couldn't care less attitude and Real Madrid's clever negotiations have resulted in him joining the Premiership's current 2nd worse team.

It is a strange set of circumstances indeed and further shows the subtle shift in footballing power in the last 10 years. 
  Home, but without a key Back indoors after my holiday. So, what do you think is the worst feeling in the world when you arrive at your doorstep after being away for 2 weeks and just wanting to get in and put the kettle on? Yep you guessed it, losing your key.

345 notes and an hour later, I have a new key, two in fact, thanks to a kind locksmith willing to come out on Labor Day. Cheesed off? Moi?

Back to work tomorrow but I only have time this week to wash and iron my smalls because I am off to Munich on Friday night, to be joined by a client on Sunday and then onto London on Monday night. I will stay there until Sunday and I do have a ticket for the Chelsea game, my first of the season. 
About Me
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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