Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Saturday 30 September 2006
  arsenal home. what was the score? lost 2-1 Another not wholly unexpected defeat, but in Chicago this Addick is still optimistic despite the Premiership table telling me otherwise.

My brother and I went mob handed to the pub this morning and were outnumbered by around 15 Gooners. As they sat there with their bacon sarnies expecting an easy 3 points, they soon realised they had some alternative company when Bent scored from a unselfish JFH cross, this despite Setanta flashing up stats that we were having only 18% of the possession.

When the referee failed to punish Hoyte after a late tackle on Lisbie and only booked the eventual matchwinner Van Persie, when maybe others may have been sent for an early bath as opposed to being allowed to stay on and score one the potential goals of the season, it only served to energise Arsenal who subsequently squared the game.

The referee had a shocker to be honest, pulling play up when clearly the advantage should have been used, failing to miss Gallas' excellent save in his own penalty area and throwing yellow cards around like confetti in what wasn't a dirty game.

Van Persie's goal was excellent and although Carson impressed me again with some fine saves, particularly when Jon Fortune was doing his worst Franz Beckenbauer impression, we still looked like we might grab something in the 2nd half and of course Hasselbaink really should have. In recent games against Arsenal we have never had a sniff but today we fully played our part in a very entertaining game and credit to Dowie for his influence in that.

Lets hope we can get some more bodies fit during the International break, because HH is no longer a left back, Kish is not Amady Faye and Lisbie and Fortune remind me of the past not the future.

Dowie watch: Another adventurous team selection, even with Romm missing. It's always hard to exert any influence on a game when the Arse are the opposition, but he sent out a committed team today and with a different ref and a bit more luck....
Quote: "If you kick someone off the ball it's a sending off. I said to Mark Robson 'he'll go'. But he said he wouldn't. Clearly you can kick someone on the field and handball in the area...."

Opinions from those that were there:; All Quiet; Addicks Diary
Friday 29 September 2006
  chicago, la and san fran battle it out for olympic glory Chicago is now down to the one of the last 3 American cities vying to be the countries bid for the 2016 Olympics. Los Angeles and San Francisco, both places I have been recently are the other two.

The city has announced a revised blueprint, which would include a 95,000-seat stadium in Washington Park at the cost of $300m. Other changes would see a whitewater slalom course in Lincoln Park and a five pool aquatic centre at UIC. Football (the world kind) is slated to be held at the wonderful Soldier Field stadium.

The lakefront will be used as a carrot for the US Olympic Committee, with it playing a central role in the proposed plans.

The decision on which bid goes forward will be made at the end of the year with the 2016 host city being announced until 2009.

As I have good recent knowledge of each of the bidding cities, I thought I would give my (hopefully not too bias) views on the pros and cons of each:

Los Angeles has both the advantage and stigma of hosting the games twice before, lastly in 1984. Those games unusually produced a large profit. Many of its proposed venues are already built, such as the Coliseum and the Staples Center and of course LA does have that sparkly Hollywood image which will be easy to sell. With the ocean, hills and mountains it would also provide a stunning backdrop.

The downside of LA is the fact that everything is so spread out. The over reliance on cars and not mass transportation would need a cultural change and of course they are all mad as a box of frogs!

As for San Francisco, it does exude a friendly persona to the rest of the world and it sure has some stunning topography. It did miss out on the 2012 bid (to New York) and was heavily criticised for choosing venues that were too spread out. They'll need to overcome this and much of their plan has yet to be announced although the new 49ers stadium will be central to their proposal.

That leaves me with Chicago, where compactness is the linchpin of its bid. Nearly all venues will be concentrated along the city's beautiful lakefront. This would contrast with recent games, such as Sydney 2000, which have staged major events in a park outside of the city.

1/3rd of the athletes would stay within a 5-minute drive of their competition venues, while 85% would be within 15 minutes. This is in contrast to both LA and San Fran, where the 'village' is expected to sprawl over a far wider area. Chicago is also fully aware of the blessing that is it's vast lakefront and big open spaces plus, and unlike LA, its livable and energetic downtown area, which the bid committee will leverage heavily.

Finance could be a problem for the windy city though with nearly $2 billion needed in privately financed construction and of course it may lack a bit of glamour. They are also newbies to this whole political Olympic bid process, however the dogged determination of the mayor will make sure that Chicago's efforts will not go down without a fight. 
Thursday 28 September 2006
  make it a large one Stop press. My Charlton tops have arrived. The large one I ordered is humungous but don't worry the way my stomach is expanding I will grow into it. I plan on giving it its debut at Craven Cottage, probably worn over a large overcoat. Fulham will be my first live game of the season in a couple of weeks when I come to London after being in Germany.

My son's top came too, just wondering whether to pop down to the club shop when I'm back to get a name put on the back. Question to the Dad's out there.... what player is de rigueur at the moment?

My International membership fee is still paying Lisbie's wages, although thanks to me he did manage to score "a clinical winner" the other night.

My brother arrived yesterday, he has not been in Chicago for 10 years and I'm sure he will see a lot of changes. Over a beer, we talked last night about Duncan Frame, who sadly lost his life in Thamesmead a couple of weeks back. I never mentioned it on here at the time, although Wyn did. Those of a certain age will remember the big fella on away trips and his name came up last night as my brother and I talked about the old 'glory days' of following the Addicks away. RIP Big D. 
Tuesday 26 September 2006
  my kinda town - eating habits I was out to dinner last night and this is something that has bothered me since I arrived in the States. Have you ever seen the average American eat? Who teaches these people to eat their food? It's not that they eat with their mouths open, or it dribbles down their chin or that they eat a lot, that goes without saying. But it's the way they hold their knife and fork. I couldn't copy what they do if I tried.

I don't know about you, but my charm school in Catford only taught me one way - fork in the left hand held between thumb and middle finger with the forefinger exerting pressure, and the knife in the right hand the same way. Picture on the right.

Here in the US the knife doesn't actually gets used much at all as people sweep, stab or rip at their food with a fork but when they do use both implements it is incredible.

Firstly there seems no hard or fast rule about which hand you put each utensil in. Secondly they just seem to stab their food with the fork - you have to see it to believe it, words do not do it justice, and then they just saw at it with the knife. Please don't try this at home only the ambidextrous will manage it and it could cause accidents.

Next time you are in an American steak house, promise me you'll have a look.

Now, you all know how sad I am, but I just entered "how to hold a knife and fork" into Google and I found a site called Mind your manners and it tells of kids taking etiquette lessons in Salt Lake City, where of course polygamy is quite acceptable, so maybe this is not a good example!!

However, the picture on the left here is entitled: "Kara Komarnitsky of Draper works to cut her chicken using the proper technique."

Now, perhaps its me? But if I ate my chicken like that as a kid, I would have got a slap around the back of the head.

But this is what I look at when I peer around the table in a posh restaurant. Tongues out and everything, honest!

Blimey, I've just realised, they must look at me, the token dainty bloke in the corner, holding my knife and fork like the Queen and think I'm a weirdo. 
Monday 25 September 2006
  spacked Even little ol' me could see that Nigel Spackman was a terrible choice when he was chosen as the latest Millwall manager in May, and after one win in 10 league games guess what, he's on his way back to the luxury of his own sofa, which is where he's spent most of his 'career' after he stopped playing about 10-years ago.

The Millwall message boards appear to be calling for Charlton Academy manager (and ex-Lions coach) Steve Gritt. Even Curbs was mentioned - that made me laugh.

Other possibles are Graham Roberts (sacked by Clyde recently for alledged racist remarks - sounds right up their strasse), the former Doncaster boss Dave Penney and Ray Wilkins, who is already at The Den.

Other news this morning is that Lloyd Sam is returning to The Valley after a month at Hillsborough, but not because of his form, but his wages. "We are running over budget so if we are going to pay his wages for another month it would increase our spending." (more
  californian highway 1 I had heard a lot about the famed Coastal Highway 1. American's love their cars and the 275 mile drive along the central Californian coast line provides a dramatic driving experience. The views, particularly along the Big Sur are breathtaking, although having an attention span of a bowl of goldfish, one does get the impression that once you had seen one cliff, you had seen them all!

Our road-trip started from Los Angeles driving north through the sprawling coastal town of Malibu, a beachfront community famous for its sandy beaches, and homes of the rich and famous. Mel Gibson, Britney Spears and Courtney Cox are all residents.

Ventura is home to the historic Mission San Buenaventura, one of the 21 missions to be found in the state, most of which are found along the slightly more inland El Camino Real (The Kings Highway) and at this point Highway 1 drives in unison with US route 101 - confused? Yes we were too. Just a few miles from here though is the oasis of Santa Barbara, which I fell in love with.

We stayed a night here and I'm glad we did as we strolled along its Spanish styled streets with cutesy shops and trendy bars and restaurants. The Santa Ynez Mountains rise dramatically behind the city, with its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards thrust into the spotlight by the film Sideways.

The Santa Barbara Courthouse (right) with it's clock tower, built in 1929, is worth a visit as is Stearns Wharf on the waterfront. We stayed in the beautiful Hotel Andalucia, complete with it's own roof terrace bar, where we gatecrashed into a birthday party, but as the Latin American band played and people danced, no one, let alone us, cared.

The farmers market (every Tuesday afternoon) allowed us to stock up for our long drive the next day to our next stop 275 miles away at Santa Cruz.

Up with the larks, we hit the road which took us past not very exciting towns such as Solvang, Lompac, which is dominated by the Vandenberg Air Force Base, home to the 30th space wing and Pismo Beach, the "clam capital of the world," before finally reaching San Luis Obispo.

San Luis Obispo is roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco and one of California's oldest towns and the biggest on the central coast. It is also a big college town, but otherwise there isn't much else to say, although it is the original home of Jamba Juice.

Further north of San Luis Obispso were the bays of Estero and Morro (where we stopped for a pee and thought we were in Ramsgate!). Cambria was next and the strange tourist attraction of Nit Wit Ridge, a house made out entirely of recycled materials. Honest.

40 miles further on we came across Hearst Castle, once the palatial estate of newspaper magnate and all round strange-one William Randolph Hearst. Orson Welles' film Citizen Kane was said to be based on Hearst's life. Located just north of San Simeon on a hill overlooking the ocean, Hearst Castle was home to all kind of shenanigans in its heyday of the 1920's & 30's but despite the fact that luminaries such as Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill used to hang-out there, a $24 entry fee made sure we turned around and carried on our way.

One place we did stop though was at Piedras Blancas, home to the largest colony of elephant seals in California. From the vista point you can watch these huge mammals wallow around on the beach yawning and swatting flies. These beautiful creatures nearly became extinct as they were killed for blubber oil but the law changed and there are today 8,000 elephant seals alone living in colonies here at Piedras Blancas.

It's at this point that you soar about a mile into the sky driving around the narrow winding roads of the Big Sur. People had warned us of the traffic but no one had said anything about the fog, which sadly hindered what would have been pure 'kodak moments.' If you are going to drive the Big Sur, the best time to come is the spring or fall as winds from the northwest push the warm ocean surface water inland creating a heavy fog in the summer months.

The Big Sur (el pais grande del sur) was originally inhabited by aboriginal Americans, then came the Spanish who named it. Along with the rest of California, Big Sur became part of Mexico when it gained independence from Spain in 1821, but after the American-Mexican war (1848), the Mexicans ceded California to the United States and the Homesteaders moved into the area. When Highway 1 was completed in 1937, it changed the area forever, although there is little development here, the highway unlocked what was once a very mysterious part of the country.

As I said, my boredom threshold is not the best, but there were some magnificent vista points, none other than Bixby Creek Bridge (right). Said to be one of the most photographed bridges in the world, it is 714 feet long, 24 feet wide and has a main span of 320 feet.

If you were thinking of staying in the Big Sur, then plan to spend some serious wedge and book early, there are two marvellous hotels on route, the Ventana Inn & Spa and Post Ranch Inn. What's that? $1,000 a night, well I did tell you.

Back in the car and without a doubt this part of the drive is the best bit as north of the Big Sur, Highway 1 spills out onto the Monterey Peninsula, marked by Carmel at one end and Monterey the other.

Carmel-by-the-sea, famous for Clint Eastwood once being its mayor, is so manicured that strict bylaws forbid neon signs, parking meters, billboards, hot dog stands and I love this one, a permit is required to wear high heels (damn!). Wealthy, pretty and bourgeois are all words to describe Carmel, with its galleries, theatres, boutiques and restaurants.

We decided against driving out onto the peninsula because of time, but the 17-mile drive from Carmel to Pacific Grove meanders (slowly) around golf courses (seven of them including Pebble Beach), beautiful bays, sea-life and other playgrounds for the rich and famous as well as the Lone Cypress tree - another kodak moment I missed.

Historic Monterey is also known for it's marine-life with its kelp forests and is a haven for scuba-divers while strong rip currents attract surfers.

After a slow 9 hour drive, we made it to our next destination of Santa Cruz. In hindsight we probably should have tried to stay at bit further south but Santa Cruz gave us a good leg-up for the drive to the wine country the next day.

Santa Cruz is a beach town full of surfer-dudes, home to O'Neill and reputed to be the site of the first surfing in California in 1885, when three Hawaiian princes surfed on locally milled redwood boards at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. Of course surfing and the college population brings groups of unwashed kids in flip-flops and a few crazies. It certainly didn't have the charm of Santa Barbara but the main street of Pacific Avenue had a nice feel to it, including a very good restaurant that we ate at called Aqua Bleu.

The 1915 boardwalk reminded me '60's movies and Dreamland in Margate. Other points of interest in the town is the mission, that's if you haven't seen enough already and the wharf, where you can watch the sea-lions.

San Francisco got much of the world attention after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but Santa Cruz suffered extensive damage because the epicenter was only 10 miles north-east of the town. A lot of buildings were destroyed and 5 people were killed.

5 miles away is the much more affluent area of Capitola, home to many of the people who work in nearby Silicon Valley.

We rested our tired heads at Chaminade, which was more of a conference centre than a home for weary drivers, but we slept well and I dreamt of cliffs and elephant seals.
Sunday 24 September 2006
  the new superpower A lazy weekend after the exertions of the last one. It was a weekend for sitting in front of the box - the glorious victory at Dublin's K Club, The Bears coming back to beat the Vikings (they're 3 and O now as they say in these parts), and with the new series of Desperate Housewives starting tonight, only the Addicks abject failure has been a disappointment in TV land!

Of course there is nothing like a bit of trans-Atlantic competition to get the juices flowing in the office and tomorrow will be a good day. Frankly it was a bit embarrassing wasn't it? I almost felt sorry for the superpower that is George W Bush and JJ Henry. Whatever happened to Abe Lincoln and Arnie Palmer? As my fellow happy ex-pat suggests, maybe we can give them Vijay Singh or Ernie Els to make more of a game of it? Or perhaps they could replace that crazy foursomes and fourballs with a longest drive contest? I hope Darren Clark, Woozie and the boys enjoy a few pints of the black stuff tonight.

Last night I saw All the King's Men at the cinema. Based on Robert Penn Warren's 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by the same name, Sean Penn plays the leading role of Willie Stark, a Southern politician whose rise to power is followed by a web of corruption and betrayal and it was quite good after a slow start.

We played our first football game of the 'fall season' this morning and went down 2-1. I popped into work for a couple of hours this afternoon and have a busy first part of the week with clients but they bugger off in time for my brother to arrive in town on Wednesday. Cue drinks, deep and meaningful's and reminisces of away games long, long ago. 
Saturday 23 September 2006
  villa away. what was the score? lost 2-0 Hmmm, the facts are not good. League position, goals against, goals for, our away form. I'm hoping that Dowie can keep the players believing in themselves and we get some injured players back because you have to hope that we can kick-start our season after the Arsenal game on Saturday, that accepting the result against the Gunners is a foregone conclusion.

I listened to the game and then watched it on delay after and apart from Rommedahl, we lacked any innovation and still badly miss a creative midfielder. I'm sorry Hughes and Holland starting is not a revolution, is it inertia.

Sloppy defending and the lack of creativity have been hallmarks of our season so far, but lets remember we all expected a tough start when the fixtures came out and that was not taking into account Portsmouth and Villa's excellent starts. 6 games, 5 defeats, 4 of which to the Premiership's current best 4 sides. Let's keep it in perspective and get behind the lads.

Dowie watch: Animated on the touchline, although mostly with head in his hands. He doesn't have a lot of choice but obviously he is keen on both Holland and Hughes. Pity.
Quote: "It's five defeats in six now and there's no question its massively disappointing because I think Villa and Portsmouth are in the pool we're in. So we have to start picking up results quickly."

Opinions from those that were there:; Addicks Diary; BBC Sport; All Quiet; Villa Blog
  is it only me.... that can hear Steve Brown and the other bloke chatting amongst themselves during half-time. Do they not know they are on the radio? I don't wish to know what Brownie had for dinner last night or how crap they think we are. I already know that!

And I certainly don't want to sit here listening to them whistling to the half-time records. Amateurs. No not Hughes, them. 
Thursday 21 September 2006
  put a sox in it A performance bereft of passion, even from the normally animated Ozzie Guillan, in front of a quiet White Sox crowd last night almost certainly means that the hope of reclaiming the 'world series' has gone the same way as that other Chicago icon, Marshall Fields.

It was another lukewarm performance in a season that would have them strolling into the play-off's if the MLB just took the best 8 teams with the best record but now 6 games behind the Tigers in the National League's Central Division its all but up for Ozzie Guillen's team.

Regaining the title has proved a pretty tough thing to do in baseball in recent years though, since 1979, only the New York Yankees (1998-2000) and the Toronto Blue Jays (1991-92) have won consecutive World Series titles.

Now, its a rather long story but I know the Mayor's niece and we were lucky enough to sit in his seats (the Daley family have been season ticket holders for 60-years) in what are the probably best seats in the modern US Cellular Stadium - anyone over 20 still calls it Comiskey Park by the way. We sat in the front row behind home plate and next to Ozzie, who I couldn't take my eyes off all game. I have to say his whole demure was one that suggested the season was over.

I wish I had taken my camera because you could literally touch the players and seeing the pitchers launch the ball at 90mph gave you a whole new appreciation of the sport and with those balls pinging over your head into the crowd, you couldn't afford to take your eyes of the action. 
Tuesday 19 September 2006
  carlisle home. what was the score? won 1-0 It sounded like another riveting night of cup action down at the Valley earlier this evening. We won and, er that was about it. 8,190 hardy souls suffered probably in silence until the 57th minute when Darren Bent turned in Romm's parried shot from a tight angle.

I'm glad Benty scored but if he doesn't then who does? He has scored 4 of our 5 goals this season but if you take it back to the final 18 games of last season Darren has scored 12 of the teams' 18 goals. More worrying is that the next highest goalscorers in that period (start of February) are Bothroyd (4) and Hughes (3)!

The headlines in tomorrow's papers won't surprisingly be about the big action cup night at The Valley but the BBC Panorama show regarding alleged bungs, backhanders and tapping up of players. Of course Chelsea feature again. Oh, you do surprise me but we all know the FA will do sweet FA.

What does get on my wick is that on Saturday straight-up-Charlton get beat by a team managed by that nice man 'Arry, who featured in Panorama's allegations and are owned by a dodgy Russian, whose origin of his millions is somewhat dubious and has a father that is the subject of an international arrest warrant over alleged arms-for-oil dealings. Bitter? me? Nah.

Dowie watch: He was somewhat limited tonight to the changes that he could make. Pouso, Holland and Hughes weren't fit. Ashton did play and Sankofa, John and Walker sat on the bench. It was comfy if not pretty but ID passed his first Cup test.
Quote: "He wanted to play tonight, I could have rested him but his face lit up when he found out he was in the side - and he has certainly made amends. He takes criticism in a positive manner and tonight he chased and harried and I thought it was a terrific performance.” On Darren Bent

Opinions from those that were there: All Quiet; BBC Sport; Telegraph
  does curbs want leeds job? I was only thinking this morning, like the bookmakers were, that the West Brom job was probably right up Curbs' street. He could commute from Essex, would have the chance to work with a young up and coming chairman, inherit a half decent squad that includes players such as Curtis Davies, Nigel Quashie, Chris Perry and John Hartson and a club that play in a nice stadium with passionate but reasonably patient following.

But despite the other day stating that he would consider a Championship job, he has turned his nose up at what would be quite a good one.

If Curbishley does decide to play a waiting game then according the perennial Premiership sack race St James' Park or the Riverside look like having the earliest vacancy.

Down a division, I can see the Norwich, Millwall and QPR jobs all becoming available soon enough but probably not before the Elland Road hot-seat.

But would Curbs, whose book hardly makes us alter the opinion that he probably wears two seat belts when he drives, really choose to take on Ken Bates, a shed load of historical debt and a fan base that feel they have the given right to be "champions of Europe?"

Potential? Yes. Challenge? Definitely yes. Curbs? It's hard to believe. 
  more important fish to fry I have always been pro the League Cup, or whatever it's called. I've seen tin-pot teams reach the latter stages and sides like us enter Europe on the back of it, and I shake my head and wonder why we've never made it past the 4th round but I don't know, maybe I'd be happy if we skipped this year. We have more pressing issues like staying in the Premiership, and escaping more injuries to key players and if we win tonight, well good on us, we do need a bit of a cadbury's boost particularly if we can get some goals but apart from the confidence thing, I think we have some bigger fish to fry this season under Dowie.

The head coach has said that he will put out a strong side but I can see him trying either Ashton or Youga at left back, probably resting Young and perhaps even starting *cough* Lisbie up front with Big Bent.

I won't have a clue mind, because once again I won't be near a radio link as I will be on a plane coming back from St Louis at the time, and no I won't be jumping out of it! 
Monday 18 September 2006
  roaring start for da bears While the Chicago White Sox flounder in their efforts to snatch the wild card entry in the play-off's and attempt to retain their 'world series' title, another famous sporting franchise in the windy city are looking like champions elect in their opening games of the season.

Okay, I say that a bit tongue in cheek, but the Chicago Bears have swept aside both opponents in their first two games of the new NFL season and people around me are getting buoyed by two explosive performances at the old enemy Green Bay last week and at home to Detroit Lions yesterday.

The Bears should stroll to the NFC North title but will come across plenty better teams in the play-off's namely the NY Giants and the Seattle Seahawks. Interestingly to a novice like me both early season favourites Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers lost their first two games.

Meanwhile the White Sox have a massive week ahead of them starting tonight at home to the Detroit Tigers, just a game ahead of Minnesota, before playing a 4-game series also at home to lowly Seattle. The champions finish the 162-game season with a series against fellow rivals Minnesota. It is to coin an expression 'all in their own hands' and I will be at US Cellular Field on Wednesday to catch up with their progress. 
Sunday 17 September 2006
  5,000 feet a minute Ok, I have an admission to make. I did something stupidly out of character yesterday, and Mum I apologise rather belatedly.

I wanted to do something completely reckless and unlike me in my 40th year so yesterday I jumped out of an aeroplane from 13,000 feet, 8,000 feet in freefall at 120mph in a tandem skydive. I didn't tell anyone, not even you lot, because I didn't, a) want to make a fuss and b) allow anyone to talk me out of it. I even spoke to my best mate, who rang me to talk about the Charlton game, an hour before I was set to leave home. When he asked me what I was doing the rest of the day, I just said "nothing."

More than 24 hours after, I still can't believe what I did. Friends will tell you that I have trouble jumping out of bed in the morning, let alone a plane. We booked it a month or so ago but put it out of my mind and even after the instructional and the hanging around (almost 3 hours, which they did not prepare us for), I wasn't actually nervous. The worst bit in fact was reading and signing (at every paragraph) the disclaimer of liability! You sensed that every time there had been an accident, their legal advisors had simply added another paragraph tightening the legal jargon.

So what was it like? I'm fortunate in that I quite like heights, and this was in my thinking when I had this preposterous notion to do something extreme for my 40th. Therefore sitting on the floor in hot, noisy and very cramped conditions (no pretzels on this baby) held no fear for me. I was told my 'tandem master' and I would be last out of the plane, when it reached it's desired altitude. I'd rather have been first but again I put that to the back of my mind and the experts and your very own photographer had some well rehearsed lines of banter to try to relax you.

Then suddenly up front people were disappearing out of the hole and my tandem master, Eric and I crawled on our knees to the hatch and after 3, he just shoved me out.

We were told that a human body drops 1,000 feet every 5 seconds and although you try to remember everything you are told in the instructional, check your altimeter, practice pulling the cord, smile at the camera, the only thing that you really need to concentrate on is arching your body backwards and around your new found very best friend in the world. Supposedly once upon a time someone found out that a human body when freefalling through the sky at 120mph is at their most aerodynamic when they are shaped like a banana.

So while fighting for gulps of air, which can only being described as walking directly into the freezing cold Chicago wind hurtling down a tall-building-lined street x a million, trying to look at the horizon, and smiling for the bloody camera, Eric kindly pulled the ripcord at 5,000 feet and the overwhelming sense of relief as you ping back into the air being held by a parachute is hard to describe.

The next bit, floating and maneuvering peacefully downwards for about 6-7 minutes from 5,000 feet is incredibly exhilarating. Just Eric to whisper sweet nothings into my ear, the sense of achievement and the breathtaking view of the land below. Landing was like I jumped of my sofa onto the carpet and my personal video will have plenty of bleeps in it, let me tell you!

I would have done it again straight after, which I think is a natural reaction and the reason they try to sell you the $99 2nd skydive if you re-book instantly but Mum, don't worry I'm far too old and wise to be that stupid again.

Yep, that's me and my new best friend. 
  portsmouth home. what was the score? lost 1-0 It was never meant to be easy being a Charlton fan, and getting up before 6am on a Saturday morning to enable me to get to the pub in time for kick-off certainly wasn't easy. And then sitting there like Billy no mates wasn't overly exciting either. However after being away for all 4 of the previous games, it was nice to be able to witness the Dowie revolution, albeit decimated by injuries, first hand, well not quite first hand but you get the sketch.

The team selection was a strange one, although Hughes' injury may have been a deciding factor, and despite Marcus Bent's early effort, I thought we were dominated in the first half by a confident Pompey side. But credit to Dowie, he changed it and for the next 30 minutes we played some good enterprising stuff, although Romm's volley aside, we didn't look like we were going to break the deadlock and just as I started to consider a 0-0 draw, Carson failed to get a good hand LuaLua's shot.

After that we became a bit reminiscent of one of Curbs' late sides, expecially when Lisbie was introduced and the game was gone. There were some positives though. Faye was excellent when he moved into the midfield, Romm was lively when allowed more width and I thought El Kak played well too.

Pouso ran around a lot, but got a bit lost and needs more time, Ambrose made no impression on the game and he needs to start doing that. Kish continued to give the ball away and although he chases back after it, it's getting a bit tedious.

I would like to see Bent at least start on Tuesday as he looked a bit out of confidence, not helped by JFH keep giving the ball away, although it's a very fine line between a killer pass and a intercepted one. Still optimistic in Chicago.

Dowie watch: A brave but ultimately bad decision to start with the diamond shape but he wasn't afraid to change it at the half and he was disappointed to go down to Pompey's only 2nd half chance. It has been a tough introduction for ID, playing the two best sides in the country, twice having to cope with 10 men for a long period of the game and now having to juggle a depleted and still developing squad.
Quote: "For me if you're going to play with that many offensive players you have to have good ball retention and we didn't have enough of that in the first half. We looked edgy today but we shouldn't have been after playing so well at Chelsea last week."

Opinions from those that were there: BBC Sport;; All Quiet; Addicks Diary; Charlton Athletic Online; Independent
Friday 15 September 2006
  my kinda town - car valet I have a lot of these moments, when I have to bite my tongue and look around and wonder if it's only me that thinks about this kind of crap. So, I've decided to start writing them down, so here we go....

Can someone explain to me the whole valet parking thing? It is something we don't have at home, probably because anyone that drives has to pass a proper driving test, where they are taught how to park themselves.

If you have ever seen anyone here try to parallel park then you will see why god invented valet. For the uninitiated valet parking is when you drive up to a public place, whether it be a bar or a restaurant, leave the car running for some dodgy looking bloke (whom you would never ordinarily give your car keys to) to get in and park it across the street for you. For that little service you pay anything between $10-$20 plus a tip, don't ever forget the tip, because a huge scratch will appear down the wing next time you visit said restaurant.

Of course one of the upsides is that most American's fall out of bars so drunk that they wouldn't be able to find their car if it wasn't for valet. So it is worth the $15 to get the valet man to find it for you and turn the engine on allowing you to fall in and then hope you drive home without killing anyone!

I walked home last night, and I live near many restaurants and bars, and I saw someone pull up in their motor and give the keys to the valet, who promptly parked the car 10 feet up the street for them. Now is that just lazy or do folk have too much money to throw about?

I was recently in LA and in our hotel we had to use valet. $20 a go and it would be 15 minutes before the twats got your car back. "Its over there you idiot." "Its okay sir Manuel is getting it."

You got to give it to them though. They say in this country "if you invent a 'labor' saving device some lazy fat fuck will pay for it." 
Thursday 14 September 2006
  same old charlton taking the piss I don't know if you remember but my last trip back to London coincided with Charlton announcing the introduction into the club shop of the new kit. Great I thought, so I whizzed down there and sure enough, they lied and put back the availability date to after I was due to return to Chicago.

So, like the dutiful fan I am I got onto the website and ordered two online, one for me and one for my son, whose has to come here first as they can only send it out to the address on my credit card, which of course is not the home of my ex-wife (one can't go through their whole life being that stupid can they?)

Well, that was in early August and today is September 14th. Have they arrived? No, of course not. Have they charged my credit card to the tune of $130.54? What you think?

This then reminded me that during the summer I emailed the club asking to join the International Membership Plan. Ian Cartwright promptly wrote back saying that they were "still waiting on a new batch of forms but let us have your credit card number and we can sort it all out by email." And.... nothing of course.

I need to check my credit card statement quick because I reckon I'm actually paying Kevin Lisbie's wages! 
Wednesday 13 September 2006
  end of the avenue I was saddened today by the news that Inspector Sands is to end Casino Avenue this week. His wonderful way with words was the inspiration for What was the score? when whilst searching for alternative Charlton observations after I left London for Chicago, I first stumbled into Casino Avenue and the world of blogging in the winter of 2004.

Casino Avenue was my go-to page for local events, intelligent comment and debate and sadly it will be a severed link to my old life back in South East London. I fully empathise with his reasons because I have noticed recently after 27 months of writing a blog that inspiration, time and enjoyment need to come together and that is often a big ask. The good news is that the Inspector will still be appearing on All Quiet In The East Stand.

Something that did cheer me today was the long hyped appearance of Meredith Vieira on the Today show. The NBC morning show has long been my company whilst shaving and showering each morning and its been rather lacklustre since previous co-host Katie Couric left for the CBS early evening news. For those of you who haven't a clue what I'm babbling on about, basically Meredith used to do the American version of Who wants to be a Millionaire and now she is the new bird on morning TV. It means something to me, ok? 
  los angeles The Lonely Planet guide describes LA as overwhelming, intimidating and frightening. And it is all of those things, which not dissimiliar to the 'attitude' you find in New York is part of its, um, charm.

I hadn't been to LA for a long time but I remembered Bel Air, Rodeo Drive, immaculate ladies walking around with small dogs in handbags and the sense of danger and stardom. Well, not much had changed except some of the city looked tired and a bit '80's.

We arrived late on a Saturday night and were not allowed into our own hotel bar because we were either a) not trendy, b) too old, c) too late, d) not famous or e) all of the above. The Hotel Roosevelt on Hollywood Blvd was "the playground of luminaries including Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Marilyn Monroe and the birthplace of the Academy Awards," but they have clearly spent all of their dough on the lobby and not staff training. The rooms needed updating and the service was worse than awful. And no shower gel, sorry had to mention that!

Hollywood itself has gone through a transformation, it is bit more Hollywood than Peckham these days, but the only places worth seeing are the Kodak (home to the Oscars) and Chinese Theater's. The Hollywood walk of fame is under your feet all around you but it the Grauman's Chinese Theater that gets all of the attention because of the foot & hand print's in the cement of people such as Frank Sinatra and Shirley Temple.

Not far away though was LA's most recognisable landmark, the 5oft tall Hollywood sign, put up as an advertising gimmick in 1923, it sits up on a hill and is best viewed from the leafy road of Beachwood Canyon Drive.

LA, which lives day to day dreading the rumble of an earthquake, is like many different cities under the banner of one, vast and amorphous. A car is a necessity and I remember talking to a work colleague from LA once who told me that his car is his own private space and he doesn't like it invaded. Well, he is from LA.

By car it is easy to navigate though. We managed to avoid buying a 'home of the stars map' being hawked on every corner by strange people, although it was tempting as you drive up and around the narrow roads of Bel Air and Beverly Hills. Sure, some of the houses were huge and incredible, but I couldn't help but think that the whole area needed a bit of a face-lift, by one of the cities many plastic surgeons perhaps?

Just south of here though was the vast metropolis of UCLA, home to 36,000 students and famed for it's research and sporting achievements. The university is based in the residential village of Westwood, which was fun place to sit on a sidewalk and grab some street food.

Not far from Westwood along Wilshire Blvd, is Rodeo Drive and it's designer shops. Tourists clutter the streets here and unless you are on the look out for that little Gucci dress (I wasn't), then it is probably best to avoid. Melrose Avenue is a much better shopping haven. A vista of cool boutiques, restaurants and cafe's, the blocks between La Cienega Blvd and N Highland Ave are well worth a stroll alongside the clutches of 'women that lunch.'

Many parts of West Hollywood are wholly residential and as we found out a stroll from one area of 'life' to another can take you a while, so it was back in the car to explore the neighbourhoods of La Brea and Fairfax district, with its daily farmers market.

Another old lady district of the city is Sunset Blvd. The Sunset strip between N Doheny Drive and N Laurel Avenue is a fusion of history, such as the Whisky A Go Go club, and up to the minute chic, with the uber-cool Mondrian Hotel, with it's famed celeb hangout the Sky Bar and the Grafton on Sunset. Johnny Depp's Viper Room is here also.

Downtown is little more than a huddle of high rises but does include the spectacular Disney Concert Hall, with it's curving and folding steel wings, a trademark of architect Frank Gehry. Many 'Angelenos' are said to be migrating there to live, following the development of many run-down buildings. .

When I was last in Los Angeles I stayed in Santa Monica and from what I remember I liked it, but from what we witnessed this time it was another place that needed a lick of paint. The Third Street pedestrianised promenade aside, it seemed to be the 'home' to homeless and people who were too weird to be called eccentric. The Pier is worth a look, the carousel dates back to 1920. And of course a photo of one doing his daily exercise on the parallel bars on Muscle Beach is a must!

Venice Beach is a short drive south of Santa Monica and the hippies and boho's look a lot more at home here, where Jim Morrison once lived. This eclectric place is best known for its Venetian looking canals and boardwalk.

Obviously LA is one of the largest entertainment centres on the planet. Almost every street corner has a cinema or theatre. Television and film production, despite competition from other American cities, reigns and is a draw to anyone with artistic talent. The consequence of this is the many musuems and galleries that celebrate the world of film.

Great places to eat and drink abound in LA. We managed to get a table for brunch at The Ivy (113 N Robertson Blvd), probably the only restaurant in America surrounded by a white picket fence. Fantastic for people watching and surprisingly not bank-breaking. Everyone looked famous, but I spend my whole life thinking that in major American cities, because unless they are Brad Pitt, I'm not going to recognise them!

I was told that if you really wanted to spot someone famous then it was best to score front row seats at the LA Lakers. Jack Nicholson is a regular and they play at the Staples Center downtown, as do c-celeb rivals LA Clippers and hockey team Los Angeles Kings.

Food-wise we had a great meal at Koi (730 N Cienega Blvd), the service provided by right stunner was excellent, which I did not always find to be the case in LA. And we did manage to blag our way into the Sky Bar (8440 Sunset Blvd), which had amazing night-time views over the city. Breakfast at Mels Drive In (1650 N Highland Ave), which starred in the film American Graffiti, is also recommended.

Los Angeles only became a city of any size and importance during WW1 when the Lockheed brothers and Donald Douglas bought the aircraft industry to the area but it is the movie business that symbolised 20th century LA. But it hasn't been all movie action with the city suffering huge racism problems with riots in 1979 and more recently in 1992 when 54 people were killed after the Rodney King beatings.

LA is detested by most due to its reliance on a car, it's dangerous crime-filled areas, particularly the notorious South Central 'hoods' of Compton and Watts and it's so called plastic personalties but I liked it, as I did the last time I visited.

There is lots to do and see and a weekend was never going to be enough. LA's shopping, bar and restaurant scene takes a lot of beating and as for the people, they are all mad as a box of frogs of course and sometimes you do feel like you are part of a film-set. Shy and retiring it is not, lights, camera, action it is.

Posts on the Pacific Coastal Highway and San Francisco will follow shortly. 
Tuesday 12 September 2006
  injury problems mount The defensive injury situation is starting to concern me. Traore's leg has been diagnosed with a hairline fracture, which according to the South London Press could keep him out for 2 months, whilst Diawara and Reid might miss the next two games with hamstring injuries, these much to the chagrin of fitness guru John Harbin. Luke Young is carrying an injury admirably and would probably be rested if there was someone to take his place.

It remains to be seen if Young will start Saturday’s game at left back with Kish at right back or they go with either Ashton or Youga. Young has deputized quite ably in the past at centre half, so this too may be an option. HH returns from suspension after Saturday and Jon Fortune is still a week or two away from fitness.

There may be room in Saturday’s line up for Omar Pouso, who according to this report impressed last night in the reserves at Stonebridge Road, unlike – shocker - Mr Lisbie apparently.

I mentioned the other day Diego Tristan, well according to Eurosport, the free-agent’s arrival at The Valley may well happen. Tristan has scored 87 goals in 4 seasons at Deportivo and has quite a reputation. I just wonder how much his potential wages and sign-on would bump up the already hefty outlay made by the board this season? 
  so tiring they named it twice I’ve come to realize, in the form of being absolutely knackered (getting up at 4am this morning to go to Cleveland is not helping) that a holiday driving 850 miles around California and a weekend break in New York walking the long streets is not actually conducive to relaxing.

New York as always was fun to visit, we concentrated on spending Saturday in the Greenwich, Soho and West Village neighbourhoods, as they are areas I didn’t particularly know that well. The villages are home to expensive boutiques, cool bars, narrow streets with very nice apartments and eccentric New Yorkers but the highlight of the day was the 12 minutes we spent in a helicopter flying up the Hudson River looping the Statue of Liberty and flying back over the downtown and Midtown skyscrapers. Pure unadulterated fun for $11.50 a minute – expensive but worth it if one is willing to don a tourist cap and pay the price.

Saturday night was spent drinking in the Meatpacking district, an area I originally came across on my first visit to New York about 11 years ago, when a friend and I found myself in Hogs and Honeys late one night. And finally on Sunday we strolled around Central Park before a delayed flight back to Chicago.

The whole reason for going was to attend the US Open Tennis on Friday. Flushing Meadows, like most sporting arena’s in the US is huge and purpose belt with comfort and hot dogs replacing tradition and strawberries. It certainly wasn’t Wimbledon but it was a great experience in beautiful weather and only encouraged me to one day see the other two Grand Slam events in Paris and Melbourne.

In the two women’s semi-finals we watched Justine Henin-Hardenne fight back to beat an unfortunate Jelena Jankovic and eventual winner Maria Sharapova (is she really good looking or just the best of an ugly bunch), who surprisingly didn’t appear to find an awful lot of favour with the locals, beat Amelie Mauresmo. 
Monday 11 September 2006
  chelsea away. what was the score? lost 2-1 Optimism is still the good word amongst Addicks after Saturday's not entirely unexpected defeat to Chelsea. Despite conceding an early sloppy goal and then being under the hammer, the team, which became more and more makeshift due to Reid, Diawara and Traore's injuries came out in the 2nd half and played with a real desire to get something out of the game.

JFH scored as I had a feeling he would, and in an era of cupped ears and finger wagging, it was sporting of him not to celebrate his goal against his former team. I was championing Romm last week too, and he gave Bridge and Cole a torrid time, putting in a number of excellent crosses. With the injury situation we have I would love to see Dowie start him Saturday at home to Pompey and this interview suggests that he will.

Scott Carson also deserves a mention. He continued a fine week after being with England U21's. I wonder if Lampard will put another chapter in his blockbusting biography entitled "why I'm crap at taking penalties."

Dowie watch: It was not only great to see ID throw caution to the wind in the 2nd half and go for a point or three, but this was done by moving the ball around in a positive way. Its also noticable how stronger we were in the final third of the game.
Quote: "It is bitter blow to lose but we proved a handful for them. We came to play and we did that and I have nothing but praise for my players."

Opinions from those that were there:; The Sunday Times; Addicks Diary; Frankie Valley; Chelsea Blog
  9/11 remembered 5 years ago I like others around the world watched in utter disbelief events that unravelled in New York. The events of that day had quite an impact on me. I had spent some time in 2 World Trade Center, and came close to actually working there in 1996. 176 of my colleagues, some of whom I knew well lost their lives that morning trying to escape my companies offices between the 98th and 105th floor.

Yesterday I was in that vibrant city and its still hard to believe the magnitude of what happened that dreadful day, even though growing up and working in London I knew all to well about the threat of terrorism.

The downtown area has changed dramatically since 9/11, what was once an area of eagerness and hustle and bustle, it now has an erie feel to it as pieces of rubbish get blown across the gaping 16 acre hole of a terrible reminder, but like Londoners, New Yorkers have resilience in spades, plenty of which I saw yesterday walking around that great city. 
Thursday 7 September 2006
  advantage JFH? Tonight I'm off to the land of New York Addick for the weekend, with the primary reason of going to the US Open at Flushing Meadow. The weather has been a bit temperamental these last two weeks in NY, but I'm led to understand that the sun has it's hat on and we should be okay for tomorrow's matches. It's a bit of a flying visit but I will be back in the Big Apple again in early October.

So Chelsea will be the 3rd consecutive game that I won't be home or near a radio commentary, although next week's game at home to Portsmouth is on telly here at the ungodly hour of 6.45am.

I was talking to someone about Dennis Rommedahl yesterday. Now, I am firmly in the 'give the bloke a chance camp.' Yes, there has been games when he has found wanting, but with any kind of service, he provides a serious threat to any back-line and I seriously believe that we can still expect to see something special from Romm in an Addicks jersey, despite interest from Russian side Zenit.

He had a sparkling game last night for Denmark and with the Chelsea game perfect for a 4-5-1, I wonder if Dowie will start him? Or will playing Hasselbaink against his former club be too much to resist?

Picking a starting XI for this one is tricky, which is no bad thing because a few weeks ago it picked itself. Will Faye drop into HH's shoes alongside new boy Diawara or will El Khak keep his place? In midfield will Pouso start next to Reid or will the fat lad play on the left. Will they try to utilise Romm's pace on the break or will ID at least start with JFH? 16/1 1st goalscorer? Tempting....

Found this on Sky about another potential recruit, out contract striker Diego Tristan. Anyone know anything about the lad? 
Tuesday 5 September 2006
  labor of love Sitting up late on Sunday night and then spending most of yesterday's Labor Day holiday in my jim-jams playing with html code and trawling through different templates certainly was a labour of love. But hey, I'm pleased with it. I was getting very bored looking at the coloured spots of the old page and I think it needed a change, if only to give me more stimulus to write stuff as I've had a fair amount of 'bloggers block' since I returned from holiday.

I still need to figure how to put Haloscan back on as my comments link and play with Flickr, which I currently use for my photos. Anyway, with my work now about to go into overdrive until the end of November, I'm pretty happy to have done the ardous work over the weekend.

Friday I nursed a hangover and then sat on the lawn at Ravinia and listened to old crooner Tony Bennett, who actually was very good. Unfortunately he didn't sing my favourite "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire," but then again it is hardly Christmas. Yet.

Otherwise it was a quiet weekend, went to dinner on Saturday night, which was very pleasant. I missed the England game on Saturday. It is hard to knock McClaren so far, although why that ugly git Phil Neville got in before Young I don't understand, and I say that as an England fan, not a Charlton one. He's now nursing an injury, one which rumours say trumped his move to West Ham in summer. Although his early season form has been excellent.

I do hope that Benty gets a run out tomorrow, a game I maybe able to sneak out of the office for. Kick off here is at 2pm.

That reminds me that I was bloody pissed off today. There is a good chance I could be home weekend of October 7th, so who have Charlton got? Poxy no-one as it's another International week. Jeez.

Finally a couple things that made me happy the weekend. My Dad had an angioplasty operation last week and came out of it well. I was worried and felt pretty helpless out here and these things test your resolve to live 4,000 miles away from your parents. And secondly, my son has bought me a signed Alan Curbishley book for my birthday, for which he queued up an hour and a half for last week in Bluewater.

"It's for my Daddy, he lives in Chicago." he pointed out to Curbs. "Oh so does one of our (it must be a hard habit to break that!) directors." I guess he meant Michael Stevens.

"Does he go to the pub with my Daddy?" asked my son. How funny. But hey, I might be onto something. Another Chicago Addick? 
Monday 4 September 2006
  a new look I've been threatening to do this for ages, and now I've realised how long it bloody takes, I won't be doing it again for a while.

It's still a bit of work in progress. Thanks for keep coming back and goodnight. CA 
Sunday 3 September 2006
  andre agassi bows out "What the scoreboard doesn't say is what is I have found, Over the last 20 years I have found loyalty, you have pulled me through on court and also in life. I have found inspiration - you have willed me to succeed - and I have found genorosity. I thank you and I will take you and the memory with me for the rest of my life."

Andre Agassi. One of the good guys. 
Saturday 2 September 2006
  labor day Or Labour Day if refuse like I do to take any notice of American spell check. Inspired by a labour parade held in Toronto, the Knights of Labor organised a parade in New York in September 1882 to give power and unity to Americans workers.

The date soon became an annual fixture and despite pressure to change the day to May 1st, like most of the rest of the world, Labor Day continues to be celebrated on the first Monday of September.

With 35 million Americans expected to be travelling this weekend, most of whom will be on the road, Chicago Addick will be staying right here making the most of the nice weather and glad he's not living out on the East coast, which is getting soaked from remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto
Friday 1 September 2006
  wasted I feel like I wasted a day today. I took the day off so I could scrub things off my 'To do list' but went out last night for some belated birthday drinks with some friends and drunk too much of this stuff. End result being that I spent most of the day in bed.

Tonight I am going to the Ravinia festival to see Tony Bennett, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday. Gulp, hope for me yet then.

It is a holiday long weekend here, Labor Day being on Monday so if I can wake tomorrow slightly less frazzled I hope to get back to that 'To do list,' get outside and make the most of the remaining summer and maybe take in a film.

And good luck to the Charlton boys tomorrow playing for England and elsewhere. 
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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