Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Thursday 31 January 2008
  Reid goes. Same old, same old. Groundhog Day. January 31st. Charlton Athletic sell their best player. Again. Stop.

Bullshit isn't it? Yes he was rather on the chubby side and yes he did make us a little bit one dimensional, bit like that crappy Arsenal team with Thierry Henry in it and yes he is injured. But come on, he was our best player, and probably the best player in The Championship and "a deal worth up to £4m." Seriously how much have we put of that in our current account tonight?

Reidy's game wasn't all about brute force, gamesmanship, fight and determination. It was about quality and creativity. He was our best player, he was arguably the only player of Premiership quality in our squad and now he's gone. The board have done it to us again.

Of course the little Oirish fella could have said no, but nope he hobbled up to the Stadium of Light, forgetting about his public pact with Pardew and got himself a big cheque. "It wasn't a case of I was unhappy at Charlton, it was a case of an opportunity presenting itself, it was too good to turn down." (more)

Lee Cook and Greg Halford have come in on loan. Halford has blatently failed at his last two clubs and his only claim to fame is his long throws, Cook is just as injury prone as Reid. Sorry but on paper we look like a real Championship club today. 
  Superbowl Sunday I have been at the airport since just after midday trying to get out of Chicago to Charleston in South Carolina. The snow has been falling all day, my original flight was cancelled and I'm now on a later one. Of course that has given me plenty of time to muse over the transfer deadline bullshit!

I'm going to Charleston for a Superbowl weekend with some mates. The Superbowl is for many American’s the biggest day in the calendar and it has become traditional for me and a group of friends to chose a venue and each make our way there to spend a weekend together that involves drinking, sightseeing, movie quizzes and then finally on the Sunday watching the Superbowl, which a bit like the FA Cup when I was a kid dominates the television from the minute you get up until the minute you go back to bed.

In previous years we have met in New York, Chicago, Washington DC and Florida but Charleston was chosen as it is somewhere none of us have been, it’s got a lot of historical value and we are spoilt for choice of boozers.

I have had an exhausting two days of meetings getting home late last night and up early this morning to get into work for a couple of hours. I wasn't particularly looking forward to the flight, but it's amazing what the thought of sitting at an airport for 8 hours can do to change one's mind. If I get out tonight, it will be my 8th flight in 8 days, I do have more air miles than Douglas Bader.

Meanwhile back in my apartment we have the builders for company again, working on our bathrooms. I had a frantic phone call earlier while I was being told my flight was cancelled, just after I read that Andy Reid had been sold to Sunderland telling me that there was water pouring into the place directly below ours. It hasn't been a good day.

The weekend, when I manage to start it, will be a laugh though and I’ve just pictured one of my mates diving into a waterfall in St Petersburg last year on the way back from the pub, which someone had kindly squirted some fairy liquid into to make it the biggest bubble bath you have ever seen, only to realize too late that the waterfall was only about 12 inches deep. More of the same kind of dancing I suspect this year in Charleston. 
Wednesday 30 January 2008
  Stoke City at home. What was the score? Won 1-0 I was tied up in meetings all yesterday afternoon but got back to my hotel room to catch the last ten minutes of the game via those nice people on Charlton Life that relay what they are hearing on the radio. It was an excellent result against an long unbeaten and brutish Stoke side that went a long way to prove that we are learning to cope with the more physical opponents in the division.

That was only our second win in ten games, yet we still find ourselves right in the leading pack as teams around us take a tumble. Perhaps more importantly that was our 5th straight good performance and if we can now only put together a run it will get us all rocking.

Credit also to the crowd last night who I understand was in lockstep all the way with the team right until the bitter end. They each deserved that extra lemonade after the game the 15 minutes earlier kick-off allowed them.

Who was at The Valley: Drinking During the Game; One From The Training Ground; Charlton North Downs; Addicks Championship Diary; Kings Hill Addick; All Quiet.
Reports: Sporting Life; Telegraph; The Times; Sportbox;; Why Deliah.
What Pards' said: "The fans were brilliant for us tonight and we got a big, big win. Results have gone for us and we're that bit closer."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Paddy McCarthy. Don't ask me why cos I was in a meeting. 
Monday 28 January 2008
  Bruisers I've been trying to work out where I will be at kick-off time tomorrow. I know 15 minutes will please some and annoy others but frankly it doesn't do anything for me here. I think I may be if I am lucky in a hotel room, if not I will probably be in a meeting, or if I am really flippin' unlucky I will be stuck on a plane.

I have a close-ish affinity for Stoke due to ex-wifes and stuff, although my son's godfather is a Stokie and still a very good friend. Stoke make me nervous ever since I fell into this sort of Staffordshire harmony. They are also big old bruisers, the like of whom we have blatently struggled against in the fizzies this season.

Andy Gray I assume will start tomorrow after over a week of getting to know his new teammates. I would like to see Varney up front with him but would not be surprised if our very own bruised bruiser Big Chris get's the nod. Of course we are the only team in the world that picks a striker because they can defend and is one of the only compatabilities that Pardew has with Curbishley. The team otherwise may pick itself with Thomas being the only question mark.

With only a few days to go until the end of the transfer window, it does appear that we are going to stick with what we've got. Bullshit websites are touting Reid to Sunderland, and less bullshit ones are suggesting us moving for a Portugese youngster. I will be disappointed if we can't bring a loanee in from the Premiership, some whipper-snapper that we can fall in love with. Oh well.

I did read that Izale McLeod turned down a loan move to Dirty Leeds, to stay and fight for his place. By the way, do you think Newcastle fans are busy having King Dennis tatooed on their chests. Really, it's the funniest thing I have heard for ages.

Oh, and Palace's run came to an end tonight at the Crisp Bowl. Old Colin wasn't bitter at all: "The officials were the worst team out there. Leicester almost committed manslaughter on Scowcroft and every throw-in was given the wrong way. And it's the worst pitch I've seen this year."  
Sunday 27 January 2008
  My Chicago - #12 Gold Coast The Gold Coast is Chicago's wealthiest neighbourhood and is predominately a residential area extending along the lakefront from Oak Street to North Avenue, reaching inland approximately to Dearborn Parkway. The housing is a mixture of 19th century brownstones and concrete high-rises, mostly from around the 1960s. At North Avenue the streets of the Gold Coast overlook the southern tip of Lincoln Park.

From what I've read the Gold Coast was an unexceptional neighborhood despite it's location until 1885 when a wealthy businessman called Potter Palmer built his wife a castle on Lake Shore Drive. Palmer also built the famous Palmer House hotel in Chicago, bought by Conrad Hilton in 1945 and now called the Palmer House Hilton.

Over the next few decades, Chicago's elite gradually moved into the area around Astor Street, named after one of the richest people in America at that time, John Jacob Astor. Strangely he had no association with Chicago but the name was considered to give the neighbourhood a status of wealth, and walking down Astor Street recently it still certainly does.

In the early 1900's more and more mansions were built sapping space in the area so developers took to building high-rise apartment buildings instead. Today the Gold Coast still oozes wealth and success and the streets of N Astor, W Goethe and W Schiller have some very large houses on them indeed. Rarely do they go on the market, if they do a quick search shows them priced well into 7 digits. A friend of a friend, a realtor, showed a certain Ben Wallace around one of the houses when he first came to Chicago. He liked it, he paid cash, all $4.5m of it.

Away from the big houses, the Gold Coast is also the place to go out. The diversion of Rush Street, State Street, Wabash Avenue and headed off by Division Street is joyfully known around these parts as the Viagra Triangle. Sure there are plenty of older men out with their 'nieces' and plenty of, shall we say penis extensions parked up outside buzzing restaurants and late night bars. However this is a very fun place to bring visitors, there are some great restaurants, and people watching is at a premium, particularly in the summer months when head turning is an Olympic Sport along this stretch of pavement.

Gibsons is an absolute Chicago institution and is a must for places to eat in the city, Hugo's Frog Bar with their famous frogs legs is another. French-Vietnamese restaurant Le Colonial is a bit posh, but grab a cocktail upstairs or a burger at Johnny Rockets. And Summer afternoons watching the sights and sounds of Rush Street from outside Tavern on Rush or Carmines has to be experienced.

For window shopping and seeing what the latest fashions are on handbag dogs E Oak Street, E Walton Place and Rush Street are full of expensive boutiques with all the big designer names lining up next to each other. Barneys department store is also here as is Diesel and Urban Outfitters plus retro Adidas and Puma stores. I also like Flight 001, a great little find for travel needs or a gift.

A little factoid that I love about Chicago's Gold Coast is that it was the original home to the Playboy Mansion. Chicagoan Hugh Hefner's little known company took ownership of a 70-room, 1899 built residence at 1340 North State Parkway in 1959. In the daring 70's, the man who lives in a robe divided his time between the Chicago mansion and a newer one in Los Angeles, eventually moving full time to the Californian one. The Chicago mansion (left) is still there, although no longer occupied by cute girls with bunny ears but divided into three family homes.

At the time the building boasted a brass plate on the door with the Latin inscription, Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tintinnare, translated as "If you don't swing, don't ring." You can still find the famous bunny logo on a brass plate in Chicago. Playboy Enterprises does still have it's corporate headquarters on Lake Shore Drive.

Across from Washington Square Park is the Newberry Library, it's free and open to the public. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is worth a visit, it's not huge but they have some good exhibitions. The building is pretty cool with it's crazy staircase (left), as you would expect and was designed by German architect Josef Paul Kleihues. A current exhibition is called Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967 . A look at the relationship between the visual arts and rock-and-roll.

To me the most amazing of all secrets in Chicago is it's beaches though. Lake Michigan is the cities very own ocean. One of the five Great Lakes, 307 miles long and 118 miles wide, frozen over in the winter and a sultry magnet in the summer. Snowmen sit on the white covered sands in February, and beautiful girls playing volleyball run around on it in July.

Oak Street Beach 365 days a year is a striking and majestic place to stroll along and sums up Chicago's Gold Coast perfectly.
Saturday 26 January 2008
  Sandhurst School, Catford 65 years ago 65 years ago last week my old primary school, Sandhurst School in Catford, was shockingly bombed by a German fighter plane, eyewitnesses including my grandmother used to say that the plane was flying so low that you could see the evil in the pilot's eyes.

When I was there in the 1970's the air-raid sirens were still situated around the corner from the school. On January 20th, 1943 just after lunch had began the then familair sound of sirens sounded. Some kids made their way to the shelter, a bricked up classroom on the 2nd floor, others ignored it and continued chatting with friends and eating their sandwiches. These were young school children, blissfully unaware that a fellow human being would want them dead.

The pilot flew his FW190 Fighter-Bomber down low over Downham Way and the nearby playing fields around midday aimlessly firing bullets at gawping and ducking people below. The pilot then turned his premeditated intentions to his major target, the school situated between Minard and Ardgowan Roads.

Flying at roof level the German pilot flew down the top of Ardgowan Road where my Grandmother, pregnant with my Mum, was like her neighbours drawn to the window of their house to investigate the sound of roaring engines. My late Nan told us the story many times of the determined look in the face of a killer. Other eye witnesses said that the Nazi pilot actually waved to children in the playground before he dropped a 1,100lb on their young innocent heads.

Half of the school building collapsed into a heap of rubble killing 38 children and six teachers, most not even having the decency of dying instantly, just suffocating under a collapsed building. More than 60 children and staff were injured, many being plucked from the debris by hundreds of rescuers. For two days people picked through the devastation digging out the casualties. The dead were buried in a mass grave at the nearby Hither Green Cemetery.

The school was originally built in 1896 in response to thousands of new families moving into the new Corbett Estate nearby. Previously farmland a Scottish developer bought 278 acres of land and on a grid system built 3,000 mid to large family homes, still in evidence today north of Catford and stretching into Hither Green.

Corbett's plan was to attract "hard working and respectable" families into the area and a number of places of worship were also included within his design although trying to get a drink even now is impossible as a covenant still exists precluding any pubs, taverns and inns.

The building half destroyed in 1943 was originally built in 1904 and after being rebuilt in the early 1950's still exists. 112 years on, Sandhurst is still going strong and is home to a nursery, infant and junior schools.

There is a commemorative stained glass window in the infant hall remembering the young children and teachers lost 65 years ago plus a recently opened memorial garden (left). I only have happy memories of my time at Sandhurst, it was a wonderful time of my life but an older generation do not have the same memories as me. This story and the loss of innocent children and their teachers should never be forgotten.
Read some eye-witness accounts
Friday 25 January 2008
  Walk like a man Frankie Well it's been two full days so I guess Frankie has actually switched off his laptop. Part of my daily routine has forcibly changed, I suppose I'm going to have to add Pink Lions to my playlist now when I get into work in the mornings!

After suffering days of bloggers block, or contrarily idea overload, or receiving inane comments, or more regularly looking in the mirror and asking myself why I've spent until two in the morning pouring my heart into a post that no one reads (its 4.30am now incidentially), I too have often done some blog soul searching and therefore can fully understand why Frankie has made his decision. Good luck mate and all that.

However Frankie has left a void, an almost impossible feat in the Charlton blogosphere. The site was original, facetious and gnarly and his style truly inimitable. How he was that consistent was remarkable and he had blithe commenters, considered to be the seal of approval for most of us, that came back time and time again. I hope he returns in a different guise because Frankie Valley is going to be missed. Just my opinion of course.... 
Thursday 24 January 2008
  Airport run Brrrr. -18c today here in snow covered Chicago. Got home last night after a very nice long family weekend at home (sic), also managing to catch up with a few mates as well.

I'm only here mind for another 4 hours and then I go back to the airport, I must raise all kind of suspicions on their cctv cameras, and fly to Cleveland. I do hope I don't have to sit next to someone with officially the sharpest elbows in the world like I did all the way back from Heathrow yesterday. The flight was on time though, and I did get to watch an excellent film, 3:10 to Yuma.

Back home (this home) to Chicago on Friday evening but I'll be at O'Hare again 3 times next week. We have some friends over for dinner Saturday and Sunday I play 'soccer' indoor but at least I get to have a lay in on Saturday with no Addicks game. 
Tuesday 22 January 2008
  Feeling for James Walker How desperately sad for young James Walker. How euphoric must he have been last weekend sat watching his new club with his family only to have his dreams dashed by his heart condition, something that he and Charlton knew about and a predicament that has not hindered his blossoming career so far.

Whether the 'heart anomoly' has worsened or just that club doctors and experts are taking less chances due to recent tragic incidents involving professional footballers, no one knows, although it's the latter I would suspect. His health didn't seem to bother Yeovil whilst he was on loan but they were not insuring the player.

Southend United issued a sensitive and caring statement on their official website describing it as a "joint statement" with Charlton, but as yet there is nothing on

I am sure all Addicks' fans will join me in wishing James Walker the very best of future health and hope that his dreams are still realised.

Meanwhile another product of the Charlton academy, Osei Sankofa today went on loan to Brentford. It surprises me that the 22-year old has dropped two levels, particularly after playing 9 Premier League games last season, nonetheless we all hope that he gets as much out of the opportunity that Grant Basey did although it is worth pointing out that the manager has changed since Basey was at Griffin Park. 
Monday 21 January 2008
  The Big Blue A bit of a turn up in the NFC title game in the early hours of an Eastbourne morning today. I was in bed but millions would not have been back in Wisconsin and New York as the Giants' continued their remarkable run on the road to beat Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers 23-20 in overtime.

In the much colder equivalent of America's Geordie land, Green Bay, men stood with their tops off and their chests painted green and yellow while girls jumped about in bikini's of the same colour as wind chill temperatures reached -31c.

I was a bit torn yesterday as I have many Packers supporting mates but on the plus side I will be spending the Superbowl weekend with one of my oldest mates, a long standing Giants fan.

In Arizona on February 3rd, the New York Giants will be attempting to win a sports trophy for the cities self-titled centre of the universe for the first time in 8 years. However they will as expected come up against the unbeaten and seemingly unstoppable New England Patriots, winners over San Diego Chargers 21-12 and for a couple of weeks at least, the U.S. election will come second in hype to the Superbowl. 
Sunday 20 January 2008
  Watford away. What was the score? Drew 1-1 Disappointing not to get all 3 points yesterday. We started slowly in appalling conditions but when we got the ball down and used the width of the pitch we, I thought were head and shoulders above one of our prime challengers for promotion, Watford.

We had so many chances, the majority falling to Ambrose to have had the game won twice, both sides of Ellington's goal.

Iwelumo proved his inclusion was right with a combative display and Varney supplied good pace behind him all across the pitch with some strong running right up 'til the final whistle. Once again it was the full backs who supplemented our forward play excellently particularly Moo2kil, who hasn't appeared to lost any of his spark from the last time I actually saw him. Youga however did confirm some concerns regarding his defensive qualities, with Smith getting by him once too often.

ZZ was quiet I thought but Holland drove us on down the middle on a terrible pitch. That pitch didn't suit Sam and he was a bit of a let down for me. Ambrose as Pardew said was guilty of some dreadful finishing but he played his part in the game, which is not always evident and of course got the equaliser.

Bougherra I thought was wobbly but I found it hard to see how the Sky commentators hung, drew and quartered him for his apparent stamp on Davenport, who let us not forget was taken out by his own player.

My man of the match was McCarthy, who is now showing us why at this level he can be a steady and influencing figure. He has a decent touch for a big man and I like his safety first attitude (the opposite to Magic), a know-how that made us love Simon Webster and Richard Rufus.

Andy Gray's cameo was decent bearing in mind his hectic week and Chris Dickson backed up exactly what Pardew said to his adherents demanding more game-time. His one and one with Lee, one of 16 efforts that showed our dominance.

Who was at Vicarage Road or watched it on the box: New York Addick; Drinking During the Game; Addicks Championship Diary; Frankie Valley; One From The Training Ground; All Quiet; Charlton Athletic Online.
Reports: Sporting Life; Sky Sports;; Sunday People; Kent Online; Watford Observer.
What Pards' said: "Ironically Ambrose has got a goal that you have to class as fluky after he had two massive chances before that."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Paddy McCarthy. The second signing. Looking like a different man from the one we saw in the summer. 
Friday 18 January 2008
  Gray fee agreed A 4-hour delay arriving at Heathrow this morning. I did get some kip after watching the Jane Austen Book Club with one of my favourite looking actresses Maria Bello.

Twice I was woken though, firstly when a woman passed out in front of me, and then when someone was taken ill behind me. Fortunately I was sat next to a doctor from Damascus, who it is fair to say got less sleep than me.

I'm sat in a mate's house watching Sky Sports News and see Burnley have accepted an offer from us of £1.5m for Andy Gray, after turning down £1m and £1.3m. A lot of money that we don't appear to have and I wonder who might be sacrificed?

It was clear once Owen Coyle announced that Gray was going nowhere that this story was not going away and sure enough Gray was on his way down to The Valley to agree terms this afternoon and has pulled out of the Clarets squad tomorrow. With stories of us doubling his salary you wonder how long those personal terms negotiations will take?

Gray's record is one of a typical striker who has scored 2nd tier goals at wherever he's been (71) but has managed only one in the Premiership. A prize for anyone who can guess who it was against?

I'm not going to even dare compare Gray to Super Clive Mendonca but if he signs, then his record and age are very simliar to when Mendonca travelled to the Valley to probably double his salary in 1997.

Gray, like Mendonca perhaps is not quite good enough for the Premier League, but we have no right to worry about that, yet. 
Thursday 17 January 2008
  Heathrow chaos I'm heading off to the airport shortly for my overnight flight to Heathrow. I was shocked to see the news this morning of an incoming BA flight crash landing. And then it dwelled on me that I will be there tomorrow morning. It has sounded understandably chaotic their today with many flights cancelled and diverted, I'm just hoping that by 8am tomorrow morning it will be okay and I get in alright. Of course the United website tells me that my flight in on time, but it always does doesn't?

Tomorrow my plans are to visit my mates new baby and then enjoy with him and others a belated baby wetting pint or three. Saturday I will get my son and drive down to Eastbourne for 4 days with my parents.

I hummed and hawed about going to Vicarage Road. It seems wrong to be going home and not going to a game but all of my Addick supporting family will be together in Eastbourne and we have decided to sit down together and watch it on the box.

I fly home on Wednesday. The old wireless signal is pretty non-existent near the South Downs but I do hope to keep this updated in one way or another. 
Wednesday 16 January 2008
  My 2007 I'm one for lists, and as this blog has basically supplanted a diary and my memory these days is rubbish I'm about to bore the hell out of everyone with my best bits of 2007, albeit slightly late.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that was 2007 in a nutshell. Let's hope I and Charlton both crack it in 2008! 
Tuesday 15 January 2008
  West Brom away in the Cup. What was the score? 2-2 AET, lost on Pens 4-3 A lot to be pleased about tonight. Another battling performance against a team widely considered the best in the division. That is three times we have come close to beating the Baggies, although crucially we haven't yet but the biggest game is yet to come.

Even at two-down, reports from the rain sodden Hawthorns were pretty positive. Pace created plenty of chances and both WBA goals came against the run of play. The one concern was another goal-less performance from McLeod and an awful miss from strike partner Varney in the 1st half. His confidence not helped by his missed penalty later. Perhaps a lesson is required from Bougherra in composure.

Meanwhile Chris Dickson came on with 8 minutes left and forced extra-time to the delight of a decent away following and embarrassing Baggies' fans already halfway home! Dicko then came close in extra time to winning the tie with 3 minutes left when going solo, he cut inside from the left and hit an upright.

Big Chris made a difference when he came on according to some reports and it gives Pardew a headache for Saturday's game at Vicarage Road as long as he doesn't somehow decide to play Iwelumo upfront on his own.

So a dignified defeat, probably the best result on reflection avoiding any confidence sucking banana-skin at in-form Peterborough, and getting a free-weekend into the bargain. Last season West Brom got to the 5th Round and went out after a replay to Middlebro. They only won one of their next six games. Food for thought.

Who stayed 'til the end at The Hawthorns: Addicks Championship Diary.
Reports: Independent; ESPN; Daily Mail; Guardian; The Sun;;
What Pards' said: "We were absolutely brilliant. It was a good performance and we were just squeezed out."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Chris Dickson. Well the youngster had me rocking back and forth on my work chair like a crazy thing after his late equaliser and he nearly won it for us deep in extra-time when he hit the post. 
  All a bit Mickey Mouse Back from the Disney marathon in Orlando. Feeling fine, thanks for asking.

When people say that they don't like Los Angeles because it is false, then clearly they haven't been to Orlando, or more specifically Lake Buena Vista. Of course the place is based on fantasy, although Orlando itself has been around for a while and was a major citrus growing area a 100 years ago but that all changed when Mickey, Minnie and Goofy opened up their doors in 1971. 50million people visit Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom each year and passes to the parks are not cheap. Day tickets run at $100, and the better option of a 3-day pass is still $190 for adults and $130 for kids under 9. Young children under 3, who will probably just cry and whinge their way around the big queues at least get in for free.

Sea World and the Universal resort are also in the Lake Buena Vista area, which is actually about 20 miles south of downtown Orlando. It is all about Disney here though although Orlando itself is a busy convention resort and home to the 6th largest university in the States, the University of Central Florida. It is also home to a huge Puerta Rican and Cuban influence that at least gives it a modicum of culture. Something though I suspect most Americans do not come to seek.

I was supposed to go to culture seeking in Iowa this afternoon but fortunately my 600-mile round trip drive through the corn fields of western Illinois to Iowa got scrubbed, well at least I got scrubbed from the list of participants and very grateful I am too. I will now be able to spend a couple of nights in my own bed before heading to London late Thursday. I can also grab a pint with a couple of friends tomorrow night and follow this afternoon's cup replay on the computer.

Lets hope this afternoon is not all mickey mouse after the excellent performance on Saturday. 
Sunday 13 January 2008
  Orlando Vroom The fit half of my household ran 3 hours and 54 minutes this morning in the Walt Disney marathon. I managed to get to four points along the course that wrapped around Epcot, the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and the MGM studios. Crowds were out in force but unlike in Chicago where the runners trail through neighourhoods and busy roads, long stretches of the 26.2 mile race were down wide deserted streets unreachable to watchers due to the lack of public transport.

However fitter half of household enjoyed it and was quite emotional when she crossed the line to be met by Goofy 219th out of 6204 women.

It was inspirational to witness as always, perhaps not inspirational enough to get my 'arris into the gym to train for one but uplifting nevertheless. We spent the afternoon avoiding the rain and had lunch at Jimmy Buffet's themed restaurant Margaritaville. Ask any American and Jimmy Buffet is a legend but to coin Richard Murray he is the most famous person in the world that no one has ever heard off. 
Saturday 12 January 2008
  Blackpool at home. What was the score? Won 4-1 Having breakfast with some friends this morning here in Orlando, my phone was vibrating happily in my shorts pocket. As the goals went in my mate text me updates from the ground plus called me with a half and full-time report which was very appreciated.

It sounded good, and re-ignited the early season prognosis' that this squad can take teams apart and score goals. I'm glad that Pardew stuck with the same eleven and although Varney and ZZ took the plaudits, from what I was told and read, it was a pacy and dynamic footballing performance across the whole team, with the Seasiders playing their part in a good game.

I wonder now if the same eleven will play at The Hawthorns or does Pardew rest ZZ and Holland say, and consider Semedo, Racon, Basey and Thomas? Anyway it's an early start tomorrow (3am) for runners and spectators alike so I need to switch this thing off and go to bed.

Who was at The Valley: Blackheath Addicted; Addicks Championship Diary; SE3 Addick; Frankie Valley.
Reports: News Shopper; The Times; The Telegraph; Daily Mail; BBC Sport;; Blackpool Gazette.
What Pards' said: "(Zheng Zhi) is part of a Chinese delegation meeting Gordon Brown this week. Don't think he's going to make a bid for him, though."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Kelly Youga. Yep, we haven't signed anyone yet, but let's pretend Youga is a new signing. The ground even burst into song for him today I understand. 
  James Walker to Southend for £200,000 News from the Southend site that James Walker will sign for the Shrimpers on Monday for £200,000, not bad for someone that has never kicked a ball for the first team. The 20-year old was actually released by Curbishley in May 2006 but was re-signed by Dowie at the start of last season. He has actually played 48 games scoring 7 goals whilst on loan at Hartlepool, Bristol Rovers, Leyton Orient, Notts County and recently Yeovil. 
Thursday 10 January 2008
  Travel marathon Of to the land of Mickey Mouse this weekend, Orlando. However there will be little Donald Ducking as the fit half of my household is partaking in the Walt Disney Marathon on Sunday morning. Of course I will be there with hip flask, bacon-cheese burger and camera cheering on from the sidelines, although the 6am start will somewhat interfere with my slothfulness!

We fly down on Friday and come back Monday so there is sometime for exploring, although walking and queueing up, the essence of Disney World, does not feature high on the pre-marathon schedule. However by a nice coincidence a friend of mine, to whom I was best man and his wife and young son are in Florida at the moment and we will meet up with them on Saturday.

This weekend kicks off a punishing timetable of travelling for me, although to be fair it is by no means all work related.

After we get back from Orlando Monday, Tuesday afternoon I drive 300 miles to Iowa and then come back the next day. Thursday I fly to London for a long family weekend. I get back to Chicago Wednesday evening and Thursday I fly to Cleveland, returning Friday night.

The following week I go to Charleston in South Carolina for a boys 'Superbowl' weekend. Home Monday and then Thursday I am supposed to go with a client to a place in Canada that is a pimple on a map, about 3 hours from Toronto.

Deep breath. I have yet to make plans for the Canada trip but I would hope to get home Friday night (the day of the Palarse game) and then Sunday I go down to Ft Lauderdale in Florida for a work conference. And from there I take my marathon running much fitter other half to the Bahamas for five days. 
Wednesday 9 January 2008
  Tears at bedtime I was at the Chicago Bulls game last night and saw no improvement under new coach Jim Boylan as they went down late on to a team having an even worse season than them, the New York Knicks.

Despite Chicago being up by 13 points in the 4th quarter, the Knicks with ex-Bulls Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford in sparkling form finished the game off with a rally of 14 points against 2 winning 105-100. The Bulls desperately need to put a big run together if they have any chance of the play-off's but judging by the empty seats and the quiet atmosphere last night the fans don't see it.

I got home last night and watched the end of the New Hampshire primary. This is like the FA Cup of politics with each round moving to a different state and each candidate fighting to stay in the competition. A couple of stragglers have been eliminated but with the media fuelling the drama, the race for both nominations, Republican and Democrat, is wide open.

And how the so called experts got it wrong last night with, Oldham Athletic style, Hillary Clinton providing the shock off the round.

A tearful and seemingly exhausted Clinton's tears at a question and answer session on Tuesday resonated with women voters in New Hampshire and they turned their back on Barack Obama's speeding train of a campaign and voted for what many consider a woman with no emotions.

Four years ago I was just settling in here and the primaries did not really register with me at all but I did get into the General Election of that year despite the predictability of George Dubya getting in, even hosting a dinner at my apartment for some friends on election night. However this time the race for the most influential leader in the world looks even more exciting with the next round of the 'Cup' taking place next Tuesday in Michigan, not in West Bromwich contrary to reports. 
Monday 7 January 2008
  Boo, hooray, boo! Posh in the cup. Think I was at London Road last time we played there in 1993 - but hey ho, if my Uncle was my Auntie and if it wasn't for Global Warming then it wouldn't be 60F here in Chicago today.

The ressies won tonight beating Aldershot 2-0. I've always had a soft spot for The Shots. It was the first 'real professional' ground I went to before my Dad caved in and took me to The Valley. Aldershot are currently 7 points clear at the top of the Conference National and have a great opportunity to get back into the league.

Still no news on any new recruits. Charlton famously keep transfer dealings close to their chest so I'm not worried.... yet. Burnley's Andy Gray the latest name being banded around by unlikely sources.

One player that did leave the squad last week on loan was winger Martin Christensen has joined Dutch side Heracles Almelo. He got a few run-outs in pre-season but only played in a couple of reserve games since. Will we ever see him again?

I think Pards's comments about our fans welcoming ex-players with open arms was taken out of context by some bored journo's today.

It is bad enough that most of them score against us or have blinders anyway. This season we have already had Ricardo Fuller, Jay Bothroyd and Kevin Lisbie each score against us, Super Kev three times lest we forget. Chris Perry, Danny Haynes and Dean Kiely have all played superbly and Bryan Hughes did his utmost in trying to get Danny Mills sent off. In the end he did the job himself sensing an extended Christmas holiday.

We can often be accused of being too nice but as Judas Defoe* will tell you Addicks don't easily and are not always so embracing. Blimey, even Dean Kiely had to change his shirt - goddam us, we can be so intimidating at times.

*Oh and the more we boo Defoe, the more he scores against us. Booing, cheering, neither seem to work do they? 
  My Chicago - #11 Lincoln Park I've not taken you on a tour of Chicago for a while but let's put that right starting a few miles north of the city in a neighbourhood that shares it's name with the cities most famous park.

As recent as 40 years ago this neighbourhood with now some of the most expensive real estate in the country was run by Puerto Rican immigrant ganglords. Mind you back in the mid 1850's the land was first settled by Scottish, Irish and German immigrants, and following the beginnings of Chicago's largest park, which was previously a city cemetary, a construction boom ensued.

The Irish and Germans were renowned builders and new town houses stretched all the way up Fullerton and Clark Streets. The Germans also brought with them the beer-making trade opening more than two dozen breweries in the Old Town area alone, just south of Lincoln Park.

Then came the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, forcing families north of the city the couple of miles to the sanctuary of Lincoln Park, which had more lax building codes. Post-fire reconstruction, coinciding with a land rush, resulted in a population increase of over 10,000 people in Lincoln Park. Many frame houses were built because it was quick and cheap. Amazingly 60 percent of Lincoln Park's current structures were built between 1880 and 1904 and are still frame construction.

The lots of land are narrow in Lincoln Park and this was because of the cost of land even back in the late 1880's. The frame homes are now commonly known as tear-down's as families snap them up to knock them down and build huge new brick town homes in their place.

It is strange then that sometime after the war, the area changed dramatically. Families cashed in and moved out to new towns in the suburbs as the City of Chicago got taken over by crime and gangs.

Since the 1980's the lake, the park, the large family homes and one of the countries best zoo's encouraged regentrification and now Lincoln Park is home both to young families and young people who share large houses converted to open spaced apartments. I in fact lived there for 6 months when I first moved here for the first 6 months of 2004, in part enticed by the charming tree-lined streets and the extensive train system.

Of course the area is named after it's 1,200 acre park (twice as big as New York's Central Park) which hugs Lake Michigan. Chicago city leaders began plans for what was then Lake Park in 1864. Lake Park was to be built on 120 acres of swampland. A ten mile ditch was dug to drain the lowlands near the lake, creating the park's lagoons, still beautifully in evidence today. The park and therefore neighbourhood was renamed Lincoln Park after the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865, Chicago's favourite son.

Bordered by the Park to the East, North Avenue to the south, Diversey Parkway to the north and the diagonal Clybourn Avenue to the west, the area is a well known student hangout with DePaul University at the centre of it, the largest Catholic university in the USA.

Certainly there are bars and cafe's you might want to avoid unless you are searching for college students drinking out of plastic beakers and screaming at the sport on the telly. However there are some great places to drink in Lincoln Park, namely The Black Duck Tavern, John Barleycorn, Webster's Wine Bar, McGees and Tillis.

One of the cities, if not the countries best restaurant sits on Armitage Street, Charlie Trotter's, named after the man himself. Otherwise you can eat anything here, but a couple of personal faves are Alinea, North Pond (above), Karyn's Raw and my favourite Indian Hema's Kitchen.

There are some great strolling streets in Lincoln Park. Armitage Avenue is stocked full of neat boutiques, as is Webster Avenue just north of there.
The stretch of Halsted Street between Armitage and Wrightwood Avenues is a cornucopia of delightful stores, cafes and bars. Lincoln Avenue dissects the neighbourhood, brushing Oz Park, which has in it statues of the Tin Man (above), the Lion, the Scarecrow and Dorothy. The park is named in honour of Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz, who lived in Chicago at the turn of the century, and is one of the liveliest streets in town as is Clark Street where art and history meets late night food stops.

The Chicago Historical Society (1601 N. Clark St), a worthwhile day trip on it's own is at one end, and at the other is the permanent hot dog stand called The Wiener Circle (2622 N Clark St). Make sure you are very drunk when visiting this well known local establishment because everyone else is. Oh, and don't order a chocolate milkshake, take it from me!

It is free to get into Lincoln Park Zoo, only one of two in the country that is. The setting is beautiful and is home to 1,200 animals including gorillas, lions, bears and my son's favourite the reptiles. Also within the park is the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which opened in 1999 and is Chicago's home to learning for nature and sciences.

I'm never wholly sure about Lincoln Park. There are some beautiful streets, yet sometimes it reminds me of a college common room, one that serves lite beer that is, but then you have the wonderful park and the zoo and cities very own ocean, Lake Michigan with it's endless horizon. 
Sunday 6 January 2008
  West Brom at home in the Cup. What was the score? Drew 1-1 Smiles all around this morning after a heartening performance yesterday afternoon. Eye-witnesses described a much improved performance with pace and movement the bywords not errors and long hoofs.

Unfortunately it seemed Dean Kiely was outstanding, the second time in a week an ex-Addick starred on his old patch. My son doesn't quite get the transfer rules yet and kept telling me after that West Brom had stolen Kiely from us and it wasn't right. He thoroughly enjoyed himself though and as always was full if it after the game. According to my mate he was even leading the singing in the East Stand.

Pardew made the right changes and despite Moo2Kil's error for the goal, the two young full backs were key components in a far more pacier and attacking display from the Addicks. Mills and Powell both tend to play in their own half but in Moo2Kil and Youga they clearly want to get forward at every opportunity.

It was also good to hear of two strikers working well together and causing problems on the ground and running the channels to good effect. Surely pace is far harder to defend against than brute force, long straight balls and flick on's, particularly when most sides in our division are stacked with immobile but big and strong centre-half's.

It was a shame more people weren't there to see it, although the low attendance was hardly a surprise, but it gives us all a lift and was notable that with Dickson thrust on near the end that we went full out to win the game in the final 5 minutes.

Who was at The Valley: Drinking During the Game; Frankie Valley; All Quiet.
Reports: Kent Online; BBC Sport;; The Times; Daily Mail;
What Pards' said: "I turned to all my staff on the bench and said we'd have to send all our players to Scunthorpe because the coaching is obviously better there."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: ZZ. My son's choice, "ZZ got the ball after 10 seconds, spun around and hit a great shot, it was brilliant."
Saturday 5 January 2008
  Smoking ban kicks off Chicago New Year I do most things that are bad for you but I've never been a smoker so I was pleased that a final no smoking ban passed relatively quietly on New Year's day in Chicago. Back in 2005 the city council passed a city-wide smoking ban but gave taverns and separated bars in restaurants until July 2008 to comply. However much to the disdain of tavern owners state legislature amended that during last year and passed a strict smoking ban effective January 1st, superseding the city council.

Illinois became the 23rd state to impose a public smoking ban and Chicago is one of 2,000 cities in America that has some kind of a restriction. Some people would like it to be more prohibitive such as in Belmont, California where smoking is not allowed within 6ft of an office building or storefront, pretty much preventing smoking on the pavement. It is also banned in multi-apartment and condominium buildings.

To be honest it was never as bad here as in London and restaurants nearly all had a no-smoking policy. After growing up in smoky pubs, I always kept the dry cleaners in business but knew nothing else. What did annoy the hell out of me though was in restaurants when inconsiderate mugs used to spark up at the next table.

There are 6,000 taverns, bars and restaurants in Chicago, but one place will escape the ban and that is Marshall McGearty's Tobacco Lounge in Wicker Park. It is exempt because the majority of it's sales are tobacco, however those is desperate need of a fag and a beer can sit in this old fashioned lounge with a blazing fireplace and puff away until their lungs are content in happy seclusion. 
  On the twelfth day of a Chicago Christmas The 12th and final day of Christmas. The tree will come down today as will anything resembling folly and festivities. It's that depressing time when you stare at parts of your home and ask: "what used to be there?" "Oh yes, the tree, silly me" Anyway by ways of cheering oneself up the Chicago Sketch Fest is on now at the Theatre Building in Lakeview. Reports say the 8-day festival has the very best in American sketch comedy and audiences can take in more than 100 events, including performances, workshops and discussions. 
Friday 4 January 2008
  Captivated by the Cup Still down in the dumps about the Addicks at the moment. I was just debating with myself whether to set my alarm for 11am tomorrow and wake up after the whole thing has been done and dusted. Not sure I can bear another 2 hours trying to follow it from here on planet America. This whole lack of coverage thing is getting old very quickly, and I think it is even worse when we are losing.

My son is however going to tomorrow's game and will pick the Chicago Addick's winner of a bottle of fizzy pop. My only hope is it's not a member of the opposition as was Tuesday! He is very excited about the game, particularly as his favourite player Moo2Kil is down to start. So he has kind of drawn me back into the game.

The other thing is that he is captivated by the Cup. Maybe computer games have something to do with it. But the one-off game, the draw, the next round, Wembley - these are all things that delight him, and I don't know how other kids are, but it is kind of comforting that he is like that because it appears that most fans aren't captivated by the FA Cup at all.

I think we would do well to consider tomorrow as a one-off game. A win is important but not vital in the same way as it is next week. I'm hoping to see a freshened up line up tomorrow to include Moo2Kil, Youga, Racon, Varney and McLeod plus Dickson and Arter at some stage.

The FA Cup 3rd Round was always a great day in the football calendar, lets hope my son still feels that way tomorrow night. 
  On the eleventh day of a Chicago Christmas The iconic Oprah Winfrey tapes her live television show 3 times a week, twice a day at her West Loop Harpo Studio's. Tickets need to be booked in advance but are free. Security is tight and you are advised not to wear beige or white. I am told she is the consumerate professional and she rarely needs a second take. You never know you maybe there the day she is feeling generous and giving nice stuff away. 
Thursday 3 January 2008
  On the tenth day of a Chicago Christmas The 3,300ft Navy Pier extends out into Lake Michigan. It can be a bit nippy out there this time of the year, but about halfway down and more importantly inside, a magical Christmas festival is created. Winter Wonderfest includes dozens of rides, an ice rink, millions of fairy lights, games, inflatibles, a ferris wheel and live entertainment. The kids will love it. 
Wednesday 2 January 2008
  A cry for togetherness God I had the hump yesterday. Trawling through the forums, it looked like I wasn't alone either. And there we were thinking how much fun this is in the fizzies, you know, knock the ball around, score a few goals, some nice little away trips, promoted at Easter with record points. Piece of piss.

Clunk! What was that? Reality mate, that's what that was.

I'm with Pards because I think he will do us alright. You ask West Ham fans, their promotion season was no easy ride. They lost 15 games and let in 56 goals and finished 21 points behind the champions, Sunderland.

The division being so open and frankly poop, is the real frustration and I am sure Watford fan's are having the same conversations. Expectations have certainly increased, and I'd imagine ours are a lot higher than those of Watford. Concerns are rightly over the way we are playing but a week full of tosh pales into insignificance over 46 games.

Pre-season I don't think I realistically thought we'd be in the top two at the halfway stage? And because I remember the last time we we were down here, I knew that fight more than finesse was really the insignia.

I for one had visions of us getting stronger the second part of the season, particularly walking away from The Valley following the draw with Scunthorpe. Plus Pardew is known to like to wheel and deal and this transfer window is certainly vital.

A cry from afar then for fan togetherness because for no other reason we owe it to ourselves. The club we love was once broken from no fault of our own. We were the glue then, lets this time not be the hammer. 
  On the ninth day of a Chicago Christmas In the summer it's a popular bar and outdoor restaurant but then almost overnight this space in Millennium Park is transformed into a magical ice rink. During the winter months the ice-rink opens from 10am to 10pm, it's free and you can hire skates for $9. Over 100,000 visitors have skated around the rink's circumference since the beautiful park opened 4 years behind schedule in July 2004. 
Tuesday 1 January 2008
  Colchester Utd at home. What was the score? Lost 2-1 I know nothing about the game, thank god I wasn't one of what I can only imagine are extremely disillusioned supporters coming home from The Valley, but that is a dreadful, dreadful result against a team bottom of the table without a win in 14 bloody games.

I like Pards and think he will leave a good legacy at our club but his team selection today absolutely sucked. He had to change it didn't he? Playing with just one striker? It's really ruined our day, hasn't it. Thanks Charlton, thanks Super Kev, what a joke. I don't want to write anymore because it will just be moaning, and I wasn't there but promotion looks like a forlorn dream today, the first one of the new year. What happened to our hopes when we went to bed last night? Trust Charlton to ruin them.

Who had their New Year's Day ruined at The Valley: All Quiet; Addicks Championship Diary; Charlton Athletic Online; Blackheath Addicted; Drinking During the Game; Frankie Valley.
Reports: The Sun;; Telegraph; Suffolk Evening Star.
What Pards' said: "The halfway point of the season has shown we aren't good enough, so we're going to have to make a change."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Kevin Lisbie. It's about time we gave the youth a chance. Eh, what do you mean he left? 
  On the eighth day of a Chicago Christmas I only really remember one or two white Christmas' in London, and they were a long, long time ago. As a mate pointed out to me recently, one doesn't bet on if there will be a white Christmas here, they bet on how much snow will fall. It snowed all of last night, marking the 16th snowfall in December, making the month one of Chicago's snowiest ever. A total of 16.7 inches of snow fell in Chicago in December. 
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After living in Chicago for four and a half years, I moved to the beautiful if bewildering island of Bermuda in July 2008. This blog is about being an exiled and depressed Charlton Athletic fan and whatever else the day brings.
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