You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2009.

It strikes me that Bsketti’s coverage of the Copenhagen climate change conference has been less than adequate. Spotty, at best. In fact, my general blogging rate is pitiful. I am the Harper Lee of the blogosphere. Minus the best-selling masterpiece, of course. If Captain Scott of the Antarctic could write an entry in his diary every day despite hunger, fatigue, frostbite and the soul-destroying knowledge that he had been beaten by a Norwegian (metaphorically, not literally), you’d think I could manage to drag myself to the computer once or twice a week. Anyway, I’m here now. Is this a mouse I see before me?

So – first item on the agenda: Denmark. I used to think that Denmark was the Northamptonshire of Europe; a part of Scandinavia only in the sense that Penrith is a part of the Lake District. But, whale watchers, it turns out I was completely wrong! Denmark is most excellent for at least three reasons. (1) You can buy Robinson’s squash in the shops. Need I say more? (2) The shops are open at times that would be unthinkable in Germany, like Sundays, evenings, and daytimes between 10 am and 4 pm. And (3), its citizens are noticeably better-looking than their German cousins. In fact, having been humbled by the extreme level of goodlookingness in Sweden last year, I suspect that people become progressively more beautiful the farther north you go, until you reach Hammerfest inside the Arctic Circle, where everyone is so achingly gorgeous that no one speaks, and instead just sit there looking at each other in silence to an aptly beautiful backdrop of the Northern Lights.

Back to slightly less aesthetically pleasing matters. To wit, my lodgings in Copenhagen, which can be safely described as compact and bijou. The bathroom is so small it is more of a water closet, and there is a slight lack of opportunities on the entertainment front, there being only a television with no signal and a prodigious collection of books on Danish human resource management to choose from. Luckily, the walls are thin enough to allow me to listen to the TV programmes that my neighbours are watching.

Still, I really like it, and it has begun to feel like home. Or hjem, as the Danes would say. I have availed myself of the local laundrette, and was delighted to discover that its drying machines are called “Loadstars”, which is somewhat spooky because the Jeeves and Wooster I mentioned in a previous post features the phrase “lodestar of my life” quite heavily:

This is where Richard keeps his Pølser, as you can see.

Unlike the shops it is always closed, so I haven’t been able to establish what a Pølser is. But it’s nice to know there’s one in the neighbourhood should I need it.

I am only on agenda item 2 but I think I’d better upload this post while I can – I have to go and edit something and I may be some time…

Could this be the most laboured metaphor in football journalism?

The lights were still burning bright inside the Volkswagen offices surrounding Wolfsburg’s home as kick-off approached last night. In this so called “City of the Car” small armies toil long into the evening to devise bold new protoypes so it seemed somehow appropriate that Manchester United arrived configured along brave new defensive lines.

Here is my suggestion:

Many workers at Wolfsburg’s Volkswagen factory have been forced to find new jobs in street cleaning and other sectors of the service industry since the collapse of German car manufacturing in recent years, so it seemed somehow appropriate that Sir Alex Ferguson employed Michael Carrick as a sweeper in Manchester United’s defence last night.

Or perhaps:

Wolfsburg’s Kunstmusem was just closing its doors as I drove to the stadium last night to grab a Currywurst and a copy of the team sheet. Conceptual photographer and rumoured David Byrne squeeze Cindy Sherman is among the artists currently exhibiting work, so it seemed somehow appropriate that the Old Master of football himself, Sir Alex Ferguson, gave midfielder Michael Carrick a once in a lifetime opportunity in the centre of the Manchester United defence for the game.

Or even:

The German city of Wolfsburg is well known for its annual summer gardening festival, so it seemed somehow appropriate that all three of Manchester United’s goals last night should be scored by the resident garden gnome of the front bench, Michael Owen.

Between tortured opinion pieces like this and simple match reports becoming overgrown with ridiculously baroque writing, like…

It is implausible that Capello is conducting a vendetta but he is resolute in his refusal to extol Owen merely for scoring in some match or other.

and

It was not Cech’s sole moment of equivocation. The defects were all the more apparent when his opposite number Given was having so fulfilling an afternoon.

… I am on the verge of abandoning the Manchester Guardian as my number one go-to source of footballing news. Where to next?

Well, here I was on my way to Coppers: toute seule in a gorgeous train compartment (first class, natch), all warm and toasty with a PG Wodehouse.

Life was pretty perfect… for the 12 minutes between Bonn and Cologne, where I was joined in my camera obscura by two fellow passengers. On entering, both wished me “Guten Morgen” (as is the wont of strangers here; people also say hello in the doctor’s waiting  room and would no doubt greet one another at the lapdancing club or in the firing line while waiting for the main attraction to arrive), then turned their backs to me and began to undress. Having just read the night before about nudist bathing in Schleswig-Holstein I began to fear the worst, but thank God they stopped once their coats were off.

Regrettably, the male passenger seemed to think he was starring in a Getty ‘Corporate Life’ stock image photoshoot and proceeded to run through all the modern business cliches – hanging up his jacket, typing furiously on his laptop, wearing those annoying German glasses with no frames – and my cosy world of Jeeves and Wooster circa 1921 was shattered.

By the way, I noticed the man had a photograph of his son (I presume) in his house (ditto) as wallpaper on his computer, and I thought it would be funny if such family types took pictures of their children facing the corner like they’re made to do by the witch in the Blair Witch Project and put them up in the office just to freak people out. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Back in carriage 41, the man in the suit was now making a series of loud and utterly joyless phone conversations with his executive colleagues in Wuppertal. He had already forced out the other passenger, who I spotted taking refuge in the dining compartment when I escaped for emergency rations, and he would no doubt have proceeded to touch base and explore options all the way to Hamburg had the phone reception not suddenly cut off in the middle of nowhere. While I said “Thank fuck for that” (in my head), our man received commiserations from a second executive type wearing a yellow tie (always unfortunate) who had subsequently joined our party. This led to a happy discussion between them in which they compared briefcases and tutted about the pernicious effect of “farming country” on Deutschebahn’s mobile phone coverage, while I played dead on the opposite berth.

And thusly I travelled to CPH!