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March 1st, 2004


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07:14 pm - The Southern Sponge
London! I have booked train tickets and will be in London from 8:42pm on Wednesday 10th March to 7:45pm on Sunday 14th March. A large part of the plan is to visit as many of my friends as possible. Friends who I visited on my previous trip to London remain as cool and groovy as ever, but it would be nice to see some other people whose schedules were incompatible with my last trip as well. (Stateside friends who will be passing through London are very high on the priority list.) When would be good for you?

There could well be a little Megabussage up to Oxford as well, given that the costs of bus journeys from London Victoria to London King's Cross and to Oxford are currently identical, modulo a 50p booking fee. (Or, I suppose, to Birmingham, Cardiff, Swansea, Bristol, Kuala Lumpur, Exeter, Plymouth, Bournemouth, Southampton, Kuala Lumpur, Portsmouth or Brighton - but, sadly and inexplicably, not Cambridge.)

Rather more seriously, today is Self-Injury Awareness Day. foreverdirt has an extremely well-written general-interest piece on it including analysis of some of the reasons why people do it and why people stop; as she says, self harm is not a shameful thing, nor is it stupid or weak. I will add two links to her collection: Self-injury: you are not the only one and Things that friends and family can do to understand self-injury better, and to help a self-injurer. There's nothing that I want to tell the class at this point, though please don't assume that this means there's nothing to tell.

More about Middlesbrough, including how to get out of there.

I live in the town of Middlesbrough, which has about 140,000 residents. It is about 220 miles north of London and about 12 miles from the east coast of England. The river Tees is one of the traditional borders of the town; the Teesside conurbation, which is made up of {Middlesbrough, our equally-sized neighbour town of Stockton, subsidiary offshoots like Thornaby and Billingham, the coastal towns of Redcar and Saltburn and the 15-miles-away towns of Hartlepool and Darlington}, has a population of about 660,000 or so. Traditionally this was largely a steelmaking area, but the steel industry is really suffering. Chemicals have filled the gap to a certain extent, but increasingly (as everywhere else!) we are a source of cheap labour for the service sector.

We are not known as a great cultural town, though Stockton and Darlington have great public passenger rail history to them. Nevertheless, using the classic self-deprecating (and self-deprecating only because it's better than self-defacating) humour, it is reasonably widely felt throughout the populace that the only thing of interest in Middlesbrough is its football team. Middlesbrough's football team has historically not been very good - not one of the best ten in the country, but varying between the top twenty and the top forty or so. However, a self-made haulage millionaire, Steve Gibson, has pumped a few tens of millions of pounds into the club over the last 15 years or so and there has been a reasonably extended relatively-good phase, with the team peaking by peeking into the top ten or so at times.

On Sunday, Middlesbrough won the Carling Cup, which is a competition held between football clubs in England and Wales. The top 92 clubs submit teams; some clubs are seeded a round or two in advance, but it is essentially a single elimination straight knockout. It is the junior of the two similar football cup competitions in this country; the senior FA Cup is considerably more prestigious, by virtue of around 100 years' greater tradition and due to the fact that non-league teams can participate as well. Originally the FA Cup was considered the most reliable way to find the single best football club in England and Wales, but the league has overtaken it in prominence in recent years. However, that's another story.

Football clubs in this country spend vast amounts of money; the best footballers' wages are very high. Consequently, football clubs organise very large numbers of matches in order to try to make money and stay afloat. These days, many football clubs are in financial peril. Nevertheless, footballers can only play a certain number of games at their peak physical condition; accordingly, some of the clubs Middlesbrough faced sent in relatively weak teams for the Carling Cup matches. Some would say that is a greater reflection of the status of the Carling Cup than anything else.

The cup final itself was a controversial and exciting game. Middlesbrough beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1; Middlesbrough deserved to win and were clearly the better team throughout the considerable majority of the game, but Bolton can feel rightfully agrieved that Middlesbrough's inadvertently technically errant penalty kick was permitted to stand and that Bolton's excellent appeal for a penalty kick was denied. If both decisions had gone Bolton's way then they could well have had what would have been a completely undeserved victory. As is frequent in football, the right result through the wrong means.

This is of particular interest because the Carling Cup represents the first "major trophy" that Middlesbrough have won in their 128-year history. Now there are complaints about the limited stature of the Carling Cup, but it is major in the sense that the strongest clubs in the land could enter their strongest teams if they wanted to. By comparison, the minor trophies that Middlesbrough have won in the past have been the Anglo-Scottish Cup (a short-lived competition) and the Second Division title (traditionally "the best team outside the top 22"). This is definitely a step higher. The club chairman has been given the Freedom of the Borough (though, to be fair, that was decided before the latest win) and it seems likely that the team will parade the trophy about the town on an open-topped bus. I'm looking forward to that; it will be a novelty. (And a little akin to the start of Mike Bassett, England Manager.)

So Middlesbrough is a happy town at the moment; given that so many of the town's residents have so many of their hopes tied up so strongly with the fortunes of the football club, hopefully a well-behaved, more confident one, at least for a few days. (And, we hear, the tenth fattest town in Great Britain.) I always liked a tale that local independent radio DJ (and occasional fringe TV reporter) Judy McCourt told; as a season ticket holder to the football club's home games, she always enjoyed hearing the man two to her right, who became a very local legend. This man did not so much chant and cheer and shout along with the rest of the crowd, but he knew nothing other than to positively sing out COME ON, BORO in his refined. operatic basso profundo. It was almost as if he was bothering to sing the silent UGH in BOROUGH.

Erm, yes. As for getting out of Middlesbrough, would any Teessiders like to borrow half a dozen Evening Gazette tokens? As long as you take the half-dozen Gazette tokens with you, you can book a return train ticket from Darlington to Edinburgh for £10 or from Darlington to London for £15. (See my example above.) If you want more information (and to borrow my tickets!) then let me know and I shall sort you out. You must book 7 days in advance and travel by March 31st. Limited availability of cheap seats, but I could still book tickets less than ten days in advance.

Some self-absorbed surveying for the people who have met me: some LiveJournal users are meant to be very much alike in real life to the way they are in their journal; by comparison, others are felt not to be so similar. Noting that neither is a compliment or an insult; which am I, or where do I fall on the spectrum between the two? Extra credit opportunity for people who have known me longer: how have I changed over the years?
Current Mood: bouncySunderland-supporting
Current Music: COME ON BORO, COME ON BORO, COME ON BORO, COME ON BORO etc.

(16 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:brigbother
Date:March 1st, 2004 04:33 pm (UTC)
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I think you are just about at one with your LJ.

On a tangent (since I've met both of you), daweaver is completely different to how I imagined.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:March 1st, 2004 05:20 pm (UTC)
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That's a shot from out of nowhere deep into left field.

Hello, Iain!
From:daweaver
Date:March 2nd, 2004 11:30 am (UTC)

Hello, Chris!

(Link)
Enjoyed the show, and hope to see you again on Friday next week.

brigbother, I'm intrigued. Care to explain? Private email is more than acceptable, if you wish.
[User Picture]
From:meggitymeg
Date:March 1st, 2004 04:58 pm (UTC)
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Hooray for train tickets! :D At the moment, I am completely flexible; probably the best thing to do would be to give you the number to where I'm staying, and let you get in touch with me, as (if I'm remembering correctly) you don't have a cell phone? As I'll not know anyone else in town other than my friend from Boston and kitsune13 - aside from malachan, if we manage to meet up before he leaves for Boston - I would very much like to tag along to any sort of get-togethers that might crop up. :) (If you haven't yet figured it out, I'm a bit nervous about meeting new people, although I would really like to do so.)

On a slightly-less-fun note - thank you for posting the link to foreverdirt's piece. Both the post and comments were hard to read, but are relevant for a number of reasons...and that's about all I feel comfortable saying in a public post. :-/ Thanks, though.


[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:March 1st, 2004 05:24 pm (UTC)
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I actually do have a cell phone which was given to me for Christmas, but no cell phone service and no cell phone number. This can almost certainly be remedied by the application of money, and would probably be useful for trips like this.

Would it be helpful if I were to meet you from the plane? From what you've said, you're coming in from Dublin on Thursday at about lunchtime, so I could intercept you then and try to make your introduction to London (beyond the few hours you had spent there at Heathrow the previous day!) a little more gentle.
[User Picture]
From:meggitymeg
Date:March 1st, 2004 05:43 pm (UTC)
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This can almost certainly be remedied by the application of money

Hee! :D

Re: meeting on Thursday - that would be lovely! I'll be arriving at, let's see, 12:45pm, on BMI flight 124. Good timing, as check-in at the Aster House seems to be at 1pm. :) It'd be wonderful to have someone to show me the ropes - else I'd probably never make my way out of Heathrow! As the trip draws closer, I'm beginning to realize just how many little things there are, about which I have NO IDEA - not the least how to *pay* for anything. muffinbutt showed me all sorts of British money after her trip in January - the sheer number of coins alone is appalling! I'll never figure it all out. :P
[User Picture]
From:beingjdc
Date:March 1st, 2004 05:15 pm (UTC)
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Damnation. This weekend, probably London. The weekend of the 20th, probably London. The weekend in-between, almost certainly not London...

You are less frivolous but therefore sometimes less amusing on LJ than in real life (or maybe you've matured since I last saw you anything like often in real life).
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:March 1st, 2004 05:27 pm (UTC)
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It's the wrong weekend, Gromit! There are other nice people who will probably be in London the weekend before, but going to London for two weekends running a second time in three months seemed to be pushing it somewhat. (He said, acknowledging that he was still pushing it somewhat anyway.)

I shall have to make more posts involving singing, in that case, especially singing badly. Everyone else: it's jdc's fault. :-)
[User Picture]
From:catalana
Date:March 1st, 2004 09:28 pm (UTC)
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Well, I haven't seen you in person for awhile, and I didn't read your LJ for a long time...but your LJ is much like I remember your being in person. (That's a good thing, in my opinion - I like how you were in person. *grin*)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:March 1st, 2004 09:54 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! :-) I don't think you've changed, but you have become more so than I remember. A natural development, a refinement, an enhancement.

Something I have been wondering and dreading for months: did you ever see or hear this particular travesty of mine? I'm trying to work out whether you would stop talking to me due to a shortfall in technical merit or one in artistic impression.
[User Picture]
From:imc
Date:March 2nd, 2004 05:13 am (UTC)
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Middlesbrough beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1

Grrr…

Oh, and could you explain `Kuala Lumpur' in a way which doesn't involve my browser suddenly blurting out loud sounds and disturbing the office?

imc (who will be in Telford this weekend and DC/Virginia the next two weekends)
[User Picture]
From:crystal_claire
Date:March 2nd, 2004 05:34 am (UTC)
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The song goes...

I see things, I see them with my eyes,
I see things, they're often in disguise,
Like carrots, handbags, cheese, toilets,
Russians, planets, hamsters, weddings,
Poets, Stalin,
Kuala Lumpur, pygmies, parrots, Kuala lumpur.
I see things, I see them with my eyes,
I see things, they're often in disguise,
Like carrots, handbags, cheese.

Whole to be accompanied by pictures of said items in disguise. The Kuala Lumpur interjections are emphasised and impossible to remove from one's brain once heard. Given that it was a list, the addition of two Kuala Lumpurs is entirely justified artistically, and made me giggle. Any errors are mine own. I haven't checked. But it's close enough that you'll get the drift.
[User Picture]
From:imc
Date:March 2nd, 2004 09:35 am (UTC)
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Oh I see… thanks. :-)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:March 2nd, 2004 09:45 am (UTC)
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Every list should now include two mentions of Kuala Lumpur.

When the BBC next bring back the Generation Game - which will, sadly, only be a matter of time; I suspect late 2018 with a 90-year-old Brucie hosting must be about favourite - they ought to abandon the conveyor belt in favour of a series of images with that bluegrey-and-salmon background. Kuala Lumpur is the new Cuddly Toy.

Incidentally, I'm picking you for my team should such a revival occur - you got the lot, except "budgies" instead of "parrots", but that's clearly as near as dammit. I only ever get as far as remembering "carrots, handbags, cheese".

Misheard lyrics in Flash animations: "Chorley" for "toilets".
[User Picture]
From:foreverdirt
Date:March 2nd, 2004 07:32 am (UTC)
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The weebls-stuff song is mesmerising. Wow. I think it even beats badgerbadgerbadger.

(and *hugs* and thank you)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:March 2nd, 2004 09:53 am (UTC)
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The same guy does the lot of them. The global market for weebl merchandise will doubtless soon overtake the global market for Weeble merchandise. Heck, the top Google result for weeble is already a link to Weebl and Bob. I'll offer a fiver at even money that the bloke responsible for Weebl and Bob, either alone or in partnership, gets his animation featured as part of the Royal Variety Performance before the end of 2010.

Come to Kenya...

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