Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Way North: Split to Trieste

Trieste's Grand Canal, Austro-Hungarian architecture, restaurant tables by the water, and text updates on Crystal Palace versus Newcastle United.

Ljubljana, by the Triple Bridge.

The pebble beach on Šolta, the closest island to Split.

Diocletian's Palace, Split. Built in the 4th century AD as a retirement home for an emperor, taken over by Medieval squatters, and now used by souvenir shop hawkers and foreign tourists drinking cups of coffee on velvet cushions.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Conversations on an Aeroplane

"We don't have to eat in restaurants, do we? We can just find a cheap supermarket, buy half a baguette or something and fill it with something cheap, like cheese or ham."
"Yeah, cheap."

"I don't know what he's doing with her. I mean, he's not the best looking but he could still do better."
"Have you seen his hands? They're horrible. I always look at the hands first, then the eyebrows."
"Really? I look for all-round hotness."

"Look at that island. Spectacular, isn't it? Doesn't look like Europe at all."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Split or Bust

When what remains of Newcastle's first team squad runs out tonight I'll be somewhere between Split's airport and a city centre bar. With another year of Kinnear and Ashley looking increasingly likely, I'm not going to pretend that I'm missing out.

UPDATE: One nil, Shola, read the text message from Newcastle. "You watch," I said, "he'll go mental now and get a hat-trick."

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Game One

"Ye kna it's gonna be crap but you've got to watch it anyway," said the man at the bar. England's cricketers were 42-0. On the screen Ameobi, Nolan and the rest were coming out of the tunnel in their ghastly yellow shirts. Things, you felt, could only get worse. In contrast to much of last season, Newcastle played like something resembling a team. West Brom - formidable at this level, according to the morning papers - were looking distinctly ordinary. And then, right on cue, we were one-nil down. For the record, the unrealistic expectations of those Geordies present amounted to shrugs of the shoulders and mutters of "What else did you expect, man?"

An hour, one goal and several Krul saves later the mood in Newcastle was slightly more hopeful. Down at Headingly England had lost five wickets for another forty runs.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Running Log

It's 4pm and 22 degrees, summer at last. The air by the bandstand smells of burnt sausage, car exhaust fumes and melted ice cream as we set off down the hill to the seafront, running on the spot, waiting for a gap in the traffic. My brother's back starts hurting as soon as we hit the beach, even-paced along the narrow strip, no wider than a metre, between the water and dry sand. After a mile we stop, pulling up by a man selling ice creams from the back of a caravan. We walk back to the car. To my surprise I'm barely out of breath.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Back to Reality

Michael Owen wasn't the only person making the journey from Newcastle to Manchester last month. A couple of days after my last post I started a one-month residential summer school at Chetham's School of Music, whose list of banned internet sites, as I quickly discovered, included Not that I had the time or ability to write: summer school management is much longer on workload than it is on sleep, particularly when half the pissed population of the city centre passes right under your bedroom window on its way home every night.

More to come when I'm a bit less frazzled.