21 March 2010

Oh, the fame!

Our appearance on Eggheads was repeated on Friday. I watched enough of it to see it was us, but then went out. I really don't like seeing myself in photos, never mind on screen, and I knew what the result was.

But then yesterday, some of the people who sit behind me at Charlton asked if it had really been me, and today the husband and wife on Farmer Ted's vegetable stall at the market said they'd seen me. Everyone was impressed that I'd beaten Kevin.

It's strange and worrying how good I feel about this recognition. Fame, even in tiny doses like this, is obviously a dangerous drug.

Charlton 2 Gillingham 2

The season that began so brilliantly is becoming ever more frustrating. Gillingham hadn't recorded an away win so far this season but they looked the more confident team for most of the game, despite being, erm, not very good. I wonder if it was significant that they chose to play towards their fans in the first half. It shouldn't make a difference but it probably does. I'm always happier when Charlton are attacking the north stand in the second half. That's usually what happens, and it might have been a clever idea by Gillingham to upset the normal way of things.

It was quite a feisty game, and after Charlton's first goal there was some evident illwill between Nicky Bailey and one of the Gillingham players. The referee had to speak to both of them before the restart, and Charlton's already fragile concentration broke. Gillingham scored immediately. Another goal - a defensive calamity - late in extra time sent Charlton off to a round of booing. Harsh, but justified. They had promised something special to make up for the disaster at Millwall, and this was nothing like it. (After the game Parkinson said the team had played ten times better than at Millwall. Christ, I'm glad I didn't go to that.)

Second half saw Charlton slowly begin to play better, the way they always can but don't often do these days. David Mooney scored the equaliser, a well-taken striker's finish, but it wasn't enough to convince me that he should be a regular starter. He's lazy, basically, and showed this on one occasion where he knew he was going to be beaten for pace by a Gillingham defender, so just stepped in front of him, and claimed he'd been pushed. No-one bought it.

So, another two points lost. I've actually given up looking at other results and our league position. It looks like we're doomed to the play-offs, which might be fun, but given Charlton's record in knockout competitions, probably won't be.

19 March 2010

Challenge failed

There were 16 questions. I got 5, the contestant 10. So I didn't beat him. Largely it was because of details of content of the poems. Still, it's not bad, I think, and I beat the contestant on general knowledge (11 to 9), and I ended with a score of 16, which is respectable, though it would still be a last place.

13 March 2010

My Baudelaire challenge

Flicking through the Guardian guide, I notice that one of the specialist rounds on Mastermind on Friday is Baudelaire. Now, I know a bit about Baudelaire, but can I learn enough in 6 days to do better than the Mastermind contestant? That's my challenge for the week.

Here are the questions I could answer now.

What is Baudelaire's first name? (I don't suppose they'll ask that.)
What is the name of his major collection of poems? (Les Fleurs du Mal)
Which American short-story writer did Baudelaire translate into French? (Poe)
Which set of children's books has a number of characters called Baudelaire? (Lemony Snicket)

Erm, that's about it. Not much to go on, so the sooner I start, the better. I'll update here after the programme.

11 March 2010

The case of the locked trunk

One of the filthy foreign blogs I follow is that of Jacques Monin, the London correspondent of Radio France. It's interesting to get an outre-manchard view of what goes in in England. In the past he's expressed surprise that in the English legal system, a defendant can plead guilty, and so stop any public examination of what happened. I'd never seen that as a weakness before, but he made the point that it weakens the possibility of learning from the case, and can deprive victims of a sense of justice.

This time, he's been reading the Daily Mail so we don't have to, and he's reported a story which I find vaguely unbelievable. When Agatha Christie died, she left her daughter, Rosalind Hicks, a locked trunk.  She in turn died and her belongings were auctioned by Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood. A bidder put in a bid of 120 euros, sight unseen, won, and eventually forced the lock and found that the trunk contained jewellery which has now been valued at 120,000 euros. As Monin says, she has "touché le Jack Pot", and the auctioneers are going "d'eau!" (I made that bit up), and Christie's grandson is planning to bid whatever it takes if and when the jewellery is auctioned.

This is surely bolleaux, n'est-ce pas? Can we really believe that no-one in this chain of events thought it might be a good idea to open the box, and then take the money?

The story is not reported in the Guardian, so I'm inclined to believe it never happened. I don't want to go to the Mail's site to check the story; I'm very worried about the effects of passive bigotry. You know how it works: you find yourself unable to type the word foreign on its own, and you make references to 1960s tv shows that only old gits like you will understand.

07 March 2010

Charlton 2 Stockport 0

Two gifted goals in the first ten minutes were enough to give Charlton three points, and if I live this life again, I will leave this match after 15 minutes, get back to a warm house and watch The Battle of the River Plate on Film 4.

Stockport were really poor - the worst opposition this season, and quite understandably bottom of the table, and quite understandably bringing a pitifully small following with them - and Charlton should have scored what's technically known as a hatful. The first goal was a comedy og, and the second was a well-taken but shockingly defended free header for Akpo Sodje. Both Charlton wingers had phantom opposition that melted away before them. But the rest of the first half was a story of nice play, total control, but no real chances.

To Stockport's credit, they came out for the second half with a new-found spirit, and took hold of the game. Charlton, for some reason, sat back and let them control it, while their own play deteriorated and there was very little to get excited about apart from a shot by Deon Burton (on too late as a sub) smartly saved by the Stockport keeper.

Once again, I'm baffled by the seemingly random nature of Charlton's play. But this week's scapegoat is (and I'm shocking myself in saying this) Nicky Bailey. At his best, he makes the captaincy meaningful, keeping the competitive spirit flowing. But yesterday that seemed to be missing.

I almost wish I was going to Millwall next week. I think it's likely the team will rise to the occasion. But you never know. Well, I never know.

04 March 2010

Murder, she wrote, and wrote, and wrote

I talked about the endless repeatability of CSI and its offshoots. Just by chance I've now seen this astonishing statistic: there were 264 episodes of Murder, She Wrote and 178 of Diagnosis Murder. Those are both amazing figures, but then I found that there have been (to date) 221 episodes of (vanilla) CSI, 181 of CSI: Miami, and 131 of CSI: NY, not to mention 156 of NCIS. Does anyone else find this quite depressing?

03 March 2010

Channel 5

I'm sure I used to watch Channel 5 from time to time, but the other day I realised I couldn't even tell you what its channel ident looks like. So I decided to check out what I was missing and I've analysed the station's output between 7 and 11 this week.

This week on C5 started badly for me: three films in one weekend featuring Adam Sandler. The Radio Times previewed one of them with the comment: "Sandler is at at his most unlikeable". Wow. That's very unlikeable indeed. Other films shown this week are Deuce Bigalow, Hang 'em High and A Fistful of Dollars. Nothing very appealing, really.

On weekdays, the fixed element is Live from Studio Five at 1830. Charlie Brooker's skewered this better than I could, but when a programme loses gravitas with the departure of Melinda Messenger, you know it's in trouble. It stands at the start of the evening schedule like a red flag on a beach. Go beyond this, and you've only yourself to blame.

C5's big on imported crime series: three episodes of Law and Order, two each of CSI and NCIS and one of The Mentalist. Apparently  CSI is one of the most popular tv series ever made, which explains the proliferation of spin-offs into different locations. I've never watched any of them, so I shouldn't comment. But I will. It's exactly that kind of proliferation, of endless repeatability, that puts me off. The programmes become their own kind of narrowly defined genre, with (I suspect) the same basic form each time, and only the details changing. You could say the same about Agatha Christie novels, of course. I used to read them, but in the end the invariability of form becomes frustrating, the comfort begins to feel claustrophobic. I know people who started watching Lost and by the third series were acting like addicts: they knew they shouldn't carry on, but couldn't leave it. So, there's a big part of C5's output I'm not going near.

The rest of the schedule is pretty run-of-the-mill documentaries: animals (Zoo Days, Monkey Life), big and small things for big and small boys (Building the Ultimate, Ice Road Truckers, The Gadget Show), human interest (Extraordinary People, Highland Emergency, Build a New Life in the Country), and cooking (Chinese Food in Minutes). It all seems a bit like a knock-off of someone else's idea. They only need a Come Dine With Me clone to have the full set.

So, I'm satisfied that I'm not missing anything but disappointed that the Channel has such a lack of ambition for itself. But C5 never claimed to be anything more than this. It and I will continue to get along without each other very well.