Posts Tagged ‘Fratton Park’

I think I need a pork and Nazi curry for dinner tonight.

I think I need a pork and Nazi curry for dinner tonight.

1. There’s just no point telling someone with whose political beliefs you disagree in a bunch of places in Southern Africa that they’re a Nazi.

In Swahili, it means “coconut”.

2. Never get in the water without checking for vending machines first.

You are four times as likely to be killed in the US by a vending machine than a shark. Vending machines kill 2.18 people compared to .6 of a person, per annum.

So the movie should have been called “Drawers” not “Jaws”, we guess.

3. A “tittle” isn’t a rude word, much as we like the word “tit” on this blog. (Use the search box and see why.) A tittle is the little dot above an “i”. Hence the term “every jot and tittle” meaning “every little thing”.

In case you’ve always dreamed of knowing what all the other bits of type are called, here you go. of such happy little facts is a creative person’s life made up. Pretty sad? Yup.

4. Human sperm travel about 7-10 inches an hour. Giddyup boys!

5. The sun is “20 years old”. Since it’s inception, it has traveled round the centre of our galaxy 20 times.

6. You are about 40% more likely to survive a plane crash in the back row of a plane than in the front row, according to a study in Popular Mechanics that investigate all plane smashes in the period 1971-2007. Wellthisiswhatithink could have predicted this: not many planes reverse into mountains in our experience.

Then again, you’ll have to sit for hours while an entire plane load of people empty their bladders just behind your head after they’ve enjoyed their breakfast, so we still think we prefer the big seats at the pointy end, thank you very much. We’ll take our chances.

Insert very impressive chart stolen from the interweb here. Pretend you know what it means.

Insert very impressive chart stolen from the interweb here. Pretend you know what it means.

7. OK, this is very cool. Worried about cell phone emissions? By the time you’ve read this paragraph, hundreds if not thousands of billions of neutrinos pouring out of the sun will have passed through you. Specifically 65 billion neutrinos pass through every square centimetre of you that is currently perpendicular to the Sun. Zap. Kapow. And stuff.

8. “Mother in Law” is a perfect anagram of “Hitler woman”. Cute, huh?

Horrid then. Horrid now. Trust us, boil your head in acid first, you'll have more fun.

Horrid then. Horrid now. Trust us, boil your head in acid first, you’ll have more fun.

Which leads me also (constantly mindful of the need to add value to our discourse, Dear Reader) to remind you that Fratton Park, home of the hated Portsmouth Football Club, is also an anagram of “Krap? Nottarf.”

Oh, how we laughed in those lazy hazy days of summer when they were relegated. Again.

And did you know “Here come dots” is an anagram of “The Morse Code”? Well, dash it, you do now.

9. Your average beef cow (about 200 kilos worth of usable meat) makes up about 4,500 McDonalds burgers. Doesn’t seem enough, really, does it? Poor thing.

The average iPhone in a case sold by the Chinese ladies on the stall at my local shopping centre weights 3.2 kilos.

The average iPhone in a case sold by the Chinese ladies on the stall at my local shopping centre weighs 3.2 kilos.

10. A 32Gb iPhone weighs about 0.000000000000000008 grams more when it’s hard drive is full as opposed to being empty. I mean, who needs to know that?

11. During his lifetime, an average male human will produce about 1,500 sperm a second. That’s enough to repopulate the earth more than 400 times at the current population level of about 7 billion. A woman, however, will produce only about 450 eggs to be fertilised in their lifetime.

Lift your game, girls. No wonder men spend so much time trying to work their way into the gene pool. The wastage figures are horrendous!

(This column is getting very sperm-y. Ed.)

12. OK, this has to be the best trivia contest question ever.

Which American was both Vice-President and President, but wasn’t elected to either position? Answer: Gerald Ford.

Surely the most remarkable thing Gerard Ford did in his lifetime was actually to lose to Jimmy Carter.

Surely the most remarkable thing Gerard Ford did in his lifetime was actually to lose to Jimmy Carter.

He replaced Spiro T Agnew as VP when he resigned for corruption, and then the ever-lovable Richard “Tricky Dicky” Nixon when he resigned for, well, for doing just about everything illegal a President could do really.

If you fancy another rider to the main question, you might care to note that Ford also lived longer than any other U.S. president, living 93 years and 165 days, while his 895-day presidency remains the shortest of all presidents who did not die in office.

13. If you search the word “askew” in Google, the browser results will actually tilt and be askew. Go on, try it, you know you want to. The same happens with “tilt”.

14. Oh, those crazy wacky student types. Have a look: cheerfully redirects you to … Berkeley.

15. So, that’s enough for today. Except: “Am I as bored as you are?” (Now try reading it backwards. Clever, huh?)

(Yes, that was fifteen. Roll on the weekend.)

Fratton Park

The clouds are gathering over Pompey. Well, they've gathered, really.

Those with a passing interest in football – that’s the real football, I mean, where the foot contacts the ball, and the use of hands is restricted to two players out of 22 on the park – will have noticed that Portsmouth FC, traditional rivals of my team – Southampton FC – are broke.


This time for not paying their taxes. Not paying their taxes because presumably they were too busy paying inflated transfer fees and wages, so they could maintain an artificially exalted position in English football. (By artificially exalted, I mean, of course, anywhere higher than Southampton.) And now, they have to find a buyer, or they risk going really, truly, totally, finally broke, which I mean the club will cease to exist and their ground will be sold off for affordable housing or an ice-skating rink.

Which is where Southampton were a few years ago – within two days of vanishing altogether – until a kindly Swiss billionaire stepped into to save us. At the time, may Portsmouth fans were gleefully awaiting our permanent demise with glee that would make the witches in Macbeth toiling over their hubbling bubbling cauldron seem like cheerful old grannies on a seaside excursion. Ah well. que sera sera. Now it’s a case of biter, bit.

And needless to say, many Saints supporters are now cackling maniacally over the possible vanishing of our South Coast rivals, and the grinding of the faces of their fans into the blasted sands of a building site where Fratton Park, their antiquated home ground, used to be.

And yes. It needs saying. Without a word of a lie, the worst of the Pompey fans are awful. But then again, so are the worst of ours.

I suspect Pompey has more dreadful zombie fans than we do because it has always struck me as a rougher, tougher area generally. In its built form it is uglier than Southampton (and that’s saying something, after the Nazis demolished great swathes of both cities with indiscriminate bombing, and what arose in place of charming medieval homes and churches was mile after mile of disgusting concrete tower blocks and squat, low-rise concrete stores) and as far as I know Portsmouth has worse employment and more crime, and I have always found the residents to have a sizeable chip on their shoulder accordingly.

But no, for all that, I don’t want to see our nearest rivals disappear, for the sake of their real fans.

Sure, I’d be happy if they were in what we used to call Division Four, before Division One was re-named the Premiership and Division Two became the Championship, so good old Division Four was christened something called League Two – and I’d be glad for them to be mid table, too, with crowds of no more than 5,000 for a few seasons, to teach them some manners after their hubris in recent years.

And yes, I have experienced some horrid times with Pompey supporters, but then honestly so I have with so-called supporters from Tottenham, Leeds, Chelsea, Millwall, and others.

In the good old bad old days of the 70s and early 80s, it was quite common to see Bedford Place, a harmless little thoroughfare from Southampton Central Station up to the Saints home ground, which was called the Dell, boarded up from top to bottom on match days, otherwise every window would be smashed in, and the mass of fans would prevent any effective policing of the chaos at all.

When I went to the Dell to see us beat Man City once their fans were lobbing darts at random into the toilet queue I was in. Well, I think it was Man City. But it could have been any one of an enormous variety of clubs that still produced magic on the pitch while their fans behaved like crazed mental institution inmates on the terraces. Ah yes, the stepped concrete terraces with their murderous metal-pipe leaning posts, which could crush the life out of you as ten thousand fellow fans tumbled down the terraces behind you and towards the pitch if you weren’t smart enough to get out of the way, and which would ring with the chant “We’re going to have a riot!” “We’re going to have a riot!” And so we often did, although I never threw any punches myself. I was too busy running away, and I say that with no shame whatsoever. If you have never been in the middle of a pitched battle with thousands of young males armed with boots, knives, lumps of wood, metal bars, broken glasses and God knows what else then you can’t really comment on my instinct for self-preservation. I wouldn’t have enjoyed being at the Battle of Floddon much, either, and that was what it was like.

But despite having often been on the receiving end of abuse from fans of all clubs, and often brutally from those from Pompey, really hating people you don’t even know just for supporting another football club is sociopathic nonsense, and doesn’t make the world a better place.

That does not mean I have to like them, much.

And yes, I do love Southampton, because the most important years of the early part of my life were spent there, and I fell in love with the dirty, concrete clad mess of a place.

I understand its traditions, its history, the shared sufferings and joys of its people, and over much more than just football. For me, Southampton will always be uniquely my home, wherever I live. It was where I learned to love, whoever I chose to, and by my choice, and not because I was told to.

It was where I learned to think, and criticise, and analyse, and make my own mind up on the great issues of our lives. In short, this little red smudge on the map of docks and pubs and parks and semi-detached houses which Hitler tried to erase was where I turned from a child to a man, and then a particular type of man, a big part of which was to walk cheerfully to the Dell and squeeze into that tiny ground, on cold winter nights when the frost still sat on the pitch and the air was white with the breath of my fellow supporters and blue with their chants, and on one glorious day in May of 1976, it was where I wandered the streets of Above Bar with an unknown girl on my arm, celebrating the impossible toppling of Man United in the FA Cup Final.

And I fell in love – not with the girl, who I recall was named Sue, but who wanted nothing to do with me the next day after sticking her tongue down my throat most of that night – ah, the follies of youth – but with an idea of a place, with the very essence of a place, a place of civility, and memories, and a curious accent on the voices of its citizens, which would make anyone laugh, and should.

And the essence of Southampton and its immediate environs runs through my veins as surely as my blood still falteringly manages to do so, and it always will.

It pains me to say it, somewhat, but I am sure that’s just as true of people from Portsmouth too. In 1917, my grandfather received the DSC (one step down from a VC) for using his trawler nets to dredge Portsmouth Harbour of contact mines dropped by Zeppelins … in the second war my father sailed in and out of there regularly on the convoys that kept Britain alive in 1940 and 41, which is simply a reminder that what unites us is always greater than what divides us, even with Portsmouth.

And this is the only time that I ever have, or ever will, spell the name of that benighted place with all the letters typed out correctly. From here on, it will be back to Pomp*y, or Portsmou*h. And I will continue to regale all and sundry with the fact that the name of their hideous ground is a perfect anagram of “Krap, Nottarf”, and sing the songs of yesteryear about flying over said ground with the wings of a sparrow and the arse of a crow, and shitting on the bastards below. And when they lose, and we win, I shall be Happier than a Happy Person in Happy Town on International Lets Be Irrationally Happy Day.

But I don’t really want them to disappear, for the sake of the die-hards, the ironed-ons, the kids with tears in their eyes, and the grandads sitting next to them. Because I know they can’t help it either.

They’re hooked, for life, just like me. And we addicts should always support one another, in extremis, at least.