F1 – the magnificent!

Formula One - 2012 season calendar

Everybody follows a sport, right? Wrong! I didn’t follow any sport until the mid 1990’s, which is, apparently, a pretty heinous crime.

Football I loathe: I can’t see the point. Cricket is really too slow and a sport for statisticians: besides, it appears that nowadays they cheat for shedloads of money. Rugger I quite like, but is better played than watched. Ditto for Squash – though there isn’t any television coverage of Squash as far as I’m aware.

Baseball is a sport I could have got into. Once, back in the 1980’s, when I was in the U.S.A. working my way around selling T-Shirts at rock concerts, I got taken to see the Ney York Yankees vs the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The game was fantastic, full on, energetic and bloody amazing! By some fluke of fate I caught a home run ball that had been belted into the stands. From then on until the game finished I was protected by two hulking American friends in order to stop rabid fans from taking the ball off me. Later, I got a vibe off the same friends that they were quite upset I’d caught the ball. One of them had been going to watch the Yankees for years and had never managed it. Still, they were happy for me and that night we got drunk and tried to knock over a street light outside a bar in Queens.

Sadly, Baseball isn’t televised in the U.K., So that put paid to that. I suppose Tennis was the closest I came to following a sport, but that only for the Wimbledon fortnight. So that was me and sport …

… until 1996 when I was howling in a band with the name ‘Split Pyramid.’ Don’t ask me why we were called that, I have no idea. The other band members, to a man, followed F1. And they all played the Playstation F1 game. I took up both, and F1 still has me avidly in its clutches even though I’ve never been to a live Grand Prix:

“Maybe this year,” is what I say in January every year. Who knows, maybe it will be this year?

I also follow Joe Saward’s blog for the inside scoop and gossip, ’cause who doesn’t need a little scoop (two scoops and a flake, please) and gossip, these days?

Hockney 2012 – exhibition at the Royal Academy

David Hockney's invitation


David Hockney, without doubt one of our greatest living artists, is exhibiting a series of landscapes at the Royal Academy (21st January – 9th April). The exhibition is part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, but why is it ending so soon? You’d think it would run through the games as an alternative for those who dislike synchronised swimming. “That’s me!” 😉

Ever since I first saw ‘A Bigger Splash‘ Hockney has interested me. Now, at seventy four, he has embraced technology to the extent of working on an iPad. I wonder what apps he uses?

Me and Johnny Seven

Johnny Seven OMA

I read a poem today about the loss of a friend during the Vietnam war. It was beautifully written, and dredged up a memory,  a very strong memory, of when I was seven.

My father has business in America and Canada and decided to take my mother and me along.  It was the late sixties and Vietnam was a very delicate subject in the U.S.. I, of course, only wanted one thing: a Johnny Seven OMA (that’s one man army for those not in the know). I wanted one, I wanted one, I wanted one! I also knew how to play my parents; it was the one subject I excelled in.

We ended up at ‘Swartz‘ on fifth avenue. It’s gone, now, but back then they called themselves ‘the best toyshop in the world’.  It was a huge shop, but no Johnny Sevens in sight. We traipsed from floor to floor and I was getting close to the point of hysteria when my father finally decided to enquire at the counter. Quietly, we were told they had them in stock, but because of Vietnam they were kept hidden under the counter.

I was told off for shooting guests in the hotel corridors. Later that week we went to stay at a friends house in the country, somewhere in upper New York. I had a splendid time – probably being a brat. I ran around pretending to kill people, while kids not much older than I was were actually doing it for real. But I was seven, war was exciting, and it didn’t seem perverse. Pretense is all very well, but I now thank the gods I wasn’t born ten years earlier and in the U.S.A..

In 2011 the last veteran of the first world war died. We now have no one to talk to about that horrific world changing event, and soon, if we’re not very careful, it’ll be forgotten.

The second world war and other wars will inevitably follow…. Then, one day, the only idea of the horror of warfare will come from those playing video games. Already they have taken over from kids roaming the streets with gun shaped bits of wood howling “Peow, peow, peow!” and falling over pretending to be dead. Maybe it’s a good thing, too.