Sunday, October 26, 2008

NFL @ Wembley

Having extravagantly paid for "expensive" seat a Wembley to continue my goal of watching live most of the sports I've seen on TV - I've added to the list I've "watched live", one I'd previously only seen late at night on Channel 4 or 5 - American Football...
From NFL @ Wembley
The New Orleans Saints played host to the San Diego Chargers. It was very obvious who the "home team" was - the Chargers got little looking in terms of branding or valuable merchandising! It was the Saints' cheerleaders that had to freeze on what was a brisk autumn evening - at least the rain stopped. I've still not been at Wembley when the roof has been required. Having supported the Saints that play football with a round ball all my life - through good and bad time, to a lesser or greater extend, I had no problem supporting the home side. I even supported the systems that hosted the Saints first web sites - before the internet was such a big thing!
Before the real show the number of players involved in an American Football match became clear - each team warmed up separately - there wasn't room on the pitch for them at the same time. The final pre-match entertainment was a few songs from the Sterophonics - promoting there upcoming tour, then the National Anthems. A good rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, which is often murdered! Then a bare foot Joss Stone managed to murder God Save the Queen - and there was nothing the crowd could do to rescue her!
Then it was game time - and it became clear that this was a sport aimed at TV viewing. Without the replays and close ups it was challenging to follow - not helped by the fact that the PA system didn't work half the time to let us hear why flags had flown. It turned out to be a high scoring match - and despite the lack of a audible PA was very entertaining. The advert breaks didn't impact things noticeably - there where plenty natural breaks in the play. It was surprising to see how little of the Wembley pitch was used - they played on a very narrow 100 yard strip. That left plenty of space for the cheerleaders - great additional entertainment!
Next sport on my list is Baseball...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Memorable things about Far East Holiday

In keeping with "random thoughts" - what will be my outstanding memories of Hong Kong/Singapore?

Condensation in Hong Kong - but on the outside of the windows, not the inside where I'd expect it - most strikingly on the windows of the air-conditioned public buses...

The inequality in living conditions - the difference between the gleaming tower blocks in the centre of Hong Kong and the "social housing" not to far away, and the rural villages was striking - whole families living in a space 3 metres by 4 - with a mezzanine to provide a sleeping area. Even where that had progress, it was in the form of building 3 or 4 stories on the same 12m2 plot! And then there where was the ex-British army accommodation - siting empty - slowly rotting away because of the high humidity.

The density of the population in Hong Kong - every where you look round Victoria Harbour there are tower blocks - and not just single blocks - in some places, blocks of tens of identical 20+ floor tower blocks. Getting 7 million living in such a small area demands this density - and the people appear to like living so close - there is space in the Special Administrative Region.

By contrast Singapore was slightly less dense in terms of building - at least until they finish building! The quality of the public housing was also a significant step up - the gap between the haves and the have nots seamed less.

The amount of "countryside" in Hong Kong - outside the immediate surrounds of the tower blocks around Victoria Harbour, the land quickly becomes very lush with greenery.

Singapore was if anything even greener - every public space had some plants - covering road bridges with flowering shrubs certainly softens them. It lives up to the title "garden city".

In both Hong Kong and Singapore it was great to use the familiar three pin plug - shame neither culture adopted British queuing or organisation on the underground. The wonderful underground system in Singapore was missing the standing on the right and walking on the left on escalators and keeping left when walking - being faced by a wall of people in the interlinking tunnels touch the edge off the great organisation.

Singapore made a great impression, wonderful climate, clean, safe. I'll certainly be back for more Grand Prix if I can muster the funds, and it would be a great place to be an ex-pat! I'm not sure I could cope with the humidity and population density in Hong Kong.