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Jeff Stein

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Everything posted by Jeff Stein

  1. Running the World by Nick Butter. I saw this chap being interviewed on TV. He seemed an amiable cove and I like travel books so I got this. It is a diary of his successful attempt to run a marathon in each of the world's countries totalling 196. It certainly isn't great literature but does bounce along. It doesn't change my mind that running is intrinsically dull and it certainly didn't make me want to visit anywhere in Africa.
  2. My wife and I find him unintentionally funny as he has only one pitch, which is total excitement. he hasn't run out of superlatives yet.
  3. Strangely the only things I ever missed were things I never had any interest in back home. When I lived in The Netherlands and Germany I religiously listened to The Archers on World Service. I would never bother with it when here. Nowadays when I am in Thailand I never touch western food and love Thai food, but for a while when I went to Suvarnabhumi to get the plane to the UK I got into the habit that I had to go to Burger King in the terminal. I think it must be 20 years since I ate one here.
  4. Why the Germans do it Better: Notes from a Grown Up Country by John Kampfner. The title is a little misleading in that it is not really a comparison with anywhere, although Johnson's UK does get mentioned on occasion, more in sadness than anything. Instead the book covers the political development of Germany from the second war world to the present liberal democracy. It is safe to say that the author is a fan of Angela Merkel, but it is remarkable how there has not really been a poor post-war chancellor. Only Gerhard Schroder gets a bit of a kicking and that is because of his post-chancellorship crawling to Putin. The book reads like a long form magazine article, but it is none the worse for that as it provides real clarity to issues such as the economic miracle, grundgesetz, reunification, foreign policy and the 2015 opening of borders rather than being of a more academic bent. Although I last lived in Germany over 27 years ago, it chimed with my impressions from that time.
  5. I had durian ice cream a couple of years ago, but thought it was really bland. My wife has some durian trees in her orchard in Thailand, but it is quite difficult to grow. I keep hoping we get one of the perfect ones to auction (one was sold a couple of years ago for £37,500!).
  6. Skolars usually try to play on whichever day Broncos aren't playing as it is beyond the whit of the fixtures planners to have them play at home on alternative weekends
  7. Mongkut Station by Jake Needham. I am a big fan of this thriller writer and have read all of his books, this being the latest. All of his books are set in south east Asia, this one being in Hong Kong and featuring his two main characters Inspector Samuel Tay of Singapore CID and Jack Shepherd, an American lawyer. There are the usual hallmarks of his books: snappy dialogue, real life settings (in this case the pro-democracy demonstrations) and atmospheric and accurate locations. You feel like you are in Hong Kong. The one failing I have found in some of his previous books has been a rushed ending, but this one was satisfying and felt right.
  8. I worked for a while in London downstairs of a consultant who had a number of celebrity clients to whom I opened the front door. Cliff Morgan, Robson Green and Sean Bean were all lovely. A now deceased guitarist from Status Quo much less so (Got a don't you know who I am out of him after asking who he was - I wasn't wearing my glasses for some reason at the time). Also met a now deceased ROI football manager on the tube, who turned out to be totally graceless after asking us for directions.
  9. I have seen that in the past. Enjoyed watching Rio Bravo a couple of days ago
  10. Talking of critically acclaimed films that one has only just got around to, I finally saw "No Country for Old Men" a couple of days ago. I have to say I found it incredibly hollow. All style and no substance.
  11. Presumably all those complaining about the lack of progression of French juniors are also busily petitioning the clubs to allow Catalan back into the academy competition.
  12. ITV seemed to be attempting to get into the Guinness Book of Records for the most shows over a festive period with celebrity in the title. Still it has meant we have been able to concentrate on boardgames and watching the wonderful Alistair Sim as Scrooge on Talking Pictures.
  13. In recent years I have not read a lot of non-fiction but I have just completed Simon Winder's trilogy "Germania", "Danubia" and "Lotharingia". They are idiosyncratic histories of the Holy Roman Empire and Germany, Hapsburg lands and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and finally a buffer state between France and the Holy Roman Empire covering Burgundy, Flanders and Southern Netherlands, the Rhineland and north west Switzerland. However, some book shops place the books in the travel section as regularly the author describes wandering round a town, building or museum relevant to the history. While all the books strictly follow their own chronologies, the author regularly wanders off into discussing art, music, architecture and scientific changes. The author is a not a professional historian, but rather works in publishing. As such his histories can be idiosyncratic. Germania is probably the most accessible geographically. I found trying to work out which areas were being discussed at times difficult in the second and third books. For instance it took me quite a while to work out the Ruthenes came from what is now western Ukraine. Strangely Bismark is only mentioned once in Germania and Mozart not at all in Danubia and the author is not unafraid of giving his personal opinion on individuals. Germania ends in 1933 as he writes that he does not want to waste time on the nazis. Personally I don't mind that as any bookshop is full of tomes on the racist psychopath and there really is nothing to add to the topic. Germany has a much more interesting history than that 12 year period which is regularly overlooked and is the birthplace of a vibrant and important culture. Danubia unsurprisingly ends in 1918 but Lotharingia goes up to the modern day. The author's distaste of nationalists is found throughout the books and the pointed comments that the EU has seen the first lengthy period since the Roman Empire without war or preparations for the next war for Flanders and the border between France and Germany are pointed given it was written during the Brexit period. It should be said that the style of writing is very self-deprecating, which might get wearing. Personally I found the books to be very entertaining and laugh out loud funny in places. A dictionary is occasionally helpful, however, as he does like the odd obscure word. In all they are highly recommended if you want to reawaken knowledge of areas which is now often overlooked through the carnage of the last century.
  14. Not local to me, but local in the description, there is a band on Jersey called Sergeant Pipon's Lonely Heart Club Band. All their songs are original and about the island. I have seen them a couple of times at the beer festival there and they do draw a good crowd of enthusiastic islanders.
  15. Beers with unfeasibly complicated names: I had one on Christmas Day called "Disruption is Brewing Battle Royale: Amorillo". As an added complexity it appears to be actually brewed by the Ascot Brewing Company
  16. Don't think I have ever had a beer from Hawaii before but tried not one but two last night after a quick run to the offie before the end of days started. Both were from the Kona Brewery. I liked Big Wave, a golden ale, but found Hanalei IPA less pleasant. Apparently it was flavoured with passion fruit, orange and guava but tasted of none of them in particular
  17. Misbehaviour which debuted on Sky tonight was well acted and entertaining while thought provoking. Bit odd that a BBC films production would be first shown on Sky
  18. I had no idea you could still get crispy pancakes. Back in the day for Saturday lunch I used to have fried eggs on baked beans on pizza on crispy pancakes on fish fingers on potato waffles. It remains a mystery how I ended up with diabetes
  19. I had a crocodile burger in an Irish pub in Cebu City in The Philippines. Remember the meat was quite dense but bland. I had a zebra burger at the Great British Beer Festival, but strangely, apart from remembering that I ate it, cannot recall anything else. Done the array of fried crickets and bugs in Thailand, but managed to avoid scorpion albeit I have been shown how to eat it. Most horrific was matjes fillet while I was interrailing 30 years ago. We were in a bar in Berlin and were low on cash. It was the only meal we could afford and still buy some equally rancid Schultheiss beer (or s..tscheisse as we called it). We did not contemplate that for that price it was unlikely to be beef and were less than overjoyed to find that not only was it herring, but it was cold herring
  20. Yes the elephant in the room is Hughes and what happens to the club when he finally stops paying for the club. The fans cannot expect his family to carry on with his largese. If he is looking to further reduce his input and bring new investment in or sell the club, I cannot see how the present set up would make anyone put their hand in the pocket. Everyone new with whom I have gone to Ealing have never wanted to do it a second time and the reasons are never to do with the product on the pitch. It just is not a stadium befitting a professional club.
  21. Got to say I pretty much agree with this. I remember going to a Challenge Cup game at the beginning of 2019 in the community club rounds and even with only 100 or so in the ground the viewing experience was terrible. The travel experience in London tends to be a personal one and often grounds have been a bit of a walk from railway or tube stations, but for some reason I always found the trip from Ealing Broadway to the ground to be soul destroying, which I didn't find elsewhere. It put me off after 30 years as a season ticket holder and I can't have been the only person given that they couldn't even average 1,000 in their promotion year. I don't recall it being that bad even in the years of onfield horrors at The Hive. I just cannot see Trailfinders as being a ground which could ever be said to be suitable for top level sport. Hopefully some thought has gone into this move and that a succession plan is in place for David Hughes. It would be a change in administrative culture from the last 20 years, however.
  22. No. I am pretty sure Skolars will still be at New River
  23. Not sure but it was Good Friday, which seems wildly inappropriate
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