mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.
No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford."

~ Samuel Johnson ~

On Thursday morning I fly to DC, drawing to a close over nine years in the UK. It seems fitting for such an occasion to delve into the memory bank and recollect how things have changed since I first moved here on a sunny May morning in 2007...

  • Tony Blair was still PM, Ming Campbell was Lib Dem leader and Ken Livingstone Mayor of London.
  • A woman had yet to serve as Britain's Home Secretary.
  • It was legal to smoke in pubs.
  • £1 was worth nearly $2.
  • Kate and Wills had just broken up.
  • Waterloo Station was still the Eurostar terminus.
  • Free newspapers thelondonpaper and London Lite were still in production and you had to pay for The Evening Standard.
  • Steve McClaren was England's football manager and the national team had yet to play at the new Wembley.
  • Portsmouth FC, now in the fourth tier, had just finished 9th in the Premier League.
  • Mourinho was Abramovich's only managerial appointment.
  • There was no equal prize money at Wimbledon between men and women.
  • The Digital Switchover had yet to begin.
  • Britain's Got Talent, Outnumbered, Would I Lie To You & Only Connect hadn't aired; Parkinson & Grange Hill were still on.
  • The iPhone hadn't been released yet.
  • Spain hadn't won a football World Cup or European Championships since 1964.
  • Pep Guardiola had yet to manage Barcelona and therefore hadn't won any of his 15 major trophies to date.
  • Djokovic had not won a Grand Slam yet, Nadal just 3 and there was only one British appearance in a final since 1977.
  • Myspace was the most popular social network, Twitter was just a year old (with fewer than 700,000 users) & Facebook had 20 million active users (it's now over a billion).
  • Justin Bieber hadn't been 'discovered' yet, Lady Gaga hadn't released her first album and Taylor Swift was still unheard of despite having released her first album.
  • Jennifer Lawrence had not acted in a film yet.
  • And finally, a little-known African American senator from Illinois had just announced his candidacy to the US presidency.

I hope I return to Blighty 21 months from now. I'm sure the time will fly. But my life has not quite gone according to plan until now, so who knows what the future holds. What I do know is that my lifelong love affair with The Great Wen and all things British will never diminish. So long Great Britain and its great people, thank you for all the wonderful memories.

Signing out for the last time on this side of the pond (for now), this is That Bloke in the Big Smoke.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
For about the next four weeks, depending on the episode, five excerpts of this fine book read by the author himself, will be available to listen anywhere in the world. Each episode is a delightfully compact fourteen minutes, so there's no excuse to miss out on any of them. Apparently, it was originally broadcast in 2010, repeated in 2011 and again in 2012, but I seemed to have missed them all. I guess it doesn't help that all these broadcasts, including this one, have been on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

I've blogged one of my favourite quotes from the book. I bought it many years ago but unfortunately I never finished it. Then I lent it to an Irish lass who was just getting into the sport and had quite taken to the longer forms of the game. She kept it.
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
...I arrived in London to settle here permanently. The photos below were taken on the night and subsequent morning of that memorable journey. It was my first flight to Blighty in three years - and I only stayed a night on that occasion - so this was actually my first proper visit in nearly four years. I was over the moon, making childhood dreams come true and all that jazz.


With mum at check-in in Muscat (then Seeb) International Airport. Dad had a separate flight that night to attend a conference in Italy. I think my sis was still in India. You can see bits of my Liverpool jersey that I was wearing in honour of the Champions League Final that was taking place as we were flying towards the Continent. The Mighty Reds were taking on The Rossoneri (AC Milan) in Athens. The pilot was kind enough to give us two score updates along the way. Unfortunately, we lost 2-1.

Read more... )
mcgillianaire: (Cricket Stumps)

Click on picture for link to book on Amazon UK.

There are several reasons why I fell in love with the game of cricket and this book is one of them. It was probably the first dedicated book about cricket that I ever bought and I remember the occasion clearly. My dad's favourite bookshop in the UK was Dillon's on Gower Street in Central London, now a branch of Waterstones. It felt massive then and even today it's the largest academic bookstore in Europe! I used to enjoy going to Dillon's on our biennial visits to the UK while growing up in Oman. On my first-ever visit there in the summer of 1992 (when I was eight) I bought this book. I wasn't a huge fan of cricket yet but I was slowly getting into it. For better or for worse, this book hooked me for life. I spent hours poring through every one of its 256 pages, the prose about the game's history and the tables of statistics detailing every record worth knowing.

Pakistan were touring England that summer and people who followed that series will remember it well. I know we were in town when Aamir Sohail scored a double century, at Edgbaston if memory serves. And I think he scored 205, possibly not-out. But the series made headlines for all the wrong reasons, what with ball-tampering allegations against the Pakistanis and what not. That was probably the first Test series that I had ever followed. Two years earlier I had been aware of India's tour of England and even bought my first-ever plastic cricket set during a trip to Snowdonia in Wales with some family friends, who also bought a set for themselves. But I know I didn't follow that series. I have a vague memory of watching part of a Test on the same family friend's TV, then going out into the driveway with their two boys and trying to emulate the players with our new cricket sets. Don't think we broke any car windows but our dads did break the bank to catch some action at Lord's. They also went to Wimbledon and caught some Centre Court action. So much for taking their boys along!

The emphasis in this book was obviously on Test cricket and though I probably wasn't aware of who he was at the time, it should come as no surprise that it was compiled by Bill Frindall. When I tried searching for the book (just out of plain curiosity) before I started on this entry, his name just popped out of nowhere. I couldn't remember the name of the book nor who had written it, but merely by recalling the image of the book in my mind, the first name that my memory bank associated with it was the Bearded Wonder. Lo and behold, it was by Frindall. I'm sure it's still stored somewhere in our house in Oman but I wish I had it in front of me right now!

(1992 was probably the year I fell in love with the game. You can read about another memorable formative cricketing experience from the same year that I posted about in March 2005).

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