By Matt Fricker
The World Cup is undoubtedly one of the biggest sporting events there is, and every four years, without fail, a new star is born. In previous tournaments we’ve watched as Diego Maradona, Roberto Baggio, Michael Owen, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi to name a few have become household footballing names during the month long competition.
No different is the 2010 World Cup being held in South Africa at the moment, with the final set to take place on Sunday between Spain and Holland, many have been discussing who will win, but when it comes to pundits, the only opinion sought is that of 2010s biggest World Cup star.
I am, of course, talking about Paul the psychic Octopus. (Pictured above)
Paul was born in Weymouth and can now be found at the Aquarium Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany where he has been residing since 2006.
What’s interesting (if not rather bizarre) about Paul is that he seems to be genuinely psychic (or a gamblers best friend, whichever you want to call it)
You see Paul has become somewhat of a worldwide celebrity following his eerie predictions on German TV in which he has so far predicted the correct winner for every fixture featuring the German national team during the World Cup, including the shock loss to Serbia in the group stages.
This ‘psychic’ Octopus was said to have broken the hearts of millions of Germans on Tuesday as he predicted victory for Spain in their semi final fixture.
As a result many will be watching with great anticipation to see if Paul is allowed to predict who will win the final, as he may just be on to a winner.
By Matt Fricker
This morning it was announced that 26 year old British actor Andrew Garfield has been cast in the coveted role of Spiderman.
The casting comes after the powers that be in Hollywood decided that, rather than going ahead and making Spiderman 4 with Tobey Maguire, (Who would be reprising the role he played in the previous three movies). They would rather re-boot the series and send the character of Peter Parker back to high school. (Apparently this will help tap into the Twilight and High School Musical audience)
Although an unusual decision it’s not all that surprising, as we have seen franchises on both the big and small screen re-booted time and again.
What makes this Spiderman re-boot unusual however is that Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy is widely praised as being the re-invention of the superhero genre of movies, as Raimi’s Spiderman kept very closely to the comic book origins of the character and wasn’t the commercialised caricature that other franchises such as Batman unfortunately had to deal with in the 1990s.
From Spiderman came the X Men, from the X Men came Batman Begins. Now we have an industry where the biggest releases are superhero movies, next summer sees the release of Thor and Captain America from Marvel studios and Green Lantern from DC Comics, which are all guaranteed to be massive successes.
Spiderman isn’t the first re-boot, and it certainly won’t be the last. Many will be sceptical about casting a 26 year old Brit as a high school Peter Parker, I would be too. However, I was initially concerned about the casting of Matt Smith as Doctor Who, and he is possibly the best incarnation of the Doctor ever.
By Matt Fricker
Apostrophe, the boulangerie patisserie group have teamed up with Gallic Books to host a competition in celebration of the paperback launch of‘ The Gourmet; Muriel Barbery’s international bestseller about the torment of France’s greatest food critic on his death bed, as he tries to recall the greatest food he has ever tasted.
Competition entrants have been asked to submit their real life gourmet experience for the chance to win a luxury weekend for two in London consisting of a one night stay in a deluxe room at the Lancaster London hotel, a pair of tickets to see The 39 Steps at The Criterion in the West End, dinner for two at Pan-Asian restaurant Inamo in Soho and breakfast for two at Apostrophe.
Two runners up will receive hampers filled with products from Apostrophe. The winners will also have their stories published on the Apostrophe website, making this a great opportunity for all you budding writers out there.
Entrants to this competition have been asked to submit, in no more than 500 words, a real life gourmet experience of their own to firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively, entrants can post their entry to Apostrophe’s Facebook fan page www.facebook.com/apostropheuk by July 2.
Full competition details can be found at www.apostropheuk.com/apostropheandthegourmet/
By Matt Fricker
Wednesday 16 June saw the official re-launch of Lonsdale, the venue, located right in the heart of Notting Hill aims to establish itself as one of the premier venues in London for food and drink.
Featuring a luxurious design of vibrant shades (not to mention a bevy of beautiful ladies as well) Lonsdale oozed confidence as it welcomed guests from all backgrounds through its doors for the event I attended.
The menu featured an exquisite selection of cocktails and wine from across the globe at very affordable prices, as well as a nice selection of non-alcoholic drinks. Lonsdale also boasted a wide mix of food, including canapés and a three course set menu at the reasonable price of £18.50.
But where Lonsdale really shines for me was with its service, as the staff were not only very friendly but they were also incredibly knowledgeable when it came to the make up, design and taste of their products, which is sadly somewhat of a rarity in bars today.
Although Lonsdale has just re-launched as a venue I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see its name crop up in the hot list columns in the very near future.
For more information about Lonsdale you can contact the venue on 020 7727 4080 or visit www.thelonsdale.co.uk
By Matt Fricker
Date: 4 -6 June 2010
Location: Hurlingham Park, Hammersmith
Last weekend saw Hurlingham Park transformed into a 22,000 seated arena for Mint Polo In The Park, Polo’s equivalent to the football world cup.
The park, labelled the spiritual home of polo was completely unrecognisable from the location I had visited only one month ago for An afternoon playing Polo. Instead of a public park with a temporary arena the venue resembled a hybrid design of a music festival and cup final day of a major sporting tournament.
Friday’s event saw three games of Polo played, the first fixture saw Team Otkritie Moscow face Team City AM New York in a fiercely competed battle which saw the Polo ponies flying around the pitch at around 45 Miles Per Hour chasing a Chukka (ball) which was travelling at around 100 MPH.
Having never seen Polo played in the flesh before I wasn’t sure what the score line would be like in this match (although I had found out that if you scored outside the area, you got two points, one point for a goal inside the area, like Basketball)
The game between Moscow and New York in the end finished 9 – 10 to New York with Jamie Morrison scoring a last gasp winner to cap a fantastic fight back from Team New York.
As Team New York progressed to the semi finals the crowd descended onto to the pitch to partake in the Treading The Divots tradition, which sees the audience act as the ground staff to help return the pitch to a divot free playing surface.
Two further quarter finals rounded off the Polo on Friday with IG Index Team Paris defeating Gaucho Team Buenos Aires 9 – 8 and MINT Team London loosing to Thomson Reuters Team Geneva 8 – 13.
Friday’s event set the tone for the entire weekend which saw Team City AM New York lift the Mint Polo In The Park trophy on Sunday as winners after team captain Jack Kidd scored a last minute goal to win the game 11 – 10 over IG Index Team Paris.
Polo In The Park hopes to bring Polo to the masses in the same way that 20/20 Cricket has revolutionised the historic sport and if Polo In The Park is anything to go by, this event is only going to get bigger and bigger.
By Matt Fricker
So the eve of the World Cup is nearly upon us, and as always, the most important subject on football fans lips (after the actual football of course) is about which unofficial World Cup song is the best.
Why unofficial? Well, for a few years now, the FA have decided against backing a tune to be labelled the ‘official’ song of the World Cup. Read more »
By Matt Fricker
Football is a funny old game, some have tried to explain it as similar to a religion, with your church (club) being a place you visit once a week and so on.
For some, football is just a game, for others it’s something you can get a bit worked up about every once in a while.
But for others, football is more than that, much more than a religion, it’s a key aspect of life.
In some ways, football is actually like a drug.
I grew up in Charlton, in Charlton there’s a football club, and not much else.
I started going to Charlton games with my father and younger brother regularly in 1995. Since then we’ve missed maybe ten home games between us.
One of my childhood dreams was to play for Charlton, even now I would give everything I have in the world up to play for my club. Even though I know that I’m useless at football.
Something that can’t be explained is why this affinity for football exists quite so strongly in so many.
The best way to explain it would be to compare the sport to music, film or another art, something that can really rip away at your emotions and bring you to the greatest high, or the lowest low.
But even that description is rather weak.
On Monday night, I joined over 20,000 other Charlton fans at The Valley to watch the mighty Addicks attempt to turn over a one goal deficit against Swindon Town and progress to the League One play off final.
Charlton won the game after ninety minutes, but as this meant the game was a draw on aggregate, extra time and a penalty shoot out was required and sadly, Charlton lost the game on penalties.
So you move on, it’s only a game after all.
You can say it as much as you want but for many football fans, it’s not that easy.
The knowledge that football as a sport is financially in great trouble doesn’t help, having seen what’s happened to clubs such as Portsmouth, Luton Town and Chester City strike all football fans with fear that their club could be next to fight for its existence.
An existence which, for all football clubs mean roughly a hundred (or more) years of history, where generation after generation have fallen in love and had their heart torn to shreds by their football club.
My fear is that, as a result of loosing on Monday, Charlton may have to sell their best players and may once again struggle to survive in the league they play in. (an occurrence which saw Charlton relegated from the Premier League in 2007 and the Championship in 2009)
I’m not alone in my fears for Charlton Athletic, but these concerns aren’t unique to my club either.
If you talk to any football fan, they will be able to reveal similar concerns about their own club, whether their club are Manchester United or Macclesfield Town.
Football is a universal game, a way of life for many who are far more passionate about the game than me, and with one kick of a ball, you can cry with joy, or see your dreams fall to shreds.
But now, the football season has finished for fans like me, and our passion turns to our respective countries and the World Cup.
In a few weeks, London, along with most major cities around the World will be transformed into a hub of great national pride for countries competing in the Football World Cup in a sight which will disprove the theory that football is only a game.
By Matt Fricker
12 – Year – Old ‘web sensation’ Greyson Michael Chance last week found himself to be the most talked about youtube star since Susan Boyle. The video of young Greyson singing Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi has received over 15 million hits since it was uploaded to youtube on April 29th.
To top the rocketing success off for Greyson, he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last week and has found himself swamped with comparisons to 16 year old Justin Bieber.
The question is, why are we thrusting teens in to the limelight like this?
Oh, but he’s only 12 and he’s amazing at piano and has a great voice.
Actually, his voice isn’t bad, but he’s really not that strong at piano if you, for example look at the original Lady Gaga version which he’s been inspired by.
Oh, but that’s mean, Gaga’s Gaga, Greyson’s 12.
Ok, but I spent my teen years at gigs with phenomenally talented young musicians including a few who could play some truly breathtaking renditions of songs from the Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s Californication album.
The difference is, these were talented teens, but they weren’t thrust into the spotlight quite so sensationally.
In fact, Lady Gaga spent her teen years studying in New York and grafting her skills and talents to the extent where she was able to create the mega icon we see today.
Having watched the other video’s on Greyson’s youtube channel it’s true, he’s talented, and may very well have a big career ahead of him.
But should we really be thrusting a pre – teen into the mass media spotlight just because they look like they could be the next big thing? There’s something rather disconcerting about that in my opinion.
Music history is awash with stories of talented kids, some were able to adjust to the fame and life in the spotlight, and others were not.
Are we really in the right to make a 12 year old a star? Or should we really be telling acts like Greyson: ‘You’re talented kid, but you’re too young, come back tomorrow.’
Image: Screenshot from Youtube.com www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxDlC7YV5is
By Matt Fricker
Hate’s a strong word but when you consider that many (including me) voted last Thursday to ‘Keep the Tories out’ there must be something wrong.
It’s also quite amazing to hear from the Labour party that yesterday alone they officially gained 4211 new members (Ten Thousand overall since Friday)
Some of these people would have been like me, and had voted tactically, others will be liberally minded people who felt that a vote for the Liberal Democrats would be a vote for a change away from the Tories and Labour.
During the election campaign we saw a number of Tory election posters vandalised (like the image above) and groups on social networking sites appear with the sole intention to share a hate for the Conservatives.
But this still doesn’t explain why so many truly hate the Tories.
One reason was highlighted in Friday’s edition of the Daily Mail, when it was suggested that Conservative candidate David Gold wasn’t elected in Eltham because: “The ‘traditional mindsets’ of voters in the largely working- class London constituency made it ‘not the greatest place to pick an openly gay candidate.”
Granted this is a line printed in a traditionally right wing paper, but as someone who had the choice of voting for David Gold, I can tell you that if Scarlett Johansson had stood for the Tory party, I still wouldn’t have voted for them. (No matter how beautiful Scarlett may be).
The point for this example is the suggestion that the ‘working class’ have ‘traditional mindsets’ i.e. are homophobic.
I might not be working class, but I know an awful lot of people who are, and the ‘traditional mindset’ isn’t homophobic.
But this suggestion is a great example of why there is contempt towards the Tories, it’s this idea of ‘we know how to represent you people’ and collectively we turn around and say, ‘you people???’
There’s always been a firm belief amongst people like myself (and other liberals, call us bigoted against the right) that the Tories look out for themselves, make the rich richer, the poor poorer and generally believe a) they deserve more than everyone else and b) second class citizens exist in those on benefits, ethnic minorities, women and homosexuals. (If you disagree, tell me how many of these backgrounds are represented in the cabinet)
I admit, my passion against the Tories is pretty fierce and I’ve only used one example to illustrate my point, however I welcome anyone who disagrees with my opinions to comment.
Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong, and the coalition will be a phenomenal success.
However, with both our new Prime Minister and Deputy PM talking relentlessly about change, I’m reminded of an old quote from Theodore Roosevelt which says: “A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.”
By Matt Fricker
I know what you’re thinking; I thought the same thing when it was pitched to me.
Polo, that’s the game where people take mallets, get on horseback and hit a ball, like hockey on ponies.
Being a sporty kind of guy from South East London I didn’t imagine polo was really suitable for someone like me, I’ve never ridden a pony before (unless you count being walked around on one as a child at Centre Parcs) and the only information that I had ever gathered about Polo suggested it was a sport reserved for those who could afford it.
I remember a very old saying, polo the sport is for the rich, polo the mint is for everyone else.
That said, I love the opportunity to try new things, so when I was invited to an afternoon Polo lesson at Hurlingham Park in association with Polo In The Park. I jumped at the chance.
What I found was a fascinating experience, one which actually stripped away many of my pre conceived thoughts towards the sport as well.
As I sat at the table with the rest of the attendees to this free session (which you’re able to sign up to, for free, via the facebook group here) I learnt how polo is in fact thousands of years old, and the modern variation of the game was developed by a couple of British soldiers a few hundred years ago.
I also learnt the basic rules of the game within twenty minutes and before I knew it, I found myself standing on a milk crate learning how to hit a ball with a polo mallet.
If that didn’t seem like enough of a breakneck speed for the session to progress at I was then put on the back of a pony and taught to steer very quickly before setting off in my debut game of polo.
Now aspects of this don’t sound unusual; in football for example you teach the basic rules, define who’s on which side then say play, much like with rugby, hockey and all other major sports.
But I have to admit I was rather nervous when it came to Polo, firstly because my main concern was simple; How do you ensure that you don’t hurt the pony?
I’m still not sure of the answer, but during a quick riding lesson where we were taught how to turn the pony and how to gallop I realised the pony I was using didn’t want to move quickly at all, so we took it gently and enjoyed the experience.
As the session came to a close, I assimilated the information gathered in the hour and a half I had spent there.
I had been fortunate enough to have had my eyes opened to a brand a new sport. (One that I was naturally quite useless at)
These Polo sessions are being run as part of the build up to the main Polo In The Park event, which will see Hurlingham Park in South West London converted into a 32,000 seater stadium over the weekend of June 4, for an event that will see the world of Polo host their equivalent to the football World Cup.
Further details about Polo In The Park can be found at www.polointheparklondon.com