Tag Archives: Brazil

The Grandest Day Out

C'est Vrai

C’est Vrai

So my children have coped admirably with England defeat.   So much so that as we watched Brazilians openly weeping in the stadium after their comprehensive thrashing by Germany (1 – 7 just in case there is someone on the planet who didn’t know) they would watch so dispassionately and remark that they would get over it.

Buoyed up by their resilience to English football results, I thought I would throw another sport into the mix and I dragged them out of bed on Saturday morning at an UNEARTHLY hour to watch the Grand Depart of the 101th Tour De France from Leeds Town Hall.    For months now I had been watching  with rising levels of interest and excitement as Yorkshire decorate itself (in increasingly more eye-catching and inventive ways) in the tour jersey colours Yellow, Green and White with Red Spots in readiness for the world’s greatest cycle race.

There was disappointment in the week leading up the day when it was announced that Bradley Wiggins wouldn’t be in team Sky due to the support  (domestiques n’est-ce pas) needed for Chris Froome the defending champion.  As any regular reader of my blog will now I have supported him for a long time (click on his name if you want to read it) so I was quite gutted that the first British champion ever of the TDF wouldn’t be riding up the Headrow at 11.10 am on Saturday 5 July 2014.

Still we had Cav, practically a Yorkshire man as his mum lived in Harrogate (the finish for Stage One) so  I managed to get over the absence of my favourite mod cyclist and we joined in the throng of happy (and a few a bit grumpy) spectators and stood behind the barriers and waited, and waited and waited

It was fairly surreal standing in crowd 4 deep on a Saturday morning when then Town Hall clock said it was only 8.15 am watching the oh so cool  Gendarmes walking along the street in wraparound shades even before the sun came out.  There were many, many, many vehicles, from motor bikes to pick up trucks all with French number plates and official looking stickers zooming around looking very official and very important to keep our interest.

We saw Christian Prudhomme (the organiser of the TDF) be interviewed right in front of us.

Monsieur Tour

Monsieur Tour

No 1 of many many many vehicles that drive around the Tour whilst those incredible men race on their two very thin wheels.

No 1 of many many many  four wheeled motorised vehicles that drive around the Tour whilst those incredible men race on their two very thin wheels.

We saw giant fruits shoots and packets of chips fly past us as part of the “Caravan” a convoy of vehicles that precede the riders around the 190km course.  It had to be the most surreal part of the day.  But before we could really process  what we had actually seen the riders started coming out and being interviewed.  The tension in the crowd was palpable and as the riders lined up in front of Leeds Art Galley I had my first glimpse of the pelaton.  It was more thrilling than rows of brightly coloured plastic helmets ever have the right to be.  Then they were off on the roll out up Harewood House where the official race would be started by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  We saw them all, Alberto Contador, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and nearly 200 other sleek lyrca’d machines pedaling leisurely up the Headrow.   It was so exhilarating that moments after they passed my legs were like jelly such was the intensity of the adrenaline rush

We had train tickets to go onto Harrogate for the finish to meet with friends but it wasn’t to be.  N and I came home (and H to a party) and watched the rest of the race unfold on television.  The sun had come out and so had every single person in Yorkshire it seemed.  Everyone on the highest of highs and not just those on Cote De Buttertubs.

Yorkshire Cordiale

just where does the race when and the spectators begin?

blurred lines – just where does the race en dand the spectators begin?

Yorkshire Cordiale

Yorkshire looked so beautiful.  The race was so exciting.  I knew every inch of the road.  Ariel shots of Middleham Castle, home of Richard III, Jerveux Abbey and Fountains Abbey, the location of many a sun-filled family picnic all looked glorious.  Harrogate was full to bursting point and as Cav was lead out by his team up Ripon Road (the loudest shouts coming from my dad I have no doubt) it looked like the sprinter would get his much dreamed of stage win in his mother’s hometown and get to wear the Maillot Jaune on Stage 2.  Alas for poor Cav it was not to be the fairytale ending as he crashed painfully just before the line and and Marcel Kittel crossed the line just outside Bettys on Parliament Street.

The crowds just before the end of the race..

The crowds just before the end of the race..hope Betty’s don’t run out Fat Rascals…

But despite that it was the most intoxicating day, all my friends were messaging each other delighting in their “blink and you miss it” stories that all ended in”but it was so worth it and I have never been prouder of Yorkshire” And best of all we got to do it all over again the next day.  My dad always said it was bigger and better in Yorkshire and really I don’t think there was anyone in the world that would have disagreed.  The Tour in Yorkshire was a Triumph.    This is really what this blog is about.  I want to say thank you to Gary Verity for having the vision and balls to pull this off.  I want to say thank you to every single person who decorated a bicycle yellow and dotted them around the route.  Who bunted or covered statues in yellow jerseys.  The pub in Knaresborough who painted red spots all over their walls.  To the farmer in Killinghall who painted his sheep in the colours of the three iconic jerseys.  To all my friends who swapped pictures on social media to allow us all to get intimate views and pictures of their experiences.  You all made this weekend one of the greatest of my life.

Of course N and I got out on our bikes in the evening.  As the sun set behind Temple Newsam N was determined to ride up the hill to the house.  “I need to conquer this hill” she said.  “Every time my legs hurt I just think of the Tour De France riders”.  Now then, isn’t that a champion legacy. Non? Bien Sur!

Parental Advisory

Happy and Glorious for now…..

Yes I got suckered in.  Admit it you did too.  All the chat about the low expectations of the England football team perversely got my hopes up.  I blame David Beckham too.  I was quite happily ignoring all the build up to Brazil until his journey of self-discovery  up the Amazon, and  who could resist a  beautiful man bearing his soul as he exposed that H&M underwear model bod.  Well I am only human.

So I was in, I couldn’t get enough of the stories from the Favelas.  Of the mum Rosie who provided so much love and fun for her children whilst living on the rubbish dump that also the workplace.   I was very humbled by the simple easter egg hunt of hens’ eggs wrapped in  old newspaper she created that resulted in unmistakable glee from her children.   Despite living in abject poverty their smiles lit up the screen when describing the game and the full belly from the feast afterwards.  It is easy to generalise but we seem to dissatisfied so easily by our lot in the first world. Spoilt in fact.  Each of us little emperors stamping our foot when the smallest whims don’t go in our favour.

I had paid such scant attention to the World Cup this year I found myself on the wrong side of the politics too.  An expression on Facebook of my mounting excitement found me told in no uncertain terms that this World Cup was an abomination to the poor of Brazil who couldn’t eat a football to survive.  A quick lesson via very funny British comedian (but on US tv)  outlining everything that was wrong with Fifa soon put me straight.

I do wonder how Fifa can get away with it, especially the Budweiser Bill.  It does all look “a bit arrogant”  Fifa official.

But despite all of this, the night of the first England match I was football crazy again.   The previous matches had been so exciting, so full of drama and goals I was getting lured in. Brazil, Mexico, Holland, Spain, France, Ivory Coast.  Every night  a mouth-watering prospect that didn’t disappoint.  N and I had been faithfully completing the wall chart.    Already I couldn’t imagine a night without a game.  I certainly didn’t want to miss a minute of our first match even at 11.00 on a Saturday  night.  My  expectations were low but in my heart, well before that first whistle anyhow, my hopes were flying high.

Surely  Roy’s young team would rise the occasion and do us proud.

So we lost the first match.  This is England, we like to make things difficult for ourselves don’t we?  We could come back from this defeat.  We had played well, we were just lucky and it was with these thoughts I prepared to watch the match with the children.  H has been enjoying watching football more and I had been sharing with him my wealth of knowledge which was mainly watching One night in Turin the superb documentary about our glorious campaign in Italia 90.  That tournament had started uncertainly too. Everything was going to be ok.    H & N were excited.  We had put a flag up both in the car and the house.  N was flag-waving during the national anthem, which I was singing lustily.  My children had the football bug, and I had encouraged and delighted in it and we were in for a fun happy night.

Well you know how it goes.  Lost again.  My son shouting at tv… Ref Ref how can you not see that as the Uruguay player stuck his arm at Sterling’s windpipe… These Uruguay players are so dirty.   The hope of the Rooney’s equaliser, abject the despair when Suverz scored again with 5 minutes or so to the end of the match.  The desperate last minute ultimately futile English scrabbles to get another goal.  The pleading deals being offered up to an indifferent God during last minutes of injury time.  “I will not have a chocolate again this week if England scored”  The gutting blow in the heart and solar plexus when the final whistle blows.

What was I thinking?  I was used to this torture.   I was a resigned, cynical, battle hardened England (and Leeds) fan.  I knew this would be how the story would end.   But my innocent children, they knew nothing of this, they were babes in arms.  What was I thinking exposing them, nay actively encouraging them, inviting this pain into their lives.   This was a kin to letting my children watch a video nasty.  I monitor my children’s internet use.  I tried very hard to shield my children from any none-age inappropriate viewing.  Hell I have even spoken to my soon to be a teenager son about how corrosive porn would be if he was exposed to it at this tender time of his life.  As I looked at them so down beat and dismayed I felt like I had ensnared them like the most diabolical drug dealer pushing a narcotic high that lasted for the first 20 minutes then would condemn the user to a life of never ending misery.

WHAT WAS  I THINKING?   I had wept for days when my favourite tennis player had been knocked out of Wimbledon at the same age.

I tried to show them the picture of distraught Gerrard being comforted by Suarez after the match as the true message from the game.  As history will attest, Suarez and his teeth has been somewhat discredited since that gesture of good sportmanship.   But it turns out that either my children weren’t quite so involved as I thought during the game, or had already an inbuilt immune system to England losing,  or they were much more resilient that I was at their age.  And now for the first time time since England went home so anonymously  I felt happy that I hadn’t shattered my children’s innocence.    Now then, all I need to know, who is the team to support for the rest of the tournament, Brazil or Germany?