Monday, June 09, 2008

Stupid man

Well, that was a great weekend, despite starting off with all those delays getting to London and having brought the wet weather with me from France. Woke up on Saturday to bright blue skies and it stayed warm all weekend, setting it up perfectly for The Derby and a visit to my cousin’s place down in Surrey afterwards.

Saturday mornings at Fiona’s in Notting Hill inevitably means a coffee or two at Lisboa or Oporto, one of the two Portuguese cafes on the Golborn Road, this time Oporto, sitting out in the sun on plastic packing cases. Too many Portuguese flying their flags and dressed in their national football shirts, as they were playing on the opening night of the European Championships, unlike England who did not qualify despite having had many chances to do so. How different it all would have been had England actually qualified, with St Georges flags everywhere, but this was not to be, and maybe it is for the best, as it would have only delayed the disappointment of not winning.

A silly Frenchman, Michel Platini, who heads up the UEFA accused Manchester United and Chelsea, the two clubs which played in the Champions League of being cheats, borrowing unsustainable amounts of money in order to buy players and support their owners’ businesses. He also rightly said that England would not be missed, after all, they had not qualified in a fair competition for places. Having lived through the 1970’s and 1980’s I know very well what it is like for England not to qualify and it is odd to think that any realistic person would think it strange that they did not. Although the Anglo-Saxon neo-liberal laissez-faire system, which has allowed the English clubs to be sold to the highest foreign bidders might achieve results in the shorter term, once the economy slows down and the banks and lenders start calling in their debts, it could spell disaster, as events in the US are currently pointing to with the credit crunch…

Anyway, Fiona knows quite a few people up at Oporto, and so I ended up chatting with a Kosovarian who was a bit surprised to hear that we were going to his country on holiday but encouraged us and confirmed that Prizren is a very nice place to visit. He also recommended Tirana in Albania as well as the Montenegran Coast.

Then it was off to Fiona’s shop, which has a nice lot of new stock in, as well as some old stuff. Still no sign above the shop, just on the attractive sun shield above the window. Fiona had to go off to buy a cheap table and chairs at the local DIY centre, only 40 pounds for a metal round table and folding chairs, so she can sit outside during the day. Excellent value and no doubt made in China. I was left to man the till, without knowing how to do itt, not necessarily expecting any customers but of course within five minutes we had a lady with two two year olds looking for a birthday present and, sure enough, she found a couple of things and, inevitably she wanted to pay with a credit card. Ooops! How does this work? Well, after ringing up the wrong amounts a couple of times, I finally arrived at the right total and then started pressing buttons and putting the credit card into one of the machines which seemed to take them. Please wait said the machine, so we waited… but nothing happened…. So we do it again and still nothing happens, so I decide to ring Fiona but we need the line for the credit card machine to make contact with the bank for authorization. She gives me a couple of unclear tips and we try again and it still doesn’t work. So eventually the woman decides to leave the two expensive things to pay for them later and buy the smaller things with cash. As they are leaving the shop and are outside I hear one of the little boys say to his mother ‘Stupid man’…

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