Archive for May, 2014

Granny and Grampa Grabbed by the Fuzz

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Not too long ago my wife and I decided to spend a day watching the Air Show at Peachtree DeKalb Airport in Atlanta. It’s a relatively short car ride from home, so we packed a cooler with a few beers, sandwiches and bottles of water to stave off dehydration in the midday sun.

We paid the $10 parking fee and meandered towards the spectator area which was festooned with temporary stalls selling cheap knick knacks of the variety that had some loose connection with aviation. Little children were clamoring to have their names metallically stamped on World War 2 style dog tags. Their brothers or sisters were tottering around carrying a ball of candy floss perilously balanced on a fragile looking stick.

I pulled the cooler behind me  that housed our precious provisions while trying desperately to catch up with my wife who was carrying the folding chairs and other miscellaneous items required to establish a base camp. She was fiendishly scanning the spectator area in an attempt to locate the optimum spot from which to view the forthcoming air show.

We settled for an uncompromising spot on a piece of warm tarmac surrounded by young families where dental braces appeared to be the fashion statement of the day. We made ourselves as comfortable as possible, and prepared to break open a couple of beers to begin the day in a civilized fashion.

However, my wife looked around the increasing throng of humanity, and acutely observed that nobody was drinking beverages of an alcoholic nature. She did a reconnaissance mission of the area, and spoke to a lady hosting the local radio station’s stall.

She duly returned to our vantage point, and reported there were no signs barring the consumption of alcohol. The local radio station lady said several other people had asked her whether alcohol was allowed, but she didn’t know. She gave my wife a couple of Styrofoam cups which she suggested would be less conspicuous than bottles of beer.

My wife duly poured the beer into our cups, broke out the sandwiches and crisps, and we laid back in our folding chairs ready to be entertained by those magnificent men in their flying machines.

Thirty minutes had elapsed and we had been  overawed by the breath taking skills of pilots executing death defying acrobatics in a variety of single wing aircraft and bi-planes. I was just about to take another sip of my beer when we were unceremoniously surrounded by four burly cops armed to the teeth with pistols, jack boots and walkie talkies. I’m being kind when I described them as burly. They were indeed fat to the point where they were bursting out of their uniforms, and I can understand the analogy of comparing  police to pigs when I’m subjected to their uncivilized behavior.

My wife and I were trapped in our low lying folding chairs looking up at our invaders. The one with the stripes snorted: “Is that beer in your cups?’ “Huh yes…” I replied. “Do you have more beer in that cooler?” Now if I wanted to be a smart ass and spend the rest of the day in jail I would have replied: “Yes; would you like one?” But my better half  courteously replied: “Yes, but there are no signs prohibiting the consumption of alcohol.”

One of the other invaders pompously said: “It’s a County Ordnance which prohibits the consumption of alcohol in public events of this nature.” Another smart ass comment came to mind (Sorry Officer, I left my dog eared copy of the  County Ordnances in the back pocket of my speedos which are hanging up to dry at home.) I was holding the cup to my mouth  as an act of defiance when PC Plod ordered us to toss the beer out of the cups (not on the floor,) take the cooler back to our car, and as he was in a benevolent mood, we may be allowed to return providing we wagged our tails between our legs.

She who must be obeyed does not like confrontations, and apologized for our misdemeanor while I wisely kept my mouth shut, but could not prevent steam emanating from my ears. PC Plod further informed us that they had received a complaint from one of our fellow spectators who maintained they could smell alcohol over the overwhelming fumes of jet fuel. Again it was not the time or place to point out to the officer the absurdity of his statement.

We packed up our belongings like good citizens, and headed for the friendly confines of the 57th Fighter Squadron, a local hostelry situated on the edge of the airport. We were able to watch the remainder of the Air Show drinking capricious amounts of wine and beer without further interference from the local constabulary. We had contemplated setting up camp there earlier, but decided we would have a better view from within the airport. We live and learn don’t we?

Postscript: Following our outrageous treatment at the hands of over officious lawmen, we bought a canoe which we intend to take out on a lake far from prying eyes where we can drink our beer in peace. Watch out for frogmen bearing handcuffs.

A Monk’s Tale and Two Captains’ Errors.

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Congratulations to Gary Monk for preserving Swansea City’s status in the Premiership. He replaced Michael Laudrup as Head Coach in February, picked up the pieces of a disjointed squad, and secured sufficient victories against Cardiff, Newcastle and Aston Villa to ensure another season in the top flight.

He was rewarded with the news that he has been appointed manager on a full time basis with a three year contract. However, watching the Swans unconvincing performance in a 3-1 win over Sunderland in the final game of the season, confirmed to me that Monk has to strengthen the squad in the summer if they are to retain Premiership status.

Let’s be realistic. The Swans have possibly a half dozen players who are Premiership standard: Wilfried Bony, Ashley Williams, Leon Britton, Ben Davies, Michael Vorm, De Guzman and Wayne Rutledge.

I deliberately excluded Jon Jo Shelvey because I believe he lacks the nous to be a top class midfielder. Yes he can score a spectacular goal and deliver a sensational pass, but he can’t tackle, lacks positional sense and has a tendency to go missing in a game. Leon Britton is the central hub of the team, but is not getting any younger. The jury is still out on whether Michu was a one season wonder.

I’m sure Gary Monk is aware of the weaknesses in the squad and will address them over the next few weeks. He will also have to deal with a number of suitors sniffing around Wilfried Bony who can only enhance his growing reputation by performing well in the World Cup for Ivory Coast.

Kudos also to the Premiership for providing us with the most exciting season ever. With a month to go four teams, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City were within the mix to win the title. Indeed Arsenal were top for 126 days while the eventual winners, Man City, led the league for a mere 4 days when it really mattered.

Arsenal fell away at the end, and Chelsea lost games against opposition at the lower end of the table which made it very difficult for them to sustain a challenge. Four games remained and Liverpool’s next opposition were close rivals Manchester City at home. They led City 2-0 only to allow them to crawl back into the game 2-2. It looked for all intents and purposes to be heading for a draw when City’s captain, Vincent Kompany, made a monumental error by slicing an attempted clearance in his penalty area straight to Liverpool’s Courtinho who drove the ball into the back of the net for the eventual winner.

It was Liverpool’s title to lose now; requiring only seven points from their last three games. However, Kompany’s error appeared to galvanize his team, and they ultimately revealed greater resolve in their remaining matches than their challengers to claim the title.

Meanwhile Liverpool’s next opponents were Chelsea at home. Manager Jose Mourinho was in spin mode claiming that Chelsea had blown their chances of the title and threatened to play his reserves to allow his best players to rest since the Liverpool fixture was sandwiched between the two leg semi-final against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Chelsea came with a game plan to stifle Liverpool’s free flowing attacking style, and it worked to perfection. The game appeared to heading for a stalemate and Liverpool would have to content with a point until another captain’s error dramatically changed the course of the game.

Liverpool’s Captain Steven Gerrard was the last line of defense and received an innocuous pass from a team mate only to stumble on the ball. The Chelsea player, Denver Ba took full advantage of Gerrard’s mistake and gleefully swept the ball into the Liverpool net.

Gerrard and his team mates resembled a deflated balloon where all their energy had been sucked out of them. They frantically searched for an equalizer, but left themselves exposed at the back and conceded a second goal before the final whistle.

Their next match against Crystal Palace merely confirmed the brittle nature of their defense. They dominated the match for 75 minutes and deservedly led 3-0. They continued to search for more goals in an attempt to improve their goal difference. But in an unprecedented eleven minutes they conceded 3 goals and were hanging on for a draw at the final whistle. Those three goals were the final three nails in the coffin of their title challenge, but the stunning blow to their failed attempt to win the title for the first time in 24 years was Gerrard’s uncharacteristic, school boy error.

Do you remember my blog about the difference makers determining the outcome of the title? One name comes to mind: Yaya Toure. Enough said.