VTDF #2: Boulogne-Sur-Mer

02 - Boulogne

Stage 2 of the Virtual Tour De France finds us in BOULOGNE-SUR-MER, a little further down the Côte d’Opale from Calais. This image shows us the town square, with the historic Belfry (a UNESCO world heritage site), the town hall, a cafe, some bins, a cracked plate, a giant watering can, and a massive aubergine, what Americans would call an eggplant. When scouting locations to virtually draw, this was obviously the right choice. Boulogne is a historic town (they all will be, by the way, I’m unlikely to draw a town on this virtual tour and say “yeah, no history here lads”), going back to the Romans, being fought over between the French and the English in that famous war (“100 Years Of Hurt”), and of course during World Wars I and II. Napoleon used Boulogne to amass the Grande Armée ahead of his planned invasion of the Nation of Shopkeepers, but had to abort those plans when he realized those shopkeepers only allow two kids in their shop at a time, to prevent shoplifting. Foiled again, Boney! This part of the world, northern France, saw a lot of action in those wars and its legacy is inescapable. There was a large battle here in 1940 that ended in a German victory, shortly before the evacuation of Dunkirk, but the Allies were back in 1944 to take the town in Operation Wellhit, which is a name I love, because it sounds like WellHard. But of course as with so many other kids from south-east England, Boulogne is synonymous with school trips to France, easy access from Dover and Folkestone. We would go over for the day on a coach, and a ferry, walk about town a bit, take a big group photo, look at some old buildings, then go to the Hypermarkets for an hour or so to buy some cheese or foreign chocolate before driving back to London. I will never forget buying a chocolate bar called “CRAP”. It was probably the greatest moment of my childhood, being about 12 and finding a chocolate bar called “CRAP”. I kept the wrapper pinned to my cork-board in my bedroom for years like a trophy. Other people won football tournaments, spelling competitions, the Duke of Edinburgh Award, I found chocolate bars with funny names. My other favourite as you may remember is Big Nuts, from Belgium. 

We did do a longer school trip here though in around 1990, in the third year, spending several days in a beach suburb of Boulogne called Le Portel. I have many memories from the trip, although at the same time my memory is very foggy. We visited a World War II Blockhaus, a huge concrete fortification from which Hitler and co fired massive rockets to bomb the UK. We went down to Paris one day as well, walked about by the Seine, looked at the Eiffel Tower, giggled at the Pigalle as our coach passed by. It was the first time any of us had seen a cop with a real gun. We all stood behind him waiting to cross the road pointing at the holster on his belt, we had only ever seen cops with guns on American TV shows. I remember we even visited Sangatte, the site where they were building this new thing, ‘Le Tunnel Sous Le Manche‘, an actual tunnel going under the English Channel, which I had thought was a pipe dream (haha) but now it was becoming real, and that meant that of course French rats would crawl through and give us all rabies, so that’s all we talked about. We stayed at a hotel near the beach, the perfect place for groups of kids to misbehave. My friend got banned from all future school trips for doing a ‘moony’ in the hallway. Another friend got his bag stolen off his shoulder in the street by a local kid on a moped, those local kids loved their mopeds and their bag-theft. In general though it was just usual teenage fun and games, mostly staying up chatting too late at night, to the point where our teachers actually had to wait in our rooms until everyone was asleep. It must have been great fun being a teacher on one of those school trips with a bunch of 13-14 year olds, huh. I had a little tape recorder I would bring around and we’d tape ourselves chatting nonsense on the school bus and listen to it later. I remember the tape getting very mangled so everything was distorted, I think we tried to add that mangled noise in to the background of one of our songs a couple of years later when we were trying to be a band. I do remember buying a record on that trip though at a local record shop, a stupid looking French comedy song with a ridiculous cover of classic French beret and mariniere wearing onions-and-baguettes types, I think it was called ‘Vive La France’ , but of course it couldn’t play on my tape player because it was a vinyl record, so I had to wait until I got back to England to discover it was unlistenable shite. It probably put me off French music for years. Apart from that, the memories are a blur, but good memories anyway. I’ve never been back to Boulogne. 

Today is July 14, what we call Bastille Day (but the French don’t), the French national holiday. Right now the real Tour de France is on Stage 17 already, zooming around the Pyrenees from Muret to Saint-Lary Soulan Col De Portet, and should be in Paris in just a few days time. For this Virtual Tour, our next stop will be in the home of the newly crowned French football champions, Lille. A bientôt!

Virtual Tour De France #1: CALAIS

01 - Calais

Last Spring, barely two months into The Pandemic That Still Isn’t Anywhere Near Over, I was so anxious about not being able to travel back to England or anywhere that I developed an insatiable wanderlust. I literally wanted to go everywhere. At this point I wasn’t even going to downtown Davis, I was Staying At Home, Sheltering In Place, Locking Down. So I travelled all over the entire island of Great Britain, something I’ve always wanted to do, and drew it all in one sketchbook, and then wrote silly things about it on here like you do. It wasn’t a real journey of course, same as everything it was Virtual, all done by exploring Google Street View. 66 sketches, because 66 has some magical significance in Britain, or some parts of it anyway (I was hoping 21 might supersede it but oh well). I explored a lot more than I actually drew. You can see an album of the whole thing here. Anyway it was such a fun journey of discovery of my native island that I decided I needed to do another one. This second one was done last summer, much shorter, all around Dublin, home of my forebears and countless distant cousins. That one is here. “So where next?” I thought. I wanted to do a tour of the whole of Europe. Maybe it would be narrower, following only the places I visited on my 1998 round-Europe-on-the-trains trip. That’s a really good idea actually, I might as they say “put a pin in that one”. (Why do they say that? Do they want to burst their balloon?)  But no, I have always dreamed of doing a proper tour of France, or “Tour the France” as they say. Great idea, I thought, and I can finish it by the time the real Tour De France starts and then post the whole thing with stories of my Virtual journey, mixed in with real stories of my own experiences in the Real France, not just the Made Up France (like Emily in Paris). I have a bit of ‘histoire’ with France, although it’s hardly ‘Year In Provence’ stuff. Except no, I did actually spend a Year In Provence, so maybe it is? Maybe – definitely – I don’t really know what I am talking about most of the time, but who does? Peter Mayle? I’m also called Peter, I’m also Male, so maybe I have more in common with him than I thought. I’ll tell you something though that I’ve not thought about in years – I started drawing again while I lived in France, and part of that might have been that I enjoyed the sketched illustrations in the copy of A Year In Provence that I owned at the time that I wanted to draw more myself. So anyway, I plotted out a doable tour of France that would fit into one single sketchbook. I wasn’t going to use the same format as before – these would all be bigger, maybe more detailed drawings across two pages, same dimensions, so that they would all connect. Great idea, I think I will be done in about a year. Where to start? The Great Britain one started in London, ended in John O’Groats, but you can’t start a Tour de France in Paris. You have to end in Paris, cycling up the Champs-Élysées with a sketchbook and a baguette under my arm. For someone from Britain, there is only one place to start, and that’s Calais. So that’s where we begin our tour. And just like passport control and customs checks since the B-word happened, it’s taken us a very long wait to get here.

And of course, today is le 14 juillet, 14th of July, known to us as Bastille Day. No better day to start a tour de France than the French Fête Nationale.  

CALAIS, the first stage of the tour, actually used to be English. That is, it was ruled by England for a couple of centuries until 1558, before “Coming Home” to France (“England’s gonna throw it away, gonna blow it away…” they sang). They called it the “jewel in the English crown” for some reason. Seriously the English monarchs loved it, mostly for its hypermarkets and duty-free ciggies. The area around Calais is called the ‘Pas de Calais’, which I assumed when I first learnt French was because it was the area that was ‘Not Calais’, like this bit’s Calais, this bit isn’t. I thought, surely the whole of France is Pas De Calais? Or the world? Or everything in existence? Those school day-trips to northern France with me were long, I can tell you. We never actually came to Calais on a school day trip, we did go to Boulogne though. I’ll talk about Boulogne next time. In fact, I don’t think I ever actually came to Calais, walked around, asked “où est la boulangerie?”, not once in my life, but I have passed through it so many times. When I used to come back and forth to Europe on the old Eurolines bus, I passed through Calais so many times on the way to somewhere else. That’s what Calais is, a wayfarer’s stopping off point. That bus would get off the ferry at Calais from Dover, the ferry I took so many times, early in the morning, late at night, middle of the afternoon, and the thing I remember most those first few times was the feeling that I was actually abroad. I had passed through the magical barrier from the usual normalcy of England, and now everything was in French, the signs were different fonts, the service station toilets were all different, and of course everyone spoke French, really fast. Not slow, like in Mr. Smith’s French class at school. There were water towers dotted around the Pas De Calais countryside, all unusual shapes and sizes. I will admit, I had no idea what they were for years. Its something you see in America all the time, but not something you come across too often in London. In northern France though they were exotic space-age sculptures saying “you are very, very far from home“, when in fact I was nearer home than if I went to my aunt’s in Norfolk. (though Norfolk always felt very, very far away when I was a kid, so not a great analogy). The thing that stood out in my memory of passing through Calais though was the unusually large clock tower, posing over the town and flexing its stocky neck muscles as it looks out towards England, 27 miles or so away. So that is what drew, the Hotel de Ville, a tall ‘tour’ for the first stop on the Tour de France. 

Once the Channel Tunnel started becoming the route of choice for coaches going over the English Channel, the days of me taking the ferry like in the 1990s were numbered. Now if I go to mainland Europe from London I fly, or take the Eurostar train. I will be honest, I will probably never visit Calais, jewel in English crown or not, it’s always in my mind been a place to go through to get somewhere better, even if the next place on this tour is Boulogne (which I always thought of as the less cool little brother to Calais, the Folkestone to its Dover). I miss the ferry though. It was a real transitional journey, seeing those mossy green White Cliffs get smaller and smaller, sitting in that big area with the bar and the comfy seats while your Eurolines bus driver recognized you from the bus and asked if you could carry in a couple of boxes of ciggies for him so he didn’t have to pay duty on them (actually happened; I told him “no I don’t think so mate”), going up on deck to feel the English Channel air on your face while someone nearby vomits either from seasickness or one too many G&Ts from the ferry bar, going back down to the vehicle deck when it was time to go and looking for where your bus was out of the seemingly hundreds down there, choking on carbon monoxide, yeah no I don’t miss the Dover-Calais ferry as much as I thought I did. Ok, so that is Calais – next stop Boulogne-sur-Mer…                 

everyone seems to know the score

england mosaic flag

Ok, fine. It’s not coming home, this time. England didn’t win the final; they drew the game 1-1 with Italy, but lost the penalty shootout after missing three times. England beat England on penalties. One day in about twenty-five years, Bukayo Saka will coach England to another shootout, while Raheem Sterling is in the studio as a pundit, and the cycle of life goes on. I mean, at the end of the day, these are all important life lessons aren’t they, watching your country’s team lose penalty shootouts in quarter-finals, semi-finals and now at last a final, it’s what brings us together, disagreeing on how it should have been done. Oh well, I’m done thinking or talking about football for a long time now, a long time (until at least tomorrow, since I am actually coaching a youth team right now). Well done Mancini, happy for you. But damn…we were close. Oh well. The Heat is still very much On, here in California. When we were kids we were told that the Heat would be On the Streets, and I suppose it is. Inside the house, the Air-Conditioning is On. Apart from briefly popping out to go to Target, we stayed home today and watched the match, played some PS4, watched old episodes of Lost. Didn’t do any sketching, though I would really like to just pour myself into a big complicated drawing right now, I’ve not got the energy. So I just drew the little mosaic England flag. Years ago we made a whole bunch of paper mosaic flags for the World Cup, and we put them up for the Euros too, for each country that takes part. Then when they get eliminated, the flag comes down. Never thought England would be in the last two. They did end up the tournament only letting in two goals total, even fewer than Italy. And they didn’t lose the match, they drew the game, just lost the shootout. And didn’t win the trophy, and that’s what matters. Ah well. I do want to do a big complicated sketch though. I need to rejoin my Virtual Tour de France – in fact I need to start posting what I’ve done of that already here on my sketchblog. So far I have gone from Calais to Brittany, and was about to draw Le Mans when I put the project on hiatus. Now the real Tour de France is going on, maybe I should keep going with mine. 

life in the heat dome

071021 hot day north davis

Never mind ‘It’s Coming Home’, I’m staying home. This heat is too much. Two days where it went up to 111 degrees in Davis (possibly 113 the day before). Today will be just as bad. The ‘Heat Dome’ they call it, it is blazing across the western US, hottest July anyone’s seen it will be. It’s so oppressive. We have Flex Alerts telling us to conserve electricity during certain hours, and we are already in a drought, this heat is going to make things so much worse. A long, long, long summer ahead of us. I drew again in red pen looking out of the window at the houses opposite, while it was a cool 102 degrees at lunchtime. I hate this weather. This weather can bugger right off.   

homecoming

Harry Kane 2021

Well tomorrow is the big day. It’s coming home. England are in an actual major final for the first time in my entire life, and with a (current) Tottenham player as captain no less. I find it hard to get excited, after a lifetime of (a) watching England and (b) being a Tottenham fan. But excited we are. That’s Harry Kane above, by the way, for those who don’t know. Also for those who don’t know, “it’s coming home” is what people in England say now when England do well at the football, and it’s taken the meaning of a hopeful “we’re gonna win it!” It’s a reference to the 1996 song by Baddiel and Skinner and the Lightning Seeds, “Three Lions”, which sings that as an opening refrain, “it’s coming home, it’s coming, football’s coming home”. Great song, I still have the original CD. Kind of a little overused in England the past few years. That line, “football’s coming home” was the tagline of the Euro 96 tournament, which was held in England. Why home? Because the sport originated in England. Now a lot of people are getting a bit uppity, oh no no it didn’t, football was invented thousands of years ago in this country or that culture, and all of that is probably true, they all had some sort of game that involved kicking a ball, though not always exclusively and . The sport that is played now and called “football” in England – “soccer” in America – however did originate in its modern form with its modern rules in Victorian England, and that is where the modern rules were first codified with the first ‘Football Association’ in 1863, which by the way is why people call it soccer. You might have heard posh types in Britain refer to Rugby as ‘Rugger’, well Association Football was shortened to ‘soccer’, a British – not American – term. Prior to this, there were a great number of different forms of the sport in England, such as the ‘Sheffield Rules’ or the ‘Cambridge Rules’. It was probably a bit like when you go to someone’s house and play Charades and they play the rules slightly different from you, and it can be problematic unless some great minds come together to form the Charades Association, or something. It was that form of the sport (football, not charades) that was exported around the world, and many great clubs and institutions were founded by expat Englishmen, such as AC Milan (note how they use the English name of the city); similarly, Genoa (not ‘Genova’) still go by their original name ‘Genoa Cricket and Football Club’ Basque team Athletic Bilbao has its origins in the shipyard workers who emigrated from various English ports; British emigrants kickstarted soccer in South America, and Brazilian team Corinthians was formed after the visit of amateur English side Corinthian FC. It’s not to say that the idea of playing sport on a field with a ball (or even calling it football) was inherently English, various other sports called football exist in other countries today, but those are different sports. They all have origins in the idea of sports with a ball but this particular one, Association Football, the one that is played with same rules worldwide, that one came out of England. Once it was out it went everywhere, and had many many different styles, but the FA rules were universal – sorry, not the ‘rules, I mean the Laws Of The Game. You have to call them that or referees get cross. FIFA was founded in Paris in 1904, replacing the FA as the global governing body of the sport but guaranteeing to only play games according to the FA’s Laws. The great tournaments of the game, they were not English in origin – the FIFA World Cup was organized by the Frenchman Jules Rimet (he of the “still gleaming” lyric in Three Lions) and held in Uruguay, and England refused to take part until 1950, when they were roundly beaten by the United States. UEFA, the European governing body, was founded in 1954 in Switzerland, and the great European tournaments followed – the European Cup (now the Champions League) in 1955, started by the French (ironically only one French team has ever won it, Marseille in 1993, and that was questionable given they were relegated for match-fixing that year), and of the course the European Championship itself, founded by UEFA with the trophy named after Frenchman Henri Delauney who had been having this idea for decades (he died before he could see it finally play). England have never won this tournament, never even been in the final. Or should I say, England’s Mens Team has never been in the final – the Womens Team has been to the final of the European Womens’ Championship twice.  But in this tournament England has never been to the final, until now. When England sing “it’s coming home” they aren’t referring to themselves as the founders of the competition, or as previous winners, they mean as the birthplace of the current sport, they aren’t saying “Football Including All Other Versions Of The Game Going Back Over Thousands Of Years In Different Unrelated Cultures Is Coming Home”, and they don’t have to actually point out “Association Football Is Coming Back To the Country Which First Codified the Laws Of The Game in 1863”; it doesn’t actually need pointing out. You don’t need to worry about football songs being literal. I don’t actually believe “Tottenham Are The Greatest Team The World Has Ever Seen”. Honestly, don’t worry about it. The song itself is self-deprecating in a typically English way, while also being hopeful, and saying we don’t need to always be so negative. It’s a much nicer song than some of the others that get sung by England fans, although as much as I like it and it makes me feel like it’s 1996 again, I hope another song comes along (not ‘Vindaloo’, I hated that one) that is just as good so people aren’t utterly sick of “It’s Coming Home” (I am sure many of you already are). It will probably come along in 2051, thirty years after our last trophy, which of course will be won tomorrow against Italy…

Ok, I’m not getting ahead of myself but I can still believe. We’ll see what happens. Italy haven’t won this trophy since 1968 but they’ve had a couple of World Cups since then. They don’t even call it football, they call it ‘Calcio’, and that name has origins in a sport that goes back centuries…don’t get me started on that story. But if it happens, if England win it… I will be running around Davis in my one England shirt singing “It’s Coming Home” at the top of my voice. Even in this 111 degree weather…  

       

shake and bake

kitchen

There was an earthquake today. Actually there were several, but at about 3:45pm the house shook, probably about 10 seconds, followed by another which was much more of a rolling wave that made me feel a little dizzy, that lasted longer. I was resting due to a massive headache, having had an odd rumbling in my ears all day, compounded by this bloody heatwave (sorry, Heat Dome) that is ramping up again (it is expected to be 113 degrees or higher over the weekend now). So I went to lie down for a bit, get away from computer screens. Just as I was nodding off, I heard the blinds rattle all at once, and the ceiling fan cords sway, and the ground started vibrating, with my head against the bed it felt like I could hear it. I got up, we had all felt it, the family met on the landing of the stairs and sure enough, there was the swaying, like being at sea. I live in California, you might think I feel earthquakes all the time, but they are pretty uncommon in Davis, which is not that close to any fault lines. There are big fault lines in the Bay Area (you all know the San Andreas Fault, from Superman The Movie (RIP Richard Donner, BTW), but there are a few other pretty significant ones). On the other side of us in the Sierras you get some big faults, up near Truckee for example, and today’s 6.0 quake was in the region south of Lake Tahoe about 120 miles east of here. The one right after was nearby there at about 5.2. There were many aftershocks, some are still going on, we wouldn’t feel them. Last earthquake I really felt here was the Napa quake in 2014, this one felt stronger from here. No damage here, it seems like there were a few big boulders that rolled onto the highways in the Sierras. Meanwhile, the heat is getting worse and worse, and yet all I can think of is…it’s coming home

I drew this tonight, just needed to sketch. I was listening to a podcast about the Viking Great Army, which is about when the Danes rolled over the English. Didn’t happen yesterday though, eh. It’s coming home… My eyesight is going, I need to get my eyes tested again, getting older and the eyes are just being squeezed. So I could not really see all the details in the kitchen. I know what it looks like though.

summertime lose

2nd and E, Davis

It’s July now; the second half of the year. I started this on the last day of June, stood downtown under the lunchtime shade of a tree, but finished it off today in July. It’s hot again, and getting hotter, and the world is basically just going to be hot forever now. The Pacific Northwest, that should not be that hot. Davis always gets hot, but this year feels worse. Sometimes though I hate the idea of the heat more; I will choose not to go out because I know it’ll be really hot, when in fact even in the heat it can still be alright in the shade, or with the air in your face as you cycle down a long tree-lined avenue. The over-100 heat, not so much. I don’t know, I’m grateful for air-conditioning. I dread the coming of summertime now, so much. Last year with the wild fires starting so early and raging so badly, the air being so unbreathable for the best part of two months, the fires have been progressively awful each year for about four or five years. So far though, no smoky skies. I dread the summer. “Hope you are enjoying your summer!” people say, in all sincerity. Not really, the anxiety of three digit numbers lining up on my weather app is depressing. Summer is a bummer. I’m coaching soccer again; this evening out in the heat and bright sun I found it difficult to cope, let alone think clearly. The heat affects my brain I think, slows it all down. I do find myself getting dumber in the summer. Remember that terrible heat in Amsterdam in 2019, how it felt like my mind stopped working, when I even forgot my paints when going out sketching? Well no I suppose you wouldn’t remember, that happened to me. But summer does make me dumber. As it cools down I feel like my wits get sharper. But not too cold; I remember in New York in 2016 when it was so cold that even thoughts froze as they moved about your head. Me and my mate walked across Central Park in some hugely sub-zero temperatures, and by the time we reached an Subway station our minds just went completely blank, like we couldn’t quite understand the Subway map. I mean it’s hard to understand anyway but we definitely felt affected by the cold; I made a massive pan of noodles when we got in to warm us up. So the heat makes me dumb, the cold makes me dumb, maybe I am just, look I know what you’re thinking, “maybe you are just thick, Pete”. Yeah maybe. Maybe I always have been, how would I really know? Or maybe there is just an increasingly small window of temperature that I can mentally operate in. Either way, the next few days are scheduled to be 97, 102, 108, 109, 108, 102, 97 in a nice palindromic way, that’s what we want isn’t it, palindromic weather. What goes up, comes down for a couple of days then goes right up again. (By the way San Francisco, which is an hour and a half away, has temperatures of 70, 68, 68, 68, 66, 66, 66 on those same days. That’s right, it will be 42 degrees cooler in San Francisco than in Davis this weekend. Just, seriously. But I’m not going there, because if England win in the Euro 2020 semi-final that takes place in twelve hours from now, I’ll be watching that on my TV in my living room and I won’t care.  I always said that if Spurs won the Premier League or Champions League or something, I would put on all my Spurs shirts and run around Davis, singing “Ossie’s Dream” and “Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur”; I own a lot of Spurs shirts, so that would be very hot. If England win it, I promise to run around Davis singing “It’s Coming Home”, “World In Motion”, and I dunno, “Cinnamon Stick”. (It won’t matter that it’s hot because I only own one England shirt.) It’s coming home; I’m staying home with the a/c on.

of all the words he tried to say

4th st Davis

Day before Independence Day, the Day of England 4-0 vs Ukraine day, I went downtown on a Saturday afternoon to do some drawing and look in a couple of shops. I stopped and drew this building on 4th Street, some Law Offices I think (I need new glasses/eyesight). It was pretty quiet, I wasn’t harassed by any mad people this time (unlike just up the block a couple of months ago), and I wore my 2010 red England shirt, the only England shirt I own. (It’s coming home by the way, I don’t know if you heard, but it totally is). There were leaf blowers behind me blowing the leaves and dust or whatever, but they didn’t last long (maybe the leaves blew back, I had my headphones on). Amazingly I had never drawn this building, to the best of my knowledge. I probably have in the background of another, or maybe I have and forgot. I’ve drawn a lot of Davis drawings and usually remember them all, but I’ve been here a good long while now. Nearly sixteen years, coming up on that. I’ve been drawing it for fifteen of them. One day I’ll do a book of them. I’ll say that again in another fifteen years. I can never seem to get it together to write it, well I suppose a book of drawings doesn’t really need much writing. Be better off without it really (what was that 1 star Amazon review of one of my books that said “by the time he finished what he was saying I had forgotten what he was talking about” or something), the sketches are the words anyway. So, another one of 4th Street, Davis. Happy 4th, America!

Happy 4th of July the 4th

Alexei Lalas copy

Yes, I know it’s Coming Home, and Southgate is a genius, and yes I did do a Kane illustration, but today is the birthday of my adopted country (actually I think it adopted me, although since I’m still a permanent resident I am really just fostered). 7/4 happens on July the 4th over here, unlike in Britain where people celebrate American Independence on April the 7th, along with all the old dad jokes like that. To celebrate, here is perhaps my favourite American football player (ok, my favorite American soccer franchiser) Alexi Lalas, wearing my favorite USMNT soccer jersey (see, I can speak American), the 1994 away kit. Along with the amazing red and white wavy stripe home kit, this was my favourite kit from the 1994 World Cup, USA 94. It is an all time epic. As a proper redhead myself I loved Lalas’s amazing barnet, and the King Tut-esque beard, and I actually did copy the beard a few years later (without the moustache) (it was the 1990s), though my attempts at the hair did not go too well. See my hair is curly, a bit like Lalas’s, not ring-curls but uncontrollable waves. I knew blokes with long hair who could just wave it around like an extra appendage, especially when dancing. Anyway my hair just grew upwards, like straight up. So that didn’t work. Lalas is a bit taller than me though, so maybe gravity works differently on his head, I don’t know. He’s often on TV these days doing punditry, no longer long haired and long bearded, but still with a bit of personality. So happy birthday United States, thanks for giving us Lalas and the greatest World Cup shirt in history. 

“an ‘oops’ moment and then some”

Euro 2020 NED-CZE

I’m not drawing every game in the Euros or nothing, I just, well I like to draw and write things down. There were some bonkers games in the Round of Sixteen. France went out, half an hour after I had told my son that the game “had ‘Kylian Mbappe misses the decisive penalty’ written all over it”, congratulations Mystic Pete. The Dutch went out, after De Ligt batted the ball away with his big paw, and headline writers and tweeters scrambled to get the best ‘De Ligt based pun, having used every possible ‘Czech’ based pun already. (I wonder if any found a way to shoehorn “Red De Ligt District” in there somewhere? I hope not.) The Czechs had Holeš exposing holes in the Dutch defense (another low-hanging fruit for sub-editors everywhere). I’m not even going there with all the ‘Schick’ ones.  And then there was Sweden-Ukraine, where the Swedish player Danielson got a red card, and my own version of the many obvious Karate Kid based jokes was “Danielson whacks on, walks off” which I thought was alright. England-Germany, Harry Kane was apparently not running much, so was being called ‘Walking Kane’ which I thought was quite funny (I still love you Harry). Portugal-Belgium, glad Belgium won that, and when Hazard’s same-height little brother scored I yelled out “That’s what I’m Thorgan about!”, but then immediately thought I should have said “Lukaku’s Thorgan” because it sounds a bit like “Look Who’s Talkin'” but it didn’t really work. This always happens when international football tournaments are on, I have fun with all of the names. In this one I tried to make Star Wars Prequels connections with the players, you had General Grealish, Count Doku, Anakin SKyleWalker, Chancellor Pal-Palhinha, Bale Organa, Darth Mæhle, Jonas Windu, Ethan Amp-idala, and, um, the Marcus side of the Forss (not to mention De Ligt side). Plus many other probably better ones.     

Euro 2020 CRO-ESP