So, we won. And I’m drunk on a combination of alcohol and please-make-my-cold-go-away pills. Everybody’s happy, unless you’re Slovenian.
It was a much better performance, too, although it’s kinda like starting from a Westlife album and judging your record as good in comparison. Nonetheless, despite the mental lineup (Milner on the right? Gerrard on the left again?), England were in control of the game from the early stages, and the opposition never looked like scoring. Despite that, extreme FEAR was in abundance while watching the game. One goal is never enough to calm the nerves, and every time Slovenia got past the halfway line, you could sense the sharp intake of breath from the entire pub. Still, we held out. Germany in the second round, then. Should be legendary.
The more surprising sporting action today came at Wimbledon, where the longest game of tennis in all recorded human history took place between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut (or Keith Vaz versus Manhunt, as we videogame fans bizarrely dubbed it), which was surprisingly fascinating even as it continued beyond the tolerance of all that is holy. One of the guys had two match points at one… er… point. Failed, but nice thought. Personally I’m hoping that the match carries on forever in homage to that Greek mythological guy who keeps on having to push the rock up the hill. What happens if the match doesn’t end – if it just carries on forever? If it carries on until next Wimbledon? At what point does the umpire call the players off, and say “no more”? It’s an interesting sporting situation. Delicately poised at 59-59 in the final set, the victor is clearly going to be so knackered that they won’t have a chance of getting through the next round.
Au revoir, Les Bleus. Et, franchement, bon débarras.
Yes, I’m glad that the French were eliminated from the World Cup today in such an ignominious manner. What a shambles of a team – an unsportsmanlike disgrace from the rebellious players right up to the coach, Raymond Domenech, who wasn’t even decent enough to shake the hand of the victorious South African manager after his team’s 2-1 loss. Whatever the reasons behind Anelka’s foul-mouthed tirade and subsequent expulsion from the squad, the attitude of the players was more than counter-productive, and the French public are rightly appalled at what has happened.
Contrast that with the sheer joy that the South Africans brought to the tournament. Surely the happiest hosts ever, they injected a cavalcade of energy and music with them wherever they went. Even a bad loss to Uruguay couldn’t dim the good feeling for long, and once again today the squad were singing even before they made the journey to the Free State Stadium. For a while, 2-0 up playing against 10 men, it looked like the impossible dream of a winning margin big enough to send them through to the second round was within their grasp. Alas, it was not to be. But like the crowd’s vuvuzela players, they finally learnt how to play in a rhythm, and proved worthy victors in the match.
South Africa now hold the unfortunate record of being the first hosts ever to exit the World Cup at the first round stage, but this had to happen in the tournament eventually, and it shouldn’t detract from their fantastic attitude and sheer enthusiasm for the game. It’s goodbye to Bafana Bafana, then (so good, they named them twice), but hopefully the atmosphere they’ve brought to the competition won’t be lost in the later stages despite their absence.
The contrast with the sullen French couldn’t be more stark. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. May their plane journey home be with L’Air de Ryan. And I don’t mean Giggs. No doubt packing their egos will cost them a few extra Euros.
Tonight the new iOS4 operating system from Apple was finally unleashed for iPhone 3GS, 3G and the third generation iPod Touch. Wallpapers! Folders! Multitasking! Spellcheck! Searching within texts! And much more besides.
Several apps celebrated with new updates. TuneIn Radio was one of the first to integrate the new multitasking protocols (which have to be programmed into each app to take advantage of them), which in this case allows an audio stream to continue playing after going back to the home screen to start another app. Cue gazillions of people screaming at Spotify and Last FM to get a move on with their own new versions. Then the number #1 app in every chart in the universe, Angry Birds, popped up with another new 15 levels for free. Best value 59p I’ve ever spent, methinks. It helps that the game itself is so good, of course, but this generous business model is paying real dividends for the developer, as Angry Birds continues to sell and sell. At this point, it’s pretty much an unstoppable juggernaut – true lightning in a bottle stuff.
The Safari browser and the iPhone’s camera seem to run a bit faster on my 3GS now (though Safari really could do by taking a leaf out of its competitor VanillaSurf’s book, by allowing you to get rid of all screen furniture to enhance the browsing experience), and the new ability to move groups of apps into folders is a nice way to streamline what can become a pretty busy set of home screens. Perhaps the most eye-catching change, though, is a very simple one: the introduction of wallpapers to pretty up your home screen backdrop. I took a picture of the last page of the sleevenotes for Radiohead’s Kid A album, which I’ve always felt is a brilliantly atmospheric landscape, and set it as my background. Nice.
Black marks for ITV’s World Cup app, which, true to the broadcaster’s form, won’t work at all with iOS4. An update is promised soon. Probably when the tournament’s already over, eh? You can always rely on ITV.
I hate being ill. Then again, does anyone actually enjoy feeling like rubbish? I get sick twice every year: once in the summer, once in late autumn. It’s a cycle that runs like clockwork. And I know why I started feeling a little bit “wrong” yesterday – I’ve had a very stressful couple of weeks and my body has reached its limit. I’m run down, I haven’t been sleeping as well as I should be, and I’ve been getting more and more wound up by things. Big things. Little things. Things that shouldn’t matter. Things that do. And everything’s added up to make my body say “no more”.
So now I’m sitting here, coughing slightly, my throat feeling scratchy, nose not exactly streaming but far from right, and I feel shaky and horrible. But this is one of those rubbish illnesses at the moment, with a combination of small symptoms working together to fell me. It doesn’t feel like I’m eating razor blades when I swallow. My head isn’t splitting open like it’s Geppetto’s new project. When I blow my nose, it’s not like I’m breaking a dam. Nonetheless, the fractions present of each of these conditions is making me feel rather sorry for myself. I need a very, very early night, and have to hope that this is just a 24 hour thing.
Though I do have to laugh that I can’t even do illness right.
In Telford, stop. No Internet, stop. One A Day window strictly limited, stop. Memory of England game not getting any better, stop. Alcohol helping, stop. Randomly ran into friend, stop. Not literally ran into, that would be painful, stop. Currently possessing social skills of average James Corden fanclub member, stop. If only Cameroon could shoot, stop. Writing blog entries on iPhone is cumbersome, so really, really, really should stop.
Tonight’s England match was the perfect end to the perfect week. With a performance that would have shamed last season’s Liverpool First XI, Capello’s misfits once again posed the question of what the hell we’re doing following these bozos.
We put ourselves through it every time, of course. As a man who’s used to watching England strain every sinew to frustrate us, it’s almost reassuring to know that we face yet another win or bust showdown on Wednesday. If Fabio Capello doesn’t want to suffer the indignity of being dismissed (surely even the FA can’t countenance paying £6 million per year for the drivel we’re currently witnessing), then he has to get the players to remember how they qualified, otherwise he could yet be forced to polish his fake Dutch accent.
How did it ever come to this? Oh yeah – England. Should have known.
Microsoft’s E3 conference earlier in the week devoted a lot (and I mean a LOT) of time to the company’s new controller-free Kinect hardware for the Xbox 360, but caused grumbles among core gamers by failing to show more than one or two games in development that directly appealed to them. And even those games (Dance Central, for example) didn’t overwhelmingly scream “Day One!” at their wallets.
So it seems just plain bizarre that Microsoft didn’t arrange for Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s new game, Child of Eden, to be front and centre in its presentation. Or, indeed, appear at all. Seemingly the unofficial sequel to Rez, the Dreamcast, PS2 and Live Arcade classic, Child of Eden continues Mizuguchi’s obsession with the concept of synesthesia, hoping to bring consciousness to a new level by smashing together a headfuck of aural and visual pleasure and letting the player’s hands control the shooty action. Showing this would have solved Microsoft’s conference problems almost single-handedly. Open goal missed, methinks.