My dog ate a tube of glue

Dear readers,

Curiosity killed the cat, well I certainly hope it doesn’t do any harm to my nosy dog who decided to use up one of his lives (do dogs get nine lives? I hope so, the way my dog’s going) by snatching some super glue from a table, getting the stuff on his tongue and paws. He seems okay, nonetheless, although he’s excellent practice for when Pamela and I have kids.

The event inspired a little Limerick poem. Enjoy.

My dog ate a tube of glue.

My dog ate a tube of glue,

He’s stumbling around like he’s had a few,

He has a burnt tongue,

And a face like he’s been hung,

And now it’s a few days until he can chew.

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Life in the tropics: scorpion in the kitchen

Dear readers,

Dinner time. I go downstairs to fix myself an omelette, and what do I find? This little fella, hiding in the sink.

Yes. It’s a scorpion. I don’t know if it’s dangerous or toxic, but I wasn’t going to find out either. They often say the littlest are the most deadly (or is that spiders?). How it got there, God knows, but it’s not something you see everyday, especially in the UK. In truth, it’s not something I see everyday in Honduras, but it’s the third I’ve seen in the house in three years. I imagine in rural areas they’re a regular occurrence.

I was told to kill it by members of a WhatsApp group. I can’t do that. Just too much of a softie. Only in a matter of extreme survival would I kill something (barring a certain types of snakes).

In Mexico they kill them and coat them in sugar to create candy. I’m not that ballsy. This one doesn’t look meaty enough, anyway. I in fact put it outside far from the house using a pot. In fact I put it near a neighbour’s house, who we dislike. I’m that type of person.

Only joking! (Or am I?)

Let’s just say it’s far enough away from the house to return.


Bronchitis poem

Dear readers,

Bronchitis has come roaring back with friends, so it seems. To those not in the know I was in hospital two weeks ago, where I was diagnosed with it. It’s a revolting illness. You feel like a faulty phlegm factory, churning gunk up from a place only doctors know. I’ve been doing all the right things, rest, liquids, meds, yet the virus seems to have made itself quite at home in my now skinny little body. Holding food down has not been easy, and now I’m just eating the very basics; no grease allowed. Lying on the sofa going in and out of sleep is no fun for someone so used to being active. I’m beginning to hate Netflix.

Please, don’t think I’m attention seeking. I am bored though, with my coughing giving me migraines and the constant feeling of feeling under the weather. I’m dying to return to work and see and feel life again, rather than spluttering throughout the day. I guess we really do take our health for granted.

I thought I was overcoming it, although I still had a cough which my friend and colleague from Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, Jonny, said I sounded like a motorbike revving. This simile got me thinking of my other ailments, and it inspired the poem below.

Enjoy!

Bronchitis

My legs lie like two dead tree trunks,

My cough bellows like a mating call of a velociraptor,

My lungs a reservoir of alien gunk,

My appetite like Tinkerbell on a eat nothing diet,

My temperature like a high-speed train speeding through the Sahara,

My sinuses as stubborn as an eighty year old spinster,

My insides wheeze as loud as a Mexican fiesta,

My brain’s wires as precarious as a detonator to a faulty explosive,

My medication the Mayweather punch,

My toilet habits…don’t need a simile.

My, my, my, I’m a raving attention seeker,

But when bronchitis shuts down every system – you know you have a keeper.


England in the quarter finals

Dear readers,

So, England are in the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. They overcame the group stage with relative ease, although I was worried about England’s weak mentality which often underestimates opposition considered inferior to ourselves; a dangerous arrogance. I’m pleased England proved me wrong, although I was a little worried about England’s performance against Belgium, ableit England had already qualified and playing their second team.

Despite England beating Colombia yesterday, I am in two minds about this mentality of avoiding certain teams. I think one has to beat whoever comes their way, be it Brazil or whoever. No other team is trying to avoid playing England right now, and for me it shows a cowardice on our part. Ironically, France is a country that Britons often look down upon for just that: cowardice, yet they played Argentina in the second round, now they face Uruguay and then maybe Brazil in the semi-final; three very tough South American opponents, without complaining or wishing for an easier draw. France, Brazil and co. are not on the favourable side of the draw, but any of those teams could well be better prepared for the final than those on the perceived easier side due to being accustomed to playing seemingly better quality opposition. If England want to show true three lion spirit: stop fearing opposition, and take what comes. By announcing we are in the easier draw is just the impetus opposing teams need to show just how wrong we are. Colombia, using rough ’em up tactics, were anything but easy. Sweden will be even harder, and their media is already reckoning England will be feeling the normal hubris, which we often do against Scandinavian teams. Remember Iceland two years ago? England has to be professional.

Funnily enough, there is also a side of me that thinks Gareth Southgate pulled a stroke of genius by fielding a weaker team against Belgium. Forget what I said about cowardice: of course I’d rather England face Sweden than Brazil. Anyone would. No slight on Sweden. But Brazil are Brazil and have Coutinho et al, as well as five world cups to their name, and Sweden don’t. It’s not a reason to write Sweden off mind; we have a woeful record against them and Southgate has been warning that. Sweden look a more compact and together team without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, knocking out Holland, Italy and Germany (the latter indirectly) along the way: major scalps. Yet, one would be an idiot to prefer playing Brazil over Sweden at this stage.

England v Colombia

Finally England won through penalties. It hasn’t happened since 1996 against Spain at Euro 96. I suffered five heart attacks during the game yesterday. I feel England just about edged Colombia, even though Colombia had the better chances and played without their star man, James Rodriguez. To an extent, I have empathy, especially as we England fans have suffered so much through penalty shoot outs. But on the most part, I think some of their players had a warped view of football rules and tried to kick England off the pitch.

Yes, there are differences in culture in terms of tackling. For example, the Premier League lets a lot more tackles go than mainland Europe. Latin American defences are known for their aggression compared to European or Asian teams, yet in this tournament and the 2014 World Cup, it’s been taken to a whole new level and it’s harming Latin America more than helping them, giving away needless free kicks and penalties through grappling, kicking out, delibrate obstruction and provocation. Hondurans will hate me saying this, but Mexico is one of the few Latin American teams that have played with a cleaner defensive tactics in this world cup, along with Brazil and Uruguay, and it’s no surprise the three teams had/are having good tournaments. VAR and video support is going to harm Latin American teams even more if they don’t clean up their act. Referees can play back and have wisened up to this antics. I say this as a fan of Latin American football, but it’s something teams here have to adjust to if they want success. The World Cup is now being dominated by European teams; 6 of the 8 quarter finalists are European, which have won the last three world cups. European teams will go to ground under heavy challenges and will do so convincingly, and they are no longer provoked as easily. England of old would have lost their cool against Colombia (remember David Beckham against Argentina in 1998?). England of new stayed, more or less, calm throughout. Southgate’s charm rubbing off or England being smarter? I think it’s a lot of both.

Saying that, Jose Pekerman, the Colombian football coach, has got to be blind, stupid, a bad loser or saving face after the game against England, when he pretty much blamed the English players for diving. England could have easily had a second penalty and the Colombian player Berrios should have been sent off for the naughty headbutt on Jordan Henderson. The referee, if anything, favoured Colombia. They received 6 yellow cards to England’s 2, which tells the story (although Maguire too was lucky to stay on the pitch for striking out Ospina towards the end of extra time; players have been sent off for much less). Every time England went near their box, they were bombarded by hacking and grappling. That’s one way to stop the opposing team from playing, but it’s not in the rules. Of course I am biased, but Colombia (nor Diego Maradona) cannot complain. Sorry Pekerman, England wasn’t diving.

I am pleased England exorcised a few demons by winning in penalties, and it was a beautiful irony it was Gareth Southgate who coached England to win their first since 1996. It was he who missed that all important penalty in Euro 96, and he has carried the burden for 22 years, with his name synonymous with that missed penalty. He showed great humility to console Carlos Bacca who missed the Colombian penalty and the Colombian team at the end of the game, instead of celebrating. This also inspired the social media phenomenon, #Southgatewould, where fans are listing the hypothetical good deeds Southgate would do. It is also good to see England playing with a bit more character and togetherness, rather than 12 years ago when there was a lot of individual stars but no team. It’s great to see them answering their critics; less than a year ago England fans showed discontent through stadium walkouts and paper aeroplane messages. I doubted Gareth Southgate. I admit it. But I’m glad he’s proving me wrong, along with many other fans. He has introduced new measures to get the team passing and pressing in a new formation, as well as playing together, with a connection with the fans again, reminiscent of Italia 90 with Bobby Robson.

I still doubt England will win the World Cup, but I think they deserve to be in the quarter finals. Let’s hope they continue playing as well as they can. As for the game against Sweden, we’ll see what happens…


Refugees by Brian Bilston

Dear readers,

I usually write my own poetry on this blog. However, if there is a poem that strikes me, I will share it.

I’ve seen this floating around on social media a few times, and I’ve always intended to share it on this blog but I somehow forget. I noticed it again today on the Refugee Week Facebook page today. It’s a clever poem, and it reminds me of my time working at the Refugee Council, back in Birmingham in the UK, which was a personal eye-opener, what a refugee goes through, the abuse they receive, the legal wrangles they go through, the emotion torment they suffer…. I matured fast working with refugees; it was very positive experience.

I don’t know who Brian Bilston is, where he’s from or his background, but he has been dubbed “the unofficial poet laureate of Twitter” – and his Refugees poem you can find below.

Enjoy.


VAR – Good, bad or mergh?

Dear readers,

I’ve been a long term advocate of introducing technology in football. Human error had been influencing games for decades. Germany can point back to the World Cup Final in 1966 against my very own country and feel aggrieved. I am guilty: I have called various referees an array of expletives in a loud frustrated voice, often forgetting that referees are human, under great amounts of pressure and they can’t catch everything. Having technological aid would help cancel out some of those mistakes.

For years, FIFA had decided against it, with the former president Sepp Blatter being dead against it. Cynics say it was so FIFA could retain a certain amount of control over games so decisions could go the way of the more money-making teams in football, then excuse themselves with a half-baked apology to the losing team followed by a typical “c’est la vie” shrug of the shoulders. Remember Thierry Henry’s handball against Ireland in the playoff for the 2010 World Cup?

Blatter’s reluctance was based on how it would damage the flow and spontaneity of the beautiful game, and like most of what Sepp Blatter said I passed off as nonsense. Yet with the introduction of VAR (Video Assistant Referee), he might have a point.

The waiting on decisions means fans and players are unable to celebrate (or commiserate) on a goal, losing a undeniable slice of the passion. Players have to wait an age to know if they are being awarded a penalty or not.

There are also questions regarding who decides on what is reviewed; a lack of transparency so to speak (it’s not as if FIFA has never been accused of such things). Is it the referee or other officials who decide? And excuse the bias, why wasn’t the two wrestling incidents by against Harry Kane reviewed in the game against Tunisia? Two very obvious penalties which probably have ended with England winning more than 2-1. Had the match ended 1-1, I daresay there would have been more questions about the officiating, both with the referee and the VAR system. It therefore begs the important question, has VAR improved refereeing?

Sure, the VAR is going through a teething process which hopefully will improve over time.

But what do you think? Keep it, or bin it?


Migrant children in cages – part 2

Dear readers,

Apparently Donald Trump had a change of heart, yesterday. He has stopped unaccompanied minors being separated from their parents. How nice of him. He said he is showing his “compassion and big heart”. However, “compassionate” and “big-hearted” are never going to be two adjectives to describe Donald Trump.

Furthermore, we all know that this shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

What the change implies is anyone’s guess. Are parents going to be kept in cages with their kids? Donald Trump has revealed himself as a cruel person. It seems nothing is beyond him. In reality, it is unlikely he’s had a change of heart; moreso he’s being forced to reverse the decision in an act of damage limitation exercise, even amongst his own supporters.

Having read an article by CNN, the bill reversal doesn’t mention anything about unaccompanied minors already separated from their parents; just that they’re not going to be following these practices from now on with new families.

He’s had many black marks to his name. On a scale though, this is one of the worst. He will distract people with something else in a few days, whether it be dinner with Putin, another alleged affair with an adult film star, pulling out of another trade deal or an insult to another country. He has his model. It’s worked for him so far, sadly.

I’m not a parent nor a guardian. I don’t know what it is like to separated from a child in a foreign country, while in a cage, not knowing the language, not knowing where my child is. Worry is an understatement. I was a child many moons ago. Being separated from my parents in such conditions would have scarred me for life. While these thoughts are basic and simplified, they are the thoughts that should have crossed Donald Trump’s mind before caging children, no matter how he feels about illegal immigrants and how he wishes to be perceived to those who voted for him. He has children, two of which work for him. Suffice to say, he should have known better.