Thursday, 6 November 2014

Cricket World Cup schedule - with times

Just over three months before the start of the tournament, the starting times for the ICC Cricket World Cup have suddenly appeared. (I would say they've been announced but I just happened to stumble upon them.)

To help myself miss as little cricket as possible, I've made an overview of the dates and times of not just of this tournament, but all matches I might possibly want to watch. So now I've been able to fill in the World Cup ones - and then do the conversion to time zones in the civilised world.

It's a bit rough and ready, but I think it's useful. Don't judge me on spelling, most of it is copy/paste!

The three times are local, GMT and CET (for the final the last two are technically BST and CEST). Blue dates start while it's still the day before in Europe.

Edit: Click the pictures to embiggen.

These are the finals stages, comprised of four quarters, two semis and the final. The latter will take place just as the clocks are springing forward in Europe, so I hope I got the time right. In any case, you can only blame me for being up early, not for missing an hour of play.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Never lonely

I was reminded today of a 1984 hit by Brood & Vrienten, called "Als je wint" (When you win). The immediate trigger was a sentence in a tweet from Will Smith (the one that this week scored 142 not out to save a draw against Kent and move Hampshire closer to promotion to the County Championship Division One, of course.)

I think the song, together with the mania around and subsequent break-up of Vrienten's band Doe Maar shortly before this was published, informed me about the costs of fame on a subconscious but very profound level, so when Smith tweeted: "Never had so much love on social media!" it was like setting off a musical grenade in my mind.

I was a teenage girl at the time and I was a fan, but I never behaved like the screaming girls at their concerts (or anywhere else they went, in The Netherlands at least). I genuinely liked the music and especially the (ideas behind) the lyrics. Relationships, sex, drugs, angst, what's not to like? ;-).

I've tried my hand at a translation, trying to follow the original as closely as I could, but making a couple of adjustments and ignoring the rhyme on a few occasions. I know I could've done it more justice, given more time, but the lyrics are quite naive and that still shines through, I think!

Looking at it so closely again, I should have known why this stuck with me so much, because at the time I was a big cycling fan (you could not get me away from the TV or radio for the three weeks' duration of the Tour de France, for instance). Plus watching Jens Voigt's World Hour Record last night will have primed me to remember a song that involves cycling.

When you win

He looks ahead, blank eyes;
He doesn't think, he rides.
Although his legs may ache,
He is in a break.
They'll never catch him now,
He thinks I've won somehow!

Never alone,
Never alone.

Half-naked she walks by
The judges in a row.
Flashes her teeth at them,
They're looking at her tits.
Tears streaming down her face
She's crowned Miss Netherlands!

Never alone,
Never alone.

When you win, you have friends,
Row upon row, real friends.
When you win, never lonely.
As long as you win.

No matter how tired you are,
They're knocking on your door;
You could be half asleep,
Or in your underwear.
No party starts before
You've made it through the door!

Never alone,
Never alone.

written: Henny Vrienten
performed: Brood & Vrienten

Closing thoughts:

Perhaps I should blog about cycling songs. Anyone interested? (Except all the ones I can think of are in Dutch, that's a bit tricky. I don't know if I want to translate all of them...)

I'm always surprised how many people, at work, or at church, know me or know about me. And most of all, that this hasn't put them off.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


'Kolpak' countries (Cotonou Agreement)

Yes I went there with the title, someone was bound to, don't moan.

Picture this...

It is September 3rd and it's late in the day on the third day of the Roses match in the County Championship. Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale side is fielding and he moves himself closer to Lancashire's South African batsman Ashwell Prince. Then an exchange of words takes place.

At first Gale was reported by the umpires for a level two offence (seriously insulting or obscene language). Because this was his second time this season, he received an automatic two-match ban. Very sad for Gale, as his county was about to win the Championship.

On the eve of Yorkshire's win over Nottinghamshire that sealed the county's first County Championship victory since 2001, they were told that Gale would not be allowed to receive the cup or be part of the official ceremony, pending further investigation.

Today it was revealed in The Telegraph that Gale is to be charged by the ECB with a level three or four charge, for using racist and abusive language. A date for the hearing has not yet been set.

The article quotes the following exchange:

Prince: "F*** off back to cover point."
Gale: "Well you can f*** off back to your own country you Kolpak f*****."

Which part of Gale's sentence is racist? On its own, the "Well you can f*** off back to your own country"-part does appear to be. If I heard this on the street, racism would be my first assumption. But it was not said on its own. In fact, the Telegraph transcript continues with "you Kolpak f*****." without allowing for a pause, not even in the form of the humble comma.

It now becomes important to understand what a Kolpak is.

In 1995, the Bosman ruling had ensured that players from any EU country could not be prevented from working in any other EU country, according to the EU's own principle of freedom of movement of workers. This put paid to rules that prevented teams from fielding more than x foreign players. However, there was no such protection for non-EU players and the German handball league (as many others) still imposed a maximum of two players per team, only now it was directed at non-EU players.

Maroš Kolpak had been playing for TSV Ostringen in the second division since 1997 and was a legal resident and worker in the country (i.e. if he had been a chef or a bank teller, this would never have happened). In 2000 his team decided that there were two other non-EU players they wanted to play more badly than they wanted Kolpak and therefore, under league rules, they could no longer employ him.

In 2003 the European Court of Justice ruled that the Association Agreement that Slovakia had with the EU (at the time, it is now a member) meant that workers and players from that country and any others with similar agreements should be considered equal to EU players.

Back to that fateful third of September:

When seen as a whole, as it should be and as it has been reported, I do not believe Gale's remark had anything to do with race. It is clear to me that his focus was Prince's Kolpak status, a ruling the effects of which the ECB itself has tried to negate ever since it was made.

I certainly do not agree with the Telegraph, which argues that "Kolpak could be construed as racism in this case because Prince is black and was brought up in Apartheid South Africa." I can't even see how they came this conclusion. (You know, like in school when you get marks for the process even when the final answer is wrong.)

I would advise Mr. Gale never to use that phrase again, though.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I have a problem

I wrote this yesterday as an explanation to one of my therapists, in a stream-of-consciousness type e-mail that was meant to clarify my tear-strewn phone-call to her, as to why I couldn't face leaving the house and coming in for group therapy.

Sunday night I couldn't get to sleep. Nothing unusual and not really a problem most of the time; it happens to me once every two or tree weeks, without any identifiable cause (I'm not brooding, nothing's different from other nights, I just don't feel sleepy) and generally I get through the next day without complications.

But on Monday morning I woke up with my heart pounding and a lump in my throat. I couldn't think of a reason why, but I was upset and very emotional. Perhaps I dreamt something, I seldom remember my dreams (by coincidence the last time was only a few weeks ago, but in that I helped fix someone's computer problems.) Probably because I was so fatigued, I didn't manage to roll down the heavy shutters like I would usually do; and started to feel overwhelmed by emotions.

The emotions weren't in any way specific, but I felt very exposed and unsafe. It felt as if every raw emotion that I've been trying to suppress for 41 years had been laid bare. I was afraid I would panic and scared to lose all control.

I tried to 'man up' and make myself go to therapy, but the thought of interacting with people just made me feel worse. I didn't think I could handle all the other emotions rushing in at me, even from strangers (in our phone call I mentioned the bus driver, who could be curt, or very friendly; I feared this would be the straw that broke the camel's back.)

However, somewhere in the rising panic I found a smidgeon of common sense and decided I might as well try to consciously experience it. This is something I talked about with my psychologist*, that I would try (albeit in a more controlled fashion) to allow it to happen and to experience that nothing bad would happen. This too is very scary to me and I am still shaking and my heart's still pounding, but I'm still here. So maybe there's something to it...

For the record: I have suffered several depressive episodes, at the worst of which, in Februari 2012, I was convinced there was nothing else I could do but kill myself. I had been in bed, crying for eight hours straight, I had played in my mind and analysed about eleven different scenarios of how I could kill myself, but with the final spark of hope, or whatever it was, I called a friend and told them I had a problem.

Despite yesterday's setback, I am feeling like I'm well on the road to some semblance of normality.

* I'm seeing, in different capacities: two psychologists, a psychiatrist, a sociotherapist and a dietician. My anti-depressants are prescribed by my GP.

Don't wait as long as I did. Talk to someone before it gets that bad.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Why Alastair Cook should have left as ODI captain and why he can't now

happier times

I wondered why Graeme Swann came out publicly with his now well-publicised remarks about England's ODI selection policies and I have come to the conclusion it must have been exasperation.

Since, as both sides acknowledge, they were such good friends before, he must have broached the subject in private before coming out with it in public. (If not, they may have to reevaluate their relationship.) Sometimes we need a friend to tell us things we don't see, or call us on things don't want to face.

But Alastair Cook may not be the best at taking friendly advise, however strongly Swann felt about it. Seeing he was getting nowhere, possibly not even planning to, he let the cat out of the bag on national radio.

I love Cookie dearly, but I don't think he should be bothering playing one-day cricket anymore. He doesn't need to. He's proved a very good point in Test matches. He should just enjoy being England Test captain.

What Swann said is not anything new. And it certainly isn't uncommon. He did stand by his friend earlier in the year, when many others called for his head as Test captain, but he also knows the way the ECB approaches one-day cricket is long overdue for a shake-up.

It is not at all surprising that England and Cook - whether it is a natural fit or Cook has adapted to the culture of the ECB, the mentality of the two now seems interchangeable - have painted themselves into this corner. They are too afraid to let go to be able to improve. All they can ever hope to achieve are stop-gap measures and those players will most likely be dropped at the first sign of, almost inevitable, failure.

Instead, they will plod on with the current side, with too many Test players and a fear of losing that overrides every instinct to grab the initiative. Illustrative of the mindset was Cook's reaction after the loss of the first ODI to be played.

We weren’t at the races today and I don’t quite know why. It was not a 300-wicket; nor was it a 160-wicket. It’s not the end of the world but it is frustrating. You can’t win every game of cricket, certainly not when you play like that. We will just have to dust ourselves off and play better.

As long as they're locked into their current mindset, look forward to more such bloodless resignation. If only there were some spark there. Steel is all well and good for Test matches, but now England need something more explosive.

He’s a good friend and has been a supporter and it’s not helpful at this time because I am going to go and captain in this World Cup.

Perhaps cutting the cord with the Test side and filling the ODI team with players who have a proven track record in one-dayers wouldn't win England the World Cup next year, but it would increase their chances. The important thing is that any changes are made before it's too late.

In reality they should have been made earlier, long ago even, but given the strange nature of the cricket calendar and the total lack of Test matches these coming months, England are in the extraordinary position of still being able to change their ways and try new things. After the three ODIs left in this series against India, there is still a seven-match series against Sri Lanka in December and a triangular series with Australia and India in January before the World Cup starts in February. With so many matches, they could afford to try and change things.

Unfortunately, chances are they won't.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

ba-NA-na, ba-NAH-na

a loverly bunch of...

I just happened to glance into a colleague's locker as I walked by and noticed something strange.

SK: "Is that a banana?"

C: "Yes."

SK: "Did you mean to leave it in there?"

C: "I'll eat it tomorrow."

SK: "What if something happens or you fall ill?"

C: "It's not locked."

SK: "And in the meantime we'll be wondering where that horrible smell is coming from. No thank you. Please take it with you or throw it away."

the BS of petulance

Stuart Broad

You may or may not know, that I listen to a lot of online cricket commentary through Guerilla Cricket, a lovely alternative, interactive commentary service that stays in touch with its listeners through Twitter. You can tweet them @guerillacricket. (While you're at it, I'm @SubtleKnife00, look me up.)

During one of the recent Test Matches between England and India (I believe it was the third one, at the Ageas Bowl near Southampton, at the end of July) the commentators were talking about Stuart Broad's reputation of petulance and Not Fred Titmus (@FredTitmus) mentioned that petulance should be measured on the Broad scale.

So I decided there should be such a thing. As you can tell from the title of this post, it is abbreviated BS, make of that what you will...

The Broad Scale (BS) of Petulance:
(from mildly petulant, 1., to extremely petulant, 10.)
1. irritable
2. discontented
3. ill-tempered
4. fractious
5. contrary
6. peevish
7. querulous
8. insolent
9. petulant
10. Broad

Yes, on the Broad scale of petulance, petulant ranks ninth out of ten.

Stuart Broad

making a clean ship

a crochet cobweb - Halloween is coming...

Or a clean sweep if you prefer your English without Dutchism. But then, who does? I can't even imagine the kind of boring person who would say such a thing.

Anyway, this establishment is open for business. We're still under the same management, but we've dusted the place, gotten rid of the cobwebs and generally spruced it all up a bit.

Hope you like what we've done with the place and come visit us again soon!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

tearing through the smiles

viking funeral

This is going to be my first blog post in a long time. That’s what I’m telling myself. This time I’m really going to finish writing it and I’m going to post it. It'll be a ramble, so bear with me.

The reasons I feel this urge and the motivation to follow through, are, in chronological order (though not necessarily in order of importance):
1) the death of Robin Williams and the overall assumption he took his own life;
2) the way in which my social media friends responded to this news;
3) the many people who shared stories of their own struggles;
4) the way in which others responded to those stories;
5) the way in which people have shared details to helplines and other information;
6) it’s a bit of a ‘perfect storm’.

Last one first: I was already feeling a bit delicate after a rush of grief over Kevin at the Pet Shop Boys concert last Sunday. For the first three or four songs my eyes were filled with tears, thinking how the last time I saw them, the last time I saw any live concert, was with him. It was one of our things, although we didn’t get to do it often enough. We even met at a concert, we chatted, he pointed at me and said “We should be friends”.

There was a smile as well, don’t be deceived, I cried and smiled at the same time and it wasn’t a negative experience. Every time I miss Kevin, I also remember the good times, it’s not something I do, it’s something that happens to me. Someone told me recently how impressed he was with my attitude to the loss of my best friend and as usual I found it very hard to accept the compliment. But I’m working on it and, if you read this, I really appreciated it.

The thing you need to know about me above all, is that I have always pushed my emotions away - the negative ones first and foremost, but all of them to a certain extent - and in a weird and twisted sort of way Kevin’s death helped me. I couldn’t shut them out, I had to grieve. And the world didn’t end because of those feelings, even though they overwhelmed me at first; so if I survived that, perhaps I could start to let others in a bit more?

In five days it will be nineteen months since he died and I’m still taking baby steps.

By the way, perhaps you should know I was already in therapy when this happened. Almost exactly a year before, I had hit rock bottom. After months of shutting myself off from the world (except for work, I’ll get back to that later) and a day of lying in bed, crying continuously, listing in my head all the ways in which I could kill myself, I decided I was going to take the plunge or get help in that instant. Which, for some reason, I did. I’ve called it a spark before, the tiniest possible measurement of hope, perhaps?

So what were some of the examples of things that have crossed my timelines - okay, I know that sounds like a sci-fi reference, but I was serious and I didn’t think about it until I saw it written down. And as one friend said: “Wait, there's a way to do this shit that isn't silly jokes?” (I’ll withhold his name and anyone else’s, though of course except when I’m linking to stuff that has their name in it.) - in the less than twenty-four hours that have passed since the news of Robin Williams’ death hit the internet?

Let’s start with an article about Why Funny People Kill Themselves. It’s a thoughtful and thorough piece, although I would like to add some comments to it. Please read the article first.

reading break

Now, having read that, think how many people appear funny when they’re sad inside – and then remember that it’s not just the funny ones: it’s the ones that seem competent whilst they feel they’re losing their grip, it’s the ones that look calm though all they feel churning inside is chaos, the ones that seem full of life but feel dead and empty, the ones that you think arrogant, who are actually cowering inside.

And many more.

All of the descriptions above have been, or are, true for me. I continued to work before and after my deepest point. As organised as I was in the office, my house was filling with clutter (and trash, I’m ashamed to admit), my finances were a mess (I work for a bank, foor goodness sakes!), my boiler was broken, so I lived under a duvet for some months and I heated water on the stove to wash myself (not unlike the method described in this article I read recently about bucket baths. I’ve been thinking about going back to a slightly modified version of them. For the environment, or to make myself feel better about not doing enough for the environment, I’m not sure.)

Without exception every reaction to Robin Williams' death, every comment about the possibility that he ended it, every post about mental illness that my friends posted was thoughtful, kind and considerate.

I understand that there is a great deal of self-selection going on there, I wouldn't be friends with people for very long (if at all) if they didn't fit a few criteria. But on the other hand, I do have rather broad interests and especially on Twitter there are many people on my cricket lists (yes, I know, plural) whom I do not know all that well outside to that shared interest.

The last mention is for someone who I only recently struck up a few conversations with on Twitter, and who later posted this blog, I stole the idea for the picture at the top of this post from him.

P.S. I completely forgot to mention that Kevin was also depressed and in the months leading up to his death and had been quite vociferous about wanting to die. One of the things I did that helped me, was that when I informed them about his death, many of his friends asked the question: “Was it...?”

Hearing (or seeing) them think the thought, ask the question – and then seeing/hearing the relief when I explained that, although we weren’t sure (at the time) exactly what happened, it was natural causes – did steel my conviction never to go back there myself.

Stuart Broad

P.P.S. I’m not quite sure how, but since so many of my Twitter family came to me through cricket, it seems slightly ironic that this quotation is now doing the rounds. Does anyone know the context in which it was said?

Cricket is basically baseball on Valium. - Robin Williams.

Pictured: cricketer Stuart Broad, last week after receiving a ball to the face. This was after his helmet cushioned most of the blow...