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Talking ’bout My Generation: 1998 World Cup England Team

The supporters

It dawned on me today that it’s been twenty years since World Cup ’98. Apart from the realization that I’m getting better at maths it brought back memories of what I consider to be the best match I’ve ever watched – the quarter finals where England took on Argentina and lost thus ending the dream of England taking home the cup. Everyone has their own opinion about what they consider to be the best match they’ve ever seen, and my choice where England got knocked out of the tournament might be considered a strange one – but boy where do I begin???

England captain Shearer, Beckham, Anderton and Scholes… Just some of the greats!

Everyone who knows me knows I’m hardly what you would call sports mad. I don’t know the first thing about football and if you need someone to tell you what the offside rule is, I better not be your phone -a-friend! But the England vs Argentina quarter final game was the very first time that I’d sat down with my family and watched an entire match. The first time I’d watched England play a major game. The first time I realized why it was called the beautiful game; the pride fans feel when they watch their country play, the glory, agony, ecstasy, and everything in between that every football fan experiences. It’s so much more than just kicking a ball around or taking home a trophy. It’s about sportsmanship, pride and honour – all this from someone who still doesn’t consider herself a football fan!

England goalkeeper, David Seaman

I don’t have a sporting bone in my body so I’ll probably never be a fully fledged fan like most of my family. But from that match on, I developed a new-found sense of respect for the game. I may not necessarily support anyone at club level but I’m most definitely an England supporter through and through.

I still remember my family gathering around the living room after dinner to watch the match. My brother was in his England shirt, and my mum who’s even less of a sports fan than me was pretty much jumping up and down with excitement. To this day, I still don’t know if I was watching a football match or a soap episode: team captain Alan Shearer elbowing opponents in the face with a smirk (come on Alan, you know you did!) Sol Campbell ‘s disallowed goal; Darren Anderton running around the pitch like his life depended on it even though  he looked as though he was going to drop. But most shocking of all was David Beckham’s red card after lashing out at Diego Simeone – an incident that many fans feel prevented Glenn Hoddles’ boys from progressing further in the tournament. David got a real thrashing in the press and  I still remember the next day’s headlines: “10 brave lions. 1 stupid boy.” Posh Spice pleaded with the nation to go easy on David, saying that he didn’t deserve to be the most hated man in England. I may be in the minority but I actually agree with her as I think David’s subsequent treatment was very unfair. But hey – that’s just my non-expert opinion!

Honestly, I had no idea football could be so dramatic! And that’s before we even get to that penalty shoot-out. I didn’t realize it at the time but I think most of the nation knew it was over when it went to penalties. Let’s face it – England don’t do too well when it comes to penalties. We would have to wait until 2018 for the ‘curse’ to be broken (thanks Pickford!) But I think I that’s why I loved this match so much – that passion from the England team. That energy, that hunger to win. And to be honest I don’t think I’ve seen it since.

Paul Ince’s disappointment at missing the penalty

What amazes me now is where the last  twenty years have gone – World Cup ’98 was only yesterday surely! Even though the names Vardy,  Kane, Alli, and Sterling are on everyone’s lips, for me I still keep thinking Shearer, Owen, Ince, and Seaman. My parents had Charlton, Moore, Best (yes, I know he’s Irish but he was still one of the top players back in the day!) and Stiles but for me the 1998 England squad plus Gazza – who never should have been excluded – are the players of my generation. Sadly I can’t get my head around the fact that all those players have now retired. Aside from the fact that I realize how many years have gone by, I also realize that I’m old!  But at least that Southgate is still hanging about! Who would have thought back in 1998 that we would see Gareth Southgate leading the future England squad into the semis – the first since 1990? In twenty years time, the kids of today will be looking at the 2018 England squad as the football legends of their generation the same way the 1998 squad are of mine.

The 1998 World Cup was won by the host nation, France. Football may not have come home that year but I know I was a different person by the end of that game. As a Brit now living in America, I still feel that sense of pride in my country and in my national football team. People often talk about which stars would feature in their ultimate band, but if we’re going to talk about the ultimate England squad, then it would be the 1998 line up without any changes. Although at the very least I would have Gaza’s as a sub! I hope the squad tomorrow play with the same passion, fire, and determination as ‘my’ team.

Glenn Hoddle, distraught after the game

Come on, England – you’re almost home!

 

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2018 in Sport

 

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Romance On The Orient Express

Year: 1985 (UK)

Time: 96 mins

Written by: John Worthing

Directed by: Lawrence Gordon Clark

Starring : Cheryl Ladd     – Lily Parker

Stuart Wilson  – Alex Woodward

Ruby Wax      – Susan Lawson

Julian Sands   – Sandy

Betsy Brantley – Stacey

Sir John Gielgud   – Theodore Woodward

Barry Stokes         – Flavio

Danielle Tylke     – Alexandra

 

During my much-needed time off from work last week, I stumbled across a film I first saw when I was about seven or eight; a film for old romantic fools like me – and it would appear that I started being an old romantic fool way back in my junior school days! I still remember the first time I watched Romance On The Orient Express. We were living in our first house in East London and it was a Saturday night – back in the days when Saturday night television was more varied and more entertaining than it is today and not overladen with irritating reality TV shows. Now I know it must have been past my bedtime when this film began but it might have been because it was Saturday that we were allowed to stay up late – and this film just happened to be on.

 

THE STORY

The story centres around Lily, a glamorous and sophisticated American magazine editor who is traveling on the famous Orient Express train from Venice to Paris with her friend, the quirky, adventure-seeking Susan. The trip brings back bittersweet memories for Lily when she first travelled to Europe ten years earlier with her friend Stacey. It was on this trip that they met two handsome, young Englishmen, Alex and Sandy. Lily and Alex begin a relationship and their story is told through flashbacks. Their relationship ends abruptly when Alex walks out on Lily without saying a word leaving the devastated young woman to return to the States.

Fast forward ten years and the former lovers are reunited once again as Lily comes face to face with the man who broke her heart a decade ago. Alex, having tracked Lily down and knowing that she had booked a trip on the Orient Express, has booked himself on the same trip in a bid to explain to Lily what happened all those years ago. When the couple meet again, the pain and the anguish of the last ten years is still very raw, and Lily understandably doesn’t want to listen to anything that Alex has to say – but for how long can she resist him?

 

And Alex’s reappearance plunges Lily into further turmoil as she now has to wrestle between her feelings for Alex and her obligation to her boyfriend back in the States. It is later revealed that her break up with Alex left Lily damaged and unable to form successful relationships with other men. And now she doesn’t know whether she should accept her boyfriend’s proposal or not – even though it’s very evident that she doesn’t love him.

Alex convinces Lily to meet him and the couple catch up on the last ten years and discover that they’d each been married and are now divorced, although Lily’s was the only marriage that produced a child. As the story unfolds, we soon learn that Alex isn’t quite the cad that we thought he was and that his feelings for Lily were genuine. We also learn that when he left Lily, she wasn’t exactly alone…

THE CAST

 

When I first saw Romance On The Orient Express, the only person I recognized was Ruby Wax who was a big name in television back in the 1980s. I’d love to say that at infant-school age, I knew who actors Sir John Gielgud and Stuart Wilson were, but unfortunately I didn’t. I’d heard of Cheryl Ladd because I knew that she’d starred in Charlie’s Angels.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT

Even though Romance On The Orient Express is a made-for-TV movie and not a Hollywood blockbuster, there’s something so beautifully moving and poignant about this film which has shades of Casablanca about it. You couldn’t fail to be dazzled by the luxury of the Orient Express and the stunning on-location scenes in Venice and Paris. The story, the setting, the scenery, the acting, the wardrobe… fantastic!   There is great chemistry between the lead actors Stuart Wilson and Cheryl Ladd, and I absolutely loved the riverboat scene with the significantly beautiful song, Time In A Bottle by Jim Croce.

I remember that the first time I watched Romance On The Orient Express, I found the subplot of the romance between Susan and Flavio, a staff member on the train intriguing. Even though it started off as just a bit of light-hearted fun for Susan who was looking for Mr Right -Now, towards the end of the film, Susan had a change of heart and admitted that she does love Flavio but decided to end it because there was no future in it:

“He’s Italian, he lives in Rome. I’m American, I live in New York… I finally meet someone and geography kills it.”

But there is hope for the couple as Lily convinces Susan that if she loves Flavio then they’ll find a way, and you can’t help rooting for the pair hoping that they will indeed find a way because they seem like such a cute couple.

What surprised me was that even though I’d only ever watched this film once, an awfully long time ago as well I may add, I was amazed by how much I remembered, including certain scenes and parts of the dialogue. I also didn’t think that anyone else would have even heard of Romance On The Orient Express let alone watched it, but was pleasantly surprised to find that there were others who had seen this film and remembered it very well.

I know that there are some that might find Romance On The Orient Express to be a little saccharine and predictable but I think it is a very memorable, romantic movie, with a simple, easy to follow yet entertaining storyline that keeps you watching til the end because you just have to know what happens to Alex and Lily. A delightfully charming, heart-felt tale about lost love, long-held secrets and second chances all bound together with the themes of friendship, family loyalty, and surprise revelations. Being a Mills and Boon fan, I feel as though I’ve just seen a classic Mills and Boon novel come to life on screen.

Will I watch Romance On The Orient Express again? Mais oui!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2015 in Films, This, That and the Other!

 

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Video

World Cup ’98: England Does Us Proud!

World Cup 2014 is still under way but unfortunately England’s early exit from the tournament has dulled our enthusiasm for a sporting event we’d spent the last four years looking forward to. To be honest despite my disappointment, I can’t say I’m too surprised – I’ve never seen a team play with so little passion and enthusiasm. I may not be a football expert or a professional footballer but from what I saw, I don’t think the England team gave it their all. ‘Could have done better’ is an understatement. This, I believe, is the second time that England has been knocked out after two matches, and for me, 2014 will be the year that our national team flopped spectacularly. What did they think this was – the Eurovision Song Contest? No room for nul points here!

 

I think back to World Cup ’98 in France. It was the very first World Cup tournament I followed closely (thanks to my then eight year old brother) and that’s just one of the reasons why it’s so memorable for me. The other reason is because I still remember how the England team played in their match against Argentina – the match in which die-hard England fans were hoping that England would avenge Maradona’s 1986 hand of God goal. And those England players really did take to the pitch as though they were going to war and totally played their football socks off. Yes, some underhand tactics were used (cough, cough, Mr. Shearer!) there was fury when Sol Campbell’s goal was disallowed (seriously, Ref, what was that all about?) and who could forget the tears, tantrums and frustration as Goldenballs himself, David Beckham, was given a red card. But I remember how  the England squad played and gave it everything they got. No one could ever forget the two goals scored by Michael Owen and the team’s captain Alan Shearer. And even though he didn’t score, Darren Anderton was commended for his performance and I can see why – poor Darren looked ready to drop but he went after that ball as though his life depended on it.

At home, we were all on the edge of our seats, screaming wildly at the telly – even Mum who normally has no time for footy. My little brother – who was in his England shirt – was the quietest even though he’s the most fanatical about football, but his little face was etched with worry one minute and brimming with exhilaration the next. We thought that this time, England might just have a chance.

But alas it was not to be as England went home without the cup yet again. It was a tie between the two teams, so it went into extra time, followed by penalties, which Argentina eventually won. But the difference back then was that we could be proud of our team for putting up an almighty fight and for playing as a team – I feel there was a real sense of brotherhood which didn’t sense with our current squad. I really believe they did our country proud. And even though, I never became what you could call a football fanatic, I definitely fell in love with our national team – and all because of one match. Who thought football could be so dramatic?

The night didn’t end so well. Little brother stomped up the stairs; opened the door to his room; switched on the light; slammed the door shut; turned off the light and went to bed – probably while still in his England shirt.

If only he knew that worse was yet to come… and how the team back then could have taught our current team a thing or two.

Do us proud in 2018, England!

 

 

 
 

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Exotic Gooseberries and Greengages!

Now we’re in summer, it’s all about the strawberries, raspberries and peaches. But when I was a kid, summer was all about different kinds of fruit which I don’t see very much of now. Actually make that, I don’t see at all!

It’s amazing how the mere mention of the word ‘greengage’ can transport me back to my childhood garden but that’s exactly what happened when someone I know brought up this super tasty fruit I haven’t eaten in… well, a very, very long time! This immediately brought gooseberries to mind, as along with strawberries and grapes, this was another fruit that my parents grew in the garden of the first home we ever lived in. As we grew them at home, greengages and gooseberries were in abundance but even back then, I don’t remember seeing them so readily available commercially.

When we were very young, my sister and I loved picking greengages and gooseberries and scoffing them. We were the kind of kids who definitely preferred chocolates and toffees to fruit – but we loved these and would happily eat them. As this was the first place we’d ever set eyes on either fruit, the mere mention or sight of a greengage or gooseberry soon brings back memories of summers at our old house and our happy childhood… as well as our rather untidy garden!

As the years have gone by, I’ve noticed how increasingly rare these fruits are becoming. I bet most people now would have forgotten what they look and taste like. it’s not sold in the shops and I don’t know anyone who grows them – even though many grow lots of other kinds of fruit. It’s amazing because walk into any supermarket and you’ll have no problem in finding imported exotic fruit such as pineapple, mango, papaya and even dragon fruit. But you’re hardly likely to find greengages or gooseberries. In some ways, I think these have become the exotic fruits!

For those of you haven’t been lucky enough to try greengages, they are a yummy cultivated fruit from the plum family and are green/yellowish-green in colour. Greengages are slightly smaller in size to regular plums and they originated from France (where greengages are known as la bonne reine or Claude reine) and they get their English name from Sir William Gage, who was the first person to import them into England from France. Greengages soon found their way to the American colonies and were grown on plantations belonging to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, although since the eighteenth century, there has been a decline in their cultivation in North America and greengages may be even more scarce there than they are here.

The gooseberry is native to Europe, Africa and Asia, and although you can get smooth-skinned varieties of the fruit, the wild variety – the kind we grew in our garden – tend to have a fuzzy skin. These small, grape sized fruit are related to the blackcurrant and are yellowy-green in colour with a veined effect on the skin, although it is also possible to get reddish coloured gooseberries. The hard and tart variety are best used in cooking especially in making pies, jams and fools – one of my favourite desserts. They had been popular in England since Elizabethan times.

I do hope these fruits make a comeback because they really were delicious and so versatile. I have included recipes for each fruit, which I hope to make… providing I can find the chief ingredients!

GREENGAGE AND HONEY COMPOTE
(recipe from Sainsbury’s magazine)

 

INGREDIENTS:
(makes 3-4 servings):

500g greengages, ripe yet firm
4 tbsp runny honey (any variety)
1 vanilla pod

METHOD:

  • Halve the greengages and remove the stones.
  • Place in a saucepan with the honey, then heat gently until the honey is liquid.
  • Run a knife down the centre of the vanilla pod and add to the fruit, then simmer gently until the fruit starts to release a lot of liquid, and is on the point of collapse. This should take only a couple of minutes.
  • Remove from the heat.
  •  Serve hot or cold, with cream, crème fraiche, ice cream. Also delicious served with cheesecake.


GOOSEBERRY FOOL

 

(recipe from bbcgoodfood.com June 2012)

INGREDIENTS:

250g gooseberries, topped and tailed
3 tbsp caster sugar
200g Greek yogurt
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200ml double cream

METHOD:

  • Put the gooseberries and sugar in a pan with a splash of water.
  • Heat gently while stirring, then bring to a simmer and cook until the fruit starts to burst.
  • Squash the gooseberries with a potato masher or fork until pulpy. Cool then chill until cold in the fridge.
  • Put the yoghurt in a bowl and beat with the icing sugar and vanilla until smooth.
  • Gently whisk in the cream (it will thicken as you whisk so don’t overdo it).
  • Ripple through the gooseberry pulp then spoon into pretty glasses or bowls to serve.

 

 
 

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