corders in the hague

It's like having the Corders round for dinner - except the kids don't smash stuff and Mike doesn't drink all your booze. And when you're bored you can get rid of us with a mouse click rather than having to start tidying up the house.

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Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's all over. Russia slumped to their second defeat of the tournament to Spain, sending the Russkis and me packing. Time, for a brief summing up.

Things I will miss about Euro 2008:
Frauleun Frick at my hotel in Leogang and her sometimes radically undercooked boiled eggs. Seriously, those things were almost clucking.
Guus Hiddink. A walking quote machine and, more importantly, a gentleman. At one crazy mixed zone (where 300 journalists line up behind barriers and try to interview one man), Hiddink stood at the base of a set of steps and told everybody to go stand on the steps so we could all see and hear him. Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but he is the only person with common sense enough to come up with such a simple solution. UEFA was certainly stumped. What’s more, when all the scummy journalists tried to elbow one another out of the way for a good position he said: “If you can’t help one another, I’m not going to help you and I’m getting on the bus and leaving.” I’ve never seen TV reporters move so quickly to accommodate each other.
Good football.

Things I won’t miss:

Wiener schnitzels. Seriously Austria, is a slab of meat you’ve bashed flat with a hammer and fried in breadcrumbs the best you can come up with as a national dish? Apparently, they also make a mean cake around these parts, but I haven’t had one. All the konditorei (cake shops) seem to be staffed by stern looking women in starched white aprons who would not approve of my dusty thongs and gnarled toe nails.
Smelling my dirty socks each morning to determine which would be the least offensive to my fellow human beings.
Passive smoking. How Russians can live on only red bull and fags remains a mystery to me.
Bad football.
Bad hotels. I don’t mind basic, and call me picky if you want but I object to overpriced ugly concrete boxes built in places fit only for sewage plants with staff imported from east European prisons. There was a sewage plant, or a nuclear reactor – I couldn’t work out which – next to my shocking hotel in Basel and the Airo tower smells like raw sewage. A colleague staying here swears his room has a very clear smell of urine in the carpet. The Leogang hotel was the most basic of all, but the people who ran it cared about the place and its guests. An example: On my first day there, I was cursing my luck because the room only had one plug socket and it was so far from the little table that I couldn’t plug my laptop in. I solved this by moving an unbelievably heavy fold-out bed and the table, but I still couldn’t watch football on the TV and work at the same time without running down my laptop battery. When I got back to my room that evening, there was an extension cable with three sockets. That didn’t take much effort on anybody’s part but it made me fall in love with the place.


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