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Posts Tagged ‘moscow’

Winter starts here

Today is the first day of winter, which in the UK heralds months of going to work in the dark, heavier rain, thick ice on early morning windscreens, miserable faces and leaving work in the dark. Escaping these is often a reason for Brits packing their bags and moving to Australia or other warmer climes.

It was part of Bruce and Fran’s thinking too, even though they expected Melbourne – what with its “four seasons in one day” reputation and southerly location – to be only a little better than the UK. Despite landing at the start of an Autumn heatwave that peaked at 40C mid March, the warnings of Melburnians and, for that matter, a handful of expats, ensured we made the most of it.

“Oh, it’s great now, but you just wait for winter,” they’d say. “Winter’s really bad. It’s so cold and darkand dreadful and…” They painted a picture so bleak it made the Russian weather that defeated both Hitler and Napoleon seem like a mere bagatelle, a gentle snow flurry.

So we’ve been waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

And today winter arrived. Blue skies. 18C. No wind. Kids playing on the beach. People in shirtsleeves sipping wine and coffee in roadside cafes. Sun so bright its rays are reflected off city centre skyscrapers like a giant flashlight.

Perhaps Melburnians need to grow a spine and a sense of perspective. Spring is now three months away. Can this really be called a hardship? Well, yes, if you listen to the locals, nestled in umpteen layers of warm clothing and scurrying into cafes and restaurants proclaiming the need to thaw out. Or the article in Saturday’s Age warning that this would be the coldest Melbourne winter in ten years with temperatures returning to the average daily high of just 14.3C.

Listen up: that is not cold.

What is cold?

Cold is smoking two cigarettes to the nub while receiving a phone bollocking from Fran while stood outside a bar in Boston, Massachusetts, during a February cold snap – day time top temperature: minus 26C.

Cold is swimming in a heated outdoor pool in Moscow on January 2 with air temperatures of minus 20C that form a steam cloud over the water so thick you can’t see the floating turd some comedian has deposited until it’s too late to take evasive action.

It is not jogging alongside the palm-lined waters of Albert Park with the 2pm sun beating on your back. It is not enjoying a long brunch on Acland Street wearing just a t-shirt.

It is not cold.

Mind you, Bruce does have one. A really rotten one too. So rotten he’s lost his voice. Best wrap up warm, I guess.

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Is it too early to start?

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Puritanical folk apart, few would have an issue with anyone enjoying a beer at 4am, provided it’s coming towards the end of a late night session. Even I have to doubt the wisdom of cracking open your first one at that time.

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But, since moving to Australia, a new type of dedication has been needed to follow the football (English, not Aussie). There have been early mornings and late nights in the sports bar of the Crown casino, 4.30am alarm calls for Champions League games (much to Fran’s disgruntlement – the half-muted yelp when Paul Scholes’ volley flew in against Barcelona was a particular low point in our relationship) and illegal streams over the internet at 3am (including one sat in the lobby of our serviced apartment, which involved regular trips back to the room to recharge the laptop’s ailing battery.

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And today it all ends, for the next three months at least, with Bruce’s boys, Man Utd, going head to head with Chelsea in the Champions League Final…

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4am – The radio on my bedside table crackles into life. “Mmmph… Quick! Off!” says Fran, clearly not appreciating the importance of the morning.

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4.05am – Fssst. The first Coopers Pale of the day is opened. Stan Collymore, dogger extraordinaire appears on the screen and forecasts a Chelsea win. Bastard.

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4.20am – Les Murray could really do with a haircut. He’s been flirting very dangerously with a mullet this season; not the done thing for a man of his advancing years.

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Les\'s marvellous mullet

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4.35am – Thankfully the telly’s on too low to hear Fozzie no doubt slating Manchester United and all of their players as he always does. If you love the Spanish that much, move there.

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4.41am – Here come the teams. United fans display “BELIEVE” at their end. GET IN! Not only that, but Lord Ferg has picked his best team for once with Carlitos ahead of Park. I must admit, that for all the effort that is required to watch a Man Utd game since moving to Australia, at least I can see them. Got to pity the lower league fans…

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4.54am – First Coopers gone. Ronaldo wimps out of a difficult volley chance. Rooney looking the more likely of the two. Chelsea looking clueless as ever: high balls and passes into touch. More, please.

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5.01am – Unless there is a new piece of Aussie terminology I’m unaware of, I think SBS commentator has been on the Coopers well before me. That’s twice he’s described a cross with: “Good header in!”

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5.06am – Scholes continues his impeccable Champions League Final record with an airborne assault on Makelele that leaves him with a bloody nose and a yellow card. All he really needs now is to kung fu kick the ref and urinate in the trophy. Jeez, he looks like the Hunchback…

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One up

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5.12am – Excellent. Last time I proclaimed Rooney was outplaying Ronaldo the Rooster scored two and made three. Here we go again.

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5.30pm – I have never known a luckier team.

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Update

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Second half.

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5.50am – I should point out Bruce is wearing pants and is wrapped in a blanket.

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6.01am – And he’s not happy with the football.

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6.05am – Oh, Essien. Lord Ferg’s not going to be happy with that…

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6.22am – Jesus Christ. Off the post. How did this happen?

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6.28am – Roman’s been spreading the roubles to the officials at half time I see…

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Extra time – Fran off to work. Third Coopers almost gone. What a match.

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6.42am – I may have to take back my lucky Chelsea comment.

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6.57am – still level. Are they trying to get Bruce drunk before 8am?

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7.39am – Les Murray – “That’s the injustice of sport. That’s what sports about. It’s never about justice.” I’m clearly not the only one on the Coopers…

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8.15am - Time for bed

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In conclusion?

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John Terry fell on his arse. Nuff said.

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