‘Joy’ – the middle name of a dear friend in the 70s. ‘Joy’ – according to Buddhism the quality associated with Thursday born children – the day of my birth and one other ‘joyful’ person of my acquaintance. ‘Joy to the world’ – it’s Christmas! – no it’s not, but yes it is in my world and that of at least 20,000 people with whom I shared Sunday evening.

You now need to Google highlights of the match which will bring you some joy of your own – if you like footy. If you don’t, you’ll have left sometime in the first paragraph. 🙂

I know; ‘it’s only football’, but it’s so much more than that. ‘It’s only football’ comes nowhere near describing the all-consuming, passionate joy that comes from seeing your team immerse themselves in success after many, many years of stumbling failure and unfulfilled promise.

Football is a cohesive force that unites communities and brings love to the people, or perhaps that’s only my belief.

Okay – time for a bit of sociology. Emile Durkheim claimed that religion was a cohesive force that provided social integration and moral regulation. In our secular society, football has perhaps replaced religion in providing these functions. To be a true football supporter is to have complete loyalty to your club for life and accept the ethics associated with being part of that community. Try swapping your support to a rival club and see what happens. A certain amount of admonishment may come your way.

In an earlier post I referred to the Buddhist idea that while all of life is suffering, the ultimate goal is enlightenment.

PNE 4 Swindon 0 may not be nirvana but it felt pretty, damn close on Sunday. We Preston North End fans can now look forward to next season joyfully.

Beautiful Bordeaux – do you believe in angels?

Grabbed a three day trip to Bordeaux to catch a football match between FC Bordeaux (Les Girondins) and Nantes and eat at L’Entrecote. The trip was inspired by my friend Martin Baker – whose latest novel, ‘Version 13’ is very, very good and worth checking out.

L’Entrecote is a celebrated restaurant in the centre of Bordeaux where only two questions are asked of you: ‘How do you want your steak?’ and ‘What would you like to drink?’. No a la carte. First course a light green salad. Main course steak and chips. As well as providing superb food (and wine), L’Entrecote is an alive restaurant with smiling, attentive serving staff. The whole experience is a delight. Also, for the indecisive, it takes away that sometimes tricky thing: choice. Smiley, engaging people bring you lovely food, even down to extra chips in the style of British breakfast café coffee refills.

The first of my Bordeaux angels was La Madam who granted us entry to the restaurant. You can’t book. You queue. Average queuing time about 30 mins. Facing this slightly formidable Madam, we are all children back in school praying the dinner lady will let you in. Once inside, this is not school. It’s great. If you get chance, go. It’s next to Le Grand Theatre. Its not expensive; 35 Euros including wine?

L’Entrecote Bordeaux

None of Beautiful Bordeaux could have happened for me though without these guys – my definite angels.


I had iphone issues and these guys solved it with style, grace and great banter. iphone technology could replace English as the language of international diplomacy. The weekend would not have happened without the intervention of my friends above. An hour in their shop was worth a hundred journeys; laughing and interacting with their customers as my phone was slowly brought back to life. What topic started the conversation flowing? The guys’ interest in the arrival of our latest Princess – Charlotte. Or, perhaps I have a look of a middle aged, British Royalist who would love to rejoice in my country’s royal lineage while travelling abroad? Seem a nice family though Wills, Kate and their two kids.

Whatever – merci mes amis. On continue.


Without a fully functioning iphone I wouldn’t have found Martin which I clearly did. Here is Martin faithfully playing the role of a middle class English man who has just dined at L’Entrecote.


Is Martin an angel? Probably not, but Bordeaux was his idea so that puts him, if not teetering on the head of a pin, certainly functional in making this trip happen. 🙂





Nearly an angel – security guard who could not quite provide entry to the Bordeaux v Nantes game. But it wasn’t his fault we had chosen to see the final ever game at Bordeaux’s Chaban-Delmas  stadium which was a sell out.



Definitely an angel: this little boy let me have a go on the piano in the magnificent Bordeaux station. I’ve always wanted to play one of those public pianos. My choice of music – Heh – Elvis. ‘Can’t help falling in love with you’ – my beloved PNE were kicking off in a few hours time with a place at Wembley at stake. You do feel a bit bad elbowing a little child off the piano but kick off was approaching and Elvis couldn’t wait.


That’s what you call a railway station with a little handy map of their region.


Three Scottish angels? One day after the General Election and the SNP have sent an expeditionary force to Spain to annexe Aquitaine? Come on Nicola, give it a rest girl. Mind you, would love to see my three friends here sharing a beer with Nigel Farage as he outlined his UKIP perspective on what he sees as the ‘Scottish question’. I’m not sure what the question is but I’m fairly confident of their answer. Incidentally, they did get into the stadium: it’s a Scottish thing.


Two clear, unadulterated angels of the weekend: Messers Joey Garner and Jermaine Beckford of Preston North End whose wonderful 3 goals saw Preston North End proceeding to a Wembley League 1 Play Off Final on May 24th. Oh Joey Garner, you are the love of my life, Oh Joey Garner, I’d let you…..’ Tune in on May 24th at 5:15pm  for the rest of this little number.


Finally, two harmless, idiot angels who travelled a 1000 miles for a match for which there were no tickets but who worshipped Preston North End’s road to Wembley in the wonderful city of Bordeaux. Allez les Blancs.