Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Biting stuff.

So Spain’s out of the World up, England’s out of the World Cup and even Italy’s out of the World Cup. A German friend of mine has started rooting for Greece. So is Germany still in or already out? I’m finding it hard to keep up; European teams are disappearing at a fast and furious rate. 

There’s been in depth analysis here about why the English team can’t make it work. Too many youngsters accepted into “football academies” is one suggested reason. Apparently these are not “elite” enough and so budding football stars expect to get away with a lower standard, or something like that. From the discussion of the need for counselling when boys are rejected from these academies or, later, by football clubs, it’s clearly not that they aren’t hungry for success. Who knows? 

And then there’s the biting. I was astounded when I saw film of Luis Suarez sinking his teeth into the shoulder of an Italian player.Perhaps HE was hungry! (There was also footage of Suarez himself holding his mouth as if his teeth hurt. I can’t say I’m surprised!) I admit to not keeping up to date with the doings of football players and so had to be old that this is the third time he’s bitten an opposing player. The THIRD time? I am left speechless! This is nursery school behaviour. In fact the last time I heard of a biting incident was when our daughter was in nursery school and a small boy bit her, embarrassingly the son of a former colleague! Before that it was my elder sister, also in the nursery class, who was the victim. In that case the culprit was taken to the head teacher who bit him to show him what it felt like. You don’t get punishments like that in modern schools! Maybe someone should bite Suarez! 

I suspect that the Spanish royal family might feel like biting someone in sheer frustration today. Just when they’ve managed an abdication and the handover of the crown to a younger king, so far one without a tarnished reputation, along comes a judge saying that the Infanta Cristina can, after all, be called as a witness in the corruption / money laundering / general malpractice case her husband is involved in. It never rains but it pours! 

 Meanwhile back in the north west of England, life goes on through the sunshine and the showers. Out jogging this morning along the local bridle path, I came across two young women pulling up plants. Vandalism? No, a public service! The plants in question were Himalayan Balsam, also known as jewelweed or, around here anyway, policeman’s helmets, because of the shape of the flowers. 

It’s a very pretty flower when in bloom and in some parts of the USA it is sold as an ornamental plant; at least that’s what one website told me. And they can grow to an impressive height. However, it has been added to the Washington State Noxious Weed list due to its invasive nature and in Britain it is considered extremely invasive and is one of the "top 20" non-native weeds. The trouble is that it takes over huge areas, establishes amazing ground cover and prevents anything else from thriving. It’s just a good job that the bluebells bloom before the policeman’s helmets or they would stand no chance at all. 

It has featured in BBC radio nature programmes where its true nature has been revealed. One house owner even found that the value of her house was reduced because of this plant growing in her garden. How weird is that?! There have been campaigns to encourage people to pull it up. These have been going on for some time as I can remember our granddaughter, now almost 17, coming home from primary school all fired up by a talk about how important it was to rid the land of this scourge. 

So that’s what these young women were doing. And they were truly relishing it, delighting in the rather satisfying crunch you hear when you stamp on the stalk, which looks rather like rhubarb, just more watery when crushed. There was a definite air of ridding the area of a serious nuisance. 

Now, I know people in Galicia who regard eucalyptus trees in the same way. Unfortunately for the Galician, they cannot so easily rid themselves of their unwanted horticultural immigrant. 

Personally, though, I feel much more like campaigning against the leylandii trees, also imported and far more ugly and intrusive. But that’s just my opinion!

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