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Sunday 4 December 2011

POV-FS - On the Road - England - Day Eight: Back to London & The Blizzard Launch.

    Up in the morning, quick pack and off to the station for an early train back to London.

    Staying in Earl's Court this time around, a stone's throw from Stamford Bridge and Craven Cottage. London really does sprawl, it's not as vertical as I'd expected but it sure does go on and on.

    The parks are majestic, the streets - especially their demarcation - are confusing - more on that later - and the traffic is atrocious.

    One aspect of English transport I cannot get over is the complete and utter disregard pedestrians have for traffic signals. People will cross the street whenever and wherever suits them; considering the sheer numbers of cars and people involved i'm quite surprised it all runs rather smoothly - or perhaps it doesn't.

    I'm not much of a tourist, I should probably check out some sights and do the whole first time in London thing, but I really can't be bothered. That being said I do hope to be back several more times, so perhaps I'll feel more inclined next trip.

    The return to London marks the return leg of the journey, no matches pre-planned - plenty of options truth be told - no more train travel, though I had considered making the day journey to the South Coast to see Pompey and Fratton Park or Brighton and their new ground, but the rushed night to Nottingham soiled the idea of too much transport for me - better planning must be considered next time.

    Just a few more days of adventure left, sad but necessary; been feeling slightly worn down of late, time for that second wind to kick in.

    But for tonight something a little different. The launch of Issue Three of The Blizzard at Foyle's bookstore. A chance to listen to a hour or so of conversation from three of the luminaries of football writing: Jonathan Wilson, Gab Marcotti, and Philippe Auclair.

    I naively though that finding the book store would be easy, and a combination of nerves and adrenaline convinced me that since the location was on Charing Cross Road that would be the best Tube stop to use - it wasn't.

    Lost and with time to kickoff dwindling in the hustle and bustle of the early London evening and a fairly heavy rainfall obfuscating the true path, I got lost and was fashionably late for the event.

    Sneaking silently in, soaking wet with rain and overheated from the scramble, seats at the back were found and the show went on.

    It was fascinating to here the three wise men discuss any query sent their way from the audience. Questions on the awarding of the Ballon D'Or, the leveling of the UEFA Champions League playing field under Platini's new structure, a spirited debate on the ramifications of Financial Fair Play, the 'moneyball' potential for football and the obligatory Sunderland mention took up most of the chat, before some books were signed and it was off to the pub round the corner.

    A couple of pints, then a bit of India food at a nearby restaurant, and the crowd began to dwindle. I stayed to the end, enjoying the conversation and a few more drinks before streaming off into the London night, bleary eyed but satiated by a good night out in the big city - my first.

    I had the honour of contributing a piece to Issue Two, and it was a pleasure to meet the stars and crew of the publication. If you haven't subscribed yet, what are you waiting for?

    Issue Three contains more wonderful pieces - Mr. Auclair on music, chess, and football; Mr. Macotti on the intricacies of racism in football; Mr. Wilson reviewing his summer at the U-20 World Cup in Columbia; as well as some brilliant pieces - by contributors both new and returning - including the decline of Spartak Moscow by Igor Rabiner, an intriguing one on the 'Dawson's Creek' principle by Musa Okwonga, and another by Ben Mabley on the great finishes in the J-League over the years - just in time for another this season - and too many others to recount here.

   Get yourself a copy today; do it. http://www.theblizzard.co.uk/

    What will tomorrow bring, quite a few options for the weekend, but seeing as I'm writing this Sunday morning I can tell you that I regrettably skipped out on the Palace v Derby match on Friday - I needed a rest; cold came back with a vengeance - and chose to attend Leyton Orient v Gillingham in the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon.

    Five matches, five different competitions, a sampling of the entire gambit of English football; postmatch to come posthaste. Cheers.

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