In this episode (!) we talk about satsumas. I’ve eaten two today – it’s hard to eat just one. Of course people don’t use the word satsuma over here, which is a shame, because it sounds so squishy and juicy when you say it. Mandarin, which is the preferred term in NZ, doesn’t quite have the same effect. Around Christmas time in the UK, we ate boxes of the things. My brother was the biggest satsuma consumer – he’d usually eat the peel too – and we’d all know about it afterwards (and promptly vacate the room). Because they’re so easy to peel, and divide nicely into segments, they’re great for kids. They’re obviously firmly cemented in British society, for there exists a football team, some way down the pyramid, who play in orange and are known as the Satsumas. Here’s one of their match reports from 2000, written in Comic Sans; it makes following a non-league team sound way more fun than supporting Man City or Chelsea or whoever. (There are also at least two teams known as the Tangerines, but that nickname doesn’t have nearly the same level of awesomeness.) Click here for the post about persimmons. I don't expect this fruit series to last very long.
That leads me on to the World Cup (again, I know). During a dull moment at work (there have been quite a few of those lately) I was following the final matches of Group C. Colombia had already qualified for the next round, leaving one of the Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece to take the second spot. I would have been happy with either Japan or the Ivory Coast making it, but please not Greece. Colombia were beating Japan comfortably, so the match between the Ivory Coast and Greece was a straight shoot-out. The African side just needed a draw; the Greeks had to win. With the score at 1-1, Greece were awarded a last-minute penalty which they duly converted to book their place in the last 16 at the expense of the Ivory Coasters. Greece managed to qualify despite scoring only two goals in their group games and letting in four – the same record as England, who finished bottom of their group. I don’t know what makes Greece so unlikable in football, but whatever it is, they won’t care. Talking of unlikable, Luis Suarez should get a very long ban, if not a lifetime ban, for biting that Italian player, if that's actually what happened.
My flatmate had a check-up yesterday on his backside. He found out that he has an anal fistula and will need more surgery. He wasn’t in a good mood when I got home. I do feel sorry for him sometimes. “Fistula” is a nasty word, isn’t it? It’s the same length as “satsuma” and even has some of the same letters, but somehow it sits right at the other end of the word-niceness spectrum. I guess the meaning probably doesn’t help.
Joe Bennett has written a couple of interesting pieces lately. There's this one about multinational companies and the people who "work" at them, and this one about those extremely unhelpful people you get at information desks at UK railway stations. Oh god. Why are they always so deadpan? I still remember a few years ago asking someone at Leicester when the next train to Peterborough was. She wasn't far off the computer-says-no woman on Little Britain. "Twenty-one twenty-four," she said, or whatever it was. What? That's over three hours away! At least look like you give a damn that I'll be stuck in this hole for ages. By contrast I found the Italian information-desk people, usually women, to be very helpful, even though my Italian wasn't exactly brilliant. Train travel was a lot cheaper in Italy too.
Mum only found out on Monday night that her brother had died. I'm surprised it took them that long to get to a computer, even in a fairly remote part of the Dordogne, as they knew he was in a bad way. According to Dad she was beside herself, as you can imagine. I still wish I'd gone to the funeral.