Wednesday, 30 July 2008


Unintentionally I appear to be visiting the sites of previous Olympics. So far I have been to Olympia in Greece (776 BC), London (1908,1948), Paris (1900, 1924), St Louis (1904), Amsterdam (1928), Berlin (1936) and Barcelona (1992). I also aim to be in Los Angeles which was 1984. The Olympics in St Louis was part of the much larger World Fair which was held in 1904 and I thought that these were unique events that were held rarely but there seems to be a large number of them (full list here).

The world fair covered a huge area with over 1500 buildings as different countries tried to show off their new inventions and also trying to avoid getting invaded or taken over. Even the British Army was allowed in to show off their drill skills with a Trooping of the Colour each day. My favourite story comes from the Olympic marathon competition.

First to arrive was Frederick Lorz who actually was trotting back to the finish line to retrieve his clothes after he was forced to drop out of the race after nine miles. When the officials thought he had won the race, Lorz played along with his practical joke until he was found out shortly after the medal ceremony.

Thomas Hicks was the first to cross the finish-line legally after having received several doses of strychnine sulfate mixed with brandy. He was supported by his trainers and when he crossed the finish but this was allowed to stand. Hicks had to be carried off the track, and might have died had he not been treated by several doctors.

Felix Carbajal stopped off in an orchard to have a snack on some apples which turned out to be rotten. The rotten apples caused him to have to take a nap but despite becoming ill from the apples he finished in fourth place.

The marathon included the first two black Africans to compete in the Olympics who were two Tswana tribesmen named Len Taunyane and Jan Mashiani. They weren't there to compete in the Olympics but in a sideshow. They had been brought over by the exposition as part of the Boer War exhibit. Len Taunyane finished ninth and Yamasani came in twelfth but this was considered a disappointment as many people were sure Len Taunyane could have done better if he had not been chased nearly a mile off course by ferocious dogs.

Just had the remnants of Hurricane Dolly sweep through St Louis washing out an outdoor concert we were going to go to.

St Louis

With a lot of the other places that I have visited I have stayed roughly in the centre of the city and have only really left it to get to and from the airport. With St Louis and access to a car ( Thank you Sarah) we have stayed at the edge and consequently I have seem more of the suburbs and outer areas of the city. St Louis I think it is fair to say is an untidy city. It has no real central area as it has sprung up along the river front with many little centres where bridges were built and also along the railway lines. I don't feel that it has been helped by the planning laws as the city seems to sprawl, with a lots of unused space in the city and areas that have been left boarded up or derelict while new buildings have been built towards the outside. In areas I have just started to see areas of gentrification starting where older areas are either redeveloped or renewed and then sold off. In the UK as space is at a premium so 40% of all new building must be on brownfield (or previously used land) and therefore rundown areas are reused more swiftly but at the premium of costing more. On a car journey last night after having been to see My One and Only at the Muny, we found ourselves getting deeper into one of these more rundown areas and the prickles on the back of the neck started to rise (it was the maps fault as it said that was the way to the Interstate) but all was well.

Here be dragons

Lady: So are you from out of town
Sarah: Its kind of complicated but I live down by Cape Giradeau and he (me) is from overseas
Lady: Are you from Iraq
Me: No, England it is a bit more civilised.
Lady: You're lucky
(Lots of attempts not to die laughing)

In fairness I think she thought I was in the military and posted overseas but it still gave both of us a good belly laugh

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Airport Drama

The flight from Boston to Philadelphia took off 30 mins late which was an issue as the connection to St Louis was due to take off 32 mins after the original landing time. We arrived at the airport in Philly 10 mins early which meant that 1 had 12 mins. The stewardess asked that me and this other guy get off first but when we landed a load of people stood up and blocked the aisle, one even commenting on my rudeness at pushing passed her!! We then had to run from one end of Terminal B to the far end of Terminal C. As we were doing this it looked like I was chasing this other guy and he got stopped by the Police briefly which would have been funny in other circumstances. We eventually made it to the loading point just as they were letting the stand by passengers on and the look on this women's face when she found out that she would be on the flight as I had arrived was one of sheer frustration. As we were getting off we were given alternative flight plans had we missed the flight which would have taken me to Charlotte, North Carolina, arriving around 11pm. More from St Louis soon...

Saturday, 26 July 2008


Picture the scene. I am lying on my back with my knees in the air so that the transmitter on the keyboard is facing the unmovable receiver using possible the most useless TV Internet service (there are no scroll bars so I can't move from what I can see) and it is under these conditions I will try and describe Boston. I think that Boston is my favourite US city so far. It feels vaguely European with a hotpotch street arrangement and variety of architecture. It celebrates its history and unlike Philadelphia has the actual buildings to show for it. The number of universities in the area is huge with at east 4 (Harvard, MIT, Boston College and Boston College and Boston University) and that gives the area the same feeling as Cambridge. It should be noted that Harvard and MIT are actually in Cambridge , Massachusetts). It is also a huge walking city with lots of trails to wander through the backstreets and that separates it from other US cities. Today I did the tourist tour and went to see the historic sites in Lexington and Concord where the noble and gallant Colonial oppressed threw off the evil yoke of the British or an ungrateful group of settlers where unwilling to contribute to helping settle debts run up to protect them from the villainous French and Indian attacks in the 7 years war. I suppose it is a matter of opinion. One mans freedom fighter is another mans rabble rouser. Getting to the bottom of the page so will have to start a new post.

Strange things

1. Lots of places in New England are named after English places (Boston, New York, Washington (only kidding with that one)) but sometimes it is the strange ones for instance Braintree, Woburn, Chelsea, Malden, Reading and Billerica (no y).

2. Rubbish sense of direction returned

3. Major plane story when I am on or about to be on a flight.

4. TV's in lifts (elevators)

5. Irish pubs get everywhere.

6. Fried Dough (not doughnuts)

7. At Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox (Chelsea) are leading but the New York Yankees (Manchester United) are mounting a comeback. They have loaded the bases, the count is full, the pitcher must throw over the plate so the man in front of me decides its food time. Watch the game!!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

It is the holidays

Well after 700 exam papers, the loss of two relatives on the same day, remortgaging the house, an seemingly endless term and some emergency welding on the car to get it through tis MOT its the holidays and time to kick back, chill out and not worry as there is nothing stressful happening until Sept 1st except for the Great American Adventure Part 2 starting on Friday so time to clean the house, work out the clothing situtation, organise the holiday reading, pack the bag and get to the airport. Plus with Aaron and Clare leaving on their round the trip a few goodbyes need to be said.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The blog has not been abandoned but it is marking season and thus I am incredibly busy. I started with 780 to mark and am now down to 240 to go. A friend recommend these clips and I think that you will agree they are rather amusing.

Cat man do

TV Dinner

and Let me In