Thursday, June 21, 2012
To blog or not to blog: that is the question. It has been impossible keeping More Than a Game up to date during Ukraine & Poland. We have travelled thousands of miles, attended half a dozen matches, partied five nights per week and, occasionally, managed to get some sleep.
The issue with spending too much time blogging is that you don’t spend enough time experiencing. Today is case in point: I spend a good six hours updating the blog but this means sitting alone in the apartment all day when I could be out and about exploring Kharkiv. I also turn down an invitation to sunbathe by the river in 30 degree temperatures with half a dozen girls who are celebrating a birthday party.
Our apartment is on a leafy street called Revolution Boulevard. It is a 15-minute stroll from the main square. Two doors down is a pocket-sized club which goes by the name Art Café. We start our evening watching a Russian rock band perform to a packed room of very middle class locals. There are probably 40 well-dressed, attractive ladies and 20 or so seemingly affable local lads in here. The band is reminiscent of the Perestroika rock bands of the late 1980s. Scotland and England enjoy the club so much that they manage to miss the start of the Czech Republic v Portugal quarter final, being shown live on the big screens of Ploshcha Svobody.
Scotland has a friendly arranged with Ukraine this evening, while I get chatting to Mido and his mate from Iraq, who are both studying Physics in Kharkiv (there are 69 higher educational institutions in the city). They are really decent lads and I feel terribly guilty, during my time with them, about what has been done to their country by my country. We do briefly discuss the matter but they want to make it totally clear that they hold no personal grudge against me. The lads like Kharkiv but tell me that for them they are tired of the locals’ insatiable appetite for non-stop partying, boozing and promiscuity. Clearly, they would like to go home at the end of their studies. I hope they go home to a peaceful, safe Iraq.
Portugal see off the Czechs, who did well, in my opinion, to make it this far. Ronaldo gets the winner - the man from Madeira has been playing some really excellent football for his country in the past couple of games at Euro 2012.
After a couple of kiosk beers in Shevchenko Park, Scotland, England and Ukraine jump in a taxi near the Shevshenko monument and head back to Revolutsia. It’s an ideal opportunity to finish some more blogs while Scotland and Ukraine continue with their international friendly match next door.
Czech Republic 0 Portugal 1