Saturday, 10th December, 2022

[Day 999]

Yesterday was the first day of the quarter-finals for the World Cup and both of them ended in penalties after extra time. During the afternoon, we watched the Brazil-Croatia match where the Croations snatched a very late equalising goal and finally won the penalty shootout at the end of extra time. This may well have been due to the fact that the Croations are used to penalty shootouts and the experience may be embedded into their collective memory whereas the Brazilians are used to winning matches (and not being taken to extra time and then penalty shootouts) It was an exciting match with genuine end-to-end stuff. The evening match was Argentina versus Holland and was a much more dour affair. The Dutch were very well organised but hardly had any shots on goal but when they did, they scored. It looked as though Brazil would sail through after they went ahead about 7 minutes before the end. But the Dutch scored in the 83rd minute and then actually equalised in the 11th minute of stoppage time. This second Dutch goal was completely extraordinary. The Netherlands were awarded a free kick in the 11th minute jut on the edge of the penalty area and the Argentinins formed a wall to prevent an easy shot on goal. Two or three Netherlands players took their place in the wall (this often happens) after which the Netherlands free kick taker rolled the ball towards his own player in the wall who promptly turned around having received possesion of the ball and then shot it into the net to equalise. Eventually, the game went through extra time and then it was onto penalties where the Netherlands players missed two of their penalties of their own and eventually the Argentinians won the entite match on penalties. The Argentinians seemed to have masses of support within the ground which may have had an impact on the penalties as the Netherlands players were subjected to a loud crescendo of boos and jeers whilst the Argentinian players took their penalties in silence. Today, it is the Morocco-Portugal in one quarter final and the big clash between France and England this evening.

As the weather is so cold at the moment, Meg and I are not in the mood for sitting on an icy cold park bench so we decided, when we met with our University of Birmingham friend yesterday, that we would meet in Waitrose cafe again this morning. There we met with two of our pre-pandemic friends who we know often frequent Waitrose on Saturday mornings. So we had nice ‘catching up on things’ chat before they departed to do their shopping and we resumed our conversations with our University of Birmingham friend who we will probably meet in the same place tomorrow. Then it was home for a lunch of quiche, after which there was more World Cup football. In this match, Morocco were playing European champions, Portugal, against whom the Moroccans scored a goal about half way through the the first half. Then the Moroccans hung on for dear life, nearly scoring a second in a breakaway and repelling the repeated assaults on their goal. So this game did not need to go to extra time and the celebrations were wild in the extreme. Morocco is the first African (or Arab) side to get through to semifinals and is probably a turning point as well established footballing nations such as Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain have all been knockd out but small and emergent footballing nations (Croatia, Morocco) march onwards into the semi-finals. To round off this footballing section, England have just lost thir match 2-1 to France (as I thought they probably would a week or so ago) The match, though, was a little bizarre – France had the better of the first half and England the better of the second, in general. But there were some bizarre refereeing decisions throughout the game which often worked to England’s disadvantage. One example was a clear foul in the penalty area on an English forward which was initially dismissed and only the intervention of the VAR referee persuaded him to change his mind and award a penalty (which Harry Kane unfortunately missed) Also, the English forward Bukayo Saka who is a player who dribbles the ball and twists this way and that and who is often unplayable and the French players seem to kick him off the pitch whenever he had the ball without much intervention by the referee.

I have found a website often some searching which allows me to download classical and royalty free .mp3 files to put on my little thumb drive and then play in the kitchen. Having downloaded the file, I often have to tidy up (shorten) the name and then use an additional online resource to ‘stitch together’ the various movements of a concerto into the total work which can then be saved on my thumbdrive. In the last day or so, I have managed to download some of my favourite Mozart being the Clarinet Concerto and the Piano Concertos no. 20 and also 21. This means that as I write I have about 3 hours of music on my thumb drive which will prove especially useful when we go on long car journeys (which we will be doing next week, as it happens).