I Had A Brussels Sprout Last Night
The term Brussels sprout is a countable noun whose plural form is Brussels sprouts. A commonly used alternative form is brussel sprout, whose plural is brussel sprouts. However, linking the name with the Belgian capital of Brussels would argue against dropping the last "s" in the first word (although the Dutch name for the city is "Brussel").
Excuse that bit of grammatical pedantry, but to generations of Brits and, as I discovered last night, probably Canadians too, Brussels sprouts are one of the most loathed vegetables
. A mini-cabbage, loads of them are grown on a stalk and picked just in time for the traditional Christmas dinner where they are a side dish set alongside a large roast bird. If it's a turkey, then its leftovers can last a week, and cold sprouts are blah
Luckily last night did only last the one night.
I was a guest at the BritCham FA Cup Final Dinner Extravaganza With Everton FC, it said on the invite, except that Everton FC didn't make it as due to "demands from their partners to intensify activities in Thailand, India and China
" they regretted that they could not "do justice to Britcham and Indonesia at this time
However, the sponsors did. I was seated at the Jakarta Post table and discovered that I was the only connection with my daily read, having had a few letters published, a book review and an article. Oh, and I do know columnist Simon Pitchforth, who is pretty scathing about sponsors and marketing in his MetroMad
The venue was the SuperDuper InterContinental and if not seated at a table close to one of the four wall screens, then folk were sat in the terraces. This was an important distinction because we nobs had a free flow of food and booze whilst the proles had a fixed menu and had to fork out for anything consumed over and beyond their allotted ration.
Our menus were different too. Whilst the proles had to make do with Fish and Chips with Mushy Peas, or Bangers and Mash, we got Scallop and Mushroom Pie, Beer Battered Cod Fillet and Brussels Sprout with Cheddar Cheese Sauce. We also got Salamagundi and Rumbled Thumbs, which one of our group, a fellow vegetarian
, decided was the "random unknown".
It must be mentioned that the evening was in aid of in aid of Giving Kids A Sporting Chance, an initiative to provide learning and opportunities for 'disadvantaged' children through the region. And as befits a charity do, there were a number of local dignitaries present. These included Our (new) Man in Jakarta, Martin Hatful, and Ray Bigger, a former referee and now ESPN pundit, who runs his own "people development' company in Singapore.
In Ray's well-practiced speech, he described footballers as being 'uneducated', which I did feel was a gross generalisation. Sure, many of the game's superstars may be shallow in their worldly outlook, but that comes from being cocooned in a world of fans' make believe. In the lower divisions players have lower incomes and subsequently a greater motivation to learn skills needed to live a fulfilling life once their playing days are over.
Which could lead me to question if there is merit in sending three local kids for trials with ManYoo and Leeds, but far better to mention that the final was watched by at least half of us. The others continued chatting or, in the case of a few sponsors, went off to pastures anew.
The first half of the match seemed to be an even match, with Cardiff, who finished one place below Charlton in Tier 2, giving a good account of themselves - until Portsmouth scored the only goal of the match. The second half was less free-flowing, unlike the Carlsbergs which kept passing my lips, so I can't really comment about it.
And the evening ended, for me, disappointedly. It's not because I failed to win the door prize of a Nokia phone, or the consolation prize of a box of Carlsberg beers; my little moan is because whilst all these prizes and acknowledgements were taking place, the broadcast of Portsmouth celebrating and Cardiff looking deflated in their loss was switched off.
The magic of the FA Cup is that little clubs get to take part. For most the season, seemingly unimaginable results occur until the final itself. For Brits, it's a day when shops are empty and pubs are full. The arrival of the teams and pundits pontificating are all part of the build up to the match itself, and the conflicting emotions afterwards need to be witnessed.
It's a time for reflection, the post-coital cigarette, and we were denied that in order to appease the corporate world.
Still, thanks to that sprout, my first in over 20 years, last night will always be memorable.