‘Jaw Dropping Composure’!

As Arsenal rather luckily sit on top of the English Premier League this morning, the undoubted star of yesterday’s scrappy win over London rivals Fulham was Samir Nasri pictured above. This from Yahoo Sport:

“Arsene Wenger declared there was even more to come from Samir Nasri after the midfielder’s magical brace sent Arsenal top of the Barclays Premier League. France star Nasri showed jaw-dropping composure to prevent his side dropping yet more points at the Emirates Stadium as the Gunners beat Fulham 2-1.

Both goals – his 10th and 11th of the season – were fit to win any game and manager Wenger was delighted with the midfielder. “It was a combination of touch, intelligence, special talent and calmness as well,” he said. “He needed to be patient to finish on both occasions and he did that very well.

“I’m happy because he had a game that was, at the start, only based on coming to the ball. But now he has more variation in his game: turns, runs in behind without the ball, and as well coming to the ball and taking it to his feet. So his game is improving and he is, of course, more efficient.”

Wenger added: “Many people questioned me when I took him here but he is showing that he is an exceptional talent and I think there is more to come from him.”

Now Mr W shore up the defence please!


Elisabeth Gaarder & Xenia Ploger

“We’ve never done it before and we’re very nervous” said Elisabeth (left) and Xenia pictured above, as we headed towards our Sunday night assignation in my car. “Don’t worry, it’s fun and very nice” I replied “just sit back and enjoy it”. Thinking something different? Tut tut! Actually, we were heading towards the studios of Zambezi Radio 107.7 fm in Livingstone, Zambia, for the latest edition of The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George Da Soulchild, as the girls were guesting for us on the show! Elisabeth and Xenia are part of a team of 5 Norwegian 3rd year Tromso University students staying at Chanters Lodge, while they teach pre-school children for a month at Rainbow School in Livingstone, as part of their university course. Our radio show goes out live every Sunday evening between 20.30 and 21.30 hrs, and features music and chat.

“Do you have boyfriends back in Norway”? Milli Jam asked the girls. “What boyfriends”? This made George on technical pay attention and he played ‘Chipyango’ by Dalisoul. The girls were rocking. “They seem to like that number”. I remarked. “I know they do!” Replied George, laughing. “Have you been clubbing every weekend while you’ve been in Livingstone”? Milli Jam enquired. “Oh yes”! Elisabeth and Xenia replied, also laughing, and I knew instantly how George Da Soulchild knew the girls liked Dalisoul!! “What’s the track about”? I wanted to know. “He’s telling girls not to allow themselves to be treated like a local broom – used once, then ditched”. Was the succinct reply. I speculated that the Chanters Girls would have been dancing to that track back at the lodge too, and I think I was right! The other Zambian number we played on the show was a coup – UZ47 with ‘Killa Love’ – first ever airing of the track on radio anywhere in Zambia! Well done George! Our expert on the local music scene.

We played ‘Gone’ by Nelly and Kelly, as well as ‘Shine A Light’ – McFly ft Taio Cruz. Milli Jam selected an old favourite Chaka Khan – ‘Ain’t Nobody’ and Dr Dre’s latest – ‘Kush’ – that was a nice one! ‘Like A G6’ – Far East Movement and ‘The Flood’ by Take That proved we’re right up to date on the Chanters Lodge Experience!

“What activities have you done since you’ve been in Livingstone”? Milli Jam asked our Guests, “apart from clubbing”? The girls told listeners they’d been to Chobe National Park in Botswana for a 2 day 1 night safari the first weekend they’d been in Zambia, and had really enjoyed the trip despite the scary insects! That afternoon they’d had high tea on Livingstone Island and swum in Devil’s Pool. They’d loved it! One of the girls had also flown in a microlight over Victoria Falls on the ‘Flight Of Angels’ and one intended to go Bungee Jumping. “It’s all scary” they commented, laughing at the same time.

The girls explained to listeners that they’d known each other since they were in high school, aged 15 or so, and that they shared a house in Tromso while they were studying, although they were both originally from Oslo. Neither of them had been to Africa before but they’d both travelled widely through Europe. The future immediately after leaving University? They weren’t sure. Longer term? Marriage and children seemed to be on both their agendas. “Better start looking for boyfriends soon then” I remarked, to in-studio laughter.

We gave away our usual dinner for two to the first person to text us the name of the country the girls hailed from and there was a huge response. ‘Nowe’ was one of them! Great that so many people were listening to the show! George, a Liverpool supporter, wanted to talk about football in general and Arsenal in particular, but Milli Jam and I did not!

A good time was had by all, and of course there had been no need for the girls to be nervous!


Doctor Trey

Meet Doctor Trey, aka Trevor Ndhlovu, well known Livingstone DJ. Trevor guested on the latest edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience, our popular Sunday night show, that goes out live weekly on Zambezi Radio 107.7 fm at 20.30 hours. It has ‘The Milli Jam Ingredient’ meaning it’s co-hosted by Milimo Mudaala, also a well known Livingstone DJ, and George ‘Soulchild’ a regular host on 107.7 fm who helps with the technical side. It was a good show featuring some of the latest Zambian hits which George will be writing about for the blog later in the week, as well as numbers by Ne-Yo, Eminem and Travis Macoy, ft Bruno Mars, Brandy and Kelly Rowland.

In ‘another life’, Doctor Trey is a driver/salesman for WTC (Wright Trading Company) for whom he’s worked for years. He was the original DJ at Masaka, better known now as Pub and Grill, owned by Glen Wright. Trevor’s less busy than he used to be since WTC gave up their agency for Mosi and Coca Cola. He’s married with 3 boys and was happy to be able to greet his family on air. Doctor Trey’s an ardent Liverpool fan, and had this been known beforehand he might not have featured. Chanters is strictly Arsenal!… There was much speculation on air about the first game of the new season this coming Sunday when these two teams meet at Anfield. Ah! Premier League soccer, again!

Richard was asked if the winner of last week’s prize had turned up and whether it had been a ‘take away’. He confirmed that Gloria, the winner, had come for a lovely private dinner at Chanters’ expense with a handsome young man and had much enjoyed her night out. Nothing like take away! This week’s question asked for Trevor’s DJ name and the prize was quickly snapped up! People get so excited about winning that they forget to give their own names on the text, which then disqualifies them even if the answer’s right!

Trevor was asked about his ambitions for the future and told listeners that he would love to have his own transport business, revealing that his second born son was in the process of learning mechanics for this purpose. Richard greeted family, Guests and staff alike, and George was happy to recount his week in Sesheke (on the Namibian border) with Mwampi, hot Zambian artist. Why hadn’t he brought her back to Livingstone to guest on the show? No adequate response! Oh well…


Young Arsenal!

Good for young Arsenal!

Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs will represent the dawn of a new England era next week after being named in Fabio Capello’s squad to face Hungary at Wembley on Wednesday.


Late Jonathan Lungu

We were very sorry to hear recently that Jonathan Lungu had passed away. Here’s a photo of him doing what he really did best – sorting things out when the ‘the authorities’ were involved. On this occasion water from the City Council! Jonathan’s on the left in the photo.

Late Jonathan worked for Chanters Lodge from early in 1999 until early 2009 as an accountant and assistant manager and was widely known and liked in the City, and by our Guests. He was particularly helpful when I had to be away from the lodge for any reason. He helped us set up our initial systems and was good at keeping the Chanters Girls in order when necessary! He was an exceptionally good cook!

We pass our condolences to Jonathan’s father, and sister Elizabeth and her family in New Zealand, and hope that Jonathan has found peace.


Mbendi Information Services

I get a regular newsletter from Mbendi Information Services. I ‘liked this’ one:

“I really must stop reading the financial papers just before I go to bed. Because just lately two recurring nightmares have been disturbing my sleep.

In the first, I’m just an ordinary British bloke, feet up, lukewarm ale at hand, all ready to watch the politicos debating on telly when there’s a ring of the doorbell. There stands a smartly suited gent who announces “Six grand, please guv, to pay off your household’s share of the budget deficit!” I’m aghast. My lovely house is mortgaged to the hilt and I’ve just arranged an overdraft to pay for a trip with the lads to a mystery tournament in a very dangerous country (though not nearly as dangerous as Germany according to the UK government). As I write out the cheque, he pipes up again “Never worry, guv, I’ll be back for another twenty five grand in the next couple of years!”.

I wake in a sweat and have no sooner dropped off again than the second nightmare starts.

This time I’m a French housewife frying up aubergines with garlic for the family watching sport on the TV in the room next door (this is a French tradition aimed at bringing luck to the national team playing a sport where you shouldn’t touch the ball with your hands). Suddenly there is a knock at the window. Outside stands a woman smartly dressed in a raincoat and black beret. “Voulez-vous d’abord la bonne ou la mauvaise nouvelle ?” she demands (translation: “I vill say this only once – do you want to hear the good news or the bad news first?”). “La mauvaise” I mutter and she leans forward and confidentially reveals that my pension is to be halved so the government pension deficit will not balloon to Euro 40 billion by 2015. I gasp. “Et la bonne?” I croak. “The pension contributions of your children are to be tripled and their retirement age deferred to 85 so we don’t need to cut your pension ever again!”

I think my dreams must be deficient because I don’t dream the great American dream in which I find on my doorsteps not only the taxman and the pension madam, but also the local doctor, a Chinese banker and a dishevelled man with a gun, all with their hands outstretched. The US Congressional Budget Office projects that the cumulative US budget deficit alone could increase to US$ 9,700 billion by 2020 taking the federal debt to US$ 20,000 billion, 90% of GDP and more than US$ 100,000 per household. The discredited credit ratings agencies, headquartered as they are in the USA, seem unperturbed by this state of affairs which would lead to lesser nations receiving a major ratings downgrade under similar circumstances.

Now that I’m wide awake, I really must start saving in case a real demand arrives in my mailbox that I’m unable to meet. I must also put pressure on the various levels of government around me so they cut costs to the bone and don’t have to make demands at all. The only trouble is the officials and politicians might not take kindly to losing sleep worrying about their salaries being cut or maybe even losing their jobs – salary, pension, perks, prestige and all – just so us taxpayers can sleep easy knowing our governments have a zero deficit or, better still, surpluses all round. Oh, yes, and we’d like to have government continue to provide all the services they already do plus a whole lot more. Vastly improved government productivity is the only answer I can dream up to solve this conundrum!”

The picture? Cesc Fabregas – soon to be a Barcelona player


Livingstone In Perspective

Probably the last guest blog from Ruth Binney for a while, that’s Ruth with my wife Ireen pictured above in the latest fashion at Victoria Falls!

“Back now in grey and rainy England, my mind is full of memories of Zambian warmth – not just the sunshine but the smiles and generosity of everyone who made my recent visit so enjoyable. Particular thanks must go to Richard and his family, and to all the staff at Chanters Lodge who looked after me so well.

As a ‘regular’ tourist, the highlights were the rhino walk and the one day safari to Chobe (reported in previous blogs), as well as the sunset cruise on the Lady Livingstone and the visit to the Falls which, full of water after the rains, were awesomely powerful – and wet. If you are reading this and anticipating a visit soon believe me (as Richard will undoubtedly tell you) you WILL get soaked. Even with a hired raincoat and the umbrella of my guide, I was wet through. The Knife Edge Bridge was a river and the spray so intense that it was like being in a rainstorm. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

As for everyday experiences, writing this on a Saturday afternoon I am recollecting the gathering around the TV to watch the football last weekend – a great way to share a sporting experience with fellow Arsenal supporters!

Shopping in Livingstone included the new Shoprite supermarket which is well stocked, bright and cheerful, but also visits to the fishmonger, butcher, chemist and stationer. Out with Melinda I also met her friends and members of her family and visited the market packed with stalls selling vegetables and fruit of all kinds. There – and on every street corner – ‘talk time’ for the mobile can be bought. This is definitely the most prized commodity for young and old alike.

To visit the home of Susan, one of Richard’s senior staff, was a privilege and a pleasure. For her, saving means buying cement and having bricks made so that her home can be extended. She is one of many young women acting as sole supporters of their families.

The food at Chanters was as good as ever – I specially recommend the Bean Curry and the Bream. At a family meal I followed Zambian tradition and ate nshima and chicken with my hands – it was delicious! The pool is inviting and warm and the garden carefully tended. As well as the many geckos I was also happy to spot a chameleon fly catching.

The downsides? Very few, but the internet is expensive and sporadic and business wise enterprises such as Richard’s suffer from the monopolies of banking, TV and other utilities in terms of both price and service. It makes some of our complaints seem trivial in retrospect.

Should you visit? Yes certainly – it is an experience that no one should miss and will surely give you a new slant on life. I can’t wait to be back in Livingstone and at Chanters Lodge again.”

Thanks Ruth, it was great to see you!


Aaron Ramsey’s Smashed Leg

There’s a blog – Arseblog – if you’re interested, and this is what the writer had to say about the dreadful injury to Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey on Saturday. I couldn’t agree more – and just as an aside I think the Sky and SuperSport commentators are pathetic.

May 1st 2006 – Abou Diaby has his ankle fractured and dislocated by a challenge from Dan Smith.

Feb 23rd 2008 – Eduardo has his left fibula fractured and sustains an open dislocation of his ankle joint after Martin Taylor’s tackle.

Feb 27th 2010 – Aaron Ramsey has his fibula and tibia broken, his leg left hanging in the air, by Ryan Shawcross.

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas said immediately after the game:
“In five years I’ve seen three of them, Abou, Edu and now Aaron. What can I say? It’s difficult.”

I love Cesc but he’s wrong. It’s not five years. It’s less than four years. These kinds of horror injuries can happen in football. It’s a physical sport and such injuries are thankfully rare but they do happen. However, I have never in all my years known one club to suffer three of these potentially career ending injuries, let alone in such a short period of time.

Is it just coincidence? Arsene Wenger said afterwards he doesn’t believe in coincidence and I’m with him 100% on this one. I believe that these three injuries are a direct consequence of the ‘Arsenal don’t like it up ’em’ ethos which has become conventional wisdom in recent years. ‘They don’t like being kicked’, the implication that the wimpy foreigners can’t take it. And it has been peddled across the football world by reporters, TV pundits, radio commentators, Sky Sports presenters and anyone else you can think of. ‘Arsenal don’t like it up ’em’, as if Arsenal were somehow unique in this. Let me tell you, nobody likes it ‘up em’.

No other club has suffered three horrendous injuries like this in the last four years. My honest opinion is that the belief that it’s ok to be overly physical with Arsenal because, surprise surprise, they don’t like it, is the root cause. If I had to trace it back I think it’d probably start with Sam Allardyce.

Before I go on, I’ll make this point : I don’t think any of the players who carried out these tackles wanted to break another professional’s leg. And in that I’m giving Dan Smith the serious benefit of the doubt because his tackle was by far the worst, well late and I think a bit nasty. Even still I don’t think he intended to do that kind of damage. Now, let me address the people who say “Well, he’s is not that kind of player’.

Unless the person in question is an actual psychopath of course they’re not that kind of player. It goes without saying. Nevertheless they’ve been told to go out there and get stuck in and give Arsenal a bit extra because, as we all know, they don’t like it up ’em. So you have Dan Smith’s snide tackle, Martin Taylor’s ‘reducer’ and last night Shawcross’s reckless hack at Aaron Ramsey. Did he mean to break his leg? Of course not. Did he want to? No, of course not. The bottom line though is that he did. I feel his tackle was absolutely reckless. Watch it again if you can. At this level of the professional game it was a horrendous challenge.

If I can liken to it something else it’s speeding. The young guy in his car who goes out, thinking he’s Johnny Invincible, until he careers around a corner too fast and mows down a child. He didn’t mean to, but he did it, and he is responsible. “I didn’t meant to run the kid over” and “He’s not that kind of driver” aren’t acceptable excuses in a courtroom so spare me the mealy-mouthed crap over Shawcross (who has previous – Stoke Sentinel, Oct 2007). He looked distraught but his tears don’t matter. What matters is that a talented young footballer has been the victim of a ridiculous tackle and his leg is broken in pieces.

We know Aaron is going to get the best possible medical care and all we can do is wish the best for him as his career takes an unexpected and horrific diversion. We’ve seen the impact of these injuries, the fallout is not pretty, and he is probably going to have to battle the same niggles that Eduardo and Diaby have to struggle against all the time. The physical damage is tremendous, not just the broken leg but try to redevelop the muscle and everything else, but so too is the mental damage. Thankfully he’s got two guys who can show him the way, who can help through when things get really difficult and when it’s time to come back they can help him cross the white line again without fear.

But how heartbreaking is it that we have those two players? I will admit to being rather emotional watching that game last night. It was obvious from the first instant what had happened and I felt sick for Aaron Ramsey. A kid of 19. It leaves you angry. And angrier because this is not the first time it has happened to Arsenal. Nor the second. But the third inside four years and quite frankly enough is enough.

Immediately afterwards on Sky we had Richard Keys and Andy Gray making excuses. “Is it because Arsenal are too quick?”, said Keys No! It’s not because we’re too quick, it’s because we’ve been on the receiving end of some obscene tackles. “Sometimes you have to play them like that”, said Gray, referring to the fact that Arsenal don’t like it up ’em. Well, he’s the thing – as far as I’m concerned, Andy Gray, Richard Keys, the rest of those utter c***s at Sky, and anyone else who has helped perpetrate that myth over the years is in some way culpable for the fact that Aaron Ramsey had his leg busted like a twig last night. They have gone on and on and on about it and this, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens.”

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