Monday, 4 October 2010


Hello all. What a day it's been - no time for anything, let alone blogging, and there's a busy afternoon's teaching coming up. I'm so tired, and I've lost my voice, as is traditional after a refereeing weekend.

I was refereeing a big fencing competition this weekend. I've learned a few things.

1. Rotherham is a horrible dump.
I was supposed to be in a Sheffield city centre hotel, so I went up early, planning to roam round with my camera for a bit of architectural fun. They hadn't heard of me, thanks to the morons in head office. One expensive taxi ride later, I was no longer in the sophisticated bustle of Sheffield, but in a Holiday Inn on an industrial estate (with 'Europe's largest Sexy Superstore' nearby) a couple of miles outside Rotherham, with the rain pouring down.

After half an hour of afternoon TV, the deluge beckoned and I trudged into Rotherham, hoping for excitement, adventure and really wild things. I was disappointed. The town has been closed, apparently for some time. Even the regeneration projects of 2008 have subsequently gone bust. Perhaps the low point of my life so far was eating a soggy sausage roll in the rain, being circled by feral children eyeing every bite through hooded eyes. Imagine somewhere like Crewe or the worst bits of Stoke, abandoned due to some plague, marinaded in rain and despair. It's that bad.

By now soaked to the skin and with ruined shoes, I gave up and plodded back to the prison camp, where Sky News made me angry until other fencing people turned up.

The actual fencing was fine - no difficult decisions and most of the parents and coaches behaved themselves. Refereeing epée can be boring though - when the first fight of the weekend ended 2-0 at the end of time, my heart sank. Still, I saw a lot of people I knew, some of whom I like.

Note to Rotherham Holiday Inn: The Sun is not an adequate alternative to the Guardian. They don't even look similar, for feck's sake, and their editorial lines diverge slightly.

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