Regular and long-term readers will know that I have a lifestyle ethos of sorts. It’s called ‘Something To Look Forward To Every Month’ ….. or STLFTEM for short.
It’s quite self explanatory really. Each month, I need at least one thing to look forward to. It can be anything, but I have to do or see something in person. Events watched on TV don’t count.
The rules of this are at my discretion. There can be more than one STLFTEM per month. Some months are a real struggle, but i’ve (just about) managed to have an unbroken run since July 2009.
The first one this year, was unsurprisingly, in January. I went to see Roy Walker live as part of the Out To Lunch Festival (the winter version of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival)
It was a mostly retrospective show, looking back at his career in showbusiness and doing a ‘Greatest Hits’, telling stories of some of the performers he’s worked with, recalling one story of going to dinner with Charlie Williams
He was told by a waiter “Sorry, we don’t serve black men” to which he replied “It’s ok, I don’t eat black men”
The event ended on a sad note when he commented on the health of Frank Carson, that “He didn’t have long left”, and so it sadly proved the following month.
February was a very exciting month, lots of travelling though.
As my birthday falls in February, the last three years I have travelled away for the first weekend for a short break.
This year, I went to Amsterdam for a weekend. It was enjoyable. It would have been more enjoyable if it wasn’t freezing.
The weekend I was there it was snowing, so I took the opportunity to get photos, seeing as there was no snow in Belfast the past winter.
On the Saturday, I went to Rotterdam for a day. It’s a nice enough city. While there, I took in a game. It wasn’t Feyenoord (though I did visit their stadium with some spare time I had) but little known Excelsior Rotterdam, struggling at the bottom of the Eredivise.
I contacted the club and they sorted me out with a ticket no problem (I saw people paying in, so I probably could have got one on the day) and I watched the start of the game against VVV Venlo in the Robin Van Persie stand, named after a player from the local area who began his career with their youth teams, before moving to Feyenoord, then Arsenal.
The clubs bar (I went in their pre-match and half-time for heat rather than refreshment) had pictures of him on the wall. Little did I know then, that just over six months later, Robin Van Persie would be playing for Manchester United.
Incidentally, the day I visited Woudestein, he scored a hat-trick (for Arsenal against Blackburn)
If you’re reading this Robin, and believe in omens, feel free for me to pay to travel to Rotterdam every weekend.
Absolutely loved the game, Excelsior won 3-1, but unfortunately were unable to avoid relegation. The following day, I visited Amsterdam Arena to see Ajax lose 2-0 to FC Utrecht.
I saw Ajax again later in the month as they visited Old Trafford for a UEFA Cup tie against Manchester United.
I’d planned to travel over for United’s post christmas game. I’d hoped it would be in the European Cup, but a UEFA Cup tie made it handier for booking leave (Work from Monday to Wednesday, then off for a four day weekend)
United lost 2-1, the first time I witnessed a United defeat at Old Trafford in person (40+ visits) but went through 3-2 on aggregate.
On my flight there and back, Tommy Breslin, Oran Kearney and Scott Young were fellow passengers.
The previous Thursday, I was at The Odyssey for Noel Gallagher in concert. Absoultely fantastic.
March was a quiet month with not a lot happening. It was a struggle to get a STLFTEM, but I decided to attend the opening of T13, in the Titanic Quarter.
My original STLFTEM for March was Linfield’s Irish Cup Semi-Final, but it was postponed, and became my STLFTEM for April.
A lovely sunny day, Linfield winning 7-0, and I managed to get some nice shots of the game and stadium. Win all round.
May’s STLFTEM was two football matches, both at Windsor Park, which both ended 4-1.
The first was the Irish Cup Final. Linfield supporters not much younger than me are spoilt and think this is an annual event. The day I turned 18, Linfield had only won the Irish Cup twice in my lifetime, so I make the most of Cup Final Day.
The next game was the Harry Gregg Testimonial between Manchester United and an Irish League XI. It was a full United team (barring injured players) and it wasn’t an embarrassing result for the Irish League XI, so it was a good result all round.
In March, I won a competition to win free flights, so I put that to good use for June’s STLFTEM. From the choice I had, it was mostly ‘Sunshine breaks’ (I prefer city breaks rather than lazing on the beach) and UK cities. There was nothing on in London that interested me (the prize had to be taken by the end of June) or Birmingham, so I went for the lazy option and chose Amsterdam, where Northern Ireland played Holland.
The less said about the football, the better, but the city was again fantastic, I went to see the parts of the city I didn’t see on my first trip, and I had better weather than when I visited in February.
Not a fan of taking part in rioting, July’s STLFTEM was another July tradition, Linfield in Europe.
August’s STLFTEM was my annual trip to the Edinburgh Fringe. I had second thoughts with this being my 4th succesive year visiting. I couldn’t have been more wrong, I loved it and saw new acts I hadn’t seen and acts I hadn’t seen in a while.
Upon my return, three Belsonic concerts, including seeing Madness for the first time. I can’t believe I waited so long to see Madness live.
September started with a visit to The Oval. We drew, and scored a goal. Already, an improvement on last season’s results.
The following week, I saw The View play live, a virtual free gig as I bought the ticket using a Ticketmaster voucher I got for my birthday.
The following midweek, I went to see Northern Ireland play Luxembourg. The less said about this, the better.
Tomorrow, of course, is Belfast Culture Night, which i’ve attended the last two years and enjoyed.
Four STLFTEMs this month. Nice going.
For October, I shall be going to see Norman Whiteside do a talk as part of Belfast Festival. I’ve only got a copy of the programme today, so haven’t looked through it fully. From browsing online, i’d suggest David O’Doherty and Sarfraz Manzoor (saw them both in Edinburgh)
Very tempted to get a second helping of David O’Doherty. I urge you to go and see him live, especially if you love surreal comedy.
In November, i’ll be making my first trip of the season to Old Trafford for the game against QPR. While in Manchester, i’ll be looking forward to visiting the newly reopened National Football Museum. I was at the old one at Preston in 2006, and loved it, wish I had more time to spend at it.
For December, i’ll be taking in my annual one Ulster European game a season against Northampton. The match kicks off at 6pm on a Saturday of a Linfield home game. I see a double header developing.
I’m already looking to 2013. I haven’t booked anything, but i’m looking at a weekend in London in February (Never been ‘properly’ to London, just a trip to Wembley and flew there en route to Brighton. Want to see the city properly) and going to United v Reading over St Patrick’s weekend (will be off work on the Monday)
I shall be looking to visit Scotland twice in 2013. In August, it shall be Edinburgh again, but Rangers have promised Linfield a friendly at Ibrox in 2013.
I’ve never been to Ibrox, and haven’t been to Glasgow since 2008, so i’ll be looking forward to this when it gets confirmed.
Somehow, i’ve managed to get a full set of STLFTEM for 2012.
So, anybody got anything exciting I could do or see in January 2013?