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di Stéfano

The football legend who has died today had a name that needed no further explanation. He was part of that legendary Real Madrid side that captivated the football followers of Glasgow and Scotland at the European Cup Final of 1960 – played at Hampden Park. di Stéfano scored a hat-trick.

I was too young to be aware of it at the time but the folk memory was promulgated and persists. Such was the effect of that display of what football could be that the names of the forward line still trip off the tongue with no need for googling. Canario, Del Sol, di Stéfano, Puskas and Gento. Mind you, I see film of that game now and think, “Where was the marking?”

One curiosity is that I believe the Eintracht Frankfurt team that formed the opposition that day were all amateurs – as was German football as a whole.

di Stéfano may be unique in having played international football for three different countries, his native Argentina, Colombia, where he played league football for a while, and Spain for whom he was naturalised in 1956. That was the type of scenario that I thought had been resolved by FIFA with its rules on eligibility but in the recent World Cup one of the commentators remarked that Kevin-Prince Boateng who played for Ghana in the tournament had previously played for Germany (but not, it seems, for the senior side.)

The World Cup was one stage that di Stéfano did not grace, for various reasons, but his thirteen national titles (two in Argentina, three in Colombia and no less than eight in Spain) and five European Cups – not to mention his scoring record – speak for themselves.

Alfredo Stéfano di Stéfano Laulhé: 4/7/1926 – 7/7/2014. So it goes.

Daniel Keyes

I see from yesterday’s Guardian (I was out all day yesterday and only got round to reading it this morning) that Daniel Keyes has died.

He was best known in the SF world for just the one story, Flowers for Algernon.

But what a story! I read it many years ago and it is one of those that sticks in the mind forever. I haven’t read the later novel to which it was converted. I didn’t want my memories of the short piece to be diminished in any way. From the obituary and the link above I learned that it has been adapted for film and TV. I doubt that any of those have the power of the original text.

Daniel Keyes: 9/8/1927 – 15/6/2014. So it goes.

Glasgow School of Art

I was devastated to hear today of the fire at Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s masterpiece building, the Glasgow School of Art. (For pictures of the undamaged building see here.)

I have featured another of his buildings, Scotland Street School, here.

I have also visited the House for an Art Lover, built to Mackintosh designs in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park (on part of the site of the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938,) and Hill House in Helensburgh as well as the Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow but all without benefit a modern camera. All are visually stunning.

I must confess to being a teeny bit annoyed when Lorna Gordon, BBC London’s Scotland correspondent, called the Art School an Art Deco building. None of Mackintosh’s buildings are Deco. They are leaning towards it, certainly, but really have more in common with Art Nouveau. At a pinch you could say they act as a bridge between the two styles. While some Mackintosh designs have the blend of horizontal and vertical that is a signifier of Art Deco he also had a strong liking for curves which grew firmly from the Art Nouveau tradition of evoking nature and natural forms.

I assume the plans for the School of Art are still in existence somewhere – and that there is insurance in place. Even if it is costly it is to be hoped that some sort of effort at restoration can be made to the Art School. The result may not be original but so few of Mackintosh’s designs were erected in his lifetime it would be tantamount to a crime to allow to disappear the outstanding example that was.

In the meantime, not just Glasgow, not only Scotland, but the world, is a poorer place to live in tonight.

Great News for Sons Fans

Sons manager Ian Murray has signed a new two year contract.

His achievements over the past 18 months have meant his stock is high and that means he’ll probably be able to attract players of good quality to the club and keep those we already have – unless they are offered full-time elsewhere.

If he gets us anywhere near (or better) next season than the fifth place in which we finished this year it will represent something of a miracle – given the support other clubs in the division will have – and his reputation will only improve. Even just avoiding the relegation play-off spot is still going to be a good outcome for a club of our size.

Whatever, if any other club comes in for him over the next two years at least ours will get some compensation.

Flitting Again

Not me this time – that would be silly after only five weeks in the new house – but my younger son, who has – along with our not-quite daughter-in-law – bought himself a nice semi-detached house in Errol.

It still meant humphing boxes and furniture around, though. I’m knackered – and sore.

Elena Baltacha

So sad to hear of the death of tennis player Elena Baltacha. Thirty is such a young age.

Her promise was perhaps never quite fulfilled due to her health problems but given those the achievments she had are remarkable. To make it into the top 50 in the world when you have been battling liver disease is no mean feat.

Elena Sergeevna Baltacha, 14/8/1983-4/5/2014. So it goes.

Gabriel García Márquez

Due to Eastercon I also missed commemorating the passing of Colombian writer and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez.

I have read only two of his novels, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera but do not regret reading either of them and would happily sit down to other works of his were my tbr pile not so high already. Maybe when it’s shrunk a bit, then.

Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez: 6/3/1927 – 17/4/2014. So it goes.

David Moyes

So, the poisoned chalice got him in the end.

It was always going to be a difficult task taking over from Sralex.

It wasn’t made any easier by the fact that the players he was left with were either getting on a bit or not up to it. Sralex has a lot to do with that. (United’s poor season does have the effect of making him look irreplaceable though. The uncharitable might say his choice of Moyes was always designed with that in mind.)

Those same players also seem not to have put the requisite effort in; they let Moyes down badly. It doesn’t matter if they didn’t see eye to eye with him or disagreed with what he was asking them to do. If you’re employed you’re supposed to do what your boss says. Footballers should not be above that commonplace expectation. Lots of people are faced with new bosses coming in and changing things – for better or worse. The employees just have to get on with it.

When Matt Busby “retired” – also leaving behind an ageing team – the exact same thing happened. (Busby took over the reigns again temporarily when his successor was deemed lacking. I can’t see Sralex doing the same.) It took United years, decades, to get back to winning the league. They even fell out of the top division for a season during that time.

In retrospect Moyes should not have taken the job. Someone with experience of winning things at the highest level might perhaps have got more out of the players. Is anyone of that stamp going to want the job right now?

Satellite 4 (Eastercon)

This year’s Eastercon – the annual British Science Fiction Convention – is being held under the name Satellite 4 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow from 18th to 21st April.

It’s a while since the event has been in Scotland so I’ve not attended for a few years. I’ll be going this year though.

In fact I’m even going to be on two panels. My schedule is below.

Eastercon is a great way to meet people whom you haven’t seen since last the last Eastercon you graced with your presence, and others you’ve not met before. It has always served to enthuse me about SF again.

Good practice in editing and reviewing
Sunday 18:00 – 19:00

Has steampunk gone off the boil?
Monday 13:00 – 14:00

Lucius Shepard and Margo MacDonald

Due to my house move I missed commemorating at the times the demise of both Margo MacDonald, former SNP MP and independent MSP, and writer Lucius Shepard.

It says a lot for the esteem in which MacDonald was held by the wider public that she was able to gain a seat in the Scottish Parliament on the list system as an independent.

In recent years her campaign for the right to assisted dying (she was suffering from Parkinson’s disease) was carried out with a dignity which ensured that her views and comments commanded respect.

Luius Shepard’s fiction is elusive to pigeonhole, morphing from Science Fiction to fantasy and bordering on magic realism. He was always readable, though, and intelligent.

Margo MacDonald, 19/4/1943 – 4/4/2014, Lucius Shepard, 21/8/1943 – 18/3/2014. So it goes.

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