Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A lot of what you like

Life is full of little surprises. Once upon a time a long, long time ago ( well 11 years ago) when as a much younger man than I am now, I was introduced to expat society in Riga at a watering hole named Paddy Whelans. In those days upstairs was a favoured gathering place for those of us who had found ourselves in this new and strange country. From memory the only people serving behind the bar were young ladies, and one remains stuck in my memory - I..... ( Latvian with a wonderful smile).

In the intervening years she has moved around , being seen in such establishments as the Frog, and much more recently as one of the key member of staff at our sadly departed village hall - De Lacy's.
But with its demise, she absconded to Madrid to take in the sites, and unless my eyes deceive me there is more to her than when she left. So having experienced her first trip on an aircraft (after a few early morning drinks to assist with the nerves) and her first trip to Madrid, or indeed anywhere outside of Latvia, she has returned (albeit temporarily) to Paddies. And so on Friday last when I walked into the village lounge there she was ! So a welcome return as she manages to brighten up even the most miserable of days. No idea how long she will stay, so to all enjoy it whilst we can.

As is my way, I did not stay on Friday evening to watch the Irish rugby game, as it was way past my bedtime, but I am informed that those watching included J....(Irish with a new daughter-in-law) and young J....(English - likes things to be straight). After the game they retired to Paddy Abduls ( if you do not know do not ask), followed by an excursion to Club Essential by J....(not the Irish one ) and ....................... wait for it - young I.... (Latvian with Spanish connections) - hmmmmmmm..................
But just like London buses always seem to come in groups, so it is with the former staff of De Lacy's - recognise these two ladies ? seen in the village lounge recently.Speaking of De Lacy's - no news re possible re-opening but we do but live in hope. The building next door to De Lacy's, which was purported to be a possible new home, is now sporting an advert for the Stella bar just down the road. When I first saw the poster my first reaction was that it was advertising the fact that a new Stella Bar was going to open there, but as can be seen from the relatively small print at the bottom of the poster it was simply advising all of those still looking for De Lacy's that there was a Stella bar a few meters away. So the future of this location remains unresolved, although there are a number of rumours as to its possible future, which range from renting it as a fish & chip shop/bar/restaurant to the outright purchase of the building for development. Time will but tell !As for De Lacy's - well any rumour that it was about to become a museum, have proved short lived, as the posters stuck in its window clearly indicate that it is about to become another "girly" bar/nightclub - just what Riga needs !!!!!!!!!!!

Last weekend saw a host of World Cup Rugby games, for my part I took in the England Games on Saturday and the Scotland game on Sunday. The latter coincided with the Manchester United v Chelsea game. But the respective crowds were well behaved, and whilst the Scottish result was somewhat of a foregone conclusion, it transpired to be a most enjoyable afternoon. Those attended included R... (New Zealander with penchant for loud noises), his good lady D... (Latvian artist of note), J....(Australian timber consultant to the world), F....( Australian hostelier) accompanied by his Australian relatives, B.....(English - one pair of shoes) - and many others.

Now you may remember a few blogs ago, I published a picture of V... (Australian flu sufferer) whereby he was seen taking a picture of me taking a picture of him - well it appears it not an Australian thing, as can been from the above - even the Irish are up to it. As for the gentleman in the background would you ever guess he has had his teeth refurbished recently !
And finally a question for all you who are into fashion, what kind of person would wear shoes like these, along with that faded look in jeans

Answer :

(a) Ageing rock fan

(b) Irish sailor

(c) Bank treasurer on a bender

(d) All of the above

(e) None of the above

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Paper confusion

I am always indebted to readers of this blog when they respond, particularly when I may have misrepresented the facts. On this occasion it has been pointed out by "O'Neill" from Belfast that he believes my comments in regards to the behaviour of the Northern Irish fans was to say the least inaccurate.

He has pointed out that according to the local English newspaper in Riga, the Baltic Times,
"Earlier in the day, the Northern Ireland fans had turned the center of Riga green, setting up camp in the Old Town and downing prodigious quantities of beer while singing their songs, prior to their team’s Euro 2008 qualifying match against Latvia. A few minor scuffles broke out but early reports of “rioting” fans from the night before were greatly exaggerated.

Five people were arrested on Friday night – including one Latvian – and a police car was damaged. Fears that trouble might escalate after the Northern Ireland team suffered a surprise 1:0 defeat to a Latvian team playing for nothing but pride proved groundless.
Police spokeswoman Ieva Reksna told the Baltic News Service that the fans there was no disorder in the city on Saturday night.
Three drunk fans were taken to a ‘sobering house’ and another was detained for his own safety as he was incapable of giving police his details and no information could be found about him."
He then went on to say

"From what I've heard from people, who, unlike you, actually attended the game (the *riot* occurred the night before the game for your information) this report is closer to truth. Also not very impressed with Latvian "law enforcement" methods (one middle-aged female friend was battered round the legs for the heinous crime of walking on the road and numerous accounts of cops lifting credit-cards, mobile phones etc), but what would they know? They're only maniacal Northern Irish football hooligans. So can I suggest you check your facts next time old chap before indulging in the old stereotyping?


So what is the truth of it ? - Well as he so rightly says I was not at the game, nor was I in Livi Square on either Friday or Saturday night. However one fact I did get wrong was in regards to the actual night of "incident" - it was indeed Friday night - no Saturday as I had indicated. So clearly the trouble was due to alcohol and not the result of the game on the Saturday

So if I have done a disservice to the Northern Ireland football fans, then I apologise, but I fear that the reputation of the visiting fans was indeed tarnished, whether it was due to the actions of a few or the "reported " 500.
However to "O'Neill", thanks for taking the time to read the blog, even if you so clearly disagree with my opinion of the behaviour of the visiting Brits, be they English, Irish, Welsh or Scottish.
For those interested in reading further the thoughts of "O'Neill" then visit his blog at
It just goes to show that what appears in print may or may not factual be reality

Monday, September 10, 2007

Two sides to a story

Well this weekend saw a feast of sport descend upon us, European Football qualifiers, Last 1 day test match, and of greatest importance the start of the Rugby World Cup.

But let me start with the European Cup Qualifiers, specifically Latvia v Northern Ireland, which saw a reported 2,500 Northern Irish supporters descend on Riga, in fact Livi Square.

Now it had been reported the these fans had been awarded the title of "best travelling supporters in Europe" - well it appears the UEFA may have to reconsider this as :-

"500 Northern Irish football fans go on the rampage in Old Riga; police arrest six people
RIGA, Sep 8 (LETA)

Last night at about 1.25 a.m., about 500 fans of the Northern Ireland football team went on the rampage at Livu Square in Riga's Old Town, after which five Irish citizens and one Latvian were arrested, the Riga Municipal Police's public relations secretary Inese Timane reported to LETA.

According to police, the riot broke out late into the night, when the municipal police's Old Riga patrol unit spotted a mob of football fans rioting at a summer cafe on the Livu Square, throwing chairs around and smashing plates.The police officers had not acted immediately but called additional forces - two patrol units - who tried to split the crowd in two."It did not help much, as the Irish citizens started throwing things at police cars, and smashed the front window of one police car with a brick."More police reinforcements had to be sent to the venue to deal with the violent crowd, said Timane."

This was presumably because of this :-

Latvian football team defeats Northern Ireland in Euro 2008 qualifier

RIGA, Sept 9 (LETA) - Latvian national football team defeated Northern Ireland 1-0 (0-0) in Group F qualifying game for 2008 UEFA European Football Championship in Riga yesterday.The only goal in the match was an own goal scored by Northern Ireland defender Chris Baird in the 56th minute of the game as he tried to intercept a cross by Imants Bleidelis and sent the ball past the keeper.Both sides had a few good opportunities in yesterday's match; after the own goal by Baird, Northern Ireland had an excellent chance to tie the game at the end of the match, but Jonathan Evans' diving header produced a great save from Latvia's goalkeeper Andris Vanins.The win over Ireland was the first victory for the Latvian team after seven defeats in a row.

Once again our brothers from the UK & Northern Ireland have proved themselves to be outstanding ambasadors, one can but hope that those arrested are spending there time reflecting on their deeds - as ever I can but hope that they hang them out to dry !

Now to show my fairness in reporting both side of a story here are a few excerpts from the Belfast Telegraph on the same story:-

Keep off the grass: fans, not players
Monday, September 10, 2007
By Paul Ferguson

This was a hugely frustrating and disappointing visit to the Latvian capital, but for the Green and White Army it turned out to be an absolute night and an away trip to forget - bad result, overly rough tactics from the local police and locals charging a few extra Lats, whenever they could get the opportunity...............
While some fans
did misbehave the large majority of supporters were terrific ambassadors for their country..................

In Riga walking on the grass of the city's Main Square and singing while heading to the stadium is somehow an offence which deserves the person to be arrested.................
The supporters, all 2,100 of them, to their credit though refused to let all the nonsense that went on in that Main Square on the Friday night and Saturday
afternoon dampen the enthusiasm they have for supporting their beloved country..............

They then left for one final night in Riga - with cheap beer and rather interesting night-life.....

So no mention of 500 rioting fans in Livi square after the game, perhaps Mr Ferguson the intrepid reporter left with the Northern Ireland team !!

For my part I indulged myself on Sunday in watching a nervous Wales, ultimately defeat an enthusiastic Canadian side, So what with Argentina beating France, and none of the UK and Irish teams exactly dominating there games, then there may yet be a few more suprises before the group stages are over.

We are all still coming to terms with the loss of De Lacy's, but the village lounge is doing its best to accomodate us, but it has as yet to become the spriritual home for all the village members - but for now it gets my vote, as even with 2,500 Northern Irish morons in town, upstairs still remained an island of calm.

A number of the hardy village members are currently suffering from the flu, so my sympathies to V.... (Australian/Latvian garage builder) and A.... (English/Bristolian with penchant for Vindaloo) - Both of them sounded and looked like death warmed up at the weekend, so be warned there is a virus out there !

So between virus's all around us, maniacal Northern Irish hooligans, it has not been a great weekend for Riga, but lets look on the bright side :-

Annual inflation in August at 10.1%
RIGA, Sept 10 (LETA) - Consumer prices in August increased 10.1 percent year-on-year, according to the Central Statistical Bureau's data.Prices for goods increased 8.7 percent, and prices for services 13.9 percent.Compared to July, average price level in August increased 0.4 percent.Higher prices for tobacco products, catering services, meat and meat products, thermal energy, and a fall in prices for vegetables and potato had the greatest effect on consumer price change in August.

So its not all bad news !!!!!

All items in italics courtesy of LETA news agency or the Belfast Telegraph

And finally a word to the wise

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.