Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Hamptons

As Chicago Addick has correctly pointed out this week, expat Brits living in the US have to swiftly come to terms with the way the locals butcher our language.

To add another curiosity to his list, you have to begin to come to terms with the verb 'to summer', as in 'Where does your family summer?" After all, no self-respecting New Yorker would be seen dead in the city during the steamy summer months.

Hence I was soon marked out as somehow alien, because we chose not to spend every Friday evening stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, on the way out to the traditional weekend haunt of the Hamptons, at the far end of Long Island. Given the lack of hotel accommodation, most people indulge in pricey 'house shares', offering the opportunity to spend a few weekends in a beachside mansion, with several other like-minded types, most of whom you probably don't even know. I don't watch Big Brother, and I've absolutely no desire to live it either.

In short I've never seen the attraction, arguing that rather than being unbearable, the city is actually a great place to be on summer weekends. Central Park fulfils its role as the city's lungs, whilst the bars and restaurants are half-empty and refreshingly free of the sorts of painfully annoying people that spend their weekends in, yep......the Hamptons.

However during the coming days, I am looking forward to cracking a joke which I suspect only I will find amusing. "I'm off to the Hamptons this weekend," I intend to casually remark, "Awesome. Bridgehampton or East Hampton?", will be the likely reply. "Neither.... Wolverhampton. Up the Addicks."

As a fan of a team in the Championship, there are not one but two opportunities to visit the Hamptons, beginning with our trip to Molineux this weekend, followed just a fortnight later by the trip to the St Mary's. I was supposed to be flying back to London during the game on Saturday, but my firm has insisted I spend Friday in our London office (and will pay the flight change fee), thus permitting me a bonus Charlton fixture. Ticket, £27. Petrol, £22. Programme, £3. Getting the firm to pay for you to attend a Charlton game? Priceless.

The change of plans will also mean I will be in the UK for the rugby World Cup Final. It's odd perhaps that I was living in the UK the last time around (and when England were clearly the oustanding team) yet had virtually no interest, but I've found myself strangely fascinated by the tournament this time around.

I watched it in a ridiculously packed pub which would usually be my worst nightmare, but the Anglo-French atmosphere was raucous and friendly, and boosted too by a healthy spattering of French women, enhancing the visual experience during breaks in play.

Rather than view famed French arrogance as unnecessarily tiresome, I've tended to view it as a natural outcome for any country that can produce wine, food, and women of such unerringly high quality. Meanwhile their laissez-faire attitude to war has left Paris as the single most beautiful large city on the planet, whilst London got blitzed to smithereens. Perhaps I shouldn't complain too much then, because I'll be stuck in beautiful Paris in nine days time, when I'd rather be at The Valley for the Plymouth game.

Like baseball before it, my interest in rugby increases exponentially when I watch it with knowledgeable types, who can explain the game's more curious nuances. Luckily I'm over the trauma of having attended school rugby trials as an 11-year old, and being asked to return the following week. For most sports-mad kids, this should have been a good thing but not for me; I cried the whole way home. I think my parents safely crossed off 'prop forward' as a potential career path that afternoon.

With my interest in Premiership, Champions League and international football at an all-time low, there's definitely a gap in my life for something new. The wife will no doubt be delighted.


At 8:54 PM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

Insisted eh? Next Saturday I will be in Tokyo, even further from Molineux and Paris but probably amongst more appreciative people of the sports.

At 2:32 AM, Blogger JH said...

Most beautiful large city on the planet? What, you've never been to Detroit then?


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