You will know when it exists -- Obscure journalism direct from our man on the ground.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Frescobol... in London


The first time I heard about Fresco-ball or 'Frescobol' was in Mediterraneo, Monocle's summer newspaper. I liked the look of the sturdy wooden paddles that would undoubtedly last longer than the cheap, plastic, souvenir-shop bats I was used to. Prior to reading Monocle's annual guide to poncing around Europe's coastline, I had never considered investing in quality equipment for the beach game known, to me and my associates, as Pit-Pat: two people hitting a ball back and forth to each other. But now it all made sense, I was fed up with how quickly the tourist-shop tat broke...
I was ready to get serious.

While investigating which brand of bat to buy online, I came across a London based group who went by the name of The Superflex Frescobol & Beach-Tennis Club. I got in touch with them and they invited me to a beach-sports open-day at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

The first question that I asked them was "Is this a really a sport?"

"YES", apparently.

To play competitively, each pair has to bat the ball back and forth to each other as many times as possible in three minutes. Teams take it in turns against the clock and at the end of the competition the pair with the most passes wins.

Well it would be if there weren't also extra points awarded for 'style' - i.e jumping & diving.

I had fun at the open-day and the barbecued jerk chicken was tasty, but I never returned.

I had not yet reached a point in my life where I was ready to fully commit to a club. Though shortly after I did get my own set of paddles and a ball and I must say they add a whole new level of intensity to a simple holiday past-time. Compared to Pit-Pat, Frescobol is more accurate and powerful and much faster. 

One of the reasons I finally decided to write this post is because I met a blogger - Laila from Brazil - who seeks out cultural curiosities in Europe and compares them to similar cultural phenomenon in her home country.

SO - I decided to contrast Frescobol in the UK with the same sport played in its spiritual home:

The English only feel the sand between their feet for about two weeks a year and games like beach tennis are a side thought. In Brazil the sun can be taken for granted and with major cities on the coast,  additional reasons - like sport - may be required before a visit to the beach is called for.

In the UK, 'Pit-Pat' is something you do when you go to the beach.

In Brazil, Frescobol is a reason to go to the beach?

Having played it once at The Imperial War Museum park in early autumn I have concluded it is only really fun at the beach. Parks are for drinking cans of stella in. But one has to admire Team Superflex for attempting to introduce Frescobol to the UK, for their dedication to the sport even in the winter and for the innovative fashion that derives from playing a Brazilian beach game, in a sandpit, in Crystal Palace.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


In an effort to increase the hit-count of a video I made I decided to do a post about it on this 'ere blog. Instead of writing about it myself - an exercise akin to a rotten dog licking its own tallywacker - I decided to post up some of the feedback I got in the same way that West End shows do i.e. "Excellently Superb" - The Sun, "Brilliant" - The Star, "Shit" - The Moon etc etc.

“Your narrator sounds like Will Self: an achievement in of itself.” – J.r. Oldman


“It was fascinating - quietly putting some very strong, thoughtful points across that go way beyond the boat house discussion.” – Liz Ayling / Malta Inside Out

“Editing needed some refinement, but other then that is an awesome project. Never stop creating. One of the lessons that I have learned is not to distinguish between being creative, and being a creative.” - Miguel Olivares

“You can certainly write well, good words on the video!” – Justin Manners / This is Malta

“Why you didn't discuss LIDL supermarkets of Hal Safi and Hal Luqa? They were built on ODZ (Out of Development Zone), but no one says a word because they are owned by powerful people.” - Carm Glucophage

"I’d rather spend time and energy campaigning against big companies occupying land rather than individual people who most of them are just enjoying a simple life. Interestingly a few meters from those boathouses, in Marfa there is the Rivera Hotel, which was built illegally on government land by a well-known macho construction company and nobody said anything." - Chris Mizzi  


“I thought it was really good, both visually and content wise. Although I did come away from it not knowing which side of the argument I am or should be on, but maybe that's a good thing?! It feels very open ended, guess you expect a conclusion but…”  - Isabel Eeles

 So here is the movie: