After three years at St Mary's I'm biting the bullet, leaving my rented flat and beginning to look for a house to live in. So I spent the day trawling up and down the towpath from Twickenham to Ham to Teddington and back round to Richmond looking at properties - it's been wonderful and a reminder of how fantastic this area is. The sun has shone throughout which always makes the river look beautiful, and the weekend crowds falling alfresco out of the cafes and pubs really give a holiday feel. It's a miniature Arcadia, choca with green spaces, coffee bars and bookshops. Occasionally some of my town bound friends ask if I wouldn't prefer to live closer to central London.... but it's only half hour away on the train and why pound the pavements when you can walk on grass. It seems the best of all possible worlds.
Once the estate agents had finished viewings I sought the shade of the Richmond filmhouse to see Ken Loach's Looking for Eric - surely one of the best films about football (or rather football fans) ever made. A Strictly Ballroom for Salford.
Faced with trials and tribulations, postman and Man United fanatic Eric seeks inspiration by imagining himself in conversation with the man he most associates with happier times - the mercurial flawed genius Eric Cantona - who stars as lui meme. Through a mixture of Gallic philosophy and belief in possibilities, the film unmasks the winning psychology of a chevalier formidable; whilst Loach's familiar mixture social realism and empathy for working class life, pays homage to the disappearing bond between the fans and their heroes. It's a lamentation for a time, not so long a go, when the terraces were affordable to all and being there with your mates to witness history or a touch of magic could sustain the humdrum week.
Hidden deep in the film is Cantona's own nostalgic memory of his glory days at Old Trafford, running out in front of 60,000. In one particular moment he stands on the balcony of a tower block looking out over a grey Manchester sky and tells his postman alter ego that winning wasn't everything but whether through a perfect volley, a dazzling run or an exquisite pass, he always overcame his fears by trying to leave the crowd with a gift. A noblese oblige!