Living in Seattle now, it seems like the Seahawks dominate the sporting consciousness of the city.
Living in Seattle now, it seems like the Seahawks dominate the sporting consciousness of the city.

A British look at the Packers-Seahawks

SEATTLE — It was winter 1995 in the Pacific Northwest. I had triumphantly conquered Seattle with Spacehogs' sold out show at the DV8 the night before. After a night of high jinx and excess, I was now sitting in the old Kingdome watching the Seahawks play my adopted New York Giants.

Feeling decidedly green around the gills I was hoping for the kind of fresh air you would get at an English football game. But it was not to be as the roof of the stadium enclosed around us sealing us into some kind of centrally heated spaceship.

That was the beginning of my curiosity and innate inability to understand American Football.

Living in Seattle now, it seems like the Seahawks dominate the sporting consciousness of the city. Every other car sports dual "12th Man" flags and come Sunday the whole city will grind to a standstill to see if their team can make it to a second consecutive Super Bowl.

But it's not always been that way, as Les Carpenters' fascinating article in The Guardian describes. To paraphrase, they were doomed as a local entity until Paul Allen at Microsoft and a consortium of soccer enthusiasts later to become the Seattle Sounders, stepped in. Allen held a statewide referendum to stop the franchise moving to California, by proposing a new stadium be built locally. The soccer community stepped in to tip the balance, with assurances they could share what is now the Century Link Field.

That’s the part I understand.

As well as the rules, the constant stopping and starting and the uniforms, there are other confusing elements to America’s defining contact sport. For a country so wary of what they call "Socialized Medicine," I find the draft compensates the lesser teams in a way not seen in other sports or other areas of society for that matter.

You need only look at Manchester City or the New York Yankees to see how money changes everything.

Similarly, The Green Bay Packers is a great example of sport run by the people, for the people, as a non profit. It …

Epic commute: Reunited in Sydney, Australia.
Epic commute: Reunited in Sydney, Australia.

Sometimes holidays are easier from a distance

SEATTLE – It's around this time of year we all start to reflect on our families and loved ones. How we cherish them, miss them, need to spend quality time with them. We might have acted on those feelings some months prior by booking a trip home.

Being English and particularly hailing from Yorkshire, my roots have a great bearing on who I am today: how I act, my (bad) sardonic sense of humor, I've even clung onto what's left of my Leeds accent. My attempts to sound American usually produce a dialect akin to a gay German. Having spent the last 22 years in the States and with all my blood relations and a 16-year-old daughter in England, I’ve had plenty of reasons to hop over the pond, and no better time (you would think) than over the holiday period.

But those good intentions and festive cheer can quickly evaporate in the face of challenges, both logistical, financial, meteorological, psychic, you name it!

First of all, what’s up with the airline price gouging over Thanksgiving/Christmas/ Chanukah/ New Year, etc.? It’s capitalism gone crazy! Nothing like a nice $2,500 round trip from the West Coast to send you into an angry tail spin. Now the car rental companies and hotels are doin' it, in case you weren't miserable (and broke) enough already.

Additionally airlines will randomly spring a fee on you for a lap child in case you were hoping to get one last trip in before Bobby turns 2. I learned this the hard way one time with my toddler daughter.

"What am I paying for exactly?" I pleaded as I fumbled for my AmEx card. A meal and a bassinet, I was told. After finding my seat I was then told there were no toddler meals because I hadn't booked it in advance! The bassinet looked like a medieval torture device and smelled like a tramp's y-fronts! Happy days with British Airways!

All things considered, the Easter break is often a great window of opportunity for me to get over there and visit my older daughter. If you can bag a cheap flight and get lucky with t…