Saturday, August 31, 2002

A letter to the president of Nigeria. Please sign it.
The Boston Globe, on Islam.

A little slice of Italy, in New York, and a New York Times article on the place.

Well that's egg all over my face. A very good performance, characterised by wit, movement and quality saw us defeat Leeds, as I predicted actually. It was the quality bit I was wrong about. Should either Cissé or Savage injure themselves or get banned though, we will look a bit bereft. It's still early days but if we play like that every week we will have few problems in this league. Good to see Bruce have the courage of his convictions and not allow them to start arsing about once we regained the lead.
The OPTA stats make for good reading tonight. Successful tackles. Accurate crosses. Shots on target

We come in peace. Barking.

Its Sunday in the UK, but I will still do the Friday Five, because we won, and anything is possible.
1. What's your favorite piece of clothing that you currently own?
My Timberland sandals that I have worn from about April till October last year and will do the same this, if they last out, they are definitely in a terminal condition
2. What piece of clothing do you most want to acquire?
A pork pie hat.
3. What piece of clothing can you not bring yourself to get rid of? Why?
This question doesn't really arise, my Mrs chucks stuff out whether I approve or not. If there is a local drive to collect for impoverished regions I am likely to end up without shoes.
4. What piece of clothing do you look your best in?
I could wear a Saville Row suit and still look like a sack of shit
5. What has been your biggest fashion accident?

Roy Keane is in lumber again. He and Jason Mcateer had a run in in todays game and Keane put his elbow into Mcateers head. Now I think Keane is a violent thug and deserves a long ban just for being a prick. His facility for expressing himself honestly though is quite endearing. This interview left me quite bewildered, I cannot make him out at all

Friday, August 30, 2002

Joel Veitch does the business, yet again.

For some reason which escapes me now, I was posting on the unofficial Birmingham City site Singing The Blues about my love for America and Americana. The good thing about the U.S is there is always something new to explore, like this view of an afternoon in Queens. Lifted from the brilliantly consistent Plep

The Queens link above wasn't quite right, this is the one It will take you to the same place eventually but there is a picture on it. I swear it is the well known Blues fan and chitterling eater BobHarford, in Balsall Heath circa 1963.

It appears I am 26% gay, how gay are you? (via Miguel Cardoso on metafilter)

Well, the Blues scored their first goal and got their first point against Everton on Wednesday. I suppose we should be gratified that we all all ended up disappointed not to have won (away) against an established Premiership team. The game and subsequent comments leave all sorts of questions. Although we scored it was from a penalty. We do not look very dangerous in open play and as ever, as I have mentioned before, our strikers are brilliant at being "unlucky". Also we lost the equalising goal in the 4th minute of injury time, having played most of the second half against ten men. We were faffing about trying to frustrate Everton at the corner flag with 11 minutes to go. That really is timid football and the premier league is no place for the timid or the polite.
To our managers credit he has since said we were asking to be punished and should have taken the game to them. Initially, I thought big up to the Bruce but recalled that it is characteristic of our play. We could say it is a legacy of the previous managers over cautious approach, but I don't think so. Many of the team are new, and Glenn Roeder of West Ham has said he learnt from watching us against Arsenal; he couldn't believe the respect we gave them. Subsequently West Ham got in amongst them very quickly and were very unlucky not to win. They at least got a point. I also recall the run that got us to the play offs last season, which was not characterised by adventurous, free flowing and fearless football. Of the 3 actual play off games we managed only 1 win. So young Steve has to accept some responsibility.
Tomorrow we have Leeds, who have just got rid of Robbie Keane because he was deemed surplus to requirements. Puts it all in perspective a bit. I believe we can win this for the simple reason I believe we can win any game, which we can. I saw a very poor Blues team beat a very good Liverpool team at Anfield in about 1976 or 77. There could not have been more than about 20 Blues fans there. Most people I know said I was stupid to waste my money going, we had no chance. But that was in in the days I used to go to every game, home and away, regardless. Odd that I now get mocked as a part timer by fools who have known nothing but relative success. Cést La Vie. Liverpool were in their heyday at this point, and we were 3-0 up inside about 20 minutes. Never discount any team, ever. Having said that such days are very rare indeed.
I find it quite gratifying that tomorrows game is not a sell out and that tickets are available on the day. Leeds are out of the top drawer and definitely one of the major attractions of the season. We were told that the price hikes were justified because every game would be a sell out and that that was the price of being in the Prem. Like it or lump it. Well for the second week running , if you want to get in you will. Not everyone is a mug it seems. It's not so much a case of can't afford it as won't afford it seems, to me. If I were to take my Mrs, the 2 nippers and the babby I would have to shell out in excess of 100 quid even for poor seats. Add to that a 200 mile round trip and all the garbage the kids would demand and at least 2 decent meals out plus parking and that price is near enough doubled. Plus I like a pint or three.
It has been suggested that if you were a true supporter you would go without and make sacrifices. Fuck that for a game of tin soldiers. Why should anyone go without. If the market decides the price is too high the club can still be grateful to all the santimonious mugs who will keep shelling out anyway, then squeal like stuck pigs when the market decides it might be an idea to introduce kids for a quid.
Anyway, season tickets are still available and tickets are easy to come by. In my youth I travelled the lentgh and breadth of the country, every week. Often it would feel like the 4 or 5 of us who went were the only Blues fans there. It's time people realised we don't have the fantastic support base people assume we do.
The transfer window has closed today and we signed no one. It's obvious we lack quality. Why should fans sacrifice anything if the club are unwilling to take a chance? The mantra is 4th from bottom will be a triumph. Will it bollocks. I do not suppose Chievo or Alaves started with that attitude when they came from nowhere to storm the Italian and Spanish leagues. I suppose the hard working joe blows will take their cue from our board and keep their money in their pockets.

It aint the heat: it's the humility

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Aki Rihiilahti is a footballer in the English first division. His website has become something of a cult and is worth reading regardless of any love for football, it is very off the wall and very far removed from the usual footballers claptrap (see any Icons site). His updates seem to have become somewhat sporadic and the latest is dated 8 August, though it has only just appeared. It's worth the wait anyway.

Photos of the Notting Hill carnival

Don't know quite what to make of this football news thingy, maybe it's a good thing, maybe not. I shall give it a whirl.

I'm all for a bit of tolerance.

All you never wanted to know about American Pie

Caves of the Thousand Buddhas

A guide to America from modern humourist.

Build yourself a chuffin city.

Lord love a duck. I really like this music site, the radio show is just the chuffin job, depending on your mood.

Bush reads a book

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Here I am with another list. This time top ten movies. It's a very serious list and again a movie list makes me feel like a philistine. In certain circles, I'm considered something of a movie snob, and I wouldn't neccesarily disagree with this list, certainly not all of it. Citizen Kane though, please!. It is chuffin boring. A Space Odyssey, its boring. La Règle du jeu ? boring. Sunrise I have never heard of . 8 and a half is unwatchable. I think these lists are compiled or voted for by middle class fools eager to display their credentials, for the average joe blow they must be meaningless. See? I am a philistine.

Getting out of the Bronx (NY Times)

It now seems inevitable that the US will attack Iraq. Young Bush is likely to go ahead regardless of the view of Congress
Lets have a debate.
A useful page of war related links.
More war stuff

Cardiff Bay, as it was.

Punch and Judy. There is some brilliant stuff here.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Another article on punk, specifically the Sex Pistols, who have never been favourites of mine to be honest. Oddly this was found on the Dr Martens site, by none other than Ragamuffin. There is plenty else on that site for the discerning surfer.

Down at Cardiff Bay yesterday there was a little festival on, very good it was too. There was a French street theatre troupe on who were very weird. All the little tots sat cross legged and full of anticipation at the front, expecting something like punch and judy. There then appeared a very loud and (apparently) pissed off Frenchman bellowing through a megaphone. It was clearly a joke, but not what the nippers expected. The first "act" was a 3 legged man, who was introduced thus: Now we have a man with 3 FUCKING legs. The man appeared, did nothing, went off. We were told, that was the man with 3 FUCKING legs .
Well I thought it was a bit off in the context but didn't mind too much, it was delivered in a fairly impenetrable French accent. There were more righteous, upright citizens about though. One of them picked his way drunkenly through the crowd in very close proximity to the nippers, waving a very lage bottle of Stella about. He then started pushing the guy around, very drunkenly and told him to stop swearing as there were kids about. He was very aggressive. Some people applauded. So there was the Sunday lesson for the nippers, don't swear but it's ok to behave like a violent drunken thug. Only in Britain.
Cardiff Bay Webcam
Norwegian Church

So the long weekend is over, thank Christ. I hate bank holidays. All manner of moron seems to think they have carte blanche to behave like pricks. Aside from that everywhere you would consider going is packed, so it's best to stay at home. Where I live, we have social housing one side where the ritual is for everyone to get their cheap, nasty, Aldi music centres out and play their cheap nasty music as loud as they can. Of course this means they cannot hear themselves think so they have to SHOUT very loudly, they have to laugh, raucously and aggressively, their nippers have to squeal and shriek, endlessly. The other side is a bit posh, so its just a bewildering array of power tools that contribute to the general ambience.
Nevertheless, staying put is the best option. Out is crowded and full of drunks, and for some reason, gangs. People do not seem able to socialise in groups of less than ten, not round here anyway. Today, I broke my rule. The nippers were getting fractious, despite the efforts of the entire neighborhood to entertain so we went out. My plan was Goytre Wharf, LLanbaddoc Island a couple of hours in a pub at Monkswood where there is usually a cricket match on, then home.
We go to Goytre Wharf a lot. It's a nice place, nothing special but there are usually only a handful of people around and there are woods and stuff that the kids can run around in without disturbing anyone else. Some amazing fish reside there too. Today you couldn't get near the place. So we hotfooted it to Llanbadoc island. Its very rare to see anyone there despite it being extremely beautiful. When we arrived there were 3 old geezers looking at the river, lost in their memories, and a youngish extended family, apart from one guy excavating his nose at length, it was ok. Then a red van arrived.
At least a dozen good and stolid citizens tumbled out of this thing, clearly pissed. They were accompanied by a boisterous rottweiller and a bull mastiff, off the lead of course. They set down a blanket and unloaded some food and much beer, all the while making a lot of racket. They kindly entertained everyone else with their music. We left. We didnt bother with the pub, it was time to go home.
Home was good, knocked up some nosh and got stuck into some decent white. 2 youngest soon fell asleep so enjoyed some quality time with the seven year old. Ended up sitting out till dark like 2 old dudes, watching the bats flit about and the stars appear until he drifted off.
3 things spoilt it, though not much, really. I trod on something large and slimy lighting a candle at the bottom of the garden. A bottle was corked. The Clampitts from 4 doors down arrived back from whatever shithole they had spent the day in and decamped noisily into the garden. The miserable fuckers are still there, still shouting, swearing and laughing in that obnoxious way peculiar to the self obsessed. But I'm happy.

I feel a bit bad now about suggesting the Notting Hill carnival would end in tears, the police clearly knew better than to clampdown. In the event there were only in excess of 100 arrests and only 2 of them were for firearms offences. Peace Love and 'Appiness, man!

Sunday, August 25, 2002

The Notting Hill carnival starts tomorrow,, whoops, today with all the glad handing photo opportunities that go with this massive corporate event. No one with any sense thinks it is a multicultural peace fest and why should it be. It's an expression of self by the West Indian community who no doubt felt compelled to assert themselves after events in Notting Hill in 1958 . It seems the police will be cracking down on 'erb smoking and general behaviour of the black kind. No softly softly this year. It will end in tears, mark my words.

A high falutin article on punk

Found on metafilter, a brilliant piece on black okies and what they found when they reached California. Mefi offers rwalks rwalks as password and username, so I'm passing it on.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

Big sigh. Here we go again. Their keeper plays a blinder, our strikers are unlucky, we played well, life is unfair. We have been saying this for years, it's amazing the way otherwise mediocre keepers come to St Andrews and play absolute blinders, while we come away thinking we could have scored, well, several. It's not luck, it's incompetence, we lose because we deserve to. Our strikers go close because that is all their talent allows. We need more quality, it's a simple as that.
The game was better than I predicted and we gave it a good old go, which is only fitting. First game at home, massive media hype, big crowd giving it everything, fireworks, everything. And we lose. Blackburn have some good players who tested us severely throughout, but they are not out of the top drawer, given the circumstances, it is a bit worrying not to have got a point, or even three. The noise and stimulation won't be there on dull November days and the place is likely to become very quiet if we have a bad run, but Savage will return onWednesday. We are saved. Morrisons pies come highly recommended.

Talking of pie.

Everytime my brother, the pie eater, goes to Brum he comes back waxing nostalgic. Today it was Kunzle cakes, so of course I had to find what I could on the delicate little things. I didn't find much, but came across this memoir from a brummie geezer. It's alright.

Friday, August 23, 2002

A couple of articles from The Atlantic on Elvis Presley.
Another one, from Spiked.

I like this, well, it's a list isn't it. Lots of peoples favourite lyrics. Some of em are barking.

Talking of barking....Burning Man

There has been a bit of a hoo hah this week about class and how we define ourselves. It seems lots of people define themselves as working class even though they are not horny handed sons of toil, nowhere near in fact. For years I have heard people say there is no such thing as class, but in Britain notions of it seem to be ingrained deeply into ones psyche. Most people who claim a classless society have never suffered ridicule on account of poor confidence and an incomprehensible accent I imagine.
In terms of education, I suppose I have moved away from my class origins; in terms of income and geography I haven't. I earn about the same as a postman and significantly less than a train driver. Most people of my aquaintance consider me a snob though, mainly because I don't shop at ASDA and I read the Guardian. Mind you back in Brum I was the same but without a degree and post grad and vocational qualifications, and no one thought I was a snob. They just thought I was a twat.
Anyway, Roy Greenslade writes well on the subject. I find the bit about not being accepted by the working or middle class quite resonant. Not that I would want to be accepted by the middle class; I despise the bastards, but his general point is good.

Postcards of American Motels. Beautiful.

Birmingham v Blackburn tomorrow. Our first home game of the new era, but I cannot get very excited and I don't know why. Lots of people are assuming we will win and I can't figure that out at all. Last time we were in the same division they beat us twice, the second time in an absolutely vital game and they did us basically. I think they have moved on apace since then, I am not sure we have, even though the team and management have changed. Good news for us that Jansen is crocked; that only leave the likes of Cole, Yorke, Tugay, Duff, Dunn, Hignett, Mahon and Grabbi to worry about, not that they will all be playing, but you see my point. I suspect that Berg and Short spent their formative years having wet dreams about the prospect of facing someone like Horsfield in the premier league. I expect it to be quite dull, roll on the half time raffle.
I should have a soft spot for Blackburn but I haven't. For a start it's not Manchester. Moreover we have them to thank for Howard Kendall (sort of) our greatest manager, Jim Smith and Mick Rathbone (they took him off us). There is Alan Ainscow as well, but I think he might just have a sort of north west thing going. Not forgetting Howard Gayle whose greatest achievement was very bravely shagging the daughter of Ron Saunders (our worst ever manager), he was involved with Blackburn somewhere along the line. My gaffer is from Blackburn and I hate the fucking bitch, so I suppose we will lose so she can carry on with the ritual humiliation.

For such a big and important game many people were surprised that yesterday 2000 tickets were still on sale. I wasn't. Days after our play off win new prices were announced which were surprisingly high. There was some debate on the message boards with the consensus being we were now up among the big boys, mixing with a better class of person and would have to pay. That's supporters with internet access for you, money no object. The consensus was, if you are not prepared to pay, fuck off, regardless of maybe decades following them through thin and thinner; the market rules and if you can't afford it you don't belong anyway.
Some good people tried to argue that familys with kids would struggle, anyone on a low income would struggle and that some compassion might be in order. But no. Especially on Planet Blues which used to be the best of all message boards regardless of team but is now populated by shallow office workers indulging in poor parodies of Ricky Gervais banter. Our loyal and articulate internet supporters said fuck the hoi polloi, we don't like em they stink the place up; we like the new prices, keeps the place clean for the likes of us. Let the market decide.
Well the market is thinking about it. I have no doubt the game will be sold out tomorrow. I also have no doubt there will be empty seats, left vacant by season ticket holders who will be there when we play Manchester United or Chelsea or Arsenal.
I wonder how the market will respond if we lose a few. As suspected all along, tickets are going to be easy to get hold of outside of about 6 games.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

If you take a walk around any of the public parks around here on a Saturday or Sunday morning you will see dozens of football games going involving nippers from little tots to teenagers. Loving football as I do this should be a scene to gladden the heart, in fact I should be involved as an active parent, but I'm not. The scene is invariably depressing and I will not let my nipper participate in organised football. Invariably, inevitably, the pitches are surrounded by assorted parents and coaches in ridiculous coats. They shout, cajole and exhort the young players: "CLOSE HIM DOWN! KEEP YOUR SHAPE! PUSH UP! HOLD THE LINE! GET INTO HIM! DON'T BE A FUCKIN FAIRY!!.
All uttered with maximum spite and aggression by people who look like they have never kicked a ball efficiently in their lives. They have certainly never heard of the Dutch model which has worked for generations and centres on encouraging kids to enjoy the game and learn technique. Competition is regarded as superflous and it seems to work for them.
The FA seems to be aware of this and has launched a website designed to encourage parents and coaches to think a bit more about how they encourage the nippers. It's pretty good, if a bit simplistic

How do you measure up? It's all cobblers if you ask me.

I have to be hoest and confess I thought Chatanooga was famous only for its choo choo. Now, thanks to a link found on metafilter, I know a little of the bloody history.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Neil Lennon was looking forward to captaining Northern Ireland tonight. That was until he received a death threat which forced him to withdraw from the squad and return home. He has had merciless abuse in the past for the sin of being a catholic, but thought it had all gone away. Clearly it hasn't, the bloke must be a gibbering wreck. I await the response from the FA of Northern Ireland with interest. I also look forward to seeing what his team mates have to say. I don't think I would have turned out if I had been involved, but then that's easy for me to say.

Jeff Bridges has been in some of my favourite films. Hardly classics but nearly always solid , watchable and intelligent. Usually funny too. The Dude, the Fabulous Baker Boys, and Thunderbolt and Lighfoot spring to mind. Now he has written one of my favourite blogs, which is being linked to all over the place. Some are being a bit sneery about it but I love it, and anyone who can stay married for 25 years in that business is o.k in my book.

The New York Times attended a course which is run for the benefit of NFL rookies. The article is brilliant, sometimes hilarious, sometimes downright worrying, but well worth a look. Found on Sportsfilter

The fat being better for you than carbs story is old I know, this is a good article on it though.

Bleeding Nora, there's a spooky coincidence. No sooner do I mention Lemony Snicket and the Guardian publishes an interview with him.

Sammy the Sperm

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The public proves itself cleverer than the DVD manufacturers would like, Now it appears region coding might be on the way out. Very good news.

I love a list, this one is novelist Mike Gayles idea of the top ten male confessionals. Round up the usual suspects. "All Points North" by Simon Armitage should be in there, although I suppose it's a memoir rather than a novel, but then so is Hornby.

Another list. This time the Booker longlist. I can't say I am inspired, how did Zadie Smith get on it, her new work hasn't been published yet has it?. The final 6 will be interesting.

Pull the finger, it cracked me up.

Intellectualising about football. It is just a game

Cult Telly. You could lose yourself for hours here.

Monday, August 19, 2002

A Peter Kay "John Smiths" advert which you are unlikely to see on the telly, and other uncouth stuff.

Football message boards seem to have their own etiquette, help is at hand, however.

Using this cool calorie calculator (via eclectica) I discovered that if I clean my teeth for 15 minutes I shall burn 36 calories. Who needs a gym membership?

An account of male sensibilities in the kitchen, although being of the just chuck something together school I don't happen to agree with the guy.

Talking of chucking things together, this article, which is diverting in itself, contains a recipe for pasta and chickpea soup. Now there are many variations of this, but I would never have considered doing it like this. It looked so easy I gave it a try. It was easy and chuffin delicious, it will become a staple in our house.

Anyone fancy a curry?

An LA Weekly interview with Tony Wilson, self styled "biggest wanker in the history of Manchester"

My eldest nipper loves the books of Lemony Snickett, the website is ok too, for nippers. The guy appears to cultivate an air of mystery about himself, but it turns out he palys accordian for The Magnetic Fields who are responsible for one of the best albums of the last decade or so. Stephin Merit contributes a song to the website

A very timely, important and thoughtful article on differing reactions to new albums by Bruce Springsteen and Steve Earle.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

So, as expected we start with a 2-0 defeat away at Arsenal. Not too bad all things considered, particularly as Arsenal were winning their 14th game on the trot, which is an all time record in the top division. It could have been much worse, Arsenal played with incredible speed and wit and carved our 5 man defence apart almost at will. They looked like they could have stepped up a gear and scored again at any time if they had needed to. Not that they were ever likely to need to.
The first goal was due to a bad mistake from our keeper. I don't mind keepers making bad mistakes, they are inevitable so wouldn't call for his head, I have been saying for ages though that neither of our keepers are good enough and that we need a big commanding scary bleeder. Someone like Flowers for instance, who has just gone on loan somewhere or other.
This time last season I got a bit of flak on a Blues message board for suggesting we should cash in on our left back Martin Grainger. He is a bit thuggish and has become something of a cult. I said then that his aggression was a liability and that in any case he is a mediocre player. Today he looked very mediocre, and was made to look a bit of a mug quite frankly. The rumour last year was that Blackburn had offered 3 million for him. Laughable. Even allowing for the speed of thought and feet he was up against today, he is not good enough, he should be replaced very quickly. He also made some very disparaging comments about supporters so can sod off anyway as far as I am concerned.
Our midfield, as ever, looked prosaic and I wonder where the spark of imagination is going to come from. Huff and puff just isn't going to be good enough at this level, although Cisse looked very useful and will be a major player for us. Johnson had a couple of goodish runs without threatening to actually do anything and Hughes was largely anonymous. Carter impressed once again when he came on, but again, he is hardly likely to unlock mean spirited Prem defences.
John and Horsfield struggled manfully without ever looking like they had Campbell et al worried. Lazaridis put one superb cross in and I would like to see him start in a 442.
Our central defenders, particularly, Purse did ok, but I am far from convinced that 3 centre backs is the way to go. Tebily and purse with 2 decent full backs is preferable I think. With Johnson, Cunningham and Vickers available we are not short of quality at centre back. I wonder if we should try Cunningham at right back, which would of course mean dropping our captain.
Overall I think we did enough to suggest we can do well enough against our fellow mediocrities, I would hope against lesser teams we show a bit more purpose though. For me we need to revert to a 4 man midfield , with Cisse and Savage sorting out the middle and Lazaridis and Johnson rampaging down the flanks. We need a new left back, badly.

Savage was on the panel on sky and proved himself to be a bit dim, which doesn't make him a bad person. David O'leary seemed to look after him a bit which was nice . The first question he was asked was wether he wanted to use the toilet, which tickled me. According to The Observer today re the toilet incident it wasn't the ref, Graham Poll, who complained, but the referees assessor. Apparently Poll was laughing about it, but Savage left the door open, made rude remarks , failed to wash his hands and then wiped them on the assesors clothes. Personally I like to take a shit in private, but there you go.
Another reason to like O'leary was he stated that Cisse was unlucky to be sent off, not only that but Cole had conned the ref and was basically a cheat. I have read that he is a bit of a prick, but he always comes across like a nice guy on the telly.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Calm your mind

The premiership finally got under way and it was extremely satisfying to see Manchester City get well and truly stuffed. They are much more likely to go down than us, in my hapless opinion. Tomorrow is D day for us and I am getting somewhat excited by the prospect. Everyone has written us off but I think we prove to be solid and dependable, if unexciting. It is well within our reach to survive, although I would like to see us aim higher. Teams in France, Spain and Italy have shown in recent years that there is no need to be overly deferential to your supposed betters; with the will, the organisation , talent and luck you can go far. Our owner paid himself a salary of £7 million last year and his co owners trouser similar amounts, so we are not short of resources. Our stadium is pretty poxy really but holds about 30,000 and our fans are as passionate as they come, we should not approach the enterprise timorously, I believe we are where we belong and we should go out and show the bastards we have finally come home and not be apologetic about it.
Its a bit of a pity in one way I suppose that we not only have to play the champions but we have to play them away as well. Nevertheless, it may be to our advantage. I remember 1972 when we were promoted after a similarly lenghty absence, (it was a better team I think) and something like 40,000 people poured into the ground, full of expectation and very confident of an easy win. We were well beaten by a fairly prosaic Sheffield United. As wake up calls go it was pretty loud and quite rude. It cast a pall over proceedings which took some time to get over. Tomorrow is likely to represent a steep learning curve and it might do us good to experience it away from home at a ground where we can realistically expect nothing. At the end of that season in 1972 we finished 10th, which is their highest placing in the 36 years I have been supporting them, so there will be no need of despair if we are stuffed.
A tenner says we we will win though.

The struggle continues . I don't really know what to say about this. I found it on metafilter and if you have delicate sensibilities you should give it a miss. It's about love, sort of.

I knew Ragamuffin would find something on John King. This interview from 1996 is about the best. So far.

A Telegraph article on Blues and West Brom. Clearly biased towards the baggies and with a blatant misrepresentation of the facts regarding shit on the Villa at the Millenium stadium, it's worth a look anyway.

More stuff on ours and our nieghbours prospects here.

This spellchecker is a handy little thingy; it recognises bugger.

Friday, August 16, 2002

That previous picture is cobblers, It is supposed to be Newport Sands in Pembrokeshire but clearly isn't. Newport is very impressive, however I spent more time at Poppit which for nippers is paradise really with its miles of sands, dunes, rockpools and very shallow water. My 7 year old nipper bought himself a bodyboard and the waves there were just perfect for him.
Far from shivering in the rain I am severely burnt and look like something from a Wes Craven movie; the neighbours all ran in their houses and locked their doors when I returned, mind you they do that anyway.
The place we stayed at was in Dinas Cross and was called Maengwyn. It is without any shadow of a doubt the best place we have ever stayed. Beautifully well equipped, with a full size table tennis tennis table in the garden, a shed with all sorts of outdoor paraphenalia, including mountain bikes, a little games room for the kids, hundreds of books all over the place, very spacious and extremely comfortable with nooks and crannies everywhere. The nippers absolutely loved it.
Locally there was a very good chip shop and within 3 or 4 minutes drive 2 beautiful beaches, one which seems to be a very well kept secret, with a little caff knocking out crab sandwiches and cream teas. Beautiful walks either side if you get bored of arsing about with the nippers on the nearly deserted beach, not to mention the rock pools. Inland was equally beautiful and impressive and outside the front door there were at least 3 walks down to yet more beaches, one of which was just stunning, taking you past an impressive waterfall down to a beach which doesn't seem to be on any maps. Within twenty minutes drive you have St Davids which should have been on that recent wonders of Britain list and hundreds of beauty spots in between; twenty minutes the other way offers a not dissimilar scenario.
Unbelievably, even in the middle of August the whole area remains uncrowded: were any of the places we visited in Cornwall you would not get near them. Long may it be the case, it really is a little slice of paradise , and ideal for nippers. Suffers a bit fom middle class blight though, but there is plenty of room and you can easily avoid them.
Which brings me to a book I read, and which kept me up far later than was good for me every night. It was recommended to me by my good friend Colin Bumstead, whom I have never clapped eyes on. He is the wittiest poster to any football message board but the boards he contributes to in particular are related to Birmingham City, and he never fails to improve the tone and the mood and the laugh quotient. I can be a bit of a miserable git, but he has me laughing out loud regularly. This is the second book he has recommended to me and both have been excellent, if you come across him listen to what he says, the man has class.
The book: "Human Punk" by John King is flawed in many ways but worked for me on several levels. First it is a really accurate description of working class malehood, which is something I know a little about, and it is gratifying to see a warm but realistic depiction of said species for once. Also it depicts the punk era brilliantly, again, from the perspective of a young working class male, rather than middle class art school types. It is punk as I remember it, rather than as it has become depicted by the London tourist board and media lovies who either came late to the party or who were never there in the first place. And I sincerely hope that another brilliant poster to message boards and Blues fan, Ragamuffin agrees that punk was raw dirty and full of energy and had nothing to do with spiky haircuts or delicately ripped jeans. King points out Mclaren and Westwood for the tossers that they are and it's about time too. Three cheers for the scruffy Herberts.
King seems to have grown (sorry but I cannot help but think of the main character as King himself) from a disaffected youth into a seriously disaffected adult, which I applaud, why should we mellow just because we are old and boring? Having said that in the latter parts of the book he overdoes the sloganeering without offering any real analysis.
The two main points of interest to me were the juxtaposition of this novel with Jonathon Coe's "The Rotters Club" and also King hImself.
The Rotters club was set in the seventies in the suburbs of Birmingham, its (anti) hero was about my age at that time. I know, intimately, all the places that Coe describes but the world he lives in is totally alien to me, yet I seem to know every piss stinking subway and have shared every curry in King's Slough, a place I have never visited. Coe is clearly the more literate writer, but does that make his work intrinsically better? I don't know; I do know it is very difficult to find a review of King on the web. Perhaps it's a class thing, something else King is very bitter about. Rightly so, in my hapless opinion.
King himself appears to be something of an enigma. All the way through, I wondered, just who is this guy? the blurb in the book tells you nothing and I can find nothing on the web about him. I hope he doesn't turn out to be some middle class social anthropologist or I will look a right berk. I don't think so though, his voice has the smack of authenticity, unlike Keith Talent in Martin Amis' "London Fields" for instance. I am going to have to ask Ragamuffin to do his oracle bit for me.

I have been presented with an interesting little quandary this evening. Having assured my Mrs repeatedly that I hadn't given a second thought to my blog, or the Blues message boards or metafilter, how long should one decently leave it before diving back in?

Blues ridiculously coiffured new midfielder, Robbie Savage, has been fined 10000 English pounds for improper use of a toilet. Just how improper was he being?

All sorts of stick figures, doing one another damage.

The Times analysis is a relevant as you want it to be. 9-1 in a two horse race though; one would be a mug not to. Blues fans , bet like men!

Thursday, August 08, 2002

This blog will be sitting, no doubt shivering in the rain, on this beach for the next week.

A very interesting article on a couple of riots in the USA.

In India Sachin Tendulka inspires reverence. Find out why.

Theban mapping project is important, huge and bloody interesting

Springsteen: here, here , and here

Music of the Calabrian Mafia is definitely worth getting hold of. This chap seems to agree. It all seems a bit controversial, very listenable though.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

A gruesome little game involving monkeys diving off a cliff. If you don't time it right they get splattered. I have been responsible for many monkey deaths.

The war on terror continues: Robert Fisk provides a timely and disturbing account of what this means in the Afghan hinterland.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

There is supposed to be a webcam of 3 painters knocking about somewhere. I have found plenty of references to it but not the thing itself, perhaps it is some sort of arty wind up. I did find absolute arts though and managed to waste a couple of hours there, without even touching the surface I don't think.

Thousands and thousands of bikers fell upon the small town of Hollister last month. The New Yorker was there.

Janis Ian muses some more on copyright and such like.

I don't know if there is any accuracy in the numbers here, but it's a bit spooky anyway.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Mr Bellers neighborhood is New York, and he details it and its characters in all its unique glory.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

I have a brother in law called Chris, he visited with the sister this weekend. He snored very loudly and fixed one of my stereos, he always fixes something because he has a very large brain. So why the hell he is sending me links to a sick bag museum gawd only knows.

Stoke City 0 Birmingham City 2 (Sunday Times link reg required, not really worth it in this particular case, unless you are a Blues fan, generally, though, you might as well, unless you live overseas)

Rumsfeld, Iraq, Kurds, Chemical Weapons. You really couldn't make it up.

All you could possibly wish to know about Swamp Soccer

Old maps

Paul Kimmage wrote a great book on life as a domestique in cycle racing, he also ghosted the Tony Cascarino autobiography(extract here). Now he has published a very brilliant interview with Irish football legend Paul Mcgrath. Since Ian Ridley ghosted autobigraphies by Paul Merson and Tony Adams, highly confessional pieces, detailing the flaws of our heroes have become de riguer. Kimmage really seems to have his finger on the pulse of human frailty though.

Being around my eldest, who is seven, is like having a little American creature about the place, I think I will have to start rationing Disney and Cartoon Network. He eats candy, the mailman delivers mail, we go to the store, and on it goes. He prefers baseball to cricket for gawds sake.

Lactating elephants.

A review of Wilco in Atlanta

Friday, August 02, 2002

From b3ta: motorbiking, politically incorrect but hilarious.

Steve Earle wrote a song attempting to examine what may have motivated John Walker, the "American Taliban". He has incurred the wrath of the right, but it's not as simple as they would have you believe.

More lunacy from Joel Veitch

They take their comedy seriously at some of the corpses are amusing. Seriously enough to have unearthed a transcript of a pilot for Brass Eye.

Talkingcock contains poems, funny bits and a questionnaire the like of which I have yet to see on the Friday Five.

Talking of which:
1. What is your lineage? Where are your ancestors from?
Fathers side from Irish tinkers who settled in Manchester, apart from the old man, obviously. Some Welsh and Irish on mothers side, but way back.
2. Of those countries, which would you most like to visit?
I forgot to mention a great aunt twice removed from Tahiti, so I will go there.
4. Do you do anything during the year to celebrate or recognize your heritage
I get drunk frequently.
5. Who were the first ancestors to move to your present country (parents, grandparents, etc)?
Gawd knows.

The legendary Half Man Half Biscuit are live on Andy Kershaw tonight. As ever it will be archived for a week.

As meaningless as I believe IQ tests to be, I am extremely chuffed to have scored 123 on the 5 minute IQ test

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Bloody Bleeding Nora! is it the heat? I was thinking on another airless and sultry night that it is days like these that riots occur; it is weather that tends to make the already surly even more mean and sullen. Now everywhere I visit on the web there seems to be some irrational and terrible violence going on.
Monks fighting on a roof is not without comic potential. Two guys getting dragged out of a van and murdered by a mob is just horrific