Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Boxer

I was about to have an early night last night, then I came across Gravity Golf and ended up having a late night, don't say I didn't warn you.

Does the world need me to weigh in with my opinion on the sheer effrontery of the Saudis? No, it doesn't, not when we have Robert Fisk, who does righteous indignation> better than anyone this side of John Pilger:
The sad, awful truth is that we fete these people, we fawn on them, we supply them with fighter jets, whisky and whores.

Talking of righteous indignation, Seville are hugely and impressively pissed off with Tottenham:
"I can assure you that we at Sevilla will pour all of our energy and all of our force into making sure that Tottenham pay the consequences of this situation, a situation that they have illegitimately provoked," said Del Nido. "We will do everything in our power and use all the means at our disposal to make sure of that. Here in Spain, we're not used to treachery existing between clubs. Nowhere in European football has something like this happened before with the season under way. I will leave it for Spurs and their fans to take a look at themselves and define their behaviour."

Of Alves and Kanouté, Del Nido added: "I doubt very much that Tottenham have the money to buy them. Tottenham will get the response from Sevilla that they deserve. And that response will be to channel all our energy into getting what we deserve after they have behaved the way they have behaved."

The pay slip of a Liverpool player has been doing the e mail rounds, and he gets a lot. Who would have thought it? Does he deserve it? Probably not, but at least he's paying tax in this country rather than bogging off to Switzerland. At least I think he's paying tax, I didn't pay much attention to it, not being overly bothered. I only mention it to contrast it with a couple of genuine sporting heroes, who also earn bucketloads but who undoubtedly earn every penny.

Yes. I am going to go on about boxing again. No other sports compares for genuine sportsmanship, for dignity, humility, respect and reverence, and our brave Brits are the cream of the crop. I have said before that there is no sportsman on the earth like Ricky Hatton. He is soon to take on Floyd Mayweather, a bone fide genius of the fistic arts, but not in Hattons class when it comes to the common decencies. I fear for Hatton, I can't see him doing it at the weight, but his technical ability, his fearsome punching, and the sheer indominitability of his spirit might see him through it. In which case, he will be the sportsman of this and every other year, before or since.

We are lucky; as well as good boxers we have good boxing writers, the best of whom is Kevin Mitchell, who has written a beautiful piece on Hatton. If you didn't like him before, you will after reading this.

Before that though, Joe Calzaghe fights in Cardiff on Saturday night, in a fight he could well lose; the pair of them have fought something like 80 fights between them, both of them remaining undefeated. Someones heart is going to be broken in the early hours of a Cardiff Sunday. Calzaghe is probably the best fighter we have had for years, even better than Hatton, and while he is no shrinking violet, he is possessed of some humility and he always gives due respect to his opponents. It's going to be great night of boxing on Saturday and Calzaghes stablemate Maccarone is also fighting: believe me, Maccarone is one hell of a fighter, and, funnily enough, a likeable and humble guy.

Frank Keating has reminisced about great Welsh boxers. I met one of them, who rarely gets mentiond, but Keating gives him a namecheck. He was a former heavyweight champ of Great Britain who became punch drunk and ended his fighting days fighting in unlicenced bouts in the US. I met him through my work, when he was more or less gone, not really knowing if he was having a shit, shave or haircut. The size of his mitts were something to behold, but, even as I gave him news he did not want to hear, he treated me with respect and comported himself with great humour and dignity. Boxing had forsaken him, he was in a state. The fighters are heroic, the sport itself is not.

I have read god knows how many interviews with fighters over the years and over the last few weeks and they all say the same...............you cannot hide in the ring (Hatton has always given great quotes on this theme, but I can't remember any!) You can't pretend and you can't get away with talking about it, what I like about boxers is that they always know when they have been beaten fair and square and always give credit to the other bloke, unlike failed rugby players and cricket coaches, who can't rush into print soon enough to explain how their failings had nothing to do with them, it was always someone elses fault.

Monday, October 29, 2007


So The Sopranos has gone, never to return, and we are left hanging, as well as bereft. I thought it was a brilliant ending, once I had worked out that it had actually ended and my telly hadn't gone on the blink. David Chase has said that for those who have followed the series closely, the ending is obvious, but it isn't to me. On the one hand, I think the family just carried on; just a normal family, doing normal things; on the other hand, the series was full of references to mob films and I am telling you that the guy who went into the bogs came back out and whacked Tony.

There is a blog out there called Secular Backlash, and I recommend it without reservation.

A funny thing has happened. After the daily bleating in the media, Steve Bruce has finally met Carson Yeung and the bugger has gone all shy, we have heard nothing. Hopefully we won't be hearing any more.

A good game and a good win for us on Saturday and we should cherish Daniel de Ridder while we can, he looks to be a bit special. Despite scoring 3, I remain unconvinced by our goal scoring potential, although we do look much better in our approach play. Maybe it's a work in progress and the players haven't quite got it yet. The theory seem to be that the tireless,energetic and ever willing Cameron Jerome will cause a bit of havoc, leaving big holes for the midfielders to exploit........ and it works, up to a point, but we don't actually create that many chances, which means we need a striker who will score more often than he misses. Cameron Jerome is not that stiker.

The opening paragraph of the West Brom report in the Guardian raised a smirk:
If the Championship table was decided by position on the moral high ground, West Bromwich Albion would have been promoted already. They are the purists of the lower divisions, who will not under any circumstances compromise their belief that football is played by passing and moving rather than kicking and chasing. They do not think they are better than the rest; they know they are.

Sadly the table is decided by more traditional means, and is being led at a canter by Watford's pragmatists..............

Just what the world has been waiting for, the garbage I typed about England the other week:

The English football team has ballsed up its chances of qualifying for the Euro 2008 and it’s all the refs fault, apparently. I disagree with this view and I even have some sympathy for Steve Mclaren, who always seems to have the air of a slightly pissed uncle at a wedding to me. I blame Steven Gerrard, who has come to think of himself as the soul of the nation: The Peoples Frowner.

There were some statistics the other year that showed that Liverpool won more often with him out of the team than it. This statistic probably no longer applies but still it makes me chuckle. While Benitez put him out on the left he had probably his best ever season, but he moaned he wanted to be in his best position, through the middle. He has now got what he wanted and Liverpool’s form has dipped. Oh dear, what a shame, never mind.

A couple of years ago, with this golden generation seemingly at its peak, old Sven (I bet he is pissing himself) tried to accommodate both Gerrard, Lampard and Beckham, with Beckham playing a withdrawn role. The press mocked this idea before it was tried and delighted in its failure, but why did it fail? Because of Gerrard. At the time Lampard could not stop scoring and I think the idea was that Beckham would play his precision passes out to the wings and meanwhile either Gerrard or Lampard would belt through the middle and cause havoc as quality crosses came over. It didn’t happen.

This might be because the plan was flawed. It might also have been because Gerrard is either too selfish to actually try and put his teams needs above those of his own ego, or maybe because he is just too thick to understand instructions. We have heard over the years that Gerrard and Lampard cannot play together, which is a stupid notion. The reality is that the pair of them should be able to complement one another, it’s not that they cannot do this, it’s that they won’t, and I believe Lampard is less at fault than Gerrard; he doesn’t seem to have had too much trouble adapting to different partners, with different styles at Chelsea.

So, put Gerrard in the middle for Liverpool and their form dips, put him in the middle for England and we fail, consistently. It is probably only the genius of Sven that enabled England to qualify for the last few tournaments. We need someone in charge who is not worried about egos and will tell the buggers what to do, someone like, and I am not joking here, John Toshack.

It’s not just Gerrard, of course, he just happens to be the one that irritates me the most. John Terry insisted that he would be fit to play the other night when it was pretty obvious he wouldn’t be. What arrogance to put his own desire to play over the need of the national team like that; to want to play when not match fit when there are perfectly adequate replacements available. That is the mark of this England team, this golden generation. They have believed their own hype and believe themselves to be special talents, despite enough evidence to the contrary to persuade even the dullest of patriots.

We might as well give up with Mclaren now, he is a goner anyway and while we are at it we should dispose of all those players who have consistently been found wanting, we should look for a manger with the strength of character to have several coherent strategies and the strength of will to put his ideas into practice, regardless of fragile egos. We should then allow that manger the time to experiment, the space to fail, and to get things right. We should say to those players who have failed so miserably, again and again, that now that they will have a free summer they should attend a training camp, where they will the time to refine their skills, learn familiarise themselves with their colleagues and how to adapt to the needs of the collective. You would think they would jump at the chance. Those who plead that they are otherwise engaged should be banned from playing for England. There is not one of them that we would miss.

The worst thing of all is that we had to miss a weekend of supporting our teams for this shit. If this is the best we can serve up, we may as well go back to the old days when they would meet up after their club game, play the game, then go immediately back to their clubs. We may have been shit in those days, but at least we weren’t denied our weekly fix.

Which reminds me of another cack phrase which has been much in evidence this week: “ he/ they didn’t play for the shirt” ………. or………. “isn’t fit to wear the shirt”. I’m not sure what this means. Actually, I do know what it means, it means there was a lack of passion and a lack of desire, a lack of will to bleed for the cause. The problem is, we have had plenty of players who have demonstrated such an ability over the years, and we still haven’t won anything. It is meaningless anyway and is a cack phrase, parroted by cack people, people with small brains who cannot accept that their team can be beaten, fair and square.

We will all have read how competitive sport is character forming and teaches people to lose well as well as win with dignity. Theses traits don’t seem to be much in evidence among football fans or phone in participants. Maybe it is the difference between those who participate, or who did participate and those who never have, who get their pleasure from watching, not doing and do not tolerate defeat well because they have never had to courage to risk experiencing a taste of it themselves.

The rugby has thrown up a cack phrase as well: “career defining”, although we are not hearing it as much now as we did earlier in the tournament. Any game of any significance was accompanied by that phrase and again it is nonsensical. Is the game on Saturday career defining for Johnny Wilkinson, or the game 4 years ago, or the game that he first played that led him on his path. Mind you, it’s not the essential cackness of these phrases that gets on my nerves, it’s the laziness. Some wordsmith will come up with a phrase, then the whole world will pick it up and use it as if they have just made up. I swear I read “career defining” in 5 different articles before England played Samoa. Bone idle some of these highly paid spinners of wisdom, surely they could make up their own cack phrases?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Crocodile Cryer

The good news..............Martin Stephenson and the Daintees have a new album out, I have only heard one track, which to be honest is OK, but, you know, that band should have been as huge as the soft spot I have for them and I will bet that the album is as good as anything else you will hear this month. If you look at Stephensons blog he mentions Micheal Mara who is brilliant as you will see if you search for him on you tube. Why do brilliant songwriters and musicians like these two (and many, many others) exist only on the margins ? Their music isn't difficult, it is very accessible, but we need a degree in research methods if we want to hear it. It's a crime.

The last ok album to be overpraised was Bob Dylan and you will recall that much was made of his band sounding like a really good, tight band, as in, a proper band, not a bunch of jobbing session musicians. One of the many delights of the Plant album is the beautiful playing of the band which is much better that the Dylan lot, and they probably are jobbing Joes.

Megson has gone to Bolton and the poor bugger was booed before he even got through the door. Those Boltonians probably don't realise what a good songwriter he is!

I came across both of the above in the magazine Rock and Reel. I have become fed up with Uncuts obsession with the sixties and rock and roll behemoths, so I thought I wold give this magazine a try. It's pretty good and you get a cover CD, which has a Martin Stephenson track on it, but is pretty crap otherwise, with a strange DJ thing going on between tracks. The best thing about the magazine is that it smells exactly like a football programme. Dunno why, but I had a hot dog and bovril for tea, followed by a wagon wheel, washed down with a pint of weak piss.

Blues V Wigan tomorrow, probably a six pointer, but who cares......... when is poor old Bruce going to get his new contract?

If you're proud to be a Brummie clap your hands: Most music lovers are aware that Birmingham has a world-renowned concert hall; what's less widely known is that it has two. Symphony Hall may have the greater profile now, but when the Town Hall opened in 1834, Birmingham gained one of the first and finest symphonic halls in Europe.

A month or so back, I kept hearing a track by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss on the radio, and everyone kept raving about it. The track was no better than all right and I thought, here we go, an album that doesn't happen to be utter shite gets over praised because it is made by some wrinkly old rocker. Having heard the album a few times, I was wrong, it deserves most of the praise it is receiving, it is not, as one berk said, as good as Gene Clark and Emmylou Harris though, nothing could be. Does anyone know if they were actually on the same continent when they recorded it? I hope it was a warm and intimate studio experience, it sounds like it was, but I am old and have become cynical.

I drove over 400 miles today, accompanied by the rudest, most ungrateful pair of miserable bastards that it has ever been my misfortune to do a favour for. Just thought I'd mention it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Take Me To The River

So poor old Martin Jol has gone. I shall miss the droll old bugger, mind you I suppose he could still end up at Blues. Maybe the trigger happy chairman at Bolton will sack his new manager and offer Jol a job; I'm sure the fans would be distraught.

These Tottenham blokes are a bit ruthless and have ideas above their station. When have Tottenham ever been any good? (I know, 1960). Two top five finishes and they forget their history, including the history of the board in choosing shit managers. They stumbled upon Jol and now they've let him go, I fully expect them to revert to their traditional hapless and clueless ways.

Look at the news feeds for Blues and you will see that they are dominated by Bruce and his bloody contract again. It's all becoming a bit undignified.

In the post I lost last week, about England, I blamed Steven Gerard for all our ills and I certainly can't be bothered to go through all that again, but I am pleased that the generally charmless Benitez has shown himself to be unafraid of his reputation. It's not the first time either..........I recall Benitez telling Gerrard that his best position, for the team, (as opposed to himself) was on the left, with Cissoko in the middle, and he stuck to his guns, despite all the bleating by Gerrard and his media lackeys. It will end in ears for Benitez mind, players have all the power, ask Sammy Lee, or Jol, or any poor bugger who ever tangled with Alan Shearer at Newcastle. Maybe even Mourinho was a victim of it.

Although I find it hard to like Benitez, as well as standing up to the giant ego, he should be applauded for reasoning that a bit of brain is preferable to the old British standby of whole hearted but brainless commitment and endeavour.

I suppose I should applaud this unusual reversal of roles, with the workers having power over the bosses, I have difficulty seeing these buggers as representative of the proletariat though.

Talking of Liverpool, and the proletariat, there was a good article in the Guardian the other day on a weekend of excess in the town, and it is not as snotty as you might imagine.

There is also a good article in todays Independent on the founding fathers of some of our best and worst football clubs.

Oh, nearly forgot, happy birthday, football.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Waltzing Matilda

Dunno why, I've been thinking about Jolly Swagmen.

Reading some of Johnny Wilkinsons comments over the last few weeks I thought the bugger had, by accident or design, stumbled upon Buddhism, and bless my cotton socks he has.

The England team are being very stoic about the try that wasn't, all very noble and gentlemanly, but I wouldn't mind hearing one of them point out that the purpose of the video ref is too avoid costly mistakes. England may still have lost, but who knows?
I suppose the country will move on now and leave rugby to the middle classes for the next four years, when we will all become instant experts again.

Steve Bruce is no gentleman and will happily berate match officials, as he did yesterday, when blaming the ref and the linesman for our defeat against Manchester City. It's always someone else's fault in Steves book: a person, or persons, or the universe conspires against us. I heard Gus Hiddink on the radio this morning and he made the point that it is no good blaming external factors for defeats, you have to look at what you did wrong and where you can improve; you have to look at weaknesses in the opposition and work out how to exploit them. Steve doesn't seem to be very good at that.

I also heard Brian Ashton, and many, many others, during far too much post match navel gazing on 5 live, answer the query "did the best team win", with the comment, "the best team always wins". There is a lot of truth in that, so with Blues sat just one point above the relegation zone and having lost the last 4 games while scoring only one goal, I ask again, what has Steve Bruce done to deserve an extension on his contract almost two years before his current one runs out?

And it ain't just Bruce, Mclaren is as bad, as this fantastic article illustrates.

When did the F.A appoint Steven Gerrard to be official on pitch advisor to referees?

Have you seen Catflap? It's all about football, and some of it ain't bad.

George Bush, alone and isolated in his bunker.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Going Back Home

Some chump has done something unnecessary to a cable somewhere in Abertillery and we have had no email or internet access at work for a couple of days, we haven't been able to access our recording system either. This doesn't exactly render us impotent (no more than usual, anyway), but it is a pain in the arse. I decided that the best way I could spend a couple of hours yesterday was in composing a blog post, so I did, a long one, all about the England football team, with a few bits and pieces about Turkey and Blues added on. It was a masterpiece. My intention was to send it to myself then post the bugger, but, two days later, the BT engineers are still looking for Abertillery, so I couldn't.

I didn't want the effort to go to waste, so I thought I would print it out and then post a heavily edited version. So, I pressed print and then went for a slash. When I came back someone was holding the thing up and saying, in a bewildered tone, who has printed all this nonsense about the Turkish parliament and the England football team? I said nowt.

Talking of the internet, two people in Neath have been sacked for overusing it in works time. Neath council have now agreed with the union that internet access will only be permitted before and after work and during breaks. Lucky buggers, my employer doesn't allow access for non work purposes at all, at any time.

Talking of work, I have never suffered such anti English abuse as I have today, quite vicious stuff too, with no leavening of humour. A lot has been to my face, but I have also noticed people talking quite pointedly in an anti English fashion just loud enough so I could hear. I was shocked, never having experienced it before in twenty odd years.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Seasons In The Sun

I haven't read Anne Enrights booker winner, nor am I likely to, but I have enjoyed the critics getting all arsy about Howard Davies comments that they generally aren't much bothered whether a book is readable or not. Call me old fashioned, call me thick if you like, but I do like a book to be readable. Someone in the Independent today said that they were glad Ian McEwan hadn't won because she had bought "Saturday" on the basis of glowing reviews but had found it mediocre. This happens all the time and I would cite the last Will Self effort as a case in point. Glowing reviews all round and the massive bloody thing is unreadable. The problem is, the media consists of a self serving hegemonic coterie of the upper middle classes who make a good living praising each others work.

I was thinking about this the other day when I was reading a Guardian thread about Brooklyn writers (prompted by the article I linked to oooohhh, yonks ago) Some people on the thread mentioned the fact that like the newish Brooklyn writers, who we must allnow disparage, our own fiction is dominated by a type, a middle class type, an angsty middle class type. It is not often that voices outside of the elite are heard and when they are, well they had better not speak too loudly. Remember the fuss when James Kelman won the Booker? The metropolitan elite were beside themselves. Call me an inverted snob, but I can never get very far into novels by the likes of Ian McEwan or the rest of our established literary elite without tossing them contemptuously aside.

Where are the Brummie writers? The authentic voice of working class middle England? They don't exist, why is that, are the people of Birmingham fit only for engineering, or service industries? There is Jonathan Coe, but, well the milieu of his Birmingham is a place I simply don't recognise, which doesn't make him a bad writer or a bad person, obviously. We also have Malcolm Bradbury and David Lodge, writing from the heart of Selly Oak.

The working class voice simply isn't heard. There is David Peace, I suppose, and the superb Niall Griffiths, but you have to search very hard for anything else. The last books by both of those writers are superb, and are full of literary merit. They are as brave as they are brilliant, and while they do get reviewed, it is without fanfare.

Scotland is full of great writers. The crime writers get their share of kudos and then there is professional bad boy Irvine Welsh but there are loads more beside, going back at least into the seventies, with Kelman remaining the capo. Some of these authors are writing brilliant prose, albeit in a particular vernacular, but just as our middle class writers apparently do, they are addressing universal themes; the difference being that they do it with verve and energy: the writing is much better, much more vivid than the established writers who fill up all the review pages, yet you have to search them out. You have to wait for someone like Bob Piper to tell you about them.

So sod the Booker and sod the arts pages. If you haven't read any of these buggers, do so as soon as you can and then search more out: James Kelman, William Mcillivany, Allan Guthrie, Ray Banks, David Peace, Niall Grifiths. There are loads more and that's without even starting on Irish and American writers but it's getting late and dredging my memory is giving me a headache, plus, I have to finish Ake Edwardsons Frozen Tracks.

Edwardson is new to me and as usual I have started with the last one in a series, rather than the first, but what the hell. This is not exactly an enjoyable book but I have enjoyed reading it as much as any I have read for ages. It is slow, almost ponderous, but that is part of its charm, you sink into it over time, it is a book to relax with. It bills itself as a "Winter" novel but it doesn't concentrate on this one character; it pays as much attention to the hinterlands of an entire squad of detectives plus a large cast of supporting victims and perpetrators. It is complex, intelligent, bleak, despairing and powerful. There aren't many laughs in it, but there are some wry moments. I think I can recommend it.

Old Gordon should get Chavez to help him with policy making; I guarantee that cutting the working day to 6 hours would be a winner. It would be in our house anyway.

Blues have refused Bolton permission to speak to Steve Bruce about their managerial vacancy. Jesus, have Bolton got no sense? Anyway, I confidently predict that should Bolton genuinely be crazy enough to want him, they will get him, mainly because I no longer believe a word that ever comes out of my club. If they say he ain't available, he is.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Big Girls Don't Cry

I know there are very many important things going on in the world but the question of Steve Bruce's contract is vexing me. I can't figure out why he is making such a fuss; it can only be that Sully is provoking mischief.

Bruce has 20 months to go on his existing contract, in a business notorious for its volatility. He wants an extension to it, which I suppose is fair enough, but you wonder why he thinks he actually deserves it. He might say because he got us promoted and we have a wonderful 8 points from 9 games, which is one point above the drop zone.

There are Blues fans who are extremely grateful to Bruce for getting us back up, but I'm not one of them, for the simple reason that we shouldn't have gone down in the to start with. He did well to get us up in the first place, then, apart from half a season, we trod water, before our truly embarrassing relegation season, which included a 7-0 home defeat(albeit in the cup). I don't know how many times he has talked of a "horrible night" since, but it has been too often.

So, over the last 4 season, Bruce has done just about enough, before failing miserably, and then doing no more than could reasonably be expected of him. The jury is still out as far as this season is concerned. Hardly glorious, yet he has been hugely well rewarded. Still he wants more. He has done the bare minimum of what we could have expected but wants to be rewarded with extra years on his contract.

Maybe it's because he loves the club and the city and the fans so much, but I doubt it; I have never got the sense from him that he has any fellow feeling with the local citizenry. He has spent about 8 years of his life employed in the city but I can't recall him ever talking about it with any warmth; if anything, he openly regrets not leaving us for Newcastle. When he talks about the fans it is usually to slag us off and to remind us that we can never expect our club to be anything more than mediocre.

It's not for the love that he wants to stay then, so it must be the money, nothing wrong with that, we all want to the best for ourselves that we can. The trouble is, Bruce hasn't done anything to earn it yet. A new and improved contract should be offered on the basis of extraordinary achievement, on the basis of doing more than we could reasonably have expected. This clearly isn't the case. Let him stay, by all means, but only offer the bugger a new contract if and when he has done something to deserve it, when we have progressed and developed as a club and as a team.

The whole business leaves me feeling a little bit bitter. Both Sully and Bruce have demonstrated a lack of regard and respect for the club. Sully is playing silly buggers and trying to cause trouble for Carson Yeung and Bruce is being selfish. He says that lack of progress regarding his contract risks destabilising the club, but no one really needed to know anything about it; it's only his whining that has brought the issue to the fore and I doubt if the players give much of a monkeys anyway, certainly not when he has almost two years left on his existing contract.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I have never been a big rugby fan, having tended to view it in class terms. We never played it at school and the first game I actually played was when I was about 21, when I started turning out for Witton 3rds. I only did it because my mate Len would ask me at about half ten of Friday night and, being more idiotic than usual at that time of night, and more than usually full of camaraderie and love for my buddies, I would agree to turn out. Plus, there was no all day drinking in those days but after the game you would get straight in the bar, which not only opened early, it was heavily subsidised.

It was OK. I was surprised that I enjoyed it, surprised by the fellow feeling and togetherness, but never exactly enthused and once I moved to Cardiff I never played again. I always found it a bit of a myth about violence on the field being followed by friendship off it; I always found that nasty buggers were just as nasty on or off the field. Maybe it was an anti Brum bias as we tended to play in strange places in Staffordshire like Cannock.

In one of my first games, when I barely understood the basics of the game some clown hit me with a horrible late tackle. Some bloke who happened to be walking around the pitch, with his dog, said, "oooh, that was late ref". He had nothing to do with either side, he just happened to be passing. The ref told him that he was in charge and ordered him from the stadium. Those were his words "I order you from the stadium ", he then gave a penalty against me because of the outsiders intervention, and no one gave a murmour. The "stadium" was a patch of shit, glass and brick laden greenery on some hellish estate, and this is why I have never really fallen in love with the game, for all the camaraderie and fellow feeling, it is pompous and servile.

Having said all that, the England Rugby team over the last week have been heroic and I am as proud as I can be to be an Englishman. I am proud of those sporting giants and all of us should be humbled by what they have achieved and the manner in which they have done it. They have proved that, no matter how bleak a situation seems, there is always another day, always a chance to put things right. Plus, Johnny Wilkinson must be the most self effacing, dignified man in any sport.

A bonus is, of course, that my Welsh family, friends and acquaintances can stick their anti English opinions up their collective arses. Never mind their own humiliation they have been telling me for the last two weeks how we are going to be hammered and how much they are going to enjoy it. I wonder if the buggers know how to spell hubris?

Not only that, I am now a published writer. My article for Community Care is in this weeks edition, heavily edited and anonymised, but what the hell............it ain't bad for a snotnosed kid from Balsall Heath who left school without even a CSE and who was advised, aged 16, by a man called Sparks, who I believe went on to lead the council, to knock any high faluting thoughts of journalism on the head and to seek work as a lorry drivers mate.

On a lighter not, Eyebrowy is superb, if you are disillusioned with the posh ghetto that is the British music industry, there is every chance that you might like it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oh What A Night

I have been encouraging the tired, stressed and distressed among my circle of acquaintances to try meditation for years, to much mockery, I might add. Well, don't just take my word for it!

So New Labour has stolen some Tory policies and has run scared of an election because they thought they might lose. Well. Shock. Horror.Hold the front page. All Labour has done is demonstrated what we have all known, all along, that they exist to be in power and they will shift their position accordingly. They don't have the courage of their convictions because they possess neither courage nor conviction, but I am no longer bothered by that; it would be like being bothered by the wind or the rain....pointless.

What I am bothered about is the sheer ruddy cheeked Hooray Henryness of David Cameron. I can't stand the bloke and if I was aggressively inclined would suggest he has the kind of face it would be nice to take a cricket bat to. I am a passive and gentle soul, however, so I shall go and meditate instead.

Steve Bruce wants a new contract, which is fair enough but I wish he would stop squealing like a stuck pig about it; it's becoming embarrassing, he has nearly two years left on the present one for Gods sake. The bloke wants jam on it. Mind you I bet Sully, the rodent, got many gold stars for mischief making when he was a nipper.

There is tragedy on an almost hourly basis across the world, much of it caused by us, yet so little of it gets reported; there has to be disaster of epic proportions in Asia or Africa of the Middle East before our press notices. A bunch of people get shot in some place we have never heard of in Bumfuck USA though, and the rolling news channels swing into action. I just this second saw a headline on the BBC about some shootings in Cleveland and genuinely thought something bad had happened in Middlesbrough, but no, it's Cleveland Ohio. I'm sure it's very bad and sad news for the citizens of that state, but bad things are happening elsewhere too, and we rarely get to hear of it.

Put a load of pasta in a pan of boiling water and while that's doing fry up some chopped bacon, then chuck in a big handful of broken walnuts followed by a load of spinach. Drain the pasta, add some creme freche to the bacon watnot and mix it all up together. A beautiful tea, in ten minutes flat. Who needs Nigella?

Monday, October 01, 2007

I Got Me Parka!

Was it the Sussed who did "I got me Parka", which contains one of the great lyrics..........."I used to be a punk, but now punks sunk, I got me parka!" One of them has reminisced about the Brummy punk scene and it's pretty accurate, apart from the comments about Dansette Damage, who were just as awful as their name suggests they were.

Talking of which, sort of, the poet Simon Armitage has written a very good, witty article on his middle aged attempts to become a rock and roll star.

Somehow, this blog has been named 65th best leftie blog in the land. Mystifying.

"I became a monk because of my love for peace and my love for Buddha. My heart is so full of sadness."

Seymour Hersh on U.S Plans for Iran.

I had just started The Brooklyn Follies, (I don't just read crime and thuggery, you know) when I came upon this. It's a brilliant piece, but it's put me off Brooklyn, a bit. Mind you he does speak very highly of Motherless Brooklyn, which is one of the best novels I have read in years.