Monday, March 31, 2008


I can't remember if I have banged on here much about meditation; I think I probably have, but I try not to be too evangelical, although I will not hesitate to recommend it in the real world, if I come across someone who might benefit from it. Actually, I do hesitate, quite frequently, but I will share my opinion on the subject when I think it might be appropriate. Today though, I shall evangelicise, because I have just watched a brilliant programme on the box all about it.

A babe doctor went off on all sorts of jollies to discuss meditation with various bods and then tried to put it to the scientific test. She was sceptical regarding it's claims to cure ill physical health, but was much more positive regarding its benefits on emotional well being and talked to scientists who are busy proving its efficacy. The point being, it has great benefits even when you are well, so don't just take my word for it when I say we should all be doing it, take hers as well.

The programme can be seen for the next 7 days on the BBC i player, and I really cannot stress how good and inspiring it is. As Charlie Brooker said when recommending The Wire...."oh, just ####### watch it!" One of the bods she talked to early in the programme was Matthieu Ricard, whose book I have read and which I heartily recommend (I said I was going to be evangelical)

The Village Green Preservation Society

There was a discussion on the radio this morning about literay critics versus bloggers. The blogger was asked what qualified him to pontificate on books and I though he let the side down a bit by telling us of his record in reviewing in the mainstream media. I think he could just have said that I buy books, I read books and I have an opinion on books, to which I am bloody entitled! You can hear the debate if you go to the Today page and click "listen again", it took place at 8.20. All aspects of the mainstream media seem to have taken against humble bloggers and seem to be offended that scruffy, inarticulate, poorly educated urchins should not only have an opinion but be willing to voice it.

I suspect I am the kind of shrill, opinionated blogger of which they would disapprove. I don't write thoughtful, considered, academic reviews of the books I read, I just say whether or not I liked it, and, where possible, will post links to more intelligent reviews and excerpts. I don't see anything wrong with that, particularly as much of the stuff I link to will be outside of the mainstream, and I will have come across most of it, not from high brow journals and broadsheets, but by seeing the work recommended on other blogs.

There are loads of books I would not even be aware of had it not been for bloggers. The mainstream, print press is made up of an Oxbridge elite which constantly reviews each others work and which concentrates on established, upper middle class authors. They operate in a zone of extreme comfort. So do Bloggers, I suppose, but our efforts are no less worthwhile than those of the establishment; in fact, they are more worthwhile.

Ken Bruen will have made an extra few bob this last year because Bob Piper recommended him on his blog, then I and others did, then still more did, and on it will go and a similar process has happened with probably a dozen other authors of whom you will not read in the mainstream press; and that's just the miniscule bit of the blogosphere (cack word, sorry!)in which I operate. A similar process will be replicated millions of times over.

Bloggers are like the Ranters of the 17 century. The internet, the opening up of the blogosphere (sorry again) is like the invention of the printing press. Those outside the mainstream, those outside a self perpetuating elite, those outside of the public school, Oxbridge system, have been given a voice, and the bloody elite are squealing like stuck pigs; it is hilarious.

Charlie Brooker has been missing from The Guardian for the last few Saturdays, but he continues to write on Mondays and today he has laid into The Apprentice, among others. I had my first taste of The Apprentice last week, watching it, open mouthed, for about 15 minutes. Outside of the world of parody, I hadn't realised that such people actually exist.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


There's nothing like a Blues victory to lift the spirits and we earned a very good victory against Manchester City today, having played with ten men for a significant portion of the game. Other results went our way and we will now need to screw up very badly if we want to achieve relegation. Once again, our football was pleasing on the eye and given that we were missing both Kapo and Mcfadden, this was a bonus. Mind you, we did have Zarate. A couple of games ago some of our fans were suggesting he is too lightweight and didn't have a football brain. I begged to differ then and I beg to differ now, not that anyone wants to differ anymore. This man is going to be a superstar; there is no way we will be able to keep him, but it looks like it will be fun while it lasts.

Our resident comedian, Liam Ridgwell was out and the defence looked much stronger as a result, with Quedrue looking very much the part until his sending off. It looks like we have finally found a decent centre half, by accident. When Benjani went through for the sending off incident I was bellowing for our defence not to foul him, but French Frank couldn't help himself. Why do players do that? It has to make more sense to let the opposition player have his chance against the keeper than to give away a penalty and get sent off? Didn't matter anyway, because Manchester City were not very good and didn't really threaten again.

We have played well in a good few games under Eck now (played badly in a few too)and have held our own against some good opponents. With a bit of consistency now we will be alright, and if Kapo, Mcfadden and Zarate play in the same team we will stay up comfortably. A victory over Wigan next week would be nice, because as well as making our position more secure it would drop them back in it. Steve Bruce gets on my nerves and I didn't like the way he left us; I would be quite happy to see them go down; not that I'm particularly vexed by it.

While I am on about managers whio get on my nerves, I don't suppose we will see Diaby in an Arsenal shirt again after his horrific tackle today, which was much more venomous and dangerous than the one that crippled Eduardo. Wenger is an honourable, decent and ethical man, surely he doesn't want that kind of player in his team? Perhaps he does "I was not upset with the sending-off because his foot was a bit high," he said. "I feel it was more a protective tackle than an aggressive one but he was too high" That comment demonstrates the shallowness and hypocrisy of Wenger. He had better watch out if Sepp Blatter gets wind of it!

Judge it for yourself:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

May You Never

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of
throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Apparently, 1 in 4 of us are possessed by anger. I would have thought it was more. I see angry people everywhere and I see people roused to anger in the most innocuous situations. In the supermarket, on the phone, in queues, on the road, at traffic lights, waiting for a lift, on internet message boards, where normal rules of civilty seem to have been abandoned altogether; at the football: everywhere, every day, I see people roused to anger; it seems to be a natural state.

I speak as a victim. At work, middle and senior managers seem to think that the natural tone to adopt when speaking to the likes of me is one of barely controlled fury. All day I have to take phone calls from people driven to anger, by some perceived injustice or failure on the part of society to allow them to lead a wealthy, but indolent lifestyle. People will shout at me for things that have happened to them over which I cannot possibly have any control.

I hear conversations every day around the office in which someone will complain about somebody or something. Something or someone isn't working properly and it simply cannot be tolerated. The more they describe their situation the more heightened their emotions become, and invariably, their co conversationalist will assure them that if the same thing had happened to them they would have "gone ballistic"; they would have "wiped the floor" with someone. No one seeks a calm, rational explanation, no one wants a calm rational explanation; there cannot be a calm, rational explanation, someone must be at fault and a head must roll.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it is only 1 in 4 and they all live in South Wales.

I've never been overly given to anger although there are times, especially when I am hungover, when I can be a bit quick to get pissed off. It isn't to do with age because some of the angriest individuals I have encountered have been old buggers. I was recently acquainted with a man, who was a good man, but could not control his rage. We would discuss football and he would immediately become irate, even when discussing teams he had no real interest in, and when he perceived that he or someone else had been unjustly treated he would fly into a rage. He maintained it was all to do with maintaining his dignity.

I would, at times get annoyed, if not angry, about the most stupid things. If someone pulled out on me at a junction, I would despise them and mutter uncouth comments, even though no harm had been done and the person would probably never cross my path ever again. Pointless. I would become pissed off when someone without nippers would park in the mother and child bay at our local shops, and might wonder aloud at the miracle of the invisible child. Really, really pointless. These types OF things no longer bother me overmuch.

I have read in various Buddhist and new agey texts about the futility of anger and have also cOme across the same while doing yoga, and I have come to believe it. Most of the stuff I read points out that anger only harms the angry person, and doesn't really have any effect on the other bugger, and I have come to believe that too. I have put this stuff into practice, and it works. If someone cuts me up and I just forget about it, it has gone, get angry and the incident lingers, as long as the anger is there; it festers and spoils your day, or at least that moment, but no matter how angry you get, that person will still have cut you up, you can't change that, so may as well just let it go.

A couple of articles........1...................2

And another, only loosely related, but a good read.


221. Let a man abandon anger, let him renounce pride and let him get beyond all worldly fetters. No suffering befalls him who is passionless and clings neither to mind nor to form (nama-rupa).

222. He who controls his rising anger as a skilled driver curbs a rolling chariot, him I call a true charioteer. Others merely hold the reins.

223. Let a man conquer anger by love, let him subdue evil by good; let him overcome the greedy by liberality and the liar by truth.

224. One should always speak the truth, not yield to anger, and give, even though it be little, to the person who begs. By these three virtues, a man is able to come into the presence of the devas.

225. Those sages who observe nonviolence, who are ever controlled in body, attain the changeless state (nirvana) where, having gone, they suffer no more.

226. The influxes of passion disappear in those who are ever vigilant, who are absorbed day and night in spiritual studies, and who are bent on realization of nirvana.

227. This is an old saying, O Atula, not one merely of today: "They blame him who remains silent, they blame him who speaks much, they even blame him who speaks in moderation." There is none in this world who is not blamed.

228. There never existed, nor will there ever exist, nor does there exist today anyone who is always scorned or always praised.

229, 230. If wise men, after due observation day after day, praise one who is flawless in character, highly intelligent and endowed with religious insight and virtue, who is like unto a coin made of the purest gold from the jambu river -- who would dare censure such a man? Even the devas praise him; he is praised even by Brahma.

231. One should guard against the agitations of the body; he should be restrained in body. Having abandoned the bodily sins (1 ), he should cultivate good conduct in body.

232. One should guard against the agitations of speech; he should be restrained in speech. Having abandoned the verbal sins (2), he should cultivate good conduct in speech.

233. One should guard against the agitations of mind; he should be restrained of mind. Having abandoned the mental sins (3), he should cultivate good conduct in mind.

234. The wise who are controlled in body, who likewise are controlled in speech, those wise men who are controlled in mind, are indeed well controlled.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tonight We Ride

Every now and then a case at work will become interesting and I will look at the notes and see I haven't written any for months, because nothing has been happening and will think, "oh shit". Then I will start frantically banging out a precis of recent events in the forlorn hope that somehow my arse will be covered if it all goes tits up. This blog has become a bit like that. I will come across something of interest and think "I must blog that" and then when I come here I will see that the poor thing has been ignored and abandoned for weeks. It's probably time to give it up.

Most people reading this blog will not have the pleasure of seeing and hearing Leighton James pontificate on Welsh football. He's like a low rent Rodney Marsh, always seeking controversy and like Rodney, he has overstepped the mark and been given the order of the boot by the BBC. His crime was to state that as a Swansea fan he would find it hard to stomach a Cardiff victory in the FA Cup. Nothing wrong with that, but it was too honest for the BBC. If you wonder why we have to put up the banal likes of Alan Shearer on the telly, there's why; our national broadcaster is scared stiff of an honest opinion.

For someone who claims to be “a simple Buddhist monk,” the Dalai Lama has a large carbon footprint and often seems as ubiquitous as Britney Spears

A photo essay on Coney Island, off season.

I'm reading Twilight by William Gay and while I'm only about halfway in, I think I can recommend it. He's a new writer to me and I am glad I came across him, because his writing is superb and reminds me of T.C Boyle, not in style, but in the sheer quality of the writing. The villain of this one is shaping up to be one of the great ones. If you like Daniel Woodrell, you will like this guy.

An excerpt

A short story

Another candidate for sporting quote of the year: Boca Juniors defender Julio Cesar Caceres says he wants to 'knock the head off' Gimnasia y Esgrima striker Diego Alonso after Alonso carried out 'an act of on-field man-love'. 'The guy stroked my arse. It was an unacceptable moment. Who does he think he is? At the time I wanted to thump his face, but I held my dignity. I didn't want the red card. But seriously - I am very masculine. He needs to take a hard look at himself.'

The Farce of Iraqi Sovereignty

"They create a desolation and call it peace"

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dance Stance

I haven't done any wrunning for weeks, I could blame the inclement turn in the weather, but the only reason is that I am a lazy fat fucker. I feel guilty, because people have been generous, and those kind souls that have donated can rest easy in the knowledge that I will be doing it, and I will be suffering. I won't be doing anything before Sunday............all that will achieve is more unnecessary pain.

I was in Cardiff earlier. The place was full of gangs of French males, all polite, all quiet, all sober, all enjoying themselves without behaving like Neanderthals. I had a rare night out in Cardiff the other week, full of gangs of blokes, all with hats on indoors and jackets zipped right up to the chin, all taking up too much space, all talking and laughing too loud, all being belligerent and obnoxious and all of them, even at 6pm, pissed. Mind you, it was Cardiff City territory and I doubt if I was a pretty sight myself by midnight.

Thanks to Steve for the tip re the Felice Brothers. Sat through an hour and a bit of gibberish to hear one track, it was worth it though. I was hopig to find some kind of a stream from South by Southwest but I couldn't, I did find a stream from last year of the brilliant, utterly brilliant Beirut

The two youngest were at swimming with the mother last night while I endured parents night at the comp with the eldest. His extended family will be proud of him, nuff said. While the others waiting in the crush for one lesson to end and clear and the other to begin, with bored parents and children just hanging around, the littlest one, my wrunning partner, piped up:

"is dad a Brummie"?

"yes" his mother replied,

"Well, whats a scouser"? he asked?

"It's someone from Liverpool", she said

"is it true that they steal everybody's hubcaps"? he enquired

Guess who got the blame for that?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Delia's Gone

Unfortunately, Delia hasn't really gone, but she has lost all credibility, and so has the simperingly florid Nigel Slater.

David Haye duly sparked out Big Enzo in the second round..........a brutal, magnificent display by the Bermondsey boy. I don't know if I'm oversensitive, but I find it really distressing to see proud warriors like Enzo not knowing if they are having a shit, shave or haircut. Typically, the beaten man was extremely gracious and sportsmanlike afterwards, unlike Alex Ferguson and his Portugese oil rag following their defeat to Portsmouth.

Talking of oil rags, I am about to become one myself. Those who read my other blog, before it became a chair advertising site, will know of my disdain for senior pricks, who are oil rags to the mechanic, or monkeys to the organ grinder. A chargehand, basically. Well I have been offered and will accept such a post in another borough. The living hell that has been my career over the last 18 months will be ended, and characteristically, even though it is a step up the ladder, I take a not insignificant pay cut while adding to my outgoings. But I am free. Relatively speaking!

The Wire has finished in the US and I suspect it will be difficult to avoid spoilers over the months until we see it here. I found a good clip from the first series on the Independent website. Be careful where you watch it, it may contain the odd profanity:

Cheers Bob:

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hangover Days

I took advice from experts and I read advice from experts and the consensus was that my shinbones ache so much because I am a fat git and I have overdone it. Rest and recuperation was recommended. So I rested, and rested, then I recuperated and then I rested some more. First I overdid the wrunning, now I am overdoing the resting. Now I feel guilty, because people have been very generous but I shall get back to it tomorrow, then I am going to have to keep at it, sore legs or not.

Arsene Wenger will be an inspiration when it comes to keeping on, because he keeps keeping on about that tackle, which was the cause of another poor performance by his team at the weekend, apparently. I don't care how well they played last night, I cannot bring myself to enjoy anything about Arsenal, because I can't stand Wenger and his constant petulant whining.

Regardless of the tackle, Blues performance against Arsenal has to be one of the performances of the season, but we got no credit for it, nor did we get any credit for hammering Spurs last week, they were hungover. Fit young men, hungover 6 days after the event.......... that must have been some party. I don't expect it will do us any harm to be underestimated though.

I also feel a bit guilty because I don't think all that much of the new Ray Banks, which the publisher sent me for free; I sort of feel obligated to say it's brilliant, but it isn't. There's nothing particularly wrong with it; if you buy it, or borrow it, you won't be disappointed, because it's a damn good, page turning read, with some fantastic moments, but it ain't really up there with his first two.

The hero, Cal, wasn't particularly likeable in the first place, but in this one he seems less likeable and isn't particularly believable either. The plot I found a bit tiresome. Radical students taking on slum landlords and the local facists. Sorry, but students aren't radical and credibility was lost, for me anyway. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it, but don't let me put you off, I did whizz through it and as good, undemanding reads go, it's good enough. Moreover, as much as I found the plot a bit irritating, it doesn't insult your intelligence, and in this genre, that is a major plus.

A good interview with the man.

David Haye fights Enzo Maccarinelli on Sunday morning and I won't be watching it because even if I were inclined to pay, I know I would be sound asleep before it starts. It could be a classic, they are both big, big punchers, at the top of their game. If soundbites counted, Haye would be a clear winner: 'I couldn't care less about fame - the whole celebrity thing is a joke,' he says. 'And I've had more than one lifetime's share of women so I'm definitely not motivated by pussy.'

I remember having a furious argument when I was student regarding the use of the C word. It was frowned upon, which gave me a problem because it was just about my favourite word at the time. Now that it has been alluded to in a humorous way in the Guardian Society pages, I think it is well on the way to being rehabilitated.

Dear old Brummagem: a foodies paradise.

Blues got beat by Manchester City in the 1956 cup final, which was the last time we had even a sniff of glory. Someone stuck a photo of the two keepers on a Blues message board and it is brilliant, it is redolent of a very bygone age in which sportsmanship, camaraderie and respect were prevalent. Anyone for a glass of warm beer?