Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beyond The Sea

There is a good article in the Independent today by Kathy Marks, who covered the trial of the men of Pitcairn Island who had been accused of of the rape of many children. It quite chills the bones.

There is an even better article here on George Pelecanos, who is an absolute master of his trade. The writer says that Pelecanos has only become well known since his involvement with The Wire, but some of us have been banging on about him for years.

More proof that the internet is bloody brilliant. Diaries that George Orwell wrote 70 years ago, will be reproduced, day by day, as a blog.

My reading has been too high brow of late, so I have got stuck into Don Eastons Loose Ends. It doesn't rank with Pelecanos, or Lehane, or Bruen; there are few subtleties and little nuance is evident. There are not many shades of grey, one won't lie awake with a troubled conscience, worrying about the characters, there are good men and there are bad men, and they are trying to outwit each other. It's great, just the sort of company I need for my present mood, not insulting to the intelligence, but undemanding on the intellect.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Sun Does Rise

Over the weekend I visited, Waitrose, Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys and wondered what had happened to the supermarket price war that I had read so much about, because it wasn’t evident to me. It must be the friendliest war ever, with all side adopting an “after you Claude, no, after you Cecil mentality”. Of course, there is no war.

Never mind, you can always listen to Adrian Crowley. Not many laughs there, mind.

That's the funny thing about The Wire. Despite all the people who bang on about it being the finest television series around, it really is the finest television series around.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My White Bicycle

I have to admit that when I saw Mark Cavendish winning a couple of stages of the Giro, I did sort of think that, you know, the real ball hadn't come out yet, even though, as a bit of an aficionado, I should have known better. The whole sporting world knows better now, as he has won another stage of Le Tour, and this win, in my view, was even better than the last one. All the top sprinters were here, and he just killed them. It's a pity that cycling doesn't have a higher profile in this country, because what Cavendish is doing is bloody astonishing. It would be astonishing for anyone, but he's one of ours, for Christs sake. Sort of. We should be dancing in the streets and cavorting in fountains.

It has been a good week for sporting quotes. First, at the test, lugubrious Lancastrian everyman David Lloyd commented that the South African Jaques Kallis was looking a bit porky. Shaun Pollock, the South African in the commentary box and ex team mate of Kallis defended him, saying that it was the sweaters he was wearing that made him look fat, Lloyd replied that he wasn't wearing a sweater on his face.

The next might be apocryphal. Peter Crouch was asked what he would have been if he hadn't been a professional footballer and he replied, "a virgin"

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Seldom seen pics of Johnny Cash.

What a first week for Le Tour. Brilliant opening day, David Millar currently third and the amazingly awseome and brilliant Mark Cavendish showing the rest what a pair of heels looks like! It could almost make you proud to be a brit.

So, what was all this nonsense we kept hearing a few weeks ago about old Boris not really being a bufoon

The Tories really are a bunch of arrogant twerps, when I first read this I had to check that I wasn't actually reading a spoof, but it's all genuine. And people vote for them!

Is it OK to use the phrase "nigger in the woodpile" these days? Of course it is!

Monday, July 07, 2008


I am wondering, again, what goes on inside football fans heads. The eternally knackered Harry Kewell, formerly of Leeds, has decided to swap the treatment table at Liverpool, for the treatment table at Galatasary, and, predictably, the Leeds fans don't like it, because some years ago two Leeds fans met premature ends after being stabbed in Istanbul, the night before the game.

I know nothing about theses two individuals and for all I know, they were polite and respectful visitors to Turkey: many of their fellow fans, however, were not. Large numbers of them had clearly arrived in Istanbul with the intention of taking over the squares and entertaining the locals with thoroughly despicable and disrespectful shows of public urination, ritual humiliations of any passing female and hearty renditions of "I'd rather be a Paki than a turk". Violence ensued, some young Turks took it upon themselves to take the fight back to our loveable rogues and there was a tragedy.

I don't really see what this has got to do with Galatasry the club, or Harry Kewell and I find myself wondering why football fans have to hang on to old enmities with such a passion. A Leeds fan has been on the radio just now saying that he had been very intimidated inside and out of the ground. He ought to try being an away fan at Elland Road. I don't know what it's like now, but in the late seventies it was one of the least welcoming and intimidating places I had been........inside and outside the ground. There is not a group of fans in this country who wouldn't be overjoyed if similar atmospheres could be created at their club; that's what all the talk about the crowd being the 12th man is all about.

So where does it end. Back in the eighties there was a memorable riot down the Blues, instigated by Leeds fans and a young boy died during the course of it. So should there now be no transfers between the clubs? If so, for how long, forever? Why stop there? Should Leeds ever be allowed to sign any player ever again? Does any player that signs for Leeds become morally tainted, because he hasn't taken account of the fearsome and brutal history of the clubs fans. Actually, I think I would vote for that because I can't stand the bastards.

Over the months I have grown a bit fed up reading about what an awful man Hugo Chavez is, so called lefty rags such as the New Statesman being as guilty as anyone else in this, so three hearty cheers to Johan Hari for this, this and this. Chavez should be grateful that freedom loving yanks have been otherwise engaged for the last few years.

While we are at it, lets hear it for Evo Morales.

Talking of covert offensives

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Roll On Arte

So, what are you having for tea? A turkey twizzler or health guru Jamie's pasta sauce? I went right off Oliver, then sort of started to like him again, then went off him when his allotment and cooking programme went out earlier in the year, then I got the book of the programme and half the bloody recipes turn out crap............and the balsamic potatoes one ruined my best pan, and I'm not a man who can afford to be cavalier with his cooking implements.

Two great big cheers. One because the best sporting spectacle of the year has started, and started with a road race, not a boring time trial and the other for Valverde, who has set down a massive marker by winning the stage in a fantastic finish. Bugger it, let's have a third cheer.

I have noticed that in some quarters a Fleet Foxes backlash has begun, whereas I find the album improves with every listen. I suppose that it has been so hyped that newcomers to it believe that they will hear the best record ever made and are inevitably disappointed. All the references to the Band and CSNY and the Byrds and the Beach Boys don't help, because they don't really sound like any of them. I suppose they are old fashioned in the sense that they write songs, with melodies and fantastic harmonies; not that that you will find them on Sing Something Simple anytime soon, as they are utterly of the moment, although I suspect that they will endure. All of which is a long winded way of recommending this appreciation of them.

Regardless of the Fleet Foxes, the album I can't stop listening to is the new Silver Jews.

Talking of enduring, the chap who is sitting in for Iain Anderson this week played some Strokes yesterday. Not as disposable as you might think, it sounded great, although similarities to Tom Petty's American Girl were pointed out.

The Blues. Oh Dear. Pantomime season is continuing well into the close season. We have lost half our backroom staff, the reserves haven't been entered into a meaningful league, two of the buggers were enjoying their holiday so much they forgot to come back for work and our loveable Welsh midget owner has got himself embroiled in a sex scandal. Roll on August.

Friday, July 04, 2008

1952 Vincent Black Lightning

There are volumes and volumes of Rough Trade albums to be downloaded, if you are so inclined: they might even be available to buy. Whatever, you can stick your Stax and your Sun and your Atlantic, you can ever reconsider your Motown: Rough Trade is the best label there has ever been.

I was walking through our local Asda earlier, hoping to get at the Feta after the large and intemperate family moved on, when the large and intemperate mother gave the the cute and over tired daughter an almighty fucking wallop and advised her that next week, she was leaving her at home, on her own, and then social services would come and take her away. My flabber was gasted.

Why do all the men in our local Asda have crops and wear vests and strut and why do all the women just chew and chew and chew and chew. Are they all on fucking qat?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Work All Week

There is an article by Zoe Williams on faith schools in the Guardian today which I don’t particularly agree with but it raises some interesting points and contains a line which perfectly echoes my sentiments regarding the parents who will do anything to get their nippers in to a faith school: ” And if you really examine the social environment in these desirable schools, isn't it just characterised by obnoxious, pushy, lying, middle-class people?” I've said before that it amazes me how in this area, children are devoted to the Church Of Wales until the age of 11 only to, en masse, become Catholics from the age of of 11-16. I have no doubt that if Wiccans provided the best education, half the buggers up our street would have their children worshiping a horned God.

Williams concludes that it is pointless railing against faith schools and instead we should all battle for for state schools to be brought up to a similar standard. It’s a nice idea but an impossible task. They are too big, the numbers of disinterested or just too many; teachers have to concentrate all their energies on the lowest achieving, at the expense of the brightest, who are left to endure days of unutterable ennui. I cannot see any government having the will to put enough resources into these schools to make much of a difference.

I would have nothing against faith schools if they were self funding, but they are not, they exist because by and large the taxpayer funds them. I say, if the buggers feel strongly enough that they want their kids educated according to a particular religious doctrine, let them pay for it. If the funds that go into the faith schools went into mainstream schools, and more of these apparently brighter kids were then motivated (admittedly by financial concerns) to attend mainstream schools, there might be a levelling up, rather than a levelling down.

Even if I’m wrong, I don’t care, faith schools should be made to stand on their own two feet; the whole sector is a farce and religion has nothing to with the intake. As Williams points out they are ghetto's for pushy, obnoxious, middle class charlatans and I don’t really see why the state should help them at all.

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Rock The Nation

It was like the keystone kops in our house last night. The Mrs had taken the daughter off to do whatever mothers and daughters do and the two lads were in their respective dark dens and I had just sat down, with a beer, on the patio, having fired the barbie up and set some speakers up so I could listen to some mellow Spanish shit in the unaccustomed tranquility. Life was good.

Then I heard the Mrs shouting, though I couldn't make out what she was saying, then one of the cats came belting out of the living room, followed by a chuffing dog, followed by the Mrs, followed by the kids, all babbling incoherently while the dogs owner wailed outside and all the while doors being slammed open and closed in a effort to either keep the beast in, or keep him out, neither of which ploy was successful. The cat, in its panic, forgot it could climb tress and just ran round and round the garden, faster than I have ever seen it run before, so there were 7 of us in all, all chasing each other around the garden, yelling.

The Mrs finally caught the thing and handed it back to the owner, who was not embarrassed or apologetic at all. Then it rained. Very hard.

I don't usually watch the tennis but I got caught up in the drama of Murrays win the other night, however, I am glad that he was firmly put in his place earlier on today. I have nothing against the chap, but already the nation was on the verge of hysteria; if he had won against Nadal it would have been unbearable. There is no victory or defeat that our sane and rational nation cannot over react to. There is a good piece in The Guardian about the Wimbledon crowd, the tone of which is typified by this line "What you're seeing in close-up on your TV screen is the emotional zenith of the parish picnic,........."

It was always about the oil--that's why "we" invaded Iraq--only "we" aren't getting any, at least not at a reasonable price. The oil companies are.