Saturday, October 30, 2010


I'm sitting here, contemplating tomorrows game and listening to Mickey Newbury. He is brilliant, how come I had never heard of him before?

Nick Clegg was outraged the other day, when a labour MP talked of London being socially cleansed as a result of the housing benefit cuts. He got himself into quite a lather, and did that thing that Cameron does and pretended to be really angry. A simple phrase, that's all it was, and, despite his rather funny protests, an apposite phrase. It's a pity that he can't get a bit more worked up about the damage that he and Dave and Gideon are wreaking upon us all. It's strange, isn't it, that every time this cabal of clowns sees unfairness, they put it right by kicking the poor in the teeth.

We have the Villa tomorrow, at Krap Alliv. We owe them a doing, and tomorrow we will pay that debt, in spades. I am sure of it. Villa are a bit shit to start with, but they are missing a few tomorrow, and we will win, at a chuffin canter!

I went see The Duke and The King again last night at The Fleece and Firkin, in Bristol. I hadn't been there for a good 16 years and it was not as I remembered it. I'm sure it used to have an upstairs. I mentioned a few weeks ago that the new album wasn't much good. I was too hasty, and have revised my opinion……….it is superb, it just takes a few listens. They put on a brilliant, and intense show last night, and played with just some red lights in the background, so they were just about in darkness. Turns out Simones dad had died a day or two before, which probably explains it. It would also explain the lack of playfulness that you usually get with this lot and the frequent group hugs that went on through the set.

Whatever, it was probably the best I have seen them, and the packed crowd lapped it up. There was a bloke behind me, who had come on a whim, who just kept repeating, over and over; " this band is amazing" I hope they get their due and sell loads of records and make loads of cash, they are seriously talented, as individuals and as a collective but I will miss seeing them in small, intimate venues.

I have also had a listen to the new Giant Sand, "Blurry Blue Mountain". It's beautiful.

Last year, the twelve men of Villa were very fortunate to beat us, in fact it was unjust. Stephen Carr endeared himself to Blues fans by strolling off the pitch giving the wanker sign to the Villa fans. He has further endeared himself this week by saying that he does not regret his gestures; he only regrets being treated like a child by the disciplinary committee. If only Harriet Harman and Boris Johnson had the same backbone, both of them made salient points  this week and both of them have backtracked, shamefully.  Tossers!

While I am on about Boris, what has happened to his hair? He used to be liked because he was a Bunterish buffoon, scruffy, with unkempt hair, now the hair is very artfully scruffy………..slightly distressed, probably. It is clear that some stylist is carefully arranging his hair to make it look like he has just give it a quick rub with a towel and left the house. This is uncool. By all means tidy yourself up, but, c'mon, be natural.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bur Oak

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I predicted that Blackpool would stuff us. I was so confident of this that I dropped Foster and Dann from my fantasy team; a decision which cost me many points; it didn't matter though, because my ability at fantasy football is as good as my ability at predicting football results: shit.

What I did get right was that it would be a good game. Blackpool came to attack, and, surprisingly, we set out with attacking intent ourselves, with both O'Connor and Zigic picked, as well as Hleb. It was, as the sages say, end to end, and both teams created, and missed chances with pleasing regularity.

The good news is that we scored 2, the less good news is that they were from set pieces. I would love to see us score from open play, it hardly ever happens. Zigic showed his quality with both goals, winning a good header and putting the ball against the bar from an acute angle, with ace goal poacher Ridgemill following up.  The two combined again for the second, with Ridgemill doing very well to keep a wayward attempt from Johnson in play, which allowed Zigic to show a true strikers instinct to pounce on a clumsy bit of control by a Blackpool man. I would bet one English shilling that Jerome would not have been alert enough to score that one.

It would be nice to say that we then went on to hammer a poor defensive team who were committed to reckless attack, but we didn't. As ever, we settled for what we had and shut up shop, or tried to, Blackpool continued to create chances, although the result was never really in doubt. Replacing a striker with a left back showed our ambition. Not many Blues fans would agree with me, but this gets on my tits, a bit. It costs a bleeding fortune to go to a match, and it would be nice to see us really go for it and show no mercy. Still, it was a good and much needed win, and we played really well, so I shouldn't  complain.

It's been a bit of a depressing week in politics, although none of it came as a surprise. It is highly amusing to hear Cameron and Osborne talk of the shit they have inherited, with absolutely no sense of irony. It was almost as funny as reading about how Clegg, the bastard, lectured people in Nottingham on life in the "real world" It is true, that the world he inhabits is real to him, but to most of us, it is the stuff of fantasy.

Nick Robinson was funny too, calmly taking a placard of a protester and demolishing it. I can no longer decide why I hate the twerp: I don't know if it is because he is a motherfucking Tory bastard, or if it is because he such an oafish little twerp. Still, it's nice to live in a democracy, where you are free to opine, although, to avoid potential embarrassment, it might be worth asking Robinson if it is OK before you open your trap. I loved the way another placard popped up; it was like whack a mole.

Genuinely funny is this Guardian piece about a bloke who replied to spam e mails and gave the spammers a bit of a runaround.

I have, just this very day, discovered Netsayi. She is bloody fantastic, and she has plenty of stuff available on Spotify. Do yourself a favour and check some of it out 

I have been working my way through the Jamie Oliver 30 minute book. It's a misnomer, it should be titled "30 minutes if you have an army of helpers, don't include the washing up and can afford very expensive ingredients". Most of it is actually superb, I did his rogan josh tonight though and it is garbage. He recommended a curry paste and as I suspected, it was no good. You can't shortcut a curry! The lemon pickle was profoundly disgusting. Don't let that put you off though, it's a good book!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Small Town Saturday Night

After yesterdays little Shearer rant, it was interesting to read James Lawtons obituary of Malcolm Allison. It is a shame that we have more Shearers in the game than we do Allisons. Allison was forward thinking long before it was fashionable, and was a bit of a card to boot.

It would be stretching a point to say that Blues were unlucky against the Arses today, as we were thoroughly outplayed, but we did OK. It is no disgrace to be out passed and outmanoeuvred by Arsenal, but I thought we played with a lot of courage, if not much finesse. Plenty of teams go there and get hammered; we avoided that, despite having to play against 12 men. What has Martin Atkinson got against us? I'm sure he must be a Villa fan.

I watched on the  PC (yay for the interweb) and amused myself by tweeting throughout the game. Early on I said that we needed to be braver or we would get stuffed. Just before we  scored. My original comment was justified, I think, because we had got ourselves in a good position, but were too scared to get on the front foot, and as result lost the ball and were lucky not to go behind following a swift counter attack.

Our goal was a good one, a good cross from the unfairly maligned Fahey was met by a good header from the criminally maligned Zigic. Zigic was a plus point. He is a much better footballer than Jerome, if not quite in the same league as an athlete, and should keep his place. He does not offer the same power and athleticism, but he does offer touch and awareness. If I wanted to see a big black bloke running fast with a sulky look on his face, I would go to Birchfield Harriers. I have no interest in seeing such a chap at St Andrews. If we have to rejig the team to suit Zigic, so be it; it will pay dividends.

We played well (ish) throughout. We didn't create much, we never do, so could hardly expect any different at the Emirates, and there were times when the Arses cut through us as effortlessly as Jamie Oliver slices a garlic clove, but we not only held firm, we tried to pass our way out of defence. I cannot stress enough how happy this made me. We have a tendency to hoof it away when we are under pressure, gifting the ball back, but, today, we made the buggers win the ball back. I like that.

We must bear in mind we were missing Gardner and Faddy. This will not mean much to non Blues fans, and may not mean much more to a few actual Blues fans, but they were our most influential players early in the season. We did alright.

Having said that, Carr seems to have become a bit accident prone and Bowyer is not as effective or dynamic as he was……..everything seems to be an effort for him: he  still gives his all though. There won't be much point buying replacements in January, as Eck has a baffling tendency to not trust the players he signs. It makes a bit of a mockery of his "due diligence" mantra.

Aesthetically, the Arses were a disgrace today. If they had been Wolves or Stoke they might have had three sent off. One of them, possibly Arshavin, stuck his knee into Ridgemill, not once, but twice. The first may have been forgivable in the heat of the moment, the second was dealt after he had time to cool down. An innocuous slap about the face would have seen him sent off, so how does he, or anyone else, get away with sticking the boot in?

This was typical of the Arses performance throughout. Spiteful, petulant, and sneaky. Lets not forget the blatant dive by Chamak for the pen either. Not to mention the outrageously dangerous, dirty tackle by Wilshere on Zigic. While we are at it, Song could have been booked at least 3 times. At the risk of sounding like a pathetic victim, our players got booked for very innocuous challenges while the likes of Song and Arshavin got away with murder. I wonder what Wenger would have to say about his team if he had watched as a neutral.

Should be a good game next week at Stans. Cheap tickets for a game against unfashionable Blackpool should draw a crowd, and Blackpool will come to score goals, and may well stuff us, as we never set out to score goals. I would much rather see us play the likes of a very decent Blackpool side, with  both sides going for the win, and with us having a realistic chance of a win, than pay scary prices to see us put 11 men behind the ball against the likes of Chelsea.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chain of Fools

There is an interview with Alan Shearer in the Telegraph this morning. It is interesting. He says that he has all his badges and would like to manage England, and goes on to explain why he should never be allowed near the job.
According to Al, tackles of the kind that Danny Murphy so deplores, should, in fact, be tolerated…..nay……encouraged…….nay………..applauded. The De Jong tackle was ok, because he went for the ball: that he also intended to take the man is irrelevant; he was always taught to “take everything”. He extols the virtues of hardness and toughness; he likes players who are nasty. Talking about Arsenal he speaks more admiringly of the team of 10 years ago than he does the present one; the reason being the old lot “was an absolute nightmare because of Bould, Adams, Keown, Winterburn and Dixon. You knew in the first 10 minutes you’d get battered.”
He says he admires the great managers, but he also relishes the tale of himself giving a sheeps heart as a present to one of Newcastle’s foreigners who was deemed to lack courage. Great man management, that. He talks, probably correctly, of the fans loving the harder, more physical side of the game and says that a hard tackle generates a louder cheer than a great pass. 
He is dismissive of those who say he is not very good on Match of the Day. The only people who are complaining are critics and punters. It’s strange that he values the opinion of the punter when he is applauding a robust challenge, but considers it worthless when it comes to a general appreciation of football, or the art of criticism. He says “I’ve actually played the game and can pick something out that the people watching can’t see like why Fernando Torres is struggling.’’   Well, Al, that’s all well and good, but the problem is, you don’t say anything. You may understand it, but you don’t articulate it, that’s why you are shit.
The bigger, and more important issue though, is his philosophy on the game. It is rooted in the past, deep in the past. The inglorious past. The past that is characterised by failure after failure after failure. Humiliation after humiliation. How does Al explain this? He doesn’t. This is why he should never be let near the England team. He refuses to see that the game has progressed, and has left England in it's wake. Has he noticed how Barcelona and Spain play the game, how Germany have evolved? He probably has, but doesn't see that it has any relevance to us. The man who doles out sheeps hearts as gifts and who was famously ignorant of the existence of Hatam Ben Arfa , probably doesn't spend much time trying to broaden his horizons.

Shearer out!

Rogan Taylor was entertaining this morning on the subject of Liverpool, unfortunately, the clip begins with Robert Peston.

Blues go to the Arse tomorrow and it is as plain as the nose on yer face that we will moida da bums!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Love Hurts

The Tories seem to have taken a liking to the word fairness. Jeremy Hunt was very keen on it on newsnight last week. "Snot fair"! he squeaked. Hard working families have to limit the number of children they have and so should the scrounging classes. No one ever mentions working families who don’t work hard, don’t know why. "Fair" comes up over and over again, like a neocon mantra. Everything the government does, it does in the interests of fairness……………it is only fair that……………it is not fair that. I don’t like it. I think it is crude and simplistic and leads to a crude and simplistic analysis. I would much prefer them to use the word just, mind you I would like them to consider what the word actually means before trotting it out.
There were good articles in the yesterdays papers on this. The best was in the Sunday Herald, by the reliably cogent Ian Bell and I recommend it with big brass knobs on, the other was by Will Hutton, who makes the rarely heard point that there are plenty of undeserving rich knocking about, and that, as well as being undeserving, they actively seek to undermine the system, to which I say, "Snot Fair"!

I wrote this the other day, but have only just got around to posting it, and since writing it the use of the word fair seems to have developed into something of a national crisis, every time I open a paper, or a web page or turn on the radio, someone is debating what the word actually means. If it carries on, the word will become utterly meaningless, if it hasn't already. I heard Nick Clegg describe the new proposals for tuition fees as fair. Er, beg pardon? This is the same Nick Clegg who only a few short months ago pledged, along with every other lib dem, to resist any rise in tuition fees. Already, the word fair, when uttered by liberals and conservatives, seems to mean the exact opposite of its original meaning.

Similarly, to "Clegg", will come to mean: "to abandon all ones principles and dignity"

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Our Spanish Love Song

There is an article in todays Independent all about the street food of Britain, and it helpfully provides recipes, so we can all make our own street food, at home. We may even sell it up and down our streets. The recipes include: Scallops with celeriac, bacon and seashore vegetables; Black pudding Scotch duck eggs, and, Lemon granita. I don't know what street the bloke lives on, but I very much doubt it is the same street as me. Around here, street food consists of very dodgy burgers, sometime with a strange, sticky, yellow substance, and bacon baps, bought from heavily tattooed women in vans, and very fucking delicious they are too. Mind you, for all I know they all do scallops with sea vegetables, but I have never thought to ask.

As a lad I used to love the exotic street food of dear old Brummagem. You had the blokes all over town with their carts (think cover of Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic !) of hot dogs and burgers, sitting in hot water, and boiled onions. They hit the spot, every time. Best of all was the caravan thingy, that mysteriously appeared in the night by the pigeon park. You could get a proper cheese cob………a crusty cob and a slice of cheese cut half an inch thick. That was it, no mustard mayo or sea veg required. Invariably though, at 4 in the morning, waiting for the night bus, I would go for a pie and a bovril, and, invariably, I would suffer, because, then, as now, I had a chronic inability to learn from my mistakes.

They had a tendency to stick a wooden fork in the middle of the pie, which was always very hot, before sticking it in a paper bag and handing it to you. Week after week, I would order a pie and a bovril, bite into the pie, fork and all, burn the roof of my mouth, yelp in surprise and drop piping hot bovril down my leg. It was embarrassing and it was painful. I always used to fall over the same garden wall when I was completing the two mile yomp from the bus stop too. Exhaustion, probably.

It's been a good week for the coalition, innit?. Gideon and Dave make up policy on the hoof and make themselves look like complete tits, Michael Heseltine turns into his own spitting image puppet and gets bested by some genial old duffer on newsnight and Jeremy Hunt turns out to be a bit of a silly hunt. And the Mail on Sunday turns on Nick Clegg. I would be pissing myself if it wasn't all so depressing.

No football today, it's the international break. I hate the international break; it's bad enough when England are playing but they haven't had a game this weekend. Bloody hell, Tony Currie and Gerry Francis managed to play at the weekend having had an international in the week, surely these athletes with there scientific training methods and diets could manage as well as those podgy old buggers.

Still it allows time to reflect on the Blues. The jury is out. It's like 12 Angry Men. Brother is against brother, families are being split, blood feuds are commonplace, it's like being in the Camorra.

Eck is either an idiot or a genius. Jerome is either a misused player of the highest class, or a donkey (he is a donkey) Zigic has hardly played, but, apparently, he is shit. Michel has hardly played, but, apparently, he is shit. Redmond is 16 years old, he played 10 minutes against fucking Wimbledon. He should start every game, apparently. It seems that he is a sort of hybrid of Stanley Mathews, Pele, and  Phil Summerhill. It's the same old same old with Blues fans. We are either the best in the world or the worst in the world. There is no in-between.

Having said that, I'm not happy, but I wasn't happy last year either. We are defensive minded. For all our pretty passing, which is exaggerated anyway, we don't pass it that much, we offer no poke. I have gone on about it long enough before, there is no need to repeat myself, but I will say that as long as we have Jerome in the team, and as long as the midfield refuse to support him, for whatever reason, we will struggle to score goals, and, therefore, we will struggle.

There is a worrying new trend though. We don't appear to like it up us. In two games this season, West Brom, and, I forget the other, possibly Wigan, or Sunderland, we were cruising in the first half, looking very comfortable. In  both games though, the opposition came out in the second half with a much more purposeful intent and we caved in. We didn't have courage on the ball, we didn't pass it, we got rid of it, shifted it on, usually to an opponent and we invited pressure. It does not augur well, it augurs ill.

Life would be shit though, wouldn't it, if we didn't have a football team to worry or bicker about. I raise a glass to shit football teams and fickle fans up and down the land.

I have  had a bit of a lucky streak with books. The last Don Winslow is better than the previous one, The last Walter Mosley is superb, and the most recent Brian McGilloway, while all too reminiscent of James Lee Burke, is as readable as his others. I have just, this very day, discovered Denise Mina, and I like her a lot, a hell of a lot. Best of all Ryan David Jahn "Acts of Violence" It is brilliant. The first 60 pages got on my nerves and I thought, this isn't a novel, it is series of vignettes………..very clever, but not really a novel. But then, out of the blue, it gripped me, and it didn't let go, and it is still gripping me now.


Nearly forgot, Henry Winter, the brother of England's most influential Muslim, has written a very warm article about Joe Hart and Ben Foster. Common denominator: Us!