Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sea of Tears

If the connoisseurs had been salivating at the prospect of Fulham V Birmingham City, they would now be disappointed. It wasn't a bad game, but the game was not characterised by the silky skills of the participants (Hleb apart).Blues looked quite lively in the first half, as did Fulham, actually, but, Fulham looked very vulnerable every time Blues attacked with malign intent……. and there's the rub; Blues were not malign enough, often enough.

Blues took the lead after some fucking superb, high class work by Hleb who put Larrsson in to score. YES!!!! was my first thought. My second  thought was, shit, we are going to close up the shop now, and invite them to try and burgle us. The obduracy of our defence is rightly lauded, maybe I'm a philistine, but I prefer to watch the beautiful game. This was an occasion when Blues could have given us a treat, Fulham were there for the taking, but no, onto the back foot we went. The mantra seems to be "what we have, we hold"

Fulham looked much livelier in the second half, but only because we allowed them to. Whereas we were passing the ball forward in the first half, we resorted to lumping it aimlessly up the field, or in the general direction of Cameron Jerome, which has the same effect as an aimless punt up the field, as the ball immediately comes back. And there we were: a practice game, attack v defence. Until we got burgled.

From there on we huffed, they puffed, but no one blew the house down. It was a fair result in the end and a point for us, away from home, is not to be sniffed at. I am convinced though, that with a bit more ambition, a bit more heart and effort in going forward,  we would have scored more. Mind you, we were much more adventurous than last week, doubling the number of shots we had on target. Still, we have gone above the Villa, and that will do nicely. Very nicely.

The England cricket team sailed off to the antipodes with the expectation that they would murder an Australian team which is in disarray. The players were full of it, ex coaches were full of it, the media was full of it, social media was full of it. Even the Aussies waded in. 3 days in, Australia are, predictably, murdering us.

I shouldn't like boxing, but I do and I will be searching for a stream of the Froch fight later on (I don't like it enough to actually pay for it!) Meanwhile, here is a brilliant report of the Pacquiao v Margarito ruckus

God: a divine North Korea

Transcript of the Blair  / Hitchens ding dong.

I'm struggling to find a decent book to read. I've tried the new Jonathan Coe and couldn't get on with it, A John Connolly which had promise but failed to keep the promise and not one, but two Alan Fursts, which were both horrible. I have just started Haileys War, but have no great hopes for it. It is freezing cold out there; one of life's pleasures is to be in the warm, snug as a bug, immersed in a book. I am fed up. It seems like a waste of a beautiful winter.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Blues 1 Chelsea 0. I know Chelsea had screwed up at home to Sunderland the week before so there isn’t quite the shock there that there might have been, but this is still a hell of a result for Blues. It is also a hilarious result. Throughout the game, Chelsea had more shots than any other team have managed in any prem game this season. Blues had one shot on target. And won. We did what we do well, defended for our lives without ever really looking to add to our lead, and, due to a combination of utter brilliance by Ben Foster and good luck, we prevailed.

I’ve said before that we are capable of defending stoutly against even the best teams. We don’t find it so easy to score goals against the lesser teams though, which could become a problem. I read that we are creating chances this season but are not putting them away. I don’t really buy that, our mindset is a cautious one, and we don’t go for it until we have too. We do create chances then, but panic has set in, I wonder if our strikers (I’m looking at you Cameron) would have calmer heads if we played on the front foot a bit more consistently.

Ed Milliband returned to work today after his paternity leave. Finally, the opposition will have some consistent leadership. Given the free ride that this bastard coalition has had since the election, I would have quite liked Ed to have taken a shorter break. It is as if he starting all over again now. Of course, it could be that he is a
zen socialist. I like the sound of that. I don’t know what it is, but I like the sound of it.

Being slightly less than svelte myself,
I was interested in an article by Johan Hari this morning, all about how he lost some weight, with the help of a personal trainer, which isn’t an option available to all of us. It tells us nothing new, except that Hari is surprisingly funny, and he makes some pertinent points about physical education in schools at the end of it, points that I have made myself in the past, so I obviously agree with them.

My youngest came home from school the other day clutching some kind of mission statement, which stated the schools commitment to an overtly Christian value base. I suppose that’s preferable to an overtly fascist value base, but it dismays me, all the same. We have a school at the end of our road which has the reputation of being the best primary in town, but it is a church school. We didn’t want the nippers to have an overtly Christian education so sent them to an ordinary LEA school, further away, and with no reputation at all. The oldest two have now moved on but youngest is still there. I’m sure they have had God shoved down their throats much more than would have been the case at the church school. Mind you, it seems to be compulsory to own a huge four wheel drive vehicle at the church school, so we wouldn’t have fulfilled the eligibility criteria anyway.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Farewell Sorrow

It was a bit of a non event at Eastlands today. Blues put on a performance reminiscent of last years invincibles and held Manchester City at bay for a valuable point. Not that they took much holding off. I said yesterday that Manchester City are profoundly unimpressive and their performance today has done nothing to change that view.

The cognoscenti, typically, are hailing one of the great defensive performances of all time. It was a good, solid defensive performance, against a poor team, who offered little attacking threat, so I wouldn't go overboard, just yet. We are very capable of nullifying the threat of even very good teams, that's what we did last year. The test is at the other end, where we create little and put away hardly any of the few chances we do create. Defending well is all well and good, an away point is all well and good, and I am very happy with it, but the flaws which have left us at the wrong end of the table are still there. We need some wins.

Also, we should not let the euphoria of a well earned point blind us to the fact that, once again, Cameron Jerome, made completely  the wrong decision and even then screwed up his execution, when we were very well placed to score. It would be irrational to pretend that a 0-0 has transformed our season. But I'm happy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A grim Tuesday night for Blues saw them play like half wits and go 2 down to Stoke before coming back to 2-2 and finally lose 3-2. The cognoscenti are unhappy, they think we are too negative and lack pace. No shit, Sherlock. Some of us have been saying that for the last two and a bit seasons. Not that I would be so crass as to say "I told you so".

We have the profoundly unimpressive Manchester City tomorrow. A comfortable 3 points for us, I think.

I'm as prone to hype as the next man. When the Haye v Harrison fight was announced I was filled with a massive indifference. Now I can hardly wait.

Johan Hari on blistering form, laying into young Nick Clegg: the man who cleared a space in his swanky new ministerial offices and staged a bonfire of his principles. Remember when Portillo was beaten? Remember that elation? Imagine that times 100. That's how I will feel when the good citizens of Sheffield deliver their verdict on him at the next election. All assuming that the outcome is the one I want, of course!

A man on Twitter, a man I wouldn't know if he walked up and punched me on the nose, keeps recommending that I listen to music he likes, and I'm glad he does, because he likes some brilliant stuff. I doubt that I would ever have heard of Hayes Carll or Kendel Carson without his recommendations and they are both, fucking ace. It does beg the question though, what are American parents on when they name their children? If you like Caitlin Rose you will definitely like Kendel, and if you don't know Caitlin Rose, you are depriving yourself.

Hayes Carll 

Kendel Carson

Caitlin Rose

I'm reading Serpentine, by Tom Morton. I've seen it in the library loads of times without being tempted, mainly because he is best known as an afternoon DJ on Radio Scotland. I couldn't see how a DJ could be any good and assumed it was just some vanity project. I was wrong. The book is utter nonsense and is as implausible as they come, but by God, it's a page turner. Funny in parts too. Bit risky as well. And cheeky. I think he is probably a bit of a card.

Watching the nipper train tonight, another Dad said, I didn't know Charlie was left footed, I said he isn't. The man was gobsmacked as Charlie is more comfortable with his left than most of the others are with their right. That's my boy. Genuinely two footed players are as rare as rocking horse shit………I hope he remembers his old dad when he is raking in the millions. You never know, if he keeps it up he might even be as good as me, one day.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Dixie Chicken

My prediction was awry. The immutable law did not kick in, although it threatened to, We were pretty shit though. Of course, seeing your team come back from 2 goals down makes your heart swell with pride; then you remember that you were playing the team who are bottom of the league, and that you looked second best for most of the game, and the heart becomes a little less swollen. The game showed up the beauty and absurdity of it all though, with 2 very poor teams somehow managing to contrive an excellent finish.

Following yesterdays mumbling about art and protest, Bob Piper has alerted us all to this.

Danny Baker is poorly. His mate has written a rather beautiful appreciation. Remember, without Baker, we would never have been able to enjoy the unique wit, wisdom and insight of David Mellor of a Saturday tea time. We have a lot to be grateful for.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Beasley Street

Blues play West Ham tomorrow. Their owners used to be our owners. It would have been nice to welcome them back with all the hospitality for whichthye  St Andrews crowd is justly famed for, but it won't happen, not to David Gold. He has been banned. This is hilarious. He and Sully disrespected  Yeung et al, all through the changeover process, and probably also stitched them up like kippers. Having trousered the money, Gold wanted to stay on, but he was told to go forth and multiply. He made some rather rude comments in one of the papers this week and has now been banned from the ground. We are a class act and no mistake.

As for the game, everyone is confidently expecting us to win comfortably, on the grounds that West Ham are even worse than the Villa. They are ignoring the immutable law……." The Bastards Will Always Let You Down". Get your money on a West Ham victory.

There was a decent article in the Guardian this morning on the best football documentaries. The Graham Taylor one gets a mention, as it should because it is brilliant. I was pleased to see  a mention for 'Six Days to Saturday" a 1963 documentary all about Swindon Town. It is really good in itself, but is an absolutely fascinating piece of history. Players walk to the ground, they live in terraced houses,  and Ernie Hunt supplements his income cutting his team mates hair. Yes. That Ernie Hunt.  If you get a chance to see it, you should.

There was also an article by John Harris, bemoaning the lack of a counter to the coalition in the arts. Hang on John, son, it's only been 6 fucking months. Give the artists time to sharpen their pencils. I'm sure there is plenty of stuff out there, in the pubs and the little places, he should probably get out a bit more. A more pertinent point is that protest music is usually shit. Billy Bragg is shit. I prefer Charles Bragg. Crass were shit. John Cooper Clarke was brilliant, but he looked at  desolation rather than politics. The best political band we have had is Gang of Four, and they were hardly a laugh a minute.

In literature, the best protest writer this nation has seen in many a year is James Kelman, and look what happened when he won the Booker. The poor fucker was lucky he didn't get strung from a lamp post for his working class temerity. Crime is the best source of radical literature, and crime emanating from Glasgow, and Edinburg, and, to a lesser extent Dublin, is the best of a very good bunch. It does not call for revolution, but it examines the minutiae of wrecked communities and people and psyches in way that you won't see in the mainstream. It's there though, if you care to look for it.

Never mind all that. I am listening to Elliot Brood, again. What a band. Even listening in a warm kitchen on a miserable, black winters night, as soon as I hear the first chord, I am back in a tent, in a field, in Dorset, going apeshit, with a few hundred other old bastards, all grinning from ear to ear.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

One of Those Days in England

Not a bad result, in the end, against the Villa and the ref. If Cameron Jerome was a footballer, rather than an athlete, we might have won it, but at least we stopped the rot. Steven Carr is more gracious than me, praising the ref for having a good game and handling things well; I thought he was mediocre, could have given us at least one pen and should have sent the hot headed and unstable Reo Coker off. The good news is that we are showing signs of finding some form, all we have to do now is find some goals and we will be laughing.

I read yesterday that Danny Alexander was horrified at what was left for him by Labour. Christ, Dan, knock it on the head willya? It is tiresome. I also heard Vince Cable defending some outrageous policy or other. In a coalition we have to compromise, in the national interest, he said, again. I'm fed up of it. At the risk of being a bit repetitive myself, how come all these compromises end up with the poor getting the shitty end of the stick? Mind you, they are being brave these liberals. A poll  has said that the public has turned against PR and it seems pretty clear that the public has turned against the libs. May I be the first to mention turkeys and Christmas?

Some photos of Liverpool in 1975 by Paul Trevor. I am very impressed with these and I envy the photographer his chutzpah. I can be a bit snap happy myself, but I don't have the courage to approach strangers, I don't even have the courage to snap people I don't know from the safety of a long lens. Can't remember who it was, but someone took a load of pictures of people in Merthyr Tydfil in the seventies and had them published a year or two ago. Brilliant stuff.

I missed a train in Cardiff yesterday and decided to just walk around taking random snaps, without framing or focussing. The results were predictably shit, but one or two were quite pleasing.  I might adopt it is an approach.

Hah. I remembered.  Some pics.

How times change, not so long ago, if I had missed a train, I would have headed straight for the nearest boozer, and I wouldn't have been in any hurry to leave it.

Our trade journal, which, truth be told, is only scanned for the jobs, used to have pages and pages and pages of vacancies. Hundreds of vacancies. Last week there were 4. Not pages, adverts. This week there are 10, but only 4 for actual social work. Bear in mind that there is a recruitment and retention crisis in social work. The bite is on.

Eligibility criteria has been tightened in our department. I had to compose a letter to someone I had assessed but who wouldn't be getting a service. There must be a standard letter, I thought, but there wasn't, so I e mailed colleagues in other authorities asking for a copy of their standard letters. None of 'em had one. They don't exist, but, everyone agreed that we need one, because eligibility criteria is becoming so tight that soon the only buggers with an IQ low enough to qualify for a service will be Villa fans. I invented one in the end, a nice personal one, much better. If anyone wants to buy a copy, I'm happy to negotiate a fair price!

I've been reading "The Rising" by Brian McGilloway. His stylistic resemblance to James Lee Burke is stark and it puts me off a bit. It's not just the familiarity of the characters, it's the sentence construction. It is incredibly readable but there are bits and pieces that grate with me. Like Lee Burke, his hero will piss his wife or someone (always female) that he admires off, and, rather than explaining, the hero will say something like: "I saw David O'Leary today".  The hapless partner will be expected to understand why this represents a terrible event. The wife / comrade will then go off in a huff and the hero will feel guilty. The good news is that unlike Lee Burke, he does not present the women as angels………..long suffering, but not angels. In fact the Devlin wife comes across a bit of a harridan.

As with Lee Burke, the hero is flawed but sensitive, more flawed than sensitive. We are expected to sympathise with  a hero with few redeeming characteristics, but, to give the author credit, we do sympathise. As with Lee Burke the major villain is a devil, as cunning as a fox, as amoral as a gold buyer in a shopping mall, and as duplicitous as Gideon. The hero and villain enjoy a strange relationship, reverse side of the same coin. Yin. Yang. In short all of McGilloways books get on my nerves, all of Lee Burkes books get on my nerves. But I can't put 'em down.