Friday, February 25, 2011

It's a Shame

I'm like a number 11 bus. Wait all month for a post then 2 turn up at once. Used to be a good way to wag school, sitting on the number 11, bored shitless all day. Christ knows what children who didn't enjoy such privileges got up to. Doesn't bear thinking about.

I have added the Reducer to my meagre blogroll. The chap hasn't done much yet, but what he has done is rather good, and he is a Blues fan, and, if memory serves correct, an aficionado of Americana, so he's alright by me. Also, over there, there is link to Occupied Country, a brilliant blog, by an admirable mind, I thought the the blog was dead,  but it has been resurrected. In the age of 140 character erudition, it's good to know that there is still room for the wordy dinosaur.

Blues fans are besides themselves, quite rightly at the forthcoming event, but, sad to report, no one else gives a shit, apart from the odd Arsenal fan. I recall when I first moved away from Brum, and described myself as a Blues fan, people would be bewildered. The last time we got to the league cup final, my present gaffer was a newly qualified colleague, who shared my desk, above which hung a Blues calendar. I went on about it, she wasn't interested. It was a bit of a weekend in Cardiff, with some notable and hugely enjoyable rowdiness between Blues and Cardiff fans, all over the town. She noticed that on her skimpily dressed night out, when most of the pubs had been closed early. On Monday, she said, I didn't realise Birmingham were, like, a proper team.

That was 10 years ago. Our last league cup final appearance, so I don't buy this bollocks about it being our biggest game for 50 odd years, it's hype. Our Leyland Daf and Autowindscreen games were just as big, bigger probably, given the context of the time, and our play off win was definitely bigger, as, arguably, was our win against Reading a couple of years ago; not to mention Orient away in 1972. Anyway, if this the only one of that lot to be classed as a major final, our last major final was ten years ago, not 50 odd. The league cup is the league cup.

At this time of  a Friday night I would usually be listening to the reliably brilliant Ralph Maclean, but at times like this, exhilarating times like this, I prefer to listen to stuff I am comfortable with, stuff I can howl along to. I have had Todd Rundgren's One Victory playing a fair bit, and the Lovin Spoonful; it won't be long before I start lending my vocal finesse to the likes of "I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes" and "Pinball". "This Is Pop" is a good yellalong song too. Then there is anything by Nick Lowe or Dave Edmunds. I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax. I think there might be a song there, if only I could figure it out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Bloody hell. You turn your back for 5 minutes and people start rising up against murderous dictators all over the place. I have long believed that you can't beat the motherfucking man, but, it seems, you can. It's all a bit inspiring and a bit scary. The courage of the people rising up against their oppressors is hard to fathom. I might even be inspired to go on a fight the cuts march in Cardiff on Saturday, so long as the nippers game is called off. There's revolutionary zeal for you.

I experienced coach travel for the first time in about 30 years last week. I considered the cost of petrol up to Brum, and parking, and aggravation, and decided that the coach would be a much more relaxing and economical way to travel, so long as I bought a family coach card. I would say never again, but I have to go at least once more to make the coach card pay it's way, I'm stubborn like that.

I had thought that I might take the opportunity of having some nice scoff after the game in Brum, as we had 2 hours to kill. Normally, we drive in, see game and drive out, home for about 7 with a fair wind. So this was a rare opportunity to tarry a bit in the old home town. I hadn't counted on the sheer hungriness of Brummies, the poor, starving bastards. Every noshery had queues down the street, apart from one, which should have told us something. For canteen food it was alright, but unfortunately the clueless chumps did not charge canteen prices. Never again.

The Brummie hordes will travelling en masse to see Blues beat Arsenal in the League Cup final on Sunday. For one year only, this is not a Micky Mouse competition. Unless we lose, which simply won't happen.

I am on a decent run with the reading. I enjoyed James Lee Burkes last one, which was a return to form, despite having some familiar flaws, and would just about recommend. I read Mission Flats by Willam Landay a few years ago, really liked it, then forgot about him. I just read his "The Strangler" which is a hell of a book. Set in Boston in 1963, it is a bit of an epic, a family saga, a crime drama and a political expose. It has all the best bits of the latter-day Pelecanos, without the preaching, and contains the moral ambiguity of Richard Price. It's punch and pacy and contains some brilliant dialogue; it's also witty and erudite. What more could a chump want? I whizzed through it and was pissed off when I finished it.

I'm currently reading The Extermination Club by Jeffrey Moore, and it is a book I am struggling to keep away from. A drug addled rich kid has legged it to a remote part of Canada and saved the life of a strange, precocious and mistrustful teenager. The bad guys are animal hunters. It is a strange, but very readable book, with two immensely engaging, wise cracking main characters, and it is very, very funny. Very moving too. I suspect that by the end I will also have to add the word heartbreaking, but I hope not.

I might recommend William Landay's website while I am it, it is much better than the usual glorified merchandise stand.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Money Shuffle

I wish I could fall out of love with football. Actually, I think I did fall out of love with football years ago, but it’s a habit I can’t quite give up; it’s a relationship I can’t quite walk away from. I am like a beaten dog that runs up to his master every time the door goes, only to once again suffer the disappointment and indignity of a boot up the arse.
Liverpool fans did not want Torres to go, because they love him so, but, go he did, and there was weeping and wailing and burning of shirts. He is a traitor, the worst kind of traitor a dirty foreign bastard traitor. Andy Carroll, who seems like such a lovely young man, left Newcastle to go to Liverpool. The Liverpool fans will never take to him because, clearly, he is a traitor, not as bad as Torres, obviously, because he is English, but a traitor, nonetheless. Similarly, Suaraez is a traitor, Charlie Adam is a failed traitor.
The fans, and some of the managers, show a very warped moral compass, and it is this that irks, rather than the daft fees. We are all entitled to be disappointed when a favourite player leaves………….I was gutted when Jimmy Greenhoff left Blues all those years ago, but it was a lesson learned………….they are all mercenary, they don’t love our club like we do, and even if they do, the club will get rid of them anyway. It was an early, salutary lesson; don’t cry over spilt milk, or you will spend the rest of your miserable life weeping huge buckets. 
Fans no longer seem able to accept that players inevitably move on, and they feel the need to parade their grief like so many Diana morons. They go to the ground, for fucks sake. To the ground! Why? Why do they go the ground? We know why they go to the ground; they go to the ground because Sky parks itself at the ground We then have the unedifying spectacle of seeing some berk of a Sky presenter, no doubt on secondment from an estate agents, talk utter drivel while a load of people with learning difficulties gurn behind him. Of all the crimes that Sky has committed against football, this is surely the greatest…….allowing the unemployable license to cavort all day and all night on our TV screens.
Which  brings me on to Nicky Campbell. I rarely listen to him, but some times, if I have been listening to the football the night before, I hear him by accident. I have a problem with 5live generally, it seems to be dumbing down at  a rate of knots and with it’s endless trails for its own programmes and the moronic beats which accompany them, it is like listening to a commercial station,
Anyway, at some early morning hour yesterday he was interviewing a protester from Tahrir square. This would have been soon after a day and night of violence, during which peaceful protesters were attacked consistently by a small army of thugs, no doubt assembled form the desperate and decaying state apparatus. Shots had been fired. People had been killed. The people in the square have shown remarkable courage. Campbell goaded the woman. He was desperately trying to get  her to admit to a liking for extreme Islamism. 
Now, I know nothing about Egypt, apart from what I have read this week. All that I have read indicates that Egypt is fairly secular and that the religious elements in the country don’t tend to be of the extreme variety. No doubt there are extremists, but in the circumstances, that hardly seem to be the point. Campbell was being a prize prick and doing what he is best at, petty, childish, point scoring. The story in Egypt is the scale of the uprising, the peaceful uprising, not militant Islam.  
What happens next in Egypt is an important issue, and it is legitimate to discuss it. It is even legitimate for Campbell to discuss it, but not with a woman who was clearly distressed and frightened, having endured a night of extreme terror and violence. Imagine being in that square, all night, in the dark, no home comforts, no toilet, no food, no possibility of sleep; rocks and petrol bombs raining down for hour after hour, shots having been fired. Imagine experiencing that, and imagine that the BBC asks you to come on the air and tell your story, and you have to put up with the idiot Campbell giving a masterclass in how to be a snide wanker. 
The new James Lee Burke. I am persisting, and I think it is better than some of his recent efforts, and, as ever, by God, he keeps you turning the pages, but, Jesus, I am having an increasingly hard time tolerating his overblown prose. He seems to be knocking out a book every year; I think he should take a couple of years off, recharge his batteries, then come back and knock us all out.
Blues have West Ham again on Sunday. Should be a laugh. I predict that we will moida da bums.