Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hello

Been a while. Since July, in fact. A lot's happened since then. Despite wars in Georgia and Congo, John Sergeant being rubbish at dancing dominated the news. Closer to home, the spectre of cancer reared it's ugly head. First the wife of my very best mate succumbed at the age of 37 and, a few days ago, so did my dad. It's a bugger is cancer. Utterly indiscriminate. It made for a sombre christmas round our way.

Anyway, 'appen I'll do a bit more on this in the future. Lord knows, there's enough to wind me up going on all the time. All these adverts offering squillions of percent off certain items in sales. Yes, I know you're desperate. Enough already. Oh, and that NatWest advert offering free advice (so long as you have one of their accounts). "Do you shop around for gas and electricity?" says adviser. "No" comes the response to which she says "well you should". That's not advice. That's bullying.

And to end on a cheery note, here's ex-City man Chris Iwelumo proving that you can take the man out of the Conference, but you can't take the Conference out of the man:



Chris Iwelumo: that's Conference.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

That's Conference!

Mario Gomez: That's Conference!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Apropos of nothing

Just browsing and found this. Schizo Fun Addict's 'Dream of a Portugal keeper'. (Perhaps they mean this one; I don't know)



Groovy

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cured

There is a new cure for stress related illnesses. It's called Allen Stanford's millions. One testimony from 'MT' of Taunton said "I was so ill, I could barely bring myself to leave the county, let alone travel overseas. But after one application of Stanford's millions, I feel fine and ready for a trip to the Carribbean".
Marvellous stuff is Stanford's millions.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Double header

Some time ago, there was a radio discussion about film double headers, i.e. going to the flicks and watching two films with either a topical or amusing link. I've found the two films I wish to see in such a manner. Now it's a case of finding the appropriate venue.
In this order, I reckon Taxi To The Dark Side followed by Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay would make for a good afternoon.

The game

It's been a funny old week.
First, we had the bizarre situation of the Conservatives making civil liberties arguments against a Labour government. This left many of us in a terrible tizz. How could it possibly have come to the point where, on a matter of principle - that of not banging people up without having the decency to tell them why for up to six weeks - it was the Tories that were speaking up on behalf of people, like me, who find the whole thing completely abhorrent.
That was then followed by David Davis's extraordinary manoeuvre of resigning his seat, forcing a bye-election over East Yorkshire way. Fortunately, the universe was restored in the wake of his resignation with a Tory talking head saying how 42 days wasn't the answer to the problem, but the Human Rights Act, which the Tories have pledged to abolish on getting into power. Muppets. Anyway, order restored and I could once again sleep soundly, safe in the knowledge that the Conservatives are still hateful idiots.
Neither the governement nor the major opposition parties - or UKIP - are fielding candidates against Davis. As far as the government are concerned, this was the only move possible, leaving Davis bellowing into the wind and denying him the opportunity for debate that he craves. Instead, Kelvin Mackenzie, former Sun head twat, who supports 420 day detention without charge according to a Radio 4 interview yesterday, is picking up the cudgels. I'd be half tempted to have a go myself if no other bugger is going to represent my views, if I had the money for a deposit and the inclination to spend time on the outskirts of Hull campaigning.

And then to Ireland, where the EU Lisbon reform treaty was rejected in a referendum following a lamentable yes campaign versus a thick fug of conflicting opinion and misinformation on the no side. Apparently, people were urged to vote no lest accepting the treaty meant that Ireland would be forced to legalise abortion, gay marriage and conscription to an EU army, not one proposal of which is in the treaty. That makes it virtually impossible to take it back to the electorate. If the Irish government want to go again, it has to be a different proposal on the ballot. This means that the treaty would have to be amended to scrub out the provisions that aren't there, which clearly can't happen. What a mess.
And further highlights why I wouldn't want any referendum on European issues in this country. For a start, we have a parliamentary democracy. We appoint people to make decisions on our behalf according to the ticket they stand on at election time. Second, the campaign would consist of the same two lobbies as we saw across the Irish Sea. On the one hand, you'd have the foaming mouthed right blustering "Europe? No! Never! They want to force us to rename Jerusalem artichokes as 'two-state solution artichokes'." On the other, like in Ireland, you'd have the yes lobby telling us "Look, it's complicated and explaining it to you would take ages. Just trust us. We know best". Which won't work either, no matter if it is actually true. Even before Iraq, trust in politicians was in short supply from the proles. Less so now. What a mess.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Alpine extravaganza

The European Championships kick off today and, it may have escaped your attention, England aren't in 'em. The last time England failed to reach a major championships was back in 1994 when they arsed up qualifying for the World Cup in America. And it was brilliant. That was in part due to Ireland being in it and me being, for the major part of the tournament, in Ireland.
And John Aldridge swore a lot in front of millions of viewers:



No such Irish representation this time, nor Scotland, Wales or Norn Iron. Instead, we have 16 decent teams involved and it promises to be the usual feast of football without the ridiculous hype attached to England's failure to win on penalties in the quarter-finals. But football has changed since 1994 - or rather the change evident then has progressed exponentially. Players will be referred to as "Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas" or "new Spurs signing Luka Modric" or "ex-Everton winger Niclas Alexandersson" and that's really, really tedious. With no England there, it ought to be something for the football purist to enjoy, but continuous attempts to hook in the short of attention will spoil it. Similarly, the BBC's campaign to drum up a bit of interest from the passing punter by suggesting that one requires a team to support in order to get anything from it. Since when? For a start, that's more than slightly patronising. I shall be watching and no doubt enjoying most of it when commentators concentrate on the football and not the clubs the players are being linked with, especially as there's no Ian Wright.
Having said all that, up the Poland.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Best goal ever

Apropos of a conversation the other day, just what is the best goal ever? Maradona's weaving run against England in 1986? Esteban Cambiasso on the end of a 26-pass Argentine move against Serbia in 2002? Ryan Giggs bursting Arsenal apart down the left in that cup semi-final replay? Nayim from the half-way line? Give up. You can keep all your long shots, lobs, chips, overheads, volleys and diving headers. Dennis Bergkamp. Three touches, all with the right foot. 1) Control. 2) Send the defender - Bobby Ayala, lest we forget - out for a paper. 3) Finish.

Beer of the week

Been a while since I did one of these, but then I've not been on the unusual brews quite so much lately. And then Sunday. Whilst waiting to be served, and having made my mind up, my eye was distracted. What's that you say? Goldilocks Yorkshire lager? Oh, well go on then.
MISTAKE.
It's sedimenty, so requires careful decanting from bottle to glass. It's lifeless, has an overpowering lemony finish - a bit like lemon Fairy Liquid, I imagine, not that I drink a lot of that - and is more bitter than any bitter I've ever had. Stirring up a bit of sediment takes the edge off a bit and at least allowed me to get it down, but it was not a pleasant experience.
It introduced me to a sensation that I've not had since I first tried Carlsberg - a beer I don't actually like. Hang on, that may not be true, as wheat beers really don't agree with me. Either way, you get my point.
Instead, I turned to the Americas. Having tried Quilmes in vast quantities and Cusqueña less so, it's to the socialist idyll of Cuba that I turned and Cristal. Like the Argentine and Peruvian beers aforementioned, it's a session beer. Crisp, light, clean and very, very drinkable it's an excellent session beer as my usual Quilmes is also, though it comes in a very left wing 350ml bottle, presumably to annoy the capitalist pigs and their fridges only designed for 330ml. Fairly unremarkable, but up against Goldilocks, that's more than enough to make it beer of the week.

G-rumble

What is the point of those rumble strips either side of villages on main roads? I'm sure you know the thing. The only point of the ones on the way in to a village or other demarked potential accident blackspot is to warn blind drivers of the imminent change in speed limit or proximity to crossroads. The ones on the way out...? Perhaps to say "you've just passed somewhere. You're a bit further past it now. Now you're really past it. Bye-ee".

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rules of cinema #4

Nobody can work out how it is that Martin Lawrence has ever made more than two films.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rules of cinema #3

No matter how often you refresh the Odeon's listings page, there's still only going to be a load of crap on.
Today we have:
Iron Man - no thanks.
What Happens In Vegas - shudder at the thought and see rule #1 re Ashton Kutcher.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall - make it stop.
Nim's Island - Jodie Foster ain't funny.
Speed Racer - the lead character's first name is Speed. And his surname is Racer.
Grindhouse - maybe.
Indiana Jones and the thingy of the wotsit - unnecessary.
Sex And The City - you're kidding, right?
The Spiderwick Chronicles - seen the trailer. All I need to know.


Pub then?

Redress

I have been a bit mean to Hull on here in the past, but a couple of bank holidays ago, I and my better half went for a visit. No it's not a normal thing to do, but there was something approaching a point to it, namely the fish walk. Yes, you read right. The fish walk. All over the old town - the bit that is actually quite nice - there are fish. Some are chiselled out of the paving, some are plinth type things, some are metal shapes sunk into the floor, such as these eels.


And when you've completed the walk, you get a certificate! I think this is the first certificate I've received since I managed, for one time only, to swim 25 metres without requiring assistance.


Having completed the fish walk, we set about the ale trail. Well, we sort of combined the two, being the freeform jazzists we are, stopping off at a variety of watering holes along the route. One bar that wasn't on the aforementioned trail was one of these horrid places like Flares only not Flares; Retro it was. How retro is Retro, I thought to myself. Do they close between 3 and 7 and turf you out at half ten? Can you get a Watney's Red Barrel or a Double Diamond? If not, then retro it ain't. And then we were in a pub later on that did turf out at 3pm. Bizarre.
Among the usual godforsaken dross you can find in any town or city across the country, there are some cracking wee pubs in the city like the White Hart, an Edwardian listed building with a massive rosewood bar and all the original fittings - Doulton's, apparently.

It's a bit off the beaten track, but it's a good venue with, for Hull, a decent range. That's the main problem in the city: not many places offer you anything above standard fayre, beer-wise. Stella's about as exotic as it gets in most places.
Other places rely on their claims to fame for notoriety. The George Hotel on The Land Of Green Ginger is onesuch. It's a real ale place and they do a lovely Yorkshire Terrier - a nutty, oaky brew with a rich head and a lovely bitter finish - it's all very well appointed inside. But the real attraction is outside where you can see England's smallest window.


Wow! All of which begs the question where Britain's smallest window is.
So that's Hull. Don't judge it by Bransholme alone. Sure it's not a pretty place, but if you scratch the surface, it ain't all bad. The old town is quite lovely.

Accentuate the positive

I've never been a fan of negative campaigning, which is why Labour's entirely predictable bye-election defeat in Crewe and Nantwich doesn't disappoint me greatly - not as greatly as it probably ought to anyway. They went negative, always a sign of a party in trouble, focusing on the background of the Tory candidate and making a shameful play on immigration rather than anything positive, and paid the price. Having said that, what positives are there for Labour to concern themselves with right now? By contrast, the Conservatives didn't really have to do anything. They're reaping the rewards of a government in serious strife and the malaise could quite easily continue until the next general election when the Conservatives may, again, have to do nothing more than smile sweetly and point out that they're not Labour.
Part of me thinks a term of Conservative rule might not be a bad thing, but it passes after a moment. At some point they'll have to actually put a policy on the table and that's where it will hopefully go wrong for them.

Similarly, Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Democratic nomination is a negative affair. Resorting to the politics of fear and, again, a shameful play of the race card, it's probably time for the party elders to put her out of my misery.

Rules of cinema #2 - addendum

Another film completely unnecessarily remade was The Wicker Man. Moreover, the remake featured Nicolas Cage, so I refer you to rule #1 as well.
It ain't big and it ain't clever remaking The Wicker Man. However it is both big and clever to use your nephew's (aged 4) building blocks to build a wicker man and put a policeman inside. Hence:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dear bloke in the current Halifax ad

No, not that Howard feller. The wee lad that sings the latest one. "Woke up this morning feeling fine" did you? Until you caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and a little piece of you died inside and you began to sob uncontrollably, I'd wager.
Moreover, there have been many things that have blown people's mind. The horror of war, single-minded pursuit of the unobtainable, that kind of thing. Not a current account though.

Now turn it in.

regs
John

Rules of cinema #2

Some films do not need remaking; especially, though not exclusively, Japanese horror flicks. Particular horrors include Get Carter, The Italian Job, 36, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (though see Rule of cinema #1 for other reasons why, giving particular reference to Ashton Kutcher). There are many more of course. I'd even say that The Departed was completely unnecessary given the brilliance of Infernal Affairs.
Read a subtitle and shun these cheap reproductions.

Monday, May 19, 2008

21st century proverbs

Shaved head and beard;
look a bit weird.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Hiatus

Back soon

Friday, April 18, 2008

Stewart Lee

Went to see Stewart Lee at the theatre yesterday and had a jolly good time. He was supported by Henning Venn, who was good but lays on the German stereotyping too much. He's good enough to do without and he's probably well enough known now to do material that doesn't keep referring to the Second World War.
Lee himself isn't a typical stand-up. His delivery is pretty unique and his collaborations with Richard Herring provide a counterpoint to that. On his own, it's something of an acquired taste - fortunately one that I have acquired, hence me enjoying the evening.

Not part of last night's show, but fairly typical:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hands up if you dropped a ladder on your foot today

Just me then?


Ouch, by the way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Different home secretary, same old drivel

Having failed miserably to make anything like a case for the extension of detention without charge, Jacqui Smith still won't let it go. Today it's 300 police jobs to target radicalisation. Apparently we can't "arrest our way out", but we can presumably inter our way out.
Figures that Smith keeps leaning on to back up her bizarre stance don't seem to be increasing, but that doesn't matter as she's settled on 42 and no amount of logic or argument will sway her. The threat to Britain, we are told, absolutely requires 42 days. Is the threat really 21 times worse here than in America or 42 times that in Canada? We already have the most draconian and police-friendly rules on this of any nation anywhere.
Frankly, this announcement - putting aside the controversy over the timing, which Chris Huhne has nailed - seems designed to do just one thing: ramp up the fear to try and force a consensus.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

86-year old man has chest infection

Not news

Zimbabwe: What happens next

It's now eight days since Zimbabwe went to the polls in parliamentary and presidential elections. With the opposition MDC having gained control of the lower house, we're still waiting for the presidential results. Can it be, as seems utterly reasonable, that the vote against Mugabe was so overwhelming that even the full weight of his electoral rigging machine can only put him into a close second and engineer a run-off?
So what does happen next? Well, Morgan Tsvangirai - opposition leader - has staked his claim that he is the winner and by a margin sufficient to avoid a run-off. Zanu-PF seem ready to accept a run-off, which to me says that if and when that offer is accepted, the full weight of the vote rigging, ballot stuffing, voter intimidating machine will swing into action, and the recent mobilisation of troops seems to back that theory up.
Worrying times.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beer of the week

An interesting one. Sam Smith's reputation with lager isn't great. Alpine Lager is a bit bland and Ayingerbrau is pure and simple loopy juice. Hence it was with trepidation that I tried their Organic Lager and with great surprise that it passes muster. It's a light, refreshing brew with a flowery hint in the after-taste, which marks it as a lager made by a bitterman, but it's none the worse for that. It's not especially strong, making it handy for a session and certainly one that I'll be going back to.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The excitement

Yesterday being the occasion of an arbitrary anniversary of my birth (odd, not prime, less than 50, greater than 21) and on perusal of the eclectic offerings of Action Records of Preston, it has come to pass that I've pre-ordered the new Half Man Half Biscuit long player CSI Ambleside. Bleedin' marvellous. It'll be a happy day when it arrives in about a month.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I've been edited

My most recent assignment for York City was a league game away at Rushden. It was rubbish. So rubbish, that I felt the need to do something... different for the match report. The published version is here. Below is what I actually wrote.




The morning snow had cleared in the bright sunshine as he set off for Northamptonshire on a Saturday morning. Yesterday was the first day of spring, but had brought with it Arctic conditions. 'Spring my backside', he thought as his small French diesel coughed itself into life. Indeed, so cold was it, he wondered if the melting snow would freeze and prompt a postponement.

Stopping for fuel a mile or so from home, he winced as the meter ticked well past the £50 mark, once the young assistant in the shop had realised that she needed press a button to activate the pump. There would be no way he could claim this one back as work mileage. The wind bit as he stood pouring litre after litre of almost priceless DERV oil into the tank of the car. He felt sure there had to be leak somewhere. A car this small simply couldn't take this much filling. He wasn't convinced about the oil levels either as the gears made a crunching sound eerily reminiscent of the noise his right knee makes ever since he wrecked the ACL a few years ago. This car was falling apart more rapidly than his less-than-prime physique.

He'd once promised never to buy another French motor, so why he'd ended up with this is a mystery to all. They're nothing but trouble. Italian cars are the same in his experience. The only link he can find is wine. France and Italy: great wine, rubbish cars. Germany and Japan: awful wine, great cars. It makes sense when you think about it. He likes France and the French, he'd had many a happy holiday down in the south as a child, but swore a terrible vengeance on anyone who had played any part in bolting this shed of a car together.

Nevertheless, he turned for the M1 and the car only complained a little, though the rattle from beneath the bonnet required a much better radio than the one he has. Indeed, he struggled to hear the Premiership team news, not that he's particularly interested, but hearing another human voice at least keeps his mind active above the constant drone as the small car struggles to maintain a steady 68 on the motorway. Every mile and a half seemed to bring a change in the weather: bright sunshine, snow showers, heavy rain, back to sunshine. His cheap supermarket shades were on and off as often as the 'Cletus loves Brandine' sticker on an indecisive redneck's pickup truck. The one constant was the wind that buffeted the car around and forced him to concentrate hard on just keeping it in a straight line. In fact, he almost missed the turn-off for the A14.

45 minutes into the match, he wished he had done. It was all Rushden and any time the ball was cleared up to the front two - Richard Brodie and Onome Sodje this week with Martyn Woolford dropping into midfield to cover the absence of the injured Nicky Wroe - it was coming back just as quickly. And yet Rushden couldn't carve out any clear-cut openings despite dominating possession. Mark Robinson cleared off the line early from Charles Ademeno. The sense of gloom only deepened when Darren Kelly limped out of the game to be replaced by Darren Craddock. Ademeno and Jon Challinor were running the City rearguard ragged and only a wayward Woolford shot provided any respite.

Perhaps he was mistaken in wishing he was elsewhere as the wind swirled around Nene Park and the intermittent snow storms lashed this outpost of Midlands football, he thought when, early in the second half, Ben Purkiss swung in a lovely cross that Brodie met on the run to score a goal that looked as unlikely as Boris Johnson standing for the Liverpool mayorship. The relief was palpable, but quickly dispelled when Rushden hit back through their skipper Chris Hope who had a free header at the back post from a Marcus Kelly free-kick.

And that was that really as the game reverted to type. Rushden huffed and puffed as City chased shadows. A switch to 4-4-2 made little difference, although Simon Rusk limping off with a knee injury made it an expensive draw. It could have been worse as Brodie clashed with Challinor off the ball, the Rushden front man left prostrate on the floor and seemingly complaining about a stray elbow. That it was a draw was thanks in no small part to Hope failing to hit the target when he was again left free in the box with only seconds of stoppage time remaining.

With coat collars turned up against the bitter wind, he headed back to his car, desperately hoping that the heater that had provided little more than a comforting breeze on the way down had enough juice in it to thaw out his hands enough for him to be able to grip the wheel. Heading back north, he had time to reflect that sometimes you just had to accept that football is like that and every club is going to have a game where it just doesn't happen. City haven't had many lately, presumably why he was so disappointed by this one.

The teams:
CITY: Evans; Parslow, McGurk, Kelly (Craddock 15); Purkiss, Elliott, Woolford, Rusk (Lloyd 89), Robinson (Panther 79); Brodie, Sodje.
Subs not used: Mimms, Fortune-West.
Goals: Brodie (54).
Booked: none.

RUSHDEN: Roberts; Osano, Hope, Corcoran, Howell; Burgess, Shaw, Woodhouse, Kelly (El Kholti 74); Challinor (Platt 84), Ademeno (Rankine 69).
Subs not used: Gulliver, Gooding.
Goals: Hope (60)
Booked: none.

Ref: R Whitton
Attn: 1423 (incl 140 away supporters)

Beer of the week

In #1 of a (hopefully) recurring series, this week's beer review is of Kwak.
Yes, that's right. Kwak.
I'd shied away from Kwak because of it's intimidating drinking ritual and the sheer comedy of the name. Yet, today, uninhibited by fear or, indeed, comedy Kwak was ordered.
I didn't realise it's strength. 8.4% marks it out as a reasonably strong beer. It's colour also belies it's scent - rich, dark, malty - and that also sums up the flavour. A dark, Belgian, top-fermented beer, there's no real kick to it which one may expect with a >7% beer.
It's no session beer - it would render you incapable after a few swiftly supped bottles - but it's perfect for a post-dinner drink to cleanse the pallet or to sup quietly to the soft jazz tones of the house band or even for a lazy Sunday afternoon with the papers and sod all else to do. Actually, it would probably go well with fish too.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Grand Slam Sunday

It's not Easter in Sky Sports world. No, it's Grand Slam Sunday, a hopelessly contrived anomaly in a fixture calendar when the top four sides play each other on the same day. If you have seen any Sky channel in the last four months, you can hardly have failed to notice the hopeless hype that precedes this afternoon's 2-0 win for Manchester United over Liverpool and the 1-1 draw between Arsenal and Chelsea.
It's the hype that bothers me and can think of no better way to point it's ridiculousness than this:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New uses for old words

posthumous adj. After eating hummus

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Inventing words

amauteur n A person who thinks their crappy YouTube clip deserves consideration alongside the likes of Fellini, Lynch, Bertolucci, Bergman, Loach, Cronenberg etc etc etc.

mannaries n Man tits.

Pub signs

Pub signs, like pub names, are great. Indeed, I'd gladly support a motion to ban the changing of pub names and signs, albeit with amendments to alter any changed names/signs back to the original and to set up an approval committee for new pubs. There's one in Hull that really got my goat this week. Formerly the Humber Pilot, it not a nice place. The name refers to a fleet of boats that guide others through the treacherous and very busy Humber shipping lanes. It's now not only been renamed The Pilot, which in itself isn't a massive problem, but the sign has been changed from a boat to a pilot, as in aircraft, riding roughshod over any local reference.

Anyway, in Cambridge this afternoon, I spied this sign. The gayest pub sign in Britain (if not the world)? If you know any better, please fill us in (ooh matron).


(you may need to click on the image and enlarge it to see it in it's full homo-erotic glory)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Rules of cinema #1

If Jason Statham* is in it, it's got a greater than 98% chance of being a shit film.



* - See also Ben Affleck, Nicolas Cage and one or two others.

Monday, February 25, 2008

What?

Recent trips to the cinema (yes, No Country For Old Men is that good, but it takes a while for you to work out why that is so and Ellen Page was robbed in the best actress category at last night's Oscars) have seen us sit through the same set of adverts a number of times. I have a problem with the ad for the newly revamped Fiat 500. The strapline is 'you are. we car'.
What does that even mean?

Anyway, with the trend for updates of classics we've seen relaunched Minis, VW Beetles and the 500. This leaves just one. When will Citroen bring out a new 2CV?


EDIT: Oh.

Couldn't-make-it-up corner

Today I was working in Hull. I visited a Mr Codd.

Puerile

After the fun of a 4th birthday party, debunking to the pub seemed a good idea. After a world tour of beer - first six drinks all from different continents, but couldn't find an Antarctic beer for some reason - including some Belgian Trappist monk type thingy, my sense of humour descends to the level of the puerile. Hence:


Colonel Urquart would no doubt approve.

My niece

Looking more like her great-grandmother every day, may I present my niece Matilda.


Taken at her big brother's 4th birthday party.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Defining Britishness

A debate raged for, literally, minutes on the radio the other day. Whose music defines Britain and Britishness more: Vaughan Williams or Edward Elgar. Oh, the agony of choice. The answer is, of course, neither. It's Half Man Half Biscuit.

A gift

A present for the shareholders of Northern Rock:


It's the moon on a stick, clearly something they've been after. The risks are made clear well before anyone invests in stocks and shares. Like the Railtrack shareholders before them, Northern Rock investors can go whistle.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

'Can we play you every week?'

So goes the popular chant at sporting events, as heard yesterday as York capitulated meekly against John Beck's Histon side - yes, that John Beck, and he still plays the same brand of hoof-it-forward-quick 'football'.
This annoys me, not just when opposition fans sing it about a team I support, but at all times. "No you can't play us every week", I want to sing back, "for that would make a mockery of the whole League system", but I've not found a tune that fits.

The only place it's appropriate is the Scilly Isles, but I bet it gets a bit tedious signing that at one another after the fifth round of league fixtures.

There's nothing more right wing than...

...a radio phone in. It doesn't even have to be the hateful John Gaunt in the chair for this maxim to be true. Whilst doing my rounds, I tend to listen to Radio 5 once the Today programme is finished, and one caller seriously suggested that bringing back public stoning was the best way to curb the excesses of modern youth.
Moreover, since when was it taken as fact that 'the youth' are such a problem? Surely, as Barbara Ellen in today's Observer points out, it's the crime factor that's the issue at stake, not the youth. The only other grouping together of crime in such a way that I can think of is 'blue collar' crime. Not much gets written about high-level shady financial dealings, even though it costs the average Joe a hell of a lot more than most other criminal activities, presumably because it doesn't generate such easy headlines as a teenager running amok might.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Unlikely headliner

Among the acts to top the bill at this year's Glastonbury festival, few expected to see Leonard Cohen among them. It's part of his first tour in about 15 years and out of necessity since he got ripped off.



It's a bit of a typically Glastonbury mix of performers, not that I'll be off of course. All that mud and students. Still, CSS are pretty good too.

Viva Cas Vegas

Going back to what I was saying about shitholes, today I was in Castleford. Unlike Harrogate, this place is quite obviously and unashamedly a shithole. One of only two places I've ever been anti-Semitically abused as well.
One lovely chap tried to set light to our Catalan flag. Nice of him, especially as it was being held by a trio of the most pleasant and polite local young lads who wanted to join us in our support for the Dragons. We won, incidentally. Not by being better than the home side. Good lord no. Instead, it was because we're 'cheating French bastards', at least according to a healthy number of local yokels.

The fair was in town as well. This got me to thinking. Is this the Cas version of the work-based diploma? Or is Cas the town where the fair goes when it's not polluting some other part of the country?

Friday, February 08, 2008

The ballad of Danny Allinson

Thanks to Jerry Chicken for this. I have the dubious honour of writing a meme with a difference. It's for someone made up. Made up, more specifically, by me.
The rules:
  • Introduce us to your character
  • post the rules on your blog
  • share six non-important things/ habits/ quirks about the fictional character
  • tag at least 3 people at the end of the post and link to their blogs
  • let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog
  • link to the person who tagged you
So here goes:

The day always started like this. He never intended it to, but it always did. Let's face it, All-Bran tastes like shit - he wouldn't even give the budgie that crap - and the well-intentioned cup of tea just never seemed as appealing as the four-pack of cheap unbranded lager from the local offy. And so Danny Allinson cracked open his first can of the day. It was half past eight.

It wasn't always like this. The faded poster on the wall of the bedsit spoke of a British heavyweight title fight. He was 23 at the time, four years a pro, but it was a step too far and too soon. His opponent that night, Carl Lonergan, was nearly ten years his senior with twice the number of fights under his belt and gave him the mother of all beatings. Sure, Danny had tried to come back, but he was always 'that lad that got his head woven into the canvas against Lonergan'. After that, he was just a stepping stone for any other young fighter on the way up. He wanted to advise them, let them know what they were getting into. Tell them not to go anywhere near his manager when they'd beaten him.

His manager, Alan Crossley, was a grade A twat. Said he'd put all his prize money in a trust fund. What the fuck did Danny know about trust funds? Apart from the lack of trust that is, which he found out when Crossley legged it to Barmouth with the whole lot, leaving Danny penniless. He'd had an aversion to Wales since then.

He'd squeaked out a living on the doors in town, but once people got to know who he was, they'd all fancy a crack at him after ten pints. "Take him on his left Dave", he'd heard one bloke say. "He always drops his left, that's how Lonergan got him". The fury washed over him and seven months in Armley for ABH was the result. That was his door security career finished.

The benefits paid for the bedsit, a few cans of beer and the occasional packet of Old Holborn. He wasn't a big smoker, never had been, but a roll-up once in a while took the edge off that first drink of the day. Now and then, he'd have enough for some millet for the budgie. He could never work out how he came by that thing. Pointless bloody bird. He'd called it Adam Faith. It was his idea of irony.

The loss of the money was the start of it - the drinking. By that time, his legs had gone. He was no use as a fighter any more, not that he wanted to carry on. He'd had enough years before, but just kept going. One more. Just one more. It became a mantra to him, he'd said it so often to the wife. The wife... There's another story. Once the gravy train had stopped calling at Allinson Junction, she'd soon buggered off. She took the boy. No idea where he is now. Probably university age these days. Danny would have liked university. A different crowd to the lowlives he mixed with at that age. And he was smart, but that didn't matter much when his dad got ill. Money. That was what mattered and Danny knew that a lad who could punch could earn some, much more than the coal board were going to cough up. That was his dad's pun.

"Bugger this", he said to Adam Faith, swilling down the dregs of the can and heading for the bookies. Two hours and four races later, he'd done all his remaining money and was back within the four walls of the bedsit. He was sick in the sink. Grab another can. That should take the taste away. "How the fuck did this happen?". Adam Faith didn't reply, merely headbutting the small mirror Danny had found round by the chippy. "I looked after meself" Danny continued, scarcely noticing Adam Faith's indifference. "I liked school. I getting good marks until... well, you know". Adam Faith didn't know, or if he did, he wasn't letting on. Danny threw the can across the room. "It's all that bastard's fault!" he yelled. He could hear them downstairs, perturbed by the noise.

He went next door. Little Marco was about the closest thing he had to a friend. Marco was six and loved Adam Faith - the bird, that is - and would pop round sometimes to see him. "Look after him Marco", Danny told the young lad as he handed the cage over. He went back to the flat. He packed a bag. A change of clothes, a train timetable, an emergency can of lager and his dad's old hunting knife - the only thing he'd left Danny.

Tomorrow wouldn't start the same way. Tomorrow, he was off to Barmouth.

-----------------------

Was that six? I think so. I'll have to have a think about who to pass it on to.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The rugby starts today!

Huzzah! The rugby is back. It's been over the papers all week with special supplements and page after page dedicated to it.

Except it hasn't. This must be the lowest key launch of Super League of all time and whoever decided the date of today - the same date as that 6 nations bollocks starts - wants a slap. As does the person who decided that Leeds must start a week before anyone else. This is due to their participation in the World Club Challenge later in the month. What should happen is that everybody kicks off on the same day, giving us a proper launch and the World Club Challenge can have a blank weekend so that the whole Rugby League community can concentrate on what should be the biggest club game going, but is always treated as a bit of an afterthought.

Everything will be different when I'm in charge.

Still, at least The Guardian is giving Hull KR and Papua New Guinea legend-of-indeterminate-age Stanley Gene the kudos he is due.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Miles Kington

On Wednesday, Miles Kington died. 'Who he?', you may ask. Writer, jazz musician and inventor of Franglais, which has had a profound effect on my development.
Michael Bywater, writing in The Independent, for whom he wrote for many years, summed it up as best as anyone could.
Au revoir, Kilometres Kington. Merci pour les laughs.

Shitholes

This week, work took me to Hull. More specifically, I was on Bransholme for a while. As anyone will tell you, that place is a shithole. It has flat roofed pubs (see Jerry Chicken's archives for an explanation). It has serious social problems and horrible concrete prefabbed houses.
It. Is a shithole.
And today I was in Harrogate. I put it to you that Harrogate is also a shithole, but worse than Hull. The thing with Hull is that it's an obvious shithole. Everyone knows it's a shithole. The bigger problem with Harrogate is that it looks like it isn't a shithole and nobody that lives there thinks that it is. It's a middle-class ghetto. It's horrible.
Avoid Harrogate. It's worse than Hull because it won't admit that it's exactly the same.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Addiction and the effect on families

Can you only be addicted to drink or drugs? That's what the new family court seems to suggest. Not so long ago, there was a pledge to give more help for gambling addicts, but that seems to have gone out of the window. The obviously physical downsides of addiction to drink and drugs make it easier to identify, but the social problems brought on by addiction to gambling are just as damaging to families.

And addiction to gambling doesn't come much bigger than the case of Jérôme Kerviel. The man just couldn't stop, throwing good money after bad as anyone who has properly been into the horses will understand, though I'd suggest £3.5bn rather puts any bet I've made into quite a bit of shade. The lad needs some help.

Gizza job

How many jobs is too many? Tony bleedin' Blair - remember him? - has yet another one. Methinks a 'peace envoy' (irony-o-meter goes off the scale whenever I hear that mentioned) needs to dedicate more time to that crucial role rather than advise two big merchant banks. And don't forget the inevitable book. It makes you wonder how much envoying he's actually doing.

Idiot

With Labour falling over themselves in a rush to cock up donations, the opposition had a great opportunity to make hay. Now, thanks to one Tory idiot, they're buggered. And the LibDems aren't any better off, what with them having to return a whopping donation from a crook.
For all the talk, post-Blair, of a new politics, it appears to the layman that it's the same old same old amd if you're trying to re-enfranchise a non-plussed public, this ain't the way.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Spam free

Having quit IT, I've been on a bit of mission to remove my details from various IT recruitment agencies which I've previously registered with and, lo, does a mountain of spam miraculously disappear from my inbox. If I'd known it was so simple, I'd have done it years ago.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Binge

We're constantly told about the perils of binge drinking, but why is it only booze that's bad for you if you binge?
Spending, for example. We're now subjected to myriad warnings of dire financial peril. None of this would happen if, during the boom times, everyone retained a sense of moderation and didn't go overboard. Greed creates the boom and, consequently, the bust. Can't City folk just calm down? How many yachts and cottages in Provence do people need anyway? This slump-boom cycle isn't something that needs to be accepted as an inevitability.
However, all this does rather tarnish the previous Chancellor's reputation for prudence somewhat. I wonder what happened to that bloke....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

'I know what fans want'

So says Kevin Keegan on his return to the post of Newcastle United manager. That's nothing special - so do I.
They want the moon on a stick.
And if it isn't that, then relegation so long as every game is lost 4-3.

Since when?

I must have missed it, but somewhere there must have been a decree stating that, henceforth, the words 'less' and 'fewer' are to be synonymous. Otherwise, why would people do it so often?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Schadenfreude

On Wednesday, my better half got a copy of the local rag and the front page was adorned with this bloke. I would have aimed the story slightly differently. "Desperate landlord seeks free publicity" would have been my angle. Or maybe "Landlord admits 'we don't have a smoking area'".
He'd previously been on local news with a live link up from his pub in Greetland and he struck me as a bit of a pillock then. This piece does nothing to change my opinion. However, local newspapers being local newspapers, it's been dominating the news round these parts. Yesterday, there was a stand-off as the pub's owners and police attempted to evict him. Today, I drove past the pub while I was on my rounds and a chap was just finishing boarding the place up. And laughed.

My thoughts on the smoking ban are mixed. I don't smoke, so the biggest niggle I have is when out with smokers who all feck off outside at the same time, buggering up the rounds as I'm left inside supping ale. I don't doubt that some pubs have felt a drop-off in trade, but my regular watering hole hasn't. They get by on the general bonhomie of the place (it sure ain't the beer) and that, surely, is the key.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Never break a vow

Many years ago, I had two cars: a Renault 5 and a Peugeot 205. Both were fine, but things do go wrong with cars and both were so randomly put together that simple fixes took ages. Eventually, I made a vow. Never buy another French car. After some other mixed experiences, I widened this to never buy anything that isn't either German, Japanese or Swedish. And that worked. German motors (including ones that were bolted together in Prague) have rarely let me down since.

And then I bought the Peugeot diesel. It's been in the shop for 8 days now and I still won't get it back while tomorrow. The alternator belt broke almost exactly a week ago from time of writing. I knew there were a couple of other niggles - it was leaking oil and one trackrod end needed sorting - so I checked it into the local Peugeot dealers for a proper going over. It's also been spewing diesel, which came as a surprise. And the cylinder head has been back to France for some work. For all the hassle, I could have just gone and got another car. I've not been able to do any work since last Tuesday and I am, frankly, pissed off.

I love France and the French. They don't half make some shonky motors though.

Things I don't understand about football

Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age or maybe it's because I'm a fan of a small club, but on watching the Liverpool v Luton game yesterday, a number of things struck me as odd.
A bit of background for the non-football fans out there. I'm sure there are some, despite what television, newspapers and adverts would have us believe. Anyway, Liverpool - big club. Won some trophies many years ago. Owned by some Americans and were recently reported to be up for sale for about £500m. Luton - not a big club, but punched above their weight about 20 years ago. Spent money chasing a return to the glory days and are now in serious financial strife. Selling players to pay others. About to be taken over by former tv-am host Nick Owen. They are the have-nots to the haves of Liverpool.

When leading 5-0 with moments to go against a club much smaller, why rant on at the referee about how you should have had a throw in?
Why celebrate a goal in such a mismatch as though you've just won the World Cup? This goes for players and fans alike.
With the big club leading 5-0 at the end of 90 minutes in a knockout competition, why bother adding any time for stoppages? What difference could it possibly make?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Three reasons...

There are, according to the Guardian today, three reasons not to sign up to Facebook.
I can think of a fourth: I really can't be arsed.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Only in sport...

...can having no legs be an unfair advantage. I'd suggest that for a runner, operable legs were a necessity.
Anyway, the advantage thing is a bit of a red herring. The point must surely be that allowing a Paralympian into the Olympics, you undermine the former. But with Pistorius having massively outgrown the Paralympic competition, such is his relative ability, where else can he go?

Sub of the day

Subway tell us in their latest adverts that you can have the 'sub of the day' however we wish. How far can you push it? Is it worth attempting to, if the sub of the day is chicken salad, have it with meatballs instead of the chicken and tomato sauce instead of the salad?
The situation reminded my better half of an old Burger King promotion, back when we were students. A bacon double cheeseburger was 5p more than if you got a double cheeseburger with extra bacon. So we'd ask for 'double cheesburger with extra bacon' to which Johnny No-Stars would say 'bacon double cheeseburger?'. We had to make it quite clear what they should ring in the till. We must have cost the company literally tens of pence with that wheeze.

New clear

Many moons ago, way back when I started this thing, the prospect of new nuclear generators were proposed as a method of filling the gap in the UK's energy requirements. I wrote this in response at the time, and feel the need to reiterate it as we're now told these new plants have got the go-ahead. Nowhere in any of the multitude of pieces written about this have the concerns I raised about CO2 emissions been mentioned. It's as if it's been accepted that it is a zero-emission method of generation when in actual fact it just shifts the problem elsewhere - Australia mainly (though at least Kevin Rudd's new Australian administration has ratified Kyoto, unlike John Howard's bunch of neo-cons).
Plenty of other concerns over waste fuel and decommissioning are raised and raised eloquently all over the papers, but the telling quote of the day comes from the shadow business secretary Alan Duncan who, in the Guardian, is quoted as saying "Our position is, by and large, similar to the government's". That, for me, is indicative of two things.
1 - The general malaise in politics in Britain, given that there is little discernible difference between the two major parties. This should give Nick Clegg - admirable performer in his first PMQ session the other day - and the LibDems room to establish themselves, though we all await
the usual splits and eventual implosion there once again.
2 - Why is the shadow business secretary talking about energy generation and environmental concerns? Cameron can drone on as much as he wants about a new conservativism, but it's just the same old.