Thursday, 27 August 2009

Unbelievable, Jeff!

I was, frankly, waiting for this. After the violence that surrounded the West Ham - Millwall Carling Cup game on Tuesday, Jeff Powell, in - of course - the Daily Mail, reckons that the days of hooliganism in football are back again. Jeff's argument seems to be that the recession we are currently in (or may be coming out of) means that the jobless are taking out their boredom and anger on the terraces. Which was, funnily enough, also his theory in October last year, when Millwall fans clashed with Leeds fans and someone threw a coin at Harry Redknapp (which is strange because allegedly Redknapp is no stranger to receiving money. Maybe it's because this time it wasn't in a brown envelope). Of course, I'm sure you can remember the onslaught of violence in football grounds that occured after these events last season. I myself was caught up in fights with over 26 different "firms". Oh no, hang on. That's not what happened. What happened is I went to some football matches and didn't see any violence whatsoever. I even shared a tram back to Sheffield train station with some Sheffield United fans, and no-one got glassed, head-butted or drop-kicked in the face.

This being the Mail, of course, there's bit of good old-fashioned class hatred. Obviously those that lost their jobs are from the working classes, and the working classes are the "underbelly, in this case bulging and tattooed, of British society" that love fighting. Powell speaks of "the mob" and "yobs" like a Seventeeth Century writer describing the Gordon Riots, despite the fact that a lot of these people fighting will be the same people that fought in the 1980's, now with middle-class jobs in the city and middle-class houses in Essex and Hertfordshire. And he's appalled that the "...more chic, corporate enclaves of the game [are not] immune. While there is a history of violence between West Ham and Millwall, residents of west London complain of disorder outside their million-pound homes when Chelsea play at home", clearly forgetting the days of the Shed End and the Chelsea Headhunters.

As an aside, Jeff also seems to want to take the credit for all-seater stadia in England, obviously forgetting about the Taylor Report -

"... I went to No 10 and began urging then-Prime Minister Thatcher to enforce all-seat stadiums in this country."

I'm not suggesting that the scenes at Upton Park and the surrounding area were welcome. But let's get some perspective here. A small percentage of people have been taking their cues from Green Street, Danny Dyer documentaries and the Hoolie-porn of Cass Pennant and his ilk. It is not a sign of impending doom in our national game. Jeff Powell, lest we forget, is a man that feels that the birth dates of former England players should influence the selection of teams for World Cup qualifying matches. The sooner he is pensioned off, so he can sit in some care home wanking himself into a stupor over the 1966 World Cup, the better.

*The blog may not get updated for a while now (so what's new?), as I'm off on holiday to the US from tomorrow until September 7th. I may blog from there if I get a chance, although given the itinery the Missus has planned I doubt I'll have much time. If not, I'll try and make some notes as to my thoughts over there and blog about them when I return. It might be best if I take a different notebook to the one I'm currently using, which has the design of a cover of a Leon Trotsky book on the front.*

Monday, 24 August 2009

What the diddly-damn-doodly?

So, from what Channel 4 have cut from The Simpsons, the broadcasters aren't keen on hanging (cutting Ned Flanders attempting to kill himself in Viva Ned Flanders), but have no problem with Bill Clinton screwing pigs (Homer to the Max). Interesting.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

A thought on the release of the Lockerbie Bomber

Part of this afternoon has been spent trying to put in to words my thoughts on the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie Bomber. Then I read the words of Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, and find he says it better than I could:

"Mr al-Megrahi did not show his victims any comfort or compassion. They were not
allowed to return to the bosom of their families to see out their lives, let alone their dying days. No compassion was shown by him to them."

"But that alone is not a reason for us to deny compassion to him and his family in his final days. Our justice system demands that judgement be imposed, but compassion be available."

"Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs the we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people - no matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated."

Friday, 14 August 2009

Buckingham Palace goes Health and Safety Mad

No idea how I missed this one, but a few days ago, the Daily Mail, among others was aghast over Buckingham Palace discarding one of the traditions relating to the Royal Family. So, what tradition was this that has ended up on the scrapheap due to our Politically Correct Loony Left overlords? Maybe the rising cost of stamps has led to the Queen scrapping the sending of letters to people who are celebrating their Hundredth birthday? Have those bonkers bureaucrats in Brussels killed off the changing of the guard due to the Working Time Directive? Are animal welfare groups demanding that Ravens be allowed to leave the Tower of London?

Well, no. The tradition that is being scrapped is the tradition of walking backwards away from the Queen. It's Health and Safety gone mad! Well, maybe. The Mail states that the tradition has become "the latest victim of Health and Safety regulations". Now, it's probably apt for me to admit my interest here. I work as a Health and Safety Officer. As part of my job I have to keep an eye out for any new regulations that may affect the company I work for and make sure we act on them. The best place to find them tends to be here. Although meeting the Queen doesn't really fall under my remit, I'm sure I would have noticed regulations coming through mentioning not walking backwards away from the Queen. So it's not a regulation then. It's a recommendation. Possibly. There's no direct quote anywhere in the piece from anyone described as being involved in the decision, except for a Buckingham Palace "spokesman", who states that "there was no major decision made...the tradition just melted away".

The decision to stop the practice is apparently to stop people bumping into things as they exit and suing the Palace if they get injured or something. Now, I would think that you've got to have balls the size of the Commonwealth to sue Buckingham Palace, but let's be fair, meeting the Queen isn't something that happens to you every day. No matter if you're a fervent royalist, or a republican, you're going to be quite nervous about meeting the Queen. There's a possibility that you may be concentrating so much on walking backwards, you could crash into something and break the antique vase that was a gift to George II from Louis XV. Which would obviously be quite embarassing. So I can see why it might be thought sensible to do away with it.

As any seasoned Daily Mail reader will know, the last couple of paragraphs of a story will often contain the kernels of truth following the foaming hyperbole of Mail reporting. As is the case here. Robin Cracroft-Brennan, from the Heraldry Society, states

"The present Queen has always hinted that she's not particularly fussed by it... I think she takes the view that it's far better for someone to walk normally than to fall over."

Which sort of makes you wonder why the Mail gets that bothered, really.

Monday, 10 August 2009

They'll be Dancing in the Streets of Field Electrical Tonight...

The Elite Ice Hockey League champions, Sheffield Steelers, are no strangers to controversy. From their days being managed by former Rotherham United chairman Norton Lea, to their play-off win in April, British Ice Hockey's most hated club are never far from the headlines (or what passes for headlines given the small amount of coverage the sport gets). Today they risked enraging many of their fans by announcing via the Sheffield Star that they are dropping the Sheffield part of their name to be replaced by the name of their principal sponsors - they will, for this season at least, be known as the Field Electrical Steelers.

Steelers' General Manager Mike O'Connor defends the name change by saying that, given the ongoing move from Sheffield Arena to the Rother Valley based YES! Project site, it would be not be apt for the team to keep the Sheffield moniker. Which would be fine, if it wasn't for the fact that work on the site hasn't actually started yet, so the Steelers will be still in Sheffield for at least 2 years. But moving out of the area needn't stop you keeping the name - O'Connor clearly hasn't been paying attention to the Don Valley Stadium, just 100 yards or so from the Arena, which now houses Rotherham United FC, after the club made the reverse of the journey the Steelers will be undertaking. Sheffield FC, the oldest football club in the World, don't currently play in Sheffield, they play in nearby Dronfield. Grimsby Town have been playing in neighbouring Cleethorpes for years. Even moving away from football and back to ice hockey, former Elite League, and now English Premier side Manchester Phoenix are located in Altrincham, and Newcastle Vipers will be playing half their games in Whitley Bay this season.

Of course, most fans will probably believe that the name of their team has been changed for purely commercial reasons, to highlight the name of their main sponsors this season. But the club have, in previous sponsorship deals, been known as the Unison Sheffield Steelers, the Liberata Sheffield Steelers, and last year, the Eurologix Sheffield Steelers, so why they can't just be the Field Electrical Sheffield Steelers, heaven knows. The problem with abandoning the geographic location from your name though, as has been shown before, is that people will just ignore it. Due to sponsorship deals, my club, Chelmsford Chieftains (just to clarify, I mean the club I support, I don't own the team) were known as the Wavetek Chieftains for a couple of years in the early/mid-nineties, and the previously-mentioned Newcastle Vipers were known last year as the Mincoff Vipers. Outside of official club documents, however, it made absolutely no impact on fans, media, or indeed the league tables, both teams were still known by the location of the team. Fans of both the Steelers and other teams will still refer to the as "Sheffield", and given the record of the Steelers for going through title sponsors (they've had a different title sponsor each season for at least the last five years), they'll no doubt be known as something slightly different next year.

I understand that UK Ice Hockey is in a tough situation cash-wise, but Sheffield Steelers are one of the biggest clubs in Britain, and surely some things are sacrosanct.

UPDATE - 17/08/2009

The Steelers now confirm that they will retain the name Sheffield Steelers, for now, anyway. After a campaign by the Sheffield Star and fans, it seems there are some clubs who listen to their audiences after all.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Doncaster starts flushing itself down the toilet

Recently elected Mayor of Doncaster, Peter Davies, has been in office for about two months, and has already been making headlines. He was the English Democrat candidate for the position, standing on a platform of cutting "PC non-jobs", cancelling funding for Doncaster's Gay Pride march, and reducing the number of councillors in Doncaster to a third of what they were before his election. Before he had even managed to take up the role, he was pretty dramatically batted about by BBC Radio Sheffield's Toby Foster, and he has since done an about turn on one of his election promises, as Doncaster Council has now released the funding they had earmarked for the Pride march. A great start then. Boateng & Demetriou have a look through the rest of his policies here, as well as making predictions as to how successful he will be.

Mayor Davies is striding ahead regarding one of his manifesto points, though. The Sheffield Star announced today that Davies has brought in Laura and John Midgeley, heads of the Campaign against Political Correctness, to go through the services the council offer and decide which ones are PC, and which ones aren't. Apparently, the couple are "experts on the subject". One look at their website, which appears to have been designed in 1997 and shows no signs of being willing to come into the 21st century, will tell you otherwise. The Campaign feasts on half-truths and myths (the changing of Christmas to a Winter Festival by some councils is a favourite, even though such a thing has NEVER HAPPENED), believing that a few people occasionally getting the wrong end of the stick or being a bit jobsworthy constitutes a menace to society. My favourite part of the site is "Not in my name", where you can send in your details of who you are, and why you're against PC, and they'll detail it in a nice little table for you, categorising you by your minority, and thereby completely missing the whole point. They've even got a Twitter account, although they've not actually said anything on it. Or maybe they have, and it's been deleted by the PC Brigade.

One of the PC departments the CAPC are targeting is the Ethnic Minority Welfare Rights Service, which assists those of Ethnic minorities to gain benefits they are entitled to. This was set up following the Gus John Report of 2002, which showed that black people in Doncaster felt keen racial divides in the city and that the Council was institutionally racist and would not give the same assistance to ethnic minorities as it would the white population of Doncaster. The report itself was seen "as a watershed in Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council's relationship with black and minority ethnic communities". Now two people want to
close down something that is attempting to bring minorities into the community.

Not just 2 people though, two people unelected by the people of Doncaster. A better place to have this debate would be in the council offices of the city, where people of the borough, elected by people of the borough, could discuss it. Bringing in 2 people who don't live in Doncaster, who have no ideas of the needs of the people of Doncaster, and who have a pretty obvious agenda already, and letting them put big marker-pen crosses against jobs with the words ethnic, minority, and diversity, is not a great way to run a democracy.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

And he brought forth the people that were therein...and made them pass through the Brick-kiln...

Do you love Lego? Do you also love the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross for all our sins? Ever wondered how you could possibly combine the two? Well fear no longer, I have just the website for you. The Brick Testament is basically a version of the Good Book using scenes made entirely out of Lego. Frankly, as someone that's never really grown out of Lego, and owns all 3 Lego Xbox Games (Lego Batman is the best, by the way), I think it's hilarious. My favourite so far? Has to be the story of Cain and Abel, if only for this shot.