Sunday, August 28, 2005


Is this the smuggest man in the world ever?

John Birt delivered the MacTaggart lecture at last weekend's Edinburgh Festival, not that anyone cares except media types, and the Guardian who deemed it necessary to put this as a leading article on it's website. I won't bother putting up the speech. All you need to know about this man is that, I think, he popularised management speak. The reason for putting you head in your hands while reading work directives and memos. Blue Sky thinking and all of that.

What The Office did best was render this type of silly management speak unusable. Who dares utter it now without being laughed at? Even our trainer at HMV tried to be funny about saying "there’s nothing wrong with making money", by apeing David Brent. Well HMV, fuck you, you made me want to become a Marxist and I wish nothing for your company but hard times and misery.

Fourth Test: The Ashes

Day 2: England 477 all Out. Australia 99-5.

I almost feel sorry for the Aussies, almost. That sympathy was there for a moment, maybe it's through empathy. We can relate, but we will leave that relating to the past. hopefully.

Lets not get ahead of ourselves.

Well it was closer than it should have been, Brett Lee wasn't too shabby, and Warne quite frankly is the best player on the field, but still we sneaked the result. A result that looked a lot closer than it actually was. We kicked their arse, thats a fact. Ricky "Ian Hislop" Ponting needs to stop crying over spilt milk as well.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Quickly, where is my alarm clock!

I'll be on the Today Programme at 6.50 this morning talking about my new pamphlet for the Centre for Policy Studies (on how the Conservatives could become an acceptable home for Blairites)...of which more later."

I'm sure everyone want's to wake up with Stephen Pollard and a discussion of his new pamphlet on how Blairites could become conservatives. But i'd say that they'd rather be on the winning team, maybe they could just morph into Brownites when the time comes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

England 1 - 4 Denmark

We lose a football friendly, bothered. Cricket is the national sport again at the moment, like Rugby was when we won the World cup in 2003. I'm sure Football will be again next summer. Anyway Sven almost loses his temper after the game:

"I'm very sorry for the fans and I'm disappointed," said Eriksson. "I'm angry about the second-half - it was a disaster how we played football. I told the players that if we play football like that we can forget about the World Cup " said while slightly steaming up his glasses. What happened to his pasta sauce endorsement?

Beckham with his usual identikit anodyne quote:

"We did not play to our potential."

A-Level record results shocker!

Yes, tomorrows A-Level results will be better than last years, the year before that, and lots of other years before that as well. How is increased achievement a bad thing, success is to be welcomed.

They are getting easier each year will be the cry, and this idea will take up much space in the newspapers. It's a shame when students work hard to get their good grades and have their achievements denigrated.

How are A-Levels getting easier? Maybe, just maybe, the pupils are being taught better and better prepared for them. No one says that the 100 Metres running race gets easier, or any other sport, yet records are always being broken, often with the increase in technology and fitness playing a part. People get better at doing things, that's evolution. Lots of old folk don't like this, it was harder in their day, we have it easy now, "I remember when we had to sit Latin, my boy! Not this Sociology lark"

Polly Toynbee has sensible things to say on the matter here. Some good points:

"in an average primary class of 30 children, only 14 will go on to take A-levels and only one will score three A grades - hardly inflationary"

"This is a phoney controversy, of concern only in the offices of the Spectator, Times and Telegraph, where well-paid parents worry if the vast sums they spend on their children's schooling will buy an Oxbridge place or not."

Of course though when I did my A-levels back in 1998, they were 7 times harder than they are now, in 2005.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's a Draw, but is it a loss for England?

Australia hung on in another memorable test match, and left the field in celebration. England, on the other hand left downcast and disappointed. One wicket away from a probably unassailable 2-1 lead. The Aussies might have the momentum now, with a ten-day rest before the next test and time to re-group. It without any doubt was a bad result for England, and will feel like a loss. Had the weather behaved, then England would have more than likely won the Test. But that's part of the game.

England outplayed Australia in virtually all sessions and facets of play, and Vaughn was right to sound this out. It was Ponting who spoke more like the loser at the end.

Who would have ever thought we'd see the Aussies celebrating a draw? They are all about the winning, which shows how rattled they have been by an England side that is coming into it's own. The problem with this result is that the Aussies now only need to win one test to retain the Ashes; they have the luxury of a drawn series seeing them keep the little Urn for another two years.

Monday, August 15, 2005

A Longlist of Books announced for a prize sponsered by a Man

The Man Booker prize long list has been announced. I ain't read any of them, shall I bother? Like the sound of James Meek's one, and I’ve never read Coetzee, so maybe I should start. Ishiguro's? maybe. Never read Zadie Smith, never read any books written by women, why's that? Rushdie, probably won't bother, read Midnights Children instead, looks a chore though. Have you seen his wife? that's what being able to write and a fatwa get you, she's a belter.

As for Tash Aw, well a review of his book reacquainted me with the preposterously pretentious Neel Mukherjee. This man knows no bounds when it comes to pretentiousness, it's as if he spends all day cultivating these convoluted reviews, which are an excuse more than anything, to display his wordiness:

"Where Aw emerges as uncontested winner is in the subtle modulations of the three narratorial voices. From the clunky unreliability of Jasper, through the pellucid prose of Snow’s journal to the intelligent, slightly camp, aesthetic eloquence of Wormwood, Aw orchestrates a graceful ballet of dissonances and congruences, of echoes and discords."

Yeah mate, good one, wind yer neck in.

This reaquantance has more to do with than booker, it's to do with a link to my recent past, and has allowed me to write about it without actually saying anything about it whatsoever, the memories, the laughs had at his expense. Cloud Atlas, that review, fugues. There's another Booker Nominee, and one of only two books I cloud never finish. But the review extracts inside made it priceless, the preciousness of them, hyperbole, made us laugh.

Who is going to win? I don't know. I think that each year the panel should contain a layperson, who isn't a pointy-headed pontificator. Maybe they could win a place on the judging panel by entering a competition on Richard and Judy. That's a better idea, why not have those two on the panel? Imagine the fun and games, the arguing and condescension.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tony Robinson's Rubbish TV Programs

Yes they are pants. There's nothing more depressing about Sundays than Time team or whatever it's called. It says to you, "hello your're at work tomorrow, watch this shit first". A load of over excited old folk prancing about digging up things in boring places. Then, he's got another crap one. Worst jobs in History. Who want's to see him do boring rubbish old jobs that people don't do anymore. He was good as Balderick in Black Adder. It makes me cry.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

My Bookshelf

'God go punish them - shameful randy players'

Pompey's brightest new star was sent home from the African Cup of Nations for, officially, 'enjoying a quiet cup of coffee after curfew'. Local reports talked of 'women in rooms'. 'God go punish them - shameful randy players,' said a fans' spokesman.

From the Guardians A-Z of the season 2003/4.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

British Novel in best shape since Booker prize began! Bully boy Editors!

Jason Cowley argues that this is the best year yet for British fiction since the Booker prize began. Well I don't know if it is or not. As I am young and I haven't read a lot of books. The books I have read aren’t all fiction, plus they are from different years. If all the books I had ever read had been from one year in particular, then I could judge whether that year was good or bad.

I have read no books published in 2005 that are fictional. I have not a lot of desire to read many he has listed either. I like McEwan, he's one of my favourite writers, but Saturday doesn't appeal to me. I'm getting a bit bored with representations of the upper middle classes and their provincial lifes. I will probably whack through it when it comes out in the softer format though. The same goes for Barnes's Conan and Doyle. I don't like the old-fashioned book jacket, it reminds me of old libraries. Bet it smells like them too. It looks very twee. This annoys me.

Black day for the blue Pencil
Blake Morrisons lengthy article on the role of "pompous avuncular brutes", Book editors.

I'm interested in them and the role they play in shaping a writers work. How much do they contribute? Can a book ever be attributed to one person’s effort? If I could write then I wouldn't like these people. Imagine slaving over a novel, your novel, not theirs, and have them rip it apart at each meeting. Change this, shorten this, expand on this, where's the character development?, not enough plot etc etc. Would drive me mad.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

It's just not cricket

A game that ebbed and flowed, we were up, then down, but mostly up, and deserving of our victory. What a spectacle, I’ve not been that tense and nervous watching sport since the now long gone Euro 2004 match against Portugal.

I'm not a huge cricket fan, but i always try and watch the England test matches, and channel 4's coverage is excellent.

Flintoff was Bothamesque, as everyone has noted. After our collapse in the second innings he came in and whacked us back into a commanding position. His six onto the roof was spectacular.
The atmosphere was more akin to an England football match, than the supposed genteel atmosphere that cricket usually inspires. Day 4 was incredible, as the target continued to slowly shrink, and yet it wasn’t possible for the Aussies to come back, was it? They can't. 30,20,10 oh shit; they are going to get away with it. Well they didn’t, for once we did it, it happened to us. The expected disappointment that we’ve become so use to (Penalty shoot outs!) didn’t rear its ugly head. So many times during the match I was resigned to defeat, that’s it, it’s not going to happen. Why does it always go wrong, why? We’ve thrown the match away again! The second inning collapse, the inability to remove the tail.

The second closest test match of all time, England’s winning margin 2 runs. That's a wide ball and 4 leg byes, or a glancing edge over everyone’s outstretched hands.

You have to credit Lee and Warne, they batted brilliantly for tail enders, no one expected them to stick around as long as they did. It just shows that the Aussies can always come back, do what other teams can't, due to their supreme confidence in being better than all. But this time not quite.

This match showed how nothing can beat sport for pure visceral drama and theatre. Nothing scripted can compare to it. That’s the beauty of sport.

Midnight in a perfect world

Doomsday clock. According to some Nuklear fellows, it is 7 minutes to midnight. Would have thought 1962 to be closer to midnight, what with the Cuban Missile crisis. Explanation of why and what here. Not midnight in a perfect world, in this world midnight is goodbye fair world.

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