bookmark_borderWorld Cup of *Yawn*

It must be a false memory.

Like that one where I’m still convinced that, when I was about 6, I used a toy phone to speak to my cousins in Dundee. I am still sure, to this day, that I did speak to them despite all evidence to the contrary. I’m nothing if not stubborn.

So it’s with an expression of perplexity that I sit night after night and watch the World Cup (of Football, in case you were confused). I hear the vulva horn thingies buzzing away and can see the pitch, the ball, the referee and the players. Every possible moment has a mention of England in one form or another, and there are liberal doses of casual xenophobia left, right and centre.

It’s definitely a World Cup.

But by GOD it’s boring. It wasn’t always this boring, I know it wasn’t. I got to watch ALL (every single game) of Mexico ’86 as I was off school with chickenpox. I kept my own notebook of scores, laboriously coloured in each flag and the mascot was painstakingly recreated on the cover. The football was fun, goals were score, crowds cheered, commentators fumbled over foreign names and got over excited every time one of those new fangled Mexican Wave things started.

It was exciting, entertaining, and engrossing.

Fast forward to South Africa 2010 and… what has happened? Dull, boring and I’ve even turned off a couple of the games through sheer disinterest.

It wasn’t always like this, was it?

bookmark_borderQuestions Answered #2

In a desperate effort to gain some weird form of validation, I stole an idea for a blog post and begged my readers to ask me a question. And they did. The buggers. Now I have to answer them.

Question 2: Alex (a co-worker of mine) makes a statement, or headline, or summat, rather than asking a question. But taking it as a topic title, I’ll have a bash.

Mackerel: an intimate portrait

Their shoaling displays render them stunning flashes of darting slivers, but there are many other reasons why the mackerel remains distinct amongst fish. Whilst they are the only fish that uses an inbuilt ability to locate and seek out transvestites, they are also adept at whipping up a lovely piquante tomato sauce with little to no preparation. Granted these skills have played a large part in their downfall, yet the life of these compact little fish remains fascinating.

Their interest in transvestites becomes apparent from an early age and can lead to violent, and sometimes deadly, ‘territory’ battles. Regardless, these battles remain a stunning sight, one of the most impressive displays in the animal kingdom, as these hugely energetic fish hurl themselves at anything in a feather boa. This fascination remains for the rest of their life and it’s not uncommon for large numbers of them to become hooked on this lifestyle. Literally.

As they grow older the mackerel show an amazing tendency towards group activities, preferring to be in close contact with their kin at all times. With this growth in the group dynamic, their natural tomato sauce preparation skills start to develop, although scientists are still unable to determine the exact method, with the precise quantities and contents of the sauce still a mystery. However, recent studies suggest that the locale may play a large part in determining the particular flavour of the sauce, with everything from a slightly herby sauce as seen in shoals from the Mediterranean, through to spicy hot sauces from shoals found off the coast of Mexico. Each one of these tiny fish can produce enough sauce to sustain itself through the winter months and, when grouped together, the mackerel can often end up literally swimming in the stuff.

Of course, the life of a mackerel isn’t without dangers. There are stories of groups of mackerel losing their way completely, only to be rediscovered when they are well past their best. In this area, ageism is rife and whilst mackerel have a naturally long “shelf-life”, they still suffer, although not as badly as their brethren the tuna. The tuna, in a turn of events that have stunned geneticists around the world, have developed a highly advanced method of mayonnaise and sweetcorn production, however this has had the disastrous effect of rendering their popularity even higher, rather than, as had been hoped, aiding their conservation.

And so, as our story draws to an end, the mackerel, content and nicely marinated, awaits “the key”. The coming of the key signals a noble end for the life of a mackerel, and is accepted and embraced as time turns onward. Mackerel can lie dormant for some months, patiently biding their time until the air rushes in and they take a final headlong plunge onto some hot buttered toast.

The life of a mackerel is at once fascinating, and at times bemusing. To this day, scientists still do not understand their attraction to feathers, nor their ability to produce tomato sauce (for the mackerel have no greenhouses) but they remain a beguiling and beloved member of their natural habit, the larder.


Beck – Guero @

Beck’s new album is a return to his Odelay days and it’s much the better for it. Kicking off with the nicely distorted guitar of E-Pro the influence of the Dust Brothers production is evident as it slides through the next track and onto the latin guitar of Missing. As with most Beck albums, he isn’t afraid to mix genres and sounds and make everything sound, well like Beck. Whilst this album doesn’t see him stray far from well trodden tracks, it retains the characteristic sound of previous albums and adds a much better vocal performance.

There seem to be a select few who can flirt with mainstream popularity yet retain a unique sound, and Beck proves that he can master both worlds. The steel strung guitars instantly place you in the deep south, with a variety of latin influences pulling you down to the border with Mexico. You can practically taste the cold beer and tequila at times, only for the next track to veer of into a uniquely Beck landscape by dropping a trip-hop style beat into the mix.

Stand out tracks include E-Pro, the Kasabian-esque Black Tambourine, and Scarecrow and whilst this is no classic album it’s definitely a return to form, and worth a listen.


Is this the best we can do?

Playing 5-a-side football last night (soccer), the ball flies over the high-fencing to the path behind the pitches. This is a regular occurance. Three young boys (around 10 years old) spot the ball and one jogs over to get it. We shout our thanks “Cheers!”. He then grabs the ball, and runs off. “Little bugger!” we thought and a couple of the (fitter) guys head off after him. The young boy and his mates head along the path and turn into the adjoining park (separated from the football pitches by a large hedge).

I jog after them too, and on turning into the park we are confronted by around 15 ‘kids’.

“Come on then” one of them shouts, “come and get yer football”.

The two guys ahead of me sprint forward, knowing that the kids will split up and that the chance of getting the ball back is slim, but I guess we are thinking they will muck about for a bit then kick the ball back. We presume they will split up and run in different directions.

But they don’t split up. The kids stand there, egging us on.

Then one reaches inside his jacket and pulls out a hammer. Another bends to the ground and picks up a large stick from the long grass. The others all start looking around for weapons. We stop running towards them.

They run at us, shouting, swearing, threatening.

Bear in mind these are kids, the oldest is maybe 15, the youngest is easily 7 or 8. We back off, and give up, what choice do we have?

This is the country we live in and it sickens me. Sickens me that these kids already have little to no chance, sickens me that their parents can’t even be bothered trying.

Discipline? They don’t know the meaning of the word, and with the recent news that smacking is set to be banned altogether how are they supposed to learn? I could easily generalise and say that all of those kids live in council flats and at least one of their parents is on the dole and not that bothered about finding a job. It’s the snob in me that leaps to those assumptions. But am I wrong?

Every week another government report comes out detailing that people are screwing the benefit system to the tune of £xx million, that TVs in childrens bedrooms are bad, that spanking is bad, that another realignment of benefits will mean an extra £xx per month for ‘poor’ families. It’s all the same, tweak this, blame that, and ultimately ignore the problem.

So why should I support these families? The ones that live off the state, whose children wear £100 trainers and yet can’t speak properly. Who skip school and seem to have no ambitions other than to follow in their parents footsteps. Why are we making it so easy for them? Where is the political party that will set things right? Where is the politician willing to alienate the sleeping vote? Compulsory voting? Why? Why should people who care only for themselves get a say in what goes on in our country?

This society is rotten. It’s not the only one I know, but the problem with Britain is it’s size. You can’t get away from it, or I would just stay in my middle-class, suburban lifestyle and not care about these lay-abouts. That’s the attitude I should take, isn’t it? Well that’s what I see when I hear a lot of politicians harping on about the lower classes and how they need to nurtured along and cared for and all that claptrap.

I am liberal on many many issues, but not this one. Clamp down now. Make these people contribute, or stop baby-sitting them. Give them enough to have a roof over their head and food on the table and be done with it… if they don’t like it, ask them to try the slums in Mexico.