Monday, 27 December 2010

Ricky Ponting's Unbelievable Rant

The pressure is clearly getting to Ricky Ponting.  He knows that he will probably be out of a job in the next few weeks and (if the test match keeps on going like this) he knows that he will be remembered as the man who lost the Ashes both at home and abroad.

The pressure seemed to get to him in yesterday's play.  The review of a decision against Kevin Pietersen showed that KP was clearly not out.  'Punter', in that bizarre parallel universe that only tends to exist on the sporting field in the midst of the action didn't quite see things that way.  And he told the umpire about it... at length... before also informing KP of his displeasure.  Check it out here:

Maybe Ricky needs to borrow Tevez's dummy.  He certainly spat it out yesterday.  Ponting was always the cricketer England fans loved to hate and its hard to see how yesterday's antics will be making things any better.

It may not have been quite as bad as Mike Gatting's effort a few years ago, but Ricky should know that he was standing on VERY thin ice.

Ponting has been fined 40% of his match fee.  Quite right too.  Hopefully now England can finish the job in the next few days.

Anger Management At The World Darts Championships

The darts starts again at Ally Pally today - the World Darts Championships always represents one of the most entertaining sporting weeks of the year.

Round 1 of the tournament, which took place before Christmas, produced its fair share of memorable moments. Dutch wunderkinds Van Gerwen and Klaasen were dumped out in the first round (how long until they live up to their massive potential in the PDC, a clearly flu ridden three times World Champion, John Part, was beaten in the first round, but most of the other big names battled through to the business end of the tournament.

One of the most memorable moments though was this one from Colin 'Jaws' Lloyd.  Lloyd has been struggling a bit in the televised tournaments of late and was clearly frustrated that he had allowed his opponent to launch a comeback.  And then this happened:

OUCH!  I bet he regretted doing that in the morning.  Lloyd somehow regained his cool and battled his way in to the second round.  I'm sure there will be many more memorable moments in the next week.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Ashes and Sleep Avoidance

The Ashes are certainly likely to play havoc with people's sleep patterns over the next few months as we look to keep that little urn from out of the Aussie's clutches.

The BBC kindly put together a piece about how you could watch plenty of the action without becoming a zombie for the following day.

They reckon that, "carefully-timed naps, caffeinated drinks, avoiding certain foods and keeping yourself stimulated" are key to the whole thing."

The whole article is here:

Hopefully England's performance will be worth staying up for.

Cricket's Greatest Sledges

The Ashes, at long last, get underway this evening.  A sparky, lively encounter, which will hopefully lighten up the cold winter for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

And the Ashes have certainly contributed to the dubious poetry of cricket that is the art of sledging.  Just to get us in the mood for the start of the series at midnight, here are a few of cricket's greatest sledges:

  • Viv Richards was one of the most exciting, swashbuckling batsmen of the past 30 years.  But for a few balls, Greg Thomas had got the better of the great West Indian.  Thomas couldn't resist throwing a jibe at Richards, telling the great man, "it’s red, its round and weighs about 5 ounces.” Needless to say, Viv hit the next ball out of the park, before telling Thomas,“you know what it looks like, go and fetch it.” 
  • Arjuna Ranatunga, not necessarily the fittest man in professional sport, asked for a runner when Australia were playing Sri Lanka on a very hot Sydney night.  Aussie wicketkeeper, Iain Healy's response was that “You don’t get a runner for being an overweight and unfit fat ****.” 
  • Shane Warne also tried to lure the big Sri Lankan down the pitch in another game. Healy suggested, “put a Mars Bar on a good length. That should do it.”
  • Daryll Cullinan, who had been one of Shane Warne's victims many times over the years was heading to the crease.  Warne immediately shouted to Cullinan that he had been waiting two years to have another crack him. Cullinan responded, “looks like you spent it eating.”
  • Freddie Trueman was even happy to sledge his own teammates.  After letting the ball go through his legs from an outside edge off Trueman's bowling, the guilty fielder, Raman Subba Row came up to Truman and apologised: “Sorry Fred, I should have kept my legs together.” Truman responded, “So should your mother.”
  • Malcolm Marshall was bowling to David Boon who had played and missed a couple of times. Marshall: "Now David, Are you going to get out now or am I going to have to bowl around the wicket and kill you?"
  • Merv Hughes was beating Robin Smith with a sequence of great deliveries. After beating the bat for the again, Merv quipped, “Mate, you can’t f****n bat.” Smith then hammered the next ball to the boundary before saying, "hey Merv, we’d make a fine pair. I can’t f****ng bat and you  can’t f****ng bowl.”
  • James Ormond met a tirade of abuse from Mark Waugh, who kept saying, “mate, what are you doing here? There is no way you’re good enough to play for England.” Ormond responded, “maybe not, but at least I’m the best player in my family.”
  • When the great Iain Botham came to the crease , Aussie ‘keeper Rod Marsh asked him: “So how’s your wife and my kids.”  Botham's response - "the wife's fine but the kids are retarded."
  • “All right, which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?” – The way the Aussie vice captain dealt with complaints that somebody had sworn at Douglas Jardine.
  • Ian Healy once said to Mike Atherton, "You’re a f*****ng cheat.”  To which Athers responded, "When in Rome, dear boy.”

Hat tip to Aussie Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Lamenting The Loss Of The Tom Harris Blog

Like many others in the blogosphere, I'm very sorry to hear that Tom Harris is hanging up his blogging gloves.

His blog is always one of the must-reads and will create a big void.

Harris is one of the few remaining spokesmen for that great working class Labour tradition that stretches back to the likes of Ernie Bevin and Herbert Morrison - very much on the right of the party, but resolutely Labour and resolutely working class.

He is one of the Labour MPs who dares to agree with his constituents on various issues, when plenty of people in the Labour Party now knowingly ignore the views of their working class constituents on issues like welfare reform and immigration.

In an age where many political blogs read like they have been dictated by party HQ, Harris is renowned for his independence of mind.

His blog will be a great miss to the blogosphere.

Jordan Henderson Really Is A Breath Of Fresh Air For England

Jordan Henderson has been exceptional for Sunderland this season and fully deserves his place in the England team.  He played a massive role in our sensational win against Chelsea on Saturday.

It's good that somebody like Henderson has made his way into the England team.  The only shame is that thug Andy Carroll has, for whatever reason, made it in at the same time, despite being charged with assaulting his ex girlfriend.

There is a great interview with/ profile of Jordan Henderson in this morning's Independent, here:

My favourite paragraph, at a time when all the rent-a-quotes in the national (otherwise known as London and Manchester) press are desperately trying to talk up the chances of Henderson moving to Man Utd, Man City or Chelsea.  Henderson has this to say:

The man of the moment was at England's hotel in Hertfordshire yesterday, an unassuming new boy in the squad whose accent immediately locates him. He is Sunderland born and bred and has been at the club since he was seven years old. With that in mind, was there ever a chance he might go elsewhere? "No. My dad is a Sunderland fan, all my friends are Sunderland fans and I am a Sunderland fan. I got asked to go on a trial when I was seven and I have been ever since.

I think the Southern based press might find that Henderson has more loyalty than the average footballer.  Henderson has a massive future both for Sunderland and England.

Mick Jagger and Frank Black Join The Fight To Save The 100 Club

The campaign to save the iconic 100 Club is gathering pace.

I wrote about the campaign here a few weeks ago and suggested that some of the legends who have frequented the club over the years should help out.  It now seems that they are beginning to do so.

Stones legend Mick Jagger has given his support to the campaign.  He has said:

"This is really bad news if another great venue is threatened with closure. There's a real need for these places - they have a connection with the past. And what is important is that you have places where bands can cut their teeth and places of a certain intimacy and size, that new bands can experiment in. There aren't that many great places in London, or indeed any city, that you can say that about."

It isn't clear whether he has given any financial help to the campaign but the brilliant Frank Black of the legendary Pixies certainly has.  According to The Sun, he has given £100,000 to the campaign.  Fantastic stuff.  And, just to illustrate the measure of the man, he apparently also asked for his donation to remain secret.

Hats off to that man.

Don't forget the campaign site can be found here:

Monday, 8 November 2010

Don't Mess With A Member Of The Cash Family

Johnny Cash was known for his rugged individualism and his devotion to causes, such as prisoners' rights, the rights of Native Americans and his hatred of poverty (which he experienced in his youth).  He was of course primarily famous for making some majestic music that changed the face of both country and rock n'roll.

His daughter, Rosanne Cash, also has the rugged individualism and the musical talent.  With this in mind, Republican House leader, John Boehner decided to use Johnny Cash's name in a political 'joke' last week.  He said:

"Remember when Ronald Reagan was president? We had Bob Hope. We had Johnny Cash. Think about where we are today. We have got President Obama. But we have no hope and we have no cash."

Of course, that's a terrible line anyway.  And Rosanne, like her father a lifelong Democrat, wasn't going to let it go by without comment.  She tweeted:

rosanne cash tweet1 Johnny Cashs daughter to GOP chief: Stop using my fathers name, you asshat

She certainly seems to have her Dad's proto punk attitude.  I remember when 'Unchained' won the Grammy for Country Album of the year and Cash put out this full page ad in Rolling Stone:

johnny cash gives the finger to country music

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Votes For Prisoners And The Peril Of Judicial Activism

The European Court of Human Rights judgement isn’t a judgement about human rights or prisoner’s rights.  What it represents is a startling illumination of the amount of power given to unelected, unaccountable judges in British society.

Whether or not prisoners should be allowed to vote is an issue that has strong arguments marshalled on either side of the debate.  On one side, some suggest that prisoners should be deprived of their liberties (including the right to vote) while incarcerated.  On the other side, others argue that giving prisoners the right to vote is crucial to their successful resettlement in society.

There are compelling arguments on both sides.  But is should be for elected politicians, not unelected judges to make a call on the matter.  It is a sad truth about modern Britain that a judge, who was not elected; who comes from a narrow social background; is pretty much out of touch with modern Britain (or Europe for that matter); an is entirely unaccountable, has more power than the vast majority of elected representatives.

The judiciary haven’t, after all got an exemplary record of protecting freedoms.  As Michael Foot famously said:

It does so happen to be the case that if the freedom of the people of this country…if those precious things in the past had been left to the good sense and fairmindedness of judges, we would have precious few freedoms in this country.

Surely it is about time that our democratic institutions took back control of decision making and policy making from activist judges who are playing a bigger and more pernicious role in public life.  Judicial activism in the United Kingson can only mean a weakening of democracy in the United Kingdom

Monday, 25 October 2010

Keith Richards Earns A Great Accolade - Condemnation From Reactionary Peter Hitchens

Regular readers of this blog should know that I'm a massive Stones fan and I'm looking forward to reading the autobiography of this legend of rock n' roll.  He is the walking riff, the embodiment of the rock n' roll spirit, the lynchpin of the greatest band the world has ever seen.

And he has now earned one of the greatest accolades.  He has been savaged by that right wing, reactionary caricature, Peter Hitchens.

Hitchens has described 'Keef' as a "sneering lout who did even more damage than Blair."

Hitchens, living in the shadow of his ultra talented brother, thinks that the world came to a grinding halt in the 1960s.  And the Stones represent everything that he hates.  He seems to think that the exoneration of Jagger and Richards after their drugs trial of 1967 was where everything started to go wrong.

All nonsense of course.  Such an analysis defies logic.  It is, as John Gray argued in the London Review of Books a few months ago, based on romanticising a 1950s created to a large extent by war socialism and the great Attlee government of 1945 (not something Hitchens would ever admit).  Like reactionaries from de Maistre onwards, Hitchens glorifies a golden age that never was.

Keith Richards should feel proud to be the object of Hitchens' ire.

Direct Ski Advert Is A Shabby Insult To The North East

Some moron at an advertising agency has clearly decided that the best way to sell their cheap skiing holidays is to have a go at people from the North East of England.  This is how some two bit skiing holiday company I had previously never heard of has decided to advertise their holidays:

Outrage: The controversial Directski advert

Unsurprisingly, I haven't seen any of these idiotic adverts in the North East!

The offensive advert is based on a silly stereotype of our region and of North Easterners.  For a cheap laugh, it ignores the fact that the North East is now a culturally exciting, vibrant place, which has, over the past few years regained its vitality after the body blows of deindustrialisation.

There is probably a reason that people from the North East decide not to take up Direct Ski founder Anthony Collins on his delightful and charming offer of cheap skiing.  They probably choose not to travel with Direct Ski because of their idiotic adverts.  There is also, quite often a fair bit of snow in the North East and just over the border.  And perhaps, just perhaps, North Easterners prefer not to squander hard earned holidays on the skiing holidays beloved of rich people in the South.

Hopefully Direct Ski will decide not to run campaigns with a cheap shot at the North East again.  Maybe the advertising execs responsible for these ads should spend their holidays in the North East so they can understand the absurdity of their ads.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Join The Fight To Save The 100 Club

The 100 Club is one of Britain's great music venues.  Step inside and it simply screams rock n'roll history.  The heritage of British rock n'roll is in every corner of the Club and there are few other music venues that are so utterly intimate, with a consistently first rate gig selection.

The Club has a special part in the heart of most music lovers.  The Stones have played there twice - the image below is of them playing in the 80s.  
So many giants of the jazz world have played there (funnily enough I was there when Charlie Watts, the Stones elegantly cool drummer, played there with his jazz band - what a gig it was).  And, of course, the club is dripping with the history of punk - that revolution that started in England (and I know that some people will come back with Ramones arguments) and changed the world of music for the better.  The Clash were regulars in the 100 Club during the early years.

A few weeks ago came the sledgehammer news that this pulsating piece of Britain's musical heritage is to close.  It needs £500,000 or it will close by the end of the year and Oxford Street will lose a historic music venue and probably gain another generic coffee shop or clothing store.  This is not the kind of thing that should be allowed to happen.

These are, of course, difficult times for everybody but the campaign to Save The 100 Club, which can be accessed via the following link is well worth supporting:

There are some cracking gig coming up at the Club, including a 'Save The 100 Club' gig, which has Stones legends Mick Taylor and Ronnie Wood, as well as Mick Jones being heavily rumoured to join the line up:

It would be nice to think that some of the millionaires who have played the 100 Club over the years could help to save the Club.  Together, hopefully we can all help save one of London's oldest, greatest and most atmospheric music venues.

Save The 100 Club

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The OFT Decision On Pubs Is A Big Blow To The Consumer

It was maybe a bit much to ask that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) would defend the consumer against big business.  That doesn't seem to be the way consumer protection works.

The fact that big business is generally favoured over the consumer was  illustrated by the OFT's judgement about the 'beer tie' today.  CAMRA launched a 'super complaint' to the OFT that serious competition failings in the UK pub market were leading to higher prices, reduced amenity and pub closures.  The OFT, unsurprisingly, ruled against the CAMRA complaint.

The OFT was shown a great deal of evidence that the pub industry was becoming anti-competitive in a way that adversely affected the consumer.  The 'beer tie' imposed by the big pub companies means that tied landlords pay , on average, £20,000 a year more for their beer than landlords in no tied premises.  The power of the big pub companies means that the number of landlords not in tied premises are falling.  This means that real competition is dwindling and consumers are suffering because of this.

The OFT has, of course, decided to ignore the impact upon consumers.  In doing so, it is ignoring its fundamental duty.

If the beer tie issue and its effect upon consumers and the pub trade is not properly addressed, small breweries will be adversely affected, diversity and competition in the pub trade will be increasingly diminished and the consumer will suffer.  The pub is a vital element of British community life.  It represents the beating heart of the local community.  Today's OFT decision is a victory for big business and homogeneity.  It is a defeat for the consumer, diversity and small breweries.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Kay Burley, Stafford Cripps and Chris Bryant

Kay Burley on Sky News interviewed 97 year old Tory member, Harry Beckough yesterday.  It is probably not Burley's finest broadcasting moment.

Check out the full interview below (hat tip to Political Scrapbook):

Probably the most jaw dropping moment was when Kay Burley made clear that she hadn't heard of Stafford Cripps, that austere Chancellor and the man described by David Marquand as one of the two titans of Attlee's post war Government (along with Ernie Bevin).  As Political Scrapbook suggests, Burley seems to think that Stafford Cripps was "some kind of WWII military regiment from the West Midlands."

You would imagine this would make most people with a knowledge of post war British politics pretty cross.  But biographers of Cripps must be particularly incensed by Burley's lack of historical knowledge.  Step forward one of Cripps' most recent biographers (a good read it is too):

Product Details

Having said that Chris Bryant, the author of Stafford Cripps - The First Modern Chancellor, made his opinion of Burley's interviewing style fairly clear a few weeks ago:

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Glasto, See Tickets And The Nightmares Of 'Ticket Day'

It is now two and a half hours since Glastonbury tickets went on sale.

I'm still trying to get a ticket.  As, by the looks of the top trending #glasto and #seetickets on Twitter are quite a few other people.  Each stage of the ticket buying process seems to crash as the servers get overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the traffic.

This happens every year and it's a complete nightmare.  Seetickets have had this gig for years and the service doesn't seem to get any better.

Surely Seetickets can do better than this.  Maybe they could improve their systems to accommodate more traffic.  Ticketmaster (despite their hideous booking fees) doesn't seem to have this problem for massive gigs.

It isn't as though the volume of traffic is taking Seetickets by surprise.

I'm keeping on trying.  Good luck to everybody in the great rush for tickets.  It will be worth it.
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