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
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