Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Premier League - a Manchester United supporter's view

What I've written below is my view, I appreciate it's not everyone's view. Feel free to reply but please, don't abuse or I won't publish the reply.

I hugely enjoyed the match last night, 12th Jan, v Newcastle - it was exciting, it was fun, there were lots of goals and I was totally engaged. Maybe it's a mindset that comes with age but I now take each match on its merit rather than constantly looking at what it may mean in the long term.

Man Utd supporters were spoiled for years, we had a manager in SAF who was a one-off, a freak. No manager, in the last 20 years, has dominated in any league in the world for as long, or as consistently, as SAF. He was ours and we were privileged to have him.

I remember when Abramovich, then Mourinho, arrived at Chelsea - supporters of other clubs were engulfed by despair, no-one could see how any PL team could ever win the PL again. Of course that wasn't how it worked out.

Then Sheikh Mansour, with a seemingly bottomless well (pun intended) of money arrived at City - a City supporter actually said to me, after their first PL win in 2012, that City would 'dominate the PL and CL for 20 yrs or more'. That hasn't happened, either, and I don't believe it will.

In my view the days of one team dominating the PL are gone, probably never to return. The huge increase in PL revenue has levelled the playing field to a great extent and I, for one, am not disappointed by that. It makes for a more exciting season and that can only be good for the PL and football in general.

Now supporters of clubs, and clubs themselves, are constantly searching for the 'New, new thing' in terms of managers, the one who'll deliver the magic bullet. I don't think that person exists. When Mourinho turned up at Chelsea again, their supporters were cock-a-hoop. We know how that ended and, for what it's worth, I believe Dr Carneiro was a symptom of the malaise, not the root of it. 

Mourinho, for whatever reason, couldn't handle the pressure. Guardiola, a good manager, took a sabbatical, needed time out, as did Klopp. In fact the only consistently successful manager over the last 20 years not to have time off, deliberately or not, was SAF. 

Since SAF retired I've seen articles by journalists and comments by supporters to the effect of 'Ferguson left the club in a bad place, he should have done this, that and the other'. I don't subscribe to that, at all. It was a great ride, I loved it all and I couldn't ever devalue those great memories by deriding SAF for what those who've never been in his position think he should have done.

So, for now, I'm realistic. I'll support the team, enjoy the good matches, take whatever positives I can find in the not so good ones and enjoy the ride.

Otherwise, what's the point?

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A cricket Moral Maze

A man signs a contract with an employer for a year, worth £500,000.A quarter of the way through the contract, and on the other side of the world with his family visiting, the man realises he is physically unable to fulfill the contract, to the extent that he will never be able to work in the same occupation again.

Does the man:
A.) Say nothing, knowing that as he has a contract his employer has to continue paying him to the end, an amount of £375,000 that he will not actually earn, and that his employer will have continue to pay for his hotel and travel home.
B.) Tell his employer that he is unable to physically fulfill the contract and that he feels the right, and honourable, thing to do is to mutually terminate the contract immediately.

The man the story is about is Graeme Swann and according to Piers Morgan choosing option A.) would have been the correct thing to do. 

Which tells you all you need to know about Piers Morgan's ethics and morals.....

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

A modern fairy story.....a sporting analogy

Once upon a time there was a little boy and his Mum and Dad bought a Tonka truck and gave it to him with the words "This is yours to play with for now but when you get older it will be passed to to your little brother, so take care of it".
The years went first the little boy loved the Tonka truck and played with it all the time. But as the years went by he seemed to love it less and spent more and more time with friends who had expensive toys.
Eventually the day came and his Dad went to the boy and said "The time has come to pass the Tonka truck on to your young brother - you're getting older now and we've noticed you prefer to spend more time with your friends, playing with their expensive toys".
A short time later his Dad heard screams and bangs....and found the boy jumping up and down on the Tonka truck in anger, shouting "If I can't have it I'm going to try and break it so my brother can't enjoy it!"
But no-one had told the boy that, however much he tried to destroy it, Tonka trucks are unbreakable.........and therefore he just looked foolish......

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Kevin Pietersen question - you decide the answer

Both of these are in connection to Kevin Pietersen in the last week. Which one is accurate: a), b) neither or both. You decide.

a)  'We can hear from the man himself exactly what went wrong last winter and how relationships deteriorated so badly.' 

b) 'I did, and continue to have a good relationship with most of the England players, which has been subsequently highlighted by a number of press interviews.' 

Healthy debate is welcome - remember opinions are just that, neither right nor wrong, but simply opinions & all are valid. Comments are moderated - comments aggressively hostile to another's opinion & abusive comments will not be published.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Why I'm assessing my Twitter future

I joined Twitter 5 years ago - I was listening to Test Match Special on the first day of the Lord's Test v New Zealand and Alison Mitchell was doing something called 'tweeting from the boundary'. I joined purely to read what she was saying.

Since then I've had lots of fun on Twitter and got to know many kind and interesting people, some of whom I've met in real life. The key word is 'fun' - and when something done in leisure time ceases to be fun then it may be time to walk away.

I've never automatically followed those who follow me - instead I've looked at their tweets and, if I've found the tweets interesting and the person has engaged with me, then I've followed back. Beyond that I've followed various sports and news journalists, commentators and players.

When Margaret Thatcher's death was announced I knew there would be some unpleasantness on Twitter - but I didn't expect to see the worst of it, having been reasonably discerning in who I follow.

I was wrong - the spite, bile and viciousness that passed through my timeline was breathtaking. I unfollowed so many who previously I had thought of as reasonable, normal folk, who either tweeted their own vicious messages or RTd ones they agreed with.

Maybe it's due to my age (I'm 60 next month) but I was astonished and depressed at the tweets about an 87 year old mother, grandmother and friend who had left politics so long ago. So much so that I stayed off Twitter.

Yesterday, expecting the worst to have passed, I launched Twitter and read some tweets - only to find a storm about @Old_Holborn. I looked into what had happened and found his abhorrent tweets about the Boston bombings, the Jamie Bulger murder and the death of the 96 Hillsborough victims. I wasn't surprised, for years he's been an attention seeking, bandwagon jumping, arse.

What DID surprise and depress me was the number of tweets defending him on the grounds of that old, convenient chestnut, 'free speech' - again, those tweets were on my timeline. The Old Holborn tweets were gratuitously nasty and designed to offend whilst hiding behind an excuse of 'free speech' - the exact kind of thing that gives free speech a bad name. That people, having read them thought Old Holborn's tweets worthy of defence is, in the parallel universe that I inhabit, astonishing. What happened to basic common decency and kindness?

Maybe, just maybe, I'm not the kind of person who should use Twitter any more.....

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

On CMJ, loyal friends - and the unprincipled

Christopher Martin-Jenkins died early in the morning of New Year's day. A much loved husband, father and Grandpa, a good man, a legendary voice of Test Match Special. Christopher was also a past President of the MCC, had delivered the Colin Cowdrey 'Spirit of Cricket' lecture in 2007 and was an incisive and knowledgeable cricket journalist, latterly for The Times.

CMJ was well-known to all TMS listeners for his allergy to technology; on 11th July 2009, whilst commentating on the 1st Test in the Ashes series, at Sophia Gardens, he was amazingly persuaded to join Twitter. Aggers announced CMJ's Twitter ID on air and shortly after CMJ wryly acknowledged his technophobia when he tweeted:

CMJ's technological shortcomings and his frequent tardiness were chronicled on air with great affection by Aggers and the rest of the TMS team - I always thought of him as an absent minded professor....peerless in his field of expertise and slightly baffled outside of it - but he never failed to make me smile and wish I'd been able to sit down with him and talk about cricket and, indeed, life in general.

When CMJ's death was announced it was telling that, without exception, the comments by his broadcasting and written media colleagues were made with great affection for the man, respect for his abilities and distress at his early passing. Amongst the expressions used by them.... 'erudite' 'knowledgeable' 'witty' 'kind' 'a true gentleman' 'humorous' 'a great friend'.

A great of my favourite pieces of poetry is by W B Yeats from 'The Municipal Gallery Revisited': 'Think where man's glory most begins and ends and say my glory was I had such friends'.

Such friends are not gained by happenstance but by mutual respect, affection, loyalty and by the absolute conviction that one would step in for the other when one is ill, vulnerable or in need.

Such a friend to CMJ was Jonathan Agnew. Christopher's illness had been known about for quite some time - the cause, and seriousness, of it was not overtly acknowledged on TMS. But there were enough gentle hints for those of a sensitive nature to have read the signs. A glance at CMJ's Twitter bio confirmed it, for those who cared to look.

Eight weeks ago CMJ wrote a piece for The Times. At the time TMS and Sky were in the middle of negotiations with the BCCI prior to the start of the Test series against India and it seemed far from certain that TMS would be able to broadcast from India.

CMJ's article in the Times consisted of precisely 700 words. In the 2nd paragraph, 49 of those 700 words referred to an amateur internet set-up that comments live on cricket from their view of a TV screen - but didn't mention the set-up by name; the rest of the article mused gently on cricket times gone by. I have a Times subscription and read it soon after it was published...there was a poignant mention in it of Tony Greig having cancer. Poignant as I knew, as did many others, of CMJ's own situation and I read it with sadness as it seemed, to me anyway, to have been written by a man painfully aware of his own mortality.

With sad predictability those 49 words in The Times were seized upon and used to vilify CMJ and, because of his connection to it, TMS. Certain tweeters, who have strong links to the amateur internet set-up, sent abusive tweets to CMJ. Editor of The Cricketer Andrew Miller, with a shrewd eye on maximimising a commercial opportunity at the expense of a dying man, wrote a piece in the Daily Fail in defence of the internet set-up which his magazine owns. Meanwhile I'm sure the management of The Times were astonished to find they had so many subscribers. 

Into this maelstrom had stepped a true friend of CMJ - Jonathan Agnew. Aggers would have been well aware of CMJ's condition; he would also have been well aware that CMJ was reading tweets etc (as evidenced by subsequent tweets of CMJ). Aggers tweeted a few things with which he sought to divert the spite and bile from CMJ to himself. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. The opprobrium heaped upon him was breathtaking - the firestorm of tweets he endured from supporters of the aforementioned internet set-up had to be read to be believed. My comment at the time on a blog someone had written about the affair:

The spite and mean spiritedness of one of the main protagonists of that time, who carries a link to the internet set-up on her bio, is best summed up by her own tweet today, which prompted this blog post. Here's a link for those with the stomach for it:

Be proud of what you did for your friend, Jonathan Agnew - loyalty is a vastly underrated quality. Rest in Peace, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, safe in the knowledge that only the very best of men attract the very best of friends. Your like comes along rarely - we cherished you in life and we'll cherish your memory.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Alastair Campbell, the BBC and a FOI request

In June Alastair Campbell published his latest book, 'Prelude to Power'; it was obvious to me that in the lead-up to, and just after, the publication, Campbell was appearing extensively across all BBC channels - radio, TV, national and local. Given the fact that the BBC is tasked with impartiality and, supposedly, stands apart from commercial activity, I wondered just how Campbell was being given so much exposure to promote his book. Then on 3rd June, Campbell tweeted:

I pondered on how many non-BBC employees may be left alone in this way, then read his blogpost - at this point I realised that his exposure on the BBC was far beyond what I had been aware of; in fact it was Campbell saturation of the BBC.

At this point I decided to put a Freedom of Information request in to the BBC, which I wrote as follows:

Could you please supply me with information on the number of appearances Alastair Campbell has made, and is scheduled to make, on all BBC TV and radio channels from 18th May 2010 up to, and including, the 6th June 2010.
Thank you and kind regards,
Pam Nash
I received an acknowledgement and 3 weeks later the following, as a .pdf attachment:
So the BBC are saying the information is excluded from the Act, which is no doubt factually true; but they go on to say that they're not obliged to provide this information, so won't be doing so. But why not? By paying my licence fee I am, in effect, a shareholder in the BBC - so am I not entitled to the information? I cannot imagine that collating it would take a BBC employee so long, a couple of hours, maybe?

But perhaps I am remiss in not also asking the BBC another question, in light of this Campbell tweet, which I hadn't seen when I submitted the FOI request:

'Sky not bid'? Bidding usually involves money - so did the BBC pay Campbell? Even if they didn't, can anyone remember another author having so much BBC airtime to promote their book?


Mr Campbell seems a tad upset. Oh dear!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Fantasy BBC Question Time panel

After watching BBC Question Time last night, I thought that I probably won't waste time watching it again - the good editions are few and far between. Which got me thinking about who I would like to see on the panel; I decided that my prerequisites would be experience, wit and wisdom. My final choice, based on that premise: Tony Benn, Ken Clarke, Paddy Ashdown, Ken Livingstone and Betty Boothroyd.

So, who would be on YOUR fantasy BBC Question Time panel?

Monday, 25 January 2010

Sport and the Media............

Am I alone in becoming deeply frustrated by the media's coverage of sport, particularly football? Never a day goes by without another sensational story, 'Gary Neville launches attack on Tevez', 'Ruud van Nistelrooy is definite for Spurs, 'Hiddink on the move to Liverpool'. Let's look at the reality of those: Neville was asked by The Times of Malta whether he thought Ferguson should have ensured that Tevez stayed at Man Utd - was Neville really going to say "The gaffer screwed up'? Of course not, but boost it up, omit the fact that his comment was in answer to a specific question and 'Bingo!', big story. Except that it was a story manufactured by the for Ruud, he was so definite for Spurs that he's signed for Hamburg. Hiddink? His agent says there have been no talks with Liverpool, in fact with anyone, as Hiddink is determined to stay with Russia until after the World Cup.

An unfortunate effect of the media fanning the Tevez/Neville flames is that GMP are now anticipating major trouble, at Wednesday's Carling Cup match between Man Utd and Man City, so are hugely increasing the number of officers covering the match. Which will, in itself, encourage certain mindless morons to see it as a challenge. A few short years ago, Neville wouldn't have been in contact with The Times of Malta and we wouldn't have had a clue what Tevez had said to some radio station in Brazil, even assuming that he would have been interviewed by them about events in the English league.

As for the totally untrue stories, do the papers publish apologies when it's clear that they were wrong? Of course not, they're too busy writing the next speculative story. In some cases, the original (and wrong) story has been deleted from their website, leaving you to wonder if you imagined it.

So has the era of the web encouraged irresponsible journalism? Has the pressure to supply endless copy 24 hours a day, to keep ahead of the specialist sports websites and bloggers, caused the escalation of disposable, and quickly disposed of, stories?

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Random thoughts on the England/SA Test series

So the 3rd Test starts at Newlands tomorrow, huzzah! England are 1-0 up, the 1st Test culminating in a draw. I've been pondering on a couple of things related to the Tests, today...........

The Makhaya Ntini selection problem rumbles on, the answer as to whether or not he will be picked for the 3rd Test will only be known just before play starts. Ntini is an iconic figure for black South Africans - he has been a World class bowler and has obviously been in the South African team purely on merit; but surely no-one could argue against the fact that he is a shadow of his former, devastating self and that Friedel de Wet is the right person to be chosen ahead of Ntini in the 3rd Test? Various commentators are muttering about 'political pressures', that the South African government want at least one black player in the team - but surely that devalues Ntini as a person of whatever colour? Would he really, having been one of the best fast bowlers in the world, want to retain his place purely as a token? I don't believe he would - it would be patronising, undignified and a sad way to end his career. Surely apartheid will only truly be dead when people, black or white, are chosen solely on ability?

Collingwood's injury, although it looks as though he may now be fit, raised some interesting issues. Why was Michael Carberry rushed into the squad? Luke Wright is already with the squad and is an all-rounder; he is also familiar with the England dressing room. Strange............

Update: Ntini has been replaced by Friedel de Wet for the 3rd Test. According to the Daily Telegraph, Ntini is going to play for Middlesex as a Kolpak player

Two names you don't often see together

Whilst I was meandering through my iTunes, last night, I came across some Amy Winehouse tracks. Winehouse has a great voice - Back to Black and You Know I'm No Good deserve classic status; but her mental fragility led to her disintegrating into a destructive vortex of alcohol, drugs and crazy behaviour.  Now there are rumours of a new album, whilst, at the same time, a reported reconciliation with her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil. If the stories of her getting back with Fielder-Civil are true, then it can, in the long term, only be bad news, as he admitted to introducing her to crack and other substances. I find it hard to envisage a happy ending to the Winehouse story.

The name you wouldn't often see alongside Winehouse's is that of Susan Boyle. Catapulted into the world's consciousness last April, many feared for her - she had led a very simple, sheltered life and seemed unprepared for life in the media spotlight. The day after the BGT final, the implosion appeared to have happened, as she was taken into the Priory for rest - how many times have we read those words? But we reckoned without the steel in Boyle's backbone, the grit and determination honed by years of caring for her mother, during which Boyle sacrificed her musical ambitions for what she considered her duty. Since the end of BGT Susan Boyle has travelled worldwide, including a visit to Japan over New Year, been feted and praised by all manner of luminaries and has released an album which has been top of the charts in the UK, USA, Australia and God knows where else, for weeks. Boyle is relishing her second chance at life.

So, Amy Winehouse and Susan Boyle. Both massively talented, both apparently mentally fragile - one grabs her chance with both hands, survives and thrives, the second crashes and burns, throwing tantrums along the way. Who would ever have predicted that the survivor would be Susan Boyle?

Friday, 1 January 2010

My music............themes from my life

I've got what some might term an eclectic taste in music - others might call it a total mish mash. Anyway, here are the Top 10 'Most played' from my iTunes:

10. Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) - Frank Wilson.............If you weren't a Northern Soul afficionado, and didn't go to Wigan Casino in the early 70's, you never lived!

9. She's a Rainbow - Rolling Stones..........I loved it the first time around,  then rediscovered it through the Bravia ad.

8. Messa da Requiem: VII. Libera me: 3. Requiem aeternam - Sutherland and Solti...........I did say my taste is eclectic ;)

7. Layla - Derek and The Dominos...........the instrumental part is stunning

6. La Paloma - Julio Iglesias...........yes, I know, it's cheesy!

5. Trouble in Mind - Nina Simone OR Humph version...............memories. What more can I say?

4. The Whole of the Moon - Waterboys..........I just really like it

3. Eugene Onegin, Op. 24: (Scene 1) Polonaise - Orchestra of ROH, Solti......for some reason, it inspires me to get on and do things. Which is good, apparently.

2. Don't Go to Strangers - Etta Jones...........a jazz classic

1. Rhythm is a Dancer - Snap!.............I spent hours running round the lakes at Roundhay Park in 2008, training for the Great Yorkshire Run. This was the track on my iPod that I flicked to if I was flagging, and it always worked! So, I love it....

Thursday, 31 December 2009

So it's 2010.......

I never intended to have a blog but a couple of people, recently, have asked me why I don't; then, totally out of the blue, tonight I was ganged up on by 3 Twitter friends. So, if this blog causes war, flood, or famine it's all your fault guys, take a bow @SteveShark @manwiddicombe and @CharonQC Conversely, if it generates peace, harmony and goodwill, it was MY idea and all my own work...........but it's deeply unlikely that it will. Besides, a bit of controversy is more fun than harmony etc., so I'll know it's OK when it gets totally dissed by @ObotheClown ;)

Finally - I wanted to call this blog 'Trouble in Mind' as in the jazz classic, but it was already taken. I hope to unleash trouble, but in more than mind!