Eclectic Blue

Bolton Wanderer

0 Comments 14 January 2018

I do not know what Jo Marney, 25, saw in the millionaire Henry Bolton, 54, but I can see why she was attracted to Ukip. The charming Ms Marney said that Prince Harry’s “black American” fiancee will “taint” the Royal Family with “her seed” and pave the way for a “black king”. Indeed, she added that she would never have sex with a “negro” because they are “ugly”. Explain that one. Jo.

Of course, she has tried to explain and justify her remarks. Her words were “taken out of context”. She was tying to make a point by “deliberately exaggerating” her opinions. So, none of this is her fault. The words she used were the fault of someone else. Yeah, right. Anyway, she’s very sorry.

Various Ukip officials are appalled by her comments too, which is pretty rich given that the party is a right wing nationalist party. As David Cameron said: “Ukip is sort of a bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists mostly.” Spot on, Dave, except that you didn’t need to add mostly. Indeed, the comments about Ms Markle ware strikingly similar to those used by Ukip in every election in which they have been involved and the 2016 EU referendum which persuaded large swathes of the country to vote leave. “Bloody skiving foreigners, coming over here, taking our jobs. Some of them are black, too.” It worked for Nigel Farage and now the partner of the latest Ukip leader says much the same thing about Meghan Markle. “Bloody skiving foreigners, coming over here, taking our non jobs. And she’s black, too.” This time we’re mad about it. Well, some of us are.

Oddly enough, the coming wedding between Harry and Meghan has pretty well united the country in a very small way. I have seen plenty of anger from Daily Mail on-line readers who are appalled with the idea of Harry marrying someone of colour, which was only to be expected, but in my world, I can honestly say that I have not come across anyone I know who has even mentioned Markle’s colour. I doubt that many people have even noticed.

I do see the comments of Ms Marney as being another manifestation of the way in which our country has descended into hate since a referendum which the right turned into a referendum about immigration instead of the future prosperity of our nation and the future of our children.

There are calls for Bolton to resign from the leadership because of his girlfriend’s ill-advised racist comments but why should he? Not many people called for Farage to resign when he was touring the country, stirring up racial hatred. Marney’s comments are relatively mild compared to some of those made by fellow Ukip members and supporters and I suspect an awful lot of leave voters agree with her.

Eclectic Blue

Margaret Court

0 Comments 13 January 2018

I have little interest in tennis or tennis players. I very much like Andy Murray who I believe could be amongst the greatest sportspeople this country has ever produced. I like and admire the likes of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal but to be honest I wouldn’t open my curtains if they were playing in my back garden. I am even less interested in the Australian female player Johanna Konta.

It isn’t because she isn’t really British because, let’s face it, many of our national teams feature players who are not from Britain, or more specifically, England. She’s also dull, has a tiresome power-based game and did I mention she wasn’t British?

Konta is happy to play her games on Margaret Court, the main court in Melbourne named after Margaret Court, the legendary Aussie player. As well as being a legendary player, Mrs Court is a Class A bigot, a religious fanatic and, as a consequence, a homophobe of epic proportions who campaigns against equal marriage. If I had any tennis skills at all, no way on earth would I play on a court named after this ghastly woman. It would be my choice.

Similarly, it is Court’s choice to hold bigoted, homophobic views. As long as she doesn’t break the law, Court is allowed to be an unpleasant person. It’s called freedom of the speech, which includes the freedom to be offensive and, in my case, the freedom to be offended.

The decision of Konta to play on Margaret Court is hers alone. In my view, it shows the struggle to achieve true LGBT equality is still many years away because, hopefully, one day we will all evolve sufficiently to accept that LGBY = “normal”, whatever normal is.

Konta says: “It’s not nice to be answering these sorts of questions in press. It’s not really what this tournament is about. It’s not what these sorts of sporting events are about. They’re about equality, they’re about showcasing men and women, wheelchair tennis. Yeah, kind of celebrating tennis in that way.” Well, it’s not nice but I’m afraid the naming of a tennis court after a bigot has become what part of this tournament is about. It’s about showcasing men, women, wheelchair tennis and bigotry. The fact that Konta is prepared to play on Margaret Court merely vindicates bigotry.

And I wouldn’t say that just about Konta. I’d say it about any player who chose to play on Margaret Court.

Eclectic Blue

Reports about my death are greatly exaggerated

0 Comments 12 January 2018

Until the last few days, I had never heard of Rebekah Shelton. That was until I read just about everywhere that she had died. This came as a bit of a surprise to Ms Shelton who, it transpired, had actually been on holiday and returned home to find her computer account had been hacked. It was not just some oddball website that carried the so called news. Even the BBC and countless other news organisations reported on her premature passing at the age of 32.

It takes a bit of a sick mind to announce the death of someone who hasn’t died. Imagine the stress caused to her family and friends. When responsible news organisations carry this kind of news – if news is what you call it – then people are inclined to believe it and, indeed, share the news on social networks. This was not the only bogus death announced this week.

The actor Malcolm Hebden, who played a character called Norris Cole on Coronation Street, was pronounced dead earlier this week by an obscure American website and suddenly the news was all over social networks, shared by the fans of yet another TV personality of whom I had never heard. This time I had a little less sympathy for those who shared the fake news of Hebden’s passing because a single one-off source, in this case the Florida Times, of which again I had never heard, was not sufficient verification that the man had died. I’d have at least tried to verify the news with a news organisation of which I actually had heard. But then, plenty of people did that with Ms Shelton.

There are a few lessons to be learned here. Just because something appears on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true or real. How many chances have you had to win a Campervan from what are actually click bait sites, inadvertently recommended to Facebook friends? Treat stories such as these at least initially with suspicion and think twice before sharing a report of someone’s death, just in case it isn’t true. This sort of thing doesn’t happen often, but it happens often enough. Someone’s having a sick laugh at creating fake news about someone dying. Don’t encourage them.

Eclectic Blue

That Friday Music Shuffle (12.1.18)

0 Comments 12 January 2018

Jesus – is it Friday already? Yes, it probably is. In which case it is time to set loose my geriatric iPod and allow it to shuffle some tunes for this week’s Friday Music Shuffle.

So, here, all the way from my Man Cave…welcome my friends to the show that never ends.

1. Burnin’ Sky by Bad Company. Proper British rock band with a classic deep cut.

2. That Was Then, This Is Now by the Monkees. Modern times – well, 1986 – music from the Monkees who were in this case Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork.

3. Carry Me by Crosby and Nash. Sheer beauty from Crosby and Nash, without either Stills or Young.

4. Sally Cinnamon by the Stone Roses. Pretty good, eh?

5. Cash Machine by Hard Fi. From the excellent Stars of CCTV long player, Hard Fi didn’t last long but like Ali G they surely did Staines proud.

6. Hold Fire by Delays. If there was a God – and there almost certainly isn’t – he would surely not have put Greg Gilbert on this earth to sing so beautifully and make such great music and then give him bowel cancer. Makes me so sad and angry, whereas Greg’s music makes me so happy and warm.

7. Busy Being Fabulous by the Eagles. Everything about this song, apart from the song itself, is classic Eagles. And from this track off Long Road out of Eden shows off the still stellar singing skills of Don Henley.

8. More Than A Woman by the Bee Gees. Featuring Barry Gibb in full castrato mode from Saturday Night Fever.

9. Black Knight by Deep Purple. This tune only comes from 1970 and their In Rock album.

10. Double-O-Love by Dan Hartman. The desperately talented Hartman died in 1993 from an AIDS-related brain tumour. So sad. But he left an epic body of great music.

That’s all, folks!

Eclectic Blue

Don’t worry (or suffer from mental illness), be happy.

Comments Off on Don’t worry (or suffer from mental illness), be happy. 11 January 2018

“How did you cure your depression?”, asked the radio presenter of an alleged depression sufferer.

“Oh, I decided to be happy!” came the reply, thereby completing the most idiotic media exchange on mental health I have ever heard.

Imagine discussing a very different illness.

“How did you cure your cancer?”

“I imagined it away.”

We wouldn’t take the latter particularly seriously, would we, so why should we take seriously the former? In a previous professional life I came across many people who suffered from mental health conditions you would not want to inflict on your worst enemy, dreadful lifelong conditions that simply cannot be cured, just treated to a sometimes manageable level but more often than not completely unmanageable. I saw a number of people who grappled with OCD and even the so called mild version manifested itself in ways you could not imagine. How about a shower that took up four hours of your day or house tidying that could never be right or complete? I met others who were utterly crippled by the illness and would always be, partly because of cuts to mental health spending, partly because of the perception, promoted in some quarters, that mental health was somehow a choice. But mainly because it was pretty well incurable.

Who on earth would choose to be mentally ill? Because it’s so much fun, isn’t it, to grapple with a condition which has absolutely no positives? Who could not enjoy staying in bed all day because the prospect of getting up was simply too distressing and depressing? What a laugh it must be preparing for a day when your OCD will consume every single ounce of energy you possess? How fulfilling it must be to know that you will never achieve anything professionally, you might never have children, you will never be able to enjoy a “normal” social life, you might never go on holiday. There are so many “might nevers” it’s hard to know where to end.

And still, despite the overwhelming evidence, some people assume, pretend, perhaps, that mental health can still be cured by “snapping out of it”, “pulling yourself together” and “choosing to be happy”. It is simply idiotic. Ask anyone with the very slightest understanding of depression and they will say that for much of the time they are happy. The opposite of being happy is not severe clinical depression. It’s being unhappy. As someone who has put up with that wretched condition for all of my adult life and much of my childhood, who has been in and out of hospital, of GP surgeries and psychiatrist chairs, the idea that I might be too depressed to laugh at, say, Fawlty Towers is absurd and a pathetic misunderstanding of the illness.

When I heard the radio interviewer ask the most stupid questions imaginable I despaired. People would be listening to this rubbish, drawing an entirely erroneous conclusion from the discussion. It reinforces the woeful levels of ignorance that condemn the mentally ill to a lifetime of misunderstanding and mis-diagnosis. If only the cure for illness was the power of the mind, we wouldn’t need doctors or hospitals. The trouble is that whilst the power of the mind is pretty awesome, illness is illness and ignorance is still ignorance.

The “pull-yourself-together-because-I-did” argument has nothing to do with illness. One day we might grasp this simple truth but even in 2018, it’s not easy to convince some people of the truth.

Eclectic Blue

Can I have my money back?

Comments Off on Can I have my money back? 10 January 2018

Given that Liverpool are offering compensation to supporters who bought replica shirts with Coutinho 15 on the back, I wonder if Bristol Rovers might come up with something similar for my mug which I received for Christmas in 2016. The players named are Easter, Taylor, Johansen, Colkett and Lines. Of these, only Lines remains as a player and I fear my footballing days are behind me.

This is a always a problem when buying merchandise. Named mugs have a limited shelf-life – mine was about a month – and shirts are little better. I used to buy replica shirts until I was in my early 40s when I realised just how ridiculous they look on middle aged men, or in fact anyone who isn’t actually a footballer. And when have you ever seen a real life player wearing an XXXXXXXXXL shirt?

Taylor raked in some £300k for the Gas so I’ll settle for half of that to take account of my distress.

Signed sincerely,

Eclectic Blue

It’s a sin

Comments Off on It’s a sin 10 January 2018

“The bottom line is,” said former Lib Dem leader, when asked if he really thought gay sex was a sin, replied in Classic Ooh er fashion, “of course, I did,” thereby admitting that he lied during the election campaign when he said it wasn’t. Furthermore, Farron admitted lying out of political expediency, which is not exactly unusual for a politician. But I am not letting Farron off the hook today.

What is the difference between homosexuality and god? The answer is we know homosexuality exists whereas god almost certainly doesn’t. So what makes a sin?

There is one thing I find intolerable and that is intolerance. I do not begrudge religious folk their faith in a supernatural creator. As far as I am concerned, people can believe in any of the many gods they so choose to believe in. Most of us are atheists in relation to most gods who have been invented. Some of us go one god further. If a christian like Farron regards gay sex as a sin, then I’d strongly advise him to not partake in it. And then to mind his own fucking business. The point is that between his own four walls, and indeed in a free society, he is entitled to be a bigot and homophobe. He is also entitled to be ridiculed for holding his views, as I am for my atheism if others so wish to do. I do not go round telling religious people that they are not allowed to practice their own religion: just that they should keep their noses out of my business.

Farron can also stand for election on an anti gay platform, too, if that is what he chooses to do, and the rest of us, I hope, would choose not to vote for him.

According to Farron, “Sin is something, Jesus excepted, we are all guilty of.” Well, speak for yourself, Timmy boy. I am far from perfect but I am not intentionally sinful by whatever criteria you so choose, excluding religion that is because it isn’t real.The dictionary definition of sin is “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law” which is to say against god. I accept nothing from the bible or qu’ran to represent my interpretation of what is and isn’t sin. The God of the old testament, we know, was one of the most unpleasant people in all of fiction and I am not taking any lessons in morality from Him. My view of sin, in my own little view of life, would have something to do with persecuting those with sexualities that do not conform with ancient biblical scripts, written at a time when no one knew what was going on.

At least the new leader Vince Cable slapped him down but the Lib Dems are still buried deep under the shit tipped all over them by their former leader Nick Clegg for getting into bed with the Tories. Not in a sexual way, of course. In the unlikely event Farron had become PM, it would have been a grim time for LGBT people. Even Theresa May’s views aren’t as extreme as his.

Eclectic Blue

Stand up if you love…

Comments Off on Stand up if you love… 09 January 2018

Did I ever tell you about the time when I played the Limestone Cowboy, Bob Anderson, in the West of England Civil Service darts championships in, I think, 1983? I must have done. If I haven’t, remind me to allow you to buy me a few beers and let me recount the whole cringeworthy story. Spoiler alert: I didn’t win. Bob was an absolute charmer, but then he was playing against someone who could barely hit the board, never mind hit some killer scores. To this day, it remains the only competitive darts game I have ever played. (I use the word “competitive” only in the sense that it was an actual tournament.)

I followed Anderson’s career thereafter and I was particularly pleased when he went on to win the World Championships. Having now experienced a darts match when there were people watching I marvelled at how players coped in front of thousands of spectators. At least the crowd was generally quiet when players were throwing. That’s all changed now.

There are two darts organisations. The main one is the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). All the big stars play in the PDC and thanks to clever marketing, it has become a huge spectacle on Sky, regularly attracting audiences in the high hundreds of thousands. People like Phil Taylor have transcended their sport and are known across the land. The darts evenings themselves are essentially stag nights with scantily clad dancing girls and thousands of seriously pissed men (and a few women), many of whom are ejected during every single show. The noise is phenomenal and it never stops, certainly not for the throwing of the darts. The best players are all there. It is the Premier League and probably the Championship too. But it is for real?

The British Darts Organisation (BDO) used to be the only game in town. It organises the grassroots of the game, its world title is competed for by its best, not the best, darts players. When the big names of the sport decided the BDO was too old fashioned, and more importantly not earning the money they felt they deserved, the PDC was created, just like the big football clubs created the Premier League; to cream off the money. Now the PDC comprises of full time players and the BDO mainly people who have other jobs. To me – and it is a personal view – the PDC, for all its showbiz and hype, is more of a WWE event on lager. It is a sport as an exhibition. It is massively popular and every year the best players from the BDO move to the PDC and, generally, disappear into obscurity.

I watched some of the PDC piss up at the Ally Pally and after a few days became tired of it. It was the same show every single night. The loudest, drunkest crowd you could ever imagine not really paying any attention to what is happening on stage. Few of the players had personalities, just gimmicks. The organisers were polishing turds and people were buying them. By the time Phil “The Power” Taylor had failed to win in his last tournament to the charisma-free up and coming Rob Cross, I had long lost interest and avidly looked forward to the BDO version. I haven’t been disappointed.

Everything, except the actual darts, was better in the BDO. The presentation, the commentators and pundits and the crowd and the only women on stage were players. The players’ scoring was nothing like as good as the BDO but it didn’t matter. It felt more like an authentic sport than a bawdy night out in an arena where no one could even see the board and most people didn’t care anyway. And it is not compulsory at Lakeside to be steaming drunk before the first game even starts.

Eclectic Blue

Reshuffling

Comments Off on Reshuffling 08 January 2018

And now the latest news from Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle:

‘Brandon Lewis has replaced Sir Patrick McLoughlin as Tory party chairman with James Cleverly as his new deputy
James Brokenshire has resigned as Northern Ireland secretary for health reasons, as he faces surgery for a lung condition
Justice Secretary David Lidington moves to the Cabinet Office, inheriting part of Damian Green’s old job
Key figures Philip Hammond, Boris Johnson, David Davis and Amber Rudd have all been re-confirmed in their jobs’

There will probably be a bit more of this stuff later on but what it says to me is how utterly out of touch politicians are. Although I am sure Brandon Lewis is a fine choice to be Tory party chairman, whoever he is, I don’t expect this will be a major talking point on the 5.00 o clock to Ramsgate. I can imagine the conversation.

“Evening John.”
“Evening John.”
“Brandon Lewis is the new chairman of the Tory part.”
“Good grief. You’ll be telling me that David Lidington has been moved to the cabinet office next…”
“Well, actually…”

Not going to happen, is it?

These people – and I know this is hard to believe – are actually elected to serve us, the poor bloody people. You wouldn’t think it, but the slippery, evasive and utterly useless Theresa May is in Number 10 supposedly to do what we tell her to do. And there was us thinking that she was actually telling US what to do. Funny old world, isn’t it?

There is also bad news and even worse news. The bad news is that Jeremy Hunt stays on at health which is astonishing given the absolute mess he has made of it, with patients lucky enough to actually get into hospital having to lie in corridors and the unlucky ones dying either from various conditions or old age. Worse still , Hunt gets social care added to his portfolio. Given that social care is all but in a state of collapse anyway, at least I suppose he can’t make it any worse. Can he?

Mrs May, in common with many other politicians, is talking to herself and her little Westminster clique and no one else. We’re out here waiting for solutions to serious problems and May is pissing about appointing a new bloke as Tory party chairman. It’s almost as if they don’t care.

Eclectic Blue

Simply the best?

Comments Off on Simply the best? 07 January 2018

I don’t know if Pep Guardiola is the best football coach in the world. His record suggests he is. His teams play the most wonderful football. His version of Barcelona was arguably the best club football team of all-time, comprising as it did a core of home-grown talent. As well as having Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Busquets and Pique, Guardiola was always able to supplement his great stars by buying in superstars from elsewhere. But their greatness was undoubtedly down to him.

Next, he moved to Bayern Munich where more success followed. He won the league every year he was there, inheriting and building on a fine side. Europe remained elusive. At the biggest club with the biggest resources, Guardiola delivered. The next move was to Manchester City, one of the richest clubs on the planet.

City play the most attractive football in the land, as Pep’s teams always do. Possession football in the opponents half is almost impossible unless you have the best players and that they are well coached. Manchester City have the best players and the best coach. It is said by some that you can’t buy success. I don’t agree with that. Spending money is no guarantee of certain success but it’s slightly easier than building success with a whole lot less money.

None of this is to criticise Pep. Players like Kyle Walker cost £50 million and the level of improvement in his game is evident to all. He has turned Raheem Sterling into a footballer too and a ball-playing defender like John Stones can only benefit from his presence. At Manchester City, you have the perfect situation: a great coach with unlimited money to spend. What could possibly go wrong?

I don’t think anything can or will go wrong as long as Guardiola is manager. Other managers arrive, spend money and achieve little or nothing. He arrives, spends an arm and a leg on players, inevitably including the odd dud, and then goes on to win stuff. If you run Barca, Bayern or Man City, which manager would you head hunt? It’s a no-brainer.

What I would love to see is how Guardiola would manage as a club without bottomless pockets. Rather than City, how about an Everton or even a Liverpool? Would he achieve the same beautiful football and the same results with more limited resources? I don’t think we will ever know. With someone as good as him, the top clubs will always come knocking and get their man. In any event, it’s totally subjective as to who is the best. He may well be but if he never takes on a challenge where resources are more limited subjective is how it will remain.

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