Today’s press is reporting that Real Madrid’s president has bid £85m for Gareth Bale and that the Spurs chairman is insisting that he is not for sale. If those stories are true, who’s the crazier of the two?
The conviction of Bradley Manning for passing thousands of classified US government files to the anarchist organisation Wikileaks has given its founder yet another media opportunity and he has taken full advantage of it. However I wonder if he realises how it makes him appear.
The misguided private is facing life imprisonment, no parole, but at least he has had the courage to face the consequences of his actions. While he is being sentenced, Julian Assange, the man whose abuse of Bradley’s stolen documents put him in the dock, will still be skulking inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, hiding from a Swedish arrest warrant that has nothing to do with sedition or anything similar, but was prompted instead by allegations of rape. Ironic isn’t it, Assange professes contempt for international law and yet he is hiding behind it.
The man is a coward and a creep. If he had a scrap of respect for the poor fool Manning, and a scrap of courage, he would go to Sweden, defend himself against the allegations, which he denies, and let events unfold. Will he? Don’t be daft.
I had lunch with some Heart of Midlothian supporting friends the other day. They were confident that the club would soon emerge from administration by way of a Creditors Voluntary Agreement.
It seems now that their optimism was misplaced. Neither of the two bids submitted to the administrator came close to meeting the needs of the club’s Lithuanian ownership, which is itself insolvent. As a result liquidation of HMFC and the sale of its assets, namely the ground, is a real possibility. My Hibs fan friends may be chortling into their Fosters at the prospect, but they should realise that Scottish football is in the direst of straits at this moment, and the loss of its, arguably, third biggest club could drag many others under.
This geezer was a member of the coalition government, aged 76, until last September when he was reshuffled off by Cameron. Well before that he was a member of two Thatcher Cabinets. In those days he was known as David Howell, and was rarely seen to smile.
I find it amazing that a man with such a track record can be so ignorant of the nation that once he helped to govern. Amazing, note, but not surprising; if you hadn’t guessed, he’s an old Etonian.
I saw Vince Cable on Andrew Marr an hour ago, apparently toeing the coalition line, while doing his oily best to destabilise the high speed train project.
There are people within the Lib Dems who want to ditch Clegg and replace him with the wizened seer. The rival parties must be rubbing their hands at the prospect.
From sexism to fatism; if this guy was a half decent prop forward they’d have him in a flash.
In the aftermath of all the political crap about the venue for last week’s Open Championship, there is another example of blatant sexism that Harriet Harman should be raising as a matter of urgency.
Why are there no female meerkats on http://www.comparethemeerkats.com?!?
This morning’s Herald newspaper is running a story about a series of raids on sauna premises in Edinburgh, in which customers and employees were taken on to the street and questioned, in public. It’s called Operation Windermere, apparently. It’s surely no coincidence that we are seeing this soon after the formation of the new Police Scotland, or Greater Strathclyde as I prefer to call it, through which policing policy across the nation is being laid down by a man in Glasgow, who arrived in Scotland in 2007, after a 26-year career in various English forces, including the Met. In other words a man with no experience whatsoever of on the ground policing in Scotland.
In the light of what would appear to be a cunning plan to drive prostitution in Edinburgh back on to the streets, I wonder what other surprises Sir Stephen House has in store for us.
This has been an odd year weather-wise. Last week we were almost fried on the golf course; last night, in Gullane, we had a storm of Mediterranean proportions. The rain was so heavy that it wiped out the Sky satellite signal for a while, and almost overwhelmed the drains. What’s next? Raining frogs?
So it’s a boy. Congratulations to the young Duke and Duchess, who have done it their way all along. Will that continue when it comes to names? Probably not. Charles, Philip, George are all strong possibles I’m sure, but given that the princeling can have as many names as they choose, wouldn’t it be nice if they slipped in a Ryan, or a Zak. or a Jake?
‘Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.’
Like that one, Mike?
Sunday morning in Gullane: my final report from the Open front. By the way, for those of you who have noticed that I’ve posted no pics since Wednesday, there is a ‘no camera’ rule on competition days, and I am one of an apparent minority of punters who respect that . . . although the rudeness shown to the gallery on Thursday morning by Phil Mickelson’s caddy, Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay, came close to making me change camps.)
So, who will it be? I can detect no great confidence that Lee Westwood will hold on, but he has a two shot lead and is in good form so you never know. I could be well wrong about this but I don’t see a winner from outside the last two groupings, which comprise Westwood, Hunter Mahan, Tiger and Adam Scott. Of that foursome you would probably say that Mahan is the outsider, but he played better than anyone yesterday, and I have a notion he might do it.
Having spent 22 of the last 48 hours at the Open Championship I’ve come to realise the truth of an observation my son made some months ago.
I saw a lady from the Cooncil, Angela Leitch, the chief executive, no less, holding forth on telly a couple of nights ago about the contribution, an alleged £70 million, that the event is making to the local economy. That’s not what I’m hearing.
Where local businesses might have expected to benefit, and have invested accordingly, they have found that the footfall has been far less than expected. I’ve even heard it said that our local Co-op is doing less business than it would in a normal week. Why? Because, as AJ predicted at the start of the year, the vast majority of visitors to the Championship never set foot in Gullane. They are brought in on buses to the public entrance to the course, from Drem railway station and from Park and Ride facilities, and taken away by the same fleet at the end of the day. At the entrances, they are greeted by a small army of people from London, amiable employees of the notorious G4S of Olympics fame, very few of whom seem to have the faintest idea where they are. Other visitors to the event, and even local residents with little or no interest in the Open, are positively discouraged from going anywhere near the local shops by a fairly aggressive traffic management plan, implemented by East Lothian Council and Police Scotland.
As a result of this, all of the visitor spend is being directed into the avaricious grasp of the R&A, who have ensured that it goes on a very limited range of over-priced Open-branded goods, from which only they and their main sponsors profit, and on very expensive food and drink served up by the R&A’s own bars or by concession stalls, all of them staffed by people with no local roots at all.
So you see, Ms Leitch, you’ve been stitched up like an idiot. Very little of that £70 million is going anywhere near the local economy. Instead it’s going into the pockets of a crew of carpet-baggers from St Andrews in shiny-buttoned blazers. This is doubly annoying, because the Open Championship could not be staged without the volunteer marshals from the county’s golf clubs who control spectator crossings, stand access, ball-spotting etc., and are paid off with a few vouchers, exchangeable only in the on-course facilities, that will no doubt be written off against the tax on the many, many millions that the R&A are trousering. They’re the real heroes of this week, and they will go unnoticed and unrewarded.
Is it a great event? Yes it still is, even if admission prices have doubled since it was last in Gullane in 2002.
Are people enjoying themselves? Yes, they appear to be, not least because of the willingness of most of the players to interact with them whenever they can.
Is it as good as it was? No, because it’s being strangled by corporate greed.
Changing sports for a little, I was angry and confused when I read this morning that Wayne Rooney is allegedly angry and confused by his situation at Manchester United. If that is true what the hell has he to be angry and confused about?
To any half-knowledgable observer Wayne has been a world-class player only in his own mind for a year or so now, since the arrival of Van Persie in Manchester sparked his discontent. He seems to be saying that he expects to stand above and beyond the rest of a squad that is made up almost entirely of international footballers at the top of their game, with a couple of genuine legends thrown in. If so he has to realise that such a status can be earned only by performance, and that it has to be constantly maintained. I’m sure that Ryan Giggs has told him as much, but I’m equally sure that he isn’t listening. As things stand he’s just another player, just another employee with a new boss to impress. He should concentrate on that rather than on planting stories in the media. If not, he should be sold on. For me that would be the smart thing to do. Wazza will never be a better player than he is now; he has plateaued, and the other side of the hill is within sight. If he still has market value, if the choice was mine, I’d cash in.
One small note of disgruntlement about the Gullane extravaganza this week.
In days gone by one of the highlights for the golfing visitor was the exhibition tent, where all the major equipment manufacturers could be found, and where visitors, or patrons as they call punters at Augusta National, could spend a happy hour if the weather was really foul. In the modern era, that’s all gone, replaced by something called The Open Shop. There you are greeted by security guards and young people offering you a basket. Once inside you are funnelled through a series of departments, some designer but mostly just expensive and tacky souvenir crap. You might be able to buy a Rolex in there without the Claret Jug logo on it, but that’s all. The place has all the charm of IKEA on a busy day.
If you are enthusiastic enough to buy something, you will then be directed down a zig-zag line akin to an airport. After you have finished paying through the nose, you will then be directed to the exit, where another security guard will wish you a nice day . . . without a trace of insincerity in his tone.
This nice little number (the car) is on the Mercedes stall at the Open this week, but I won’t be asking for a test drive. It costs a cool £177,000 on the road, and I bet Mercedes Benz won’t even throw in a free tank of petrol
Luke Donald was alongside Rors at practice, working away as unspectacularly as ever. Low ball flight could be an advantage this week: hit it under the wind and get lots of run off hard, dry fairways.
The second greatest golfer on the planet on the practice ground. I will not be having a wager on young Rory McIlroy. He didn’t look very impressive. Go on son, prove me wrong.
The greatest golfer on the planet, on the ninth green at Muirfield, early afternoon, Sunday July 14. And that’s Jason Day behind him. I didn’t expect Tiger to be there today. Last time the Open was in Gullane, he didn’t turn up until the second practice day. By the way if you’re wondering why the great man is putting with the flag in, it’s because he, Jason and Dustin Johnson were merely pissing about. They couldn’t have been playing for money. Then it would have been serious.