BBC Breakfast has become so bland that there is little in it that anyone could find annoying, but this morning the colourless Charlie Stayt managed it, in spades. A brief report on Glastonbury was topped off by the fact that the most popular performer was not some dire cloned heavy metal outfit, but Dolly Parton, who drew a bigger crowd than anyone else. When the piece was over, read by his colleague Naga Munchkin, the idiot Charlie chipped in, portentously, ‘And she’s 68 years old.’
Having celebrated yet another birthday yesterday, I found myself perched on the edge of my chair, shouting ‘So f*cking what?!?’ at the telly. I am against most things that end in ‘ism’, but ‘ageism’ is right at the top of my list. Here’s a suggestion for the Breakfast production team. For a couple of weeks, replace Charlie with Ken Dodd . . . ‘And he’s 86 years old.’ . . . and see what happens to the viewing figures.
When Tom (Tiny) Wharton, a Scottish football referee of my youth, passed away a few years ago, many stories were told about him, but this is my favourite:
While refereeing Hearts one Saturday, Tiny had particular trouble with a veteran winger named Johnny Hamilton, who was known for leaving his dentures in a glass in the dressing room during the game. Finally his patience was exhausted. He called the player to him (when Tiny called, you went) and said solemnly, ‘Mr Hamilton, the time has come for you to rejoin your teeth.’
Perhaps that is the simplest solution to Luis Suarez’ behavioural problem. Aesthetically it might not be a bad thing either, from his viewpoint, since the set with which God equipped him gives him an unfortunate resemblance to Francis the Talking Mule.
Four month global ban for Suarez; excessive, fair or insufficient?
I don’t go with any of those. Whatever you think of the gravity of the offence, it happened on the watch of the Uruguayan FA. When Suarez is with his club, he’s protected by its support systems. These include a psychologist and an extremely perceptive head coach. When he went off with Uruguay he went into an aggressive environment, where his transgression is barely recognised as such. Therefore isn’t it entirely logical that any penalty should impact on Uruguay alone?
As I understand it, when a player is on international duty, his club is indemnified against injury, by insurance. Not so in this case, unless Liverpool FC’s lawyers persuade Uruguay that it should compensate the club for the loss of his services.
Common sense says to me that a fairer disposition would have been a longer ban from international matches, and a fine, not on the player but on the Uruguayan FA, (which has plenty of previous over the years) leaving the club to deal internally with the matter.
But when did FIFA last display common sense?
In the first year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, air traffic controllers, federal employees, went on strike. When 11,000 of them ignored his order to return to work, he fired them. Clearly, President Hollande, for all his colourful private life, does not have the balls to face up to his own ATC problem, and tackle it in the same way.
I didn’t see the Suarez incident last night, but I did see his accuser in the first half rolling about in apparent agony, claiming to have been elbowed, despite the TV replay showing no contact.
What’s the big deal? Suarez has lumps kicked out of him by guys much bigger than he is with very little protection. A couple of years ago he bit a Chelsea player who was holding his shirt. The guy let go, didn’t he. Whatever happened with Chielinni, my money’s on the play-acting Italian having got what was coming to him.
To put this in perspective, think back to the classic shot of Vinnie Jones grabbing a young Paul Gascoigne by the family jewels and squeezing hard. A worse offence than a quick chew on a cheating pest? Yes, ma’am. Was Vinnie banned for a couple of months? No, but a few years down the road, Topman made good use of the photo in a window display.
And England? From the little I saw they’re one class centre-back and one instinctive goal-scorer short of being a decent team.
‘Where did it all go wrong for England?’ the BBC asks this morning. Silly question.
If you offer two free hits in your penalty area to one of the world’s top strikers, you will be punished. I’m all for giving youth its chance, but if the young guys aren’t as good as the old guys in certain positions, maybe the old guys should have been asked to give it one more try.
There’s an Italian in our extended family and I expect to see him on Sunday; should be a laugh, since England’s survival is to a great extent in his team’s hands.
Having read this morning’s press on the reaction to JK Rowling’s donation, I want to make it clear that I have nothing but contempt for those who posted some of the stuff that’s been quoted. Social media can do great things, but when it’s abused by cretins, it can be anti-social in the extreme. A few years ago, I was on the end of some of that stuff, courtesy of that mighty organ, the Daily Mail; I reported it to the police straight away. My only regret was in my inability to sue the Mail for providing the platform. This morning I’ve edited a comment on this blog. There was nothing obscene about it, and most likely it was tongue in cheek, but I felt that it crossed a line. Recently the courts have started cracking down on cyber-abusers. That’s a good start, but if they could find the facilitators equally guilty, by association, that would be even better.
So, JK Rowling has donated £1 million to Better Together. So what?
If I’d sold as many books, movies, memorabilia as she has, I’d donate a million to Yes, but I haven’t so all I can do is give it my support and declare that on September 18, I’ll cast my vote in favour of an independent Scottish Nation.
However I do have one thing to say to JK, before we cancel each other out at the polling station. A few weeks ago I did an event in Waterstone’s Sauchiehall Street store. I had a few minutes in hand,so I went for a wander, and was appalled to realise how downmarket the famous old thoroughfare has become. I saw poverty, depression and despair, and worse of all I saw resignation in people’s eyes. I doubt if too many of the folk I observed that day have been sampled by the pollsters. The good news is, they all have a vote.
I must admit that a small voice at the back of my head whispered, ‘Do I really want to be part of this?’ A few seconds later it was countered by a louder, angry voice that declared, ‘Too bloody right I do! This decline is the direct result of Westminster economic policy that has centralised more and more of Scotland’s wealth in and around London, and the already prosperous South East. The only way to reverse it is for our nation to become fully responsible for its own affairs.’
When I make my cross on that paper in three months, I won’t be doing it for myself alone, but for hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of my fellow Scots, whose hopes, aspirations and basic human rights have been ignored for too long by people who are still working against them. When I vote ‘Yes for Scotland!’ that’s exactly what I’ll mean. Those who are seduced by the dishonestly labelled ‘Better together’ crew will be voting for continued deprivation and social decline, and for the continuation of the system that has brought it about.
Is that what your million is meant to achieve, Joanne? If so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, for your wealth has been created largely by the affluent metropolitan class that has become rich itself at the expense of a truly fair and balanced society, where nobody is abandoned and left with nothing to do but bounce between the bookie and the boozer.
Whatever Alastair Darling’s advertising agency does with that million … and I hope most fervently it pisses it against the wall … already it has done one remarkable thing. It has taken an affluent, acquisitional bloke who’s seen himself as slightly conservative for all of his almost seven decades, and who’s never voted Labour in his life, and it’s made him realise that just like his old man, he’s a socialist at heart.
Big mistake by Hibs in sacking Terry Butcher. I suspect that their new CEO is planning a raid on Motherwell, with a view to stealing Stuart McCall. That’s been done before, with Eck McLeish, who promptly got Hibs relegated. Take care, Ms Dempster.
Jordi Maso and Dom Abernethy, (l-r), part of the powerhouse that drives Arrel de Vi, the annual St Marti wine fair.
Arrels de Vi, the annual St Marti wine fair is now under way, until it closes tomorrow evening, Sunday June 8.
Go if you can, and when you do don’t miss out on a range of unique painted ceramic wine coolers, the work of the celebrated Spanish artist, Manolo Sierra; I’m lucky enough to be able to call him a friend.
Until tonight, I was a big Obama fan.
Tomorrow, I burn the T-shirt. I never had him down as an Imperialist, as another Bush, but he is.
However, his betrayal of democracy will have a silver lining. In doing his chum Dave a favour, he has misunderstood one thing, that Scotland as a nation, the place where the Polaris nuclear subs were dumped, until the US made Tridents replaced them, is anti-American and anti-Imperialist in its soul, a position that will be underlined by his interference in our affairs.
Hear this, Mr President: ‘Yes, we will!’