Category Archives: Stupid Public

The final countdown

Ok. So. Today’s important. Right?

I know it’s important cos the sound of bells was ringing all around me as I got ready to go to work. I felt like a regular Quasimodo throwing myself around the house screeching and wailing. I looked out the window for the hordes of zombies or enemy tanks. Could Germany really be invading again? On such a lovely day?

No. It’s the Olympics. The fucking Olympics. A 2 week sporting event. Held in London. 30 miles from my home. That is what they were for.

Personally I can’t wait for the Olympics to start. Never mind that events started days ago. Nothing “really” starts until we have a pointlessly choreographed display of National vanity that wouldn’t be amiss in North Korea. Nothing starts til we have a condescending homage to a national health service that our national government is actively seeking to destroy.

I can’t put up the Olympic rings because I’ll probably get hung for it. So here’s an image the Olympic organisers couldn’t manage themselves

I’m gonna really enjoy the next few weeks. The spectacle, the sports, the crowded public transport. I’m going to relish every second like it’s bullet time. Not least because the ringing of the bells today marked the beginning of the end. The end of all the fucking media hype we’ve had to wash our faces in daily with no respite.

You see. The London Olympics actually started 7 years ago when we won the dubious honour of hosting them. Never mind Beijing and the glorious display of vanity that China treated us to. I remember all through the Beijing Olympics you could never go more than a minute of commentary without some frothing news anchor dribbling out platitudes and speculation of how London would compare. Even during the closing ceremony in Beijing, which hit home like a Matthew Bourne performance on acid, the talk was all about the ‘iconic’ red bus as Boris Johnson shambled around looking like a crumpled insurance salesman cadging the credit for an event his predecessor had won. Since then things have only intensified.

So yeah. Today marks the end of 7 years of the press and media collectively building to a national orgasm. By the end of tonight’s ceremony there will be pundits everywhere letting out a collective scream/groan/shout. Then we might be able to get on with things.

Think I’m joking. Over the last year not a single fucking day has gone by without an Olympic story in the press. Papers have been COUNTING DOWN the days on their front pages. Not from 5 days. Or 10. For an ENTIRE YEAR. “135 days to go to the Olympics” shouted from the front page as if I could give a fuck.

It got worse very quickly. I remember switching the telly on in May (yes. May. 2 months ago). The BBC had a whole crew out live reporting the arrival of the flame. They were providing vapid commentary of the helicopter’s movements as it carried the flame to our shore. They were vox popping the idiots who turned out to watch it arrive at some god forsaken hour. “You’re going to see the Olympic torch how does it feel”. Never mind that we have an ongoing insurgency and massacres in Syria. The news still found time to report the progress of the Olympic torch as it staggered around the country. Daily fucking updates on where a glorified zippo was hanging out on a 15 minute loop.

The Guardian have started offering a button for people to view the news “without” the Olympics. Nice but why do that now they’ve started? Now they’re relevant. Less so over the last 6 months. Probably because the Guardian loved the hype as well, especially gleefully poking shambolicisms like LOCOG’s branding guidelines and the G4S debacle. And these are “actual”  stories. They don’t include all the pap about what Bolt had for breakfast or who the latest ‘Team GB’ member is to sit in a photo booth advertising their Adidas shirt.

This is just a bit of whackiness. It is NOT – REPEAT NOT – a cynical advertising and publicity stunt.

So finally, the Olympics can begin. We can see people reporting on actual fucking events rather than speculating endlessly about what ‘might’ happen. Those Olympic correspondents who were appointed years ago can finally do their job instead of trying to crowbar an Olympic angle into everything.

And then the collective hysteria can die. We can look forward to a September when the news is truly a spent force. All the budget they blew in August will come back to haunt them. Olympics correspondents will become homeless, begging in the street for news chunks. After a collective national love-in we’ll all suddenly suffer massive hangovers as the realisation that we’re all skint and our economy is tanking kicks in again. Perhaps we should thank the Olympics for a bit of respite.

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Know your enemy – Part 4 surely the end

Gah

Gah Gah Gah GAH.

Over a month. Over one fucking month. That’s how long it’s taking me to read one single copy of the Daily Mail.

Why? I mean the DM has been in the press for all sorts of titillating trolling reasons lately. First of all there was that whole Samantha Brick episode. You know the one? The one where the Daily Mail ran a piece by a women who moaned about how good-looking she woz when she wasn’t all that good-looking and the internet replied by saying she wasn’t that good-looking and she replied saying yes she was don’t be jealous and then she became all famous an’ stuff an’ she went on the telly an’ all the telly people laffed at her, an’ everyone felt a bit awkward cos’ it looked a bit like she wos bein’ used by the Daily Mail as a hate figure to send people like me to look at their website… so then the hole media got divided an’ Charlie Brooker got some sex toys out to make a laff on the telly an’ I made a laff at the telly an’ then Samantha Brick disappeared an’ mummy read me a story. It was the Hobbit. I like theHobbit.

SHE'S UGLY! No she's beautiful... NO she's irrelevant. Now go back to fucking sleep!

Yeah. Samantha Brick. Internet superstar. Someone no-one had ever heard of before was catapulted into every press orifice that she could be crammed into in the name of shameless self publicity. Hers and the Daily Mail’s. Good? Bad? Who cares! If it drives people to your website it wins. And the Daily Mail got that in spades didn’t they. They milked the whole affair dryer than a cow in a desert and bled Brick to death in the process.  Six stories later (that’s right the DM online dragged 6 stories out of her) I’d be surprised if she had anything left of her legendary beauty now. She’s probably just a flap of skin lying on a typewriter. Each new chapter in the saga brought in hundreds of thousands of unique page views, thousands of comments and left a bad taste in the mouths of millions.

But Brick’s not the only thing the Daily Mail’s been throwing out is she? I mean take this headline that I stumbled on a few days ago.

OMG the DM just made me LMFAO

It’s like the Daily Mail mother lode. There are internet Daily Mail headline generators that could not do justice to this. There’s no point in the Daily Mail even continuing as an entity now. They’ve done it. They’ve achieved their image of perfection. They’ve managed to get thieving Gypsies living in palaces into a stopry. Actually – the Daily Mail did even better than this. Because when it first came out I took a screenshot. It seems they’ve even had to tone down the headline.

THAT’S RIGHT – THE ABOVE IS TONED DOWN VERSION OF WHAT THEY REALLY WANTED TO SAY which was.

OMG I can't LOL at this because erm... it's actually really rather unpleasant.

With all this excitement spewing forth like black bile from the DM online you would think that the paper itself, you know: the one people usually pay for (not me ha ha I gets all my papers out of bins!) would be a real page turner. You would seriously think that with Brick, and Gypsies and twitterstorms and all that jazz, that the Daily Mail would be like a rollercoaster ride. Vomit inducing. terrifying, but ultimately quite thrilling and vaguely addictive.

Nope. I’ve struggled every day to pick it up. I’ve read classics in less time than it’s taken me to read one day of the Daily Mail.

Page 53 and we have recipes. What recipe would the Daily Mail throw up all over its loving audience do you think? The latest creation from Jamie? A bit of sexed up Nigella? Certainly not Blumenthal.. or potty mouthed Ramsay. Hold it. What’s this?

The Daily Mail - with recipes from the 80s to make you feel like the world never changed

A Tuna Pasta Bake? A TUNA FUCKING PASTA BAKE? I have NOT EVEN SEEN a tuna pasta bake in over 20 years. But here we are – in a paper caught in a time warp. They have recipes for dishes that died in the 80s. I’m surprised they don’t advice you to serve with SMASH and throw in angel delight for pudding!

And this is the point isn’t it. DM online is happy to titillate and troll the internet. Putting up pictures of children in bikinis and models wearing even less alongside fame-stalking pap shots and vile editorials to cajole and tease and insult the left while racking up the site visits and creating a vast web auddience bigger than the population of the UK. But when it comes down to it the paper itself is the media equivalent of weak tea. The pisswater you get when you use one bag for two cups and then spill a slosh too much of milk to boot. It’s tepid, watery, insipid and sits on the roof of your mouth til you find some thing else to wash it out with. That’s precisely why it has taken me over a month to consume 50 pages of one issue. Not because it’s shocking but mainly because it’s boring… and a bit soul destroying.

It’s boring because it knows its audience better than any other paper. They’re boring too. They’re boring, banal, selfish, fearful and probably old. No paper in the world can mirror its print audience better than the Mail can, in this respect, it deserves some actual credit for pandering exactly to the opinions and needs of its print readership. Don’t believe me? Well on pages 54 and 55 we get a view into the minds of the readers through the letters pages… and they’re even more disturbing than the editorials. I’ve made a point of reading all the letters. Twice. They’re absolutely batshit. They range from the gentle but pointless humour of the elderly to the evil troll fuelled hate of a rampant nazi. Have this to ease in gently…

ahh bless. Hold it. Someone writes this on a piece of paper and the Daily Mail published it? MENTAL

There’s even a poem.

A poem
About being
a fucking
Chameleon.

And there’s a limerick

A limerick about horses.

And someone sent in a picture of a monster munch crisp. They really did. A crisp that’s supposed to look like a dog. BUT IT REALLY LOOKS LIKE A CRISP NOT A FUCKING DOG.

There’s a letter entitled “knife crime” that is a genuinely angry rant about how young people don’t hold their cutlery properly these days. Seriously. It’s really angry. It starts off like this

“Has no-one else noticed the increasing number of people who are choosing to eat holding their knife and fork in an incredibly clumsy and ugly manner?”

There’s a letter complaining about the AWFUL AWFUL people at Fortnum and Mason and their poor hamper delivery service.

Oh and then you read something like this and just want to switch all your internal organs off simultaneously and let a small part of your soul shrivel up and die

If we spent the £20,000 per illegal immigrant with the aids virus on our border security they wouldn’t be here in the first place

After the letters there’s 4 pages of telly. Not sure why. I bet most of the people who read the Daily Mail still rake the Radio Times every week – although It’s interesting that the first “recommended pick” is a channel 5 documentary called “The Nazis and the Titanic” – what did I say earlier? Playing to their audience.

After that it’s all ads for a bit. Lots of stairlift ads. Lots and lots of stairlift ads. Oh and an amazing advert allowing people who did national service to buy a special national service medal. Seriously. You can buy a medal to commemorate that time you spend marching up and down the square – only in the Daily Mail would we see such a celebration of faux militarism.

After the ads we’re into the business and sport and that’s all I can take. Ever.

The lesson I’ve learned here is big and pretty important though. The Daily Mail won newspaper of the year because of one campaign. The Stephen Lawrence campaign. That’s it. Fair enough. But there is nothing else there to redeem it. In fact there’s not really much else there at all to be honest.

The Mail Online is a walking talking trolling, celeb pap snapping, hotbed of titillation and opinion that draws in the web in a mixture of disgust and fascination with all the gravital pull of a supermassive black hole. But the paper itself is as dull as dishwater. When you scratch the surface of the sensationalist front pages, draw the poison out of the vitriolic  opinion pieces and stop laughing, crying or scratching your eyes out at the letters pages you’re left with nothing but fluff and adverts. If the Daily Mail were a drink it would be a mainstream brand of sherry like Harveys Bristol Cream. It’s sweet sticky and cloying and it has the middle class pretensions that branded sherry had 30 years ago. But at the end of the day it’s still a dangerous fortified wine and if you consume too much of it you’ll it will poison your soul.

Know your enemy part 3

OK so… wow. Has it been that long? Where was I? It’s like a really bad dream. One where I’m frothing at the mouth screaming at the people around me… running down the street, tearing at my clothes crying… “they’re coming … they’re coming…. the immigrants are coming”.

Then I’m falling… endlessly falling, until hands reach and grab me, shaking me awake. And I’m here. Sat in front of a computer screen. The concerned faces that swam before me are gone. I’m out of the sanitorium and back home. And that was after just 22 pages of the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail I’ve promised myself to try to read cover to cover (well at least what I can manage). The Daily Mail that I found on the train on the 6th March and it’s taken me this long to get 22 pages into because …. because…. well I don’t want to go there again.

This is the least S&M pic of a straitjacket I could find

Page 23 and it’s back to the warm cuddly face of the Daily Mail – the grandmother you still love even though she sometimes says things like “Back in my day there was nothing wrong with calling them gollywogs” because she’s your granny, she loves you… besides, she was born in a different age … and she’ll probably be dead soon.

That’s right… Dad’s Army. Oh.. but it’s a bit sad because someone’s died. Hold it. And he only appeared in one episode of Dad’s Army?! This is actually utterly bizarre. The DM is reporting the death of Philip Madoc but is saying his most memorable role ever is appearing as a German U-Boat commander  in one episode of Dad’s Army? I’m gonna have to let that one wash over me.

Page 24 – Leveson. So in page order the death of someone who appeared in one episode of a sitcom in 1973 is more important than a national media enquiry? Mind you. At least it puts the boot into the met a bit – Go Daily Mail!

The Euphoria doesn’t last long mind. There follows a montage of random fear and loathing mixed in with a heavy dose of opinion that is hard to stomach… Woman poses as boy to seduce teenage girls. Chinese super-rich hunt polar bears. BBC wastes taxpayers money. Ooh pictures of David Beckham with his son! Best friends die at 99 (yes… that is a story). Union reps cost police £4.8m (just to hammer that into your fat kneejerk skull – that’s equivalent to 200 bobbies on the beat apparently – in fact the article, barely a few hundred words, manages to include “bobbies on the beat” 3 fucking times). Ha Ha someone called Rachel Ragg writes for the DM… which is a RAG! Geddit? Geddit? OK – I’m losing it here. Time out!

OOH LOOK – There’s a double fucking spread about … wait for it… no really. WAIT. THE FALKANDS WAR. Seriously – forget the 30 year time gap. The DM is adapting a book in a bid to let the jingoistic nostalgia junkies bask in every British victory ever and sock it to those dirty forruns! Think I’m joking? The piece is entitled “Under the Argentine Jackboot” – How subtle do the DM want to be? This subtle “We don’t ever want to become Argentinian. We are British and always will be – no matter what rubbish we hear from the Argentinians” Ahhh – a home (thousands of miles away from) home. Like Gibraltar… that open sore on the coast of Spain were fat-rosy-faced career criminals go smeared in faded tattoos and old England shirts to buy marmite and crisps and moan about immigration without a hint of irony.

What next? Diana auction… of course! Then its Health – NHS reform gets 2 pages. Page 38 is like a quack page – squeezy balls, muscle pills and superbugs. I’ll skip the puzzles and cartoons if that’s ok… although I do love the massive weight of opinion and angst out there about Fred Basset being the worst EVER comic strip.

HAHAHAHAHAHA no? Me neither.

I try to ignore the horoscopes but I’m caught by the fact that someone has actually written to the resident soothsayer asking what stage in the lunar cycle was best for conceiving children…. WHAT?  No? Really “I hear that the waxing moon is better, but as children grow in the dark I was just wondering?” Seriously. What the fuck is that? The soothsayer isn’t content with writing shite out for each of the 12 star signs… he also kindly adds a premium phone line for each star sign so the feeble-minded and gullible can be exploited further. How kind!

Blimey. The health section goes on for ages… and it’s awful. Skits on orange juice being unhealthy, a letter to the doctor where the good doc gets on a soapbox and whinges about a lack of compassion among nurses. There’s even a special regular section called waterworks about urinary problems… Dentures. The ubiquitous cancer page (good news this time… they’ve cured colon cancer… tomorrow it will probably be that colons cause cancer). There’s even a mini-health interview with Kelly Osbourne (yeah… the one whose dad is famous). Of course… the entire health section is decked out with ads for various gadgets and books. My favourite is “The saltpipe” – it’s a porcelain inhaler for salt. INHALE SALT – IT CURES EVERYTHING. A snip at 30 quid….

Of course… you know the health section is coming to an end when you see a full-page ad for electronic cigarettes. Mmmmm nicotine and water vapour…

Blimey. Is that the time? I’ll have to finish this off another day. I’m starting to get to the juicy bits.

To be continued.

Know your enemy part 2

 OK so Lets GO! This is what the Daily Mail – our NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR looked like on 6th March when I dragged a used copy off a train seat to take it out the “news-pool”

Front cover – Ooh heart pills. Eh? HEART PILLS? Is that news? Well actually – I can’t be too critical here can I – after all – the Express ran the same headline (mind you – the Express is running a headline today about how Aspirin beats cancer for fucks sake). It’s not like there was much else going on in the world is there. I mean apart from Harry Lusting after Katie Perry (the Star) or benefits cheats (the Sun) or transsexual con artists (the Mirror). Oh… and a massive crackdown on protests in Russia and the ticking time-bomb of Eurozone debt…. but forget that foreign rubbish A HEART PILL is what counts.

News – Well what did I expect? It seems that even-numbered pages are about the serious agenda driven stuff and odd-numbered pages are about fluff. So page 2 is about Israel and the US. Page 4 is all about cutting child benefits and Page 6 is devoted to the Mail campaign against secret court cases, with a cameo from old school Tory poster boy Ken Clarke… you know the one. Justice Secretary, the bloke who categorises rape into “serious” and “non-serious”! Anyway by the time page 8 rolls around we reach what a lot of broadsheets put on the front page Putin’s crackdown….

 Meanwhile  Page 3 runs with a story about Prince Harry’s shoes. Yes. His. Shoes. Page 5 has a saucy picture of some Oxford librarian temptress and page 7 is a pictures feature comparing SamCam’s appearance in different pap shots taken while she’s out running.

Still with me? You’ll wish you weren’t. Whenever I get past a certain mark in the Mail (and that’s very rarely, train seats come at a premium you know) I get hit by this sudden completely overwhelming depression and sickness. It’s usually when you’ve braved the first few pages and the news becomes less fluffy and more agenda driven. OK so… Sam Cam, Ken Clarke and Prince Harry are hardly subtle hints at the political leanings of the DM – but if you’ve passed the initiation the views of the paper seem to hit you in the face a lot harder the further into it you have the courage to delve.

On page 9 the agenda ramps up with a rant by Dame Joanne Bakewell about how teen magazines sexualise young girls. Never mind the reality that it’s usually when people are in their teens that they start getting curious about sex – it’s WRONG for teens to talk about sex.

Maybe the DM has a point here? Or maybe it’s rank hypocrisy given the massive overt sexualisation of EVERYTHING when you browse the Daily Mail online. A cyber-world where DM paps relentlessly pursue FIVE-YEAR-OLD Suri Cruise for bikini shots. In fact the Daily Mail website is bikini obsessed. A search for the 6 letter word turns up 5,699 results. I’d show a screengrab but anything from DM online is virtually NSFW these days.  We only have to fast forward a few pages here and the Mail is discussing a Gina Ford suggestion that mothers should “grin and bear it” and have unwilling sex with their partners soon after giving birth…. So sexualising teenagers is wrong – but pre-teen bikini shots and forcing yourself to have sex when you don’t want to are fair game… yeah?

Anyway the massive hypocrisy of the Mail when it comes to moralising is a common theme. Onwards – before I get bogged down too much.

By page 14 I actually do feel physically sick. The paper has 80 pages – and I’m sick by page 14. That’s how bad it is. Maybe they should put something on the cover about how reading the DM gives you ulcers as one of the many health scares they gleefully try to terrorise their readership with. On page 14 there is a Quentin Letts rant about the “loonie” “left-wing” quango the Equality & Human Rights Commission. It’s awful.  Here’s a quote

Oh, and they happily spend millions of pounds of public money — your money, taken from your wages — on propaganda officers specialising in race relations, militant secularism and transgender rights outreach.

It’s like I’m on a boat. On the Congo river. Descending into some malarial right-wing feverishness.

Thank fuck then for pages 20 and 21. THANK FUCK. Because we get to a part of the paper called “life” which I think is targeted at women. Why? Why would they call a section “life” and target women with it? How Do I know it targets women? Well. You see. It features 2 pages of photos. 13 pairs of photos of male celebrities. 26 pictures. 13 of them are with beard and 13 without. And the reader gets to decide which is sexier. Beard.Or.No.Beard.  Does this seem strange? Well yes… a bit- but compared to reading the spew of Quentin Letts and the DM Comment column it’s like someone’s injected helium into my cranium and I’m floating away gently. More vapid pictures of men in beards PLEASE.

You get the idea

Shit. On page 21 it’s back to Letts. SOMEONE KILL ME. He’s reviewing the day in parliament. How very proper. Not the place where you’d expect a columnist to throw around personal insults eh? Hold it – how does he describe Ed Milliband?

For once, it was possible to watch Ed’s snorky, honking, spit-sploshy, gawky-geek style – arms lashing around like spaghetti in a tornado, teeth forcing themselves past those lips like the rocks off Land’s End breaking through the foaming briny – and admire young dobbin Miliband for his sheer persistence and stamina.

A good day for Parliament’s leading trainspotter! Triumph for the man in the flapping trousers! He glowed as he may not have done since his days as a Rubik’s Cube prodigy at primary school.

When Mr Miliband sat down he was sweetly pleased with himself. His tongue licked itself all over after making such an effort. His nostrils flared, two open drainpipes. His pigeony chesty heaved and he gave a sealion bark of laughter, so caught up was he by the excitement of the hour. He took on water like Thomas the Tank Engine or a camel at the last oasis before the M4.

So basically it’s not a review of what happened at parliament – it’s a right-wing columnist throwing a series of personal insults at the leader of the opposition. Well done to the NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR.

Jeepers. Letts has given me a brane haemorrhage. I didn’t realise that simply reading the NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR would be so stressful. I actually need a break before I pass out.

To be continued – after all – I’m only up to page 21

Sinking ships

Gah. Just saw that James Murdoch’s resigned from News International

Had a brief moment of “whoop” before the stilted reality of it hit me,

I mean… So what?

So fucking what?!

The king is dead eh! Long live the king.

Those of us hoping that scratching the Murdoch name from the taint of the NI stable would herald some new utopian era of reporting, where journalists stop going through bins and making up saucy kiss and tell fantasies are likely to be sorely disappointed.

With all the Leveson revelations gushing out of the enquiry like a burst sewage pipe you’d think that there would be a news revolution taking place! You’d think that James Murdoch wouldn’t just be quitting – but that he’s be committing ritual suicide along with all the unscrupulous hacks that he gave a voice to. You’d think his dad, Ruprecht, would be willing to appear on the telly draped in a costume made from the skin and hair of a sacrificial Rebekah Brooks offering to give his power and fortune to charity while he ekes out the rest of his days as a hermit in a cave with just lizards for company (step up Cameron and Clegg).

Yeah. We’re finding out what we knew already. That NoTW was like the tip of an iceberg –  but an iceberg made of frozen shitstorm drifting perilously close to the good ship newscorp. That power grabbing Fox-news-toting, king-making, phone-tapping vessel is already springing a few leaks – lets watch it go!

Problem is that Ruprecht and his son can see this. They’re like puppet lizard masters aren’t they. NoTW scandal? Easy… close the fucker down. Relaunch the Sun on Sunday! And guess what – you’ve just got streamlined your editorial staff – made huge cost-savings and are still tapping into exactly the same market. Man – nothing gets past these guys does it.

That’s what’s so dispiriting about the news of James being jettisoned. The stink that Leveson is releasing into the atmosphere is fetid… far too fetid for ickle James, who doesn’t want his name mixed up in that. Much easier to jetpack him out of there. Then what? Simples… sell the lot.

News Corp has bigger fish to fry and they know print media is dying a slow death. Why not just end the family link to it all and let the world laugh at Rebeckah and her police horse while you quietly get the fuck out and laugh all the way to the bank.

Meanwhile the knee jerker will still go out and buy their daily fix of tits and brainwashing – just like they all queued up to do for the Sun on Sunday – as if hacking a dead girls phone for a story had never happened in the first place!

Leave the room now if you don’t want to know the score

Oh it’s a funny old game ennit? Eh!

Fucking hilarious! Like a one man stand up show. Benny Hill meets Bill Hicks and they both make us all laugh like we’re dead. We are all dead aren’t we? HAHAHA. We’ve just been resurrected and Jimmy Carr is telling us all jokes about Alan Carr – not the funny one. The one that died of cancer. But now the other Alan Carr’s arrived and he’s just written a sitcom with Richard Pryor and Alan Bennett about the life of John Cleese. That funny!

Well it’s not funny. But it is a game. It’s football. The national sport. The thing that seems to command more passion and dedication in this country than the reality of things like the economy. Like eating and drinking. Like shelter and society.

I’ve steered clear of football for a while now. Mainly because football is so ubiquitous in the news that it’s wallpaper. Things change in the news. Celebrities come and go. Natural disasters strike, governments blah their shit and the press collectively cream themselves over one scandal or the other all the time. But football is forever. It’s like paving stones in a street, I mean. How often do you look down and think

“look all those paving stones? How did they get there? There are gazillions of them. They’re everywhere. Blimey. I’m having a panic attack thinking about the interconnection of them all”

Unless you got spiked with LSD and you’ve been caught out going to the shops for something pointless like windolene (no-one? Oh!?) I’d guess you almost NEVER think about how integral paving stones are to our lives. Football has the same relationship with news. It swills around and gets spat out of the mouth of the press every morning and the reader absorbs it all without even noticing that much.

But it’s been a busy few weeks even for football. Ubiquity on the back pages has spread to scandal on the front ones. We’ve had Harry Redknapp confessing to being unable to read or write. Not only that but a court believed him and he was found not guilty of tax evasion. Not only that but he only fucking managed to do it just in time to be hailed as the saviour of english football. WHY? Because Fabio Capello ONLY quit as England boss. EH? BUT WE’VE GOT EUROS IN A FEW MONTHS. Shit yeah. He only walked because he couldn’t make John Terry Captain. WHY? Cos’ John Terry only got charged with racial abuse on Anton Ferdinand . Jesus! Yeah. And that’s not the half of it. Suarez got banned for being a daft racist to Evra! NO?! What happened there? Well Suarez only refused to shake Evra’s hand and still hasn’t apologised for calling him “negrito” in  a game. Really? Yeah, And get this. Tevezis back at Man city. But he reckons Mancini treated him like a DOG! Really? Oh yeah, and Speed died. Oh!

Ha ha. Geddit? Yeah. He CAN'T WRITE. Ho ho ho

On it rolls. Like a shitty soap opera – sitting on the edge of anything resembling reality. A world where someone who claims to be unable to read and write is being touted as the genius who will lead the country to glory. A world where winning a few consecutive games with a ball actually is considered glory. A world where someone throws a hissy fit because they get banned for a few matches for something that would normally have someone sacked on the spot. A world where a manager walks out because they can’t effectively reward someone for having criminal charges hanging over them. A world where someone has such a complete lack of perspective that they think being paid 200 grand a week and then frozen out of a team for refusing to play is being treated like an animal.

So long and thanks for all the... I dunno.money?

The thing is. I’m not one of those people who hate football. I LOVE football. I love playing it. I love watching it. I even support a team. I go and see them, have done for 20 years. I can more than hold my own in those pub debates about who should play up front alongside Rooney or who blabblabla needs to bring in to step up and do blblblblbaaaaaah blabble. The magic of football is that you can usually throw a bunch of strangers together at some event, a wedding, a conference, a blind date – and the chances are that, whatever else they might not have in common, they can usually fall back on the beautiful game as some sort of lukewarm icebreaker. I know it’s shallow but jesus. if it’s a choice between telling someone what I do for a living for the umpteenth time or debating whether Mick McCarthy is a decent manager I’d rather go with Mickey talking anytime.

But FFS. It.is.only.game. Football is not more important than life and death. It’s something people do. For fun. There is only one thing in the world that is elevating football to this completely false pedestal and that it the obsession of the press. Once upon a time I used to check news on my team daily. I even used to submit articles to a football blog. Now I can’t even bring myself to read the back pages in the morning. And why do I need to? Anything happens in football and it spreads like wildfire. It’s usually all over the front pages … headlines screaming about Capello. Or it’s all over Twitter. With knuckle scraping racists vomiting abuse at the accounts of players like Evra and commentators like Collymore because they happen to be black. If Tevez lacks perspective maybe it’s because he’s been elevated to the status of a demigod by a drooling bunch of sport hacks and then demonised to the point of being Beelzebub himself by the very same hacks because he started to actually believe what they were saying in the first place. I mean even as I’m writing this there’s Harry, on the telly, talking up a part-time role as England manager. Looking a bit like my 90 year old nan. I only turned the news on to see the weather now it’s all Harry Redknapp and Glasgow rangers going into administration. Going into administration because they don’t want to pay a 9 million tax bill. That’s less than Tevez’s annual fucking salary!

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Kenny

Of all this the only thing deserving of attention is the racism claims. But even then the press are couching it as a “debate”. There is no need for debate here. There’s no need to draw a saga out for months on end unless you want to bleed the story dry and give even a hint of justification to the scum who think it’s OK. The one’s who think it’s “banter”  and start sentences with “I’m not racist but” or say “some of my best friends are black” – yeah. Best friends who hate your guts really because you’re an embarrassing racist. Football was close to stamping that out, if the press want to do one thing here they should make sure it doesn’t come back – and judging by what I’ve read directed at black footballers on twitter – we still have a long way to go.

Poppycocks

Ok so. It’s that time of year again.

A special time. One built on remembrance and perhaps a little bit of respect.

I’ll be honest here. I do wear a poppy. I do observe the silence. I’ll go one step further. During the silence I remember people who die in wars. I do it to remind myself war isn’t a very nice thing. That. To me. Is the whole point of it.

Let’s keep it simple here. People die in wars. One day a year an act of silence allows us to remember that.

So why bother writing about it?

Well somewhere over the last 93 years the idea of remembrance has somehow been appropriated by the media, the powers that be and the flag waving mouth breathers to somehow represent something else. Something unpleasant and even sinister.

Nowadays the run up to remembrance day is a media circus that seeks to glorify war and not actually remember those it kills.

First of all there was the church. Stepping in and demanding that the while thing should be done on a special Christian Sunday service too. Never mind that preachers in the pulpit waxed to the max to send people off to die 97 years ago. Never mind that war was something that caused many to question, and even lose, the faith they might have had. We now have this big pomp and circumstance on a Sunday when the very politicians who regularly send people to kill and die needlessly stand, sombre faced, scoring political points around the cenotaph while the church, which has been equally culpable in mass murder, pretends the whole fucking thing was their idea.

Why not think about the people you're killing Cameron?

Nowadays the press have joined in too. Putting poppies on the front page for weeks before the event and going all frothy mouthed at anyone who doesn’t want to join their crusade. Wear your poppy with pride they scream. Do it for our boys out there! No thanks. Poppies were never meant to be about pride. There’s no pride to be gained killing and mutilating people or being killed or mutilated yourself. You wear it to remember that fact, not to encourage it.

In the 1920’s mothers and widows of the dead tried to stop this subversion of remembrance by creating White ‘peace poppies’. People still wear them but, even though they’re supposed to convey a similar message you get a lot of questions and, sometimes, abuse if you can find and wear one.  While the red poppy has been happily appropriated by the establishment to support war, the white poppy makes you a pariah.

It gets worse though. these days the media circus surrounding remembrance day has come to represent the most jingoistic and commercialised unpleasantness you can imagine. Every sporting event in the UK demands a minute’s silence. OK. Fair enough. But WHY? We already have a 2 minute silence. It takes place on November 11th. Why do we need to cheapen that by having one the weekend before,the weekend after and (as I mentioned earlier) on Sunday too? Last weekend at the Swansea Liverpool game they unveiled a big fuck-off poppy on the pitch… why? When did this become about how big your fucking poppy is?

It's all about how big your poppy is. Right?

This year the storm in a teacup surrounds the fact that England weren’t supposed to have poppies embroidered into their shirts for the weekend international game. Well excuse me if I don’t join the thronging lynch mob here. The last people I’d want to “remember” the war dead are the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard. Who drunkenly abused grieving Americans in the wake of September 11th 2001. Not only that but the game is on November 12th. You know? The DAY AFTER the rest of the country will be remembering the dead. After November 11th you DON’T NEED TO WEAR A POPPY let alone make a fashion statement out of it.

But fashion is what it’s become. Bling poppies are the new fashion  statement for X-Factor and Strictly fashionistas looking to set themselves apart. Never mind that this means that they’re no longer concerned with charity but worse – its become about looking good, showing off and setting yourself apart from the crowd. That rumbling over there is the fields of France swelling with the people who never had the privilege of graves turning over in the ground.

So yeah. I wear a poppy. I wear one for the same reason I ever did. To remember the war dead. If you feel like joining me then do it. But to be frank I’m actually ashamed to be wearing a poppy half the time. I see the papers with their little poppies, the footballers showing them off and the X-Factor judges with their jewel encrusted accessories and I feel sick. Take my advice. If you do fancy wearing a poppy and observing the silence tomorrow do it for the right reasons. And try to remember what Wilfred Owen said about war

Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier’s paid to kick against His powers.
We laughed, — knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars: when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death, for lives; not men, for flags.