Thursday, March 29, 2007

What if the Internet was a bit older?

I remember the first time I saw Trainspotting. It was immense, good tunes, loads of drugs, random violence. This was 90s Britain! Of course, we all remember Tommy who in the film is a clean-cut, fitness freak who descends into a heroin addled hell, culminating in HIV.
Still, could have been worse: what if he got addicted to Facebook? Since joining Facebook, I have not added a shave or a square meal, it is more addicitve than Stick Cricket. I now talk incessantly about Facebook. What a jibbering wreck, I have become.

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Be careful what you wish for

So Stevie Mac doesn't care what people write? Well that's handy. Another woefully, inept performance last night. Even after having my senses dulled by alcohol and fish goujons, this sucked. Macca do the right thing, put your hand up and say you are not doing a very good job. Then consider very carefully whether you, in your heart of hearts, think you're up to the job. If you are, then please demonstrate it soon. At your own convenience, of course. If, on the other hand, you feel incapable of doing the job, feel you are not cut out for it, out of your depth and totally clueless (perish the thought) then go. Resign. And go back to some poor unsuspecting team. Seriously, you're making me feel all nostalgic for Sven, I have never heard so many people say that they don't care about England. This is down to you. And the players naturally, but mostly you. How have you managed to get Rooney playing quite so shockingly? Why on Earth, do you think England might be a better team with Phil Neville around (even Sven had the sense to drop him)? Now that you saw Stevie G boss the show from the middle will, you please not put him back on the wing? Finally, if we don't have quality strikers, why do you continue to play 4-4-2? If you want to play Frank and Stevie G (which you so obviously do) why don't you play a five-man midfield? God's sake, I'm just a jobbing blogger but there are loads of us who really think you're crap and you're dragging our country down with you.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What's in a name?

I thought I'd chuck one of my many useless facts at Mummy Beef and told her that Northern Ireland were now top of a qualifying group for hte first time since 1988. Clearly impressed, she hit back with: "Yes I saw that Dennis Healey scored twice last night".
Made my day.

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To be frank

Good news! Tactical genius and all-round superb choice as national manager, Steve McLaren has had his midfield selection dilemma solved by Frank Lampard pulling out of tonight's match with a...fractured wrist, please no jokes. I think this will mean I'll watch the match tonight. come on England.

p.s Genius Lampard pic was lifted from an old Guardian gallery.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Barry's homage to Vodafone, his very own 121

You know things are getting back on track when you start hitting the big darts, the big finishes and the crowd starts to dig it. To set the scene it was a winner stays on between myself, the Lord Lucan and Deep V. Things started to hot up when Deep V, out of nowhere, banged in a 138. Up to the oche stepped 'the Hotstepper', my Ini Kamoze inspired darts nickname, and replied with a 121 outshot. Nice little treble 20, treble 15, double 8 (see pic). Thanks and goodnight. Up stepped the Lord Lucan who spanked a 140, 'the Hotstepper' responded with a 123 (narrowly, very narrowly missing out on a first ever maximum). Left on 115 and buoyed by my earlier outshot, my hopes were dashed by Lucan taking out 74. This is unheard of darts. Deep V then vanquished the Lord Lucan with a double 17 out. Deep V then fell victim to a double 16, first dart out and point combo.
Then off to the Rugby Tavern, Holborn for top of the table Wednesday's game against Leicester City. I think I have some previous with Leicester. I think I have previous with most of the teams due to my habit of losing my cool at times. Believe, I'm always cool though. Well, I contributed to Wednesday quickly finding themselves 3-0 down (my part of our doubles leg will go down in the books as a really, really bad leg of darts), 3-0 rapidly became 5-1 and the Owls were staring down the barrel of an old-fashioned kicking. I then found something approaching form and won my singles after my opponent had, what must have been, over 30 darts at the double. Single 10 and double ten pulled it back to 5-2 and then two more legs reduced the deficit to one. Sadly, it was a bridge too far and the next leg went to Leicester and the victory was theirs. Wily Foxes. Beer leg went to Wednesday though, so the night ended on a high. Literally.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Reasons to smile

Recently, I was asked to contribute to my boss' Annual Report. I was asked to find a photo conveying some feeling about the Post Office (the Government has got in quite a lot of hot water for shutting some Post Offices and the POCA is about as popular as Steve McClaren) and nurses. Maybe it's just me, but I love these pictures - neither of which made the Report. Never mind immigrants in the Health Service (not that I do remotely) but pets...

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Statue of Ted to be put to bed

This is one to lighten the hearts of the most depressed. Ted Bates, no relation to Norman, was a player and manager of Southampton and quite the cult hero. Which is all well and good. A statue was commissioned. Which is all well and good. Sadly, it's all out of proportion, making Ted look more like a bronze munchkin version of Jimmy Krankee. Which has raised the ire of Saints fans. Just look at it. I have had a quick look around a Pompey message board and this one did make me giggle: "can someone please explain to me why the scum have erected a statute of Ernie Wise outside their pit?"
If statues dated, Bates and Thatcher would be a hoot. The behemoth and the krankie.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

At least we kept a clean sheet

Despite not having the greatest weekend, I was blessed to have missed the vast majority of England's 0-0 draw against Israel. I am waiting for an England player to now announce that "Andorra are one of the world's top teams." So let's have a quick look at what England's problems are: we can't score, the midfield's not producing that much and the defence looks a bit shaky. Our keeper is also out of form.
So who needs to be dropped? And more importantly who should be called up to the team? Andrew Johnson is the obvious patsy here, but if he gets decent service he'll score. Drop Rooney? Ermmm, no. So it's back to my favourite hobby-horse, see you later Frank. Hargeaves in centre mid with Stevie G. That's Stevie G, playmaker and midfield dynamo, not Stevie G rent-a-day right winger. Lennon on the right and bang Dyer on the left until Joe Cole is fit, i.e. physically - his large head and habit of sticking out his tongue when being good making the more urban meaning an improbability. That means Lamps on the bench.
Drop Rio for a game or two. He's a classy player for sure, but looks like a man secure in the knowledge that he could do practically anything and not be dropped. Put Carragher or Woodgate in central defence. Give Phil Neville his P-45. Ashley Cole will be in after suspension on Wednesday with Micah Richards fitting in at right back. Robinson should also be put on the bench. I imagine Foster will get the nod, I mean he does play for Manchester United (sort of); although Scott Carson is the best English keeper around.
I'd probably drop the lad McClaren too. God knows who'd replace him though, what about Beckham? As ever, come on England.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Spot the mistake

Just received an invitation, please permit me to reproduce a snippet of the email: "Parliamentary Coffee Morning on 10th May 2007 at 2pm"

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Reality check needed

John Terry, the England captain is a very good player and no doubt about that. And despite England's to-date pretty dismal run in the Euro qualifiers making tomorrow's match in Tel Aviv a must-win, I think John Terry may just be marginally over-egging the Israeli pudding. As quoted in the Sun: "We need to look to this game as a positive thing, where we can go out and perform against one of the best sides in the world."
One of the best teams in the world? Huh? Go figure. For those of you not in the know, Israel last qualified for a major international championship in 1970* and this is their solitary World Cup performance. They have never qualified for hte Ruo Championships. Now there's top teams, there's top teams and there's Israel. Sure they're pretty decent and have a few decent players but I'd stop some way of saying they're one of the best in the world, mainly because it is wildly inaccurate.
He also misinterprets the term 'great manager' as this quote from a recent interview proves: "If you look at the great managers, like Mourinho and McClaren, they all want to know what the players are feeling and what they are thnking." Let me just get this straight, Israel are a top world team and Steve McClaren is a great manager? Blimey, I must be behind the times.

* Didn't know that until I t'internetted it. Not a great success mind. Out first round.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bob Woolmer

It has come to light that Bob Woolmer, the Pakistani coach, was strangled to death. His death was tragedy enough, but the evidence of foul play casts a long shadow over international cricket. Nothing can counter-balance Mr Woolmer's death but, if as suggested in many quarters, his murder was ordered because of his willingness to expose the shadowy world of corruption and match-fixing in cricket; I can only hope that it is not only the assailant/s who are caught but also that the underworld figures lurking like rats are found and punished accordingly. The spectre of match-fixing has hung over the world of cricket for a great many years now and the ICC must act firmly and decisively to root out this evil.


The return of the best site in the world

The quite fantastic HTFC World is back up and running with a match report from the recent Huddersfield vs. Bradford derby. This site is so good, it's unbelievable.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

That was the budget that was

It was his last budget in his current Cabinet position. At least he won't have to look like he knows what's going on next year. John Prescott, that is. Oh and Dave, cracking hair. Very slick.


Over my dead body/Sign of things to come

New Beef source, Bart Simpson pointed out these two quite remarkable stories.
I just love the thought of someone in 1st Class having a dead body stuck next to them. But that is not as funny as signers swearing on TV. That is too good.
It's a funny old world.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Barry Beef interviews Guy Siner

In all his brilliance, here is Guy Siner. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did interviewing him. Many thanks to Recess Monkey for filming and uploading this.

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World Cup debuts: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Firstly, I must issue a disclaimer: Dwayne Leverock is not ugly, just that the Good, the Bad and the Chunky isn't quite as catchy a title.

Watching Bermuda vs. India yesterday, I saw Leverock launch to this right to snaffle a one-handed catch at first slip (or as David Lloyd later quipped: "He covers first, second and third slip"), the other side of the story was the bowler: 17 year old Malachi Jones taking a wicket with his first ever World Cup delivery. OK so India turned up the pace and scored the highest World Cup total of all time and then registered the biggest win in World Cup history, but that moment will live in Leverock, Jones and all the viewers' mmemories forever.
contrast this with Zimbabwean World Cup debutant, Friday Kasteni. Coming in to open the batting for the Zimbabweans, he was clean bowled first ball. I've had the same experience (definitely twice and maybe three times) and it's not good. I guess you can say that Monday wasn't Friday's day.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Scientific proof pigs can bleat!

Just win your games and shut your gob, Colin. Colin, the Pig manager has been as ungracious as ever by panning Middlesbrough for not playing their strongest team against Manchester City. Manchester City were flirting dangerously close to the relegation zone and their 2-0 win over Boro eased their own worries, actually taking them above...guess who?...Sheffield United.
So what does Colin do? Well here's the rant in all its glory:

"I know Stuart is a friend of Gareth Southgate and I know [Middlesbrough] have got Manchester United but I'd love them to lose the next six games and see how they react under that kind of pressure," said Warnock.
If I could pick three players not to play against me it would be Woodgate, Viduka and Arca. He must know that without them three they've got very little chance of winning.
I know Gareth is a new manager, I just hope it happens to him one day. I guess Alan Pardew feels the same way.
I just think it's scandalous and I don't think Middlesbrough should disrespect Sheffield United, West Ham and all the others at the bottom of the table."

So where do you begin? Well for starters Colin is well and truly living up to his name. Would you back Woodgate to get through two matches in three days? No. Would you back Viduka to do the same? Nope. I think Arca has also had injuries. Southgate played Yakubu, their number 1 player. They played Mark Schwarzer, their first choice keeper.
What would be more important for Boro? To win the F.A Cup or 3 points against Manchester City? It's a no-brainer. And then Colin goes on to wish Boro to lose loads. Hey Colin everything would be alright if your Pigs started, you know, winning. What is scandalous is you ranting like a spoilt kid. All this disrespecting stuff is trying to deflect attention from YOUR team going backwards. It is YOU Colin who shows a total lack of respect.

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You want some?

Last night I watched the United/Middlesbrough Quarter Final replay and thought it was a good match and, I'm sorry to say, I thought it was a definite penalty. However, the Boro bench interpreted it differently and, allegedly, a shout of 'cheat' eminated in the direction of the United bench. Incensed by this Carlos Queiroz, bag carrier extraordinaire, sought revenge and went for the bench, or more aptly the Boro assistant, Malcolm Crosby. Mere handbaggery though, if truth be told. Contrast this with White Hart Lane where after the final whistle, a fan got onto the pitch and tried to lay one on Frank Lampard (a punch rather than a kiss). Lamps ducked and then security got some digs in. If you want to read a good report of the incident read this. That's good, if you agree with security being allowed to beat supporters with bats, which let's face it you probably do (if only for a laugh). It's also where I lifted the great photo from.
Of course, violence in football is not a new phenomenon. As an example, I'd like to bring your attention to this hitherto unseen footage from an old Auld Firm derby.

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Ever seen a fat guy dive?

Look at the big guy go, you'd have thought Uthappa had snicked a burger to first slip. Well, Leverock moved like a gazelle and snaffled it one-handed. He then did a wobbly dance, whilst other members of the team who ran after Jones, the bowler, and then bundling him. Jones then started to cry with all the emotion. All gone a bit downhill for the Bermudans since though with Sehwag finally finding some form and spanking this lot around the park.

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Eastenders and the synagogue quiz

Before I start let me say I have never met Dr. Legg, I was stuck on what picture to use; hey he was in Eastenders and is Jewish. I'll take it. So I was watching the Eastenders omnibus yesterday and there was to be a pub quiz in the Queen Vic. Normally, when there is a pub quiz in Walford it will be comedy for everyone as Minty and Gary talk about nothing else and then invariably come last. But hey, Minty and Gary are a great comedy double-act; so I can bare that. Yet the deadly duo were surprisingly not around for this quiz (Hey writers, how's about consistency in your scripting??). No, this quiz is something a bit special. What's special about a pub quiz? Well, as someone who attends quizzes and on Sunday night actually went to a synagogue quiz (I'll come to that in a bit) the question eternally on my mind is "What shall I wear?" I'm glad it's not just me who suffers like this, both Stacey and Chelsea declared they had nothing to wear. Am I taking crazy pills here? They go to this pub every single episode, yet now they don't have anything to wear. It's a pub quiz, not a prom. I mean who puts glad rags on for a pub quiz? Apart from Stacey and Chelsea, I guess only me. That's the thing about pub quizzes, no-one makes the effort anymore. "What about Shirley??", I hear you shout at the monitor. Ok, ok. Shirley had made an effort, she was wearing a lovely red number, all very Chris de Burgh I'm sure. She really did look like mutton dressed up as mutton. She also got pie-eyed and shouted for her ex-husband to get married to his current, yet estranged, belle.
Thankfully, these shenanighans were not repeated at the synagogue quiz. After an eternity finding something to wear (in the end I settled for jeans and a shirt), it was time to commence. I walked in and wow, it was very, very caucasian. Not that that's bad, it's just kind of weird.
The quiz rolled on for a while and our team were right in it until a couple of poor rounds at the end saw us finish 4th. Not even a podium finish. Still it could have been worse, Dwayne Chambers took drugs, finished 4th and was banned from competitive athletics for two years. I was clean, finished 4th and intend to do the Sports and Social Quiz on Thursday.
At the end there was a big fundraising raffle and I was amazed to hear that the draw would be made by Dr Sharma. Sharma? In a synagogue? But I thought everyone was white! How quick of me to judge. I know it's not an uncommon surname, but I wondered aloud to my mum (Mummy Beef) whether she was the daughter of Mr Sharma, my Maths teacher at school. I said to my Auntie that it was a nice touch at a ostensibly Jewish function, to get a Hindu in to do the draw. Very integrated, very now! Alas, it turned out to be Schama, some relation of the TV historian.

p.s Anyone know who hit the winning putt for Europe to win the 2006 Ryder Cup? I'd expect the two wise old men of the Sports to know (we watched it together...with those three hunnis*)

* They weren't really hunnis, Red Fox. Not like you darling

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

A weekend that cricket won't forget

Things started off very strange, India beaten comfortably by Bangladesh and then Ireland celebrated St Patrick's Day by pulling off one of the biggest shocks of all time by beating Pakistan by 3 wickets, having already lost to the West Indies in the tournament's opening match it meant the end for Pakistan. India should still progress. And then England stuttered into action, as Australia were thrashing Holland, England sealed a convincing, if not all that encouraging, win against the plucky Canadians. England's performance was over-shadowed by five of the squad going on the piss and Freddie falling off a pedallo. Pissed. Freddie was dropped for Essex's Ravi Bopara who performed pretty decently. Perhaps for the must-win match against Kenya, England will perservere with Bopara and drop Dalrymple who's not having the greatest of tournmaents as of to date. Sweetstuff likes the idea of bringing Strauss in for either Bell or Joyce. Personally, it is getting frustrating to watch Ian Bell hit another classy 20/30 without making more and Joyce looks good but I am not 100% sold. So, yes I would bring Strauss back in.
And then Googly sent me a text to tell me that Bob Woolmer, the Pakistani coach, had been found unconscious in his hotel room and pronounced dead at a local hospital. I am really at a loss as what to say, apart from to pay tribute to a man who achieved a lot in his career as a player, and perhaps more so as a coach. He was rumoured to be one of the favourites to succeed Duncan Fletcher as England coach. And this news was compounded by Inzi's decision to stand-down as test captain and retire from One Day Internationals.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Slow out of the blocks

Today the world forgot her worries and bore her countenance upon England and the Cricket World Cup. Jeez they'd be plenty disappointed. A Nixon/Plunkett rearguard saw England to respectability,* but despite having the upper hand at 19-3 and 70odd-4 England never looked like they were gonna win. The Collingwood/Dalrymple making a 5th bowler idea was blown to bollox, and New Zealand relatively coasted home. Food for thought, but with two supposedly inferior opponents up next England need two convincing victories to finalise a best XI and make a play for the World Cup. I, like you, remain hopeful. Come on England (and Wales)

* Not all doom and gloom, KP looked good today.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

If you don't like Trident does it make you a hippy hobo?

My view on Trident replacement is no particular secret. I think it isn't such a hot idea. Recently, I have blogged many things relating to this issue; and in return have been told (basically) Nigel Griffiths? Whoopee-doo; why don't I hang around with Meacher and, more worryingly, to explain my opinion as opposed to just saying that this Government is gulity of selling Britain's morality down the swanny (with an enabling hand from the Tory Party). However, two recent occurences brought this issue home to roost. Both happened on Wednesday morning between alighting the District Line at Westminster and entering my office. Firstly, I had some Friends of the Earth chap thrust an A5 sheet into my hand saying that Trident replacement is wrong. Ok then, that's cleared that one up. Trident = wrong. I got that. I been scrabbling around for a philosphical opposition and here it is, it's wrong! No way I can misinterpret it. Heaven's above, it's wrong. Point made? Trident is bad, it is wrong.
And then I got into a quite uncomfortable 'stop and chat' and conversation came round to Trident. Ok, ok; I know it's wrong. If I didn't know myself, some chap in need of a shave and scrub told me so. However, I was told (and this is almost verbatim, the couple of days interlude before posting may have clouded its 100% authenticity): "I know some people think it's wrong*, but it is a deterrent." The last word said very slowly, perhaps for emphasis or perhaps because it's quite a long word. The walls came tumbling down, my anguish shouted - not audible to others but its effect was felt in my soul. Why hadn't I thought of that? It's a deterrent, i.e. we gotta have it! Deterrent? You could change one letter and make it 'detergent'; it would still be dirty.**
Us beatniks, however, have no grasp on reality. Having been too ensconced in our liberal, left-wing thoughts; we negated to notice that we are in the hold of the WAR ON TERROR. And what better way to put the shits up your opponents? We got nukes, baby and f-you, we're gonna make them bigger and better. A kinda carrot and stick situation, when the carrot is represented by some, ermm..let's be gracious, cack-handed diplomacy and the stick is represented by Trident nukes.
"If we don't renew Trident, it makes us very vulnerable to foreign (especially terrorist) attack." Once again, thanks for the hint; I hadn't considered it. I like the way that Britain is not planning a nuclear attack now, but in 30 years time - who knows? Countries can change. This is true enough, but there was a marked lack of recognition that countries can also change for the better. As a case in point, 30 years ago we were in the Cold War and the Soviet Union was the enemy (no less than an enemy with loads of nukes!), 30 years on Russia is the West's ally***. You could stretch this thinking further: if, as generally accepted, the Cold War led to the proliferation of nuclear arsenals should it not be accepted that countries turning 'for the better' questions the longevity of nukes? If there was no Cold War, perhaps there would have been no 'boom' time for nukes? See what I mean? 30 years ago South Africa was ruled by an apartheid regime, things have changed. I would hesistantly add that it might be our foreign policy that has contributed to changes in nations foreign policy objectives (i.e. an increased dislike of the U.S and UK) and subsequent threat of attack. When not reading Noam Chomsky and various apologist pieces, I did just have time enough to realise that Britain's foreign policy has not been unanimously welcomed, even the UN are a few steps behind. Hopping into bed with Dubya has somewhat blurred the image of Labour crusading for a New Jerusalem.
Proponents of renewal are keen to paint the picture of opponents being pacifists/stoners/hippies/Trots/idealists (delete as applicable. I've had all five levelled at me). I prefer idealists. "You don't know what you are talking about. You're an idealist."
My limited knowledge of international relations (thanks for that dictionary Hamburger!) shows there are two main schools of political thought: Realism and idealism. Idealists are the nice guys, the one's who want to see us all joined in harmony, holding hands and presumably buoyed by copious amounts of marijuana. Counter these reprobates with the realists. These straight-talkers don't pull their punches, and aint gonna entertain the thought of idealism. My limited knowledge led to me to the following question: "What is the aim of the realists saying we should renew Trident?" I'm stumped. I get the whole US/UK are good and need nukes to protect not only us but the rest of the wrold. God-dammit. The US and the UK working in unison as the World's Policemen. Yeh, with the US being police from the Rodney King school and the UK being more of a Police community Support Officer. There is no clear methdology and there is no end goal, unless the rest of the world cowering in fear (masked as the cloak of the international community) - in turn breeding overt/latent suspicion/animosity.
The idealists, this moniker has been conferred upon people who do not agree with the renewal of Trident, however have some idea of an end goal: a world where relations are governed by an ethical, joint-up foreign policy. That should have set off the alarms. It makes Trident a bigger issue than MPs going through their chosen lobby, bringing into question matters such as the U.N and the notional use of nuclear weapons.
The U.N was set up, as we all well know, to take over from the League of Nations which failed, and failed badly, when the Germans, Japanese and the Italians (but mostly the Germans) didn't play by the rules. It begged the question: what is the goal of the international community? Maybe, I am being pessimistic but, at the current time, it doesn't seem there is a world consensus. In fact, it appears some nations are poles apart. So what is the U.N to do? The U.N can past resolutions, hey from time to time it does. The problem being when those resolutions are ignored (this is your cue Israel and Iraq!), then we go to war; if everyone on the UN Security Council agrees. So who the realist and who are the idealists?
I don't think anti-Trident renenwal people think we should abolish all of our nuclear arsenal and I do not believe that many would advocate unilateral disarmament. Multilateral disarmament...hey, that could almost qualify as an 'international will' or 'the desire of the international community' or give the U.N a nice project to lead on. But there is no international will for disarmament, which makes multilateral disarmanet a distant vision. What this vote would have showed is Britain's willingness to provide a grounding for international negotiations to resolve a programme of international, multilateral disarmanent. As it is, the Bill was passed. I have no problem with this, MPs vote how they feel they should. I'm sure Griffiths, Devine and Pound will be pilloried for a bit, I mean who do those scumbags think they are? Principles? Don't they run American schools? So with the majority of the PLP being backed by the Tories where are the left's saviour? Where are the Liberal Democrats? Wait and see. No, that isn't me teasing you, that is their actual position! Wait and see until 2014 (I think). In 2014, the Liberal Democrats will still be in third place. It is slightly incongruous to me, hey I'm not a big Lib Dem admirer, that a party can wholeheartedly vote against Iraq but not vote against Trident replacement. I mean if anything's going to send a message to Iran that we're serious about the NPT, it's Trident renenwal. The continuation of Iran's nuclear programme is the single biggest factor (as it currently stands) that will provoke the U.S/UK coalition to war.

* In fact, I had been told by a FoE campaigner that Trident was wrong.
** By 'dirty', I don't mean illegal, it is fully in line with the NPT - a piece of legislation which whilst nominally regarding NON PROLIFERATION defends Britain's right to re-new.
***About 20 years ago we were funding Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Wow. Everyone changed sides on that one, it's just like WWE!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

When Barry met Guy Siner aka Lieutenant Gruber

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

And they're off

So you would think that I'd be disappointed that Chris Gayle, my faovurite cricketer, and "West Indies player to watch" is back in the pavilion already? You'd be right but it could be worse. Although I like Gayle a lot he's not in my Fantasy Cricket Team, Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster, whereas the chap who dismissed him, Umar Gul, is and he's my "Pakistani player to watch." Less thank 5 overs gone and I'm hooked already.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Minister drops a bomb

The first member of the Labour Government resigns over Trident. Bye, bye Nigel Griffiths MP, hitherto the Deputy Leader of the House. Note to Government: Trident may well turn round and bite you on the ass. There are Labour Party members, and significantly voters, who are thoroughly pissed off at the prospect of splurging billions of pounds sterling up the wall. I know the reasons for having Trident, maybe just explain them fully to the Government now.

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Reality TV: It's just for Charity, folks!

For some reason, of which I'm still not 100% sure, I decided to stay in on Saturday and Sunday. I think the deluge of football and rugby might have contributed to this decision. However, it did permit me to catch Fame Academy (but PLEASE vote it's for Comic Relief blurgh) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It didn't bode well for me as the celebs were introduced and first up was Anjelica Bell billed as: 'the comeback to end all comebacks.' This is unfortunate as it means I've not heard of her twice. Other celbes include Mel Giedroyc, one half of my least favourite comic duo ever. Oh no. Here comes Barry! It's Barry Evans. I know Barry can sing, I've seen him do karaoke at Churchills, Canterbury and as impressive as his voice was it was nowhere near as silky and classy as him trying to get two brids to get off with each other at the bar. Thankfully, no such tomfoolery on this show. Please, it's for charity.
And Colin doesn't like the judges. The contrived, I don't like the judges thing. Check. And then there's Fred, the Comedian who can't sing. No, but please; he's trying and it's for charity after all, also is that bird off Heartbeat always on the lash?
Throughly unimpressed, but hey it's for charity. Sorry, but no good.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Cricket World Cup players to watch

Not long to go now. The Cricket World Cup is a just around the corner. It's so exciting that even England losing 3 quick wickets and Paul Allott doing commentary can't get me down. As someone who is notoriously rubbish at predictions, I thought I'd pick out the players to watch. This should serve as the proverbial kiss of death.

Bermuda - Well there can only be one man to watch. Probably because you can't miss him, it's the Big Guy: Dwayne Leverock. When not spinning out England's best, he eats.

Canada - John Davison's century against the Windies in the '03 World Cup was sensational (as was the catch to dismiss him). Also the only Candian player I have heard of.

Scotland - It's all about Gavin Hamilton. A former England international with the kind of test match figures that make Raul Lewis look like Murali - in his only test match Hamilton bagged a pair and didn't take a wicket. Now he doesn't bowl much after a debilitating bout of the yips. Bats well for Scotland though.

Ireland - Opening bat, William Porterfield has had a Hussey-esque start to his career, averaging something daft like 75. No more Ed Joyce for the Irish, so Porterfield looks the most capable of filling the void.

Australia - Hard to pick just one, but it must be Ricky Ponting. Words fail me, this guy is just plain brilliant.

South Africa - Speaking of brilliant, how about Shaun Pollock? Economical, takes wickets and scores runs too, normally quickly with plenty of boundaries.

England - If he stays fit and bats like he did today, it's time for Michael Vaughan. Captain, classy bat and Sheffield Wednesday supporter Michael Vaughan, my lord Michael Vaughan...

West Indies - Is there a cool man in the building? Enter Chris Gayle, a man so cool it's unreal. Also my favourite contemporary cricketer, expect Gayle to give some poor bastards a real battering

India - Yuvraj Singh is that most valued of one-day commodities - a finisher, and like Ronsil he does exactly what it says on the tin. Now recovered from injuries and chuck in his handy left-arm spin and he's a good bet.

Pakistan - With Mohammed Asif and Shoaib Akhtar injured and/or high (allegedly) the Pakistani attack will need Umar Gul to be at his best. His best is very, very good.

New Zealand - Having injured his finger, Jacob Oram considered having it amputated so as not to miss the World Cup - that kind of dedication combined with hitting the balls miles and being a top notch first change bowler makes Jacob Oram my Kiwi to watch.

Sri Lanka - I remember Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana battering everyone in the 1996 World Cup. 11 years on and Jayasuriya is still doing it and taking quite a few wickets with his innocuous looking spin.

Bangladesh - Aftab Ahmed. Can't get too excited about Bangladeshi cricket.

Zimbabwe - Prosper Utseya stands out as having a quite remarkable economy rate in ODIs, especially considering that the team he plays for are little better than hopeless. He's about 21, captain and has a good name. I do miss the Zimbabwe team of the late 90s: Murray Goodwin, Neil Johnson, Andy and Grant Flower, Heath look at them. So bad, I think Mugabe's in the squad.

Kenya - Christ on a bike, how many team are in this competition? At least Kenya are good value to watch and always likely to surprise - remember Cameron Cuffy being clean bowled to give Kenya a famous win over the Windies in WC 96? Anyway, Steve Tikolo has been playing for decades, so he must be doing something right.

Holland - They're not going to do much, I fear but at least among their ranks the Dutch have Ryan ten Doeschete: a good all-rounder and particularly explosive bat. He also play County Cricket for Essex. What a man.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

What can we learn from the Tories?

Well after the latest foot in mouth moment, it is clear to me that Ron Atkinson was right all along. What a shower. Cameron is tripping over himself to be all Tony and righteous. What is with him? Is like nailing jelly to a wall.

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Yes yes yes

Being filmed in late April, 'Allo 'Allo will be back on our screens. A great British comedy for the great British people. It will, of course, be immense

You lives and learns

Am watching the Woman Justice and Gender Equlaity at the moment, and it's all gone a bit off-topic with proceedings turning to an appraisal of Lady Thatcher. As a recent report of her death illustrated, feelings about her are polemic. She is the political Marmite, you either love her or hate her. However, listening to the Tory side arguing they have implied that she was a feminist. Yeh, for sure; a regular bra-burner.
Additionally, Eleanor Laing the Tory spokesperson for Women pointed out that there were no men on the Labour benches and then went through her own ranks pointing out the chaps. Well she missed one out, because unless my eyes are playing up again, Julian Clary was on the Tory benches.

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It's official the House of Lords will be 100% elected. Maybe.

Much furore over the House of Lords. Yeh they're going to be 100% voted. Or are they? The vote is 'indicative' - talk about procrastination being the thief of all time. The modernisation of the House - honestly, sooner or later they'll have a non-uniform day. You can almost imagine MPs wearing hoodies. Of course, the term 'turkey's don't vote for Christmas' was created for a case like this. However, if we do get an elected Second Chamber there is still the horrible prospect of another bloody vote.
Yet I cannot share the jubilation of some people. Sadly, I am not of the opinion that the moment we get a 100% elected Second Chamber will herald a New Jerusalem. Similarly, I am not a Republican. The thought that Britain would transform into a latter-day Land of Milk and Honey if we didn't have a monarchy is pie-in-the-sky wet idealism. These concepts do not even scratch the veneer of the issue. We need progressive policy and, as nice and cosy as an elected Second Chamber would be, that requires a progressive Government. Whether we have this progressive Government currently is open to conjecture.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

R.I.P Mr Humphries. I'm Free

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Top quality MP to stand down

The Gang of Four were a stain on democratic socialist history, but more fool them; if they'd stayed in the Labour Party they would now be heralded as 'venerable' and other such compliments. As it is the SDP became Thatcherism Mk II and collapsed before being sucked into the Liberal Party. Ok, so why mention this? Truly, it is a convoluted link to my own Gang of Four, Barry's Gang of Four which is my four favourite MPs. Sadly, one is no longer an MP and to compound this, I learnt yesterday that another of the Four is to stand down at the next General Election (I won't name the other two, in case they decide to 'do one' too). So it's a very fond farewell to Calder Valley MP, Chris McCafferty.
It's not just her politics that I am quite partial to (although I thoroughly enjoyed her speech in the quite recent Abortion Debate as the Tories were getting into full-on swivelled-eyed loon mode) but also her manner. People should vote with their conscience and she did, even if a Whip was breathing down her neck (not literally). I used to be in the office next door to Chris (an honour now held by Kerron) and frequently popped in for a chat with Chris, David and the lovely Mette (and in more recent times to see the wonderful Lola Coca Cola and, only once, Arty Farty) or more commonly to sort out Mette's computer.
Obviously MPs are an important bunch of people (just ask one and they'll tell you) but Chris is a proper decent lady, a good laugh and a good chat. I may be wrong but I think Chris was the first sitting MP to do jury service, if not she was one of the first. Now that's a fact (unless it's wrong, of course).
What with John Battle, Neil Gerrard and Alan Simpson also standing down, the Labour Party is losing some very valuable, principled MPs and doesn't bode well for the next Parliament.
Good luck in the future Chris. And if it's not too late change your mind.

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Super Fit MP

Today saw Super Fit Steak make it on to the Wednesday menu in the Debate and, I don't quite know how but I imagine it's some form of word association, it reminded me of Googly telling me about a Super Fit MP. Now I saw Adam Boulton's Top 10 list of Hot MPs: I think it lacked a lot, but never mind quibbling about whether Julia Goldsworthy should have made the list (of course she should have) or how on earth did Theresa May make it (I can only assume it was an unresearched piece and he confused her with the porn star of the same name) for this is small beer, if you want a Super Fit MP check out the Australian Labour MP for Adelaide. Googly's picked it alright.

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Row row row your boat

This was sent by Dutch firm Serco, in partnership with NedRailways, who have put in a bid for the West Midlands rail franchise. Ok, all fine so far; apart from there being a bunch of rowers on the front cover. Well I suppose that is covering all contingencies - still hardly inspires confidence for a company bidding for a RAIL franchise

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You couldn't even make it up

On reading the London Paper last night, I thought it was just a misprint - perish the thought - but, in fact, the head of NATO's southern command in Afghanistan is commanded by Major-General Ton van Loon. Feels you with confiedence doesn't it? It's quite literally a case of the Loon(atics) running the asylum.


Ban the bomb

It may have apssed some of you by, but I really am not a massive fan of Trident replacement and nothing would make me happier if the Parliamentary Labour Party voted against renewal. Of course, they manifestly will not. However, irregardless of my personal views I was disturbed to learn from a chum that jobs aplenty are already going at Aldermaston for...Trident replacement. Now as my source was not 100% this is, of course, only conjecture on my part. Surely this is not the case. Or maybe it is and I shouldn't call you Shirley.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.

Congratulations to Recess Monkey, his articles on the demise (untrue) and resurrection (patently insane) of Lady Thatcher have now received more comments than the Number 10 petition on road pricing.
I checked it out on this site and can confirm she's alive. Not sure what happened to her hair in the picture, but she's still alive.
The artcile that sums this sorry little scenario up the best is this gem on Ministry of Truth which sums up Prague Tory pretty succinctly. I had only occassionally come across him in comment sections on sites like Monkey and didn't realise others hold a similarly low view of him, in particular Bob Piper. Tory Spice Boys? I like the sound of that. Like the Scouse Spice Boys of the late 90s, but presumably scummier.
Back to Thatcher and her non-death and Recess Monkey's subsequent non-article and apology. At least, he apologised which is more than it warranted. He made a mistake, the self-same day Prague Tory had posted a piece on Liberal Democrats claiming that Patsy Calton had a small majority in Cheadle. I informed Prague via comments that she had sadly passed away. I also asked for an apology. None were forthcoming and the ungracious Dominic deleted my comments and amended his blog - the VERY THING (caps means tabloid style fury and exasperation) he (falsely - the prick doesn't understand that alt text is not, strictly speaking, part of the article) accused Recess Monkey of doing. I also called him a prick.
Speaking of dying, although of course nobody is, that being said Ministry of Truth is quite right in asserting that if she had snuffed it the very nexy day Monkey could have claimed a premonition. He's always reminded me of Russell Grant; the links on my blog are dying or mothballing (as I think the blogging term is?? Still not sure what astro-turfers are - and I used to supprt Luton Town...) so gone from the links go Reclaim Labour, the Carpetbaggers (hope this comes back soon) and Idiots for Labour to be replaced by Ministry of Truth and, well can't think of who else.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

He's just spinning around

Down the years, England have had a disturbing habit of playing spin with as much confidence as a frustrated virgin in a swingers bar. Shane Warne might as well be bowling an invisible ball and then there's Murali, Harbajhan, Mushie, Saqlain and Kumble. Bloody hell, I even remember New Zealand's Matthew Hart deceiving England back in the 1990s. But Bermuda's Dwayne Leverock? Well quite. This guy is on the burly side of burly. He's a big lad but he's just finished with figures of 2-32 off 10 overs - the wickets of KP and Collingwood quenching his appetite. According to the gospel of all things cricket, Cricinfo Leverock is not the "fleetest of foot in the outfield".
Mind if Leverock can turn it wildly, you got to think that monty is going to rip this lot out in quick order. Here's hoping anyway.

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Championship goals!

As I am in an incredibly sparkly mood today, please enjoy this. Shame they didn't get the initial pass in the Johnson goal, but what a goal! And Chris Brunt? Hero.

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Down and Out

I think I have probably said so before but West Ham are my second team, so I haven't particularly enjoyed seeing them lurch from disaster to disaster. Yet Sunday's cataclysmic balls-up against Tottenham was truly a sight to behold. It was pretty funny. I joined at half-time with West Ham 2-0 on Spurs. Two excellent goals toom the second of which was Carlos Tevez's first in the Premiership. And just when things were going great, they hit the self-destruct button. Firs up Lee Bowyer hacks down Aaaron Lennon and Jermaine Defoe slots the resultant penalty away. Then Teemu Tainio volleys in from the edge of the area 2-2 and it's going Pete Tong. Enter stage left Bobby Zamora, the former Spurs player. He comes on as a sub and, with his first touch, heads West Ham back into the lead. 85 minutes gone. 3-2 West Ham. Game over and three much needed points. Then Dimitar Berbatov knocks in a free kick to level it up at 3-3 and with West Ham going hell for leather for a winner, they get the sucker punch. Of all the players, Paul Stalteri grabs the winner for Spurs. That was the most exciting half of football I can remember.

But back to my favourite topic, the Championship, and Sunderland win again. They are flying up the league. Birmingham win, Derby thump Colchester and Wolves resurgence continues. It really is an excellent league. Sheffield Wednesday build on their win over Southend by dispatching lowly L**ds 3-2. Lowly L**ds, it's a nice turn of phrase to type. And many thanks to Goodstuff for sending me this rather amusing pic.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Monkey business

I feared that today would be a bad day. I was all set to fly in from Italy, where I had enjoyed a most magnificent weekend with the quite magnificent Red Fox. I assumed, correctly as it turned out, that I would be swamped at work and that it would be all hands to the pump. Yet with joyous thoughts in my heart and armed with only a copy of Sharpe's Fury as hand luggage I persevered. So I got into work and the office is empty and a cursory check of my emails showed one from my good friend, Recess Monkey drawing my attention to his blunderings here and here. Now I have enjoyed the privilege of the esteeemd Simian's friendship for many a moon and the fact that he has falsely blogged someone's death is really of little relevance, but I love the comments left. Honestly, being brandished "a c*nt" so many times must bring back harrowing memories from his time at Ilford County High School. So permit me to re-produce some of my favourites:

Alex, this is serious, you’re scaring people. Either substantiate your story or take the post down. I realise that, like most people on the left you nurture an infantile hatred for Thatcher, but that is still no exuse for running a story like this without any proof.

Henry said this on March 5th, 2007 at 1:28 am

One can only assume that Henry scares easily. Or perhaps when she dies, admirers up and down the country will suffer palpatations and, to quote Monsieur Alfonse, the "dicky ticker"

I don’t believe you, you are a liar

mr tosh said this on March 5th, 2007 at 1:33 am

So there.

IS THIS TRUE? If this is some sick prank, I am not amused.

jon said this on March 5th, 2007 at 2:50 am

Jon, much like Queen Victoria (who I can reliably say is dead), is not amused.

wishing somebody’s death is rather disgusting to be honest. i despise paris hilton yet i don’t want her to die. i hate a lot of people but don’t want them to die.

Benny said this on March 5th, 2007 at 3:12 am

For the love of God! It is not wishing someone dead. He thought she was. He was misinformed and didn't check it out first. Paris Hilton and Lady Thatcher? Yes, I do see how these two could inflame similar incendiary emotions.

True or not, this blog really sums up why Labour is now so crap at news management.

chatterbox said this on March 5th, 2007 at 3:33 am

Hmmm??? "True or not" muses Chatterbox. Allow me to intercede; if it is true it is exemplary journalism, as it wasn't it's shit. How does one blogger's actions reflect on a national Government? Nope, no idea either.

And saving the best til last:

Fuck off back to bed you chimp. I’ve written up your obituary you disgusting creature - and yes you have edited the previous post.

Praguetory said this on March 5th, 2007 at 8:44 am

Mr Prague Tory, a sort of diet-Iain Dale without the research and reputation (making him a kind of voicebox, I guess) has written up an obituary for Mr Monkey. Slow news day methinks. I'll probably get round to it later, but Prague Tory also posts inaccurately without research and deletes comments that point this out.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Bored of the Premiership?

Heaven forbid that anyone might be tiring of the Premiership this season. At least Chelsea haven't run away with the league for the third season on the trot, but to what degree does it actually spice things up that the contenders to the throne are Manchester United, whose hegemony over the British game in the last decade means that there resurgence cannot be seen as a breath of fresh air. Arsenal appear to be in one of their troughs (despite having an untold parade of fantastically talented youth players) and Liverpool, whilst arguably being the best of the rest, lag some way behind the big two - although if they were to do the improbable and win the Champions League for the second time in three seasons the balance may start to shift.
So if you are becoming blase with the continuing flattering to deceive of your Pompeys, Villas and Evertons and are accustomed to West Ham and Watford losing more often than not with teams such as Wigan, the Pigs, Man City and Charlton doing little better, I would urge you to follow the Championship for hte rest of the season.
This league is tight and currently the eight teams at the top of the league are seperated by a meagre five points. Rarely for the Championship, the three teams who suffered relegation from the Premiership: Sunderland, W.B.A and Birmingham all find themselves in the mix alongside the former fixture of the top flight, Southampton. Added to the mix are play-off or thereabouts regulars, Preston and Wolves with the two surprises packets of the season Derby County and Cardiff. I believe five of these teams have already topped hte league with three of them (Derby, W.B.A and Birmingham) having shared the honour in the week just gone.
All through the season I thought the Baggies would prevail and I won't change my mind just yet and together with them I would favour Sunderland for the other automatic place. Sunderland are yet to lose in 2007 and have been flying up the league; a last minute Liam Miller goal gave them a 2-1 victory over Derby which summed it up for the Mackems: when you're hot, you're hot.
For the play-offs, I'd reckon Wolves and Cardiff will miss out. Obviously, given my wayward form on the predictions you might as well get down the bookies and bet against Sunderand and W.B.A getting promoted automatically.
Look at the squads of these top teams, there really are some excellent players around and a lot of players capable of scoring a lot of goals. Derby can boast Steve Howard and Cardiff have the league's top-scorer in Michael Chopra. Birmingham have in Gary McSheffrey perhaps the best player in the league and Bendtner, Larsson and Muamba have all fitted the bill since arriving from Arsenal. In Kamara and Phillips, West Brom have a strike force second to none, although the Southampton pairing of Rasiak (fresh from treading water at Spurs) and Kenwyne Jones have been banging them in recently. Wolves' form has picked up with Andy Keogh, Olofinjana, McIndoe, Kightly and Ward all playing to the top of their game. Without wishing to belittle Preston, David Nugent is their stand out player and he just seems to get better and better.
But one thing is for sure, the Championship is where it's at and is Britain's most exciting professional league (I even include Scotland where I think Celtic mathematically clinched the league in September)

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