Posts from September 2003

Sep 03

The push for promotion.

TMFDPost a comment • 188 views

The push for promotion.

Today I was promoted. This good news was conveyed to me by the Big Boss in our department. I work with my back turned to the room and he padded up behind me just as I was looking at the Charlton Atheltic Women’s Football Club Site, which was a tiny touch embarrassing.

Looks like CAWAFC is the place to be right now, though. My belief that football should be played with a hostile snarl on its face is well-documented, and I think it may have found a new home. The Guardian report of their match against Doncaster Belles suggests that they know how to play the game hard, and not in the playground push-and-shove Arsenal ‘ Man U way which caused so much ridiculous recent hand-wringing. Rather, a 22-player scrap, headbutts, the works.

The return fixture in the middle of November looks like it might be a plum tie to start watching the women’s game. Bromley here we come!

Adam Hart-Davies is not the first person you would expect to find on a sports blog

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Adam Hart-Davies is not the first person you would expect to find on a sports blog. Unless you take recreational cycling in flurorescent shorts meant for someone twenty years your junior as a sport. Nevertheless, last night (late, post pub) there was a chopped up segment on his programme What The Victorians Did For Us. And last night what they did for us was invent sport.

The sports highlighted were the Eton Wall Game, tennis and football – which was called soccer much to my wincing. I am not so sure of the direct line from the Eton Wall Game to the invention of football, the reasoning was that public school games were so parochial and rubbish that an association (look out, we’ll see that word again) of ex students got together and invented rules. Now I can see why the Eton Wall Game got on people’s nerves, it is basically a big ruck against a brick wall, where liberal sanding of an opponents face agin the mortar is perfectly legal. But this posh reclamation of what is fundamentally one of the simplest games invented by man tries to give football proper gentlemanly rules. What about those big games that take over entire towns up north and are really useful for Newsround to lead with when the lead item in the Six O’Clock News is a particularly nasty kiddie murder?

As entertaining as Hart-Davies loony uncle inventor act is, he did not convince me that tennis was invented because suddenly we had machines that could flatten grass and rubber balls. There was far too much faith in invention causation. People fanny around, even in sports. The Victorians weren’t sitting on their arse in Wimbledon waiting for a rubber ball and a roller to be invented. No, they were playing croquet – a game which is a lot more fun to play than tennis if you ask me.

CRISP PACKET COPY 1: Pickled Onion Space Raiders

Pumpkin Publog5 comments • 2,207 views

CRISP PACKET COPY 1: Pickled Onion Space Raiders

They came…. From the darkest depths of the uncharted cosmos….
The Space Raiders.
Brightly coloured, bug-eyed, bad guys with really big brains and easily enough alien technology to take over our planet. The only thing that can stop the Space Raiders imminent invasion of earth is the sound of munchin’ crunchin’ snacks!
So finish off this pack and go get another …before it’s too late!!

(Just an aside, imagine if you will the ignomity of being beaten merely because you cannot stand the sound of people eating crisps. And then think that the crisp used against you most is a cheap, 10p corn snack deliberately made in your image to taunt you. If I were an alien it would drive me nuts.)

Alien fun facts:- Alien Abductions
Many people claim to have been abducted by aliens. This is a myth – space Raiders only abduct cats. They make them really fluffy, put little aliens inside their heads and then send them back to earth to spy on us…we call them Persian cats. You’ll never see a fluffy Persian cat eating Space Raider snacks.

The art of the afternoon lock-in

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 435 views

I wasn’t really old enough to enjoy the illicit thrill of the afternoon lock-in, but I think myself and Mr Hopkins may have discovered the closest remaining version over the weekend.

Trying to be good boys and do something constructive with our Saturday afternoon we had visited a couple of galleries in h*xton and then headed out towards The Chisenhale. However, having waited some time for the bus, by the time we got there I was dying for a pee, so a swift half was called for.

We ducked into the first boozer we came across, The Young Prince, a slightly forbidding looking shop-front type place, a long narrow pub, with no windows except those at the front and not much in the way of ambient lighting. Having relieved myself we sat down to find that the pub was showing the Leicester v Man U match on hooky Spanish satellite telly (for those of you not from the UK, pretty much the only time it is impossible to watch football here is between 3 and 5 on a Saturday afternoon as the authorities fear that if it is shown then (the traditional kick-off time) no one will go to real live matches), and the combination of this dark, unknown (although by no means unfriendly) and fairly empty boozer in a different part of town and the Spanish commentary on the football did give a certain frisson to the afternoon, and, somewhat inevitably, we didn’t get to any more art.

Sep 03

RUBY MURRAY – “Softly, Softly”

Popular9 comments • 2,213 views

#29, 18th February 1955

Ruby’s real contribution to British pop culture is as rhyming slang for the national dish, ironic when you hear this spiceless outing, arranged as primly as it is sung. Murray’s pert and precise enunciation helps kill off a pleasant but treacly tune: her slightly odd accent the only mild interest in a modest two minutes.


I Hate MusicPost a comment • 404 views


Picture this, dear Reader. We have traveled back in time to ancient Rome. A civilization of spendour, pomp, pageantry and debauchery. Here in the imperial senate we see the rich and powerful lounging on comfortable sofas content in the knowledge that grapes will be peeled for them and that electric guitars will not be invented for two millennia. What happens when they see a god bother like Cliff Richards? Why the throw him to the lions like any proper society would.

But hold, what is this coming towards us, bunch of grapes in hand. He seems to want to talk to us but for a fully grown man his voice seems unnaturally high. Why certainly you can peel a grape for me. I won’t harm you, unless unless:

Yes dear readers. I have not traveled back in time. Instead I have imprisoned Justin from The Darkness to be my own personal eunuch. To pamper me, feed me and to never bloody sing again. It all came about quite naturally when I was in the pub the other day. Telling a rather loquacious story about exactly how Robert Palmer had just made my day, I slipped on a wet patch of lager. Flailing out who did I grab to steady myself but the manager, and girlfriend natch of the hirsute singer of the rubbish metal band. He stepped forward with the gravitas of Klinger from M*A*S*H and said in a voice which resembled Pinky or is it Perky.
“Get your hands off of my woman.”

I stared at him. I am not used to being talked to in this way.
“Motherfucker.” he squeaked to roars of derision. It was at this point I utilized my free hand to exert my droite de caveman, and bashed him over the head with a bottle of Glenfiddich and dragged him out of there. He now serves me as my own personal castrato. Peeling grapes, making cocktails and confusing the dogs in the park with his ultrasonic squeal. I explained to him why I was allowed to do this under the Geneva Convention against rubbish metal bands. If he thought I was going to sit idly by while comedy metal threatened to take over the charts he had another thing coming. I believe in a thing called silence, and by god was I going to exercise my right to it.

His hair comes in useful as a J-Cloth too.

Even though almost everyone under a certain age detests the word

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 174 views

Even though almost everyone under a certain age detests the word, the “sub-genre of consciously corporate-friendly art” that Tim wonders about is called “crafts“, more or less – at least if the news section of the magazine I work for is anything to go by. There’s a fairly well established layer of advisory bureaucracy to put buyers in touch with makers who are interested: it’s more the high end of decoration than pure-form fine arts, but this is an increasingly specious distinction. It’s true it’s more likely to be hospices or galleries or other semi-public buildings which are in this market, less often hardcore multinational banks or thrusting buccaneers of industry. Textile hangings and mosaics are especially popular, but to be honest most of the classic applied-arts genres get called on. Maybe not jewellery so much.

ROSEMARY CLOONEY – “Mambo Italiano”

Popular11 comments • 2,178 views

#28, 14th January 1955

Italiana strikes again, but Clooney plays it for laughs and dances. The track kicks off with a sarkily comical ballad intro before quickly getting down to hoofing business. I imagine an iceberg of mambo tunes of which this novelty is the chart-topping tip – Clooney really gets her teeth sunk into it, though (check her feral “Ayyyy”s to hear how much she’s enjoying it). Her band follow suit, with a hammering piano break, and the whole thing wraps up before you quite have time to get irritated by it.

Three more thoughts on corporate art

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 218 views

Three more thoughts on corporate art, after Tom’s:

1. I’ve begun to see art I’d noticed in the galleries of the East End of London popping up in corporate environments now and again. I recall seeing Christopher Bucklow’s glimmering figures, which I’d seen at Anthony Wilkinson , turning up in the foyer of a big insurance firm. They had seemed charming and ethereal (if slightly hippy-dippy) in a gallery. In a gleaming postmodernist pile of marble they looked disturbingly like the sort of graphics you’d find on ‘motivational’, ‘people-centred’ literature.

2. I slightly know a man who makes (some of) his living advising businesses on the art they should show in their buildings, including buying and selling items into and out of their collections. He’s always very polite about his contacts, but his frustration is clear sometimes and it seems to me that the problem is not that there isn’t thought put into corporate art, it’s that the people with the purse strings don’t listen to good advice and you end up with compromise and muddle. That’s before you even get to the tendency of city folk to ignore the art around them.

3. I sometimes wonder whether there is a sub-genre of consciously corporate-friendly art. It’s clear that most corporates wouldn’t want to buy in to the more confrontational or unsettling end of the art available in the world right now. Certainly they’re keen to look ‘with it’ but the last thing they want to do is offend anyone. There are enough corporate HQs around to generate a significant chunk of the market for contemporary art, in London at least. Some smart artists and dealers surely look to fill this market. I often wonder whether Damien Hirst’s spot paintings and spin paintings are elaborate comments on this market in blankness (comments which, in true Hirst style, are cynical cash-ins themselves).

Good old Theo Foley.

TMFD1 comment • 466 views

Good old Theo Foley. I like Theo and he likes Exeter so I like him even more. What a good egg, speaking at a dinner in aid of the Supporters’ Trust. Well done him.

Oh ‘ hold on! What’s that at the bottom of the article? He’s praising old-time ECFC patriarch and Great Man Frank Broome. Mr. Broome, says Theo, ‘wasn’t one of these managers who insisted on you just lumping it up in the air’ He knew how the game should be played.’

I am sick to the back teeth of hearing how there’s only one way to play football properly, to watch football properly or to enjoy football. There are lots of ways to play football, lots of ways to make teams with varying talents work best together. And now I have to say it: I LIKE THE LONG BALL. There, I’ve said it. There is no less fashionable opinion in footy just now. Everyone seems to agree that a passing game is the only set of tactics to keep people interested, has some kind of moral superiority.

And there is some tiny truth there. There’s probably nothing better than watching a side full of brilliant players knocking the ball around in outrageous and imaginative ways, bamboozling oppositions and amazing spectators. But in English football at the moment there are maybe three sides who can play that sort of football, and I’m tempted to say that the true number is rather closer to one. The rest are try-hards who have the odd day, perhaps the odd season of inspiration and the rest of the time are simply not good enough to sustain the perception and accuracy needed to play that game properly.

The worst thing in football is ineffectiveness. You can whine about the long ball game being boring all you like but there’s nothing that bores me more than some idiot half-talented player going on some mazy dribble which leads precisely nowhere, expecting us to be impressed with the silky skills which end up with the ball being planted firmly into touch. It’s infuriating. I hate games being mired in the arrogance of would-be maestros trying to find intricate patterns through overcrowded midfields, in search of the killer pass which won’t come. I want my team to win. I want to see them score.

I don’t want games of football to be Corinthian battles between two sides to determine who has the greater array of talents judged by objective criteria. I love to see tight teams of hard-working players outfighting, out-running and out thinking unimaginative white-booted buffoons who think another few Cruyff turns will save the day. I love the thrill of seeing a fantastic long ball up the channels, unsettling and upsetting cultured defenders and I love to see the game move really quickly, the ball pinging up to the head of the big lad and the keeper left with no chance.

I’m not saying that the long-ball game should be played to the exclusion of all others, but I am saying that we could do without the snobbery, that there are lots of ways to enjoy and lots of things to enjoy. Excitement, effectiveness, end-to-end football. That’s how the game should be played.