Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Beiderbecke Affair by Alan Plater (Mandarin 1985)

The Adult Education Institute was built in the nineteenth century by a paternalistic mill-owner with the stated aim of bringing a spiritual uplift to the artisans of the area. A hundred years later, it still had not succeeded. The building, designed in the Gothic Inspirational manner, was now a hive of small rooms in which groups of predominately earnest people discussed D. H. Lawrence, watched The Battleship Potemkin or threw pots. It was not unusual for six people to be plotting revolution in Room 5, while across the corridor in Room 6, another six people were plotting counter-revolution. All twelve would meet in The Bells afterwards for a pint.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Another soul-sucking year on Facebook

In what has now become an annual tradition on the blog, My 2014 Year in Status from Facebook:

Football, kids driving me up the wall and strange dreams which make me seem more interesting than I actually am. That sounds about right.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Game of Two Halves: The Autobiography by Archie Macpherson (Black & White Publishing 2009)

Argentina, 1978, was wounding and stimulating at the same time. To watch a cheerful, personable, approachable guy undergoing an ordeal of which only a Torquemada would have approved was deeply unsettling. I had felt a personal stirring of unease, many months before, when I assisted him in a brewery-sponsored tour of the country to cities and towns, as he bathed in the glow of admiration which came from his ecstatic nation. I felt that if it didn't come off for him, the fall from grace would finish him. Failure, set against optimistic hysteria, could only mean a death warrant. When I watched him cuddle a dog on a hillside in Alta Gracia, the town we were all based in, after the defeat in the first game by Peru, 3-1, and heard him tell us that the animal was probably the only friend he had left in South America, you  could tell he was slipping into self-perpetuating misery. After the game against Iran, who we assumed were the Glenbuck Cherrypickers of the tournament  but which ended in a 1-1 draw, my colleagues in BBC television in London deliberately and maliciously edited pieces together with close-ups of Ally's contorted, tortured face on the bench which were the closest television has ever got to portraying Edvard Munch's The Scream, in a sporting setting, there really was no way back.

The win against the ultimate finalists, Holland, in Mendoza, 3-2, but which meant nothing in terms of qualification, was summed up beautifully from underneath a wide-brimmed hat in an airport lounge by a pissed-off looking Alan Sharp, the Scottish novelist, who had interrupted his screenwriting business in Hollywood to travel to the game, when he pronounced, 'We didn't win, we just discovered a new way of losing.'

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Full Time: The Secret Life Of Tony Cascarino as told to Paul Kimmage (Scribner 2000)

When I close my eyes and think of Glenn Hoddle, two images spring to mind. The first is of Hoddle the player, and that incredible goal for Spurs, when he raced with the ball to the edge of the Watford box and chipped the goalkeeper when everyone expected him to cross. The second is of Hoddle the manager, on the morning Paul Elliott arrived in our dressing room wearing an immaculate leather trenchcoat and stood there, stunned, as Hoddle the manager raced to the 'cover' of a bin in the corner and started shooting him with imaginary bullets — 'Pshhhh', 'Pshhhh' — like a five-year-old with a cowboy pistol set. What Paul didn't realize was that Glenn was trying to be funny, and when Glenn tried to be funny it was time pass around the laughing gas because he was probably the unfunniest man I have ever known, He was also completely besotted with himself.