Friday, June 30, 2006

Computer Love

Intriguing pics from Tuché And Automaton blog. I like them, though I'm the first to acknowledge that I have no idea what they mean.

I think I better nip over to this place to borrow a suitably sounding intellectual opinion to pass off as my own. I might be gone for a while.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Maybe Not . . .

The plot thickens. Apparently, Carragher and Rooney have also been noticed not singing 'God Save The Queen'. Explanation for their refusal comes by way of the comments section of Slugger O'Toole's blog:

"Notice how those 2 catholic scousers, Carragher and Rooney were the only 2 not singing God Save The Queen."

That's that sorted then. It's a manc-scouse conspiracy comprising of a shotgun marriage between Irish Republicans and Socialists, who are hell bent on derailing the possibility of England winning the World Cup and, thus, ensuring we have to put up with, in perpetuity, the catholic-jewish alliance of Skinner and Baddiel releasing 'Three Lions' every four years. Trevorland will lose the final on penalties against old political footballing foes Argentina Germany, after Carragher, Rooney, Neville and Peter Crouch* miss their penalties.

This post has been licensed to the Daily Hate. It can only be reproduced with their permission and your payment.

*Despite playing for Liverpool, Crouch isn't part of the manc-scouse cabal, and therefore shouldn't be implicated in this conspiracy. He just happens to be shit at taking penalties.

Maybe It's A Manc Thing?

Gary Neville and his refusal to sing the God Save The Queen may just be a Manc thing. I found this quote from the Guardian Unlimited, dated the 13th June:

"I hope they're on the first plane back from Deutschland. They've got the players to do well, but they're not my team. I'm from the People's Republic of Mancunia. I'll have to leave if they win it. The country will be full of cockneys going on about it for years" Oldham-born, MU Rowdies-supporting Primal Scream bassist Mani lends his support to England's World Cup campaign.

Didn't the late Pat Phoenix once get in trouble in the eighties for refusing to stand up for the national anthem as some public function? I'm sure I can remember a Sun editorial going into an apoplectic rage over it.

Perhaps there is still time before the World Cup ends for Gary and Mani to re-record this old classic? What's one more World Cup song in the charts?

Gary Neville and Socialism #2

Strangely enough, I'm still getting a lot of traffic from people googling to see whether or not Gary Neville is a socialist. Who would have thought that a piss poor Frank Skinner joke could penetrate so deeply into the English footballing psyche . . . again?

To clear the matter up once and for all, Gary Neville has never been to a business meeting of the Manchester branch of the SPGB. However, that might be because the branch have their meetings on a Monday night and, as everyone knows, Sky always insist that Man Utd play their games on a Monday. You draw your own conclusions . . .

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Quote of the Day

"You can say what a bunch of villains the ruling class really are, what a nasty bunch of war-mongering bastards they are. Bob Dylan made a fortune out of doing that in the '60s. Nothing wrong with that. But as soon as you go over the edge and take the step of saying the solution to the problem is ordinary working class people who are actually not just going to say the world is a terrible place, but are going to take the power of you and stuff it up your arse . . . say that we are actually going to take control . . . at that point you have gone too far. You can say anything you like except suggest a change of power into the hands of the working class. You can argue for socialism as long as you don't define what you mean by socialism."

Dick Gaughan quoted in the September 1986 issue of the Folk Roots magazine.

Borrowed Memories

There was me flicking through Kara's well thumbed copy of Gordon Legge's 'The Shoe' in search of a particular excerpt which could lead me into recommending Stuart's thoughtful post at the From Despair To Where blog, and I stumble across this nifty passage from the book that recounts Gordon's Archie's memories of Top of the Pops past:

"When there were good records in the charts, Top of the Pops could be the best programme in the world: the Pretty Vacant promo; Siouxsie's kicks on Hong Kong Garden, the great Madness videos, Alex Harvey's Delilah, PIL's Flowers of Romance with Johnny handing his fiddle to a member of the audience. Archie remembered Bolan's grin and Slade's boots, The Stylistics singing on top of a building and Barry White's girlfriends. Archie and Richard wanted to love every episode of Top of the Pops as if it was the best. But only when John Peel presented it did they pay special attention. They knew that if they were fourteen, watching The Smiths with their parents, their armpits sweating and unable to breathe, it would be special. Like taking a girlfriend home."

What a wonderful piece of writing. (And it puts my sawdust prose on the demise of the TOTP in its place.) That's why I wait for new writing from Gordon Legge in the same way that some fundamentalist christians are waiting for the second coming of Christ. Unfortunately, from what little I can glean from the internet, it looks like they've got a better chance of JC party crashing the 21st century, than I have of seeing a new Gordon Legge novel or collection of short stories in the near future.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Quote of the Day #2

Sebastian Bach of Skid Row and Damnocracy fame on Capitalism versus Socialism:

"When I was a kid . . . my dad taught art . . . and he taught me one specific thing because I was so into metal. He tried to tell me that the difference between punk and metal was that punk rock was socialist and metal was capitalist . . . metal is about money." Bach on the VH1's Supergroup Aftershow with Eddie Trunk, Evan Seinfeld, Scott Ian and Jason Bonham discussing the form and content of Damnocracy's songs.

Did I really need another reason to hate metal?

Quote of the Day #1

From Howard Zinn's 1989 essay 'Where to Look for a Communist':

In 1950, Rep. Harold Velde of Illinois, a former FBI man, later chairman of HUAC, spoke in Congress to oppose mobile library service in rural areas, because, he said, "Educating Americans through the means of the library service could bring about a change of their political attitude quicker than any other method. The basis of communism and socialistic influence is education of the people."

It is a verifiable scientific fact that the archetypal Bill Hicks fan, on reading the above quote, will involuntarily splurt out in a tourette like fashion: "Well, looks like we got ourselves a reader." in a piss-poor American accent.

I know that's what I did.

Instant Replay

Spain have let me down once again, and an aging French team fluke a result with a bad bit of sportsmanship from Thierry Henry when he feigns injury to steal the free kick that results in the second goal. (Does that qualify as footballing karma for that racist comment from Aragones?)

No real surprises in the final eight - no, not even the Ukraine - and I still have an empty feeling from that cheat Grosso conjuring a penalty out of nothing for Italy against the Aussies. England are one broken (Rooney) bone away from coming away from the World Cup with nothing and Brazil, in my opinion, have failed to impress. Klose has been wonderful but Germany lack the elan to win the World Cup - or rather I don't want them to win the World Cup - but I do get a kick out of Klinsmann and his mate on the bench going apeshit, in a very unmanagerlike fashion, every time Germany scores, though I would have a word in his ear about the choice of wardrobe. Whose he taking his fashion tips from: Walter Matthau in 'Bad News Bears'? It seems you can take the German coach out of seventies California, but you can't take seventies California . . .

It's not been a classic World Cup, and what with the bad gamesmanship and England stumbling their way through their games it's a bit too reminiscent of the 1990 World Cup for my liking, but there is still time for the tournament to spark into life and though I'm still not convinced that Brazil is the sure thing everyone says they are, I still have issues with the idea of Argentina winning the tournament. They were wonderful against Serbia and Montenegro, but I've still to get my head around the idea that a bloke who is the spitting image of Garth Stubbs from Birds of a Feather could be the breakout star of this year's World Cup. I bet the marketing bods at Fifa are pleased at that very thought.

Monday, June 26, 2006

When We Were Young*

Gray has already beat me to the publish button on this one, but I couldn't let it pass without briefly commenting on the news that the BBC has decided to cancel Top of the Pops after 42 years.

Knowing that I was going to blog about its demise, I tried to cast my mind back to those classic performances from the show that made the sort of youthful impact that makes you think you've got a walk on part in the Wonder Years - cue voiceover - but I realised that with the advent of TOTP2 in recent years, those stop-you-in-your-track performances that stick in the mind were actually seen after the event: sometimes 10, 15 or 20 years after the event in the case of the Associates performing 'Party Fears Two', Bob Geldof tearing up a picture of Olivia Newton John and John Travolta (I may have actually seen this at the time, but don't quote me on it), and Paul Weller wearing an apron whilst performing 'Eton Rifles' with the Jam.

However, I am staking a claim that I saw the following top five performances on the night and also putting my hands up to the fact that they made an impression of sorts on that younger version of myself:

  • Soft Cell performing 'Tainted Love' first time round. I don't care what people say about the androgynous Bowie, Boy George, Marilyn or Pete Burns. It was Marc Almond who freaked out Middle England when performing on Top of the Pops.
  • Dexys blasting out their version of Van Morrison's 'Jackie Wilson Said' with that massive picture of Jocky Wilson as a backdrop. (And what is the internet coming to? I can't believe I can't find a jpeg of this seminal performance to link to.) I was into Dexys at the time, 'cos I played my sister's copy of Too-Rye-Aye to death, but I have to say that I was more in love with Jocky Wilson than Kevin Rowland at the time. I loved darts at that point in my life, and there was no greater drama that a Jocky Wilson versus Alan Evans darts match. Was it ever cleared up if the pic of Jockey was a wind up or a genuine mistake? There has always been conflicting reports on this.
  • Carol Kenyon providing guest vocals for Heaven 17 on their biggest hit 'Temptation'. Gray is more than welcome to Pans People.
  • The first appearance of the Smiths on Top of the Pops, playing 'This Charming Man' It's the 'I remember where I was when Nasty Nick got found out' moment for my generation, or at least it should be, and it's still the greatest opening guitar riff in the history of rock and roll/pop/grunge/grime/shoegazing/crunk and hip hop this side of the Undertones Teenage Kicks.
  • All About Eve's lead singer missing her cue when miming to Martha's Harbour and fucking it up majestically.
  • There's no place for that episode of TOTP where Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays performed on the show for the first time, and thus launching Madchester and one million stupid haircuts into the mainstream; Evan Dando doing his Morrissey impersonation whilst singing 'Mrs Robinson'; Shane McGowan three sheets to the wind whilst mumbling through Fairytale of New York ('87, '91 & '05); or even the genuine excitement of seeing Wham New Model Army on evening telly.

    Now, if only someone other than myself could remember 'Switch' - the music show that Channel 4 would put on when 'The Tube' was off air - and the group, Flesh**, who featured on the Letter to Brezhnev soundtrack, I could really wallow in the eighties nostalgia for a couple more hours prior to sitting down to watch the Aussies dump Italy out of the World Cup.

    *The Jam

    **mp3s to the usual email address please.


    The Australians were totally robbed. I feel absolutely gutted, and other such sporting cliches.

    Saturday, June 24, 2006

    Can You Afford A Revolution?

    Excellent post by Richard at the Commie Curmudgeon blog about the ridiculousness of the ISO charging $100 for a ticket for their Socialism 2006 Conference that is coming up this weekend in New York.

    As someone who has been known to help out with the SPGB stall at the British version of this recruitathon down the years, I was more than interested in checking out the American version, and wondering how it contrasts with the British version (I do the same with American vs Pop Idol), but I wonder if the ISO are genuinely interested in attracting workers, students and the rest of us to their event when the price of a ticket is so prohibitevly expensive?

    Shame that. 'cos I would have been interested in the answers to the following questions:

  • In the American version, would the Sparts - collective term: a rant - be operating in close formation whilst selling their newspaper and simultaneously denouncing the IST tradition the Fifth International the International Bolshevik Tendency every other bastard for something they said in a footnote to a leaflet written in 1978 like their sister organisation does in Britain? And would it be the case that all the Spart cadres would have British accents?
  • Who are the American version of the AWL or the CPGB with their primitive accumulation of cadre technique of telling the select few that cross their path on the way to the bar:"The average SWPer/ISOer isn't that bright. Didn't you know that less is more"? Which perhaps explains the size of their membership (yeah, I know, an SPGBer should talk!)
  • Would all the baby trots be crowding around the one anarchist stall outside the venue 'cos, in their hearts of hearts, they all really want to be anarchists but they prefer David Rovics over Anti-Flag?
  • How many times do you have to tell an ISOer in increasing decibels: 'No, I don't want to subscribe to your fucking paper'. before they finally take the hint and fall back on asking you: "Well, do you want to join the organization then?"
  • If I was doing a stall would I be approached by a dishevelled bloke in late middle age, who is carrying plastic bags full of freebie political literature and library books, and who hits me with the opening riff of: "Oh, the SPGB WSPUS! Are you lot still going? I used to read the Socialist Standard Western Socialist in my local public library 25 years ago. Is Steve Coleman Issac Rab still a member?" And who then proceeds to tell me his top 25 conspiracy theories for the next 45 minutes, whilst he looks out the corner of his eye for someone more interesting to hassle than a sucker from the SPGB WSPUS?
  • So many questions that will have to be left unanswered for this year.

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    Anyone in the House Speak Spanish?

    Found via the sitemeter, and going by the photographs, this looks like an interesting World Cup blog from Argentina.. And anyone that has quotes - admittedly in Spanish - from Camus, Frank Zappa, Arnold Bennett, Oscar Wilde and Eduardo Galeano must be of interest. I know that everyone was raving about Argentina after the Serbia and Montenegro game, but I'm still holding fast to my prediction that this tournament is Spain's for the taking.

    P.S - For other excellent World Cup related pics concerning all things Argentina check out Alister's blog and scroll down.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    What Marx Should Have Said To Kropotkin

    Yeah, yeah, I know that it sounds like the title of a Camera Obscura album track but What Marx Should Have Said To Kropotkin is in fact the transcript of a talk that long time SPGBer Adam Buick gave at the 1994 SPGB Summer School which was held at Ruskin College that particular year.

    Drawing on quotes from Maximilien Rubel's article Marx, Theoretician of Anarchism Adam suggests that there is case for stating that: "Marx was, if you like, the first coherent and consistent theorist of an anarchist communist society."

    If you think you can hear a faint cackle from a graveyard in North London, that will be the late George Walford telling his bedmates: "What did I tell you all these years? I think we can now lose the brackets on the anarcho in the (anarcho) socialist party."


    Maximilien Rubel: Anti-Bolshevik Marxist

    A to Z

  • absent
  • bellicose
  • cantankerous
  • distant
  • egocentric
  • facetious
  • grumpy
  • happy
  • in-love
  • jocular
  • kindred
  • loquacious
  • monosyllabic
  • neddish
  • oafish
  • piss-taker
  • quiet
  • rumpled
  • socialist
  • temperamental
  • unsocial
  • vacuous
  • weedy
  • xeroxed
  • yenta
  • zealot
  • Gary Neville and Socialism

    For some reason the blog has recently been getting a lot of traffic via a google search of the words "Gary Neville + socialism". So, suitably intrigued, I did a little digging myself. What did I find? Bugger all: nothing more than a passing joke from a Baddiel and Skinner podcast, and this quote from a Chris Bambery article in an old issue of the Socialist Worker that I found online:

    ""This is not about millionaire footballers wanting more money. It's about supporting a union that funds lads who don't make the grade and need to retrain, and 60 year old ex-pros who need a heart operation but can't afford it." So said Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville last Thursday, before the compromise between the Football League and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) that averted this week's threatened strike."

    This is my roundabout way of saying that the Leftist Trainspotters Group now has a MySpace page.

    You knew there had to be a point to this post? Well, that was it.

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    World Cup Sayings #3 & #4

    After Tevez scored the fifth Argentinian goal against Serbia & Montenegro:

    "Wow, he's so strong . . . like a little fire hydrant." - The ESPN2 Commentator, on watching the replay of the goal.
    "Like a knife through butter . . . no, sorry, I mean a hot knife through butter." - Some Scottish bloke in a living room in Brooklyn watching the same replay.

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    World Cup Sayings #2

    Heard at various times during last night's ESPN2 commentary of the Poland vs Germany game:

  • "A klose up of the Polish born Klose as the German team sing the national anthem."
  • "Klose went klose with that shot."
  • "Klose is getting kloser to scoring."
  • "How klose was Klose to scoring?"
  • "At the klose of the first half, Klose is Germany's best chance of scoring."
  • "Ballack is near the six yard box, but Klose is kloser."
  • "It's the klose of play for Klose as he gets substituted."
  • "Now that he has been substituted, Klose is sitting klose to Klinsmann on the bench."
  • Happiness is a warm pun.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Quote of the Day

    "Money doesn't buy you anything, it's an illusion. If there was no money on this planet there wouldn't be any less food. It's a big cocksuck, man." -- Bill Hicks

    Hat tip to Gavin

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    I've Been Away - Part Two

    Seasoned watchers of this blog know better than most that the current barrage of hyper-posting currently peppering these pages will not last and once I'm all punned out for another seven weeks - or I've reached another particular site meter landmark* - I'll disappear sooner than you can say: "The Magic Numbers have done what? Come the revolution, those bastards are getting lined up against a wall; before Donald Trump but after David Baddiel."

    So, before I disappear once again into that ether otherwise known as the Brooklyn summer smog, and by way of an apology to all those emails I haven't replied to, and to those comrades and friends who I haven't kept in proper touch with, here is a list of things I've been doing/raving over/ranting about in the last few months:

  • As the previous post on the blog indicates, I've been elsewhere on the internet seeking to publicise the Socialist Standard. People can sniff, sneer, hum and haw all they want about MySpace, and my attempts at seeking to raise the profile of the SPGB and its politics on a website better known for shitty bands that never deserve a record deal and the unwelcome attentions of sexual predators, but 30,000 hits to the profile page in a couple of months is nothing to be ashamed of, and where else on the internet would you have this bloke, this social drinker, this gobshite man of god, and the loud one from Letter to Brezhnev sitting side by side on your friends page? It beats dishing out leaflets in the pissing rain outside a tube station to disinterested and ungrateful wage slaves any day of the week.
  • In the last few months I've seen him speaking with this bloke as part of a Scottish Literary Event in New York, where I also saw this woman speak but, sadly, she wasn't as well received as she been the last time I saw her speak when she was one of the headline speakers at the Edinburgh May Day event last year in the Meadows, where she was brilliantly funny. I think many in the audience at the Chelsea branch of Barnes and Noble in Manhattan were befuddled and confused by her jokes. I know how she feels. Why should it be my problem that people in New York don't get the subtle nuances of my impersonations of Eric Morecambe and Tommy Cooper? Also saw these two blokes** speak on the same platform at a University Auditorium in Manhattan about why it is that the left - any left - is still so marginalised in the United States. I remember making copious notes during the meeting, and I meant to write the meeting up as a blog, dedicating it to this blogster who always speaks so highly of the first bloke, but inertia had me in its grips and I never got round to writing the post.
  • Being a creature of habit, I've attended the usual political demos that SPGBers are known to haunt, but this time it's Union Square in New York rather than Trafalgar Square in London. After attending a few of the events these last few months to do the paper sales, pass out the leaflets and get into arguments with Trotskyists about Krondstadt, I decided to pay homage to Simon and Garfunkel by changing the 'about me' on my blog to 'The Only Living SPGBer in New York'.*** However, no bugger seems to get the musical reference. Again, I could and should have written at length about the similarities and differences about flogging your political guts at demos in New York and London which one attends so that you can encounter the weekend anarchists and get your photo taken by the police, but I think I was washing my hair the week I should have blogged. Shame that, but if you ever bump into me on the street, march me into the nearest bar, buy me a vodka and red bull and insist that I tell you the anecdote about the cross-dressing folk music journalist that I encountered at the recent Peace and Justice march. It's not actually that witty or entertaining a story but I do like the taste of Vodka and Red Bull.
  • According to the musical lie detector better known as iTunes, I am currently obsessing over the usual misanthropes; these crunchy guitars; and these preppy types. Kara and myself stumbled across the last group on a recent episode of New York Noise. New York Noise is a weekly alternative music show that we always make a point of tivo'ing. On average - what with the art school graduation cartoons masquerading as music videos and yet another piss poor lead vocal from this week''s Williamsburg hipsters that make up the bulk of videos on there - it usually takes us only about four minutes to watch an hour long show. It was a pleasant surprise, therefore, to watch an episode that lasted longer than it takes to boil the kettle. I also love the raspy vocals mixed in with the retro sound of this group and, despite my best efforts to not be sucked into this week's musical saviours type hype - especially when "this week" was about six months, and they are now bracketed in the "Whatever the fuck did we ever see in them?" category amongst failed musicians music journalists - I have to admit to a wee liking for these Fred Perry wearing chavs. Whilst I'm in a confessional/can't be arsed to post links to them type mode, I'll also put my hands up to liking Hard-Fi, the Rakes and Maximo Park but you'll never get the words: "I actually quite like the Futureheads . . ." dropping from my lips, and Kenicke continue to remain to be the only decent band ever to escape from Sunderland. (Anyone who dares to mention the Toy Dolls in the comments box will be hunted down and dealt with.)
  • Recently joined the NYC branch of this lot. At the time of writing, I've done little more than pay the dues, wear their pin on my green jacket and promise myself that I will learn the words to this song.**** In keeping with the tone of this post, I'm being overly frivilous and I shouldn't be. They are doing good stuff here and here, and anyone who thinks that today they amount to nothing more than a few old songs, Mr Block cartoons and a potential dissertation topic for grad students hoping for a career in labour studies, should be put straight that they are as necessary today as they have ever been. Check out the newsletter of the NYC Branch, to discover a tradition still relevant, still fighting and intent on breaking out of the political ghetto.
  • I continue to break at least two previously blogged about new year resolutions, by not getting back into that old twentieth century pastime of reading books. Kara is reading books at a rate of one every other week whilst I have to shamefully confess that I've only actually read one book - this one - so far this calender year. Of course, I've dipped into hundreds but it's not the same as the satisfaction of reading a book from cover to cover. I'm currently reading this book, and it's my intention to read this book after that. You guessed it; the book I'm currently reading is one that Kara has already read. She read it as part of her preparation for the New York Teaching Fellowship that she was selected for recently. I'm extremely proud of her, as it's a big deal to be selected and she deserved it. It is further confirmation that she is smarter than me, but it balances itself out in the end by the fact that I'm cuter.
  • Currently in love with this film. It's fair to say that it I consider it to be one of the best films I've seen in recent years. A really funny and smart movie, with a sweetness to it that comes from actors actually having a chemistry that wasn't drafted and bullet pointed by their two publicists. Honorable mention should also be given to this not so recent movie that I only saw a few weeks ago,and I'm looking forward to seeing this film, this one and this one on DVD in the coming weeks.
  • A blog post that is little more than a glorified Amazon wish list wouldn't be complete without mention of the fact that I've recently feel in love with this HBO Show. It is now my ambition in life to run into this bloke, so that I can ask him with a straight face: "Aren't you Drama's brother in real life?" They say you lose consciousness after the first punch, so I hope he catches me cleanly.
  • This post is dedicated to Will Rubbish. He will know why. I'm sorry, Will - I couldn't help myself.

    * Forty thousand visits to the blog, since you ask.

    ** Sorry, not that David Harvey - this one.

    ***This is only strictly true six months of the year. Hello Jim.;-)

    ****As featured on the classic SPGB compilation album, 'The Secret Melody of the Class Struggle',which was only ever bootlegged marketed at Glastonbury and Marxism in 2003. I should post the tracklisting for the CD as it's better than any of the political CDs that the baby trots of the Workers Power and SPEW were putting out at the same time.

    From a Rooftop in Kings Cross

    - "Look Mum, that bloke's trying to raise the profile of the Socialist Standard on MySpace."

    - "He's got high hopes . . . oh look, Cyril, you can see Housmans Bookshop from here. I wonder if they've got the latest issue of Aufheben in stock?"

    Sunday, June 11, 2006


    It's a bit like when you discover that some Labour MPs are still claiming that Robert Tressell's 'Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' is the book that most inspired them to become socialists and, erm, join the Labour Party, so I was a wee bit surprised to discover that Chris Brooke's excellent Dead Socialist Watch - an ongoing series on his blog where on any given day he will list which 'socialist' died on the day in question - has been neatly boxed up with a red ribbon and bow at the Bloggers4Labour site, and can now be viewed in its entirety on the following linked page.

    Of course one person's socialist is another person's "labor fakir", and it can be a bit galling to think some of the names listed could ever possibly be associated with the label 'socialist' but I guess in the same spirit that keeps the Leftist Trainspotters List ticking over without too much internecine strife, there has to be an element of ecumenity when compiling such lists.

    Intrigued to discover that Stuart Adamson merits a mention, but there is no listing for Phil Ochs who died on April 9th 1973, and I didn't know that Prokofiev and Stalin died on the same day: March 5th 1953. I wonder if it's a bookend of sorts that those two most playful of radicals, Oscar Wilde and Guy Debord, both died on November 30th at opposite ends of the twentieth century and I'm always saddened when I rediscover that David Widgery and Eleanor Marx both died so prematurely.

    World Cup Blogging Dilemma

    The realisation that perhaps there is no point on blogging so heavily on the subject of the World Cup, 'cos the people most interested in the subject are too busy watching the tournament to actually read blogs.

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    England Awaits . . .

  • 8.44am
  • I've not had time to check out the British newspapers online so I have no idea what the situation is surrounding the selection of Eriksson starting eleven. Got a hat tip from Scottish Patient Kev that Rooney is definitely not playing even if the metatarsal was fully mended as there is photographic evidence that he has been indulging in some comfort eating whilst recovering from his injury. I still think that Joe Cole will be the revelation of the tournament for England, but only in that: "A guy that talented for so long shouldn't have to be revelatory in a John Barnes like way . . .", and I suddenly realise that I know bugger all about the Paraguayan team. I can't find the National Geographic website, so I decide to click on the BBC World Cup page to see if I can get a crash course on Paraguay before the national anthems kick in.

  • 8.54am
  • Turns out this tournament is the third World Cup in a row that Paraguay have qualified for. I suddenly remember their headcase goalkeeper Chilavert from the 1998 and 2002 World Cup goals, and that Laurent Blanc golden goal for France against them in 1998. Turns out that their star player, Carlos Paredes, plays in Italy for Reggiana. I'm guessing that Paraguay are not one of the strongest teams.

  • 8.56am
  • Via the BBC website, I discover that there are seven thousand England fans in Millenium Square in Leeds to watch the game on the big screen. What else are you going to do in Leeds on a Saturday afternoon?

  • 9.03am
  • England SCORE. Fuck. The cameras are showing Owen running away in celebration, and all the other players are running after him to get in on the photo opportunity. The commentators keep mentioning that they think it was Beckham that scored from a free kick. The replay reveals that it is an own goal from a Paraguay defender, and with luck like this for England I mutter doublefuck under my breath.

  • 9.06am
  • The ABC commentator mentions a study of the spin of the ball from Beckham's free kicks " . . .from the business school of the University of Sheffield", which prompts me to think "money for old rope', whilst his co-commentator mentions Posh and 'Bend It Like Beckham'.

  • 9.09am
  • The commentator is mentioning Posh again. It's going to be a long 90 minutes listening to this muppet. Makes me hanker after the sotto voce of John Motson, so I think I might be coming down with something.

  • 9.16am
  • The main commentator seems obsessed with stats and World Cup facts: "The second fastest goal ever by England at a World Cup final." The fastest ever substitution of a goalkeeper at a World Cup final." Turns out that I'm listening to John Motson-with-a-suntan soundalike.

  • 9.21am
  • Struck by the fact that the referee looks about twelve. Also notice that he seems a lot more card happy than the referees in the opening two games. Probably got a UEFA directive in his email box that morning.

  • 9.23am
  • The game is a bit slow at the moment, so my mind starts wandering. Make a mental note that if there was a film made of England's participation in this tournament - provisional title, 'Waiting For Rooney' - I think that Mark Wahlberg should play Steve Gerrard. Snoop Dog would be a shoe-in for Rio Ferdinand, and with the CGI being as advanced as it is these days, Claude Rains could reprise his role as the Invisible Man to properly capture the essence of Frank Lampard's performance in the game so far.

  • 9.24am
  • One of the ABC commentator's mentions that Prince William,"the future King Of England", is guest of honour at the match, following it up with the titbit that Joe Cole referred to William as a "nice, relaxed geezer", which leads to a thirty second discussion between the two commentators about what "geezer" means. I look around the apartment for a sharp object to stick into my left eyeball.

  • 9.25am
  • The commentators are now banging on about Peter Crouch's robotic dance that he has taken to performing when scoring a goal. I think it is the third time that they have mentioned it so far during the course of the game. I wonder if Peter Crouch realises what he has set himself up for? Forever more he will be known as that lanky streak of piss who once bodypopped whilst scoring for England; it will be engraved on the poor bastard's gravestone fifty years from now.

  • 9.26am
  • Wahlberg Gerrard is down injured after a Paraguayan player headbutts his kneecap. I make a mental note to cast this bloke in the role of the Paraguayan defender for the 'Waiting For Rooney' pic.

  • 9.30am
  • Neville's getting more positive mentions than Joe Cole so far in the game, and I wonder if I have put a hex on Cole for the tournament by placing him in my World Cup Fantasy Football Eleven, and predicting that he will be the break out player of the tournament. I look at Marty sitting on the couch, to see if he will confirm my suspicions, but all he does is bark the word 'solipsism' back at me by way of a reply.

  • 9.32am
  • Beautiful back heel from Beckham that draws oohs and aahs from the crowd.

  • 9.34am
  • Paredes has a deflected shot on goal which is noteworthy for two reasons: 1) It is one of the first attempted shot on goal by Paraguay. 2) I can't help but notice that Paredes has one of those lank hairstyles so beloved of South American footballers, which have a tendency to look all sweaty and matted within two minutes of the wearer running about the pitch. I wonder why it is that such an unattractive look is still so popular among South American footballers, and I conclude that it can only be because the Ramones are still massive in Paraguay, Argentina and elsewhere on the continent.

  • 9.36am
  • Joe Cole does the business down the left, and feeling pleased with myself I stick two fingers up at Marty, telling him where he can shove his 'solipsism' bark.

  • 9.37am
  • The commentator mistakenly refers to England as Germany. A small cheer is heard emanating from the Griffin farmhouse in North Wales.

  • 9.41am
  • Santa Cruz appears to be the only Paraguay player that registers with me during the course of the game so far. I wonder if it's because he is having an especially good game, or because he shares the same name as an old catchy single by the Irish Beach Boys wannabes, the Thrills? I decide it's the latter because I now can't get the bastard tune out of my head.

  • 9.47am
  • Valdez comes close to scoring with a half volley, and then drops to his knees in pained anguish with the sudden realisation that hundred of millions tv viewers around the world now know that he sports the most ridiculous facial hair this side of Hugh Jackman in the X-Men films.

  • Half Time
  • Joe Cole, Peter Crouch and Gary Neville are playing well. Paraguay finish the first half strongly, and the ABC coverage makes a sudden rush into football related adverts. With Adidas sponsoring the coverage, their adverts take pride of place during the interval, and I note that their main advert, depicting a scene in a fuvela in either South or Central America where two ragged-arsed schoolboys have their own World Cup Fantasy Football game by being able to pick players such as Beckham, Zidane, Raul, Kahn, Robben, Cisse, Viera, Lampard, Beckenbauer and Platini (you can tell it is a work of fiction - Cisse doesn't get picked last) to take part in a kickabout, is cute enough with the tag-line of 'Impossible is Nothing', but points to the fact that the advertisers/football PR people/anyone wanting to sell football boots, kits, dreams etc, etc are forever juxtaposing images of poor but happy kids in Newcastle the third world alongside the latest footballing hero with golden bank accounts to go alongside their golden boots. What's the less than subliminal message that the advertisers are trying to sugar coat for us? Football is the people's game; that most democratic of sports where no matter how poor you might be, you can succeed with little more than a ball, some space to play and the passion but in the meantime fork out $200 for a pair of Adidas Predator Absolutes. Designed exclusively for David Beckham, no less. Oh, and throw in a paraphrased Situationist slogan from the sixties as a tag-line for good measure. If it's good enough to sell soap powder, it's good enough to sell football and all its paraphernalia. With less than clean thoughts about soap powder, I break off mid-rant and remember that I'm supposed to do the laundry before going to NYC Indymedia workshop later in the day. I grab the laundry bag and make my way out of the door to the laundrette twenty yards down the street.

  • 10.11am
  • Back indoors whilst the spin cycle is on, safe in the knowledge that I haven't missed much. The laundrette owner is either from Albania or Russia - not sure - and he is a football nut, so the football is always on the tv in the laundrette whenever I go in there, and whilst I was separating the colours from the whites before sticking them all in the same washing machine on the warm wash, I'm keeping tabs on the start of the second half. First thing I see on the screen when back in the apartment is an image of Prince William - "future King of England", apparently - in the crowd. It doesn't look like he is in the cheap seats but I'm pleased to note that he is even more balding now than the last time I saw him on tv. I think the greatest threat to the monarchy, this side of it being discovered that it was the Queen who was driving the car in pursuit of Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed that August night in Paris in 1997, is the thought of an heir to throne not yet out of his twenties with less hair than Duncan Goodhew. You don't have Prince Slapheads in fairy tales, and I can see the percentages points in favour of a republic going up every time William finds a few more hundred hairs on the royal pillow every morning.

  • 10.14am
  • Downing comes on for Owen.

  • 10.15am
  • My World Cup captain, John Terry, throws himself into a crunching tackle that would have Ron Harris wincing.

  • 10.18am
  • Joe Cole, with a grass cutting shoot on goal, is continuing to repay my faith in him, by promising so much but not actually delivering. A bit like a Martha Wainwright album in that regard.

  • 10.19am
  • Paul Robinson totally flaps at a cross played into the England penalty box. Eriksson is seen mouthing the words: "Shit - I don't want Robinson rooming with David James anymore." to Ray Clemence on the England bench.

  • 10.22am
  • Beckham could be buried in concrete, and placed down a ravine in an unmarked spot ten thousand miles away from Frankfurt at this moment in time, and yet the two ABC commentators would still consider him the most important focus for attention during this match.

  • 10.27am
  • Cuevas comes on as a substitute for Paraguay. According to the commentators, he is a skilful and mercurial player but also a bit of a character off the pitch, known to appear regularly on Paraguayan tv playing guitar, singing and telling jokes. I'm half-expecting them to describe him as the 'Paraguayan David Beckham' as this point but they decline to take up that comparison and fall back on the footballing cliche that he has a 'swagger' to his play. The love child of Frank Worthington and Liam Gallagher, perhaps?

  • 10.29am
  • Notice that Stuart Downing is wearing red boots. I wonder if this is to acknowledge his embarrassment at the fact that the right back for Paraguay has totally got the measure of him?

  • 10.32am
  • Beckham drills a brilliant cross field pass to Downing which eventually leads to a rasping shot from Lampard and an excellent tip over the crossbar from Bobadilla. I spot that as soon as I rag on a player for playing badly, he starts to play well. I wonder if I can employ this motivational technique to the future career of Kenny Miller?

  • 10.37am
  • The stadium, that is overwhelmingly made up of England supporters, starts up a Mexican wave. The cumulative wobbling of thirty thousand English beer guts in Frankfurt results in a butterfly in the Amazonian rainforest getting a wee bit queasy.

  • 10.40am
  • One of the commentators states that: "the Paraguayan team are not the prettiest team to watch." I think that means he must have missed the Germans playing against Costa Rica yesterday.

  • 10.41am
  • Owen Hargreaves is on for Joe Cole. WHY???

  • 10.44am
  • The England fans in the stadium, in a display of patriotic fervour, are heard giving a throaty rendition of 'God Save the Queen'. Their patriotic fervour stops short of them knowing the words to the second verse. It is a scientifc fact that the only people who know all the words to the national anthem are Jeremy Clarkson, Noel Edmonds and selected Scottish Nationalists. ("Lord grant that Marshal Wade/May by thy mighty aid/Victory bring./May he sedition hush,/And like a torrent rush,/Rebellious Scots to crush./God save the Queen!) At least it wasn't those tossers who like to play the same four bars from the theme to the 'Great Escape' over and over again at England games,

  • 10.47am
  • Turns out that Crouch is a bit of a moaner. Booked already, he is continually nipping the ear of the referee about some alleged foul against him or feigning innocence when penalised for his own indiscretions. I'm hoping that he will get sent off. If only to save him from the ignominy of forever being known as the body popping footballer. Excellent shot from Lampard saves me from trying to think up some tortorous way in which I can tie in some Proustian memory of Shalamar's Jeffrey Daniel to Crouch's goal celebrations.

  • 10.48am
  • STAT ATTACK ALERT!!! According to the commentators, up until now, there has never been a 1-0 result from the World Cup game where the winning goal was an own goal. It's the most excited they have sounded all morning.

  • 10.51am
  • England are looking nervous as the game reaches its closing stages, but the Paraguayans are not seeking to press the advantage as it almost looks like they consider a 1-0 loss a good result.
  • Full Time
  • Final whistle blows and, from what I saw of their performance, England do not look like the potential winners of the tournament that so many people were talking up before the start of the World Cup. Of course, people will say that with Rooney missing from the starting eleven, one can't make a proper evaluation of England's overall prospects. However, although it was the case that though both Lampard and Joe Cole played better as the game went on, they didn't have the level of consistency throughout the whole course of the game necessary to mark England out as a team that will dominate games against better opponents than Paraguay in future matches. Some will take the view that England in World Cups past have started slowly and that they have come good as the games have been played, but this World Cup was supposed to be different all round. England is still waiting.

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    Tragic rather than magic.

    WORLD CUP - Day 1


  • Germany 4-2 Costa Rica
  • Poland 0-2 Ecuador
  • Something's not quite right. The opening game of the tournament was a cracker, with six goals in what is traditionally a game better known for dodgy own goals (see Scotland v France in 1998); a violent punch up punctuated by blokes occasionally kicking a ball (see Argentina v Cameroon in 1990); and Diana Ross missing that penalty in 1994 for Bolivia against Germany. (Of course she played for Bolivia; she swears by their medicinal powders.)

    I missed the special opening ceremony, that in days gone past I would make a point of watching until my eyes glaze over, because we were tivo'ing Meredith Viera's last appearance on the View (that was a waste of time), but also because ESPN2 decided not to cover the opening ceremony in its coverage, so I have no idea if the organisers had the Scorpians, Nena or David Hasselhoff as the special rock guest(s) of honour to usher in the beginning of the tournament.

    A couple of brilliant goals from Germany, with Klose also scoring two, which prompts me to wonder why I didn't pick him for my World Cup Fantasy Eleven, and then I remember it's because I didn't even know he was still playing football. Everytime Wanchope got the ball, the commentator on ESPN2 mentions that Wanchope grew up in Southern California, and was an excellent basketball player as a teenager. (Makes me wonder what the commentary will be like on Scottish TV when Trinidad and Tobabgo are playing their games - think about it.) Surprised to see how many Costa Rica fans are in the crowd when their team scores, and I've also decided that Germany are the ugliest team in the tournament. (Rooney is still injured, after all.) The commentator mentions that one of their players is known as the David Beckham of German football because of his good looks and glamour; I think he looks like the ugly one from Boyzone. And, of course, I have to acknowledge that I got the scoreline wrong, but I'm glad that I was wide of the mark.

    Second game of the tournament, and Poland have already let me down. For no other reason than the fact that they have two Celtic players in their starting eleven, I thought I would go out on a limb and predict that they would do well in the tournament. The commentator seemed to agree with me 'cos early on in the game he kept mentioning that Maciej Zurawski's nickname was 'Magic'. Ten minutes into the second half, I swear that he mentioned that Zurawski's nickname should be 'Tragic'.

    It was frustrating at times watching Poland, as they seemed to dominate large swathes of the match without anything actually resulting from all all possessional play. Time and time again, Smolarek glided past the Ecuadorian defenders, only for Poland dominance to peter out once they got into the Ecuadorian penalty box. It was almost as if Ecuador were toying with them, and even when Poland hit the woodwork twice in the last ten minutes the Ecuadorians didn't appear at all rattled.

    I still think Poland have a chance to get into the second round and, if nothing else, it makes their game against Germany all the more of a must see.

    I'm guessing that the ESPN2 commentator doesn't subscribe to National Geographic - or World Soccer for that matter - as he had difficulty coming up with any factoids relating to Ecuador. He kept falling back on the fact that Ecuador play their home games at very high altitude in Quito, and perhaps they wouldn't adapt so well to playing in Europe. That factoid disappeared around about the same time as the mentions that Zurawski's nickname was 'magic'. With Ecuador winning their first game, it looks like he - and the rest of us - will have to do a crash course in cliches the history of Ecuador. I was surpised by how good Delgado was during the course of the game. I bet Southampton fans will be pleased for him, but not so surprised by how obsessed the ESPN director was in finding camera shoots of pretty female Ecuadorian supporters. Fair play, I'm sure he will only tell us that he - it can only be a bloke - is just getting some practice in for the upcoming Brazil games.

    "In step, on time but still out of breath . . ."

    . . . at the anticipation of the World Cup starting in a couple of hours time. And Germany beating Costa Rica 3-1 in the opening game is my first of many wrong predictions for the tournament.

    I could try and cobble together some words about my thoughts, hopes and fears about the forthcoming World Cup and about football in general, and why it is the best sport in the world, but why piss about with my sawdust prose when I've got an old Eduardo Galeano quote to fall back on to best articulate my view for the coming weeks:

    "Years have gone by and I've finally learned to accept myself for who I am: a beggar for good soccer. I go about the world, hand outstretched, and in the stadiums I plead: "A pretty move, for the love of God."

    And when good soccer happens, I give thanks for the miracle and I don't give a damn which team or country performs it.*"

    From Galeano's 'Football in Sun and Shadow'

    Anyone but Glasgow Rangers that is. I would be a liar to pretend otherwise.

    At Home With The Breitners' (Hello Magazine - circa 1974)

    As politics and the footie are two major components that contribute to my lack of personality and social skills, I've always scrambled around for any link - however tenuous - between football and politics; politics preferably with a lefty flavour.

    In truth, it has largely been a fruitless search: An interview from a yellowing copy of the independent left journal, 'the Leveller', from the seventies revealed that Jackie McNamara* was from an old Red Clydeside family, and at the time of writing was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain; One of the few times I bought a copy of the Grant/Woods paper Socialist Appeal** was because it carried an interview with Jorge Valdano, a member of Argentina's 1986 World Cup winning team***, and now something to do with Real Madrid. (I believe he's the bloke who has to write the press releases for when they get a new Head Coach. Trust me, it's a full time job.); and an SPGB comrade, then living in Lancaster, once claimed that the secretary of the Scottish PFA, Tony Higgins, was a Party sympathiser, but I think that roughly translated as he occasionally had a drink in the same pub as members of Glasgow Branch, and once mistook a SPGB leaflet for a beer mat.

    Therefore, I was immediately intrigued when I first found out that Maoist politics came with Paul Breitner's Afro, sideburns and Zapata moustache in the mid-seventies when he was at the height of his footballing success with Bayern Munich and scoring in the 1974 World Cup final for Germany.

    I probably first read about Breitner's claim to lefty fame in When Saturday Comes, or it might have been Stan Hey writing in the Guardian or, at a push, maybe even Danny Kelly mentioned it on the much missed 'Under the Moon', so when I spotted the above pic of Mr Breitner at home on the Leftist Trainspotters discussion list - hat tip to Johannes - it raised a wry smile.****

    However, it turns out that perhaps Breitner's left reformism wasn't as deep rooted as the rolled down socks first suggests. Apart from promptly taking the Franco peseta by signing for Real Madrid immediately after the '74 World Cup, he also later committed that most henious form of apostasy for the seventies left when :

    ". . . before the 1982 Football World Cup (held in Spain) former "leftist" Breitner caused a major uproar in Germany when he accepted an offer by a German cosmetics company paying him the - what many Germans regarded at that time as a "scandalously high" - sum of 150.000 Deutschmark if he shaved off his fluffy full beard, used their fragrance and advertised for the company. For a lot of Germans the whole incident - being paid 150.000 Deutschmark for just shaving off a beard - was an obscene thing to do."


    *McNamara is the father of Jackie McNamara, an excellent player for Celtic, before being unceromoniously dumped in Moulineux for some unknown reason. If I remember the interview rightly, McNamara Senior, who started his career at Celtic, claimed that he was shown the door at Parkhead because of his political views. He did go on to be a folk hero at Hibernian and, the last I heard, he was a Pub Landlord and a member of the Scottish Socialist Party. What with the mess that the SSP have currently spun themselves in over the Sheridan versus the News of the World libel action, I bet he could make a small fortune if he offered discounts on beer, spirits and hemlock to those customers able to show their SSP membership cards.

    ** If there was ever a magazine title that should be prosecuted under the trades description act . . .

    *** If there was ever a World Cup winning "team" that could be prosecuted under the trades description act . . . Arguably, one of the few examples in the history of football where you can make a case that one man actually won the World Cup. Football is a team game, but in 1986 Argentina was a Maradona game.

    **** Why the hell am I raising a wry smile at the thought and image of Breitner indulging in seventies radical chic? This brilliant footballer waves to the crowd and is rightly denounced as an arsehole, and there's me conjuring a whimsical post out of the fact that an exceptional talented footballer from the seventies also happened to indulge himself and his egomaniacal desire to wind people up by talking up a vicious regime that caused the death of millions of people. I'm an idiot sometimes.

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    World Cup Sayings #1

    Part of an ongoing irregular series:

    collective breath \kuh-LUCT-iff breff\cliche

    1.Obligatory for journalists to use this term when writing of Wayne Rooney's metatarsal.

    "England, meanwhile, is holding its collective breath regarding the fate of Wayne Rooney, who is recovering from a broken foot. - New York Times, June 7th 2006.

    "They Used To Play On Grass"*

    For those of you who can't be arsed to watch four weeks of theatrical dives; the lingering and lascivious camera shots of scantily clad fans; read the references in the Guardian and the Independent to Orwell's "war minus the shooting" line when Angola play Portugal; and grimace at the free flowing football**, help is at hand with the news from EA Sports that with the help of a "simulation engine" it is revealed that the Czech Republic will wing win the 2006 World Cup.

    David O'Leary will be pleased to read that it turns out after all that Milan Baros does in fact know how to score goals - according to the simulation engine, Baros will be top goalscorer in the tournament - but the only drawback is that he has to be wearing a Czech Republic jersey at the time to do so. England is going out in the last 16 to Germany, which is bad news for any BMW drivers in the Bermondsey area the night that happens and a grain of authenticity is lent to the predictions with the news that the 'Always the bridesmaid, never the bride' team that is not called Spain will go out in the group stages.

    Honorable mentions are given to Eddie Lewis, Petr Cech and Jared Borgetti from my Fantasy Football World Cup Team in the EA tournament, which makes me wonder if I have enough time to change my squad but, sadly, no mention is given in the piece as to what point during the tournament someone will have the good sense to tell Jonathan Pearce what they really think about him.

    *Terry Venables and Gordon Williams

    ** Australian clogger defender Craig Moore.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    Dusted Down Quote of the Day

    Granted this is an old quote from an old book, and no doubt everyone except myself had already heard of it before today but I love this quote that I just read in Sheila Rowbotham's 'Daughter of the Dream', her essay on Emma Goldman that originally appeared as the introduction to Pluto Press's 1987 edition of Living My Life, and which was reprinted in her collection of selected writings 'Threads Through Time':

    "A response to the claim of necessary suffering, with which Emma Goldman concurred, is summarized by Alix Kates Shulman in her introduction to Emma Goldman's writing on Russia: 'One can't make an omelette without breaking eggs,' people said in defence of the excesses of the Russian revolution. The poet Panait-Istrati is reported by Victor Serge to have replied: 'All right, I can see the broken eggs.Now, where's this omelette of yours?'

    More quotes of the day involving dairy produce and revolution tomorrow. Probably

    Lucky Number*

    Today's date is the biggest yawn this side of the last biggest yawn. (Was that Y2K or the 05/05/05? I can't remember.) Latest news is that Pat Robertson, sitting in for Roger Ebert on next week's Ebert and Roeper Show, will be giving the Omen remake a thumbs down, because the film does not depict the anti-christ wearing a Keffiyeh.

    *Lene Lovich.


    Fellow SPGBer in exile, Gray of Isn't It About Time We Tried Socialism blogging fame mentions in passing that today his blog is one year's old. Happy birthday, and all the best for the following year. ;-)

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    A Musical Exclusive From My Sitemeter

    The Observer Monthly Magazine thought they had nailed it a few years back when they crowned Duran Duran's version of Public Enemy's '911 Is A Joke' as the worst cover version in the history of popular music but, courtesy of a google search that my sitemeter uncovered, I think I've got the low down on what will be the young pretender to knock the Duranies off their throne.

    Don't quote me on this, but don't be surprised if it is revealed in the music press in the coming weeks or months or years that this bloke is going to be doing a cover version this classic album.

    This blog isn't used to exclusives, so I'm not sure if my first email should be to Popbitch with this heady news or to this Edwardian blogger to give him due warning. The original recording is one of his all time favourite albums, and I fear that if the news catches him unawares he may choke on one of those ginster pasties he so loves to scoff down.

    A Bill Shankly Quote - No, not that one, another one.

    That small corner of the British blogsphere that consists of the various political malcontents, trustafarians and social workers that make up the Far Left - I'm in there myself somewhere, if only in an Overseas Branch member capacity - is currently getting overheated at that great non-debate: 'What team can a lefty support in the forthcoming World Cup in all good conscience without first having to turn over all their back copies of the New Internationalist?'

    In truth, I've yet to read all the contributions to the debate. What with there being so many of them out there, it's like being in that unenviable position of being confronted with the members of both Green Day and Bon Jovi and not knowing who to shoot down first, but a pointer to those blog posts on the World Cup that I've read that are currently in the mix:

  • Debsian Ed is on the grass as he takes a trip down memory lane of World Cups past, and tells us why he can't bring himself to support England. I think it less a case of Revolutionary Defeatism, and more a case of the self-loathing Englishman on Ed's part. I might be being a little harsh on him; I think he just loathes the oiks in the replica England shirts. It appears that his main reason for supporting Japan at the World Cup is connected with him thinking that: ". . . it would be nice to see an East Asian team do well in world football . . ." No one in his comments box has the heart to mention to him that an East Asian team, South Korea, reached the semi final of the last World Cup. Something that has never been achieved by a team from Africa, Oceania or Central America.
  • The punch drunk libertarian Paul Gauche takes that classic Scottish position when it comes to such footballing matters: 'Anyone but Trevorland'.* It's a longstanding postion that dates back to David II, King of Scotland, backing the French in the Hundred Years War. (This war was of course before the introduction of penalty shoot-outs.) Honorable mention of this classic position in more recent times include Denis Law spending the afternoon of July 30th, 1966 on the golf course, rather than watching ten englishmen, a squeaky voiced irritant and an Azeirbeijan official steal the Jules Rimet Trophy; that evening of June 30th 1998, the scene, a warehouse in Hemel Hempstead, when a supervisor called Duncan and a student called Darren secretly crowed with delight when Batty missed that penalty, and, to bring it up to the present day, Kevin W. showing his sweet side by giving the wrap on what position he will be taking.
  • Stroppyblog claims that their blog will be a "World Cup Free Zone" but the latest odds from Ladbrokes indicate that they will crack under peer pressure and pen a World Cup related blog sometime around half time of the opening match of the tournament.
  • Will Rubbish would write a post on blogging and the World Cup but he's too busy telling someone to f*ck off.
  • And I'm sure Harry of HP fame has penned an interesting piece on the World Cup, as he usually writes excellent posts on football, but I can't be arsed to wade through the current batch of muscular liberalism perched behind a keyboard, that currently makes up the second eleven recently picked for inclusion on the HP blog.

    Thanks to Jools from the Spaces of Hope blog for the tip in the comment box about the Socialist Unity Network blogspot piece. Who would have thought that a QPR fan would be interested in international football? More's to the point, who would have thought a QPR fan would have heard of international football? I will get round to reading that and other blog posts and articles on this pressing matter. Maybe even doing a head count on how many quote or mention Orwell's Sporting Spirit essay as I'm doing it, but any other suggested links or sporting blogs will be gratefully received in the interim.

    I'm not denying the fact that there is something obscene about the salaries and bonuses that footballers receive, and the double standards employed whereby we all froth at the mouth at the various fat cat bastards living it large when we don't ever think twice of the wheelbarrows of cash thrown at today's footballers. Neither would I deny the charge of the xenophobic stereotyping of those nations that are not 'us' that will make up the lazy journalism of the tabloid and broadcast press in the coming weeks, and the thought of the boneheaded nationalism and/or patriotism that will be effortlessly blended in with commercialisation to make a mint for those selling cheap St George flags and other red, white and blue bullshit tat made by low paid workers overseas enrages me as much as the next Coldplay fan, but I also don't want to lose sight of the fact that despite all this clutter, bullshit and naked self-interest that consumes football off the pitch and on, there are times when football at its best also embodies those values of co-operation, teamwork and mutual self-interest that is as close to socialism without the politics** this side of a business meeting of the Lancaster Branch of the Socialist Party .

    I better stop this post now, or I'll be obliged to insert a quote from Bill Shankly to back me up. Christ, it's too late:

    "Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple."

    If that isn't a cute reworking of the old Marxian Socialist quote, "From each according to their ability . . .", I'll eat my goal.

    *Kudos to Mr. Legge for the literary reference to England as 'Trevorland'.

    "Socialism without the politics" was what Bill Shankly once famously described the great Glasgow Celtic team managed by Jock Stein in the late sixties as.

    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    Butcherism (II)

    And there was me only half-joking when I wrote of that tommy grit, john bullshit phenomenon christened by me as "Butcherism" when writing of why I picked John Terry as my World Cup Fantasy Football captain in my Seven Days and Counting . . . post the other day, and then I open up the New York Times Sports Magazine yesterday on the subway to read John Carlin's article on the brilliance of Brazil when I'm confronted by the following opening paragraph:

    "You look at Ronaldinho, the world's most talented and lethal soccer player, and what you see is the smiling epitome of Brazil's culture of pleasure. You look at John Terry and you have a deeper understanding of how it was that a small island nation once conquered half the known world. Terry — the captain of the English Premier League champions, Chelsea, and pillar of his national team's defense — has the height, the bulk and the air of cold command of the red-coated British sergeant who in days of empire instilled terror in his troops and enemy forces alike. When the two went head-to-head in a game earlier this year, it was more than a clash between two different ways of playing soccer, of approaching life; it was the proverbial case, or so it seemed, of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object."

    I'm being playfully judgemental on Mr. Carlin as it is an interesting article, and he does have the good sense to shoot down the myth that Brazillian World Wars Cups are won on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, by quoting both Tostao, former World Cup winning member of that Brazilliant side of 1970, turned respected sports journalist, and 'this year's Charlie Nicholas', Ronaldinho, on the matter:

    " . . . (Ronaldinho is determined, however, as is Tostão, to dispel the myth that Brazilian players are so naturally gifted that victory comes easily to them, no sweat or discipline required. "It's an absolute myth," Tostão says. "We play a collective game, as disciplined as anybody else's." Ronaldinho says: "We prepare for a game a lot more than people imagine. People think that we run out on the pitch, all laughter and joy, and then it's goal, goal, goal. No.")"

    I don't think it's too early to say that the easy to reach grab bag of hackneyed cliches, historical myths and national sterotyping that appear to be given out with press packs at these sort of sporting events appear to be properly in place for the start of the tournament. I only wish I had a copy of the World Cup When Saturday Comes Special within reach as my antidote.

    Passing Thought For This Sunday Morning

    Why is it that Nick Cohen chooses to use a byline picture on his blog that looks like it dates from a few years back?

    From reading about the the launch of the Euston Manifesto on the net, and seeing various pictures of the platform at the launch meeting for the EM that recently took place in London, it does look like his current pic dates from the days when Beckham was best known as "that footballer dating the one at the back in the Spice Girls" and Chelski were Chelsea, everyone's second team because we loved their players with their continental flair, the good natured warmth and hands across the terrace camraderie of their fans and their avuncular Chairman who was like the cuddly uncle from the old black and white Hollywood movies that we all wished we had in our lives.

    I mean, if Nick can do it, I think that should be the green light for all us lesser bloggers to follow suit in posting pics that put us in our best possible light. I'm seriously considering using the following pic in future as my photo byline for this blog. Friends, family and household pets will willingly testify that I've hardly aged at all since this photograph was taken eighteenth months ago.

    Perhaps I'm being too harsh on Mr. Cohen. With his heavy journalistic workload of writing yet another 1500 word op-ed piece on why Respect/SWP are a shower of wankers, it is maybe the case that he has been too snowed under to update his website. So, with that in mind, I've forwarded the following pic of him to him that I stumbled across on the net whilst doing in-depth research for a 20,000 word piece that I'm currently writing on the life and times of Harry Hamlin, that will be included in the Socialist Standard in its forthcoming 'Steven Bochco and His Contribution to Proletarian Culture' Special Issue.

    (Reserve your copy at your local newstands now.)

    Friday, June 02, 2006

    Seven Days and Counting . . .

    Bazza of The Redskins website fame has sent out a general invite to all those on the RevolutionRocks! discussion boards to participate in a Fantasy World Cup Football League and, being the seven year old boy trapped in the body of an overweight socialist adult* that I am, I've taken him up on his offer.

    This is the team that will win me the Fantasy World Cup:


  • Petr Cech (Czech Republic)
  • Defenders

  • Eddie Lewis (USA)
  • Juan Pablo Sorin (Argentina)
  • John Terry (England)
  • Rafael Marquez (Mexico)
  • Midfielders

  • Cesc Fabregas (Spain)
  • Claude Makelele (France)
  • Ronaldinho (Brazil)
  • Joe Cole (England)
  • Offenders Forwards

  • Henrik Larsson (Sweden)
  • Thierry Henry (France)
  • Supersub

  • Jared Borgetti (Mexico)
  • Please, PLEASE, no smart arse comments from Monday morning Alan Hansens telling me that my selected team doesn't gel, and you'd get a better playing formation with the Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Second XI. My management skills and coaching tactics are a mixture of gut instincts, insomnia, a limited transfer budget and ensuring that there are at least two England players in my starting eleven so that I can put a hex on any chance England have of actually winning the World Cup. (Not picking any Polish players has the reverse effect. They are now a sure thing for the trophy).

    Having eight of my twelve selected squad currently playing in the English Premier League betrays my lack of imagination and knowledge of football outside of Britain. Having four of those twelve from the abomination that is Chelski betrays Fox Soccer Channel's lack of imagination and knowledge of football outside of SW1. (My resume is in the post. I can't be any less knowledgeable about football than these two chancers.)

    I fall hook, line and sinker about the guff of English playing with blood, sweat and tears - otherwise known as a 'Butcherism' - every time, so I've picked John Terry as the team's captain, and my heart is ruling my head with the inclusion of Larsson in the team. In all seriousness, I think that Joe Cole might be the revelation of the tournament; and with Fat Sam *cough* resting Borgetti for most of Bolton's dismal season, I think he should definitely be shortlisted for this year's World Cup 'Paolo Rossi Award'.**

    It's seven days and counting, and I can't wait for the World Cup to take over my life.

    I feel that there will be a disportionate number of posts on the World Cup in the coming weeks.

    *I'm sure this is a line from the incomparable 'Fever Pitch'. If not, it should be.

    **Previous winners include Toto Schillaci; Jordan Letchkov; Craig Burley and Mikoslav Klose.

    "I should close the comments box on this post, as the subject isn't up for discussion or appeal."

    It's scorer gives his recollections of the greatest goal ever scored.