Monday, January 30, 2012

I wonder...

Friday, January 27, 2012

World Holocaust Memorial Day

On this, World Holocaust Memorial Day, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in the UK asks us to consider what we see and hear around us, and to use our voices to Speak Up against hatred and discrimination.

While the term Holocaust has broader significance (think Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia’s Killing Fields) the term is synonymous with the attempted eradication of the Jews in the Second World War.

Every few weeks I travel to the Lane and I exhilarate in the chants of Yids, Yiddo, or Yid Army - all generally sung at a time when things are going well on the pitch. The chants have no meaning to me aside from the fact that it is a badge of identity (excuse the analogy) as a Spurs fan and it is a collective statement of togetherness – us versus them in its’ truest form.

There has been long debate over the appropriateness of using the term in the trivial environs of football. It was adopted by the Spurs fans to describe themselves as a response to it being used derogatively by opposition fans at a time when football violence was rife and correct political standards, in many walks of life, had not been established. A curious side angle here is that some of the studies around the issue actually go as far as to lay a portion of the blame for the incursion of the term into the game at the hands of Alf Garnett, who was portrayed as an ardent West Ham fan and would frequently in aggressive tirades refer to his team going off to play the Yids. Probably not too far-fetched an explanation considering the type of programmes which ran on our TV’s at the time – Love thy Neighbour and The Comedians being two prime examples of “stuff you wouldn’t get away with now”.

For the present let’s lay aside the issue of the Yid chanting with a comment that the jury’s still out on whether it’s right or wrong. Certainly the Spurs fans re-claiming the term worked and it is far less unpalatable than might have been the case.

To Speak Up on World Holocaust Memorial Day it is far more appropriate to again call into question the behaviour of the buffoons who represent the game in the public eye and chose to behave with a total lack of respect to those of opposite race or creed. Recent events have highlighted this evil in the game – John Terry; Luis Suarez and Sepp Blatter – while the former two may hide behind the defence of “said in the heat of battle”, Blatter can make no such excuse.

And what of the biggest buffoon of all – Mark Bosnich – who hid behind the defence of ignorance and argued that he was sharing a joke with the Spurs fans and was really trying to make fun of Germans rather than Jews when he goose marched Hitler style around the penalty box at White Hart Lane. Why did he think it was more acceptable to insult Germans? But you know maybe his plea of ignorance was accurate – this was 1996, a few years after the heights of the Bosnian War, which involved the mass genocide and ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Croats, Bosnians and Serbs. Bosnich, though Australian, is of Croat extraction and cannot have been unaware of the atrocities being performed to and by his people in the Bosnian War.

So this weekend we have John Terry, another half-brain, taking the field against Anton Ferdinand’s QPR. Playing for QPR will be Joey Barton (the twitter king), whose brother Michael is serving a 17 year sentence for the murder of a black teenager in 2005, and who himself has frequently courted controversy with his words and actions.

In summary two uneducated clowns given free license to run amok in arguably the prime TV viewing event of the weekend. Alf Garnett all over again?

He stoops to look under her dress

With this type of carry-on, is it any surprise they got rid of him from the Goldsmith classic?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Poetry - Lizzie Lindsay by Robbie Burns

Today being Burns Day, we reproduce a piece of the famous Scottish bard’s work.

Part poetry, part ballad, Lizzie Lindsay tells the story of the Scottish Highland Lord wooing the pretty maiden from Edinburgh to come with him to the Highlands, against the wishes of her family. A reversal of the tale told in our own Raggle Taggle Gypsy, where the Lady of the house absconds with the ragamuffin gypsy.

"Will ye gang tae the hielands, Lizzie Lindsay,
Will ye gang tae the hielands wi' me?
Will ye gang tae the hielands, Lizzie Lindsay,
My bride and my darling to be?"

Then I spoke tae Lizzie's old mother,
And a cantie old body was she,
"Mon, if I was as young as my daughter,
I'd gang tae the hielands wi' thee."

Then I spoke tae Lizzie's wee sister,
And a bonnie wee lassie was she,
"Mon, if I was as old as my sister,
I'd gang tae the hielands wi' thee."

"But to gang to the hielands wi' you, sir,
I dinna ken who that may be,
For I ken no' the land that you live in,
Nor I ken no' the lad I'm goin' wi'."

"Oh, Lizzie, I you maun ken little,
When I see that you dinna ken me,
My name is Lord Ranald McDonald,
I'm the chief of the highland degree."

So she kilted her coats of green satin,
And she kilted them up to her knee,
And she's of wi' Lord Ranald McDonald
His bride and his darling tae be.

In reading a bit about Robbie Burns and this particular piece, a small cross-over appear into my own memories:

Burns was born in 1759 in Ayr, a town which by the sheerest of coincidences Mise le Meas, Chelski and I (along with Clifford Barbados Nolan) spent a night in back in 1983 on the return journey from the Ireland Scotland rugby international.

Like Burns, we had a very keen interest in drink and revelry during our stay in his hometown.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pat the Baker

I no do wrong, Mama

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Classic photograph

The packed crowd (most standing), the heavy football (with the stitches visible), the heavy kit (with the crest sewed on), the hordes of St John's ambulancemen and the genius of Jimmy Greaves.

Football in the Sixties. Magic.

Small brown envelopes in smoke-filled rooms - FIFA at work

Irish attitudes to Sepp Blatter (and FIFA) are largely shaped by relatively visible matters – his derision of the FAI’s request for a replay post Thierry Henri 2009; his incredulous comments on the Luis Suarez racism ruling and his inability to kick a football (see below) while at the same time presiding over the complete footballing destiny of the global game. Ok while we might forgive him the latter, he will still be a prick in our eyes for many years to come.

And you know what - we’re not wrong. In fact if you scratch beneath the surface, there is far more damming testimony against the most powerful man in football.

We start with his refusal or at best tardiness in introducing goal-line technology. This apparently is down to the voice of the smaller (read poorer) nations who have pleaded inability to incur the costs associated with introducing it in their leagues.

You begin to wonder whether the smaller nations should have so much influence over a matter which is clearly for the game’s good.

You then look at the awarding of the World Cup’s during Sepp Blatter’s reign as President. He took over in 1998 and was responsible for the awarding of the event from 2006 onwards. Let’s track that and let’s measure it on the World Democracy Index – Germany to (14th place) to South Africa (30th) to Brazil (47th) to Russia (107th) to Qatar (137th). We end up in a nation where ruling power stays within the one despot family, where bribery and corruption is the order of the day and where basic human rights are denied to sectors of the population. Think Bahrain all over again.

FIFA has been progressively sliding down a slippery slope in terms of who is goes to bed with.

You then look at the behaviour of the FIFA senior executives over the period of Blatters reign and we begin to deduce that maybe partnering with countries and leaders of lesser repute actually suits their character. Deals involving corporate kickbacks, bribery and personal gain, and the buying of key votes amid ruthless internal power-broking are all well evidenced in the recent history of FIFA.

And why did the FIFA Executive Committee take the decision to award both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups this time out – answer because the average age of the committee is 65 and the majority of members realise they may not get elected again. Their ability to pursue personal gain and favour will be lost so they may as well conclude as many “arrangements” as possible before they go. So we end up with a World Cup in 2022 which may have to be played in atmosphere controlled stadia, where fans will be prohibited from drinking and where gays “in flagranti” are liable to be imprisoned for years.

Quite simply, as an organisation FIFA has sold itself to the devil. While it cosies up to despot rulers and multinational corporates in the interests of commerciality, tens of thousands are forced to involuntarily “re-house” in the poorer areas of Johannesburg; Nelspruit; Rio de Janeiro and those other cities which were “lucky enough” to be chosen to host new stadia.

FIFA reminds me of the Fianna Fail of old, the Fianna Fail before the clear-out. An executive committee significantly detached from the people it represents (the grass roots), trading core human values for commercial success, and run by a megalomaniac who no doubt be proven to be as corrupt as the partners he has chosen to dance with. Speed up his departure, please.


One of the strongest voices to date (aside from churchdoor) on this matter has been Mise Le Meas’s friend, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Chairman of the European Club Association, who openly attacked Blattter openly in the aftermath of the Qatar World Cup decision and associated scandal.

'I don't accept any longer that we should be guided by people who are not serious and clean,' he told the Guardian. 'Now is the moment to intervene. Because knowing something is wrong is an obligation to change.'

'It's not just the top clubs, it's all the clubs,' he said. 'Sepp Blatter is saying that he is cleaning up, but the fact that no one believes him tells you everything you need to know.

'I'm not optimistic because they believe the system is working perfectly as it is. It's a money machine, World Cup after World Cup. And for them, that's more important than serious and clean governance.'

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Derrynane again - the diaspora return

From today's Irish Independent (abridged):

Descendants of the Liberator returned to the ancestral home yesterday for a family funeral.

Una O'Connell (85), who was married to the great-great- grandson of Daniel O'Connell, was buried in the family tomb on Derrynane Abbey Island in Co Kerry.

Born in Essex, Mrs O'Connell spent most of her life in London. However, she was introduced to Derrynane by her late husband Dr Daniel O'Connell in the 1950s, and she became a regular visitor to the area.

In accordance with her wishes, half of Mrs O'Connell's ashes were carried in a coffin to the island graveyard for burial yesterday while the other half were scattered on the River Thames in London.

Now in state ownership and managed by the Office of Public Works, access to the chapel is limited -- but is always open to the O'Connell family. Yesterday, in the age-old practice, the funeral cortege carried the remains across the beach at low tide to access the island.

Despite the family tradition, the Liberator himself was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery after his death in 1847, while his heart was buried in Rome.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sit Down next to me

I sing myself to sleep
A song from the darkest hour
Secrets I can’t keep
Inside of the day
Swing from high to deep
Extremes of sweet and sour
Hope that God exists
I hope I pray

Drawn by the undertow
My life is out of control
I believe this wave will bear my weight
So let it flow

Oh sit down
Oh sit down
Oh sit down
Sit down next to me
Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, down
In sympathy

Now I’m relieved to hear
That you’ve been to some far out places
It’s hard to carry on
When you feel all alone
Now I’ve swung back down again
It’s worse than it was before
If I hadn’t seen such riches
I could live with being poor

Oh sit down
Oh sit down
Oh sit down
Sit down next to me
Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, down
In sympathy

Those who feel the breath of sadness
Sit down next to me
Those who find they’re touched by madness
Sit down next to me
Those who find themselves ridiculous
Sit down next to me
In love, in fear, in hate, in tears
In love, in fear, in hate, in tears
In love, in fear, in hate, in tears
In love, in fear, in hate


Oh sit down
Oh sit down
Oh sit down
Sit down next to me
Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, down
In sympathy

Oh sit down
Oh sit down
Oh sit down
Sit down next to me
Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, down
In sympathy


Paris for a day

In the height of the Celtic Tiger (with thanks for photo to Mise le Meas).

Spurs 1 Wolves 1

One hundred years ago today - Scott of the Antarctic and his four colleagues reach the South Pole and have their dreams and ambitions devastatingly shattered.

The solitary frozen tent with the small unmoving Norwegian flag atop, stood as testimony to the fact that he had been beaten to the South Pole by Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer.

We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of Providence, determined still to do our best to the last. Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman.

These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for ............

For my own sake I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past.

In failure, and despite all the conjecture over his real persona - brave adventurer or reckless buffoon - Scott remains as one of the enduring heroes in English history. Battling against the odds with fortitude and bravery and facing death with stoic resilience, dignified acceptance and a still upper lip. While our own Tom Crean was tucked up in his pub in Annascaul sucking on a pint of plain and telling jokes about the penguins.

So when at 17:38pm I receive an email lamenting “Poor old Ian. You have to be beating wolves at home if you want to be in with the big boys.” I think not of today but of one hundred years ago, of valiantly giving it all yet not succeeding; of what might have been and what yet might be; and ultimately I think of the misery of languishing in mid-table never coming close to achieving greatness and never paying the ultimate price for trying and failing. Everton in the twenty-first century.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Vertigo - January 11th, 2012

Chelski's observations that we should at this stage be suffering from Vertigo are beginning to gain creedance as evidenced by a comparison of Aaron Lennon's pose in the top exhibit and Jimmy Stewart's in the second.

Remarkably similar.

Incidentally the guy in blue facing the camera in the top picture is Tim Cahill, who used to play for Everton. Sadly not any more it would appear.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Seen out and about

"It is an absolute privilege to be going out with someone who is likely to play a pivotal role in the future of this great club. I believe Lucia's father has a shedload of cash which he is going to invest so that the club can continue to pay my modest wages. I would prefer however of he gave it to me direct, as I shun, and at times despise, the behaviour of these modern-day football agents with their 10% for negotiations and advice"

Marouane Fellaini, January 2012.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The African Cup of Nations

Peculiarly the African Cup of Nations importance as a football event is measured more by the influence it has on Premiership squads in late January / early February rather than on the quality or otherwise of the tournament itself.

This year’s event, which kicks off on 21 January has an additional (if minor) point of interest in that it will be the first continental championship for nations which will feature a player who played virtually all of his football in the League of Ireland.

Although he may currently be contracted to an Iranian club, Eamon Zayed has played 224 games in the League of Ireland, scoring 101 goals on the way. Most recently with Derry City, he has also played for Bray Wanderers, Drogheda United and Sporting Fingal.

Zayed broke into the Libyan national squad in October 2010 and has played four games for them since then, a friendly against Niger, followed by three games at the Pan Arab Games in December against Sudan, Palestine and Jordan. The latter three have come after the liberation of the country so it would appear that any political or power changes that have come post-Gaddafi have not impacted his chances of selection.

The national team donned new colours for the first game under the new transitional regime in a 1-0 African Cup of Nations qualifying victory over Mozambique on 3 September 2011, a game played behind closed doors at a neutral venue in Cairo, Egypt. One gets the feeling that an inspirational team talk by the manager would not have been needed for this one and it is a testimony to the power of football that in the middle of a fierce civil war, the organisation was able to fulfil the fixture and move a step closer to qualification.

An added interest in the competition this ear then - while it appears that he has not yet cemented a starting position in the team, here’s hoping that the “little Z” gets a run.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

So you think you can tell Heaven from Hell

Hard to think that Pink Floyd could have produced anything better than Dark Side of the Moon but they did - the title song to their subsequent album is probably their finest piece. A lament to the departed Syd Barrett on his downward slide into depression. Close the office door and put this on high - then get back to work. You'll feel better for it.

Romance of the Cup, Leeds and the Punt

It’s FA Cup third round again and a weekend that is close to all our hearts. It was the weekend that brought the potential promise that your football season would be rejuvenated through an extended cup run, and maybe even a live televised appearance at Wembley in May. You could forget about the home defeats to Crystal Palace and Derby in the League, your mid-table mediocrity, and even the League Cup exit at Middlesboro (after two replays).

The Cup was here and the draw might be favourable.

This weekend it’s Spurs home to Cheltenham, Everton home to Tamworth and Chelsea home to Portsmouth – three home bankers surely.

So what of Leeds?

Last year we lamented the luck of the draw for them as they drew in North London for the second year running and lost the home replay by 3-1. Well what have they gone and done but drawn the Arse away again. Two years in a row.

It’s going to take a real shock for them to progress to round 4 but then again they’re no strangers to shocks. Man United 1-0 away in 2010 with Mike swinging from the rafters springs to mind. But so too sadly does 0-1 to Sunderland in 1973 and arguably even more notably this eventful day:

Colchester United 2-3 on the 13th February 1971, two days before decimalisation.

I have memories of using the “new money” for the first time, on a Monday, upstairs on the number 5 bus. To this day I believe I was short changed and the accountant in me hasn’t lived well with that fact since. However all was not gloom as Leeds, the prior season League Champions and Cup runners-up, had been dumped out of the FA Cup by Colchester United of the Fourth Division over the weekend and that by extrapolation increased our own chances. A hope which ultimately proved to be short-lived (Liverpool 0-1).

So here we are in 2012, and a potential currency change only weeks away again. Welcome back to the decimalised punt – we missed you – like Leeds you deserve to be there with the finest – with Ted Heath’s sterling in the First Division. Go start the rehabilitation at the Emirates.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ten people I'd love to have met - Lee Miler

Often think about the question "Who in the world, living or dead, would you have liked to have met and why?"

I decided to work through this issue over time and list the top ten on CD&B - in no particular order, all the more so as the list is not yet fully compiled at this point in time.

So here goes with No: 1 - Lee Miller the American photographer.

Probably most notably remembered for a photograph which she did not take - of her sitting in Hitler's bath in his Munich apartment not long after the Allied troops liberated the city in April 1945 - Miller was born in 1907 and established an early career in modelling, appearing on the cover of Vogue at the age of 20.

Her interest in photography came from her father and between the wars she worked in the industry in Paris, Cairo and London. When the WWII broke out she became a photojournalist as the official war photographer for Vogue documenting the Blitz, and was enlisted into the U.S. Army as a war correspondent for Condé Nast Publications from December 1942.

Miller entered France a month after D-Day and recorded the first use of napalm at the siege of St. Malo, the liberation of Paris, the battle for Alsace, and the horror of the Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau. The photograph of her in Hitler's bath was supposedly one of her washing away the dirt from the Dachau deathcamps.

The photographs taken by her are remarkable in that not only do they allow us to see the true horrors that were perpetrated by the Nazi regime and by war in general, but they are superb feats of technical skill in the age when the routine processes behind photographic reproduction were alien to what we know now. She also dared to be there.

Above : László Bardossy, Fascist ex-Prime Minister of Hungary, Facing the Firing Squad, Budapest, Hungary 1946

So why the appeal or fascination - after all I could as easily have chosen Karl Mydans or Robert Capa or another of the great war photographers - yes, true, it is probably because she was a woman and a beautiful one at that, but there's also the sense of spirit that embraced travel, adventure and danger - she was probably lucky enough to have these options or choices available to her but she went ahead and took them.

She died in England in 1977.

Racism in football - Liverpool?

Contrast the behaviour of Liverpool and Chelsea in recent weeks in reacting to the allegations of racism against one of their players. While Chelsea did the correct thing in not commenting, and preventing their players from wearing shirts proclaiming Terry's innocence, Liverpool allow their misguided players to take the field with t-shirts in support of Suarez. The club also comes out in support of the player with an official statement which has a worrying underlying tone of victimisation against them in the handling of the matter by the FA.

Any deep-lying fondness I had towards towards Liverpool as a club is quickly being eroded with their current crop of representatives - a board which won't condemn racism; a manager who is becoming as blinkered and biased as Wenger by the day; and a legion of ineffectual superstars who continually fail to live up to their promise.

This club needs to stop living off the flawed heritage of the earthy "bootroom", the perceived social injustices inflicted on its' long-suffering supporters (the boys from the black stuff) and more recently the sympathy evoked as a result of the Hillsborough tragedy.

Get real and face up to your responsibilities - Suarez needs to answer for his actions.

Liverpool statement:

“LFC considers racism in any form to be unacceptable – without compromise. It is our strong held belief, having gone over the facts of the case, that Luis Suarez did not commit any racist act.

Ed - surely their assessment would be a little one-sided?

“It is also our opinion that the accusation by [Evra] was not credible – certainly no more credible than his prior unfounded accusations. It is key to note that Patrice Evra himself in his written statement in this case said ‘I don’t think that Luis Suarez is racist’. The FA in their opening remarks accepted that Luis Suarez was not racist.

Ed - the issue is not whether, or to what degree Suarez is a racist -it is whether he committed a racist act.

“It appears to us that the FA were determined to bring charges against Luis Suarez, even before interviewing him at the beginning of November. Nothing we have heard in the course of the hearing has changed our view that Luis Suarez is innocent of the charges brought against him and we will provide Luis with whatever support he now needs to clear his name.

Ed - the "victim" card.

“We would also like to know when the FA intend to charge Patrice Evra with making abusive remarks to an opponent after he admitted himself in his evidence to insulting Luis Suarez in Spanish in the most objectionable of terms. Luis, to his credit, actually told the FA he had not heard the insult.”

Ed - a valid point maybe, but what relevance to the Suarez case?

Happy New Year

Been a bit quiet towards the end of last year so it's time to get blogging again. Firstly best wishes to all our readers in Mount Merrion, Sandymount, Brussels and Blackrock for the New year.

I look forward to continuing the banter and even more so to our next Premiership trip to meet an as yet unidentified star who lost in the final of the FA Cup iin the seventies while we ate pizzas in Sutton.