Posts Tagged ‘FINGERS’
It isn’t unusual for our chicken-keeping gang to spend a lot of time on Sunday mornings mulling over the football results but today the conversation was more uplifting than is our usual mixture of moans and groans about referees, overpaid players and poor entertainment value. Almost all of us were rooting for Man Utd last night, but the performance of Barcelona was breathtaking and our heroes were simply played of the pitch. As Alex Ferguson was moved to remark “No one has given us a hiding like that”. He was right but there was no shame in it for we were watching that rare thing, unstoppable poetry in motion. Throughout the whole game Barca committed only five fouls and they never resorted to the usual Premiership fare of long balls and attritional play.
Albert often unwittingly supplies my headlines and today is no exception. He said that there is, after all, a beautiful game. We regularly deride the term as we pay a small fortune to watch so called professionals hoofing the ball here there and everywhere. Last night we watched an exhibition that capped anything that even the extensive Sky coverage has ever screened. Occasionally Arsenal and Man Utd have played some clever stuff but this was in another class, it was beautiful.
The longer term effect is open to debate. As I feel right now, I will certainly feel short-changed when I pay to watch Blackburn Rovers. Yesterday has increased by feeling that the ‘stars’ are grossly overpaid and the entertainment value low. And the same will apply throughout the Premiership. Whatever the Barca players are paid they earn it as true artists. But if they can so totally humiliate our top club what does that say for the rest. I still find it hard to come to terms with a wage of £100,000 per week but perhaps a real artist is beyond valuation. But the number of real artists performing in our top league could be counted on the fingers of a ferret-breeder.
However, there is a more positive outcome from that amazing display. Even those who are indifferent to football must have been impressed and some may well decide to watch more games in future. It was also a counterbalance to the continually bad press that football has in this country. The latest appalling revelations about FIFA has shattered any remaining confidence in those that govern the game, and the constant diet of the off-field antics of many of the players hasn’t helped either. Neither has the constant lunacy of egotistical Russian, Indian, and American owners.
Many a cynic has been heard to ask why soccer was ever described as beautiful. Last night we had the answer. The next time any manager says that the only way to succeed away from home is to defend relentlessly, to play the offside trap and to ‘hack ‘em down,’ he should be boiled in tar and made to watch a tape of the experts performing at Wembley.
And all this on a day when the first Test match of the summer was on. No contest. To watch Sri Lanka who haven’t a single bowler of Test standard bowl for hours to two batsmen whose approach was akin to watching paint dry was sheer purgatory. Never thought I’d live to say this but Test cricket such as this is a poor competitor with the beautiful game!
A SPECIAL FOOTBALL QUIZ IN HONOUR OF BARCELONA; 1. Who preceded Frank O’Farrell as Man Utd manager? 2. How did Joan Bazely make history in 1976? 3. Who were the opponents in Peter Shilton’s last game for England? 4. Which premiership side lost nine of its last ten games in 2006 and stayed up? 5. Who offered the england and scotland squads a week on his Caribbean island if they won the World Cup in 1988? 6. Roy Keane played his last Premiership game for Man Utd against which team? 7. Which club’s motto is ‘Nil Satis Nisi Optimum”? 8. John Benson, Bruce Rich and Steve Bruce have all managed which club? 9. To three, for how many games was Sven-Goran Eriksson in charge of England? 10. Ray Wilkins was sent off while playing for England against which country?
DO YOU HAVE A FRIEND WHO ‘KNOWS ABOUT SOCCER’ ? WHY NOT FORWARD THIS TO HIM OR HER AND THEN COMPARE SCORES?
Everything is relative. Had it not been for the appalling spell of wea ther that we faced in December we allotmenteers would now be moaning about the frost and hard ground. As it is, we regard mornings like today as relatively mild! Using our fingers to break the ice on the hen’s water was kids-play compared with the blowlamp which now stands unwanted in the corner of the shed. In fact the weather was not even mentioned today, instead several members were talking about nuclear war. It makes a change from global warming but is certainly not more reassuring.
Tony Blair’s much heralded reappearance before the Chilcott committee went much as expected. His style of government - with critical voices and civil servants cut out of decision making so the then prime minister could commit Britain to the Bush invasion – was left looking distinctly shabby and threadbare. What Blair did leaves an indelible stain on a Labour government which did much to improve the lives of people both here and abroad, for it is now clear that he had committed to war almost a year before he pretended to be attempting to avoid it.
But we shouldn’t perhaps forget that others had the opportunity to stop him and failed to do so. With the honourable exception of the late Robin Cook no cabinet minister resigned. Had they done so Blair’s position would have become untenable. And no one in the Conservative Party made any protest either, in fact the Tories voted for the invasion. Only the Lib Dems opposed what he was doing.
The invasion of Iraq was to prove a terrible foreign policy mistake, one for which vast numbers paid with their lives or limbs. Blair lied and betrayed us. But that does not mean that everything he now says should simply be labelled lies and thrown aside. For he chose his Inquiry appearance to issue a sombre warning on Iran and this time around there is substantial evidence to suggest that he is right.
The former prime minister said that the West must be prepared to face down the “looming challenge” of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He accused Iran of funding terror in the Middle East and doing everything it can to stop the region developing peacefully. He called on Europe and the USA to drop its “wretched posture of apology” and to get on to the front foot. We are not responsible for what Iran is doing and should stop believing that in some way we are. Iran is close to having a nuclear weapon and Mr Blair, who now spends a good deal of time in the region, believes that unless they are met by “resolute determination and, if necessary, force” they will reach the point where madmen have a finger on a deadly button.
Without doubt the Iraq fiasco has created a climate, both here and in the United States, of refusal to contemplate any further conflict once the exit strategy for Afghanistan is enacted. But the situation in Iran is quite different. The United Nations knows that nuclear developments are at an advanced stage and every major power has expressed alarm. Is it too fanciful to imagine that once he has a bomb at his disposal, Ahmadinejad will not launch it against Israel. Or that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike!
In view of all the lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan it is entirely understandable that we are all opposed to hostilities whatever the cause. But Blair is not alone in believing that the alternative may be much worse.
Surely we should be pressing the United Nations to act before it is too late. Even countries like Russia and China have everything to lose if madmen in Iran trigger a nuclear holocaust. And a final warning from all the great powers acting in concert just might save the day. If not they have the collective power to intervene effectively.
It is terrible to think that, a century from now, history might record that the world committed two disastrous acts in regard to Tony Blair. First it allowed him to launch a war for personal political gain, secondly it ignored his factual warning and allowed the world to plunge into a new dark age.
ANOTHER HEADLINE-MAKING RESIGNATION!
As the story behind the resignation of Alan Johnson becomes clear, even clearer is our impression of a decent man whose loss to public life is immense. Whil st he could never have matched Ed Balls in the field of economics, he had the great advantage of the common touch, he knew what ordinary people felt and could bear.
Now we have the expected resignation of the Cameron spin-doctor, Andy Coulson. Inevitably questions about Cameron’s judgement will multiply. He continued to stand by someone who clearly was going to be continually harrassed about affairs at the News of the World of which he was one time editor.
But the fascinating aspect of the farewell letters and interviews is the one picked on by the BBC’s Nick Robinson. He said that the real advantage to Cameron, and his cabinet, of Coulson was that, like Johnson, he understood how ordinary people felt and lived. Cameron’s self understanding tells him that his set live an elitist life born of a privileged background. They needed someone who could link them with the ‘real’ world.
It all sounds very much as though our main parties are run by people from the planet Zog. Which explains a good deal doesn’t it!
QUOTES FOR TODAY; “I play Cinderella tennis, that is, I don’t quite get to the ball”….Larry Adler “Anybody can win, unless there happens to be a second entry”….George Ade “When I play golf I don’t rent a cart. I don’t need one. When I hit the ball I need public transport”…..Gene Perret “When you are putting well, you are a good putter; when your opponent is putting well, he has a good putter”…..John D Sheridan “Seve Ballesteros hits the ball further than I go on my holidays”………..Lee Trevino
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Valerie Barlow 2. Bruce Forsyth
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which famous Russian scientist won worldwide admiration and the 1975 Nobel peace prize for promoting peace? 2. Which US president said “the title of peacemaker is the greatest honour history can bestow?
At the Conservative Party conference Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, talked of ‘home rule’ for big cities. The government will, he announced proudly, allow councils to pool the budgets across the public sector – social services, care, housing and health improvement. He went on to talk of elected mayors and pay cuts for chief executives, but by now my attention had wandered. I was remembering a visit I made recently to a social services team in the South of England.
Based presumably on roles I have played in both the NHS and industry, I was asked to advise on organisational change. I ended up as near to tears as an old ferreter is allowed to get. The only organisational comment I could make was that the service is so dangerously understaffed that it can no longer function at safe levels no matter how hard the remaining employees work. In fact they are so stretched that more and more are succumbing to stress-related illnesses. The irony is that their super-human effort is making the situation worse by the day.
Nowhere are the effects of this more evident than in mental health. I am less than proud of what my self understanding tells me on this. I imagine that many of you are, like me, afraid of the subject and afraid of the unfortunate victims. We prefer not to see or hear about it and reserve our comments for the headline cases that hit the news headlines. These are invariably followed by an inquiry which berates a failure of social services but fails to mention that many of the workers there have case loads well beyond anyone’s abilility to manage.
The situation at the unit I visited was already grave under the last government, now more cuts are filtering down through local authorities and the situation has lurched out of control. In many serious cases a whole day is required, in reality an half-hour sometime next week is all that can be realistically promised. In that time a lot of things can go seriously wrong, not least amongst them suicide. Social workers are responsible for decisions about compulsory ‘sectioning’ but in border line cases these deserve careful screening and visits. And whilst mental illness can strike any family, some of those worst affected in inner-city areas are themselves problematical.
To add to the nightmare the number of mental health hospital beds are reducing, a fact that adds to the amount of administration required by the social worker concerned. I spent a day with the team and had to confess that nothing in the NHS prepared me for this. In NHS hospitals, staff in areas such as A&E and Intensive care are regularly under great pressure as they deal with life or death situations. Social workers also face these plus a constant threat of violence, but unlike their NHS colleagues have to do so often alone and outside the reassurance of a safe environment where colleagues are usually at hand.
My impression was that morale in many areas of social services is reaching rock bottom. The staff are in many ways similar to nurses in their dedication and compassion but they see no protecting hands outstretched for when the going gets tough. Their dwindling numbers mean that their sense of isolation will worsen yet their clients and their families will heap more and more abuse upon them. Understandable, since they too are desperate and the social worker is the face on the front line, the one that has to attempt to justify hardship born of budget cuts.
Of course we all hate the present and impending wave of service cuts in areas such as libraries and Council funded leisure activities but their outcomes bear no resemblance to those hitting social work. Perhaps the most fundamental weakness here is the organisational link wih local government. A good deal of social work borders on health issues and from time to time governments have attempted to bring them in to a merged structure with the NHS. They have regualrly backed down in the face of opposition from town halls across the land. Hanging on to empires has transcended the needs of people for whom a social worker is the only lifeline. In the NHS, if all else fails, a chief executive has the right to appeal to seniors close to the Department of Health. Social services have to rely on Councils, not a situation one would relish on even day-to-day problems.
My gut reaction when listening to Eric Pickles or even David Cameron was to rant. But in truth they know nothing of these things. I am sure that if the Prime Minister had seen and heard the stories I did he would be shocked. But even he is far removed from issues such as mental illness and Alzheimers and it may well be that, like me, he prefers it this way.
I desperately wish I could see even the smallest light at the end of this dark tunnel. But I can’t. All I see is a total collapse of a vital service and endless headlines criticisng social workers. Even that assumes that there are any left to criticise.
It is a scandal that shames our once proud and caring society!
KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED FOR DELHI!
Having listened to, or read of, endless stories of chaos in Delhi it was a pleasant surprise to see a very impessive opening ceremony to the Commonwealth Games. Sadly all the adverse publicity led to many leading athletes pulling out and the games will be the poorer for their absence.
Of course it is too early to aim retribution at the many ‘experts’ who filled column inches with dark forebodings but, if all continues to go well, that day will come. As things stand they have managed to drag India’s reputation through the mud and many are beginning to ask if their exposes were not a tad premature.
The next few days will see reputations ruined. Let us hope that the organisers and those athletes brave enough to attend are the ones that emerge with theirs intact!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS 1. Amsterdam 2. 1974
TODAY’S QUESTIONS 1. Which Egyptian king was the museum hit of 1972? 2. Which opera house staged its opening night in 1973?