Posts Tagged ‘Last Chance’
It seems unlikely that bookmakers will be offering good odds against a white Christmas this year, in fact the best odds will be available t’other way round. Right now the allotment is a foot deep in snow and according to Tom’s pin-up, Eno the weather-forecaster, we are due to receive a lot more of the cursed white stuff. This morning we made improvised snow shifters, thawed out a load of water-feeders and then moved on to breaking the ice on the ponds for fear that the fish will expire of lack of oxogen, By the time we had finished we were in need of a few puffs too. But those of us of a cricket bent were in a state of shock.
Amongst others I had put it about that Mitchell Johnson (recalled for the current Ashes Test) couldn’t hit a barn-door from five yards with a beach ball. Our heroes are now in a state of shock after the said barn-door hitter skittled England out after also top scoring with the bat. How wrong can one be? From muppet to Roy of the Rovers, Mr Johnson is now our choice to save the planet since no one else seems interested. Indeed half of the British delegation to the ‘last chance for the world’ conference in Mexico flew home early to vote in the tuition fees debate. Clearly saving Nick Clegg’s skin takes precedence over saving the planet!
The United Nation’s conference was held in Mexico and 200 countries sent representatives, albeit that some of them were the equivalent of the senior janitor. In the end they predictably did nothing. But one clear opportunity struck me and I cannot fathom why this at least cannot be tackled. Many delegates supported the idea of a system of incentives to prevent the destruction of tropical rain forests in countries such as Brazil, Congo and Indonesia.
Incredibly deforestation accounts for 15 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions. So here we have a single target that could bring a big step forward. The problem is that people in poor countries see felling as their only means of earning a meagre living. Given the option of earning it in another way they would be happy to leave the forests intact. So it merely needs the richer and larger countries to sign up to a contribution and, at last, the campaign which scientists tell us is the only hope of saving the planet would be up and running. So did they agree to go ahead? No!
Yet every developed country pays dues to something and the money required here is not penal when shared. For example, we think nothing about handing over £7 billion to bail out Ireland or heaven knows how much for the other Euro victims that we will have to underwrite. The economy of Ireland, Spain etc versus the destruction of the planet sounds an easy choice. It is, we prefer to let the planet flood. Of course some of the giants have problems of their own. In the United States President Obama faces opposition from mad people such as Sarah Palin who still believes that the world is flat. Doubtless there are equally tricky political problems in China. India and the rest.
But surely the conference has made progress on this basic issue at least. Not according to Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He says that the ” outcome of the conference was not enough to save the planet”. But, as if to offer consolation, he adds “but it did restore the credibility of the United Nations”. So that’s all right then!
Hopefully a move on the forests will evolve but right now it is hard to believe that mankind has the will to save itself. Still it did at least save Nick Clegg from humiliation, perhaps that is more important?
WHAT ABOUT THE SAVERS?
The Bank of England yesterday expressed great concern that inflation may make necessary an increase from the all-time low bank rate thus increasing mortgage rates for 7 million home buyers. They seem to have forgotten the 7 million savers, many of whom rely on interest for their existence in old age.
Mention that to any of the finance wizards and they will tell you that everyone should spend and borrow to save the economy. But isn’t that exactly how we got into this appalling mess?
STAMP PRICES UP AGAIN!
The price of a first class stamp is to go up again. From April it will cost 46p. Prices have gone up by twice the rate of inflation for five years. The increase is Royal Mail’s response to a fall in volume but the problem is that those still using the mail as against the internet are mainly older folk, some of whom are struggling to cope financially.
The last thing I would want is privatisation but something has to be done for the service continues to deteriorate whilst the cost of using it rockets. What is needed is good management and the mystery is that the government believes that only ownership by the French can bring that.
There must be plenty of dynamic young managers who would love to move in. If we don’t believe that we might as well close down Britain plc right now.
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. The Netherlands 2. John Wayne
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple were creations of which author, who died in 1976? 2. Who became conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1979?
The new found power of the web has been demonstrated vividly by the response to calls to secretly move copies of Tony Blair’s memoirs to the fantasy shelf. News reports tell that all over the country would-be buyers are searching through the autobiographical sections in vain. But in reality Mr Blair is not alone, every so-called plain-speaking memoir is inevitably selective with the truth. After all, only Mother Theresa would contemplate going to the trouble to prepare a book only to provide self-condemnation.
Of course some efforts are more obviously a fake than others. We really didn’t need a host of people named by Blair to testify that his account is somewhat slanted. But for him the book represents an attempt to protect his reputation, no matter how many eggs people in Ireland throw. In most instances the publication is simply a last chance to make a pile of money before the final curtain falls. I am not suggesting that every author lies but rather that the sins of omission outweigh those of commission.
Today we have yet another memoir to pore over thanks to the lucrative practice of selling serialisation to a newspaper, in this case The Sunday Telegraph. The former head of the Army, Sir Richard Dannatt, has seemingly accused both Blair and Brown of letting down the forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Amongst his many claims is one concerning accessibility to Prime Ministers although he does mention various ‘breakfast meetings’ with Brown. More specifically, he claims that Brown, as Chancellor, was guilty of malign intervention by refusing to fund what his own government had agreed. For his part the then prime Minister, Tony Blair, lacked the moral courage to impose his will on the Chancellor. I have no doubt that that is the truth as Sir Richard sees it, but is it what really happened?
Nowhere in the account are to be found suggestions that the heads of the Army took a hard stand on behalf of their cause, nowhere is there the suggestion that maybe the administration was other than perfect or that supply requirements were inadequately forecast. Perhaps they were, perhaps not, but a book headlined ‘we were partly to blame’ would hardly be a best seller would it?
Having said all that, I have considerable sympathy foranyone attempting to prove a point via the written word. Many years ago I was engaged in a dissertation on which rested my hope of a good degree. I was attempting to prove that Kier Hardy was not in fact, as many claim, the founder of the Labour Party. I had access to comprehensive archives covering the Labour Representation Committee of 1900 to 1906 and found thousands of original documents which supported my argument. However from time to time I found pieces that cast reasonable doubt and the temptation to forget that I had ever discovered them was almost overwhelming. Only my self understanding saved me for I knew that my delight in bragging would be wounded beyond repair if I omitted anything relevant. Translate that example into a memoir and it is easy to believe that selective memory kicks in.
Perhaps a better example is the History of World War 2 which won Winston Churchill worldwide acclaim and a Nobel Peace Prize into the bargain. It is only in recent times that I have researched the role of the resistance movement across Europe and what I have found tells me that even great men are guilty of passing over issues that show them in less favourable lights than they would wish. Winston mentions the movement only once in his six volumes of detailed hist0ry yet records show that he was constantly preoccupied with creating a huge organisation whose role it was to covertly arm and incite ’underground ‘ resistance right across occupied Europe. He was constantly at odds with his military commanders in believing that herein lay the route to rapid victory.
In truth, with the possible exception of Tito’s ventures, no reistance movement achieved anything that influenced the eventual victory. In fact every instance of sabotage or killing of German troops led to horrendous reprisals leading to deaths far outnumbering anything achieved. Churchill was constantly warned that armed insurrection against overwhelming odds could achieve nothing and would waste precious arms and ammunition, but to the end he lived out his fantasy. Perhaps understandably what he didn’t do when he came to write was to so much as mention it!
There is little one can say about memoirs published by sports stars or celebrities which are invariably written by a ‘ghost’ writer. I remember Steve Harmison commenting that he hadn’t read his when challenged on a point of detail. And in almost every book one reads it is quickly apparent that this is not a warts-and-all account of life at the top but an attempt to tell the fans what they want to hear and, maybe, to have a pop at this enemy or that into the bargain. The latter is usually embellished by the ghost to provide the ‘buy me and be amazed’ factor.
None of this is hardly a revelation. The most read book in history, The Holy Bible, has provided scope for thousands of scholars for hundreds of years. Most conclude that the events described did take place but equally most claim that there are omissions, events not covered. And of course there would be, for the gospel writers, like every other, were bent on proving their point.
So all those people with nothing better to do than snuffle around Waterstones with concealed copies of Mr Blair’s fantasy should perhaps linger longer and transport all the other supposedly authoritative tomes which masquerade as the truth but specialise solely in either the prosecutiuon or defence case. Come to think of it, perhaps the book retailers should delete the term autobiographical from its shelf-headings and stock the whole lot in fiction.
For that is what they are. I have promised my fellow ferreters that if I ever come across a memoir or autobiography that clearly tells both sides of every instance I will eat it. I don’t anticipate indigestion any time soon!
CRICKET IS HEADING FOR WIPE-OUT UNLESS ..!
Today’s News of the World is not good reading for cricket lovers. Only the alleged misdemeanours of Wayne Rooney keeps it from the front page headlines but there is a special supplement headed ‘The Fix’ superimosed over a picture of burning stumps.
The inside story of the Lords no-balls scandal is included and appears to provide absolute proof of appalling corruption. Even more worrying are the pages packed with further revelations which suggest that match-fixing and cheating are rife and worldwide. It really is hard to imagine how cricket is going to recover from this unless the International Cricket Council takes draconian action. If ncessary it must expel entire countries from the game. An amputated limb is better than death!
I’m about to watch the first Twenty20 match between England and Pakistan and have reached the mental state where almost anything that happens will appear suspect. It is a total and absolute disgrace!
PLEASE MOTIVATE ME TO GO ON !!!!!
I (and the ferreters) have now written over 140 articles on this site and the number of ‘hits’ is very gratifying. However the number of comments is very low and it sometimes feels as is there is no one out there, Signing in is easy and your identity is not revealed if you use a pen-name. Do please leave a comment, however brief.
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. William Brown 2. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which Apollo mission was cut short by an explosion in an oxygen tank? 2. The U.S.S Nimitz was commissioned in 1975. As what sort of ship?
The flags are everywhere. Grown men strut the pavements with Rooney emblazoned on their backs. The bakery shops have football-shaped cakes. The tabloids offer free supporters’ kits. People whose passion for football rises only every fourth year rub their hands alongside addicts who proclaim Gerrard for King. Yes, it is World Cup time again and a large slice of the English population is as high as a coot.
There is only one question on every lip, can they win it? There should be a second but let us firstly focus on the immediate future. The answer, I believe , is yes they can. The loss of Rio Ferdinand is a blow but the England squad still contains some fine and experienced players. The mantle of driving the team forward in the heat of battle now falls on Steven Gerrard and he is more than capable of leading by example. When people such as Churchill and Brierley proved in their fields that a group of men prepared to fight every inch of the way as a unit whilst led by an untiring tiger can overturn any odds they set the formula that could see Englnd home.
Study of the draw can easily convince one that the path to the Quarter Finals should not be too rocky. From then on it becomes tougher as the English players come up against teams full of match-winners and many a Premiership star. But that takes us to the second question and it is one that should be to the forefront of the mind of every regular Premiership fan!
Is this the last chance England will ever have of the ultimate soccer glory? We are already light years on from the days when Alf Ramsay could cast his eye over every top club in the country. And we are an equal distance from the days when our football clubs saw their prime success as developing players capable of wearing the international shirt. The cricket counties still see it that way but the Premiership is no longer a development area for the national team. Indeed it is very much an overseas dominated affair now with many of the owners, managers and players having international loyalties far removed from these shores.
During the past season it was by no means unusual for a top Premiership side to take the field with no more that two players qualified to play for England. And there has often been a marked reluctance to release even those to take part in internationals. With the exception of one or two European clubs our Premiership offers untold wealth to mercenaries from abroad. Sometimes one wonders how this signing or that can possibly represent better value than a home-grown player but in the main the best performers in world football are bid for and duly arrive to the delight of a Club’s fans.
And it is really they who will have the casting vote. Are they happy to downgrade the quality of the national team? Does their individual clubs’ success mean everything to them. If the answer is in the affirmative the top clubs will continue to fight over the already established stars across the world’s soccer playing countries. Slowly but surely the number of English players will diminish. And with many financial crises developing the top clubs’ will cut their investments in academies.
There is of course a real possibility that whatever the fans want and are prepared to pay to watch, the matter may be taken out of their hands. Like the nation many Premiership clubs are heavily in debt and several will, during the coming season, fall victim in the way that Portsmouth did. The small elite group at the top will doubtless continue to regard £150,000 per week as a reasonable wage but even here some of the foreign owners may prove to be more profiteers than sugar-daddies.
However let us assume that the top half -dozen Clubs continue to spend , spend , spend whilst the majority either collapse or cut their wage bills dramatically. The possibility of the oft discussed European Super League will become inevitable. If that happens the choice for an England manager will be confined to the ‘second division’ whatever fancy name is conjured up for it. And would the main beneficeries such as Sky be prepared to continue to pay out fortunes to cover such matches?
Of course this is all conjecture. Given the growing financial armageddon Premiership clubs may begin to cut their outlay and turn instead to home grown yougsters. Someone may even realise that many would sign eagerly for an annual wage no greater than is presently paid for seven days. And pigs may circle the Houses of Parliament!
One thing is certain which is that the future is anything but. Many are inclined to be optimistic about the first question and considerably less so about the second. Those that lead English football are preoccupied with winning the staging of the 2018 World Cup. Perhaps they should spare a thought for the possibility that we will by then be down amongst the also-rans!
But for now we still have high quality players born of the days when overseas stars were the exception rather than the rule. Let us hope they can send the nation into rhapsodies even if it is for the last time!