Posts Tagged ‘Tv Interviews’
Sunday morning on the allotments is always different to the other days of the week in that Albert, for as long as I can remember, always roars out Methodist hymns as he works. To make things even worse he pays no heed to the seasons, this morning we had a whole range of triumphal Easter renderings. My analysis has it that he has a repressed guilt complex centered around the fact that on the Sabbath he doth labour, a clear contravention of his Methodist roots. The other codgers simply believe that he is one pence short of a shilling.
Albert and I go back a long way and we share a childhood ambition, one never realised. We both grew up wanting to be not train drivers but spies. I can remember sitting in a Lyons Corner House – this is a rather old story – amongst about a dozen boys who all appeared to be reading a newspaper. Each paper had a central hole through which one could watch people entering the establishment. The idea was based on movies we had seen and was, we imagined, part and parcel of a spy’s job description.
Of course the war years were ideal for would be spies. Urged on by posters warning of listening ears, we all spied relentlessly. No success can be claimed but two of those boys have nursed the desire for the art right through to old age. Now we are both disillusioned, not merely because we never made it but becuase it seems that every spy has a business card and regularly gives TV interviews. I am reminded of this by an exclusive in today’s Sunday Telegraph.
From this we learn that Mikhail Repin, a Russian spy, was expelled after trying to gain secrets from politicians. There are, we learn, around 50 spies employed in the Russian embassy in London’s Kensington Palace Gardens. They even have a conventional organisation structure within which Mr Repin was a mere third ‘secretary’. All of the spies regularly meet officials at the House of Commons and defence and security think-tanks in Whitehall. At a barbeque last summer Repin mingled with such notables as Keith Vaz and Simon Hughes.
For an annual fee he was able to enrol for private lectures by senior military and intelligence officials plus regular drink parties and finger-food buffets. In fact he was given free access to every corner of the establishment. No one seemed surprised at the presence of a handsome young Russian who asked lots of questions and made copious notes of the answers.
Clearly spying is not what it once was and one cannot help wondering if the time has come for Mr Putin to order a headcount review. Fifty does seen over the top, particularly since everyone knows who they are and what is their spying speciality. We learn that the expelled Repin was tasked to learn more about government policies on the EU (something even the government would like to know), trade finance and the UK-US relationship. Rather than replace him, Mr Putin could consider the cheaper alternative of watching Sky News.
To those of us brought up on the works of John le Carre it is all very disappointing. In mitigation it does occur to us that the large number employed by Russia in London may reflect the fact that they imagine us to have unrevealed secrets about such things as the EU. In actual fact we ran out of secrets long ago, and are now rapidly running of ships, planes and troops too.
But maybe we missed a trick here. In all good spy novels it is the double-agents that catch the eye. We could have negotiated a job-share with Mr Putin which involved Repin moving to the Russian embassy in Paris. There must be a potential for spying there and we just might get to know what Sarkozy means when he talks darkly of teaching Cameron and his followers a lesson they won’t forget.
After all, given the modern version of spying modus operandi all “Michael ” Repin would have to do is join Sarkozy’s lap-dancing club and ask him!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S WEEKEND QUIZ; 1. Three 2. A helicopter 3. MI5 4. M People 5. Labrador 6. Gabrielle 7. The Old Curiosity Shop 8. Greece 9. On the seabed 10. Kent
Fabio Capello has just four days in which to earn his £5 million paypacket. If he is the master motivator so many believe him to be he will send out a team determined to crush Slovenia and thus propel England into the next round of sixteen. Judging by the lack-lustre display of his charges against Algeria he will need to work hard, but then anyone earning more than most supporters can even imagine should surely expect to do just that.
It is hard to fathom out exactly what has gone wrong since the England squad arrived in South Africa. Of course there are a number of players who could hardly be described as world class but there is a nucleus that has the ability to match any in the world. But even people such as Rooney, Gerrard, Lampart and Terry look a shadow of the performers that we all know them to be.
So we need a payback right now from the highly rewarded Italian coach. He has ground to make up for it must be said that his performance so far has been unconvincing. He alone selected Robert Green only to discard him after one mistake. He alone has insisted on players operating fom other than their usual positions in the Premiership. And only he picked the total squad in the first place.
There are countless examples both inside and outside of football of a group of people so united and determined that it outweighs the total of its parts. Just two nights agone Gareth Malone showed, in his excellent musical series on the Beeb, just how that can be done. Mike Brierley demonstrated the art in cricket and managers of footballing minnows have shown the same ability time and again in the FA Cup. But none of them had to deal with the barrier of language.
When one listens to Mr Capello’s faltering English in TV interviews one cannot help but wonder if this reputedly talented manager of men finds it easy to retain emotions in translation. Jean Chretien, the former Canadian Prime Minister, remarked in 1984 that leadership is ’about making people feel good’. But how easy is that in faltering words? In any case it is hard to imagine,say, Alex Fergusson sending out exactly the same team in such an apathetic state. If language is a problem in down-to-earth communication why does the Football Association insist on a manager for whom English is a second language?
That takes us into an even bigger question. If the Premiership continues to pay obscenely high wages, thus attracting an ever-increasing flow of stars from abroad, will there be an English team at all in four years time let alone a British manager? There are already many positions that cannot be filled by an English born player of international class, indeed some of those in the present squad do not even appear regularly for their Club.
There is another major problem. As more and more of the Clubs succumb to foreign ownership the importance of developing material for the national side will diminish. No American or Russian tycoon is likely to see the England team as his priority. In cricket it is still the production of England Test players that lies at the heart of academies, in football the challenge is already all but dead.
Hopefully the new ruling by Uefa regarding the percentage of income paid out in wages may force a change of heart but right now every supporter of the natioal side should recognise that by the time of the 2018 games wherever they are held, the national team will largely comprise players from what we now call the Championship.
Of course there is another scenario for the Premiership. Portsmouth may well prove to be only the first of many Clubs that ruins itself in the attempt to keep up with those owned by people with seemingly bottonmless pockets. That being so the possibility of the much discussed European Super League may become a reality. But that could mean even fewer England-qualified players performing regularly at the top.
But that is all for the future and most people- the World Cup draws in far more than the usual fans-were hoping for a glorious last blast whilst there is still enough talent available. The present squad has enough ability to challenge the best but at the moment it lacks the spirit. By this time next week Capello will either be history or proving his critics wrong. Let us hope that the latter is the case.
Never mind! We Brits can usually find a silver lining behind our many clouds. One of my fellow ferreters, whose car is festooned with flags, remarked that maybe after Wednesday he will have plenty of time to watch Murray win Wimbledon and Strauss and his one-day team thrash the Aussies.
Bribery is forbidden otherwise I would offer the alternative strategy of asking all those England players earning more in a week than the enture Slovenian team pockets in a year to get hold of a few brown envelopes!