People, politics, tech, money, sport, work and entertainment all intertwine to make up today’s ever-changing, crazy, delightful and frustrating society. The majority of my second-hand-views are about life within our society and, with a left-of-centre stance, there’s bound to be something here that gets your goat. When it does, buy a bundle of tibs, donate one to my charity of choice, Stay Close to Neve, and get it off your chest with a retort – better out than in. Have fun, be good and keep at ‘em.

ah, b’jesus

If you think we’ve got it bad spare a thought for the Irish. Following the banking collapse of 2008, people joked that the only difference between Iceland and Ireland was one letter and a few days. This, as it turns out, may well have been too kind! The Irish economy has been all but wrecked. The Celtic Tiger has witnessed its GDP fall by 17%, representing the deepest and swiftest contraction of any western economy since the Great Depression of the early 1930s. The Irish Government has revealed that the cost of bailing out its stricken financial sector will rise to the tune of £39bn, with some £25bn alone going to the lax lending and profligate Anglo Irish Bank. Supporting […]

time to blow the whistle

It was only a matter of time before I decided to have a rant about the celebrity obsessed society we have we cultivated and now dominates. The term celebrity derives from the noun celebrate, which officially refers to the act of engaging in festivities after success. Aha, therein lies the key. For someone to be regarded as even a minor celebrity there has to have been some level of success enjoyed beforehand. Undoubtedly, we all have our pet hates in terms of celebrity and one of mine is the boorish cult of the football celebrity. It would therefore come as no surprise for me to have a pop at the Rooneys and Terrys of this world but when one of […]

my heart bleeds

Poor Chris Moyles. Whilst no-one could condone the non-payment of his salary for eight weeks you have to question the scale and magnitude of said salary. He is one of the BBC’s highest-paid performers, with a salary touching £500,000 a year, approximately £42,000 per month. So, eighty grand down he whines and moans on-air and calls it a ‘massive eff you to me’. Why did it take him eight weeks? I suspect because he just didn’t notice it wasn’t there. The rest of us would have noticed our salaries not being paid within eight hours, and would have done something about it, pronto. Poor Chris Moyles plots and connives to get the sympathy vote as opposed to merely enquiring of […]

life as sport

Who won today? Cameron or Clegg? Coronation Street or Eastenders? Will Strictly knock X-Factor off the podium? Is the pope on a sticky wicket? Will the bankers score another own goal? Something has happened in recent years as the sports commentary and euphemism has become a metaphor for our entire society. It may be the fact that I invariably listen to BBC Five Live but the way I hear it every subject now appears to be discussed in an increasingly one dimensional manner – winners and losers. Tune into the media during a party conference, read an analysis of a televised debate, switch on for a review of the film you’ve just missed, and you’ll find the classic sports template: […]

austerity britain

You can’t beat a good moan I reckon. Go on get it off your chest but don’t expect for one minute that it’ll improve your outlook. No-way Hose, we’re British and don’t you forget it. ‘Vicious cuts. ‘Savage cuts.’ Swingeing cuts.’ The language we (OK, the media) use to describe the current and impending spending squeeze is apocalyptic in the extreme. There’s endless talk of chopping axes, severe blood-letting, hacking cut-backs, and drastic amputation. And we love it. We’re positively relishing the prospect of pain and suffering, regarding it not just as part of an internationally experienced economic cycle but as a chance for moral renewal. It’s our birthright to be miserable. It’s ironic that it coincides with our Battle […]

clegg’s faustian pact

There’s a scene in ‘Spinal Tap’ where bassist Derek Smalls explains to director Marty DiBergi that he sees himself as being the ‘luke warm water’ between the fire of lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel and vocalist David St. Hubbins’ ice and that’s exactly where the Liberals have always been. Yes, I accept that historically it was not always the case and once upon a time Liberalism represented the deeply radical alternative to the ‘wigs’ but certainly in my memory that’s their pigeon hole. But, oh what a difference an election can make. Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg recently sought to allay the fears of an understandably anxious party, urging them to ‘hold our nerve and we will change Britain for good’, […]

quintessentially british

A couple of days ago I read an article where a family, having lived in Britain for several years, were returning to their homeland of New Zealand. They were keen to take back gifts for their friends that were ‘quirky and quintessentially British’ and asked the public at large for some suggestions. Amongst the obvious recommendations of Marmite, Worcestershire sauce, Thornton’s toffee, Patak’s lime pickle, a good malt whisky, a tabloid and broadsheet newspaper from the same day (I quite liked that one), bunting and dog-dirt there were a couple that really tickled me: – Quirky and quintessentially British…could you take Boris Johnson? I’m sure we wouldn’t miss him. – A DVD of quintessentially British TV shows that completely baffle […]

sorry, I beg your pardon?

Is it just me or are none of us able to concentrate these days? Is our growing dependence upon the internet and other interruptive media sources such as instant messaging, texting and tweeting altering the way we react and think? How many times do we stop the email we’re writing to flick over to let such and such know that we know they’re now online? Are you really listening to what I’m saying or are you dying to read the text that your vibrating mobile has just notified you has arrived? When we go online or switch our phones on we undoubtedly enter a world that promotes cursory reading, ‘skimming’, hurried and distracted thinking, superficial learning, short-termism. It’s an environment […]

we're all going on a summer holiday

Yep, once upon a time for ol’ Cliffy-boy it was for only a week or two but with today’s extended school summer holidays it seems to go on forever, and then some. The historical importance, within a once agricultural based society, of the traditional extended summer break, where children were required to work in the fields harvesting this year’s crops is no longer of importance so why do we continue with them? Showing my age, my first summer holidays where ‘only’ four weeks in duration but I do remember my delight when they were extended to five. Invariably, we’d then spend an idle week on the sands in Blackpool and perhaps a week in a caravan trudging around the Lakes. […]

i quite like tony blair

I know I’m going to be in the minority on this one but I feel the vitriol currently being heaped upon Tony Blair is misguided and misplaced. To all intents and purposes he finished the good work started by John Smith in saving the Labour party from itself, enabled it to appeal to a wider electorate, presided over more good domestic years for the UK than most other prime ministers, but made the fatal mistake of outstaying his welcome. His defence of Kosovo and Sierra Leone certainly deserves a mention. Yes, the Iraq war turned out to be a disaster, not because we deposed a megalomaniac brute who murdered hundreds of thousands, but because of the US administration’s incompetence in […]