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.

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 […]

flag of convenience

I have a problem with Andy Murray. And it’s the same I had with Greg Rusedski and Kevin Pietersen and Allan Lamb and Tony Greig. Is he Scottish or is he British?  Were they Canadian, South African, Rhodesian or what? And the worst culprit? Undoubtedly squash’s very own Peter Nichol. Top boy that he was and is, how could he do what he did and expect to be taken seriously? Go read up on it if you have no idea what I’m referring to. I just don’t buy the ancestral bit. You are what you are and you can only be from one place, there’s only one home country. Yes, it may certainly bolster our own Nation’s sporting prowess and […]

boozed-up on the cheap…

Now, I like a pint, or two, but this is a question we have to ask: Is it time to price out the bingers? Scotland’s health minister has bravely proposed a minimum ‘alcohol unit’ price of 45p per unit, which would force supermarkets to markedly raise prices. A bottle of Asda vodka would rise from £7.97 to £11.81, while a four-pack of Carlsberg Special Brew (possibly the most foul tasting liquid ever invented) would increase from £6.16 to £9.10. A three-litre of Tesco’s finest vintage super strong cider would rise to £7.43 from a paltry and liver-shrinking £2.90. It has prompted a predictable response from free-market Tories (and liberals let’s not forget). “It is clear that the public does not […]