Tuesday, 14 June 2016

British Passports for Beautiful British Hands

Well done Britain. Looks like you’re gonna do it again.

You’re going to do what you always do and take as your source of information the same elite bunch of very rich, ambitious, powerful liars you always do.

And now you’re going to get what you always get in return from that lot.  Nothing, zilch, nada. Probably even less than that.

We’re about to tell the second largest economy in the world to go fuck themselves.  And why? It can’t really be because of 1,000,000 immigrants waiting to scale the White Cliffs of Dover, or the apparent myriad forms of red tape that prevent us Great Britons from living a life free of political interference. It can’t be because of that, because they’re both inventions of the media, and you’re intelligent people trusted with the vote.  So why?

Leaving the EU won’t solve your concerns about immigration. Incidentally the phrase “concerns about immigration” – that’s the new “Some of my best friends are black” and saying it sets off alarm bells. Leaving the EU will absolve a few British politicians of any desire to show distress the next time (and there’ll be plenty more next times now) a few kids drown on a Mediterranean beach.  “Not our problem” Nige will say, now that his dog whistle racist bullshit has been validated.

Leaving the EU won’t make us any better equipped to deal with terrorists. You know, the terrorists we helped create with our attempts to destabilise the most volatile region on Earth. Those guys, the ones the “immigrant problem” are running for their lives from. But we’ll be able to extradite people on the flimsiest of pretexts now. No more pesky European Human Rights to hold us back now. And now there’s a CCTV in every home (although you call it your internet) we will all be safe. Safe from the ideological madmen hell bent on ruining our way of life. Or at least the Muslim terrorist flavoured ones, right?

Leaving the EU won’t protect our borders.  5000 miles of beach. That’s quite a lot of water to patrol. Where’s the profit going to come from? Because that’s the only thing that really motivates your Borises, your Nigels. Where’s the moolah?

Leaving the EU won’t solve our housing crisis. Building homes will do that. Affordable homes. Leaving the EU won’t solve the strain on the NHS. Properly funding the NHS will do that. That money we’re apparently going to save on EU membership isn’t going to the NHS. That’s going to fund further tax breaks for the richest in society – the only people Boris and Nigel ever care about.  And if you believe otherwise, well more fool you. Best of luck with avoiding illness, unemployment and other woes that can befall pretty much anyone.

Oh, do you think they really give a shit about you? Do you think the UK is now going to suddenly fly all the foreigns back to where you think they came from? Oh, bless.  It isn’t going to happen. And now the funny man with the silly hair is going to be Prime Minister soon. He is funny, isn’t he?! So funny. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about the funny man and all the hilarious things he’s going to do when he’s in charge.  And soon lots of other people will have those tears too.


Monday, 13 June 2016


(OFFSTAGE - an insistent bass drum bangs, a sole trumpet plays the refrain from the Dambusters March, the sound of smashing glass, of screaming. An idiot choir bellows the strange and primitive chant of ING-UH-LUND)

There is a violence and a racism ingrained at the heart of much of what might be called English culture. That's what's shaping this referendum, that's what's fuelling these idiots in France.

It starts with the royals, works down through the politicians, cops and media and ends up with pricks in Union Jack t-shirts singing Ten German Bombers and No Surrender to the IRA. We commandeer the local pubs, chuck a few chairs about, and it's all OK because its banter and lads and all that fucking tired shit.

Our royal family hunt defenceless animals and get celebrated as "characters" when they make racist gaffes. Our captains of industry fleece pension funds and dodge taxes, our media hack dead kids phones and ruin countless lives. We celebrate wealth and privilege without challenging it. We have Children in Need as an annual event, a fucking televised celebration of our continuing to elect governments in thrall to the idea of a Great Britian with a seat at the Security Council and a fuck off warship ready to send innocent kids to their maker at a moment's notice. Paedophilia isnt a barrier to office, it's one of the perks. We call our soldiers our brave lads and then fail to look after them when they return home. The two best selling papers in the UK are obsessed with demonising foreigners as terrorists, thieves and cowards.
Our nation's greatness, politically speaking, came from building an empire based on exploitation, enslavement and murder. We didnt fight the Germans in two World Wars for any other reason than that they threatened our cash flow. We didn't defeat them for any other reason than the intervention on our side of bigger military forces. And yet, our obsession with the myth that we showed Europe who the top boy was, that we were the sole saviours of the day persists.

No surprise then that when our football fans go abroad, they feel entitled to wreck the place and get caught up in all manner of idiocy. The Russian hooligans came with an agenda, getting a reputation as the "top boys" of Europe. Had our own "top boys" not behaved with such vicious recklessness the last 40 odd years, the events of the last few days may never have happened. The parallels between hooliganism and our colonial past are clear - we cover up the crimes of Empire with "Boy's Own" adventures, we let our hooligans off the hook with adjectives like "laddish", "high spirits" and "boisterous".
Quick aside - hey Wales fans - when you stop needing police shipped in from other parts of the UK whenever Cardiff play Swansea, when there isnt a single sad little SOUL CREW book for sale in every bookshop in Cardiff, when you've sorted your own little hooligan problems out, feel free to tell us how great your fans are. You've behaved impeccably so far this tournament, and credit to you for that, but let's not pretend that this somehow makes you the better nation. Because once you start to believe that kind of stuff, you're on the road to being just like the hooligan neighbours you affect to despise. It's not such a great leap from Facebook groups like "Welsh not English" to ones like "Britain First."
Our arrogance, our much trumpted superiority to "Johnny Foreigner" couldn't be better summed up than by us having a referendum about being part of Europe - shouldnt it be them having one about wanting us there at all?

Come June 23rd, there's a reasonable chance that all 3 British teams will be out of the European Championships one way or another. I suspect that the relief felt by terrified locals, sick of cleaning up after us will be echoed all across Europe if we kick ourselves out of the EU too.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Alan Shearer's Euro 96

Being the kind of wallow-eyed sentimentalist that gets all emotional over hearing the theme tune to Animal Magic or stubbing my toe on a discarded DAT player, Alan Shearer’s Euro 96 on BBC last week was the kind of television designed to fill my Proustian jug with alcopops and tears.
20 years on from the last time that England reached the last four of a football tournament, big Al took a road trip to meet various survivors of that glorious summer that made Gina G a household name.

Alan met Terry Venables at his worryingly remote hotel in Spain, Paul Gascoigne on a symbolically empty stage in Newcastle, David Seaman in a haunted dogging spot.  Only the perennially 30 year old Teddy Sheringham, swinging his way round a golf course, seemed relatively untroubled by the events of 20 years ago.
Venables, who now resembles a kind of semi-retired owl, claimed that it was the best time of his life but his eyes spoke of sleepless nights filled with what-might-have-beens. Gascoigne’s demons go much deeper than footballing regrets but the agonies felt by us all as his outstretched toe failed to connect with that Shearer cross seemed to still be terribly close to the surface 20 years later.
Contributions from Baddiel and Skinner, whose “Three Lions” became the anthem of the tournament, and commentators John Motson and Barry Davies added some nice perspective but it was interesting to note those absent from proceedings. England’s captain Tony Adams, whose own troubles with alcohol peaked soon after the tournament wasn’t included. Stuart Pearce, whose penalty against Spain was perhaps the most gutsy kick any footballer has ever made, and Gareth Southgate whose penalty miss proved fatal to England’s hopes – these would have been the ones to catch up with, to see how it feels to carry those burdensome memories alone for so long.
And without these perspectives, what could have been a genuinely interesting programme, proved to be a little bit of historical revisionism. Feel good stuff admittedly, for which fan cannot resist watching Gascoigne’s impudent brilliance against Scotland again and again, but detrimental to the programme overall.
There can be no denying that Euro 96 was a wonderful tournament to be an England fan. It was mainly because of the dross served up since Italia 90 up to and including half time against Scotland that made what happened in the following 10 days or so feel so special. This was a country celebrating not being world beaters but not being entirely shit either. Those ten minutes against Holland remain burnt onto the retina as being a moment when pre match optimism seemed delightfully negative. Sport is full of who knows and what ifs. It's what makes remembering events from 20 years ago such a bittersweet experience. But to gloss over the past is damaging and makes our memories less valid.

If Italia 90 was the start of football's image rehabilitation then Euro 96 and Three Lions was the last piece of the jigsaw. Within a year of Southgate's penalty miss we had New Labour in power. A repackaged working class product sold to the middle classes in an acceptable form. Just like the Premiership. After Venables, England went for their own Tony Blair figure in the form of Glenn Hoddle, a young, confident purveyor of vaguely Christian-bollock-speak. When Diana died, Michael Owen filled the void. When England shellacked Germany in 2001, the possibilities for the national side seemed limitless. 10 days later was 9/11 and England sneaked almost apologetically into the World Cup thanks to a 93rd minute free kick from David Beckham against those titans of European football, Greece.
And just as we flexed our shoulders on the world stage and pretended to be a minor superpower, so our footballers went to tournaments and did likewise. We have only won one football tournament and that was down to a home draw and a beneficial linesman decision. 1966 was the start of something awful in this country’s psyche, the beginning of a national obsession, the idea that our optimism could somehow manifest itself in the England team not being rubbish at football, that Johnny Foreigner could be subdued with rolled up sleeves and robust tackles, that the only thing that stopped us winning trophies was corrupt officialdom, foreign underhandedness and just darned poor luck.

It wasn’t just a patriotic short sighted devotion to our national team that was born in 1966, David Cameron was too. And if you can draw a comparison between an overpaid, undertalented, PR obsessed loser like him and Roy’s lads then you’re a better man than I.

We’ll come second in the group and lose to Portugal on penalties. But I'm more worried about Brexit in the group stage.