Saturday 30 March 2024

The meaning of "Choice"?

When I was a kid electricity, gas and water aka ‘utilities’, were owned by the state, paid for by ‘rates’ which was tax by another name, either way the people paid.  These rates paid not only for the cost of the utility and its supply but also for the infrastructure that provided it.  Then it was all privatised to give us “choice.”

Now we have a situation where these utilities are run for profit and one of these PLC’s, Thames Water, has reached the situation where their practices are so shoddy they regularly dump sewage into our rivers, this comes after decades of shareholders taking their premium and putting nothing back into the business.  To put this right will need investment which the owners/shareholders refuse to fund unless prices rise by 40%, so Thames Water want the public to pay to clean up their shit while the shareholders maintain their wealth.  I think I need someone to explain this “choice” to me again.

I heard about this today on BBC radio news and found myself deeply uncomfortable because I actually agreed with a Michael Gove soundbite in which he attacked Thames Water.  I expect he’ll have forgotten this opinion once the election is over, whichever way it goes.  And on that subject, either way it’ll just be the same old shit.

Tuesday 26 March 2024


I have no love for the Windsors but I can’t help feeling sorry for the P.O.W. who was bullied by the media into revealing personal details about herself.  In the aftermath the same media then elevated her to sainthood, a haunting example of history repeating itself.

In London at the weekend thousands of people marched for Palestine though this was barely reported, then the noble US of A didn’t veto the UN calling for ceasefire.  As genocide continues Oceania can’t look away any longer even if “our” sympathies are encouraged to look further north.

Terrorism in Moscow and Putin points the finger at Islamic Fundamentalists while simultaneously pointing another towards Kiev.  We are encouraged to mock and forget that twenty years ago our own governments pointed a second finger towards Baghdad.

But none of this can be very important because a fucking boat crashed…

Friday 15 March 2024

This is Democracy ?

This week in Russia Putin is standing for re-election as a demonstration of Russian democracy although the BBC was quick to point out all of his major rivals are in prison or dead.  Meanwhile suicidally brave Russian citizens are being arrested for acts of vandalism at polling stations.  None of this should come as much surprise because its what we’ve been told to believe about Russia for most of our lives.

On the other side of the world in the land of the free, their upcoming election will be contested between two men who you’d barely trust to drive down the dual carriageway and it’s becoming harder to ignore the fact that Trump is likely to get the top again.  But what Trump probably wants us to ignore is that he’s currently on trial for, wait for it, “election interference”.

And in our own thriving democracy the Tory party thinks it is okay to accept donations from someone called Frank Hester who in turn thinks it is okay to make foul racist statements about Diane Abbott.  When this subject came up in parliament Abbott herself was not allowed to ask a question despite standing over forty times.

This is democracy?

Sunday 10 March 2024

All over in India

The last test of the series would have been predictable in other recent visits to India, the home team winning by an innings in the end with only Crawley, root and Bashir coming out with much credit.  But before the match started I was hopeful of BB England closing the gap in the series.  Well in the end England did lose the series 4-1 but even this eternal optimist can no longer claim we are the best Test team in the world.  To be fair we didn’t do any worse than any of the other teams that visit India and we probably worried them more than most, to go down by this margin isn’t a disgrace.  But when it counted Stokes’ England were not clinical enough and amongst all the brilliant BB cricket this problem has reared up often over the last twelve months.  When England (or anyone) last won in India our spinners; Swann and Panesar, were better than the home team’s and we had a batting line up full of proven test class players.  This time around our inexperienced spinners done really bloody well but were not as good as Ashwin and Jadeja, not that we could reasonably expect them to be.  Also the Indian batsmen scored seven centuries to England’s three, and for once Stokes had a poor series, enough said.

For the first year of the Stokes/McCullum tenure England consistently fielded the best possible XI but from the start of the 2023 English summer this has not been the case.  We’ve got to wait until July for another England test match by which time we have to expect Harry Brook will be back in contention which means realistically either Foakes or Bairstow will have to make way.  Obviously coming from the Wicky’s union I would pick Foakes every time because he keeps with the effortless excellence we would normally associate with batsmen like Gower or Lara.  Fair play to mad Johnny for reaching 100 caps but compare him to all of the other sixteen Englishmen to have reached this milestone and he isn’t in the same class.  Maybe the selectors will decide to take a punt on a new face entirely which might be the best course of action.

With the retirement of the great Stuart Broad and the great Jimmy Anderson surely winding down, (despite looking fresh in taking his 700th test wicket this week) there are opportunities in the pace bowling line up.  Chris Woakes will surely be in the mix this summer as will Mark Wood but these two are in their mid thirties so in the final stages of their careers?  For a while Ollie Robinson looked like he was going to be an automatic choice but his fitness appears suspect.  There are a few around the fringes like Potts and Tongue but what would we give to have Jofra Archer fit and in rhythm?  The biggest plus from the Indian tour however is the spin bowling options, all of a sudden we have a handful that can step up in test cricket.

Still on the subject of sport I watched some brilliant rugby this weekend, (obviously Union, not the headbutting competition practiced by convict colonies and northerners) in particular the England-Ireland match which meant the six nations will go down to the final weekend.  But although we call it the six nations I’m not sure this is entirely accurate.  Ireland’s two tries were scored by a New Zealander and in the Italy – Scotland match tries were scored by South Africans and an Australian.  I suppose this trend started in cricket and England have been as guilty as anyone but for some reason I think it devalues international rugby.

Tonight all the worlds’ media obsessed will be tuned into the Oscars beamed around the world from Hollywood.  For anyone who has been in isolation for their whole lives this is an award ceremony for people who are really good at playing ‘pretend’.  To complicate things further these famous pretenders pretend they like each other and everyone pretends the results aren’t fixed.  Or as we say round these parts, it’s a load of old bollocks.

Thursday 29 February 2024

Fourth Test

The fourth test was a belter.  Joe Root went back to playing his normal game and scored a great unbeaten ton, with crucial support from Foakes and Robinson.  Then the young spinners got stuck in and Bashir took his maiden Test five for.  After five sessions England were cruising, at this time I was listening to Talksport which was just rubbish. Whole overs went by while the “commentators” just waffled amongst themselves and failed to inform us what was going on in the middle.  At close of play the team of “experts” had totally written off any chance of an Indian win even though the beginnings of a fight back had already stared.  Day three was all India who not only fought back but found themselves favourites by the end of play.  On the fourth day England scrapped but India hung on to clinch the match and the series.

Another defeat for England but one which didn’t smart as much as the previous one because this was not a poor performance, it was just India were better.  The home team has an inexperienced batting line up but on these pitches they have the edge over England’s inexperienced spinners which is not to say Bashir and Hartley have bowled badly.  Picking these two and Ahmed has been an inspired choice and further endorsement for the Stokes / McCullum method.  England may lose this series 4-1 but we are still the best Test team in the world.

Sunday 25 February 2024


The House is in uproar because the Speaker broke protocol over a vote.  Of course, of all things, this vote was about a call for a ceasefire in Palestine.  Now over fifty MPs are calling for the Speaker to resign, which is probably fair enough.  But if all inside the House are held to the same standard, how many Tories would there be left?

Thursday 22 February 2024

Third Test

As soon as I proclaim England as the best Test team in the world they have arguably their worst performance of the Stokes era.  A game that thanks to Ben Duckett was pretty even after two days swung dramatically in India’s favour.  Duckett aside all the outstanding individual performances came from Indian players; Rohit, Jadeja twice and Jaiswal who looks like a future star.  In the second England could take pride in defeat but not so here, this was a piss poor performance.  Going forward it would help if Joe Root would just play his own game, his current batting shows about the same intelligence as his captaincy and hopefully someone in the management will realise Barking mad Bairstow’s golden 2022 was an anomaly.  There I said it.

We’ve been here before, a chastening defeat sees all of us thinking “BB couldn’t really work…” but so far under Stokes England have managed to bounce back. Being 2-1 down away should be a bridge too far anywhere, let alone in the most difficult conditions a visiting cricket team can face.  We’ve seen recent England teams crumble in Australia and here in India many times before.  But if there has ever been an England team that can turn it around then it’s this one.