Friday, 27 December 2019

First Test vs South Africa

It's the last session of the second day at Centurion, England have just been bowled out for 181, conceding a first innings lead of 107.  This after Joe Root had won the toss and asked the Saffers to bat.

Several questions arise.
Why didn't England pick a spinner?
How did Bairstow get another chance?
Why do England ALWAYS lose the first test of any series?
Why did Root not choose to bat?
How many times has Root inserted a team having won the toss and how many times has this ploy worked?

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Fuck it.

It seems I haven't had a Christmas rant for a few years...
Why do I hate 
Christmas?  Oh shit where do I start?
Christmas is for kids, a time of high excitement and sleepless nights.  A time when a pile of new stuff drops into our laps.  Stuff we’ve stared at lovingly in catalogues (Amazon?) and stuff for which we’ve built up a craving.  I get that, Kids should be excited, that’s what it’s all about, but adults?  
Buy new stuff, it’s Xmas!  Eat like a pig, it’s Xmas!  Booze yourself sick, its Xmas!  Spend more fucking money than you have and spend the rest of the year paying for it, it’s fucking Xmas. 

Bollocks to all that, I rebel.  Every year my cynicism shines like fairy lights.  If hating all this bollocks makes me miserable then yes I’ll wear the tag.
At some point in my adult life I had a  gradual realisation that Christmas was a sham, a festival of greed designed by the Establishment so it can reclaim the meagre collection of pounds we’ve managed to accumulate throughout the year.  AKA The festival of greed.  Looking at it like this Christmas is almost a tax?  Fuck it.

Why do we do it?  Why do people all around the world save their money and fill their fridges for this end of year blow out?  Why?  It’s because we have no choice.  We have been conditioned from birth to behave in this way and we never question it.  Christmas, in its modern form just is, like the four seasons, the sun, the moon and the tides.  It happens every year and we all rush headlong into it. Why is an adult excited by Christmas?  Why do we feel the need to take our brains out for a month and behave in a way we do not allow ourselves for the rest of the year?  

Fucking Christmas jumpers for fuck sake.  People pay for a hideous garment that serves no purpose other than make the wearer look a cunt.  It started off from the notion that everyone (men especially) would receive at least one item of clothing that was ghastly and too unfit to be seen wearing in public.  Consequently this item of clothing would be worn only once, on Christmas day, to appease the in-laws or whichever guest has cursed us with said ‘present’ (and presence?).  Christmas jumper used to mean ‘ugly jumper’ but some clever(?) person turned this around to make jumpers that are not only crap, colourful and tasteless but also festive too.  You know, shitty Santa and snowmen and such shit.  And people buy into it; “Look at me, I’m a jolly, happy go lucky, good sport sort of a dude and wearing this monstrous woollen shit rag proves it”.  Fuck Christmas jumpers.

Every year the east of England gets brighter in December, as soon as the month arrives people sprint to the loft and drag down the miles of sparkling lights they’ve stowed away and smother their home’s exterior with miles of brightly coloured flashing shite which says “Look at our house!  Aren’t we festive people!  Look how colourful we are and by extension, rich, successful, generous…  It’s almost like Stockholm syndrome, if one house in the street goes big with the fairy lights then other families feel the need to do the same to keep up with the Jones’ festivity.  Fuck Christmas lights, my single strip of 1980’s fairy lights adorning the window (from the inside of course) is so naff it makes me laugh.  Yes it is shit but to me it’s an ironic two fingers to the sparkling shit heads around me.

What is the most dangerous phrase in the English language?  It is slightly fluid but usually takes the form of cajolement ending in the words “… go on!  It’s Christmas”.  This cajolement is usually an attempt to get a person to do something that makes them uncomfortable; spend a bit (or a lot) more money, stuff more food into our bloated stomachs, drink excessive amounts of alcohol and damn the consequences.  In my case these words led me to a curry house in an unfamiliar town where I had a nice night with good people but felt uncomfortable throughout and couldn’t wait to leave.  Worst case “because it’s Christmas” can lead to a trip to A&E, divorce and death.  Yes I’m a festive fucker aren’t I?

But what is Christmas?  What does it mean?  I’m sure kids are still taught the nativity and surely there is still at least a small understanding of Christmas as a Christian festival?  (Or further back a celebration of Winter solstice?).  But do people actually link the religious stuff to Christmas anymore?  If not why do we celebrate Christmas?  Why are millions of people of the western civilisation celebrating?  What makes us do it?  Is it the promise of another heap of new stuff to add to the useless shit we fill our houses with?

It’s probably just the ultimate opportunity to engage in the British game of “Look at me!  Look at all the stuff I have!  Can’t you see how cool, wealthy and successful I am?”  One-upmanship.  The British disease, as true and relevant now as it was when Cleese, Barker and Corbett made the sketch.  
I live in a nice, comfortable house in a nice comfortable rural town.  Apart from stuff that wears out and need replacing (stuff obviously designed to fail at some future date…) there is absolutely nothing on earth that I want!  My tele is old and second hand but I won’t enjoy watching programs any better on a new flat screen HD thing!  Think about it, if you watch a Black and White film after five minutes you no longer notice it isn’t colour!  While I’m banging on about it HD TV is the biggest example of ‘emperor’s new clothes’ since CD’s took over from vinyl at twice the cost.  And now Vinyl is fashionable again and it’s twice the price of a CD?!  Fucking mugs!  I digress…

So fuck Christmas.  Fuck jumpers and stupid hats.  Fuck lighting your house up as a target.  Fuck false joviality and fake smiles.  Fuck buying loads of stupid, unwanted tat.  Fuck Coca Santa and the cult of greed.  Fuck mince pies and dry fucking Turkey.  Fuck hangovers.
But yes please to the peace and goodwill bit, we need a load more of that.

But after Christmas come boxing day and Test Cricket.  If England are fit and firing they should be too good for South Africa but we will have to start well and play better than we did in New Zealand.

Saturday, 14 December 2019


It seems late autumn is the busy time for touring bands.  I suppose the festival season now prevents summer tours so it makes sense to squeeze them in before the onset on the festival of greed.  We've managed to make it to three more in the weeks since Hawkwind.  

The first was at the UEA in Norwich, the excellent Primal Scream.  The Princess and I drove up with Mr H and Mr G then met the daughter at the Uni.  Having seen Bobby & Co at Latitude during the summer I wasn't too excited but tonight they played a much longer set and changed things around.  Starting with "Don't fight it feel it" they ripped through tune after tune, some more familiar than others, all sounded great, played by a tight band.  The favourites came out towards the end, best of the night for me was "Movin' on up" which was fantastic even without the full "Screamadelica" treatment. "Loaded" and "Come Together" don't quite survive the transition as well but were still very good. The encore of "Rocks" and "Jailbird" was a perfect uptempo finish and they stopped at the right time.  Afterwards the verdict was unanimous; Top band, top show, top night.
The following week Mr H chauffeured myself and Mr G into the dirty streets of Stoke Newington where we found the venue, found our friend from the west Mr S then found a proper pub.  The Guinness was rather good as was the conversation, so much so we lost track of time and had to scoot along the street to see the band.  Fat White Family, I don't know much about them and have hardly listened to them.  I have seen them live twice now and they've been very good both times.  I don't know how to describe their music but I'll try; seven piece, tight almost R&B rhythm section, lots of guitars, harmonies and a punky attitude.  Singalong and move your feet, which we did.  Tonight there was a weird interlude about 2/3 the way through when most of the band buggered off and no one seemed to know what was going on.  Least of all the musicians remaining on the stage who carried on regardless.  The rest of the show was back to full affect and they finished gloriously.

Finally a couple of days ago, after casting our votes we were back to the UEA, Mr H done his normal wonderful taxi service which the Princess, Mr G, Mr R and myself always appreciate.  The daughter met us again and it was a relief to get into a warm building and out of the rain.  I don't know who the DJ warming up was but he got us moving with some Hacienda vibes.  Then it was the Happy Mondays on the latest leg of their eternal tour, this time playing a set of greatest hits.  This band sound tracked some of the most debaucherous periods of my life and I will always love them.  Tonight was good but lets be honest, Shaun was never a great singer and he hasn't improved with age.  Rowetta has a decent voice but over does it, maybe trying to make up for Shaun?  Also the sound was pretty shit at times, particularly early in the set.  Apart from that they got most things right, But as the night went on the sound was tweaked and by the end the place was banging.  Some of the banter was hard to follow but did Bez really supply pills to the daughter of the Cheif Constable?  My daughter loved Bez and bounced about amidst the mayhem for a while.  They played almost all of the 'Pills and thrills...' album and loads of real oldies including "Rave On", "Mad Cyril" and "Hallelujah".  It's a shame the band think their greatest hits stopped in 1990 because there were a couple of good ones on 'Yes Please' and an album full on 'Uncle Dysfunctional'.  Last two tunes of the night were predictable in "Step On" and "Wrote For Luck" but they went down a storm anyway.  This was the fourth time I've seen the Mondays (and sixth I've seen Shaun in his various guises) over a period of nearly thirty years, it was good but a long way short of their best.
News on the drive home was horrendous.

Friday, 6 December 2019


The second test fizzled out, England actually played some good cricket and had the best of the game but ultimately the pitch won and the game was drawn, leaving New Zealand series winners at 1-0.  I seem to say this a lot but the quirky series selections havn't brought us any closer to identifying our best team.  A tough series in South Africa starts before you know it.

We know half the squad that toured New Zealand will already have tickets booked.  Of those that aren't so certain Zac Crawley will probably be retained, Joe Denly has once again done just enough to keep his place and Ollie Pope has been knocking at the door for a while now.  I hope Jack Leach keeps his place, surely they won't pick Mo over him?  It looks like Bairstow is back, already.  Curran and Woakes both done reasonably well but I can't see there being room for both...  As for Mahmood and Parkinson, well thanks for carrying the drinks.