Some Summer Photos

5 09 2017

I’ve been to some matches this summer.

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The annual appraisal

2 09 2017

Saturday Evening

Mark was two minutes from home. Bloody football, you make the effort to care and what do you get? Nothing, nothing but sodding disappointment.

One corner to go. 2006 was an absolute age ago. What he’d give to be fourteen again.

He turned his key in the lock. Being fourteen on the day of the Champions League Final, that was life! Everything was possible, nothing was impossible!

He pushed the handle, opened the front door and went in. He was finally home after the usual tube scrum. He’d arrived at his sanctuary from the madding crowd, from the disappointment. Another Saturday, another pain in the arse.

– “Hello Mark, was it a good game?”

“No Mum, it was awful again.”

– “Never mind love. Your tea will be ready in a minute, I’ll give you a call!”

“Great Mum, I’m going out with the boys later.”

– “Ok Love, see you in a minute.”

Mark shot up to his room, he couldn’t wait to log in to “Gooner Heaven” and lay down eternal damnation upon his pitiful team.

“Henry The Eighth” was back in the chair!

Let us begin with the righteous fury!

Henry the Eighth – Down the Arsenal again, we were awful again, bloody awful. Wenger has lost everything, our respect, the plot, the dressing room.

It’s the players as well, don’t get me started. They don’t care, it’s scandalous, they don’t care. None of them. spineless performance from them. None of them care, we spend our hard earned money and what do we get? Nothing, bloody nothing.

That bloody Ramsey, what good is he? He’s literally the worst player I’ve ever seen in an Arsenal shirt. He should retire now, seriously. The fucking fraud. I’d have Wilshere over him any day you, he’s utter toss.

I’m utterly shocked, truly, that he can’t seem to play in midfield, he’s a bloody professional. My nan could do better than him! He never sticks to where he should be.

He’s a headless chicken, he should stick to rugby with the other Welsh. He’s a disgrace to the shirt. An utter fucking disgrace. I don’t know why we put up with his shit. I don’t know how he can look us in the eye. 

We’ll never win anything with a fraud like in the middle of the park. We need a leader, a taclker, a battler. We don’t need frauds. He’s living off past glories, he’s literally living off past glories. We should get rid straight away.

Clock End Preacher – Give it a rest will you, we’ve only had three games so far, we haven’t even finished August yet! You and your lot wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in the 1980s.

Henry the Eighth – It’s always the same. It just shows what I always say. You give your opinion and get slated for it. I pay my money and I’m entitled to an opinion.

With fans like you it’s no wonder that the club is in the mess it’s in. People like you are literally holding this club back.

Clock End Preacher – All I’m trying to say is calm down, things could be worse.

Henry the Eighth – Nice one grandad, that’s literally no help, it literally changes nothing.

Gooner Gerald – I’m with Henry on this, he speaks sense. You’ll never get to football heaven Preacher. Wenger and Ramsey are literally taking us to football hell.

Henry the Eighth – You know it GG! The preacher should stick to going to Church on Sundays.

Rocky Rocastle – It’s always the same, a couple of defeats and you lot want everyone gone. Can’t you just chill out, you won’t last the season with this kind of stress. You never know what might happen. We could win the Europa League.

Gerald Gerald – Looks like we got another one here Henry.

Henry the Eighth – These people are embarrassing, living in the past. We’ve literally got the most embarrassing fans in the world. They’re willing to put up with mediocrity and pay through the nose for it.

Mark was basking in the decisive last word when he heard footsteps on the stairs, it had to be Mum. It was.

“You’re Pizza’s ready love.”

“Thanks mum, I’m coming down.”

Mark sprang to his feet, he loved the tomato base that Tesco use in their freshly made pizzas, he bounded down the stairs.

– “Did you remember to get those pens? You said you were going to work on your appraisal tomorrow?”

“Yeah that’s sorted thanks. Thanks for cooking the pizza mum…”

Sunday

Mark was calm and the hangover barely registered, but then he had had less to drink than normal. There was no point in tempting fate with Monday on the horizon. He could have a proper night out next week.

“Mum, have you seen the ruler?”

– “How’s it going love?”

“It’s alright, I just need to get this right. It’s my homework. I want to tie up the loose ends, you know look good for tomorrow.”

– “You’re not worried about tomorrow, are you?”

“Not really, they already know I’ve met my goals and performance targets. It’s easy Mum.

Now where’s that ruler?”

Monday Morning

Mark felt a bit jittery today, it was his first annual appraisal under the new system.

Everyone said the new system seemed fairer, mainly because line managers no longer had licence to get revenge for perceived sleights and misdemeanours. Everyone remembered the flak from the infamous case of Tom, he took the company to court last year and won.

Now you were assessed by an independent person from outside the company, there were no face to face interviews any more either, it was more based around the data from the continual monitoring process.

Mark lived under the presumption that everything must be going alright if Steve hadn’t asked him to “pop in here for a quick chat“. The data doesn’t lie, it’s cold hard fact.

– “Morning Mark”

“Morning Steve, you alright?”

– Not bad thanks.

Ahem, you know we have a new method of performing our annual appraisals. So we’re using outside people to make the appraisals now. I’d like to introduce to you to your assessor, Aaron, He’ll be shadowing you today.”

“Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Aaron, It’s Mark isn’t it?”

Mark looked up and was stunned, it was Aaron Ramsey. Aaron Ramsey was standing in front of him.

“Wait a minute, you’re Aaron Ramsey, I can’t believe it’s you! And you’re assessing me. I can’t believe it! I’m an Arsenal fan.”

“I know, that’s why they picked me! ………..Only joking!

Don’t worry about any of this, you know what’s involved don’t you?”

Mark nodded.

“Just work normally, I’ll be in the background observing. You won’t even notice I’m there.”

“Right, I’ll just get on with it, I can’t believe it, honestly I can’t!”

Mark was utterly dumbfounded, of all people I could have as an assessor it’s an Arsenal player. He couldn’t wait to text everyone, or tweet it. Then he remembered the “Phone-Free Work Environment” posters they’d put up last year.

Using a phone wouldn’t look good, especially on the day of his annual appraisal. He’d just have to wait. The Green account was the pressing business.

The shock of being in the same room as an Arsenal player gradually wore off and he relaxed into his work. He tried to remember the textbook methods of dealing with phone calls and office etiquette. He thought better of his usual routine, flirting with the ladies and bantering with the lads.

A thought entered his head; “If I tone it down will I look unnatural, will it look like I’m trying too hard? Management don’t like that sort of thing do they.” Mark felt like he was flying through the account pages, Mr. Green would be well happy!

“Aaron would know that he had a reputation as a bit of geezer.” thought Mark. In today’s modern business culture they value personality and informality, Mark remembered the maxim of his old team leader Geoff’;”As long as the work gets done lad”. Well the work was getting done, Aaron could see that. Mark started to think about letting his guard down slightly.

“Aaron will have seen that I’ve worked well” thought Mark, Of course he will, he couldn’t think anything else could he? Mark looked at Aaron, Aaron smiled and then looked at his clipboard.

Mark thought things were going well, the guard was dropped. Mark saw Chris go to the photocopying room, so he decided to go as well. Mark smiled at Aaron as he left, Aaron smiled back.

“Mate, mate, mate I can’t believe that Aaron Ramsey is doing your appraisal.” 

“I know”

“I thought you hated him!”

WellllllHe’s a nice guy in person. He’ll never know what I think of him. I think the appraisal’s going well.” 

“I’m glad to hear that you’re smashing it.”

They bantered for about five minutes with a steadily increasing volume. Iwan the busybody came to check if there was a problem. Chris just looked at Mark and laughed.

Mark didn’t worry, Aaron didn’t seem to mind about the little comfort break. Mark guessed that things were going ok if the assessor hadn’t ask to see you, Aaron hadn’t asked to see him. Aaron just sat there.

So it was back to the Mr. Green and his spreadsheet.

About three quarters of an hour later Mark went to say hello to the girls. He had been working solidly, and Aaron will have seen that. He tried to catch Aaron’s eye again, Aaron was looking at his clipboard. Mark didn’t worry, there was flirting to be done. Mark knew girls loved a confident guy.

Clare was off today but Lauren was there, lovely Lauren. Mark could tell that they both liked him, he always remembered the GQ article about the body language of flirting. Touching your nose was one of the good signs.

They indulged in some harmless flirty wordplay until Mark put his foot down; “I can’t stay around here, I’m being appraised. Laters!!!”And with that he was gone!!  Lauren was inwardly relieved, she didn’t really like blokes that were obviously trying too hard to impress.

Just before Mark reached his desk he noticed that Aaron was no longer there. Mark wasn’t alarmed, Trevor had told him theat the assessor might only stay for the morning.

It was nearly lunchtime anyway so Mark didn’t worry. He was going to have a Southern Fried Chicken Baguette today.

He couldn’t wait to tell people about the identity of his assessor, Arsenal midfielder and fraud Aaron Ramsey. “I must remember to say that he’s alright” thought Mark. “People are going to love it when I tell them!”

Tuesday

Mark arrived at work in a relaxed mood, all he had to do was kill time before his debrief at 9:30 and he still had the Green account to finish.

He casually flicked through the pages, he felt safe in the knowledge that there was only a few pages left to do, crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s, that was all. He thought better of finishing it now as he wanted to leave something for later.

Steve asked Mark to come to his office. Mark noticed that the time was 9:31am on his computer taskbar’s clock.

“Sit Down please Mark, it’s probably easier for me to read through this report.”

Mark wasn’t worried.

“As you know the report is split into different sections, let’s go through them one at a time.”

Mark wasn’t worried.

“As you know, first up it’s “Productivity slash Output slash Dependability” Your continual assessment forms say that you’re usually on time with paperwork, although half of your return could do with more depth. In short you could spend a little more time on your paperwork more of the time. However don;t worry about this, these are standard comments for everybody.

To refer to the harder data. Your customer satisfaction ratings for the year were as follows: Q1 – 73%, Q2 – 85%, Q3 – 74%, Q4 – 87%, overall – 82.5%. 72% of my customers received order confirmation emails with 12 hours, all within 24 hours. Those figures aren’t too bad. Dependability?  Ah yes, you seem to get the work done and you’ve only had 2 days off this year. I’d say that’s ok by anyone’s standards.”

Mark wasn’t worried.

“Aaron’s verdict is slightly more damning, and when I mean slightly more damning I mean the most damning report you could possibly here.”

Mark was suddenly surrounded by bleakness.

“I’ll begin; “Dependability? For what? Mark seems more intent to strut around the office like a banter obsessed peacock instead of a colleague. He floats all over the place chatting and flirting. His continual assessment forms show that he’s a a very subtle operator, he gives off the impression of getting work done but during the appraisal he spent barely ten minutes doing work-related tasks in every hour.

He seems to believe that sending 3 short e-mails an hour constitutes work. If we were to generalise this behaviour over an entire work year he will work for 7.6 weeks out of his contracted 46 weeks. It would be hard to generalise from three hours but this is simply not good enough, He appears to be taking the piss.”

Mark was too bamboozled to think properly.

“Excuse me Steve, he didn’t actually say that I was “taking the piss” did he?” 

“I’m afraid he did, shall we move on?

The second area is “Mistakes slash Waste” Your continual assessment forms indicate that you’re a conscientious and tidy worker, you don’t waste paper by printing off an unnecessary amount of sheets. Your computer log record tells us that you make few mistakes as you type and we’ve never had cause to ask for redrafts of your reports. From this point of view there’s no problem. The figures tell us that your order error rate was only 5.3%.

Again Aaron’s verdict isn’t quite as glowing……..”

Mark felt another uncomfortable lurch.

“……As already stated Mark chooses to spend most of his time in work doing things other than what he’s paid to do, so it would be obvious to say that his mistake slash waste to productivity ratio could be improved. In short his main mistake is to waste everyone’s time. Again it would seem that he’s created a shiny positive image to mask the reality. He needs to improve his productivity rate. Judging by the quality of the error-strewn work I saw, or rather lack of quality, we can only assume that mistakes are commonplace within his work, we assume this stems from his obvious lack of an attention to detail.”

Mark was perplexed.

“So I wear a mask do I”  he asked incredulously.

“Let’s press on shall we.

Now it’s “Teamwork” your continual assessment profile states that you are an effective team player who adds complementary skills and contributes valuable ideas, opinions and feedback, and that you communicate in an open and candid manner. You can be counted upon to fulfill any commitments made to others on the team.”

Steve paused again, it was unmistakably ominous. There was another lurch.

“Aaron said that after he gained feedback from Mark’s colleagues he was able to see that Mark is often fine within a team but there are occasions when he appears to coast within the anonymity of a team. They say that he often needs to be pushed to make the required effort, and that sadly these occasions are becoming more frequent.”

Mark felt the need to finally respond to this character assassination;

“I’d disagree with that Steve. You know that’s not the real me is it? I’ve served on three key teams this year: corporate social responsibility, customer service process improvement and the one that deals with special orders.”

Steve continued.

“Yes I’m aware of that, don’t worry we all know about your extra responsibilities.

The next issue we need to deal with is “Fulfillment of Individual Goals”. Well we know from your continual assessment forms that you have completed all of the goals that were set in last year’s annual appraisal. You have attended a first aid course, you have attended an I.T. course and you have mentored Chris. That’s all good. You show some initiative, I’ve seen it, you’re a bit of a go-getter or the quiet aren’t you?” 

The familiar lurch.

“Aaron’s appraisal continues to be less positive. While the first aid and I.T. courses are useful the mentoring process provides numerous concerns. It would appear that mentoring process has merely provided the conditions for the growth of a work relationship based on a mixture of puerile humour, loud football banter and exaggerated male bonding. In the very short time I was in the office I was able to see that Mark’s fellow workers viewed this relationship as a burden to be tolerated.”

Mark was stunned.

“What’s wrong with banter” he almost stammered.

“Let’s carry on to the final part of the appraisal; “Your future development”. This is obviously linked to the last part of your appraisal. I see you’ve gone for the logical step, you’ve decided to focus on the same areas; Further development of I.T. skills, fostering more a team attitude within the department and continuing the development of mentoring role. That sounds alright.

Aaron’s comments were again rather negative.,,,”

Mark couldn’t deal with much more, yet it continued,

“I suggest that until Mark decides to concentrate more on the fundamentals of doing his work correctly there is little point in thinking about developing the finer points of his role. After speaking with his colleagues I would suggest that Mark decides to devote less time to being the irritating centre of attention and more time to doing his work efficiently and quietly.”

It was almost washing over Mark by now.

“I’m sorry, what was that “Irritating centre of attention”?

“Look Mark, don’t take Aaron’s view too seriously, at the end of the day it’s only one person’s view.

All it does is give us something to think about, for you to think about. We still value you, your figures speak for themselves. We’ve all got something to think about now. Don’t worry about anything. We still value you.”

Mark was quiet for the rest of the day.

All he could do was ask how this could happen to him. He did his best, he worked his hours, he hardly took any time off.

“AND YET IT WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH!

WHY AM I BEING JUDGED ON THE BASIS OF A FEW HOURS?

WHAT ABOUT ALL THE THINGS I DO RIGHT?

Mark’s co-workers were worried about him, he looked slightly broken. Steve asked him if he wanted to have the next day off. Mark thought that this sounded like a good idea.

Wednesday

At 11am Mark heard the inner letterbox flap move.  Something landed softly on the hall’s mat. He surmised it was a latter.

He was both fascinated and worried, could it be for him? He arose from the sofa and made for the front door tout suite. The envelope was for him. “Mark”  was written on the front in black ink.

He wondered who could have sent it. His friends didn’t send notes, his Mum wouldn’t leave a note, and she certainly wouldn’t post one through the letterbox.

He opened the envelope in an intrigued and fearful state. There was a single piece of paper inside.

He carefully unfolded what he took to be a blank piece of paper for a few milliseconds. He finally noticed that there were some lines written on one side. He read the words.

 

I’ve seen you in the Clock End. You probably think that we can’t pick out individuals in the middle of the crowd, or hear their comments, well we can.

How does it feel to be judged in your workplace?

It’s not a very nice feeling is it?

Aaron “The Fraud” Ramsey

 

A few hours later the penny finally dropped, football wasn’t really that important.

The weight of caring was finally off Mark’s shoulders, he could breathe, for the first time he could truly breathe!!!!

He logged into “Gooner Heaven” to leave a final message.

 

Henry the Eighth – I was wrong

 

With that he deleted his profile and logged off for the last time.





Tories are humans, don’t you know

31 08 2017

Last week a Labour MP made the grave mistake of saying that the Tories were enemies.

“You can’t say that!” they said. “That’s not the way to do it!” they said. “Tories are humans too!” they said. “We need to work with them.” they said. “By using “Enemies” and “Evil” you’re using the language of dictatorships” they said.

Thatcher may have once labelled the Miners as “The Enemy Within”  but “That’s by the by” they say. “That’s totally different from the point I’m trying to make, that’s not the point OK!” they say.

“You’re deliberately misunderstanding the point that I’m trying to make” they say. “Communism is worse than the other thing” they say. “When you’re left-wing you’re naturally against freedom.” they say. “Come now you must realise that the freedom to employ someone for no pay is very important in our society.” they hint.

Yesterday there was this article from The Times with a really lovely twitter headline; “Leftwingers boasting that they’d never kiss a Tory are blind to the intolerance of their own ideology.” said the headline. The pithy putdown within the tweet’s screenshot really sold it to me; “The Misunderstanding, that Tories are like Mr. Burns out of the Simpsons, is quite frustrating” I looked forward to many more philosophical highlights. This is just the job to that save my soul thought I.

Alas, alas, alas, the paywall prevented self-re-education. There was me ready to let the article to educate myself out being critical of the Tory point of view when the paywall prevented me. Capitalism ruining education, oh dear, how sad. Mr. Burns would never act like that! I’m sure there’s an ironic quality to my situation but I can’t be arsed to search for it.

I suspect the subtext is “I KNOW WE LOOK INTOLERANT, BUT YOU’RE JUST AS INTOLERANT SO THERE.” It would seem that Leftwingers are too busy protesting about governments making deals with the governments that allow dictators and concentration camps to notice that they actually really like dictators and concentration camps after all, and that’s just the ones I know!

The strangest thing is that both Labour people and Conservative people seem to value a decent health service, secure employment opportunities and good quality roads, and that’s just the one I know!

Anyway to return to the main thrust of this post, when it comes down to it, in the final analysis, at the end of the day, not to put too fine a point on it, how can you not look down on the Tories? They have chosen to plump for a heartless outlook on life, the one that puts their own interests ahead of everyone else’s.

I’ve found that there are only two possible responses when you’re confronted with a Tory; pity them and wonder how life has made someone so bitter or pity them and wonder how life has made someone so heartless.

No offence, I’m just saying it like it is. That’s what gets you a media profile these days. It’s just banter, or something. I’m just a bitter banter bandit.

Here are some reasons why we should look down on Tories.

1. Their Outlook

Let’s call it”Selfish Misanthropic Pettiness”. They’re always moaning about something as if they’re personally inconvenienced.

“You can’t build that here!”

“Who’s paying for these so-called refugees to use MY municipal sports facilities?”

“When are we getting rid of the NHS? I’m sick of paying for Communism.”

“How can you trust a pacifist with his hands on the Nuclear trigger?”

“You’re objecting to Zero Hours contracts? What about students, single mums and fraudulent benefit claimants?”

“You can’t tell me there aren’t Fraudulent Benefit Claimants. I know hundreds. You see them all with their yellow three wheeled vans, solid gold cuff links and investment portfolios on the Future Market.”

Mention “solidarity” to them and you’ll hear contempt, rephrase the idea as “people sticking up for themselves and their fellow workers” and you’ll hear disdain. Mention “Labour” and you’ll here the word tax. Mention “tax” and you’ll hear about asylum seekers. Mention “unions” and you’d hear the fevered imaginings of Reggie Perrin’s brother in law verbatim. Mention “the environment” and you’ll hear about hoaxes. There’s a pat answer for everything.

If you press Tories they never seem able to fully explain why it’s fine that we should live in a society that seems not to care about its citizens. “That’s the way things are, what can I do?” they’ll say. You can almost hear the moral justification “It’s not me, I’m nice. I don’t hate other people. I only vote Tory for blah blah blah.” The moral triumph of selfishness has absolutely nothing to do with them and their decision to vote for a party with selfishness at its core. Who can argue with that?

2. Their Smugness

This tends to afflict the politicians rather than the supporters.

We’ve all seen the Tories on TV with their Tory faces. If you’re not sure who I mean they’ll be the ones refusing to answer questions with a Tory face. They’ll be the ones diverting attention to opponents with a Tory Face. They’ll be the ones with smiling lips on a Tory face, a smile with all the self-assurance that a human can humanly display.

Even when they’re delivering a policy that’s patently bad or inhumane they’ll be smiling that Tory smile from a Tory face. Forget the words, forget the clear implication of the policy you have just heard just look at that self-assured Tory smile from a self-assured Tory face, dig those soothing  waves of self-belief! They simply couldn’t be wrong.

The Brexit shambles is the ultimate example of self-assuredness. A vote meant to heal a rift in the Tory party, one side saying “It’ll be fine, we’ll just save money for the NHS”. the other not really caring because they had other jobs on the horizon. Now “everything is fine” they say.”We’ll get what we want” they say. “There’s absolutely nothing complicated in the process whatever” they say.

You don’t need to be Jeff Stelling to see that this process will be the biggest self-inflicted political mess in modern British history. “It’ll be worth when we have those blue passports” they say with self-assurance, even if you and I won’t be able to afford to use one in the future.

Tories continually find new ways justifications for their noxious outpourings, Labour have a Momentum so the Tories have decided to get themselves an Activate. Imagine those cool cats at Tory HQ; “Let’s make selfishness hip for squares daddio!!! Let’s start with cultural re-education camps for council tenants.”

If you manage to press these people they never seem able to fully explain why it’s fine that we should live in a society that seems not to care about its citizens. “That’s the way things are, what can I do?” they’ll say. You can almost hear the moral justification “It’s not me, I’m nice. I don’t hate other people. I’m only a Tory politician because blah blah blah.” The moral triumph of selfishness has absolutely nothing to do with them and their decision to stand for a party with selfishness at its core. Who can argue with that?

3. They imposed the market economy upon us.

Forty years ago Tories decided that Hayek had all the answers because the Unions had ALL the power in Britain. Pinochet had shown the way. “Such a lovely chap, doing a first rate job with his economy dear boy.” they said.

Twenty five years ago Francis Fukuyama pronounced The End of History. There’s no debate. “The Market Economy Is King!” they said.

Today we have Austerity.

The thread linking all three periods is Gordon Gekko’s bastardised ideology; “Greed Is Good, Who cares if people have to re-apply for their jobs.” 

“We simply cannot challenge this state of affairs.” they say.

“There’s the trickle down goodness.” they say.

I felt my first splashes on a summer job about 17 years ago, when our boss came splashing around one clear morning. The factory had been taken over since my previous summer of service, the family owned business was now part of a corporate family.

The upbeat chap was a head honcho type that had deigned to pop down and speak to us;

“We’re all in this together” he said.

Needless to say we were still waiting for the pay rise to management levels by the time I left in the September. I’m quite sure the noble thought was definitely there however.

It might be obvious that unfettered capitalism is not useful for societal happiness because it’s only useful for helping one sector of society screw the rest over, but what does that matter? Some Tories may concede that universal happiness under capitalism is impossible because it’s not designed for everybody to “strike it rich” but what does that matter?

“Market Capitalism is the bestest system for us.” they say.”Don’t worry Market Capitalism is still the bestest system for developing an equal society” they say. “Market Capitalism is simply amazing” they say. “Marx has nothing to say” they say.

Marx should be silenced even though his 170 year old criticisms of capitalism still hold water. Market capitalism still hasn’t solved the issues linked to the disparity of wealth. But then what does that matter?

In the 1980s we were told to take up cycling to help the economy. There were problems but they were all our fault, and riding a bike would help profoundly. “It’s your fault that businesses are laying people off” they said. “It’s all due to YOUR lack of competitiveness” they said. “It’s all due to YOUR lack of productivity” they said. “It’s all due to YOUR Union Barons” they said. “Go and ride a bike, it’s the best, most helpful thing you can do, to help yourself out of the hole your fecklessness has made” they said.

It wasn’t the bosses, the rich, the Bourgeoisie at all. There wasn’t anyone trying to take advantage of the situation to earn a profit. It was our fault, all our fault. We just had to get to take up cycling and sort it out.

I remember that they didn’t like people fighting for their jobs, “That’s evil militancy” they said. “There’s nothing worse than fighting for your right to work in a job that you want to work in” they said. “It’s much better to ride a bike to another unspecified job.” they said. It was easier to make people redundant and moan about feckless shirkers being unemployed than try and do something different, they hinted.

They privatised the inefficient nationalised industries, which were then streamlined because they were overmanned. This was the code that made people like my Dad redundant.

I fear that I may have given the wrong impression about the decade. It wasn’t bad for everyone. The bike riding advice didn’t apply to government ministers. Years after he demanded that people take up cycling Norman “Cycling Proficiency For Unemployed Scumbags” Tebbitt was offered a directorship of the privatised industry that made my Dad redundant.

There was nothing fishy in the fact he became a director of the privatised industry that had been created by his government, nothing fishy at all. “It’s just the time we live in.” they said, “Yes but this is all ancient history now, it’s not relevant now!” they say.

They have a point, the attitudes of the 1980s are no longer relevant, the attitudes have massively changed, they’re hugely different, so bigly different you can’t believe. Recently Norman “Cycling Proficiency For Unemployed Scumbags” Tebbitt said  Make young unemployed pull up ragwort for benefits”.

The unemployed are already forced into using every spare nanosecond looking for work, visiting potential employers and distributing CVs, Yes without the threat of benefit sanctions the feckless wasters would never try and end the dispiriting situation they detest under their own steam, they hint. Never mind, let’s make them do unpaid labour on top. That’s the only way to encourage a sense of dignity, that is.

Today the Tories label their awful ideology with the softness of the word austerity. Needless to stay, it’s the same old rubbish. It would be bad enough if it was more of the same but they appear to be going further. There are so many examples that we could use to condemn Austerity but let us limit criticism to two facts; it’s forced hundreds of thousands into penury and it’s been used as an excuse to hollow out the remaining vestiges of our Post-WW2 settlement.

“I, Daniel Blake is just Marxist propaganda that Pravda would be ashamed to use!” they said. “I, Daniel Blake doesn’t ring true.” they said. Anyone would think that people didn’t like having a spotlight thrown on the logical outcome of our government’s dehumanising policies.

I suppose if you were being charitable you could say that the government is only motivating people, and who doesn’t need that little bit of extra motivation to accept precious zero hours jobs. “What’s wrong with Zero Hours Jobs? You’re just anti-working class you are.” they’ll say. “See you, yes you, the working classes, zero hours jobs are all you lot deserve, and what’s wrong with that, it’s called progress.” they’ll say.

The creators of austerity never seem able to fully explain why it’s fine that we should live in a society that seems not to care about its citizens. “That’s the way things are, what can I do?” they’ll say. You can almost hear the moral justification “It’s not me, I’m nice. I don’t hate other people. I only formulate Tory policy for blah blah blah.” The moral triumph of selfishness has absolutely nothing to do with them and their decision to formulate policy for a party with selfishness at its core. Who can argue with that?

The “Centrists” eh! “You can’t look down on a Tory you’ve got to help them to help us.” they say. “You can’t nationalise the railways!” they say. It’s fine to be a centrist when there’s a left-oriented consensus, as in 1945-’79, but we’ve had a right-oriented consensus for the last 40 years. How do they suggest that we meet Austerity halfway? Capitulation to the market economy isn’t a noble position.

“Centrists” don’t mind stuff, except when people say “nasty wasty fings” about the effect of Conservative policy, or the Conservatives that enacted such disgusting policies. Mind you they never seem able to fully explain why it’s fine that we should live in a society that seems not to care about its citizens. “That’s the way things are, what can I do?” they’ll say. You can almost hear the moral justification “It’s not me, I’m nice. I don’t hate other people. I only tolerate the Tories for blah blah blah.” The continuing moral triumph of selfishness has absolutely nothing to do with them and their decision to tolerate a party with selfishness at its core. Who can argue with that?

We cannot meet market capitalism halfway and hope for a better outcome, it will always win. The market is not an abstraction, it is a living breathing collection of individuals making calculated decisions based on self-interest. Those decisions could be focused towards people but they’re not, their focused towards the pursuit of profit.

The best way to improve matters would be to change the economic system for something more humane. We can control the economy, the economy doesn’t have to control us. The last move from a less humane economic system (laissez-faire) to a more humane economic system (Keynesianism) required the trigger factor of the Second World War’s death and destruction. What will it take to achieve change this time?

Change is not impossible, we only need humans to think of the greater good and make some decisions. That’s not as fanciful, or wishy washy, as it seems. People continually make decisions throughout a day. If people decided to change our society’s priorities after World War Two we can make a similar choice today.

Please don’t ask me to sweep what Tories think, and their abhorrent policy outcomes, under my emotional carpet. It’s amoral to reduce humans to the level of consumerist slugs. Surely our society can do better than their putrid outlook.

PS, I’ve spent a life weighing things up politically. I choose to be left wing. I know that being left wing has its drawbacks, and there are inconsistencies, and there are irritating fellow-travellers but I’d still rather perceive the world as I do. No amount of point scoring whataboutery will change my view. If I didn’t want to think it, I wouldn’t think it.





Groundspotting from the windows of trains

29 08 2017

It’s about time I refreshed the pastime I like to call “Groundspotting from the windows of trains”.

If you fancy joining in, there’s noting to it. The rules are very simple; If you see any part of a football ground, no matter how small that part may be, from the windows of a moving train you can add that ground to your list.

I understand that the esteemed writer Daniel Gray, has written something similar in “Saturday, 3pm”. All I’ll say is that this mediocre mind had the same thought as a great one. It’s amazing what you think about when you look around.

Anyway, so far I’ve seen the following football grounds from the windows of moving trains

Aberystwyth Town,
Ajax,
Aston Villa,
Bangor City,
Birmingham City,
Caersws,
Cardiff City (Ninian Park and Cardiff City Stadium),
Carlisle City,
Cefn Druids,
Celtic,
Clermont Foot,
Clyde,
Conwy Borough,
Charlton Athletic,
Chester FC,
Connah’s Quay,
Crewe Alexandra,
Derby County,
Dumbarton,
Flint Town United,
Greenock Morton,
Helsinki Olympic Stadium,
Heysel Stadium,
Huddersfield Town,
Inter Cardiff,
Lancaster City,
Lansdowne Road,
Leeds United,
Liverpool FC,
Llandudno Junction,
Llandudno Town,
Llanfairfechan Town,
Llanrwst United,
Macclesfield Town,
Manchester City,
Manchester United,
Millenium Stadium,
Millwall,
Motherwell,
Murrayfiled,
Neath Athletic,
Newtown,
Notts County,
Nottingham Forest,
Parc-Y-Scarlets,
Penmaenmawr Phoenix,
Pisa,
Pollok FC,
Prestatyn Town,
Preston North End,
Rangers,
Rhyl,
Sampdoria / Genoa
Shrewsbury Town (Gay Meadow and New Meadow)
St. Mirren.
Stade de France,
Stalybridge Celtic,
Stockport County,
Swansea City,
Walsall,
Warrington Wolves,
Watford,
Wembley,
West Bromwich Albion,
Wigan Athletic,
Wolves,
Wrexham,
York City




I hadn’t even realised you weren’t there!

27 08 2017

I’ll start with the first of three realisations. I don’t know whether I should continue to chain myself to the tradition of going to a match every week.

This mental journey began with a couple of connected recollections about David Elleray, the once famous referee, and Nick Hornby. I once read that Elleray turned down the chance to officiate at the 1994 World Cup because he had a job interview at his school. Hornby missed the replay of the 1993 FA Cup Final because he attended an award ceremony in which Fever Pitch was nominated.

I remember having a similar reaction to both events; “Imagine that happening! How awful would it be to miss your side winning a cup? How could you call yourself a true fan? I’ll never be like that! I’ll never let work come between me and an important match!” 

Needless to say I’ve missed matches for work-related reasons since those thoughts came to me. I’ve missed every Wales match for six and half years for work-related reasons.

In the mid ’90s I’d envisaged some nebulous “bad things” happening but all I’ve “suffered” is a growing sense of acceptance. I suspect that I’ll never watch Wales again. I don’t even check the dates of matches anymore, too many people are after tickets and I’m so far down the pecking order I’m in 2008.

While international football has become something that happens to other people normal football and work-related reasons had never coexisted in my life until that Saturday in May, when I missed Bangor’s European Play-Off Final.

My younger self would have been incredulous but my present self took life as it came, albeit with pangs of wishful regret. I had had enough time to get to the match because my work related business had finished earlier than I had envisaged.

If only I had had a car ready to go, but I didn’t have a car ready to go, so I sat on my sofa waiting for 5:15pm in the company of thoughts  “I could’ve gone, I could’ve gone. With better organisation I could’ve gone!” Sod it, I wasn’t going. I was going to miss the joyous moment that European football returned to Bangor, if it came, but who cares. “Calm bordering on sanguine” was my middle name.

Then the game kicked off. It was an odd sensation when I saw the players, I’d only ever seen them up close and personal but now they were on telly with bigger faces. It felt even stranger when I saw my fellow fans in the crowd. The thought that I should have been there never left, but I was obviously not there. The glory that I could’ve ended up enjoying felt like it was merely a whiff of a dilution of the glory I’d feel in the ground. On the other hand I knew two great things, I didn’t have a journey home and I had less time to wait for Eurovision.

When the European matches arrived I missed both of them, including the first European home match I’d missed since 1985, thanks to work-related reasons.

As you may guessed from the fact you’re reading these words nothing untoward happened in the universe because I missed the matches. Everyone carried on as normal. All three matches still took place.

There were no half time tannoy appeals about poor little me, there were no appeals on social media either, nobody commented. Nobody decided to give the next match a miss because I hadn’t gone. At most a few people noticed I wasn’t there.

The wider world spoke with cold indifference, it didn’t care that I had missed some football matches. It’s a stark moment when you realise that the world doesn’t care about you but what does one do? The world is a cold, harsh, disinterested place.

Before May’s European play-off match typical premonitions of jovial conversation within the glow of victory had caused regretful impulses yet I felt few post-match regrets. On a cosmic level the absence of my negligible presence barely registered, Bangor still qualified for Europe. On a personal level, what had I actually missed? Apart from the irreplaceable joyful conversations and glorious memories of drinks enjoyed I’d missed a match that had been televised, that was all.

I was clearly more able to cope with missing important football matches than I thought. Over the last few years there have been some recent weekends when I didn’t even bother with a match so I daresay I’d undergone an understated process of desensitisation.

When I coupled the fact that I wasn’t really missed with my lack of real regret enlightenment wasn’t far behind…….. I am insignificant.

It’s very illuminating to be reminded that you’re insignificant in the big scheme. It’s fantastic to be reminded that your petty choices and whims only really matter within the confines of your own head, that your petty desires are no more important than anyone else’s, that you are not more important than other people. Be like me, embrace liberation!

I remember reading that one of the Super Furry Animals claimed “Don’t be a C**t” as his motto. It’s an outlook that captures the beautiful simplicity of a decent world. It’s better to set aside ego-driven impulses for the simple fact that we will always need the help of other people. A co-operative society is always preferable to the alternatives.

Let us return to the first couple of lines. My enlightenment led to three realisations. Firstly, and already noted, I’m not sure I should continue to chain myself to the tradition of attending matches every week. Secondly, it doesn’t matter whether I turn up or not because my presence determines nothing, results happen anyway. Thirdly I should probably use a little more discernment when choosing which football matches I attend.

There are two enormous elephants in the room. The first is the fact that logic and football aren’t happy bedfellows. Football has manifest observable problems yet the idea of “football” still appeals and I still like going to matches.

Football charms with the promise of excitement and the potential of seeing something fantastic. There’s the aesthetic attraction of flowing moves and skill. Most importantly there’s the human interaction between like minded people. I still like to be in a crowd. The hubbub, the laughter and, wittingly or unwittingly, hearing a good story or two.

I don’t think I could live without the enjoyment of visiting a new town, or spending time with good friends. The so-called laws of probability tell me that I probably won’t see something fantastically memorable very often but the possibility is always present. Sometimes I just like to be lost in thoughts about the ghosts of football’s past and I see those ghosts everywhere. My love of my version of football is a feeling I can’t adequately explain.

Take my compulsion to watch Hibernian’s Scottish Cup triumph on you tube. I don’t support Hibs yet I still still feel compelled to watch the clips. Whenever I watch the last minute winner, the people lost in celebration and the fantastic Sunshine On Leith there’s a warmness in my brain, I know what it means for those involved and I can’t help getting wrapped in the emotion of the circumstances. Some things just cause a positive reaction and football has that effect in my head. That’s enough for me. I feel like I still need football.

The second elephant is the application of a discerning eye to football, you can do that but it isn’t always enough. I’ve tried to limit my football interactions to what I can stand – watching matches in a ground, refusing to buy anything connected to Murdoch, leaving the shiny corporate hagiographies that pass for magazine articles unread, ignoring the banter bus, putting a padlock on my twitter profile – but I’ve found that it’s impossible to insulate yourself from those you want to ignore.

I avoid pubs when they broadcast matches, I take an ambivalent attitude to Match of The Day and I block banter accounts. Yet this is still not enough, Murdoch era attitudes and opinions cannot be avoided. Especially if you choose to leave your house or use public transport.

You can’t legislate for the actions of other people, much as I’d like to become Prime Minister and pass laws. Opinion seeps around any social media dam. You can only avoid so many TV adverts based on the cliched excitement of sports broadcasting types.

“GET READY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GET SET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY IS BACK!!!!!!!

NOW STOP THINKING AND GIVE US ALL YOUR MONEY!!!!!!!”

Even the BBC broadcasts bloody football adverts of this type. Sentient fans know that football is often crap and boring rather than continually fantastic, dramatic and delightful.

Then you weaken, and give “THE FOOTY” on the telly another go for sentimental reasons. It’s alright until you’re realise that the craze of perpetual analysis still holds, football still has a self-imposed sense of importance it doesn’t warrant.

“I DON’T WANT TO SEE A RED THERE GARY!”

I don’t want hear in depth analysis that perpetuates this controversy driven football culture.

“HE’S ENTITLED TO GO DOWN THERE MARK!!!!!”

Not entirely, the word “entitlement” doesn’t appear within the foul play section of the laws of association football, I’ve checked.

“WE ALL LOVE THE TALKING POINTS™ DON’T WE!!!!!!! IT’S WHAT MAKES THE GAME WHAT IT IS, ISN’T IT CHRIS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”

Talking Points™ are the currency of the damned, the angry phone-in callers and the bluffers.

If we’re going to analyse something why don’t we concentrate on the way “our” sport is governed and organised.

The miasma of inconsequential opinion seems to surround me wherever I go. Bluffers and loudmouths are on every train I catch with their Talking Points™. Preserve me from the words ejaculated by hectoring mouths and the opinion shaped nails upon my psyche’s blackboard. I just want some peace.

I can’t get away from the bluffers’ world. The craze of perpetual analysis has convinced bluffers that they know what they’re talking about. Bloody opinions are everywhere, as if a law prohibits a carefree attitude.

The other day short video clips of Jack Wilshire getting sent off in an Under 23s match were doing the rounds on twitter. It’s the sort of thing that rocks a bluffer’s world, the evidence they need to make another plagiarised knowing comment, another metaphorical nod and wink, another easy dismissal of a professional player. “You can’t trust him when the pressure’s on.”, “He’s a nutter”,”He’s a fraud”.

Why does a short clip of Jack Wilshire getting sent off in an Under 23s match need to exist? The continual externalisation of football opinion is an extremely pointless act. Mate, mate, mate I know what I know, my opinion is only my opinion. Bluffers appear to believe that their opinion is the loud gospel that needs to be expressed everywhere mate.

Football minutiae – facts like winning runs, goal scoring feats and odd scorelines – used to be briefly diverting little quirks. When the minutiae started to appear on the twitter the bluffers were awarded with a ready made knowledge mine that enabled them to appear like experts without effort. “Mate, mate, mate I can’t believe your twitter feed mate. You’re a real football nut you are mate!!!” 

I don’t know why some people are happy to limit their experience of football to the perpetual hype juggernaut of Murdoch’s football culture. I don’t understand how people stomach the hyper-commercialisation. Why is there a dearth of imagination? How can people not yearn for a bit more integrity? Why is the shiny seen as more appealing than the authentic?

In moments of weakness I sometimes wonder whether I’m judging these bluffers too harshly. They’re not doing anyone any real harm, they’re only watching the footy aren’t they?

“Yeah couldn’t you go to another train carriage or something and stop moaning you effete pseud?” 

Well I suppose I could, less of the effete please, it’s called “having standards“.

I know the bluffers are only fellow human beings combating the alienation of the capitalist mode of production by developing an interest in something………..

BUT

…… they’re using their free will to submit to the Murdoch version of football.

The bluffers couldn’t care less that people like me have emotional ties to football, they’re content to offer the forces that are slowly turning football into a joyless economic equation their connivance. They could decide not to be part of the cynically created market that exploits both themselves and football but they don’t.

They love it when their own interchangeable hero from the super club carousel kisses the heat applied trademarked badge upon their polyester clad chest. Some have even been known to look up from their pool table, shout “GET IN!!!” and slap their own polyester clad chest.

The situation is very frustrating. If people knew that I liked football the bluffers and I would appear to be the same. I find that if you have a conversation with someone that gets football their interest usually comes out gradually in the middle of an interesting conversation about something else, they don’t bludgeon you with“look at me I’m a proper fan just like you!!” overcompensation buffoonery to prove they’re in tune with the zeitgeist.

Some recent highlights from my fascinating life show my problem. The days followed the usual pattern; I interacted with football in my own way (Undertaking mental journeys to beautiful possibilities) until something polluted my headspace.

Two Saturdays ago I read When Saturday Comes on the way to FC United v Kidderminster and started to think about going to Southport v FC United on the way home. We’d only made a couple of stops after leaving Manchester when the confident young men sauntered through the automatic doors of my carriage. They were ostentatiously carrying “The Banter”.

It was my misfortune that the opposite table was empty. It started as soon as they sat down. Banter. Facebook, Banter, “LEGEND!!!” this, “CLASSIC!!!” that. The football analysis had the conviction and polish of true expertise;

“Let me tell you who’s in City’s line up”…………“He’s awful.”……………“He’s not as bad as Monreal” …………“Can you believe Kyle Walker is worth £50 million? That’s like saying he’s twice as good as blah blah blah.”…………“What you need from a wing back is technical skill, that’s why blah blah blah is much better than blah blah blah”.

They were only on the train for about 10 minutes.

A full 612 seconds of equilibrium shattering.

They got on the train with a clear conscience, did “The Banter” with a clear conscience and a gleam in the eye, and alighted with a clear conscience.

Their six ton granite lump of premium footy banter had transformed my erstwhile serene mental lake of human joy into a choppy grey mass of water.

How are you supposed to enjoy football when people are allowed to use the banter and analysis in such a wantonly cavalier fashion? Loud football opinions are like human posteriors, every person has one but it’soften  impolite to let others hear them.

Listening leads to the continual fight against delivering a coup de grace;

“Maaaaaate, mate, mate I don’t care why you think what you think about Ozil.

No offence mate, it’s just my opinion but I just don’t care about your opinion to be honest mate.

Maaaaaate mate mate how would you like thousands of critics to analysing your work days on twitter? “Look at him, taking too long to go to the photocopier again!! What a fraud!!”

Call yourself a football fan, you’re nothing like me.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe mate, eaten chips on a boulder outside Hampden Park mate, I’ve watched non-authorised merchandise glitter in the dark near the Shankly Gates mate.

All those moments will be lost, in time, like tears in rain mate.

Recant the banter life, Recant!

Follow me, for I will save your soul!”

Needless to say, I’ll have had the last laugh. If only I had the confidence!

The same sort of thing happened last Saturday. Once again I had engaged with football on my level. Nine hours of reasonably enjoyable time with Nottingham Forest v Middlesborugh at the centre and train reading material provided by Irvine Welsh, Daniel Gray’s Stramash and the When Skies Are Grey Summer Special.

We’d reached Chester on the way home. Two Liverpool fans were amiably chatting away about the day’s events when apropos of nothing some bloke decided to insert himself into the conversation with a bronze droplet of football wisdom;“Try supporting Villa!”. It was yet another “Look at me, I’m part of the zeitgeist!!!” moment.

It was delivered like an appeal for sympathy.  Why on earth does someone need sympathy for a making a decision with a clear head, a decision that doesn’t really matter in the cosmic sens? He told the carriage that he hadn’t been to Villa’s match…………….

“That’s the thing about football mate, they’re your club and they’ll always be your club.

You can change your politics, your wife, your pets and your underpants but you can’t change your club.

Am I right? ‘course I am Chief!

………… If the social pressure to conform with the zeitgeist is the only thing making people maintain an interest why do they still bother? It’s surely simpler not to bother at all. Nobody would judge you if you just gave up, nobody would care. Do the world a favour, give us peace.

I’m torn. I find it difficult to retain an interest in football because there appears to be little for the likes of me in Murdoch’s football culture yet I manage to retain an interest. Irritating processes continually encroach upon my limited interactions with football yet I still find a serene football world I can deal with.

I fear that one day I won’t care enough to look for serene moments but I may feel differently when that day comes. I should probably start moving to other train carriages with the other effete pseuds and snowflakes until then.





Engels was a Bangor fan

21 08 2017

The co-author of The Communist Manifesto joins the pantheon of famous Bangor City fans.





Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief

20 08 2017

I may not attend rugby matches in a sparkly cowboy hat but I am still of “The Welsh”, this much I know. I base it on the fact that I was born in Wales. Being of “The Welsh“, as the wise man on facebook once said, feels like this;

To be born in Wales, is to be born in Wales, in the rain, in a hospital that’s now a Matalan, accepting an inheritance of a sparkly cowboy hat from Tesco, Neil Hamilton’s shameless disdain, a bootleg copy of Only Men Aloud’s first album and a Wales v Czech Republic ticket stub from June 2007.

I say I’m of “The Welsh” but am I? My birthplace may have been in Wales and I may have always lived in Wales, apart from my salad days in august academia, but can I claim to be of “The Welsh“?

What defines “Welshness”? What brings “The Welsh” together? Is is watching rugby in a pub, voting Tory and loving Brexit? Is it going to watch the football side’s away matches and voting for humane parties? Is it the well known third option?

Is “Welshness” defined by “The Welsh”? Well of course it is. If people didn’t define themselves as “The Welsh” there would be no such thing. Is that enough?

No.

Is “Welshness” defined by the landscape? Well, Wales has lovely scenery and I once loved cycling to work with the sight of Snowdonia as a backdrop. However I feel I can state with some certainty that Wales isn’t the only place in the world with beautiful scenery. Similarly Wales has poor people like the rest of the world. Wales has idiots like the rest of the world. It rains in Wales like the rest of the world, only more often.

Is  “Welshness” defined by a political element? Is it the non-conformity? “The Welsh” likes nothing better a twitter discussion with their politicians they do. They loves the intellectual cut, thrust and parry with others of “The Welsh”, the sort that can wholeheartedly support the black hearted cynicism of Westminster’s austerity whilst they criticise Y Senedd (Cymraeg for The Welsh Assembly) for failing to deal with the problems created by Westminster’s austere black heart.

They say “The Welsh” don’t vote Tory but some of the good people of my home town Llandudno have yet to receive the memo. Some people vote Tory and love Brexit at the same time as they feel dead proud to be of “The Welsh”, yeah I know.

There’s probably a sporting element to “Welshness”. I knew I was part of “The Welsh” when I used to watch Wales but I haven’t been to a Welsh football international for six years. But I didn’t even go to France but Wales v Belgium is one of the most joyous football experiences I’ve had. I felt real open mouthed joy. I felt of “The Welsh” then.

Hundreds of thousands felt proud to be of “The Welsh” when Hal Robson, Hal Robson Kanu hoodwinked the entire Belgian defence. We all felt so proud that we made a film about it even though Wales suffered a pathetic failure like England did at Italia ’90, and then made a film made about it. Yes I know but that’s “The Welsh” for you, always with the chip on the shoulder.

A year after these heights the followers of the big red clubs have returned to the world’s worst metaphorical tennis match on social media.

The Facebook serve comes;

“Mickey Mouse Cup”

The forehand return!

“Yeah whatever, it’s a cup isn’t it!”

The backhand RETURN!!!

“It ain’t Champions League is it, calm down!!”

Another MASTERFUL BACKHAND!!!!!!

“We’re back!!!”

A DEEP LOB!!!!!!!

“Thursday nights! Thursday nights! Thursday nights!”

A TOP SPIN RETURN WITH ADDED ZING!!!!!!!!!

“Come back when you’ve won a European trophy!”

A FOREHAND FROM THE NET!!!!!!!!!!!

“Yeah come back when you’ve won the league in colour!!!”

ANOTHER SEARCHING FOREHAND RETURN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Yeah come back when you’ve won 8 Europa Leagues!!!”

THE CROWD GASPS AS ANOTHER LOB SAILS HIGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Yeah, come back when you’ve queued in the rain for 4 days to get the new shirt from Sports Direct”…….

THE PASSING STROKE IS LASHED BACK WITH THE FORCE OF THREE PLAYERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Okay then, here’s the supreme cultural authority of a google image that includes  words from the past that somebody else had already expressed.

THE CROWD ACKNOWLEDGE THE UNSTOPPABLE WINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My painstaking research has shown we must look beyond landscape, politics and sport for the hook upon which we can hang our coat. At this juncture and apropos of nothing I must enquire “Whose coat is this jacket?” 

There is something that we can use to define “Welshness”; Cymraeg, the language of “The Welsh”.

Even though I cannot speak Cymraeg fluently I still feel it’s effect. My wife, and her entire family, are fluent. I’ve tried to order food yn Gymraeg, I can understand half of a Sgorio commentary and discern the tone of conversations at Bangor matches.

Cymraeg has several qualities that I love. It exists as a means of communication, the sound of its syllables and there’s my second favorite quality; the unfavourable reaction it elicits.

It’s the UNDOUBTEDLY TRUE stories true that I love to hear.

“You can walk around Cardiff and no one not never speeka da Welsh. It’s the Monty Python’s Parrot of Languages. Honest guv!”

“I went to a cafe and ordered stuff in English but they just looked at me with cold hard Welsh eye of the deepest hatred, and spoke that gibberish of the Welsh to each other.”

“I heard Welsh when I went to Wales once and I’m petrified about returning in case it happens again.”

“I once went to a Pitbull gig, I was a bit late. As soon as I arrived Mr. Worldwide stopped singing in English so he could sing in Welsh.”

In some senses I have sympathy with these UNDOUBTEDLY TRUE stories, I once ordered some food in a cafe.

I had even more sympathy after another visit to a different cafe. I placed my order clearly using the Queen’s English, yes you read that correctly, the QUEEN’S English, but the cafe owner and customers deliberately started speaking Welsh to each other. I remember my thoughts at the time; “This feels a little strange, we’re in Hamburg”.

It’s a shame that people never recount the correct story;

“I once went to this Welsh cafe and the owner briefly ceased his conversation in Welsh to take my order in English because he’s a nice guy.”

Within Llandudno’s infamously fickle Cultural Quarter I am still well known as an attentive wee person in social situations so you can treat the next point with all the deference it deserves;

I’ve noticed that Welsh speakers are not only BILINGUAL they are WILLING TO SPEAK ENGLISH with people that are obviously unable to communicate fluently in Welsh out of a sense of POLITENESS.

You may take from that what you will. I’ll bet that you’re champing at the bit to hear about my favourite quality of Cymraeg.

For me the best thing about Cymraeg is the sole reason that it continues to survive in the 20th century, namely Cymraeg’s ability to deprive Brexit voters of tax. Methods of communication are all fine and well these days but we have to factor in economic value.

DON’T EVEN DOUBT THE VERACITY OF THIS IDEA. SOME TELEVISUAL ATTENTION SEEKERS HAVE CATEGORICALLY STATED THAT CYMRAEG, THAT GIBBERISH OF A DEAD LANGUAGE, DEPRIVES US ALL OF SQUILLIONS IN TAX. SO THERE,

It was a truly beautiful moment when I realised that the people I know had the ability to be a drain upon the economic health of yer hard working Brexit voting payers of tax merely by speaking this Gibberish of a dead language.

After my epiphany I refused to allow logic to sully the beautiful feeling that coursed through me  – I mean how would a reasonably sized government suffer bankruptcy because they employed bilingual staff, bought a bit more paper and added a few more letter for road signs? – I wanted to bask in the beautiful situation. I didn’t even need to research whether Welsh road signs were bigger anyway, I just had to luxuriate.

This beautiful situation allows one to fulminate in the knowledge that one is now more able to deal with our market-driven times. Now I can monetise my family’s ability to speak this Gibberish of a dead language!

Yes, yes, yes!!!!!

In fact my wife and I have been rendered ecstatic by the clear indication that we can now monetise her ability to speak Cymraeg thanks to a grant from Y Senedd’s“Waste of Public Money Fund“.

It’s difficult to take in but my wife isn’t just speaking Gibberish of a dead language any longer she, indeed we, now have a license to print money via a license from the The Nanny State. Result! Cry Huzzah and Hurrah for the Nanny State and Political Correctness!

After a bit of research we have now realised that things are even better. It appears that Y Senedd also offers a massive amount of taxpayer funded largesse from its “The Taxpayer Funded Largesse for Prolonging Dead Languages Fund“. All we need to do is open a rural language school in order to help others monetise their Welsh by passing on the ancient Welsh wisdom of depriving the Nanny State of Public subsidy and Tory voters of their tax.

I’m happy to say that the good news doesn’t stop there. It turns out that we’re also entitled to backdated payments from 1999. Result!, or “Mae Rijkaard wedi Sgorio gol wych hebio Zenga!!” as we say near Rhyl.

We must be careful. Firstly we must avoid the logical path – How does the simple fact that some people use Welsh as the easiest method of communication cost British society £150 million a year? – to let the golden words of televisual attention seekers guide us. Secondly the process of taxpayer funded dead language preservation is a rather tricky business.

It’s such a tricky business that without the right kind of guidance one can lose heart. For example, at some point last week the golden words of a televisual attention seeker on an edition of Newsnight convinced my wife to recant her ability to speak Welsh.

“Dwi ddim yn Heretic!” she said proudly!

I told her not to give up so easily. “Come on baby, don’t give so easily. Be proud that you’re a drain on public finances! Hwyl!”

My Wife realised I was right so she said; Syt gallai I siarad iaith heb Z? Mae’r dyn enlightened ar y teledu yn gywir!

You’ve just heard 15 Welsh words, that’ll be £15.50 please!!!” 

“That’s the spirit”” I said. “Never forget that you and your mates personally cost Brexit voters £150 Million a year! Cofiwch Lille!”

The monetising mission is so seductive that I, a non-Cymraeg speaker, can be at it. Here goes. I have typed “Dwi ddim yn Siarad Cymraeg!” and you have read it so that’s £4.50 that you and all the other hard working Daily Mail payers of tax personally owe me.

Now I have typed “T’yn Hoffi Pel Droed?” and you have also read that. So that’s another £4.70 that you and the rest of the hard working taxpaying Daily Mail payers of tax personally owe me.

Now I have typed “Dwi’n hoffi coffi!!!” and you have read that as well so that’s another £3.60 that you and the rest of you hard working Daily Mail payers of tax personally owe me.

That’ll be £12.90 altogether chief. No cheques or contactless I’m afraid.

To re cap, that’s £14 (Adjusted to include “The Taffy Is A Thief Stealth Tax“) that you and the rest of the hard working Daily Mail payers of tax personally owe me.

“The Welsh” may have to scrape by without a word for entrepreneur but my business acumen and genetic Welsh appetite for public subsidy, means that the hard working Daily Mail reading  payers of tax have to pay me £15 (Adjusted to include Welsh V.A.T) for five minutes work.

From a personal point of view knowing that some people become annoyed when others have the temerity to communicate in an language other than English is a great comfort to me. It reminds me that my sense of Welshness, when allied to my left wing viewpoint, allows me to stand comfortably downwind of Farage et al.

Don’t worry about “The Welsh”, we wear the evident utter disdain of yer Daily Mail’s hard working payers of taxes as a fabulous cape of honour.








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