Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A Review Of The Year - 2010

The human perception of time is a strange phenomenon. Looking back over the past year, it seems like aeons ago when we celebrated the turn of the new year, and looked forward to 2010 being somewhat better than the total rubbish that was 2009. So much has changed since then. Not least the abolition of optimism.


It seems incredible now, but back in January the nation was covered in snow, airports were closed, and even the replacement bus service between Ilford and Braintree was struggling to negotiate mini roundabouts. And look at us now. How far we have come. Er, covered in snow, flightless and trainless, and blaming the Government for not stocking up on their grit supplies. 'Twas ever thus.


The General Election campaign began in earnest, and to be quite frank, bored most of us to tears and/or bigotry. We all knew Gordon Brown was about as popular as a fart in the confessional booth, but we also knew that David Cameron only had to turn up in order to win. Provided they didn't do anything mindnumbingly stupid, like (say) order a massively expensive run of posters that were too easily satirised, an overwhelming Tory majority was pretty much nailed on.

Conservatives and right-wingers often like to tell us that Government is useless, while they rapidly dismantle the state's ability to support its most vulnerable citizens. And this lot were so keen to prove that point, they couldn't even wait to be elected to show just how useless they were. The lies and personal abuse reached levels that only residents of Alaska wouldn't be shocked at, and the Tories' number 2 man George Osborne seemed to go missing down a Chilean mine for several months, in the hope that people might not realise he would imminently be running one of the world's largest economies. Off the edge of a cliff.


The world turned. Stuff happened. Nick Clegg was still, back then, an anonymous posh man that most people had never heard of. Greece still had an economy, and English fans generally still believed we had a chance of winning the World Cup.

Me, I blogged matters canine in a vain and fruitless attempt to gain more hits. I have no shame. Or talent, to be fair.


Three explosive events captured the world's attention over the space of just one week. On April 14, newsreaders across the nation cursed their luck and came into work an hour early to practise pronouncing Eyjafjallajökull. On April 20, BP executives around the world cashed in their shares as Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing eleven workers and making the Gulf of Mexico the world's second oiliest entity, after George Osborne's personality.

[I never thought I'd use the the word "personality" so close to the words "George Osborne". Never let it be said that blogging doesn't introduce you to all sorts of new and unforeseen experiences.]

I said three explosive events. Of course the third, and by far the most inane (and therefore the only one of the three that I blogged), was the first in a series of three leaders' debates in the UK general election campaign. (It was three, wasn't it? I honestly can't remember now. Nor do I care.)


And finally, with a sigh and a whimper, it was over. Gordon Brown returned to Fife, and the evolution of Nick Clegg's short political career from zero to hero to villain began in earnest. It all began so well. It's difficult to believe, now, but back then the phrase "I agree with Nick" was so popular that some people actually discovered who Nick Clegg was. Then the election happened; the Tories snatched a best-loser position from the jaws of an easy victory; and one sunny day two well-scrubbed former public schoolboys joshed happily in the garden of 10 Downing Street. The electorate outside looked from Liberal to Tory, and from Tory to Liberal, and from Liberal to Tory again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.


The world watched in awe, amazement and ennui as a collection of highly paid men in brightly coloured shirts kicked a leather ball to the soundtrack of a swarm of angry bees. Yes, it was time once again for the quadrennial ritual of British tabloids printing bizarre xenophobic chest-beating articles about how "our boys" would thrash the mighty Hun, followed shortly by "our boys" being righteously thrashed and humiliated by, er, the mighty Hun.

In retrospect, I believe this is also the only month of 2010 which didn't involve the wrong kind of snow falling on the Southend Victoria to London Liverpool Street line. Although I may be wrong.


Was there a July this year? Are you sure? Can't say as I noticed. It just goes to show - if you didn't blog it, it didn't happen.

Oh yes, one thing did happen of some note. Wikileaks - you may have heard of them - published the Afghan War Logs, simultaneously scoring a major coup for free speech and openness, and also proving what we already knew: that we are losing the war. Somewhere just across the border in Pakistan, an old man with dodgy kidneys pissed himself laughing.


Actually, I'm beginning to wonder whether I was in a coma this summer. Apart from a short holiday, I can't remember a single thing about August. Not a thing.

I'd like to think that, while I wasn't watching, the new coalition Government finally decided to properly regulate the banks, that Simon Cowell was imprisoned for crimes against humanity, and that a keyboard-playing cat was elected Prime Minister of Italy. At least one of these events will probably happen in 2011. Yes, it's the cat one. But you knew that didn't you.

What actually appears to have happened - according to a short and decidedly lazy bit of research on my part - is the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Lungwort Wells. Now I'm beginning to wish I had paid more attention.


The year, rather like this blog post, limped wearily into its latter stages. The actor Tony Curtis died, triggering the first of two occasions this year when Twitter was dominated by the #IAmSpartacus hashtag. Showing FIFA how it's done, Britain staged the Bognor Birdman Competition and the World Gurning Championships in short order, and without a vuvuzela in sight.

Elsewhere, 33 Chileans went to hitherto unseen lengths to avoid having to watch the X Factor.


The Chilean miners re-emerged in designer sunglasses to cheers from around the world. Incredibly, there was some good news on the telly for once. Right in between reports about natural disasters in countries that Americans can't find on a map, and reports about the disappearance of the British welfare state. And manufacturing economy. And money.

In other news, I turned 42. Much gin was consumed. Canny hedge fund managers could have made a small fortune on the temporary shortage of Bombay Sapphire.


Are you still there? Good. Not long now.

What a cracking month November was. Aung San Suu Kyi was finally released from house arrest in time to watch England's surprisingly competent start to the Ashes series. Apparently she had some other business to attend to, but I can't remember now what that was. Something to do with dictatorship and genocide. Details.

Researchers at CERN trapped antimatter for the first time in human history, unless you count the accidental meeting of the Lib Dems' manifesto with the harsh glare of reality. In homage to the Prime Minister and his old Bullingdon chums, thousands of students converged on London to trash the gaff. Amazingly, this time no newspaper vendors were killed.


Don't ask me. Look out the bleedin' window.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Too Many Blacks

Last week the inevitable happened - England failed in their bid to host the World Cup in 2018. Far more interesting than the story of the bid, though, is the story of the post-bid recriminations.

Since the Panorama broadcast which highlighted FIFA corruption, just before FIFA's decision was announced, it is hardly surprising that most of the blame has been directed at FIFA as their apparent corruption has been exposed - although, more shamefully, some have blamed the BBC for daring to broadcast their allegations at such an inconvenient time. How dare they? Without going into this well-trodden debate too deeply, suffice to say that I would far prefer a free press to a World Cup.

For me, though, there was one angle on the bid failure that almost all news outlets failed to pick up on. All but one - the Daily Mail.

In a quite extraordinary article entitled "Was this the video that cost us? The very un-English presentation screened to FIFA delegates", the blackshirts' favourite daily (through the medium of the hopefully-made-up "Paul Harris") decided that the bid failure was entirely down to - you guessed it - Political Correctness Gawn Mad.

In an article peppered with sarcasm, and liberally sprinkled with screengrabs from the England 2018 bid video (one hilariously subtitled "A clip from the part of the video depicting a Muslim country" - gasp! Muslims! RUN!!), the Daily Fail employs the usual code, not quite racist enough to prompt a complaint but plenty racist enough to make most sane people feel ill.

This, remember, is the same paper that arguably started the process of the bid failure by exposing Lord Triesman's affair (and his off-the-record allegations of bid corruption) some six months ago - including this classic pair of 'articles' praising Lord Triesman's mistress and pointing out TWICE that it is not hard to see why he might find her "ivory skin" alluring. God forbid that a man might fancy a girl with some colour.

They didn't even bother trying to rewrite the sentence:

The woman who cost Football Association chief Lord Triesman his job is revealed as a flame-haired 37-year-old with an impressive academic background.

As the Labour peer reflects on his speedy exit it is not hard to see why a man of 66 might find Melissa Jacobs with her slim physique and ivory skin alluring.


It's not hard to see why a man of 66 might find Melissa Jacobs attractive.

With flowing flame red hair, a slim physique and ivory skin, she looks younger than her 37 years and has, it seems, an impressive academic background to boot.

Note to journalism students - clearly if your work to date comprises lazy stereotypes, and liberal use of copy/paste, there's a career out there for you somewhere.

So. Anyway. Back to the bid, and why it failed. It's not so much the article itself that is staggering - although it is, particularly with quotes like:

Selfless, that's us. Doing it for the greater good of the world. You could see it in the faces the film featured from locations all around the planet.

They've got the wrong kind of faces, you see. That's the problem. We failed because we used "ethnically diverse figures" (ie black people), or "African and Asian spectators" (ie black people), featuring fans including a "Caribbean family" (ie black people). To be fair they also point out that "close-ups of the players further underline the multinational diversity of our favourite Premiership icons" (yes, it seems even the team itself has been infiltrated by... black people). Terrifying, isn't it.

Well... no. No, it isn't. Not as terrifying as some of the comments, anyway. Here is a selection.

Britain has "multiculturalism" and is frightened to death of "offending" anyone.
- But at least we're not frightened of "superfluous punctuation".

Silly me thinking England was predominantly a white, christian country. Shows How wrong I was then.
- Or, perhaps, it just shows how racist and intolerant you are. Silly you indeed.

How disgusting that whoever organied this shambles of a bid chose not to portray England as English.
- Did we portray England as Fijian? I missed that bit.

Of course the good thing about losing the bid is that we wont have thousands of "spectators" claiming asylum.
- The bad thing is, you already live here.

The way we are going England is going to look like that before too long anyway.
- Yes, that's right. Because THEY breed, don't they.

Until the english start having some pride in Englishness instead of constantly living their lives through the cultures of other ethnic and national groups, they are simply not going to get themselfs out of the social malaise they're trapped in.
- This from a reader in, er, New Zealand.

Dear oh dear. We seem determined to PC ourselves out of existence.
- I think this one was looking for an IT helpline.

Maybe if England had done more to promote the Englishness of football and a little less multicultural ribbish theyd hVe had a better chance. Sucking up being all PC obviously failed miserably
- And this from a reader who loves England so much he lives in, um, Canada. Where apparently they say 'ribbish' a lot.

Once again, an example of how we are too scared to celebrate our national identity for fear that the PC brigade will come along and moan that there are not enough different cultures and minorities represented.
- Now I'm getting images of the PC Brigade, sort of like the Light Brigade, but with black people instead of horses.

This is the problem with multi culturalism...everyone loses their identity amidst the racial and cultural mash.....
- Bloody hell, even the potatoes are multicultural.

toe curlingly embarrassing, the insincere simpering and whimpering, the extraordinary, and weird obsession that this country has developed for multiculture
- Yes, it's us that's obsessed with multiculture isn't it. Yes.

Our heritage has been sold down the river, what remains is a hotchpotch that few people feel any connection with. England I am afraid is dead and soon even its history will be rewritten!
- Branching out from a World Cup bid to a complete rewrite of the school history curriculum. Because of these fools, we lost at Agincourt and Waterloo.

In this film Britain looks like a foreign country, which increasiingly it seems to be
- Based on last week, that foreign country is Greenland. Brrr.

It makes me feel sick to the stomach when we have this 'multicultural' rubbish rubbed in our faces. We should stick to traditional values and celebrate our heritage.
- Yeah! We want traditional values! Like xenophobia! And bigotry! Yay!

Final proof our identity, heritage and history have been whittled away!!
- You read it here first, people - England is now just a sharpened stick.

I want to see a video of GB, not Africa!! It's about football!! Not multiculturalism!!
- No!! It's about exclamation marks!! Lots!! Of!! Them!!

We are hardly the country we used to be. We have been watered down to much by uncontrolled immigration and folks wanting asylum.
- Ah yes, the purity of our gene pool, watered down by... oh I can't be bothered.

Typical. Hijacked by the PC loony left multiculturalists.
- Loony left? Who, exactly? David Cameron?

This country is dying because of its own generosity. Anyone can come here, be what they like, pray how they like, behave how they like.....no worries, the natives will pay, the natives will tolerate. It doesn't surprise me that our promotional video was full of foreigners; even if it had only been filmed in England it would still have been full of foreigners. Did I say this country was dying? yes, we had an Empire but it was largely taking good things to the world.
- I don't know where to start with how wrong this statement is. I just hope this person doesn't live near me.

well i am pleased, it will keep some of the scum of the world trying to get here more easier on the back of being a football supporter.
- Er, I'm pretty sure we've got plenty of our own scum right here...

And my personal favourite:

Well done Daily Mail for having the courage to speak up and say the things the silent majority are thinking!. It's about time we took pride in OUR culture for once.

If only Diana were here to see what this nation has become. What would she say?

Now, ask yourself. Honestly. Do you want to host a World Cup, and find people like this welcoming fans and players from around the world (ie black people)? Neither do I.

Disappointed kids wondering what Diana would say