Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This weather is both a gift and a curse. As a country and a nation we are obsessed by the weather, and the weather, for us, never gets it right! In the winter the weather is too cold, or too wet and now, in the summer it is too hot.

However it has got me to thinking a bit more firmer about any possible holiday plans. I am still very excited about going on a holiday/possible road trip to Ireland by car rental Dublin. Not sure of the exact date, maybe this year in September, but with the weather like this in June and Ireland usually cooler and breezier I may try and go either earlier this year or a similar time next. However, it also depends on the calendar of events happening at the time, friend availability and various other factors. There is Rally Ireland to consider as well, so I may be planning a little while longer, sheltered under damp towel, drinking ice cold water while my computer struggles with its poor fan to cope with the heat-my desktop weather centre reporting 26 degrees C! Apparently that is not the peak for the week though!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I have been reading about Adam Carroll’s A1GP success and I am fervently hoping that he will be one of the beneficiaries of the increase in teams on the F1 grid for next year. The inclusion of Manor for example raises intriguing possibilities for the Irish ace, as a new team may be more inclined to take on his undoubted talent. On the other hand, if Nico Rosberg’s proposed move to BMW goes ahead Williams would seem an ideal match for the 26 year old from Portadown. The news and possibilities have also reminded me of getting back to planning my trip to Ireland with its plan to visit a variety of towns and sites along the way, making a road trip style itinerary by car rental, Ireland. Still unsure when to go as yet, as a motorsport fan other considerations are also on the horizon……

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Fever Pitch

(With apologies to Nick Hornby)

Football is boiling over; the frenetic stories of the last few weeks threaten to drown the few lights of decency in football. Men like Sir Trevor Brooking, Ryan Giggs (a true one club player and a legend with it). Men of their word, like Gianfranco Zola who famously turned down Roman Abramovich to honour a promise with his hometown club of Cagliari. Men such as Guus Hiddink, who despite considerable pressure, both in the bitter aftermath of the Champions League semi-final second leg and in the face of widespread chanting to stay, kept his dignity and his word.

Then there is the other side of modern football, well, top-flight football. The side of football particularly evidenced at this time of year, in the money sloshed around in transfer fees and player wages. The long running Tevez saga, for example, which to my mind should have been resolved by FIFA and very simply too by stating all players can only be registered to clubs and not individuals or agencies.

The ‘supposed’ bidding war, denied by all parties, between Chelsea and Real Madrid for the services of AC Milan’s Kaka. A war that inflated his price to around £70m. This following the January nonsense involving the same player and Manchester City with a figure in the £100m bracket. On that occasion Kaka said he could not leave AC Milan, particularly because of the fans. Really? Or, having heard some of the ludicrous and surely made up demands of his advisory team (led by his father, Bosco Leite), including a whopping 10m plus euro commission for his father, was it a case that certain elements felt they would not get enough slice in their cake?

The side of football that means players like Cristiano Ronaldo, however great he is with a football, state with no sense of humility, remorse or irony that as a special player he would be worthy of being in any such £100m plus transfer bracket. At a time when the average football attending Premier League fan is being credit crunched, finding it increasingly hard to keep going to matches at home, let alone away.

Astonishingly look at the figures again and read something else. Newcastle, recently relegated, owned by Mike Ashley who is looking to sell the club, supported by over 50,000 passionate fans at St James’ Park every other week, for between £100m-£150m. Or one and a half Cristiano Ronaldos in other words.

Is this still making any sense to people out there? We have had the scandals of Westminster, of the banking system, but the way football is going, we have already surpassed the sums of MP’s expenses and are supercharging our way to bank loss proportions.

Compare this to Formula One. A sport that is usually derided by non fans for being a playboy's playground, a rich man's paradise, an expensive hobby past its sell by date. A sport actively trying to work out a way to move forward in the current economic climate and reduce spending. The teams spat out their dummies, baulking at the prospect of an immediate budget cap of around £40m. £40m!!!! Bear in mind that although engine costs, driver pay, marketing and hospitality, as well as any fines and penalties meted out by the FIA were not included, this figure was still to run a two-car team operation for an entire year. That is almost half a Kaka in current football transfer market conditions. No wonder the teams wanted it raised or introduced incrementally among other issues.

I could go on with the way money is making football turn ugly, about the nightclubs, the punch-ups, the hangers on and the imbecilic behaviour of players in their teens and early twenties given riches, beyond even some millionaires’ (who worked a lifetime to earn it) dreams, in an instant. I won’t though. I am too bewildered and bothered but through the deluge of banknotes I can see a way out. I have set myself my own get out clause in my love of football.

It will pain me, because I love the game so, but like a relationship gone wrong the game is turning into something I don’t like. The game on the pitch is arguably better than ever at seducing me, but off the pitch football is committing behaviour akin to abuse, battering me over the head with ugly stories. UEFA were concerned about Didier Drogba’s behaviour after the Champions League semi-final second leg and rightly so, but if they really wanted to repair football’s fraying image, they need to coordinate with FIFA and set a transfer cap and a budget cap for all teams as well as an overall salary cap for teams.

My get out clause? The first £100m player and or £200,000 a week player. That will be my straw, on my arthritic camel's back.

(Images courtesy of Fabbio and Shareski, flickr users)

My Dilemma……

……was whether to vote at all and if so which way to cast my vote. At every local and general election that I have been able to, I have voted yet this time I did not know whether to use it. Usually I have exercised the right to vote, partly because it is a right that took a lot of blood and tears to be won. Partly because it is as Rousseau alluded the one time when we are truly free: “The people of England thinks itself free; but it is free only during the parliamentary elections. As soon as they are over, slavery overtakes them, and they are nothing. The use they make of the brief moments of liberty shows indeed that it deserves to lose it.”

How else are we to explain the fact that one of the most rotten governments and indeed parliaments still sits while the public was raging at the scandal of expenses?

A scandal which, this needs reiterating, engulfs all parties. One which seeing everyone scrambling to show how ‘honest’ they are. Labour and Gordon Brown are keen to argue that as they are in Government they can best put a system in place to prevent this happening again. Fixing the system. Lets leave aside for a minute the system, as worded, is actually fine and rather it is the individual MP’s own sense of moral propriety. Sadly it seems a fairly large number seem to have a very low sense of propriety.

To add to the mix, Hazel Blears one of the major examples of playing the system lottery, resigned in a move calculated to cause maximum damage to her mortal enemy Gordon Brown. There are yet more cabinet resignations with James Purnell’s departure this evening. The results of the elections will surely finish Gordon Brown.

However, I give a warning to Blears, Purnell et al in the Labour Party. Be careful what you wish for. In my mind, while I acknowledge we have a PARTY system and not a PRESIDENTIAL system and thus it is parties, which ultimately choose the Prime Minister (the leader of the winning party), not the public, two changes of PM without a general election is unthinkable. An election now is the worst thing for the country and will be a disaster for Labour. Seen as self-serving, torn by division, the only thing Labour will get is a hammering in the polls. A rampant Conservative government would be installed with a large majority and the whole swing from one elective dictatorship to another will begin anew. Not what the country needs; over emboldened governments faced by feeble oppositions.

,Labour should be trying to get to the set election date. By then, they might have some good news on which to fight a rearguard action. They will lose the next election. That is certain. However, an election fought with some economic recovery, due towards the end of the election cycle could enable Labour to rally to a stronger opposition hand than if they go now. Blears and Purnell are just committing acts of reckless treachery, acts that I hope will be rectified at the next general election. As for my vote? I exercised my right and looking at the carnage of this evening I am glad I did.

Investigating my possible future trip to Ireland I have been looking at other items to add to the itinerary, particularly if I do decide to use car hire Ireland to take in more than one city at a time. Interestingly, there is an exhibition in Dublin at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Kilmainham, Dublin from the 6th June to September showcasing the work of British artist Lucian Freud. I think it is probably too short notice to go this month though, would be nice to go with a large group of friends, but also this month is a festival celebrating James Joyce and his classis Ulysses, on 16th June at Sandycove, Dublin.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I have been thinking of the Emerald Isle for a few weeks now, having last visited quite a few years ago. Last time I visited I took in the eclectic mix that Dublin has to offer. I paid the usual tourist dues of visiting Temple Bar but also took the chance to have a look at the grandeur of Dublin University, particularly Trinity College. Mind you, I had a great local tour guide, a Cork lass who had moved to Dublin. This has influenced my thoughts on planning a trip, seeing that quite a few Irish greats hail from Cork, Roy Keane and Cillian Murphy among them. The idea is to fly to Dublin, revisiting Temple Bar in particular, get a car from Car Hire Dublin and drive down to Cork to see the sights the city has to offer including The English Market

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    Under rigorous examination I suppose I am a considerate, intelligent, humorous type of person