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This That & The Other

January 20, 2012

Photos of our Ste climbing Tryfan taken From Swine’s sista ‘Magnetic Northerners’ (magneticnortherners.wordpress.com)

This – Jah 31?

I passed the poster on Leece Street and thought it said Jah 31. Was this this some kind of obscure rasta prophecy, like When Two Sevens Clash? On further inspection, it didn’t say Jah 31 at all and the black woman featured on the poster wasn’t Rita Marley but Moira Stewart. Moira was on the ‘n’ of the last letter making it appear like an ‘h’. The poster wasn’t an apocalyptic prediction of the end of days, Babylon, revelations, the four horsemen or any of that Biblical hoodoo voodoo nonsense but a demand from the Inland Revenue for all self-assessment tax forms to be returned by the last day of the month.

Moira wasn’t Burning Spear or even Eddie Grant but the tax man’s bitch, her kindly face disguising this corrupt branch of central government’s increasingly draconian pursuit of the small-time self-employed. Never mind their backhanders and sweeteners for Big Business, their secret deals with Goldman Sachs to waive paying interest worth 20 million on their tax bill, their failure to pursue billions of pounds held in offshore accounts, their cosy scams with banks and the city. No, Moira’s smiling face is aimed at taxi drivers, plumbers, hairdressers, builders, cleaners and Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs wants it’s slice of your earnings.

Never mind that the Queen herself only began stumping up tax on her vast fortune in 1993 and still benefits from various loopholes to avoid paying her full wack on stolen lands and bogus ‘earnings.’ No, the message is the same as it ever was; one rule for the super rich and an another for the rest of us. Milliband says he wants ‘Responsible Capitalism’ whereas Cameron states he wants ‘Moral Capitalism’ as if capitalism itself obeys these human rules and codes.

Capitalism isn’t a sentient being, it isn’t even an ism at all, neither a philosophy nor a science, just a fancy word for ‘greed.’ As such can’t be constrained by abstract notions such as responsibility and morality and what is responsible and moral to some people, Sir Fred Goodwin for example, certainly won’t be to other people, especially the very politicians who cynically diguise their own greed and self-interest behind sophistry and spin. Jah 31? Maybe it’s time for the four horsemen after all.

That – Up For The Cup?

The FA Cup draw has now given ITV viewers some juicy ties; the Manchester derby in the last round has now been followed by a United v Liverpool tie and to those of us who regard Harvey Keitel’s character in The Bad Lieutenant as a role model, this tie smacked of a fix. OK, those days of excitement over the hand rummaging around for balls by Trevor Brooking or some other ‘model professional’ before being handed to David Davies or Burt Millichip may now seem laughably anachronstic but the ‘luck of the draw’ seems to be benefit tv sponsors desperate for big name games.

The FA Cup has gone the way of the old League Cup, no matter how much hype the BBC, ITV and other broadcasters apply to their marketing. When we were kids FA Cup final day was a momentous occassion, no matter who was playing but these days there’s only one game in town; the Champions League. Even the league itself is now just a second tier trophy, a minor league that leads the top four to the real deal. If you win, great, second, OK, third, great, fourth, brilliant, fifth? Fifth is nowhere. The FA Cup and the second fiddle Europa League may be a consolation prize that appease the fans but the directors and the shareholders only want one thing; Champions League football.

The recent Real Madrid v Barcelona game underlined that we are living through perhaps the finest era of club football in history. Never have there been more truly great players drawn from as many countries playing the game. However, they are all playing for perhaps the same 15 or so top European clubs. If they’re not, then they’re not truly world class which is why The Champions League or a future format will outlast the increasingly poor international tournments.

The European Championships, Spain and Germany apart, offer a very poor substitute for Champions League football and the laughable World Cup is now like a series of The X-Factor, complete with self-deluded, talentless fools (like England), mentally ill no hopers (fill your own in!) and a handful of truly talented performers. Swine welcomes this as internationalists and lovers of quality football. Give me Barca over Brazil or AC over Argentina any day.

Even City, I have to admit, are a great team to watch these days, perhaps second only to Barca in terms of the technical brilliance of their squad. They may well win the league this season, indeed with the money they’ve spent, it’d be shameful if they didn’t yet in the grand scheme of things their early exit to Napoli in the Champions League will mark the entire season as a disappointment, a failure even. The rows and rows of empty seats at most televised FA Cup games prove that the lure of this ‘grand old lady’ of cup competitions needs a trip to the Dignitas clinic.

The Other – Third Reich Ramblers

The Third Reich Rambler look seems to have still got hairy Aryan legs judging by the number of bearded, Scotty Parker sweded, expensively anokorked, half-mast kecked, Redwinged up 30/40 somethings I’ve passed in the last week or two. Best line I’ve heard for a while was a typical scouse ‘grafter’ type shouting to the shop assistant stood in front of me on the down escalator in TK’s ‘where are the shorts girl?’ ‘There down here’ she replies and he retorts ‘Is it easy to shoplift in here?’ Obviously on his way to Puerto Banus or somehwere as it was freezing outside. If you’re not sure what I mean by a Third reich Rambler, here’s a piece I’ve done for Tony Teasdale’s excellent ‘Umbrella’ ezine.

http://issuu.com/umbrellamagazine/docs/low#embed (P18 – Searching For The Young Dole Rebels)

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