Friday, August 28, 2015


I get the feeling we`re being softened up by the BBC.  In the last few days and weeks I`ve noticed a concentration of effort in their reporting of issues such as the `migrant crisis.` For example, yesterday we heard the scale of net migration to the UK for the past year - 330,000 is the figure quoted - and they`re just the ones the Government knows about. The BBC`s report suggets, however, that this is a good thing because, according to worthies such as the Institute of Directors, without people coming to work here our economy would collapse.

Other representatives of industry and commerce are peddling the same message - the chap who runs recruitment for the NHS says that nurses should be allowed to come and work here unfettered by restrictive rules because, without them, the care of the elderly and patients in hospital cannot be sustained.

I`ve noticed too that the BBC reports from the Serbia/Hungary border, from Kos, Calais and other key migrant destinations all seem to pull at the heartstrings by emphasising the plight of the migrants  and the awful conditions they find themselves in as they are determined to start a new life in the northern states of Europe.  

Now I do not deny that there`s a problem - a crisis even - and on a human level I have great sympathy for those forced to flee war torn countries and find a better life for themselves.  But there are two sides to every story, of course, and I am still waiting for the BBC to tell us (as if we didn`t know already) what the other side of the coin looks like.

Seems to me the BBC news and current affairs output is institutionally left leaning and thus not fulfilling its duty to be impartial and report a wider, balanced context on most of the big issues of the day.   I quite expect them to come out, quietly but determinedly, and start softening us up for the next great debate - Britain`s relationship with the EU. 

And it may have started already with the BBC recent report that one of the bigwigs running the TATA Steel Group assuring their reporter that Britain voting to leave the EU will be disastrous as we rely so much on the benefits of the common market.  Excuse me, but all those decade ago we agreed ot join the Common Market rather than the Superstate the EU is fast becoming.   I wonder if, one day, the BBC will put the counter argument.

Watch this space.......

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Despite the cartoon, I absolutely promise that I am not about to make light of what has been a truly terrible event. The air accident near Shoreham in Sussex last weekend has claimed the lives of eleven innocent people and left families, friends and the nearby community completely numb.

I have noticed more and more that, in these modern times we live in, tragedies like that give rise to a welter of messages of sympathy largely expressed through what is laughingly described as `social media.`.  So too do the passing of certain people, mainly `celebrities` but also the passing of `ordinary folk.`  For my sins, I do belong to a couple of internet forums, Facebook pages, things like that and I`ve noticed that, as soon as tragedy arrives, there are instantaneous messages from complete strangers.  Quite often they say no more than `RIP.`   And I just wonder whether their motives are borne out of genuine sympathy or perhaps from a desire to be seen to be saying something and thus making themselves feel better. 

If the latter, then it amounts to little more than attention being sought.  At which point it becomes glib, superficial, inadequate, self-indulgent even.  But you can be absolutely certain that when I express my own deepest sympathies to the victims of this terrible event, I do so with genuine feelings for them, their loved ones and all those who have been - and continue to be - caught up in it.   

Just be wary of those who were on the cartoon`s sales course.   And sometimes just saying `RIP` simply won`t do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Just read that Jermain Defoe is going to pay someone £60,000 a year to carry out a range of menial tasks that he can`t be bothered to do for himself.  That`s about what Defoe gets in about three days.   Then the sullen egotist rumoured to manage Chelsea is complaining about his captain, John (the leg-end) Terry, being sent off in the weekend`s game, although this is the same Terry fighting to retain his place in the starting line-up and seemingly going out of fashion for Morinho.

I then heard that Manchester United, not content with unsettling Saints` very own pacey flanker, Sadio Mane, and snaffling Saints` defensive midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, are reportedly to offer £240million for Brazilian international Neymar if they can`t prize ex-Saint Gareth Bale away from Real Madrid.  The arrogance is breathtaking but sadly typical for them.  At the last count, Neymar became the 103rd player linked with a move to Old Trafford in this transfer window so it`s entirely possible that he won`t get a game.

It all adds to the nonsense, the unthinking excess, the pantomime fantasy world of the self-styled Best League in the World (tm) and I begin to wonder for how long it can be sustained before genuine supporters, razor blade buyers and television subscribers have had enough.

And to cap it all, the BBC have recruited `Big` Sam Allardyce, who has all the charm of a charging rhinoceros, to give us the benefit if his neolithic insights as a pundit on Match of the Day.   The Premier League has only been going for a couple of weeks and already it`s no wonder that my heart sinks.

Monday, August 24, 2015


The picture shows BBC weather lady, Carol Kirkwood, either hearing the news that she has been pitchforked into Strictly Come Dancing or that the Met. Office have lost the contract to supply weather forecasts to the BBC.  Instead, the BBC are putting the service out to tender with a hint of delicious irony.  They claim that the move is being made so as to guarantee `value for money` which would be fine, were it not for the fact that they have more management layers than you would find in a mille feuille as well as high altitude salaries and expenses both internally and to `talent.`

Now if they are genuine in their search for `value for money` for the licence payers, maybe they should look at other areas than might be ripe for tendering.   For example, the burgeoning number of regional programmes - both TV and radio.  At the last count there were 15 separate regional television stations in England alone and an extraordinary 48 local BBC radio stations.   

Now I must confess to watching about three of the 15 TV stations - South East Today, `cos that`s where I live;  South Today to keep tabs on Southampton FC; and BBC Spotlight, the regional channel for the south west, where I have vested interests.  And I`ve noticed that they all have their cast of news and weather presenters, their Political Editors, their Environment correspondents; Sports sections, Social Affairs persons, Education correspondents and on and on it goes - they all seem to mirror the main BBC News channels, so I guess the whole of the BBC News output could do with some `value for money` examination.

It will be interesting to see what the change from Met Office forecasts brings.  I imagine the weather itself will be whatever it will be, but the presentation might be very different.  I can see announcements such as, "And now for the weather, brought to you by Ryan Airways."    Or the next spell of cold and frosty weather will be sponsored by Snuggles Duvets.  

As for Carol and her chums, well there are loads of them scattered across the 15 regional channels as well as in Salford and I wish them no harm in this process, but there is always Strictly Come Dancing, The Voice, Britain`s Got Talent, Bargain Hunt and Big Brother to turn to.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015


1948 looms large in the depths of my memory.  War had not long ended, rationing was still in force, the winter before had been one of the longest, coldest and snowiest even on the south coast of England.   I was nine years old and in those pre-television days (for us at least) my boyhood heroes were captured through newspapers and the good old fashioned steam radio.   And in the 1948 cricket season there was no shortage of heroes; only problem was that most of them were Australian.

The picture shows `Bradman`s Invincibles,` who toured England in 1948 and were arguably the strongest, most complete cricket team ever. And even if you make allowances for England having staggered out of wartime, the Aussie touring team of that year not only beat all before them but, in some cases, played a completely different game to their hapless opponents. 

Perhaps the best illustration is their annihilation of the Essex team at Southend in May of that year.   Batting first, the Australians scored 721 runs in a day (Brown 153; Bradman 187; Loxton 120; Saggers 104....and on and on it went.)  In reply, Essex were all out for 83 in their first innings (Toshack 5-31) and all out for 187 in the second (Johnson 6-37.) There were two notable absentees from the Australian team that day - one playing, the other not.   The playing absentee was Keith Miller who, witnessing the carnage all around him and wanting no part of it, lifted his bat from the first straight ball he received and was bowled without troubling the scorers. 

The other, real absentee that day was Arthur Morris and I was saddened to learn that he died a couple of days ago at the age of 93, marked by the current Australian team wearing black armbands at The Oval Test.  Arthur (they had names like Arthur in those days) was a key member of the Australian team and one of his country`s finest opening batsmen, scoring 3,533 runs in 46 Tests, averaging 46.48.   He was the leading run scorer on the 1948 tour, and scored 196 in the final Test at The Oval - his innings being overshadowed by Bradman`s duck in his farewell innings, thus denying himself the remarkable feat of retiring with a Test Match average of 100.

And so another of the Invincibles  has left us and now there is only Neil Harvey, at the age of 86, remaining from that 1948 touring party.   And whilst it marks the departure of yet another of my boyhood heroes, it also brings back lingering, wistful memories of that year and those far away formative times.  It was, of course, a different age, a time of real austerity, a time when nine year old boys growing up in a small village learned respect and where acceptable boundaries were clearly defined.   Arthur Morris was universally respected not just for his cricketing prowess but also for simply being a  true gentleman of the game of cricket and the game of life.  And even though England have regained the Ashes, it would be remiss not to pay tribute to one of the Australian heroes of the past.   

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


I admit to knowing very little about politics and I have never joined any political party; neither am I likely to with the possible exception of the Football Party or, at a push, Mebyon Kernow.   But it`s hard not to get interested in the contest for the leadership of what`s left of the Labour Party.  I suspect that what troubles me most about it - and which we keep hearing - is that whoever wins will lead Her Majesty`s Loyal Opposition in Parliament and, as such and in theory at least, become a potential Prime Minister.

So, what are the choices?  Well, taking them in the order of the photo above, first there`s Liz Kendall.  She seems very well educated (Queens College, Cambridge and all that) and has five years experience as an MP.  Seems a nice lady but I`m left, unfairly I`m sure, with the impression that she should be back at home doing the ironing rather than pursuing the self delusion that one day she might be Prime Minister.  Maybe it`s significant that until the recent General Election she was `in a relationship` with a Welsh stand up comedian.

Yvette Cooper worries me.  She is really Mrs. Balls but chooses not to use her married name, presumably in a desperate attempt to distance herself, at least professionally, from Ed Balls, recent shadow Chancellor and who can blame her?.   Yvette is desperately intense and, despite her Cambridge and Harvard education, gives the impression of a startled chicken caught in the headlights of her own self importance.  

There`s a lot of angst about the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn actually winning the leadership contest.  There`s almost panic in the air that a democratic process might produce the wrong result but I get the feeling that at least he is perfectly genuine and consistent in his beliefs and maybe that`s what scares the pants off his opponents who may find such qualities to be quite alien.

Andy Burnham seems to be the ultimate chancer - involved in so many things, so many causes, so many populist campaigns that it`s difficult to detect whether he really stands for anything in particular or simply blows with the wind - "happy to have Jeremy in my team," he says..   Anyway, he`s an Everton fan and I don`t like Everton, who stuffed the Saints 3-0 on Saturday.

So it`s all a bit depressing really, especially when we need a good, strong, credible Opposition to provide a serious counterpoint to the rampant Tory Government.  I`m not sure we`ll get that with any of the candidates on offer.  Must try harder.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Had a late night staying up to watch the end of the PGA Golf Championship from somewhere called Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.   It was eventually won by Aussie Jason Day who became the first player in the history of the game to win a major tournament with a score of 20 under par.  Good for him.  And it`s impossible to deny the talent of players like him, their mental toughness, composure under pressure and towering skill overcoming a course that, if golf wasn`t hard enough to begin with, was rather silly for its plethora of bunkers, tight lines and awkward targets.

And whilst all the attention was given to Day, Spieth, Rose and the other contenders for the prize, I found myself perhaps more interested in those players who really did struggle. I know all about struggling round golf courses - I`ve been doing it for years and it doesn`t seem to get any better.   So I`ve trawled the details of the scores returned by all the players who took part in the PGA Championship and found the kind of comfort I can never find by watching the leader board.  

I discovered that amongst those who `failed to make the cut` were two gentlemen who each ended their two rounds on 169 - no less than 25 shots over par.  Alan Morin returned scores of 87 and 82 whilst Ryan B Kennedy notched up a 79 followed by a spectacular 90 which included a 9 on one of the par threes.  I do that quite often.

Now I no nothing of their circumstances but I do think they deserve the thanks and admiration of hackers like me who, to be fair, would jump at the chance of returning scores like that, especially on a course as silly as the one in Wisconsin.   Just once or twice over so many years I have got below 90 which was something of a triumph and so it was encouraging to discover that it`s not just me then.

The quotation above from the sainted Seve just about says it all really.