Wednesday, May 06, 2015

THE END OF THE LINE ?..

It comes to us all, I guess, and it certainly seems to be coming to my computer.   It has had `issues` for a long time now and I have learned much about how to repair it, keep it going, understanding its problems and its quirks and so far I have managed to extend its useful life beyond what I could reasonably have expected.

But now I fear the end is nigh.  Yesterday, for example, it was `unable to start` on at least three occasions and today it`s the same - I am able to write this after a good hour of patience until it finally crawled into sufficient life for me to use it - but we just can`t go on like this.  I`ve tried, my God I`ve tried.  I`ve used threats, cajoling, inducements, promises of a better life, all to no avail.   After all these years and having been through so much together I just feel that its time has come.

It will be with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to what has been a staunch friend for more years than I care to remember but the time has come for me to invest in a new, more modern up to date replacement, which will not be easy for an elderly pensioner struggling to survive on a fixed income in these harsh economic times, but I`ll see what I can do.   It might take a while though, so forgive me if I am absent from these pages for a while. 


Monday, May 04, 2015


UPWARDS AND ONWARDS..

As yet another footy season nears the end of its useful life, there are still a few things unresolved to grab the attention - Premier League relegation issues, places in European competitions, play-off finals and the FA Cup final.   But it is in the `lower` leagues of English football that romance can still be found as a refreshing antidote to the rampant commercialism of the Premier League `product.`   

And this afternoon, the season finale for one of the teams I follow drew to a triumphant conclusion, as Truro City gained promotion back to the Conference South (to be renamed National League South, I believe) following their 1-0 win over St. Neots Town in front of a 1450 crowd at Trelew Road.   It`s a welcome return to the higher level for Truro and richly deserved not only for their outstanding season but also for the sheer logistical effort involved in sustaining the west Cornwall club over a long campaign. 

Their return to the Conference South will inevitably involve yet more heroic travels to such places as Hemel Hampstead, Chelmsford in Essex, St. Albans and Eastbourne in East Sussex - the latter involving a mere 560 miles round trip from Cornwall.   But they will have a couple of local derbies - Bath City will only involve a 380 miles round trip whilst their visit to Weston-super-Mare involves a paltry 300.   Perhaps their longest journey will be when they visit newly promoted Maidstone United, just down the road here in Kent which will put the thick end of 600 miles on the clock.   To be fair, the 100 travelling St. Neots fans today had a round journey of 650 miles and long journeys are the same for all the teams who have to visit Cornwall`s capital city.


I`m full of admiration for Truro City Football Club, their players, staff and especially their supporters, not just because it`s Cornwall but also for the effort and commitment required to be as successful as they are.   Not for them the luxury travel of the Premier League but instead a hard slog each and every time they have to play away from Trelew Road.   Their upward progression will also bring yet more hours of onward travel all in pursuit of a heroic sporting cause.   I wish them well.

Saturday, May 02, 2015


A DAY TO REMEMBER..


Joy unconfined as another memorable day in the annals of the country is marked by wild celebrations, fanfares and grateful thanks.   Dancing in the streets, street parties, banners unfurled, flags and buntings decorate the streets as the importance of this very, very special event begins to seep into the consciousness of the joyous crowds.

Yes, folks, today marks the 39th anniversary of Southampton beating the northern scourge of Manchester United by a single goal at Wembley to claim the FA Cup.   I was fortunate enough to be there on that day, watching the sadly departed Bobby Stokes bury his long range shot into the net beyond the despairing clutches of United keeper, Alex Stepney. The only thing that dampens the memories of that glorious day is the fact that, from that winning team, goalscorer Stokes and the legend that is Peter Osgood are no longer with us.

In other news, I understand that Kate Middleton, aka Duchess of Cambridge, has given birth to a baby girl in the most comfortable of circumstances, so congratulations to her, especially for timing the delivery to coincide with a day to remember for Saints fans everywhere and for choosing St. Mary`s as the hospital in which to be confined.   So special was that day at Wembley back in 1976 that the Queen, having presented the FA Cup to Saints captain, Peter Rodrigues, realised that it could never be any better than that and so she has not attended an FA Cup Final since.  The royal prerogative exercised at its most perceptive.   

Friday, May 01, 2015


THE VIEW FROM THE PLAYROOM..

Well, as the actress said to the poet, "Things are going from bed to verse."  And after last night`s election specials it`s pretty clear that the campaign is descending into outright dislike between the party leaders.   It all reminds me of Sheldon Harnick`s lyrics for `The Merry Minuet,` which I first heard in my youthful admiration for the Kingston Trio.   The first part goes like this:-

They're rioting in Africa
They're starving in Spain
There's hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans
The Germans hate the Poles

Italians hate Yugoslavs
South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much.

Now a week today the General Election will be in full swing but it`s also becoming clear that we`re heading for a cobbled together hung parliament.   Unless, that is, the party leaders are so intent on hanging on to their jobs, perks, expenses and titles that they will do anything to save themselves and blame it on `the wishes of the electorate.`   Last night, they gave clear promises to the contrary so we`ll just have to assume that they will deem it `in the national interest` to stitch up some back-room deals to keep them going.

Either that or mayhem will ensue and call me irresponsible if you will, but as I view it all from the playroom of my second childhood, I quite fancy a bit of mayhem.  It`s good for the soul - keeps `em honest - and provides the prospect of another election in October at the latest.   Somehow I just wish they would all relax and not take it all so seriously or so personally.   It`s not Wolf Hall - just democracy in action.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

THE VIEW FROM OVER THE BORDER..

Things seem to be getting more and more desperate as the General Election approaches.  Or rather childish, what with the Milliband/Russell Brand travesty, the wee Scots lassie, chuntering Nige, Cameron and his faux `passion`, the bonkers Aussie Sheila and the irrelevant Clegg.   Fols-de-Rols have never been such fun.  Trouble is, it`s supposed to be serious but however hard I try I can`t bring myself to have any trust or faith in any of them.

Here in my Kentish enclave, there`s a tradition on Polling Day to hire a JCB and cart the votes down to the nearest weighbridge rather than bother with the traditional count - the Tories have been in control so long and I can`t see it changing, especially as we have before us a list of Parliamentary candidates of whom only one actually lives in the constituency and I can`t see myself voting for him.


So I tend to look across the border at the neighbouring constituency of Maidstone and the Weald for any entertainment that might be going on around this time.   Now this has also been a traditional Tory stronghold, held before the last election by the self-appointed national treasure that is Ann Widdecombe.   She had a majority of something like 12,000 when she was re-elected for the last time and before she retired to Devon and a series of cringe-worthy appearances on television and in pantomime.



Her successor was one Helen Grant, bussed in by the Tories, despite having stood as a Labour candidate previously, with the required and politically correct qualifications of being of ethnic background and being a woman.   Her majority last time was, however or maybe therefore, reduced to about 6,000 - half that of the sainted Widdy - and I hear reports that she might struggle to retain the seat this time against determined opposition from the LibDems and in the wake of her pitiful Ministerial performances in the last Parliament and her `difficulties` over expenses claims and staffing issues.   And as a mark of the Tories` desperation, the other day she visited the sleepy Wealden town of Cranbrook and brought Widdy along for support.   


Of all the images of this woeful campaign, I think the one I will remember most vividly is the truly terrifying sight and sound of Grant smiling her way around the town with Widdecombe using a megafone to harangue the good folk of Cranbrook  whilst leaning out of the car window.   Now my side of the border might be dull, boring and utterly predictable but at least I don`t have to endure the kind of embarrassment inflicted on the unfortunate electors of Maidstone and the Weald.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015


A WELCOME RETURN..

These were the scenes last evening as Bournemouth virtually secured their promotion to football`s Premier League for the first time in their 125 year history.  For much of that time, the local rivalry for Southampton fans has been with our neighbours, Portsmouth, along the other end of the M27 but it now seems possible that we have new rivals in Bournemouth, 30 miles or so along the A31.

Now whereas the resurgence of Portsmouth would most certainly not be something to celebrate, somehow the elevation of Bournemouth to the peerage of English football provides almost a warm glow and I for one am pleased for them, the club, the players, staff and most of all the supporters who must be pinching themselves at the club`s meteoric rise from near extinction just six short years ago.

It was back in the late noughties that Southampton were in dire straits with the real prospect of going out of business.   At that time, we were more or less forced to sell one of our better players so that the transfer fee could keep the Saints afloat for a little longer.   That player was Andrew Surman, raised in Southampton from eight months old, a product of the Saints Academy along with the likes of Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, and someone who almost burst with pride playing for his home town club.

When Wolverhampton Wanderers came along with a £1.2million bid for Surman, the Saints were in no position to turn it down and so he left for Wolves, who were then in the Premier League.   It was a serious wrench for Surman who was on record at the time of saying he left Southampton `with a heavy heart` and describing the Saints` situation as `unbelievable.`

From Wolves, he moved on to Norwich and from there he went on loan to Bournemouth, where his signing was made permanent last year and he has formed an important part of their promotion winning team.   So whilst there is joy unbounded among the Cherries fans, I am especially pleased to see Andy Surman making a welcome return to the Premier League and it will be good to see him back at St. Mary`s next season, even if he is playing for our new-found local rivals.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


I know I always feel and say the same every time I get home from a time away in the south west and this time is arguably worse than others.   After a week of being a long way away from it all in the sanctuary of Cornwall, I come home only for my senses to be assaulted where they left off by the cacophony that is the General Election campaign.

That`s depressing enough but I`m sure that the events in Nepal, Lampedusa, Sicily, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in this troubled world perhaps put the General Election campaign into the realms of irrelevance in the great scheme of things, so perhaps I shouldn`t complain quite so much.

But I think I have a genuine case for grievance when I learned last week that `it is unlikely that the Chilcot Inquiry report will be published until 2016 at the earliest.`   Maybe again I shouldn`t be surprised at yet another Establishment stitch-up, following on from countless others over the years - whichever government may have been in charge at any time.   They look after themselves, it seems, rather than looking after those they are supposed to represent and respect.

The General Election looks to be heading for a bit of a mess, leaving political parties scrabbling for position and the electorate in a state of confusion.  Maybe that almighty muddle might bring a change in attitude, but I seriously doubt it, and so there is likely to be no escape from the oppressive self interest of the Establishment.  So you can hardly blame me for wanting out again - and in a couple of weeks I`ll be off to my spiritual home of the New Forest.   Not much changes there either, thank goodness.