Friday, September 30, 2011


BEFORE IT`S TOO LATE..

There`s something desperately sad about political party conferences.   The false `togetherness,` the stage managed everything, the coreographed applause, the standing ovations, the pathetic preaching to the converted and the self centred notion that the nation out there is either interested or cares about their ramblings.   But the saddest thing at this week`s Labour Party Conference in Liverpool was the guest appearance by 16-year old Rory Weal.

Now on one level he is to be congratulated for having the courage to stand up and deliver his `speech` to a wide audience both in the conference hall and on television.   On the other hand, there`s something vaguely worrying about Labour having to rely on a teenage schoolboy to bring much needed headlines and something vaguely sinister in them using this young man in such a way.   I witnessed someone old before his time, someone who should have been somewhere else, doing something completely different.  

Each of our three sons went to the same school as Rory still does - Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone - but when they were there I`m convinced they were more concerned with things like football, cars, music, girls and all the usual stuff that adolescents are supposed to be in to.   Not for a moment did any of them show the slightest interest in the kind of fol-de-rols that go on at party conferences and, as for standing up and having the pretension to address the nation, well, forget it.

And yet Rory has been feted, admired and given more publicity than he could ever have imagined;  some of it good, some not so good.   For it transpired that rather than being a downtrodden victim of modern day society, he has come from a privileged background, with a millionaire property developer father and a comfortable £300,000 family home in an affluent suburb of Maidstone.   All was not as it seemed, it seems, but that should come as no surprise given the counterfeit nature of politicians, political parties and, most of all, their conferences.

Rory is clearly an accomplished actor.  He had learnt his lines, he looked the part and his delivery was convincing  and so maybe that is a path he should pursue rather than the preposterous world of politics.  But surely, at 16 years of age, the one thing he should do more than any other is simply get a life.   Before it`s too late.

THE ROAD TO NIRVANA..

Recent events from this madcap world have shown how, in two easy stages, it might be possible to reach Nirvana - that much sought after `state of supreme happiness.`  It goes like this.

Just up the road from me there`s a nice bit of rural countryside, with rolling fields nestling beneath the North Downs - all within the designated Green Belt.  I`ve no idea who owns the land but I`m thinking of moving up there, acquiring a white Transit van and constructing a shack from various bits of `material that has come my way.`   It will be idyllic - surrounded by peace and quiet, no hastle, the freedom of the open air - what could be better?  

Of course, I won`t have to pay any taxes, council or otherwise and it doesn`t really matter to me that maybe I shouldn`t be there because my human rights will outweigh any conscientious feelings I might have.   Now I imagine that those in `authority` might take a bit of a dim view of it and I suppose I might be served with the odd eviction notice and stuff like that but I`m pretty sure the United Nations, Vanessa Redgrave, a whole host of lawyers and human rights activists will come to my aid and fight for me to be allowed to stay.   If all goes well, I might just have ten years or so before I`m presented with enough inducements to encourage me to leave.

The other thing I have in mind is to start borrowing shedloads of cash and spending it on stuff I might not really need whilst also maintaining my essential stocks of tarmac, lucky heather, lavender and such like.   Of course, I`ll do my best to try and pay some of it back but I`m pretty sure it will be impossible.   No matter, because one bright day the people to whom I owe said shedload will come along and tell me that they`ve written off, kissed goodbye, to at least half of what I owe them and at the same time they`ll give me another shedload so I can go and spend that.  

Now if those two `strategies` - which might at first glance appear unconnected - are put together, then the Road to Nirvana is guaranteed.   All you have to do is find a nice bit of Green Belt land on the outskirts of Athens and you`ve got it made. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


NOT SUCH LIGHT RELIEF AFTER ALL..

Having ploughed my way doggedly through Stieg Larsson`s magnificent Millenium Trilogy, I thought I deserved a little light relief, so I bought a copy of Pam Ayres` memoir, `The Necessary Aptitude.`   I have long enjoyed her poems and the engaging delivery with her broad Berkshire accent and I thought it would be interesting to explore her memoir of the years since she was born in the Berkshire village (I think it might be in Oxfordshire now) of Stanford in the Vale.   The Vale is, of course, the Vale of the White Horse, named for the mysterious figure carved on White Horse Hill above Uffington all those centuries ago.

I discovered some things that struck chords with me.  My late mother was born in a small village just outside Swindon and, although she had the good sense to escape from there in her teens, wherever she went afterwards she never lost that same lyrical, sing-song, countryside accent that Pam Ayres has made acceptable, even enviable. 

There are references in Pam`s book to places I know well - as well as the White Horse country, there`s Modbury in Devon, deep in the South Hams, with the Exeter Inn, the steep high street and the first community to impose a total ban on plastic carrier bags.   Then Paderborn in Germany, where all of 50 years ago today I was stationed  seeing out my 731 days of National Service.   But also the memories of childhood in a small rural village in an age before health and safety was even thought of. 

But as I read on it soon became clear that Pam Ayres was - and still is - more than a bit special.   There is a resourcefulness, a willingness to take risks, a strong, adventurous and courageous character which refuses to take no for an answer.   But there is also the other side - that of love and loyalty to family and friends and a deep, deep pride, appreciation and affection for her roots where simple pleasures were thought of as riches  at a time when everyone knew the boundaries.   But it was a determination to extend those boundaries both of geography and of intellect that gave rise to an eventful and varied career that was to provide the backdrop for her acute and perceptive observations of life.

So don`t be influenced by the `persona` you might have seen on television or in theatres around the globe, for underneath that veneer of cheery bumpkinness, of innocence abroad, there lies a wealth of experience, knowledge and perception that find voice in her poems.

And as for the poems themselves, whilst the first impression they may give is of mischievous humour and tongue-in-cheek devilment, what they actually do is say many of the things that we ourselves are unwilling or just  too frightened to admit to.   Here`s a good example:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4oydSZTAns

This is what Roger Lewis had to say when he began his critique of Pam`s recently published memoir :   `When I say that Pam Ayres ought to be the Oxford Professor of Poetry, even the Poet Laureate, I am not being facetious.

Those who thinks she writes doggerel need to think twice. Like Victoria Wood, or the late Sir John Betjeman, Ayres uses simple verse forms - comic ballads or folk song idioms - to make poignant observations about tiresome husbands, gossiping wives, false teeth or battery hens.   I find her work sweet and sour, gentle and sad, and often very moving in its wistful way. Above all, Pam Ayres is comprehensible.`

I agree with all that and, having found out so much more about the national treasure that she has become, it`s clear that the light relief I had in mind when I turned from Lisbeth Salander to Pam Ayres  has turned out to be so much more fulfilling and rewarding.   I suspect many people, myself included, couldn`t tell you the name of the Poet Laureate, but they would if Pam Ayres had got the job.   And poetry would have been so much the richer.


Monday, September 26, 2011


REFLECTIONS..
...on a memorable summer.....

This time last week, I was telling myself where I was this time last week.  Now I realise I am very fortunate to still have my health, the energy and the wherewithall to do things and go places.    But there comes a point in life when you realise that it won`t last forever and so you decide to get on with doing those things and going to those places while you still can and  before it`s too late.   I guess 72 is as good an age as any to come to that conclusion.....so I have done.   And I`ve stopped feeling guilty about it.  So we have had a summer of transforming that theory into practice.

And although my `this time last week` phase is beginning to fade, I am nevertheless still reflecting on the places we have discovered and revisited in our trips to Devon and Cornwall this year.   And the places I remember with most fondness are those remote sections of the south west coast path where you can just simply be - and let the spectacular scenery enthral, the sea air invigorate and the sounds of the waves, the skylarks and the seabirds captivate and remind you that, whatever labels may have attached themselves to you, whatever self-importance you may have nurtured and whatever place in so-called society you may occupy, you are but a transient speck in the timeless majesty of the natural world. 

So, where are these places?   Well, we started off in the South Hams of Devon in April and discovered Aymer Cove, pictured above.  It`s reached from a choice of footpaths leading from the tiny National Trust car park in the hamlet of Ringmore.  It was no surprise to discover that it was here that RC Sherriff wrote `Journeys End,` for that is what it felt like.   We revisited the quiet tranquility of the Erme estuary at Mothecombe, where time stands still and the tide dictates the walker`s progress - if you want to avoid a 9-mile detour, you have to wade across the Erme here which is only possible at low tide.  

We also renewed our fondness for the coast path from Wembury around to Newton Ferrers and the classic walk from Noss Mayo, around the headland, along the Warren and back to the village for a pub lunch.   (We have already booked up to stay in Noss Mayo next September so we can do it all again.)

Rosevine evening
(click on photo for larger image)

May saw us discover Rosevine, deep in Cornwall`s Roseland Peninsula and the away-from-it-all pleasure of strolling down the hill each morning to Porthcurnick beach, across the fields to Portscatho, getting what we needed  for the day and deciding where to go.   Spoilt for choice really, but we did manage to coast path around St. Anthony`s Head, the Percuil River, Nare Head and the Dodman as well as going back to the idyllic setting of the church at St. Just in Roseland.  (We`re going back there next Spring too, all being well.)

July took us to St. Minver on the north Cornwall coast and it was from there that we discovered yet another deserted but glorious cove at Lundy Hole on the stretch of coast path between Port Quin and Rumps Point.   We also found our way to Port Isaac and another visit to Daymer Bay and the magic wander along the Greenaway to Polzeath, up to Pentire Point and back down again.

And two weeks ago now, we were at Crantock, exploring the coast from there, around Polly Joke, Holywell Bay, past the blot on the landscape that is the Penhale army camp, on to St. Agnes Head and the spectacular Wheal Coates engine house, standing guard above the roaring Atlantic. 

Polly Joke
(click for larger image)

But again, what will linger longest in the memory is the quiet remoteness of Polly Joke - too far from car parks to be crowded, no `facilities` apart from the beach, the sea, the surf and the surrounding hillsides of Kelsey Head.   Like `Journeys End,` it was no surprise to discover that it was here that Winston Graham hired a small hut and spent a summer writing Demelza, the forerunner to his Poldark series.

And now we have the winter looming ahead but the prospect of getting out there again, braving the headlands, discovering new coves, breathing in that salt laden air along endless beaches and clifftops and feeling truly alive, will make me determined to get to 73 and beyond and continue getting the most out of whatever life is left.   Do you blame me after a summer like that?

Saturday, September 24, 2011


DUNCES OF THE DAY..

To be fair, at the end of the day I`ve got to put my hand up and admit that today Snopper Street`s footy teams garnered just seven points from the nine on offer, thanks to my own team, the Saints, managing only a draw.   They made the long journey to Turf Moor where a determined Burnley side went ahead in a first half which they dominated.   It took an 80th minute equaliser from French midfield schemer Morgan Schneiderlin to salvage a point for the visitors but despite dropping two points, they remain top of the Championship thanks to close rivals Middlesbrough only managing a draw themselves.

In other news, the Addicks of Charlton played host to the Spireites of Chesterfield and emerged 3-1 winners to keep them firmly at the top of the League One table.   Charlton`s third game clinching goal came courtesy of a deft assist from our street`s icon Scott Wagstaff whose recent goal drought has denied his followers the aesthetically challenging vision that is his goal celebrating `brick.` 

Finally, but by no means least, the rampaging Gills secured yet another 3-1 home win against Paul Peschisolido`s Burton Albion to maintain their position in the promotion places.  But the dunces of the day must be the Saints. On another day, the host of gilt edged chances that came their way today would have been buried  but if you don`t take them, you can have no complaints at the end of the day.  To be fair.

I was alarmed to read of the passing of 76-year old Michael Faherty who was found dead lying on his back in his house in West Galway.   A detailed investigation into the cause of death offered no explanation other than that he was burned to death as a result of spontaneous human combustion. 

The inquest heard from `experts` who were certain that Mr. Faherty`s death had not been caused by a nearby fire, there were no traces of accelerants such as petrol and nothing to suggest foul play.   As a result, the coroner was `left with the conclusion that this fits into the category of spontaneous human combustion for which there is no adequate explanation.`

A tragic and baffling case all round but it got me wondering about ways to bow out from what is a baffling world.   And, as I have reched a certain age, I have begun to speculate as to how I might like to make my exit and I rapidly reached the conclusion that spontaneous human combustion is not for me, thank you very much.

Now I realise that my departure may not be in my own hands, so to speak, but nevertheless there might well be a few more preferable options that the fate which befell the unfortunate Mr. Faherty.   One might be to depart on the nest; another might be to wave goodbye on the golf course, possibly having just birdied the notorious par 3 sixth at Hever Castle. 

But I think the preferred option for me at least would be to bid farewell to this cruel world as the final whistle blows in the Champions League Final after the Saints have crushed Manchester United.   This option seems to be the one that might guarantee I`m still around for quite a while yet.   Suits me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


THE MADNESS RETURNS..

My very good friend Mr. Slightly commented the other day on one of my posts concerning football that, football apart, `the world is quite mad.`  He was right.   And now we have yet another example from, unsurprisingly, the European Court of Human Rights.

It was in December last year that I had a bit to say about the tragic case of 12 year old Amy Houston who was mown down and killed by a failed asylum seeker who used Article 8 of the Human Rights Act to be allowed to stay in this country because he had fathered two children here - http://snoppersays.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post.html may jog the memory.

And now we have yet another case that stretches reason to its limits.  The other day, a Nigerian serial rapist escaped deportation after European judges ruled that he had a right to a `private life` here in Britain.   This after he had been found guilty of raping a 13 year old girl and having exhausted every legal avenue of appeal in this country.   Indeed, his case to be allowed to remain was so flimsy that the Court of Appeal refused to hear it.  

Despite all of that, the European Court of Human Rights sitting in splendid isolation in Strasbourg not only ruled in his favour but also awarded him costs of £3,500.   The seven judges, seen existing stage left above, included representatives of such pillars of reason as Bosnia, Albania and Montenegro, said that the Court must `protect his social ties with Britain,` despite the fact that he has no wife, long term partner or children in the UK, all of which are factors which foreign criminals have used to stay here under the now discredited Article 8.

The crime he committed is appalling  but the nonsensical decision to effectively show leniency towards someone who shouldn`t be here anyway is, frankly, astonishing and it shows once more the farcical world we seem forced to endure all the while we are strapped to the yoke of the EU.   Now of course, I confess to having my `difficulties` with anything connected with the EU - common agricultural policy, fisheries policy, its vast expense, its totally ineffective management of its common currency, it`s wasteful and unnecessary dabbling in foreign affairs.....I could go on.

And at this point, I have reminded myself of the words of Jean Monnet, a  French diplomat and a `founding father` of the EU, who said, "Europe`s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening.   This can be accomplished by successive steps each disguised as having an economic purpose but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation."  Indeed.

Now I agree that all of that is perhaps a long way away from having a moan about yet another daft decision from the judges in Strasbourg, but it does serve to remind me that all the big things that are going wrong with Europe, coupled now with these humanly tragic `smaller`  issues, surely make the case of themselves for this country`s politicians to do what they promised - a referendum on Europe and a Bill of Rights following withdrawal from the Human Rights Act.

Trouble is, we`ve got a coalition government with the inevitable result that nothing will happen here and, all the while, the madness of Europe will continue unchecked.   And you wonder why people like Mr. Slightly and myself try to escape all the madness and find comfort, and sometimes even reassurance, in football.




Tuesday, September 20, 2011



THIS TIME LAST WEEK...

I don`t know if you`re like me but, each time I get home from a good holiday, I keep thinking to myself, "This time last week we were......"   And this time last week, Mrs. Snopper, Barney and I were on our way to finally making it to the elusive Stepper Point, the western headland of the Camel estuary in Cornwall.

I called it elusive because we had seen the view towards Stepper Point countless times from the opposite side of the estuary as we have been frequent visitors to the Greenaway, the section of the south west coast path between Polzeath and Trebetherick.   We had often wondered what it would be like to get to Stepper Point and look back scross the estuary and see those places we knew so well from a different perspective.   Until last week, however, it had remained elusive.

I looked it up on the map and noticed that, rather than having to contend with Padstow, there were lanes leading out towards the Point where we might be able to park and walk from there.   We`re not keen on Padstow - too crowded, too much overpriced industrialised catering - but we do like the surrounding area and after a couple of false starts, we made our way through Crugmeer to Lellizzick, where we discovered a car park (£2 per car....but no-one there to take our money and mercifully no ticket machine.)  

Off we strode, along the river bank, past the former pilot houses and  coastguard houses at Hawkers Cove and as we did so I gave a silent tribute to the memory of Edward Woodward who spent his last years in this remote, glorious tranquility with spectacular views which only got better as we climbed to reach the tower at the top pf Stepper Point.

On the way back down, I took some photos.  The one at the top shows the coast path descending from the Point with all the while those breathtaking views of the Camel estuary, across to Daymer Bay, Polzeath, beyond Padstow and across to the Greenaway.

Ah, the Greenaway!   The late Sir John Betjeman, although born in London, was brought up in Trebetherick and so knew and loved the Greenaway:-

I know so well this turfy mile
   These clumps of sea pink weathered brown
The breezy cliff, the awkward stile
   The sandy path that takes me down

To crackling layers of broken slate
   Where black and flat sea-woodlice crawl
And isolated rock pools wait
   Wash from the highest tides of all.

I know the roughly blasted track
   That skirts a small and smelly bay
And over squelching bladderwrack
   Leads to the beach at Greenaway

.......and so on.    Small wonder then that, having finally made it to Stepper Point and looked back across to the Greenaway, the following day we returned there once again only to gaze across to Stepper Point, where we were this time last week.

Monday, September 19, 2011


BIG YELLOW TAXI..

Back now from my week in Cornwall (more on that story later) and it seems that, if anything, the world has become even more mad whilst I`ve been away.  But before getting in to all the madness that surrounds us, let me first comment on an aspect of arguably the most important issue facing us today which is, of course, football.   And today once again I`m reminded of Joni Mitchell`s Big Yellow Taxi and it`s immortal truism, "Don`t it always seem to go that you don`t know what you`ve got `til it`s gone."

Yesterday, the basket case that is Plymouth Argyle, `parted company` with manager Peter Reid, pictured above in one of his lighter moments in recent months.   Now, Peter Reid is a football man of considerable substance - he played with enormous distinction for Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Queens Park Rangers, Manchester City, even Southampton.   He was capped 13 times for England.   He`s an FA Cup winner, twice League Championship winner, European Cup Winners Cup winner and a former PFA Player of the Year.   As a manager, he has taken charge of Manchester City, Sunderland, England Under-21s, Leeds United, Coventry, Thailand and, of course, the Argyle.  He has been PFA Manager of the Year and twice awarded the Manager of the Month.

So he`s no mug.   Now, getting on for two years ago, he took the reins at Plymouth who, at the time, were beginning to struggle both on and off the field.  Financial pressures leading to the club going into Administration resulting in successive relegations from the Championship and League One, now see the club at the foot of League Two.  Attempts to find a buyer for the club have been protracted and, as yet, fruitless.   The players and staff have not been paid in full for almost a year and it`s a measure of Peter Reid`s commitment and character that he sold his 1986 FA Cup final runners-up medal in order to help pay staff as well as paying  the club’s heating bill with his own money when financial troubles first hit Home Park.

In a statement issued yesterday, the inevitability that is Argyle Chairman Peter Ridsdale said,  "Peter leaves with our unreserved thanks for his contribution in helping keep the club alive during this turbulent period and he leaves with our very best wishes for the future."   Quite so.   So why am I left with the feeling that Peter Reid is well out of it  and that Peter Ridsdale should listen very carefully to what Joni Mitchell had to say?

Sunday, September 18, 2011



Mr. Happy

ENOUGH SAID...



Friday, September 09, 2011


HERE WE GO AGAIN..

Off to Cornwall (again) for a week, so please excuse the absence of posts for a while but I have no idea about remote blogging.   It seems we can`t get enough of Cornwall, which is not surprising given all that it has to offer in landscape, seascape, history, culture and, quite simply, magic.   This time we`ll be staying in Crantock  and walking the coast paths in the area as well as revisiting favourite haunts such as Cadgwith on the Lizard.  We may even get to the hitherto elusive Stepper Point.   Here`s a link to a webcam in Crantock - I`ll give you a wave - http://www.crantockbayhotel.co.uk/webcam.html

We keep thinking we should go somewhere different but we`re always stuck with the notion that, if we did, when we get there we might wish we were back in Cornwall.  I can`t imagine we`re alone in thinking that.....unless we truly are exceptionally sad.

The weather forecast is pretty atrocious for the next week - heavy rain, gale force winds;  storm cones being hoisted with threats of damaging gusts and structural damage to exposed parts.   So I`ll make sure I keep my parts under cover.   Should be fun though - there`s just something about being on an open Cornish clifftop with the Atlantic throwing a deluge of rain in your face as you`re buffetted by a howling gale.

I think it`s called madness.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Two days ago, Mrs. Snopper had her 70th birthday.   She spent it completing over two weeks of jury service, which kind of spoilt what might have been a memorable milestone.   But it was a case of duty before pleasure and it occurred to me that there might be some secret Government Department somewhere whose role it is to ensure that memorable milestones are tainted by the call of duty.   My own 21st birthday was spent guarding a phalanx of tanks whilst on training exercises on the green hell of Luneburg heath, so I`m sure there`s a conspiracy going on.

In a moment of wistful reflection, this led me to consider the day and today, 50 years ago, I had completed 583 days of my 731 days National Service protecting western civilisation from the communist hoardes.  I had `only` 148 days left of this enforced adventure and this recollection has, in turn, led me to consider the squeals we`re hearing about introducing some form of National Service in the aftermath of the recent riots.   From what I`m hearing, youngsters are being encouraged, at some considerable expense to the taxpayer, to volunteer for some form of community `work` - helping the elderly, cleaning up streets and generally putting something back into the community.  Yeah, right. 

Now the last thing I would wish on anyone is to go through the kind of National Service that I endured, with its compulsion, its bullying, its hidebound regulation and its witless `good order and military discipline.` And yet, despite all of that, I discovered things about myself, such as resourcefulness, determination, adaptability and, not least, a penchant for seeing  the world and all its chaos with a kind of semi-detached amusement.   But most of all I found companionship in adversity, lasting friendship and comradeship, which is still with me 50 years on.

I think it is these latter advantages that we should be looking for in any attempt at `community service` for young people and I`m not convinced they will be found in the kind of voluntary, time-filling, crack papering, subsidised government-sponsored `programmes` we`re hearing about.   What`s needed is a positive alternative that might just produce the kind of results we`re looking for.

I think it`s called the Duke of Edinburgh`s Award Scheme.  It`s tried and tested. Seems to tick all the boxes so why reinvent the wheel?  See http://www.dofe.org/en/content/cms/doing-your-dofe/ 

Just need to make it obligatory...... or will that start a riot?


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

PIPERS AND TUNES..

I see that Edinburgh University is going to charge students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland £9,000 for each of four years for their degree courses, meaning that those students will leave with a combined debt of £36,000.   Ouch!  On the other hand, if you`re a Scottish student or one from any of the other European Union countries, you will pay no student fees at all.   This is apparently due to current European anti-discrimination laws but there are no similar provisions to protect youngsters from the rest of the UK.

This is yet another in an increasingly long list of things whereby the Scots do very nicely, thank you, literally at the expense of the rest of us in the so called United Kingdom.   In Scotland there are free prescriptions, free elderly health care and now free university education for Scottish students.   It gets better.   The UK Government annual spending per person in Scotland amounts to £10,212, which is £1624 more than for each person in England.   It`s estimated that each family in England is paying £420 for the extra spending in Scotland.
Now I believe it`s the case that before the last election, George Osborne more or less promised to do something about these inequalities in spending between the constituent parts of the United Kingdom.   However, it`s all gone quiet and my guess is that the Tories seem happy to put up with these inequalities and the resultant growing resentment rather than face up to them and risk a schism that might threaten the Union if they do something about it.   The lesser of two evils, as they see it.

But I`m not sure that will do any longer.   If it`s the case that those of us in England are paying through our taxes to allow the Scots to have privileges we cannot enjoy ourselves then perhaps it`s time to remember that he who pays the piper calls the tune. At the moment it seems the other way round.  And while we`re at it and whilst nothing ever surprises me about the European Union, it surely cannot be right to have EU laws that so clearly discriminate against England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I just wonder how long it will be before simmering resentment turns into something that forces the changes that are so clearly necessary.



Monday, September 05, 2011


MONEY WELL SPENT..

Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin is facing a costly divorce from his third wife, Lois, after 23 years of marriage, having filed for divorce in June citing `irreconcilable differences.`  Buzz, now 81 years old,  was, of course, the second man to walk on the moon, following in the footsteps of Neil  Armstrong.

In papers filed in a Los Angeles divorce court, the seemingly enhanced Lois says that she needs £16,000 a month to support a social life that includes attending Royal Ascot, the Cannes film festival and Sir Reg Dwight`s annual Oscars party.  She says she is accustomed to socialising `with most of the royalty around the world.`  I`m sure they`re thrilled to bits.

In response, Buzz has now filed a lawsuit against his estranged wife`s daughter Lisa, who helped run a company which markets and promotes Buzz.  In the suit, Buzz claims that Lisa - acting as his lawyer - duped him into signing an agreement that gave that company (StarBuzz) all rights to Buzz's name, work, and persona.   To make matters even worse for our moonwalking hero, Lisa and Lois jointly own more than 60% of the company.   As Buzz puts it in the lawsuit ... Lois and Lisa now own "most of what I`ve acquired since the day I walked on the Moon."   Unsurprisingly, Buzz wants a judge to tear up the agreement.

Seems to me that, at £16,000 a month it might be money well spent and especially at 81, it could turn out to be a small step for Lois but a giant leap forward for Buzz.


Saturday, September 03, 2011


NOSE, SPITE, FACE ?

I`m getting a little fed up with Sky tv.   I`ve had the `full package` for years, if you`ll pardon the expression, but apart from the news and the sport, I find it difficult to find much else from the plethora of channels to grab my attention.

I agree that their news and sport coverage is superbly done, both technically and editorially - especially so since the demise of the atrocious Keys/Gray axis.   But just recently, one or two annoyances have begun to take the shine off things.   One of the things I like to watch is the nightly press preview on Sky News, when `guests` are invited to select items from the next morning`s newspapers for discussion.  

With one or two exceptions such as the grotesquely self-important Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, the reviewers are perceptive, articulate and presentable.   But more recently we have had to endure the inclusion of former Home Secretary Jaqui Smith giving us the benefit of her wisdom.   Now this is a failed and rejected politician who hoodwinked the taxpayers of this country for a shedload of dodgy `expenses` on such things as second home allowances, porn films and, more recently, having prisoners from the local nick redecorating her (second) home in Redditch - her main home, of course,  having being an upstairs room in her sister`s flat in south London.   I simply object to any part of my Sky subscription being used to pay this discredited self-serving poseuse.

On the sporting front, with the banishment of Keys/Gray to TalkSport, the quality of presentation, commentary and analysis of football has improved, whilst that for cricket could hardly be bettered.   But again we have seen Sky almost obsessed with the notion that when an ex-England international footballer retires from playing, then we punters will welcome him on to our screens with open arms as we hang on his every word.   And so it has come to pass that we now have to contend with the abrasive Gary Neville.

These events, coupled with the ongoing saga surrounding James Murdoch, the Parliamentary Committe and the unresolved hacking scandal, are making me begin to wonder whether to carry on with Sky tv or perhaps just reduce my `package.`  I know it will be cutting my nose to spite my face and it might simply be an exercise in individual futility, but it might just make me feel a bit better.

Friday, September 02, 2011


FAMILY VALUES..

In the past few days and weeks, the Premier League of English football has spent close on half a billion pounds on player transfers.   We hear of players having `wages` in excess of £200,000 a week and in the Fairy Land of the Premier League excess, it seems, knows no bounds.

At the other end of the Football League, the players, coaches, manager, office staff, groundsmen and others have gone without their full wages for months whilst their club, Plymouth Argyle, have wrestled with Administration and seemingly endless attempts by the Administrator, Brendan Guilfoyle, to find new owners willing to invest and secure the club`s future.

As things stand, a deal has allegedly been done with a consortium who are not interested in the football club but are interested in the development potential of the ground and the surrounding land.   This arrangement would leave the much travelled Peter Ridsdale to buy Plymouth Argyle as a football club for the princely sum of one pound and see himself running the club, leaving the `consortium` to pursue their redevelopment plans.

Sounds like a dodgy arrangement to me and small wonder that the Football League are taking their time to approve it or otherwise.   In the meantime, the players, led by team captain Carl Fletcher, pictured above with manager Peter Reid and the club`s longest serving player Romain Larrieu, are thinking of refusing to play in the club`s next fixture away at Burton Albion, having reached the end of their tether after months of unfulfilled promises and not being paid.

The contrast between the fortunes at one end of the supposed `football family` and the other could hardly be greater.   Having been through the slings and arrows of Administration with my own club, Southampton, I know only too well the anxiety, not to say despair, being suffered by Argyle`s loyal supporters.   They deserve better but the really sad thing  is that those at the top table don`t seem willing to throw any crumbs of hope in the direction of those at the other end.

So much for family values.