Friday, June 16, 2017


...I`m not sure you`re going to like this...

But here goes anyway.   Now, of course, like everyone else I have been appalled by the tragic and horrific events that have taken place at Grenfell Tower in London.  It`s impossible, for those of us not directly involved, to imagine the harrowing experiences of the occupants, their neighbours, families and friends and I have nothing but the most profound sympathy for all those affected.

But the images on television, the accounts on the radio and the reports in the print media have perhaps made it more evident that in this so called United Kingdom, there are at least two quite separate countries - one is called London and the other is called the rest - although I suspect that there are yet more separate countries in the big conurbations up and down the rest of the country.  I feel a bit uncomfortable at this confirmed realisation.

Next, I notice that today`s anniversary of the murder of MP Jo Cox is to be marked by an event over this coming weekend called The Great Get Together.   It must have passed me by in my Dibley-esque Kentish enclave but apparently the event will involve `thousands of street parties and baking competitions` all over the country to `celebrate the life of Jo Cox.`

Now I`m sure I`m missing the point and, once again of course, I have the deepest sympathy for Jo Cox`s family and friends over her tragic and brutal killing.   But - yes, there is always a but with me - whilst I fully understand the need and desire for her family to mark the anniversary I wonder how the friends and families of all those others who have been murdered in what now seems an almost daily occurrence feel.  I suspect they are mourning and `celebrating` the lives of their own loved ones in their own way, perhaps with the private sincerity that befits both them and the occasion.   We seem to be prone to straying into the realms of celebrity mourning?  If so, I`m not sure it`s very appealing.

And lastly, the BBC.  Now being an elderly curmudgeon I don`t have to pay the compulsory licence fee, but if I did I might just be a tad miffed at their obviously biased coverage given not only to the tower block tragedy but also to so many of the other major issues of the day.  It`s time the BBC remembered the words of Johnny Mercer in accentuating the positive, eliminating the negative, latching on to the alternative and most certainly not messing with mister in between.

So there we are - a few things off my chest before I`m afraid I have to close down these pages for a while for what is euphemistically described as `essential maintenance.`

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


A SIMPLE SOLUTION...

With all the fuss and bother surrounding Theresa May and HM Gov. perhaps the biggest worry for our Prime Minister is the prospect that the Queen`s Speech to Parliament might have to be delayed.   I can imagine that that might cause an irreversible rift in relations between Her Majesty and her Prime Minister, especially as it might involve the Queen having to miss the Royal Ascot horse racing thingy.

Well, here`s a simple solution.  Rather than all the pomp and circumstance of the Queen delivering her speech to the assembled Lords and Commons in Westminster, why can`t she deliver it from  Ascot on a video link?  Either from the royal box (I`m pretty sure there must be one) or even as she proceeds in her horse drawn buggy down the Royal Mile?

To every complex problem, there is always a simple solution - if I carry on like this I might yet cop for a gong, which I would be happy to accept in the post.  Simples.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A GREAT ESCAPE....

Took Barney, our golden retriever, for a nice long walkies this morning around our local `award winning` country park.   As I keep saying, it`s a mad, mad, mad, mad world from which I find escapes in things like football, cricket, golf and walking the dog.  Especially walking the dog, which is a real treat - it does me good, keeps me on the move and it`s always a pleasure to be in Barney`s agreeable company.   

Anyway, during our exploration of the `award winning` country park, we came across a few interesting things.  For example, they run a `bird of the month` feature on the notice boards and this month`s `bird of the month` is the sedge warbler.  It`s an interesting bird - it  overwinters in sub-Sahara Africa but obviously prefers the award winning country park during our summers.  I had my suspicions when Barney and I walked past some sedge and we heard a bit of warbling going on.

They also run a photographic competition, which is yet another of the admirable initiatives to encourage and sustain interest in what the park has to offer.  I had seen photos - on Facebook I think - taken there of a poppy-dominated wild flower meadow and this morning we managed to find it.  I took some photos of my own and here`s one:-
(please click on photo for larger image)

So, for someone like me, steeped in the knowledge and charm of the natural world, a visit to the country park is always worthwhile and I can quite see why it is, quite properly and deservedly, `award winning.`

Friday, June 09, 2017


PARDON ?

I`m not going to go on about the General Election result - maybe bizarre would best describe the situation in which we find ourselves. But if I`m looking for bizarre, perhaps the best example lies with the seven elected Sinn Fein members of the Westminster Parliament.  Now for years, the likes of Gerry Adams, having been elected to represent the good folk of Northern Ireland, have refused to take their seats in Westminster.

Sinn Fein`s central aim is for a united Ireland.  It opposes Westminster`s jurisdiction in Northern Ireland and its oath to the Queen, so all of their elected MPs abstain from sitting in Parliament.  Now and again, whilst they work for their constituents, they visit Westminster to use its facilities and meet with government ministers but they refuse to sit in any institution they do not see as legitimate.

Now when I was working, I`m pretty sure that if I refused to attend my place of work I wouldn`t be in the job for long and, as a UK taxpayer, I might be a touch annoyed if these Sinn Fein MPs are drawing their MPs salaries and expenses.   The photo above claims that they are `New Voices for a New Era.`   It would be nice to hear from them now and again in the mother of parliaments even if I might not like what they have to say.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

A TIMELY WITHDRAWAL ?...

Amongst all the sound and fury of today`s General Election and all the other mayhem in today`s world, there is at least one news item to raise the spirits of us Saints fans.   I refer, of course, to the apology issued by Liverpool after being caught red-handed for allegedly making an illegal approach for the signing of Saints` centre back, Virgil van Dijk.

Now, Liverpool have form on a number of counts over issues such as this.  Back in 2012 they were forced into an embarrassing apology to Fulham for attempting to prise Clint Dempsey away from Craven Cottage.. More recently - in April this year - Liverpool were handed a two year ban from recruiting academy players from other clubs following the alleged `tapping up` of a 12 year old Stoke City player.  So much for the innocence of youth.

But perhaps their most telling offence has been to systematically recruit players from Southampton over the past couple of years.  Now we Saints fans might have accepted the financial need for Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Callum Chambers to end up at Arsenal and even Gareth Bale leaving for Tottenham; but Liverpool prising away Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane and even Rickie Lambert Southampton`s Goal Machine (RLSGM) has been almost too much to bear.

And now Southampton along with their fans have themselves received a grovelling apology from Scouseland over the Virgil van Dijk affair.   It begs questions as to how all those others have slipped away and hints once more at the dark arts of football agents.   Of course, it is entirely possible that van Dijk will leave the beautiful south for richer pastures new but for once Southampton FC have shown some resilience by referring their concerns to the Premier League who have predictably decided to take no action following the Liverpool apology having been accepted.   Even so, one is left to consider whether that apology and subsequent withdrawal of any further interest in van Dijk might just have been to stave off some harsher punishment given their previous history.

But at last the Saints have (for now at least) resisted the prospect of a huge transfer deal, hopefully because they don`t have to sell a prized asset any more, whereas now their options may be to sell only if they wish to.  Be that as it may, I fear we are still in for yet another of these interminable summers of chaos, confusion and bewilderment - all default conditions of being a Saints fan - amid rumours of other players departing along with the manager who took us to a Wembley final and a top ten Premier League finish.   And so once again events at St. Mary`s Stadium seem only to mirror those in the rest of the mad world in which we live.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

FROM OUR GOLF CORRESPONDENT..

It`s been a while since I caught up with Snopper`s unending battle with the royal and ancient game and when I saw him recently, he showed me this sticker that he had displayed on his fridge.  It struck me that it might be something significant so I enquired as to its relevance in his madcap golfing world.

And so the truth came out.  You see, despite having `played` golf (I use the word advisedly) for about 40 years, it seems that Snopper had only ever had one proper golf lesson in all that time.   No wonder then, that of late he had experienced mounting frustration as his golf shots bore little resemblance to their intended targets.   In short, he had become annoyed with himself that he was not `performing` to the standard, albeit rather basic, that he had set for himself.

So he decided that the one lesson from all those decades ago perhaps needed upgrading and he has embarked on a series of lessons with a teaching professional at a local club. To say that it has been a series of revelations for him is something of an understatement. His very first revelation was to discover that he has been holding the club wrong; the second was that he has been standing wrong and the third and latest is that he has been swinging  the club wrong too.   Apart from that he`s been fine.

It remains to be seen what the rest of the lessons reveal but, at nearly 78, he is at least living proof of the message on the sticker on his fridge, although his contention that he might find himself rising in the rankings might just be a touch too ambitious.

Friday, June 02, 2017



`FIX YOU?`


Not surprising that the charity concert to be held at Old Trafford cricket ground this weekend was sold out in 20 minutes.  On a less happier note, it was disappointing to see that thousands of people are claiming free entrance by saying they were there on the night of the terrorist outrage - curious that 25,000 are making that claim when the original concert on 22nd May only housed 14,200 - yet another sign of the times we live in, I fear.

Quite apart from the occasion itself, a stunning line-up has been confirmed including Ariana Grande herself, whose concert was so tragically mired and who has conducted herself with immense dignity and generosity since it happened.  Take That will be appearing along with Robblie Williams, Katie Perry, Coldplay and a few more I`ve never heard of. 

One of Coldplay`s best songs seems entirely appropriate for this occasion - `Fix You,` which includes lines such as .......


`Tears stream
Down your face
When you lose something
You cannot replace.`

`Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones.
And I will try to fix you.`


Back in March, I think it was, a flash mob appeared in the West Quay Shopping Centre in Southampton and gave a spontaneous and heartfelt rendering of this anthem.   Here it is.......



Coldplay might play it on Sunday at Old Trafford... it might just be a little too painful or, on the other hand, an inspired choice?

(Update:   Well, to their credit, Coldplay did deliver `Fix you,` ......although I think the flash mob version was better.  Maybe there`s less to fix in Southampton.....)