David Squires on Jack Charlton


One day, soon maybe, I’ll talk about how and why the deaths of the people that I refer to on this blog affect me as they do.

I’ve already written about Jack Charlton, but this, with far fewer words, says much more than I ever could, especially in the last tier, and that last panel.

For those who don’t follow the Guardian, and who won’t otherwise see David Squires’ beautiful tribute.

Crap Journalism


For the past couple of weeks, the Guardian have been running an accumulating feature on the 100 greatest UK no. 1 singles. The list has been chosen by three people, which immediately reduces it to something selected upon very limited tastes. I’ve been following it with mild curiosity as to what they’ve chosen, and in what order, and personally I wouldn’t agree with many of either.

But my principal attitude is, so what? This is your choice. If you think that ‘Bridge over Troubled Waters’ is only the 45th best no. 1 of all time (and I admit I did boggle a bit at that one) you can do so. It doesn’t change my opinion about the song and its value, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the only one I’m interested in.

I’m not registered to Comment at the Guardian and haven’t been for several years, and if I still were, I wouldn’t bother over something as unimportant as this. However, I do have to break ranks with myself in response to this comment, put up today by Ben Beaumont-Thomas, the paper’s Music Editor, in respect of their no 19 choice, ‘Old Town Road’ by Little Nass X.

“I know a lot of the anti-pop/pro-1960s comment brigade will be outraged at this choice. It was unanimously chosen by the music editor (me), deputy music editor and chief music critic who compiled the top 100 – so here’s our reasoning. We all feel it’s:

a) a brilliant tune with a massive anthemic melody that will be hollered in karaoke bars for years; a truly classic pop song that really does go toe to toe with the best of the last 70-odd years.
b) one of the most brilliant pop cultural moments of the last few years – the styling, the wit, the way he toyed with country tropes and indeed exposed latent prejudices in them.

Owen ably articulates its charms in more detail above. 

My feeling is that if you’re tired of Old Town Road (remix feat Billy Ray Cyrus), you’re tired of life. That said, I’m very happy for people to comment about why they don’t like it! As long as it’s not bland abuse.” No links, you’ll have to find it yourself if you’re interested enough.

Now I’ve never heard the record, and I have no interest in hearing it, though I could experience the song at the click of a mouse. It could be good, it could be bad, it could be somewhere in between for all I know, and all I care. I am not interested in having an opinion on it.

But I do have an opinion on Mr Beaumont-Thomas’s comment. For one thing, he not only demeans himself by his snotty reference to the anti-pop/pro 60s comment brigade, he’s lost his argument already by claiming that people who are pro 60s music are anti pop: my dear sir, just what the hell do you think we were all listening to?

However, it’s the start of his final paragraph that demands a response, one that I can’t make without re-registering and which wouldn’t stay up more than five seconds if I did. Let me highlight it: ‘My feeling is that if you’re tired of Old Town Road (remix feat Billy Ray Cyrus), you’re tired of life.’

Once more, Mr Beaumont-Thomas, and with the greatest of all possible respect, you can like this record and I will say nothing because I don’t care. You can dislike any record that I love and I will say nothing because I don’t care. Your opinions are what they are: opinions, and when it comes to music we all have them and none of them are right or wrong.

But if you think you can tell me that disagreeing with your opinion calls into question my very existence, then I would respectfully invite you to fuck yourself anally with a rusty chainsaw. Because not in this universe or any other in the vastest multiverse do you get to tell me what to like or dislike.

Get that? I doubt you’ll ever see this, but I wanted to tell you exactly where you’re full of self-centred shit.

You’re welcome.

Not-Crap Journalism – The Scouser’s Story


She’s a Liverpool fan. They’re odds on to break a thirty year gap since their last League Championship. I’m a Manchester United fan. We went twenty-six years, and the Scousers’ long wait has been a source of fun for twenty-nine years. Truthfully, I wanted them to never win it again in my lifetime, and I got very nervous when they looked likely to do it in twenty-five.

But we beat them at that, and now I can accept it’s going to happen and not really care.

As for this piece, I know how Hannah Jane Parkinson feels and I don’t begrudge her a moment of it. She speaks for all of us in one manner or another (except that Leicester’s story in 2016 will always be better than yours).

Crap Journalism: it’s the idiot Heritage again


Crap journalism is an irregular series where I take various Guardian features to task. A high poportion of these are by Stuart Heritage. So’s this one.

Apparently, the former Meghan Markle wants to go back to acting with a big role in a superhero movie, leading Heritage to suggest various superheroines she might portray. The third option is Big Barda, of the New Gods. Heritage lifts the Wikipedia introdction to the character, before suggesting that Barda was created by ‘someone who wasn’t very good at thinking up characters’.

Big Barda was created by Jack Kirby, who created or co-created practically the whole Marvel Universe, who created Captain America, who created whole genres of comics, not just characters, who was, in short, the most prolific creation-machine there has ever been in comics.

Stuart Heritage is a stupid tw*t who can’t even do a second’s research when he thinks he’s being funny.

This Smells Like My Vagina


Now, be fair, I didn’t say that, Gwyneth Paltrow did (you guessesd, didn’t you?).

Read Hadley Freeman’s column about it in the Guardian (hint: it’s a candle. Costs £58.00).

What I want to know is, having regard to the provisions of the Trades Description Act and subsequent legislation, how does she intend to prove that it really does?

Crap Journalism


I don’t really care what other people think of the books (or films or television or art) I like. Make an interesting, intelligent, thoughful criticism and I’ll read it, though you’re unlikely to change my mind. Just slag it off, and I’ll shrug and ignore you.

Occasionally, those who slag off need answering, briefly. Take this feature in the Guardian about writer Adam Kay in the Books That Made Me column. Note his comment about Lord of the Rings, which he calls ‘indecipherable nonsense’.

I don’t know who Adam Kay is or what he writes. He’s as entitled to dislike Lord of the Rings as I am to like it and neither of us is right or wrong.

But given the sheer volume of readers it has had, the reams of academic study it has undergone, its translation into film and radio by people with creative abilities, ‘indecipherable nonsense’ is demonstrably one thing it is not and Kay’s description says more about his comprehesion skills than the book itself.

Depressing Reading


https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/oct/17/glazers-legacy-manchester-united-liverpool

The above story appeared in the Guardian on Thursday. David Conn is actually a City fan, but he is also a very thorough and very impartial writer, especially about football economics. What he’s written is very depressing to a United fan, if our current form this season were not enough on its own, but it also has the ring of truth throughout.

United play Liverpool on Sunday afternoon. Recent United games have been the low point of the weekend, offering nothing of entertainment, of inspiration and especially excitement. On paper, Liverpool, with a 100% record over eight games and a very high standard of play, ought to absolutely hammer us. The only shred of hope I have to rely upon is that United-Liverpool games have never observed the form book.

Conn’s article however presents a horribly dismal prospect. Focussing on the Glazers’ ownership, it present a vision of United never recovering from the past years of malaise, post-Alex Ferguson. The club is subject to owners who are only interested in taking money out, and not in putting money in, something many of us said back in 2005. The ground is falling into disrepair, recruitment of players is in the hands of Ed Woodward, who has failed to appoint a Director of Football who might be able to set a viable direction/detract from his power.

And the Glazers are irremovable and will be as long as their cash cow sustains them.

I confronted this very position six and a half years ago, when Fergie stepped down, and I was defiant about accepting a period of no longer being a dominant force. I was naive however, in imagining a maybe four year lull, before we started being a challenge again, but then I lacked the imagination to understand that those who run Manchester United would be so prepared for decline and mismanagement to bring my club as low as it has. Talk of relegation seems monstrously improbable, but if Liverpool do defeat us on Sunday, we may find ourselves in 17th, one place – just one place – above the drop zone.

And if we find ourselves in that place, then it will be for one reason and one reason only: we deserve to be there. I remember relegation in 1974 and the resurgence United went through after that, though it still wasn’t enough to regain the League title for nearly another twenty years. Maybe we need that to make the people in control see what is really going on.

I don’t know what will happen, and when or if we will turn the corner. I keep thinking that it just needs a little bit of luck, a spark, a moment, something that goes right, and lifts the team’s spirit, the player’s spirit, and suddenly their confidence will start to return.

But until and if, I have to remember my defiance of six and a half years ago. I was with United for all that 23 years, from the FA Cup in 1990 to the Premier League in 2013, and what a glorious thing it was. And it all happened, and no matter what happens now or next week or next year, IT HAPPENED, and nothing can uncreate it. I WAS at Wembley for three Doubles, I WAS in Barcelona, all those matches I saw, live or on TV, I had every minute of that, and if I’m fated not to experience anything like that again, I experienced those twenty-three years. Twenty-three years of the taste of Gold (apologies Steve Engelhart), and I refuse to forget a second of that. What United are now cannot and will not destroy that.

So blow winds and crack your cheeks. Rage on, blow. And I’ll just close my eyes and be in the Nou Camp again. You cannot take that away.

Smarter than *which* average bear?


Being stuck at home with a sore throat that makes talking painful, I’m having to fill my time in unexpected ways, currently by browsing the Guardian Crossword Blog.

Go down to the section where reader’s clues for the word Posh are features, and focus upon that of TonyCollman: “Smarter-than-the-average bear gets a little bit of something for nothing”.

Now I’m not knocking Mr Collman, who may be too young to recognise the mistake he’s made but it’s a disappointing flub in a section of the paper devoted to words and wordplay that the Guardian haven’t spotted it. Winnie the Pooh was ‘a bear of very little brain’ as anyone who knows A.A. Milne will tell you.

The bear who was ‘Smarter than the average bear (BooBoo)’ was Hannah Barbera’s Yogi Bear.

And they ask us to pay money for this.