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

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.

Not-Crap Journalism

I’d like to highlight a comment in the Guardian to this piece by Gaby Hinsliff (a mostly sane and intelligent writer with far fewer chips than most Guardian writers and immeasurably fewer idiotic attitudes).

Among the comments is this from Tim Neal, rightly highlighted as a Pick:

“my partner and sole mate of 32 years recently said to be that time is waging war on her. I simply told her that time has not changed her one bit. She is and will always be the woman I meet and feel in love with .

Real beauty is what’s under the skin and wrinkles of time.

besides, I’ve also had 32 years and she still looks at me every morning and night like she did on the very first day we meet.

And I hope that continues to the end of my days”

Mate, good on you, good for you, and good on and for her too. Here’s to another 32 like that.

Not-Crap Journalism

Sometimes, things appear in the Guardian or on its website that are crap, or perhaps I should re-define that as particularly crap, and I jump on them.

Rather more rarely, something comes up that is not only not-crap but which I think should be picked out and celebrated. Like this, today:

“Perhaps some of the poignancy identified in Suzanne Moore’s piece (16 July) can be attributed to the fact that those of us who added Neil Armstrong to our book of explorers as children didn’t expect him to be on the last page, but the first page of a new and much bigger book.
Christopher Ward

It’s noticable, however, that this doesn’t come from one of tthe writers, but rather a reader.