Monday, 14 December 2009

An old poem

I found some old notebooks the other day and they had some poems in.
From years ago, here's one I liked and couldn't remember writing...

The Light

She turns the light on
when she enters the
room. Seriously, it
is as simple as that.

Friday, 11 December 2009

A poem about the ocean. And other things.

Sea. Breakfast.

We were eating breakfast
and I was looking out
of the window at the ocean.
I came here from nowhere
near the sea. I come
from a land of little rivers,
woods and fields.
This thing is something else.

The End Of The Year

... is fast approaching, and here are my thoughts on the year just gone, as published by the Caught By The River site. A year I won't forget in a hurry, that's for sure...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Tailors

Adam Killip, who plays guitar for Treecreeper, also has his other band The Tailors, and their second record came out a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I would put up a little post about it, just in case anyone cared to have a listen.
The album is really great and Adam's one of the best singers I have heard. He's a great singer, truly, and I get jealous hearing what he can do. He writes well too, and these are a really good set of songs. Poppy, rootsy good shit, kind of like good Wilco or Guided By Voices. Here is their myspace. Check them out.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

On Losing

I am the quintessential version of the person that will be standing by the side of the road, and have a bus drive through a puddle right next to me, coating me in wet slime from the street. This happens a lot. Definitely more than it should.
Today I was walking along and I stood on a loose paving slab, it tipped, throwing a slop of shitty, muddy rainwater filth all over my shoe and leg. It was a busy street and I could feel their eyes on me. I hate these kind of incidental personal humiliations, and yet they always seem to happen to me. Bummer.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Top 10 For 2009

These are my albums of the year on the Rough Trade website...
Go and buy some of them from there, maybe...

Referees, referrals, replays...

There has been a myriad of opinions recently concerning replays, referrals, referees in the goal, umpires in the stumps and whatever other idiotic ideas fans and commentators are coming up with, but I can't help but feel that these things are not actually needed. I mean, don't we need bad decisions? Isn't that part of the drama? Sport is supposed to be an essay on life - full of all the injustice, excitement, joy and heartbreak that life entails. It's not supposed to be infallible, pristine, or even fair. Just like the people who participate; the more human, the more vulnerable, the better. The fragility of balance is what is important, and that relies on not knowing what is going to happen...

Friday, 20 November 2009

Le Hand Of God - Gauling

Poor old Thierry, or Terry as he will now be known, having tarnished his reputation to such an extent that Fifa have asked him to relinquish all his Gallic sophistication privileges, first of which comes the French name and second his accent, which we understand he will hand in today, in return for a more humble West country grumble a la Ian Holloway. But does anyone truly feel sorry for The Cheat®? Listening to Danny Kelly's insane ranting on Talksport on Thursday evening, wherein he blamed everyone and everything for this latest Sodom and Gomorrah moment in sport's own Sodom and Gomorrah, football, but mainly, from what I understood, Arsene Wenger, I couldn't help feel like I was missing something somewhere. Yep, that's right, the man who ACTUALLY DID offer Sheffield United a replay when Arsenal were adjudged to have taken an unfair advantage of United kicking the ball out for a throw, has now been blamed for the actions of a 31 year old man who has not played for him for 3 years. People like Kelly in the media make me hate football. They really do. But for a minute, when I looked at that smile of Titi's as he celebrated that goal, I remembered, just for a moment, how much I used to love it. Smile, Thierry, you are the man!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Some photographs of the village I now (and, I suppose always have) call home. A different proposition to London with its streams of neon, and nights full of faces and bodies. But I like the trees and the stars at night.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Poor People To Watch Ashes Again

In 2005, I was one of the multitude that followed the Ashes with the fervor which that series seemed to somehow magically inspire in almost everyone I knew. I remember the morning of the 4th Test at Trent Bridge, watching it and having to leave to get to work, and thinking how when I got out of the other end of the tube journey, England will have lost, and the summer would end up the same as every other Ashes summer I had known.
I got off the tube at Leicester Square, and started to walk to the shop. My mobile rang. It was my girlfriend, and she was describing something that I could only have dreamed up.
She was describing Steve Harmison's final wicket, and I could not believe what she was telling me. I made sure she had it all right. Harmy was bowling, right? Yes, Will. He didn't take the catch, no? No. Definitely? Definitely. I got to work and went to the BBC site, and there it was...

MS Kasprowicz c† GO Jones b SJ Harmison 19 (30)

I could not believe it had ended like that, and I had not watched it.

I was reminded of that morning today, when it was announced that the Ashes could be protected as a free-to-air event from 2013. That summer, everyone knew who Freddie was. It felt so wholesome having this monument to the drama and theatre of sport available to everyone. EVERYONE. It was an absolute and joyous rejection of football and Sky and the cynicism of that horrible money drenched den.

Sport is the greatest literature there is, it reflects the nobility, desperation, pain and joy that is the very crux of the human condition in a way that no art ever could. It's visceral and exhilarating, and the more of these generation-defining moments everyone can see, the better, surely?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


I couldn't watch the fight at the weekend, but I wanted to. I read about it the next day, like too much modern sport. I was out at a friend's party, celebrating his wedding anniversary.

Here is a poem that I was put in mind of by this apparent dichotomy.

I also wrote something about it today, and I will post it here, for once.


Valuev looked heartbroken
in the photo I saw on Sunday.
I had been reading, like
everybody else, about this
circus freak that had
never even been knocked down,
let alone knocked out.
Now I am reading about
Haye's perfect fight. Well,
some of them are saying that.

And I am thinking about
Valuev's belt, shining in
the hands of this cruiser-weight
from London. And the fact
that he wrote poetry for his
wife, so they said.

Friday, 6 November 2009

The Sporting Life

Last night I was out with a friend. We were drinking in this pub in the village, and the place was dead. Dead of anything. No people in there. No sport on. No music playing. But we drank Guinness and the conversation came. We talked about sport, and politics, and the evolution of the English Language, and how Tolkien's work is concerned with this. We both liked Tolkien. So did the girl behind the bar. Yeah, it was that dead. Finished the night with Makers Mark and ice.
I walked back down a broad, tree-lined street and felt at home.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


I was listening to the radio yesterday, listening to the recommendations being made to parliament as a result of the inquiry into MP's expenses. After, they had a couple of MPs on, talking about what had been said. I think my biggest problem with this situation as it stands right now is the degrading sense of indignity that pervades these conversations. These are our legislators, our leaders, our ambassadors, they are supposed to "be" us, and I just don't want to hear a fucking grown woman moaning about how "they" have designated her as living close enough to Westminster to not qualify for rented accommodation when it takes three whole hours for her to get home on the train. These people sounded like the wealthy students I met at college who were always the most vociferous when moaning about the cost of their fees, I hated that shit then, and I hate it still. For fuck's sake, get a grip. Grow up, take it on the chin, suck it up. You fucked us. All of us. And now you are getting fucked. That's capitalism, I'm afraid. It's your game, it's your ball. And if the trains are shit at that time of the evening...
That's your job, isn't it?

Friday, 16 October 2009

I Might Have Known The Rain Would Come

The good people at Caught By The River have put another one of my poems up, if anyone fancies having a read, here

Monday, 12 October 2009

The Alex Ferguson Apology School

I used to work for this woman. It was in a bar in my home town. A small, nondescript town the like of which you will find dozens of around London. This woman was incredibly stupid. I mean, one of the most stupid people I have ever met. She was nice enough, and I didn't not enjoy working for her, but she was really stupid.
Anyway, this woman was physically incapable of saying sorry. She just could not apologize, no matter what she had done wrong, or how she had made you feel. She would always have some kind of answer or justification ready. She had to have the last word. She probably thought saying sorry was some kind of acceptance of weakness, or admitting you were wrong once would undermine everything you did after that. Whatever, she couldn't do it.
Just a thought for you here, really. Gross stupidity and not being able to apologize. Just a thought.

Poetry Day - Word.

I guess a poetry post would be appropriate seeing as last week marked National Poetry Day, and posting something this late would be appropriately slack of me, as well. Although given that no-one actually reads this, I guess I could just write anything, at any time I liked.
Oh well, I understand the narrative at least.
Anyway, I got a copy of Thom Gunn's Man With The Night Sweats on Friday. I sat in The Star And Garter on my own for an hour and drank and read. For what it's worth, I was immediately and completely struck by the heartfelt, honest, unsentimental rendering of love and lust in all their many forms and stages that unfolded on each page. There are other themes as well, but I haven't read anything that was as romantic and hopeful as this without being unbearably cloying for a long time. Anyone care? Doubt it. But there we are...

I'm a little unsure about posting whole poems here, so I'll put a link up to a really great one,

Thursday, 8 October 2009

So long, Steve

England's touring squads for South Africa named, and there is one glaring omission in the (admittedly rose-tinted) eyes of this writer, at least. I guess at least it marks the end of me worrying every time he lopes in to bowl, or feeling blue every time I see him trudge back to fine leg, puzzled look on his face, then turn, hands on hips, away from the crowd. Long live the enigmatic fast bowler. We need them. Fast bowling should be for crazy, lost, broken-hearted, angry, drunk, poetic, troubled, stupid, forlorn loners. It's not the place for hair gel, alice bands, sculpted beards or pin-up players. I'm sad. Really sad, but I can take it. Steve, thanks for being a proper fast bowler.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Move Home

Boxes of books packed up. Records that haven't been heard since I moved from the last place, still boxed. They move on again. This week was a blur of drink and stress, punctuated by Robin Van Persie goals, and Arshavin's flick. 23. He had the nerve to be offside? Can't even remember the night, now. Tuesday? Wednesday?

I was out, I remember that much.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The long goodbye

If you had to pick a bowler to bowl for your life, who would it be?

If you wanted to live forever, Glen McGrath.

If you wanted to die a bloody, wasteful, hero's death, Andrew Flintoff.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

An original thought? Please?

With the Twenty 20 World Cup well and truly won, and Pakistan's victory must rank as the most heartwarming result for world cricket, apart from possibly a West Indies win, the glare of cricket journalism is now focused intently on The Ashes. On Sunday The Observer ran a piece from Devon Malcolm, sharing some Ashes memories and reminiscing about his various dalliances with Australian batsmen. Dev also took his opportunity to put the boot into another of cricket's genuine troubled strikers, Steve Harmison, claiming that Harmy doesn't look "in the right frame of mind" to spearhead England's attack this summer. This is the second time in recent memory that Malcolm has had a dig at Harmy, the first being in his blog on The Wisden Cricketer site, and while Harmison has certainly had his low points recently in terms of performance, Malcom's comments seem motivated by the kind of agenda that the media seem insistent on pushing when it comes to Harmison, rather than a balanced, genuine assessment of the facts. Do we really need another pundit giving us the incisive, original view that Harmison isn't firing as he should be? Why not find someone who has something interesting or insightful to say? Since his recall against South Africa last summer, Harmison has not played two tests in a row, and the two series England have been involved in were both fast bowler's graveyards, so where exactly are these countless "chances" that the media insist that Harmison has squandered? And how does he not look "in the right frame of mind"? Even a passing glimpse at the last two Durham County Championship scorecards shows that Harmy is performing, and his bowling was reportedly of the very highest order against Warwickshire, fast, hostile and accurate, and on one of the deadest tracks in the country. It would be sadly predictable if we never saw Harmison's loping action for England again, or his pained face after being laced through the covers for four, but sadder still if we never saw scope for human fallibility in the game, a wide or four, or a loose ball, or someone who struggles with the mental aspects of elite sport, or life in general for that matter.
Oh, and Devon? Were you not a little loose yourself? And without the 221 test wickets to show for it, as well...

Friday, 12 June 2009

What credit crunch?

So the football season is over, and everyone can now focus on their summer sports of choice; cricket, perhaps, while the ashes is on, punctuated, of course, by those two weeks in summer when everyone is a tennis fan. Or for those who prefer a little more meat on the bone, the Lions tour of South Africa, maybe. Although that said, scouring the tabloid back pages, sport websites or free London papers over the last week or so, it strikes home that maybe Football isn't ready to slope off for a few weeks and give us all a rest after all, maybe Football, like the brash, ostentatious, joyless braggart it is wants to flash all its cash in the rest of the world's face. Just days after the Kaka deal was announced as a new world record transfer, Real Madrid seem likely to break their own record (or five) by signing the anti-troubled striker himself, Christiano Ronaldo for a rumoured £80 million.
The truth of global capitalism's moral vacuum is absolute, and in a sense that is where its fairness is deemed to lie; the world is a market place, and free trade allows any commodity to be bought or sold (as long as America says so) for its market value, but surely the money bandied about in what are just two grotesque transfer fees leaves a decidedly sour taste. In fact the taste left is that of vomit.
Watching the Champions League final a few weeks ago, watching Xavi, Iniesta and Messi waltzing around Manchester United's players in triangles of elegant simplicity; pass, move, receive. The simplest, most humble display of domination. It seemed almost in keeping with the tradition of a more noble club, one that still shows at least vestiges of humility and a sense of decency. The cynical will snort at that last sentence, and maybe Barcelona's good-guy image is borne out of the mere lip-service paid by having Unicef on your shirt, but as Real announced their transfers this week, the value of Messi et al seemed all the more pertinent. Combined transfer fees for Messi, Xavi and Iniesta? Hmmmm.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Two blokes walk into a bar...

Another one bites the dust. Yesterday saw news that Andrew Symonds, perhaps the most definitive example of the "troubled striker" in world cricket, has again been sent home from an Australian tour for disciplinary indiscretions, apparently related to alcohol. In the same time frame, another powerful, larger than life all-rounder named Andrew has been sharing his views on, well, everything actually, but one little nugget seemed particularly pertinent in light of Symond's sad, and perhaps final, slip off the wagon. Andrew Flintoff, it would seem, has some fairly lucid and illuminating views on the current state of the nation according to his latest GQ interview, but rap music, rather than sport seemed to be very much the culpable party in Fred's eyes. Sport can in fact, apparently help with all manner of societal ills including cultural violence, child obesity, drug abuse, and even binge drinking. The obvious hypocrisy of Fred's reactionary rant is not even worthy of comment, but the parallels between Flintoff's condemnation of drugs and binge drinking (would someone please define what that actually means by the way?) and the saddening demise of Symonds' career make for some interesting thought. Flintoff's public dalliances with alcohol have earned him the status of cult hero among many British cricket fans, arguably as much as his on-field endeavours, and have never truly undermined his playing career, yet Symonds has been made an example of on more than one occasion. While Flintoff enjoys the luxury of railing against the modern evils of binge drinking, Symonds faces the very real prospect of his chequered, but often brilliant career being over. But maybe Flintoff is right about one thing; maybe if, over the last year or so, Symonds had been given the opportunity to actually play more sport, he might not be in the predicament that he now finds himself. Roy, wish you were here mate, take her easy.

Friday, 29 May 2009

There are lies, damn lies and league tables...

The league doesn't lie. Or so we are constantly told, and while one can't argue with the absolute truth inherent in this obvious platitude, there is surely an argument for decrying the logic of the league table as being a hideously over-simple distillation of the subtle nuance and shifts of dramatic action that occur during what are months and months of a specific sport's competition. The current obsession with league placings and indeed the modern cult of silverware, was not always so prevalent as it is today, and in a time when the teams within a league were more evenly matched, a good season might be considered one in which your club had a good cup run, and won most of their home games. It is with this in mind that the end of season comments of the army of professional Arsenal haters, they actually call themselves pundits sometimes, must surely be taken. The Stan Collymores of this world would have us all believe that Arsenal are in crisis, a club that is going backwards, whatever on earth that means, and that they are content to finish fourth. What these astute and highly regarded commentators on the game don't seem to realize, or perhaps don't appreciate, is the logical extension of their argument. Is the end game then, that everyone wins the league? Surely that is the only way for all the clubs to avoid incurring the wrath of the British punditry. Or maybe the clubs just have to show the ambition to win the league, which it would seem can only be quantified by the amount of money lavished on a swathe of world-class superstars to come into the club and usher in a new era of world domination, as Chelsea have done. Oh wait, Chelsea ended up third, and losing semi-finalists of the Champions League as well. The thing to focus on is this; someone actually has to finish fourth, as they do second, third, and indeed, last. But this mathematical truism seems lost on the intellects that are paid to provide us with the sort of insight that can only come with years and years of experience of playing the game, managing, or writing the same cliché-ridden tripe season on season for the past decade. And while realizing that Arsenal were off the pace this season, and not as close to United as last term, when they were, let's not forget, very close, some acceptance of the fact that only one team can win any competition and some respect for Wenger trying to find another way of doing so, would surely lead to some more incisive, original thought out there in the journalistic netherworld.