Allocation, Allocation, Allocation


A bad start to a Sunday morning: It’s a sad day when a few honest and true officials spoil it for everyone else.

Yes : It’s Happy Corrupt IOC Official Day again. The day, which comes round once every four years (not to be confused with Happy Corrupt FIFA Official Day) when a national newspaper (you remember newspapers : full of worthless nasty, bent journalists who should be arrested for bribing our policemen) expose the members of the International Olympic Committee, its agents, its agents friends and its agents friends golf partners as corrupt and dishonest – willing to sell votes and/or tickets to the highest bidder.

It’s difficult to comprehend that such an esteemed organisation, which is and has been led by such good-eggs and men with spotless records such as Juan Antonio Samaranch, Jacques Rogge (though not yet Michel Platini or Sepp Blatter) would allow such rotters into their fold. I mean, for heaven sake, some of these men high up in the IOC were fine, champion athletes in their own time, so that certainly admonishes any of those from any guilt or indeed suspicion where corruption, incompetence or dodgy-dealing is concerned.

Fortunately, officials from just 54 countries are involved in the allegations – which is merely a quarter of the 204 countries competing at the games, and there is absolutely no indication or allegation that anyone from the host country, Great Britain is involved in any way whatsoever (and shame on you for ever thinking so). The straightforward, uncontroversial and glitch-free way in which tickets have been distributed in Britain (and at such competitive prices) should rule out any suspicion falling on the GB arm (or leg) of the organisation.

It cheers me to think that no-one on the home organising committee has been implicated in this most disgraceful of all alleged practices, which seems to have been carried out solely and exclusively by those Johnny Foreigner-types. Us Brits will not stand for such nonsense and skullduggery. It’s just not cricket. If we’re gonna be ripped off, we will be happy to be done so by multinational credit card, alcohol, food and soft drinks companies charging well-over-the-odds to the captive market within Olympic Park, and not by some greasy Daigo or Arab who probably had never ever heard of Lord Coe or Boris Johnson.

I dunno why we have to have ’em over here in the first place : volunteering as stewards, sleeping under our bridges, running on our tracks and winning our medals…

Advertisements

Jumpers for Goalposts


Ah, those were the days.  When we used to have a kick-about in the street outside my house, there would invariably be someone who wanted to be Peter Osgood, one who’d play as Peter Lorimer or Georgie Best or even  Derek Hales (well I had to look up to someone, didn’t I ? and I reckoned I was better than Killer was, anyway.) We didn’t have anyone who was hard enough to pretend to be Dave McKay.

Take a look at one of the great sports photos of the 70s. There’s old Dave about to throttle that little-shit-of-little-shits, Billy Bremner – no softie himself. But where Bremner – like  Ron Harris, Nobby Stiles and anyone who put a Leeds Utd shirt on – was a kind of slide-my-studs-down-your-calf-and-into-your-achilles-when-ref-isn’t-looking-sorta-bloke, Big Dave was a sort of snap both your shinbones in two if you try to get past me, in front of the ref, the linesmen, the opposition bench, the BBC TV camera and four JPs and still argue the toss that I played the ball first-sorta-bloke. A very very tough bloke. A great photo.

McKay is reported to be in poor health. It will be a shame to lose another character of my childhood. A reminder of when football was a contact sport, professional players could be built like Fannie Lee and still get picked for the side, and Alan Rough and Derek Hales were in gainful employment, somehow.

Wishing Dave McKay all the very best. Let’s hope the today’s millionaire show-ponies spend a little less time crying and rolling around on the grass this weekend. Big Dave would have given them something to cry about.

Sir, The Gentlemen of the Press are Here


The British, or to be more precise, the British Press, or to be more precise, the English Press don’t like Sepp Blatter, though they’re not exactly alone on that one. They think he takes bungs, fixes elections, is anti-English. Fresh from the “row” about whether the English football team could wear poppies on Remembrance Sunday, and following his insightful views on women’s football (“Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could have tighter shorts.”), match fixing (“I could understand it if it had happened in Africa, but not in Italy.”) and homosexuals (“I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities.”) there has been a torrent of outraged copy spewing out of Fleet Street regarding Blatter’s latest decree. The head of FIFA has opined that racism on the pitch should be forgotten with a handshake after the match. A ridiculous opinion indeed, but what a godsend for the hacks of the press ? Immediately headlines such as “Now Beckham and Cameron slam Sepp Blatter over racism in football” (Daily Mail) and Blatter Must Go” (The Sun) have ploughed into nasty Sepp in exactly the way they…er…didn’t attack John Terry when he was filmed calling Anton Ferdinand a f**king black c*nt”.

Exactly the same organs demanding the hated Blatter’s resignation are the ones not calling for Terry to go:  “Terry vows to clear his name in race storm” (Daily Mail) and “Terry is Gagging for Action with England” (Sun). That’s telling him ! Strong stuff, indeed.  The Blatter affair has saved the tabloids from having to chastise the serial-shagging Terry and focus their sights on nasty foreigner Sepp. There’s something quite ironic the Mail labeling someone a racist. But that’s another yarn for another day.

This latest case of double standards pales into insignificance compared to the coverage of the official inquiry into the workings of the press. When not attacking Johnny Foreigner, there’s nothing journalists like better than writing about other journalists. Journos think we, (or rather you) are, like them, equally infatuated with journalism and stories about it. This obsession with their own trade and fellow hacks more often than not supersedes any other story that may drop on their desks. And nothing, NOTHING excites a hack more than when other hacks are deemed to be up Shitestraße, a condition currently afflicting my old colleagues at News International. You may have noticed the absolute glee with which other media outlets have been reporting the phone hacking scandal.  The Guardian clearly has an axe to grind with the Murdoch press and are loving every second of the coverage. The BBC are visibly beside themselves. But they all should be very careful, I reckon.

One can only assume that the thus-far unquestioned members of the press have nothing to hide. Either that or they realise that Inspector Knacker is taking so long over the News of the World and associates, that by the time the law gets round to them the shredders will have been doing overtime and their friendly private eyes will have been shooed out the back door, taking a large wad of cash with them. All evidence of naughtiness will be long gone by the time the rozzers arrive at their door.

Wherever I worked, there was always a deeply held belief in the mantra “there but for the grace of god go I”. The Mail put in the wrong picture ? Poor sods – someone’s due for a kicking. Headline in The Times got a typo in it? Jesus, someone’s for it. We just knew that, sooner or later we’d drop a clanger and it would be our turn to be hauled over the coals. There was always a bunch of annoying hacks giggling about and reveling in the misfortune and the mistakes of other rags, but us photo bods knew better than to behave like that. We’d been there too often to carp.

But the recent events at the NoW are not the result of honest mistakes, no matter what Herr Flick says. This isn’t a case of mistakenly putting a pic of a boy from the wrong school in the paper (guilty as charged- Eton instead of Harrow) or putting a photo in upside down (property page – also guilty, your honour) or accidentally being pissed most afternoons (Happy Days. Oh fuck it, ok, I’d like 173 other offences taken into account). No we’re talking serious, intentionally-undertaken crimes here. As much as we’d like to think that this sort of behaviour was confined to Fortress Wapping, I think we all know that that’s unlikely. If I was the rest of Fleet St, I’d treat the phone hacking story with due reverence and respect. These things have a nasty habit of turning around and biting you on the arse, just when you’re gloating about them.

It only surprises me that all this seems to have come as a shock to most people. How the hell did they think the tabloids (and those pretending not to be tabloids) got their information from ? Through honest journalism ? Concerned readers offering exclusives to those nice gentlemen of the press ? Above-the-table briefings by policemen to reporters?

What will hang Fleet St is the same that has kept the UK tabs thriving for so many years: The ability (thru piles of cash) and the willingness (thru the unique competitiveness of the Street) to work outside the law to obtain ‘scoops’. The Scews was not the most read rag in the world for no reason. It delivered all the tawdry and ugly stories that the British public craved after. Whether the public demand for such shite is reason enough to go get these stories is a moot point. However, they spent fortunes hunting down these yarns, keeping them from the notebooks of their competitors, out-bidding anyone else that showed an interest. So many competing national papers in one small county propagates such a frenzied pursuit of higher readership figures.

The sort of pressures between titles, almost unique to London’s papers, made it almost inevitable that one day they’d go too far in their quest for the best story. What “too far” actually meant was open for debate for a long time. Apparently, if you happened to be successful and obtained celebrity through your work, reporters sneaking around your bins and eavesdropping on your private conversations was truly shocking, but frightfully readable, and understandable.  Gordon Taylor, (“that’s rotten, got any more?”) Elton John (“awful! what else ?”), Hugh Grant (“terrible! love it”). Then the manure hit the air-conditioning system. The Milly Dowler episode clearly was “too far”. Even the well-kept coppers, some of whom passed on vital info to the newspaper,  now displayed the sort of outrage and indignation a guilty party will often show. The mucky business was rife. Everyone knew it, but somehow no-one now admits they did.

A while back I was asked for a colleague’s mobile phone number. This colleague was a reporter who happened to be vaguely connected to someone famous who happened to be in the news at the time. The reporter who asked me for this number had gotten my number from a friend. I gave him a “fuck right off” for his trouble. This reporter was not working for the News of the World. He must have been another “lone rogue reporter” (there’s a lot of them about). I don’t know why he wanted the number. I just had a good idea why he wanted it. He was (and still is) a dodgy, slimy cvnt. I wasn’t playing his game.

Not that I am suggesting that the Mail, Mirror, Express, Guardian etc etc have anything to worry about. This is clearly only an issue which needs to be addressed over at Wapping and Wapping alone.

Nowhere else.

At all.

There’s nothing new here. You’d think that this distaste for and distrust of the press was a new thing. Don’t be fooled. In 1959 Peter Sellers, in “The Goons” episode The Scarlet Capsule had the line:

“Sir, the gentlemen of the press are here. I tried to hold ’em back, but they burst through by putting money in me hands”.

It could have been written yesterday.

…and there’s more…

Back in 1987 Jim Hacker was certainly under no illusions about the newspapers of London – or at least who they were read by.

.

Over 20 years later, comedians Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt updated it. Not much has changed. Apart from the addition to the list of The Independent and the fact that the Express and the Star are now recognised as newspapers – if that is the right word:
The Times is read by the people who run the country.
The Telegraph is read by the people think they run the country.
The Guardian is read by the people who have run the country for the past 12 years and realised they’re blown it.
The Independent is read by people who got to the newsagents after they’d run out of The Guardian and The Times.
The Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country.
The Express is read by Marcus Brigstocke to wind himself up.
The Mirror is read by the people who vote for the people who read the Guardian and have now blown it.
The Sun is read people who’ll vote for people who’ll run the country to suit the people who read the Financial Times while somehow convincing themselves that those people will give a toss about the people who buy The Sun the moment the election’s over.
And The Star is read very … slowly … with your lips moving.

Di Day, 1st of June


The following article is dedicated to the sad old drunk who accosted me on a train yesterday…

Lady Diana Spencer, Diana Princess of Wales, The People’s Princess and all those other terms that come up in search engines would have been 50 today, June 1st. The fact that she never got to blow out the 50 candles on her birthday battenberg was due in part, we’re told, to some pissed-up Egyptian cabbie doing a Nico Rosberg into slab of concrete somewhere under Paris. I always thought the powers-at-be, to in some way hide their embarrassment of their small contribution to her demise,  may have declared her birthday a national holiday. Di Day ? Di and Dodi Day ? Di and Dodi Died Day ? I dunno, something fitting and duly respectful like that.

Anyway, it was just a thought.

Diana will be up there be kicking herself that she missed the last 14 years of Paul Scholes’ marvelous football career, though she’ll be happy to know that she also missed a long line of knee-high, studs-up lunges with his lethal hobnails. His stats speak for themselves:

  Apps       goals           legal tackles

Man Utd                                    466         102                    1*

England                                        66            14                    0

(*  U14 training. Apologised after)

He has also received 90 yellow cards during his premiership career and  was cautioned 32 times during European campaigns, making Ratko Mladic look like Trevor Brooking.

The no-longer fragrant Diana would doubtless be surprised that it’s taken 16 years to capture Mladic. “The Butcher of Bosnia”, as he is known,  is finally on his way to an International Criminal Court near you and will doubtless feel the wrath of the law when he’s up in front of the beak on killing-everyone charges in The Hague on Friday.

He shouldn’t worry himself too much. Last time he stood in front of a bunch of Dutchmen they rolled over in front of him like a Sri Lankan batting order in Cardiff. I trust there will be some suitably red-faced Dutch UN officials, burying their shamed heads in their Amstel when the Srebrenica story is re-told in it’s full gory detail. Short of supplying him with barrels of Grolsch wheels of mild cheese and the daily use of their enormous sisters there seems little more the Orange peacekeepers could have done to facilitate him.

Yes Diana would raise an eyebrow to what’s changed and what hasn’t while she’s been in that great Harrods Food Court in the sky. Her Father-in-law is still around (although surely not for much longer??),  Charlton Athletic are still in the third division (ditto), Sepp Blatter “The Taxidermist of Zurich” is still a crook (allegedly and forever and ever, amen) and STILL in charge of FIFA. Yes, honestly he is. No, I don’t believe it either.

Col Gaddafi is still an international pariah, although since you’ve been away, Di, he’s been our best mate for a while. Don’t ask me. Something to do with your old mate Tony and oil or something. Now he’s resumed to the status of Chief International Awkward Fucker but we can’t find him to blow him up. Send for Kate Adie, that’s what I always say (and always will).

If I was in charge of the hunt, I’d pop down to the local ATM cos I reckon he’ll need to draw some cash out soon. Gaddafi is skint. Potless. Broke. We’re told he invested in both The Royal Bank of Scotland and BP Oil and lost a fortune on Libya’s behalf in doing so. What a prat. Not since I spent my ill-earned cash on Lastminute.com shares has such an ill-advised investment been recorded (I’m still waiting for my first divvie).

Oh, apart from that time I bid for London Olympic 2012 tickets and got sod all back. Nothing. Not even the fucking egg-and-spoon race. Not a sorry, not even a thanks for trying. Not EVEN a “fuck off, peasant these are going to our corporate mates”. Which they most certainly are.

Where’re my bleedin tickets ?? I only wanted a couple to watch to the 1 yard air rifle and the beach pole vault. I wasn’t bidding for the whole fucking games? I spent all month ensuring there was enough cash in my account and then when yesterday’s deadline arrived : NOTHING. Nothing immediately happened. Nothing was immediately and swiftly taken from my bank. I’ve been robbed by someone not taking money from me. Apparently I’m up for some in the second ballot. SECOND BALLOT ?? What is this? fucking AV all of a sudden ? If I wanted a second ballot I would have voted for Nick Clegg (“The Scheister of Westminster”), which I most certainly didn’t.

So, you’re better off out of it Diana, I reckon.  Who’d want to be 50 in this miserable sodding world anyway? I’m looking down the wrong end of a half century and am in constant danger of losing my happy-go-luck demeanour.

Mind you, I suspect if you’d been around you might have sneaked a ticket or two for the Olympic 100 yards dash. I reckon you could have afforded it if there wasn’t room in the Harrods box. The Fuggin Fayed would have lent you the dosh I’m sure.

Fußball Kommt Nach Hause


Day 24 in the Why Bother House and Mike is in the diary room…

The most extraordinary news to come out of South Africa is not that we lost, not that we were given a lesson in football, not even that the world now accepts that Sepp Blatter is a git, no more qualified to run FIFA than I am to run The Smaritans. No, what is quite extraordinary is that there were no reported acts of mindless hooliganism after the match. Whether the Foreign Office and Officer Smellie successfully stopped the English Formation Garden Chair Throwing Team from traveling to the World Cup, or the Nazis of St George were simply priced out of the market is unclear.

Some have suggested the preposterous theory that our footy fans have learned to accept defeat and to respect Johnny Foreigner. Whatever the reason, it does seem rather ironic that on the night that England go down to the biggest defeat and humiliation in their World Cup history, their fans have finally stopped rearranging the furniture of the world’s bars and bistros and have started to get themselves a reputation as “true sports fans”. Who’d a thunk it? I wonder if they mastered the tune to “No Surrender to the IRA” on the Vuvuzela?

So now we enter that traditional period of mourning when the only noise to be heard is the scraping of knife sharpeners all over Fleet Street and the jingle jangle of coins in sporrans as the jocks giggle themselves silly while they revel in the Auld Enemy’s demise. And it’s a fair cop. Who but the most one-eyed of Englishmen could fail to see the humour, inevitability and justice of last night’s debacle? One Caledonian chum with understandable glee sent me this “newsflash” this morning:

“The England players’ plane home is being diverted from Heathrow to Glasgow, where they are expected to receive a heroes’ welcome”

I expect the bars of Glasgae and Embra were rammed-out last night, packed with revellers with Gorbals accents and fake German replica shirts. Inspector Smellie had seized a shedload of dodgy shirts bound for “Up the Road”, but one must assumed a few got through. There’s nothing our brother fitba fans enjoy more than see the English bastards take a good shoeing (on or off the field).

Talking of shoeings, the Groinstrain Correspondents of the British press sure are giving the once great Fabio a severe pounding in the knackers this morning. How things change ? Just a few months ago the back pages were gushing about this Italian genius, lauding his tactical nous and giving thanks for his not being Sven. True to form, they’ve dropped him like ‘Arry Redknapp drops ‘is aitches and will, in all probability, hound him out of office.
Fabio Capello and England’s timeline of failure. Countdown to meltdown: how it all went wrong for Capello and Co.” offers The Telegraph. “Should Fabio Capello have resigned as England manager after their defeat?” asks the Guardian.”On Your Bike, You Greasy Wop” orders the Daily Mail (I may have made one of those up). You get the picture. The bandwagon has been kick started and it’s springs are heaving under the weight of the Groins, itching to say “we told you so” when, in fact, they said exactly the opposite.

Why Appy Arry or Woy of the Wovers would even consider taking on the job is beyond me, but the Fourth Estate’s finest seem set on the fact that it should be one or the other. I shall send my commiserations to them now, poor sods. The first task for whoever gets the job is to send out that search party for John Terry. He went missing in the German penalty area last night and hasn’t been seen since. Whatever Fabio could be blamed for, we surely can’t take him to task for the Keystone Cops defence last night. Cole and Johnson had all the speed and acceleration of Glacial Erosion, while Terry looked like he was wearing calipers. It’s a pity Matthew Upson didn’t show up, he would have loved it. Has Gareth Barry actually lost a leg?

Once Fabio has been dealt with, the journalists will doubtless turn their attention to the team. Our Wayne, Frank, Steven etc will suddenly be dubbed “useless wankers” having been feted as Gods for years. Perhaps Theo Walcott will actually have a chance of making the squad next time ? (unless he’s burnt out by then, of course). But whatever happens, the headlines will be vicious and hurtful to several young men who only months before were, apparently, world-class.

The Colonial press, of course, take a different view. It’s not the manager’s (sorry, coach’s) fault they went out, nor do they blame the team. No, it’s the game itself which is to blame.

I guess that means the American population will retreat to the ball parks and the basketball courts, to watching The Lakers and The Cowboys, The Yankees and The Blackhawks. They can give up pretending they either understand or care about ‘soccer’ for another four years. I wish I could. Charlton Athletic are due to lose to AFC Bournemouth on August 7th. If the New York Post think it’s a stupid game, they should come down to the Valley one weekend. We don’t know the meaning of stupid.

Say it with Socks


Whilst trying not to get carried away with the whole marketing con-fest of Valentines Day, the Incumbent and I did exchange gifts on the day, as token of our affection for each other. I bought her a pair of socks and she, in an obvious bid for another term in office, bought me a bottle of Lagavulin. Seemed like a fair swap to me. It’s my favourite brand of whisky, and she gets cold feet. And never underestimate the aphrodisiac properties of a good pair of thermal socks. Or is that overestimate?.

One thing I’ve leaned over the years: whatever I buy her for Christmas, Birthday or other occasions, she will always best me in the forking-out department. They do that to you, women. Clever bastards.

As chuffed as I was with a bottle of Scotland’s finest malt, I felt a bit deflated. What I really wanted was one of those chairs. You know the ones I mean. The Mogul Chairs. You must have seen them this weekend when watching the yawnathon that is the Vancouver Winter Olympics ? Competitors in the Freestyle Skiing event, get to the bottom of the hill and if they are in a medal position they get to sit in one of three huge comfy chairs and watch the rest of the field come in. If someone then comes in and posts a faster time, he or she then gets to rest his bum in the apposite seat, while the previous holder of that position either moves one seat down or buggers off into non-comfy-chair anonymity.

This is proving to be much more entertaining than the ‘sport’ itself. Just watch the devastated faces of those who were holding onto the bronze medal, only for someone to come in with a better time. “ I don’t wanna get up! I’ve just got settled”

I’m not sure if all the events at the Olympics have comfy chairs at the end of course. The luge organisers have surely got to come up with an alternative to their original idea of scaffolding poles, broken glass and razor wire at the bottom of the run. Someone could hurt themselves on that! But it’ll obviously be their own fault if they do.

Hold on for a moment… … … sorry… … … ahem … … excuse me … … it’s very hard to remain composed when I watch Jacques Rogge (a right Belgium Count) get his onion out of his handbag and mock-blub at that news conference the other day. Sweet baby Jesus, what is the world coming to. Alastair Campbell , Gordon Brown, now Jacques Rogge CRYING !!! Who’s next? Sepp Blatter? That really would be a full set of crying crooked Counts.