Sunday, 27 June 2010

AUF WEIDERSEHN ENGLAND (AGAIN)

Outclassed, outpaced and outplayed. England once again go crashing out of a major tournament, but this time to their worst defeat in a WC finals for nearly  50 years. To say England's performance in this tournament was dismal is an understatement. To draw against lesser teams as USA and Algeria was bad enough. To capitulate so dramatically to Germany, who alongside Argentina and Scotland, our greatest rivals was just too awful to watch. Yes, we had a contentious decision that went against us. Lampard clearly scored a goal and only Mr.Magoo the ref and his equally short-sighted linesman missed the ball clearly go over the line. However, I don't think that decision cost England the match. Here's my take on why we lost the match and the tournament.... 


1. Fabio Capello - started well and with good promise but tactically, he got it badly wrong during the finals. Firstly, he can barely speak English. I know may of the England team can't either, but it's going to hamper his management style. He picked wrong players, substituted at the wrong time, stuck to a 4-4-2 formation when clearly this needed to change during the Germany match. And all this in exchange for £6m. 


2. The Defence - clearly at odds before the finals with the John Terry and Wayne Bridge debacle, change of captaincy, Rio's injury and sticking with Upson when Dawson was the better option. 


3. Sticking with the old guard - Hansen once said 'you can't win anything with kids' and look how he was proved wrong. Germany's team today was youthful, quick and fearless. Fabio stuck with older, more experienced players and got some of his choices wrong. They looked tired and dare I say, a little lazy in their willingness to chase down the ball. Capello selected James and Green in goal when both had leaked in goals for their bottom on the prem clubs. Hart never got a look in. Sticking with Heskey and Rooney when clearly it wasn't working was too awful to watch. He ignored Dawson and instead opted for Upson whose had a crap season at West Ham. He left the young guns Walcott, Baines, Bent, Huddlestone, Jagielka at home and we were left with players devoid of any hunger or passion.  


4. Big names not stepping up to the mark - There were slight glimpses, but  Rooney, Terry, Lampard, Gerrard failed to ignite or inspire the team. As usual, we have a team of individuals who don't gel when it comes to playing for England. Who's to blame? The FA? The manager? All to a degree, but certainly the players need to shoulder responsibility. 


The answer? Could do a lot worse than bringing David Beckham into the England manager role....



IS THIS THE GREATEST EVER WORLD CUP GOAL?



Quite possibly the greatest ever World Cup goal? The answer unequivocally is YES! The build up, the ease of the passes, Pele's nonchalant lay-off and Carlos Alberto exorcet of a goal. Samba-tastic. Mexico 1970 was my first memories of a world cup and seeing Brazil for the first time. Will we ever see such a beautifully crafted goal ever again? I doubt it. Certainly not from an England team that's for sure.



Friday, 25 June 2010

SHAM-OOH. MICHAEL JACKSON ONE YEAR ON....


Hard to believe that one year ago today saw the sudden death of Michael Jackson. He joined the holy trinity of music superstars who died young but boy did they leave a lasting musical legacy. Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Michael Jackson certainly left their mark on musical culture and will live on for a very long time in the hearts and minds of many millions of fans who still play their music. 
For me, Michael Jackson was a huge  part of my growing up and listening to music. I value an eclectic taste in music stemming from many influences growing up in the seventies and eighties. Motown music always featured very heavily on my youngest brother's record player and I have very vivid memories of the early Jackson 5 and this little black boy looking pretty cool whilst dancing in perfect sync with his afro'd brothers. And years later, one of the best albums ever made was hardly ever off my record player - Michael Jackson had come of age, gone solo and with a little help from producer Quincy Jones, gave us 'Off The Wall'. What a bloody sublime masterpiece of an album that was. If you can, go onto You Tube and watch him perform Don't Stop 'Til You Enough' to see MJ at the very top of his game... healthy, happy, effortlessly cool and still black! It's a performance of such sheer brilliance from an album that will stand the test of time. After the excellent 'Off The Wall' it all went a little silly and downhill from then on in. MJ went on to superstardom with 'Thriller' and 'Bad' but for me, the plastic surgery, the over the top musical and video productions made Michael a parody of his former self. He lost the 'soul' and began the bizarre transformation that saw the slippery slope which eventually spiralled out of control to his sad and sorry demise with awful allegations of child abuse, dangling babies over balconies, sleeping with chimps and having the face of a bomb-blast victim. A sad ending to a life of brilliance mixed with a little lunacy.
I'm very, very glad I got the opportunity to see him live at Roundhay Park in Leeds (1986?) on a barmy August bank holiday. He was of course, superb but in that Las Vegas, showy sort of way with illusions and spectacular visual trickery. Call me old fashioned, but he will always be remembered for the Jackson 5 and his black tux on Off The Wall. 
And just for a bit of sheer indulgence, here's my Top 5 Michael Jackson hits.... 


Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough (Off The Wall)
I defy anyone not to dance to this track. How I wished I could find a lad at the local Blackpool nightspots who could dance like this... sadly, I never did. 

Rock With You (Off The Wall)   
Cool and very sexy track. Check out the video for Michael's uber-gay outfit which he just manages to pull off as cool with his wicked dancing. It's easy to see where Peter Andre gets his influence from...

It's The Falling In Love (Off The Wall)
Written by Carole Bayer-Sager and another feel good summer record.   

Billie Jean (Thriller) 
Great song and memorable video of MJ stepping onto the pavement whilst it lights up.  

Man in The Mirror (Bad)
The last track he sang at Roundhay Park Leeds and the most memorable. Ignore the mawkish message within the lyrics and just listen how the song builds up until the final gospel-like ending. Sheer class and one to blast in the car.  


Oh hang on... results just in on the inquest into Michael Jackson's death. On the morning of his death he apparently tripped over a pram and bumped his head. The coroner's verdict... blame it on the buggy.           

ARRIVEDERCI ITALIA...

As if the recent shenanigans with France's shock exit from the World Cup wasn't bad enough, the current world champions Italy have exited stage right. Not only do they go home in the first rounds, they went out in such spectacular style, being roundly beaten by Slovakia (a country with population less than Scotland) and finishing below New Zealand in the group table. If ever a team's reputation exceeded their talent, then this was it. However, a tournament without Italy is still a shock. The Italians are also good value for money in their skills, their passion, and their defensive play when they're 1-0 up! They usually play with a swagger and panache and I love watching them play. This team, was anything but passionate and skillful. Their defence was woeful and the team looked old and tired. And then I struggled to think of any great stars of the Italian side. Great names of the past are easy to recall; Baggio, Maldini, Rossi, Zoff, Del Piero..... This year, I've just about heard of Cannavaro and Gattuso but sorry to say, I'm struggling with other team members. And am I right in thinking that Inter Milan won this year's Champions League despite not having one Italian in the team? 
So, this year's tournament throws up even more headlines. France and Italy out in the first rounds. The African teams have had a poor showing, leaving only Ghana as the continent's representative in the next rounds. England, Spain and Germany have struggled in the first rounds. We've seen a resurgence in the South American teams, and a few surprises from teams like Japan and USA.  That makes for a great tournament, although as an England fan, it's been traumatic. Still, it's been a heck of a lot worse for the French and Italian fans.....



Wednesday, 23 June 2010

AT LAST...AT LAST....

We held our breath and we finally got the result we were hoping for. England at last came good and thanks to Jermain Defoe's first half strike against Slovenia, we're through to the last 16. England played better today, they needed to. There was a spring in the step and purpose to the attack. We got through and head the group however, we didn't look world class. Certainly not in the league of Argentina who played last night and looked simply unbeatable. It was good to see the team unite on the pitch after the final whistle and we now know it's not a split camp but a group coming together under Capello's new-found passion. Great to see and long may it continue. 
I was thinking about this World Cup and how it's so far been a little on the strange side. It's not really come alive in the way Italia 90 did. There's been the controversial and somewhat annoying drone of the vevuzela - the South African instrument of torture. There was the slow starts from the top teams and shock results with Spain losing their first match and Germany storming theirs then losing the second. It's been a tournament of red cards, kidding the ref with imaginary facial injuries, imaginary card waving and general bad temper amongst the players and coaching staff. Is it just me, or have the teams looked unhappy and uncomfortable to be there? The weather has been cold and has given a drab feel to the matches. England were utterly rubbish with discontent in the camp, injuries and goalkeeping howlers. 
And then there was France. Mon dieu! What was all that about? Never before have we witnessed such a great team of the past sink so low as to having players sent home and total capitulation on the pitch from a group of players. Wouldn't it be nice for the French FA to fine each player and the manager (who I assume is being paid a shedload of Euros for his services) and refund each French fan who paid a vast amount of money to travel to South Africa to follow the French team. I think the team and all concerned let themselves down, but they let the fans down even more. Ireland would have given it a great go in the tournament and would have no doubt gained loads of new fans had they had their chance in the qualifiers and the ref spotted that Henry plays for France and not the Harlem Globetrotters. Poetic justice I suppose but France have not left the tournament with many admirers. 



Monday, 21 June 2010

BARCA BABY....

Watching England's dismal performance at this year's WC, took me back four years ago to the last World Cup and watching it in Spanish bars during the Jolly Girls Trip. Five of us headed off to a little town called Tossa de Mar on the Costa Brava and little did we know what lay in store. We flew into Barcelona and managed to hire a huge people carrier which pootled us through the Spanish barmy night and tricky mountain roads to our villa. Once we spent most of the next day cleaning it (the word rank doesn't do it justice), disposing of resident lizards (and me having to be sedated) we hit our private pool and sort of stayed there for the duration doing hours and hours of lilo racing, underwater races, standing on shoulders, somersaulting into pool, drinking beer and laughing a lot. Our evenings were spent having barbecues, drinking more beer, dancing on our balcony to very loud music and playing cards. We talked about anything and everything and then when the Spanish electricity system failed (as it often did), we spent scary times going into the cellar  in unison and hand in hand to locate the fuse box, trying not too hard to think about the Freddie Kruger character who might be lurking in the shadows sharpening his blades. I suppose 5 of us singing nervously 'I will survive' with facepacks, leave in hair conditioner and sloggie knickers entering any cellar would deter even the hardiest of serial killers. 
Then in a fit of 'let's give the pool a miss today and go get some culture', we found ourselves on the bus out of Tossa de Mar and heading towards the beautiful city of Barcelona. We had a full day planned... do the culture bits first and visit Antonio Gaudi's famous La Familia Sagrada cathedral, visit La Seu cathedral, have a wander down the famous Las Ramblas and then the big one - visit Nou Camp, the world famous football stadium and home of Barcelona FC. The cathedrals were absolutely magnificent. If you've never been, you are allowed access to the roof of both buildings and although it's a vertigo sufferers worst nightmare, the views take some beating. Coming down the hundreds of steps on a very tiny spiral staircase with no handrail was also not for the feint-hearted. Inside however, they are simply stunning. So after many hours of culture, did we amble off into a little tapas bar to flirt outrageously with the waiters? Erm...no. We headed to the nearest KFC right outside Gaudi's masterpiece of modern architecture and gorged our way through a bargainio bucketo. Fed and watered, we headed off the Nou Camp by on Barcelona's underground which it has to be said, was exceptionally clean and very safe. For Vic and I who are football mad, the stadium tour of the Nou Camp was awesome. Even the less football-enamoured girlies amongst us enjoyed it. Well, they said they did. After a madly hot day and we trudged back to the city centre and caught our bus in time to hear the Spanish bus driver speak the immortal lines to each of us whilst pointing 'You...Tossa?' 'Ce, Senor, me tosser, but you're a tw*t'. Oh, it's so very, very childish but it amused us all the way back to our villa. And thank God he didn't speak English as we could have ended up turning left on the motorway and heading towards the East European sex slave industry. The other memory of the bus journey was the really awful tape of really bad 70's music - I seem to recall Tiger Feet by Mud, and Yes Sir, I can Boogie by Baccara playing over and over with 5 of us on the backseat (where else?) singing along with lyrics with the occasional Pans People dance routine thrown in for good measure much to the appreciation of the Spaniards on board. We got back late and jumped in the pool for a late night pool-lit dip with lilo racing and the hits of the Rubettes ringing in our ears.  
The rest of the holiday saw a few escapades which I cannot divulge. Some involve a bloke in leather trousers and a large motorbike who jumped in our pool without formal invitation. I can say no more. As the saying goes, what goes on in Tossa, stays in Tossa. Great holiday and great memories. Thank God the photos are locked in a Swiss vault.....





Saturday, 19 June 2010

DISMAL ENGLAND


Oh dear, oh dear... England expected but England failed to deliver. Never before in my many years of watching England have I witnessed such jaw-dropping awfulness on a football pitch in a major tournament. To get one draw in the World Cup is unfortunate. USA played well and England (like many other top teams) played cautiously. But to draw two, and against such inferior opposition is, quite frankly, seven shades of crapola. 
And if ever the omens were on England's side before the game had even kicked off, then this was it. Germany had previously lost to Serbia and even missed a penalty... are you having that? And then in the other group match, USA and Slovenia gifted England a draw. All they had to do was get a 1-0 win. Shouldn't be too hard to ask for our multi-millionaire, world-famous, world-class, highly trained England team should it? Instead, the team couldn't pass, couldn't cross the ball, couldn't tackle and more worryingly didn't look even remotely happy to be there. There was no cohesion and you were left thinking where on earth is  the goal going to come from. Uncomfortable viewing from an expectant nation back home and in the stadium where the England fans far outnumbered the Algerian fans, there were boos at the final whistle. Rooney turned to the camera and began his swearing tirade against the English fans who had the temerity to boo the England team's performance. This may come as some surprise to you Wayne, but fans pay thousands of pounds and take weeks off work to watch their team try and win games like this. There can be no complaints from any of the players on the booing and heckling they received last night in Capetown. The fans expect passion, leadership and a desire to win their matches with some panache and skill. Thousands of fans follow the team to all outreaches of the world, often at great expense whilst the England team usually consisting of 40 players and about 189 backroom staff, are flown in first class and stay in 5 star accommodation. When England play teams like Algeria (who alongside New Zealand) are probably the worst team in the competition, and only manage a 0-0 draw, the fans have every right to show their displeasure. Rooney is at best being a tad naive if he thinks the fans are wrong to boo and instead should applaud the team off the pitch after witnessing that. Keep your mouth shut and reflect on the fact that you played quite probably the worst game in an England shirt and remember to never ever blame the fans for giving you or the other ten players a hard time because you deserved it.  
And so to Wednesday crunch match against Slovenia. England need to deliver and fast. Capello needs to play Joe Cole, and Jemaine Defoe up front with Rooney. Put Carrick on as an extra scoring chance. Mix it up and play like it's the last match ever... because on last night's showing and in this World Cup, it very probably could be.  





Friday, 18 June 2010

GLASTO 2010

It's less than a week to go until the daddy of the summer music festivals begins - Glastonbury. The little town of Pilton, Somerset gets mobbed by literally thousands of music fans and their tents. The Glastonbury festival was founded by Michael Eavis in 1970 the day after Jimi Hendrix died. The acts then were Marc Bolan, Keith Christmas, Stackridge, Al Stewart and Quintessance. And wait for this.. tickets were £1 and included free milk from the farm!. By 2009, attendances reached well over 135,000 with ticket prices running to hundreds of pounds. Anyone who is anyone has appeared there and there are plenty of acts who have had their musical careers either kickstarted or rejuvenated there. So, for the happy campers out there, here's the full stage list for this year's Glasto festival....


Friday 


Gorillaz 22:00 – 23:45
Dizzee Rascal 20:00 – 21:00
Vampire Weekend 18:30 – 19:30
Snoop Dogg 17:00 – 18:00
Willie Nelson 15:15 – 16:30
Corinne Bailey-Rae 13:45 – 14:40
Femi Kuti 12:15 – 13:05
Rolf Harris 11:00 – 11:45
Saturday 
Muse 22:15 – 23:45
Scissor Sisters 20:15 – 21:30
Shakira 18:45 – 19:30
The Dead Weather 17:00 – 18:00
Seasick Steve 15:30 – 16:30
Jackson Browne 13:50 – 15:00
The Lightning Seeds 12:20 – 13:15
Tinchy Stryder 11:00 – 11:45 


Sunday
Stevie Wonder 21:45 – 23:15
Faithless 20:00 – 21:00
Jack Johnson 18:00 – 19:15
Ray Davies 16:15 – 17:30
Slash 14:50 – 15:45
Norah Jones 13:30 – 14:20
Paloma Faith 12:10 – 13:00
Yeovil Town Band 11:00 – 11:30

Thursday, 17 June 2010

DEM BONES, DEM BONES....

Scientists have unearthed the bones of 17th Century Italian artist Caravaggio from a Tuscan cemetary. It seems Caravaggio had quite a colourful life. History tells us he killed a man, brawled constantly, and rowed with most people. And just to underline how dramatic Caravaggio's short life was, researchers say he may quite literally have died for his art. Having taken DNA samples from the bones, scientists found levels of lead high enough to drive the painter mad and certainly helped to finish him off. The lead was likely to have been added to his paints and would have contributed to his death. Art historians already suspect that Goya and Van Gogh may also have suffered from the ill effects of lead in their paint causing depression, pain and personality change. I supposed it goes some way in explaining Van Gogh's penchant for removing parts of his body with a sharp knife. 
Scientists also say that lead poisoning didn't kill Caravaggio. What killed him was infected wounds (possibly from brawling with errant husbands of his love interests) and the scourge of the times...syphillis. So, one of the fathers of modern painting was a brawling, slightly mad, clap-ridden, womanizing scrapper. The Italian Oliver Reed. The research on Caravaggio's bones certainly goes some way in explaining the 'madness' so closely associated with artists through the generations. It sure explains the Turner Prize for Art and Tracy Emin. Italian scientists are now negotiating access to Leonardo da Vinci's tomb in the hope of finding cause of death and to create a facial reconstruction.



Tuesday, 15 June 2010

THE MOST ANNOYING PHRASES...

Have you ever thought how many phrases and questions are presented to you each day to which you smile and reply politely, but all the time and with a great deal of restraint, you find yourself wanting to say proudly and very loudly ... well, for the sake of propriety, check it out in the alphabetti spaghetti. 
Today was another of those all-to-frequent challenging days of too much work, too little time. Just when you get your head down, you get inundated with the type of questions or phrases that can send Mother Theresa into Chubby Brown. Allow me to introduce you to a few of the phrases which cause my hair to go a deeper shade of grey and have me heading into la-la land with Tourettes Syndrome...


In work:
'I know you're having your lunch, but can I just ask you...?'
'So if I could leave that one with you...?'
'Can I ask you what this means..?'
'Have you got a minute?....'
'Can I have a private word outside?.....'
'It needs to be done today...'
'Sorry to ask, only I know you're really good at....'


In love:- 


Can I be honest with you?....' 
'Will you be honest with me?....'
'Do you not love me anymore?...'
'What are you thinking?...'
'Was it good for you?....
'How was I?...'
'Am I the best?....'

'Are you asleep yet?...'
'If you loved me you'd....'


With friends:- 
He won't bite you, he's just being really friendly...'
'Can I borrow your....?'
'Can you lend me £....?'
'Can you babysit on Saturday night?....'
'I'm not keeping you from anything am I?...'
'Are you watching this or can I switch over?...'
'I'll just stay for another drink if that's ok?....'


Miscellaneous and enough to send your blood pressure rising...
'You have exceeded your overdraft limit and will be charged...'
'You are due for your smear test....'
'Can I interest you in a copy of the Watch Tower?...'
'You are currently 4th in the queue....'
'Sorry, this checkout is now closed...'
'Press 1 for bill payments...2 for account details....'
'Good morning BT billing...'' 
'Do you know what speed you were doing back there madam?....'
'April Fools!...'


Any more, for any more? 





Monday, 14 June 2010

ARISE SIR RUG WEARER

The Queen's birthday honours list have just been revealed and once again Bruce Forsyth has been overlooked. Campaigns have started this morning from GMTV (who else?) to gain public support for Brucie to receive a knighthood. Words like 'national treasure', '60 years in showbiz', and 'he DESERVES to become a Sir' have been voiced by members of the general public interviewed by GMTV. 
Mmmm.. let me see.... should Brucie become a Sir? Here's my view on the way we honour our British citizens. The Queen quite rightly honours those who do a stirling job for Britain. For me, that should mean people who selflessly give their all for services to make life in some way better for others. I'm thinking nurses and doctors who work tirelessly in this country for the NHS and then volunteer to work in areas of famine, national disaster, or war to help those in dire need. I'm thinking of the volunteers who work in deprived urban inner city areas to start youth centres and try to give hope and education to a subculture of young people whose only options in life are crime and drugs. I'm thinking of the mothers of victims of knife crime who campaign for changes in the law, for the workers in refuges who work fearsomely for the victims of domestic violence, arranged marriages and rape. For the volunteers and workers in drug, alcohol, homeless and mental health charities who work for the least funded of society. And then there's the inspirational teachers, Britain's servicemen and women, firefighters and police officers. 
Yes, these people are sometimes honoured with MBE's and sometimes an OBE. But what really gets my goat is the showbiz and business fraternity who are given knighthoods, CBE's and OBE's in return for 'charity work' and services to Britain. Charity work for me is rolling up your sleeves and getting you hands dirty. It means a bit more than turning up with Ronnie Corbett and Jimmy Tarbuck at golf tournaments or being a UNICEF ambassador and visiting Uganda once a year with a film crew of 28. Sorry Brucie, you have had a charmed life in showbiz and have been greatly rewarded for your talent of being an entertainer and for developing catchphrases. Not for you a life of mortgages, 9 to 5 working, making ends meet, or making a REAL change to people's lives. 
And this one is for GMTV - if you're going to campaign for people to receive rewards for their endeavours, try campaigning or Sara Payne who after the murder of her daughter has worked tirelessly for the right to a change in the law to a controlled access to the sex offenders register or 'Sarah's Law'.  Or how about Helen Newlove who works for the victims of gang violence following the murder of her husband by alcohol-fuelled youths. Or the people instrumental in sustaining peace from terrorism in Northern Ireland. The list is endless.
But, unfortunately, we will continue to see the likes of Brucie, captains of industry and sports people getting honoured. And then there's Catherine Zeta Jones. That's right, CZJ this week received a CBE for 'charity work' despite the fact she has chosen to live outside this country for 10 years and therefore presumably does not actually pay any tax into the UK. Oooh, didn't she do well? Nice to see you, to see you nice. 










Sunday, 13 June 2010

ANIMAL FEVER....




I'm dedicating this blog to my great mate TG who just happens to have a birthday today. TG and I share a weird and wonderful sense of humour and a love of all music particularly get down dirty rock from the likes of Led Zepp and Nirvana through to strutting our stuff on the dance floor to the Jackson 5. Anyone who has ever seen her take on 'Blame it on the Boogie' and in particular her interpretation of the line 'I just can't, I just can't, I just can't control my feet' will never be the same again. Socialising with TG is a day or evening filled with sniggering childishness and aching ribs from laughing so much. You'll talk about anything and everything and no subject is off limits. Oh yeah, and tell her your deepest, darkest secrets in the safe knowledge that they will never be divulged. A true friend and I love her to bits. 


So TG, happy birthday. I hope your gorgeous husband and two lovely kids are spoiling you rotten today. And as a treat, I thought you would enjoy this video which I think it will appeal to your love of great rock drummers and to your sense of comic timing at its best. And as Animal so succinctly puts it.. 'you're my kinda WOMAN'. 

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER....

I love summer because I can indulge myself in pursuit of my two favourite food items.. strawberries and ice cream. Strawberries are just that quintessential English summer icon which are just delicious at the moment. Unfortunately, my dislike and total avoidance of cream puts a dampener on the ideal combo and Wimbledon favourite, strawberries and cream. I make do with the rather splendid alternative of vanilla ice cream or Rachel's Organic Bio-yoghurt. I try only to eat strawberries when they're in season, only English or Scottish varieties and never mass-produced from abroad. That's not xenophobic statement, it's just that I'm now making a conscious effort to source food locally or least from the UK and when it is in season. The exception of course is food items like bananas, avocados etc which are grown in warmer climates, but for the most part, a bit of eco-friendliness goes a long way these days. 
I'm scratching my head to think of any strawberry picking farms around the Fylde Coast or Wyre area but can't think of any. Surprising really given that it's an area rich in arable, market gardening land. If anyone knows of any, please feel free to let me know and I'll be there with a Transit Van loaded with punnets.....

CORRIE CHARACTERS I LOVE TO HATE...

What's happened to Corrie lately? It used to be fun.. Northern humour mixed every now and again with drama and pathos. I watch it now and it's turned into care into the community with psycho's, gun drama, infidelity and just plain madness. The opening credits have changed and I'm not struck. And if that wasn't bad enough, even some of the characters are getting on my wick. Allow me to take you through the current crop who quite frankly, need culling with a dose of swine flu. Or a plane coming down on the cobbles on it's descent to Ringway airport might do the trick.  


Exhibit A - Nick Tilsley (Ben Price). As if the old Nick played by Adam Rickets wasn't bad enough ie. getting his shirt off at every opportunity, they replace him with Ben Price who was known previously for getting his shirt off in Footballers Wives. And where did he inherit those ears and cleft chin from? Certainly not his screen mother Gail McIntyre who is a cross between a troll and a dormouse. Annoying rating 10/10 - time he treated his hairdresser girlfriend a little better than constantly taking her to the Rovers for a cheese sandwich. Also, it's getting a tad annoying watching Nick deliver each line through gritted teeth as though having his 3rd and 4th vertebrae crushed. 


Exhibit B - Trevor the binman (Steve Jackson). Ignored Janice's advances and offers of a chippy tea each Thursday in order to pursue and indeed bed, factory boss and firebrand Carla Connor. This is about as unlikely a pairing as you'll ever see. Lets look at the evidence, would Carla really fall for someone a) called Trevor? b) who's a binman? c) looks like he could do with a good wash? The answer is never in a month of Sundays. Oh, and he can't act either... Annoying rating 10/10 - bin him now in recycling ie. Holby City or the Bill. 




Exhibit C - Norris Cole and Mary Taylor (Malcolm Hebden and Patti Clare). Watching the build up to this failed romance was bad enough but hit new heights of naffness during the 'Misery' scenes when Mary held Norris captive in their cottage on the Yorkshire moors. Silly storyline punctuated by constant 'a.a.a.a.a.a I love you Norris' or 'a.a.a.a.a I want to get back to the Cabin, Mary'. Watch these two stuttering actors ply their craft. Once you notice the stuttering at the beginning of each line, you can't help but want to drive over to Granada Studios and cut the brakes on their motor home. And please Mary, look to a heterosexual man who will give you the sex you so fervently crave because clearly Norris is never going to provide it... Annoying rating 8/10 nymphomania and newsagents never mix well. 




Exhibit D - Rosie and Sophie Webster (Helen Flanagan and Brooke Vincent). One is a right little strumpet who gets her kit off with alarming regularity - usually with older men or footballers playing for Wetherfield County. Answers to the name of 'Rerrsie' when being beckoned downstairs by her mum. Has ambitions of becoming a WAG or a page 3 model. Her younger sister Sophie (or Surr-phee) when being beckoned downstairs for her tea by Sal, is Rosie's polar opposite. A bible-basher turned recent lesbian. Another unlikely pairing but hey.. it grabs a few more teenage boy viewers from EastEnders. Annoying rating 9/10 - both should have been drowned at birth.  


Exhibit E - Kirk Sutherland (Andy Whyment). Can anyone get through life being so stupid? He manages to bag a few women - Fizz, Julie and his latest love-interest, wheelchair user Izzy, despite not being able to string a sentence together, generally being out of work all the time (his only previous work experience was as a dog walker) and only ever really hanging around with 12 year old lads called Chesney. Annoying rating 5/10 - the Mancunian Forrest Gump. 
  


Exhibit F - Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride). Doesn't so much act, as points her belt at the other character. Her character is reduced to angst-ridden crying sessions over her lost mam (the superb and sadly missed Blanche) and our Tracy. And what does she sound like when she's crying? A cow in labour, that's what. Truly awful. When she's not crying, she's smoking and ever now and again, treats the viewers to one of those throaty, phlegmy laughs that only a 40 a day smoker can produce. Still, the throaty, crying Dierdre has to be better than vampish Deirdre especially when she embarks on an adulterous relationship. I will never get over the sight of her and Dev having a one night stand. I bet his duvet still smells of Lambert and Butler. Annoying rating 7/10 - anyone got a light?



Exhibit G - Bill Webster (Peter Armitage). Where do I start with Bill. He's annoying in that he leaves half a pint of Newton and Ridley in his moustache. Like Kirk, he manages to bag women at an alarming rate despite talking only of stopcocks, spanners and whippets. He usually has a gormless, mouth-gaping  view on life especially when son Kevin (who Bill thoughtfully passed on the gormless gene to) tells him about important stuff like sh*gging Molly and getting her pregnant or carburettors. Bill's normal response is to wipe the froth off his moustache and say something thought-provoking and deeply philosophical like 'by 'eck our Kevin'. Annoying rating 9/10 - something please unscrew the scaffolding bolts a little cause a little... erm... accident. Tracy Barlow or David Platt will get blamed for it anyway.. 




Have I missed any others? 

OOPS, GET ME.. BUTTER FINGERS....

With expectations high, the nation watching, the hype and lead up to this game... we were always going to be disappointed weren't we? England as usual didn't let us down in playing their usual nervous and lacklustre game playing the saarc-cuur minnows, the USA. We started well with Gerrard stepping up to the mark in the captain's role and scoring a little beauty in the first 5 minutes. After that, USA just seemed to stifle England's play and we allowed them to do it. And then, the inevitable happened, an inoccuous shot which goalie Robert Green failed to catch and skidded off into the back of the net. It gets worse each time you see it. 
And so to the players. Did Capello pick the right team? Some played badly it has to be said. Rooney gave the ball away too many times. Lampard was quiet and did very little to impose himself on the game. Lennon huffed and puffed but made little impact. And please don't get me started on Heskey. Rooney says he loves playing alongside Heskey as he's a good team player. Sorry Wayne, that may be the case, but we need someone he sticks the ball in the net on a pretty regular basis. Heskey just fails to deliver. Capello left him on before Crouch tried to make an impact with only 12 minutes to go. And why play Milner only to replace him with Wright-Phillips? Ledley King taken off to be replaced by Carragher looked worrying. Carragher looked knackered and was out run. 
Hard to pick out the positives really. I suppose we didn't lose and we have two 'easier' games to go. Very disappointing night though and we are going to have to do better. 



Friday, 11 June 2010

AND WE'RE OFF...

At last, at last it's here. The World Cup from South Africa kicks off today with the hosts drawing 1-1 with Mexico. France play Uruguay tonight and as I'm blogging, it's an uninspiring and cautious 0-0 at half time. I'm hoping Forlan sticks his hand out and grabs a late winner for Uruguay. Will serve the cheating French right. 
And then there's the BIG one tomorrow night. The mighty England take on USA who play 'sarc-uur'. Good win for us and we'll be up and running in one of the easiest groups. 
Except for Rio Ferdinand, we've stayed relatively injury free so far. We are looking good on paper and we just have to go out and play the football the players and the team are capable of. Ledley King looks like a more than capable replacement for Rio and I hope he'll have a storming tournament. Wayne Rooney is also capable of having the tournament of his life. Every World Cup throws up a star who forges their name into tournament folklore. Rooney can do it with his passion and skill. Only Messi, Torres or possibly Kaka or Ronaldo can challenge his quest for the golden boot or for the goal of the tournament. One thing for sure, it sure as Hell won't be Emile Heskey. As for myself and the millions of England supporters, I'll be holding my breath that he doesn't break any body parts or tells the ref to 'f*ck off you f*ckin b*stard' whilst heading off to the changing rooms for an early shower.  I'm also praying my £10 bet for England to win the World Cup at 14-1. You can but dream....

Thursday, 10 June 2010

HANDBAGS AT DAWN ...



I watched the spat between James Cordon and Sir Patrick Stewart from this week's Glamour Awards with a very uncomfortable feeling. A couple of issues compound this uncomfortable feeling... Firstly how it appears that drink plays a major part at these events. It contributes to rambling introductions and acceptance speeches. It turns boring people into giggling, f word expletive-ridden numbskull's. It turns egomaniacs into drunk and obnoxious egomaniacs. It certainly looked like Sir Patrick and James had downed a few cheeky vimtos beforehand. 
And secondly, James Cordon is worrying me. From humble beginnings from appearances in The History Boys and Fat Friends, he, along with Ruth Jones penned the superb Gavin and Stacey tv comedy. I may be way off mark, but I get the feeling that Ruth Jones was the tour de force in the writing partnership. 
Now he has just become the ubiquitous funny man on what seems to be every tv programme. He's become the 'face' of rehashed new laddism, taking over the mantle vacated by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel. He is now the official role model and 'face' for all male football supporters. He's a lad. He's one of us. He's normal. He's funny. He also gets paid lorry loads of cash for fronting his new show 'A League of Their Own' and for his contributions (if a little self-indulged) to Sports Relief, BBC Sports Personality of the Year and was the the 'coach' in the recent awful 4 hour Unicef England v Rest of the World football match at Old Trafford. And to cash in just a little further, James Cordon now has the best gig of fronting 'World Cup Live' which the ITV advert promises us a summer-long party which gaaaar-gus people and James of course, providing the cheeky fun. 
A marmite comic? yes perhaps there's an element of either liking or loathing him. I'm sitting on the fence with my feelings edging more towards the fact that I'm just bored with him. He not only created Smithy, one of the seminal comedy characters of the noughties.. he's also actually becoming Smithy. Watching his behaviour towards Sir Patrick Stewart was loutish. SPS was no better, but perhaps his dickheadedness was more induced by alcohol and was more laughable than nasty. James Cordon's reaction could have shown SPS up to be the boorish old thespian luvvie that he is. Instead, he just looked like an arse playing to the crowds and with little grace. 
     

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

BIG BROTHER LAUNCH NIGHT

It's 2010, it's in the 11th series, Davina is screaming already, it's on every night throughout summer, there's a few shocks in store... yes, hold on to your hats because Big Brother is back for the last ever series.
I hate myself for watching it but I'll no doubt be glued to my tv for the last showing of a little bit of tv history. 
So during tonight's launch, here's the housemates entering tonight... 


1. Josie (blonde, Bristolian, looks a bit of a goer) 
2. Steve (ex soldier. Heavily tattooed. Has 8 kids and an eye like Tony Gordon from Corrie. Disabled following bomb attack in Belfast)
3. Ben (very posh and foppish. Tim Nice-but-Dim springs to mind. So does the word wankwipe)  
4. Rachel (Beyonce look-a-likee. Vain, lazy and a right little madam)
5. Nathan (mono-eyebrow, naff Northern lad, hideous laugh) 
6. Dave (Christian minister, looks like a lesbian particularly Billie Jean King, wears monk's outfit. Welsh and annoying)
7. Caoimhe (pronounced Keever apparently. Irish, beautiful & likes girls)
8. Govan (giggly effeminate boy age 21. Virgin but self-proclaimed big willy. Josie will make a man of him) 
9. Shabby (arty, squattor, loud, doesn't want a job, lesbian)
10. Ife (singer & dancer, black lady. Could be fireworks with Beyonce)
11. John James (Australian blonde beach surfer hunk) 
12. Sunshine (medical student, spoilt, childish. Won't last too long with the bully girls or Shabby having her evil way with her in the showers)
13. Corin (Katie Price look-a-likee. Gobby Northern girl with false bits)
14. Mario (picked at random and entering the house as a mole - not the blind creature that buggers up you lawn, but picked to do dastardly deeds against housemates whilst evading detection)


So, that's it. The full list of housemates. Token disabled, black, gay in-situ. Usual WAG-type young ladies who play with their hair a lot whilst gazing at their reflection in the mirror. A couple of lusty young lads who will have their pick of the ladies. And of course, the usual freaks all brought to life by the highly excitable and equally annoying Davina McCall. 



Tuesday, 8 June 2010

EVENIN' ALL....

I have a confession to make. For years I took the mickey out of my brother for liking the tv programme Heartbeat. I could never work out how he could have such an edgy and cool taste in tv, yet could love something so schmaltzy and so unappealing as Heartbeat. And then something happened to me.... I got sort of old. I caught a rerun of Heartbeat on ITV3 and really enjoyed it. Now it's a case of a Sky+ series link and that heady feeling of excitement when there's a new episode to watch. The best episodes had PC Nick Rowan (played by Nick Berry), Kate his wife, and Claude Greengrass. The episode when Kate dies of leukaemia will be forever etched on my brain for that 'Love Story' moment when the storyline is so sad, you're sobbing into your crisps and your nose runs. Yes, the programme is a little sentimental at times and reflects the 1960's through rose-tinted spectacles. At times, the sleepy Yorkshire village of Aidensfield has a crime rate matched only by downtown LA or the Bronx. And then there's the problem of the longest decade since time began. It depicted 1962 when it first aired in 1992. By the time Heartbeat came off air in 2009, it had only reached 1968. But we won't worry about little trivialities like that and instead talk about the good stuff. Good acting (with the exception of Gina the scouse barmaid and Alfred the dog), good costumes, great music and great storylines. It had some great eye candy in the shape of the very lovely Nick Berry and my personal favourite, Jason Durr who played PC Mike Bradley. The cars and motorbikes used are also good to see again. No hightech car chases with BMW's here.. more like a Ford Anglia or mini van panda car and an old BSA. 
A great supporting cast and a nostalgic window into a world of the local pub where you could smoke, village community life, red phone boxes, a Post Office, and village bobbys who were clean shaven and wore a shirt and tie. And last but not least, it's good to see how many actors who had a bit part in Heartbeat and who later rose to the heady heights of Hollywood and megastardom in boyband revivals (Daniel Craig and Gary Barlow to name but a few). 
So, I apologise to my lovely brother for putting up with my eyes rolling and tutting when the word 'Heartbeat' was mentioned. I'm hooked and I can't help it. I draw the line however at The Royal and Rosemary and Thyme. I do have some taste after all...



ALAN WHO?

I briefly watched GMTV this morning  which is never an easy undertaking especially when dumb and dumber Andrew Castle and Kate Garraway are the presenters. During the GMTV advert breaks, I've noticed that new albums are promoted generally by musicians and singers who need all the help they can get. 
This morning's advert I spotted was for the 'only album you need to buy this summer', and 'the 'best cd from this summer' from Alan Pownall. Yeah, I know, I'd never heard of him either. The video accompanying his droning voice was of Alan on the beach scowling surrounding by blonde lovelies dancing around his piano. Anyway, if you want an album of dirge, sung by a scowling young man deep in thought, with a name more akin to the signwriting on a white transit van for a heating engineer, go and buy it now at Asda for £8.98. I think I'll stick to Shaheen's new album - you know... the Welsh lad who came 7th in last year's Britain's Got Talent. No, still can't remember? He sang Valerie, until Simon intervened and told him to sing something more soulful. Gasps from the audience and my God, what is Simon doing, then Shaheen belts out a Smokey Robinson track he had in reserve and brings the house down. How the hell does Simon do it we ask? A more contrived moment in BGT would be harder to find. Simon, the self-proclaimed expert of talent then voted for a dance troupe in the next round in favour of Shaheen before the other dumb and dumber Amanda and Piers saved him. And this year, guess what? Shaheen is signed to Simon Cowell's Syco record label and cue the adverts for his new album during GMTV advert breaks. Cynical? Oh yes...

Sunday, 6 June 2010

5000 BLOG HITS AND COUNTING....

Wowsers.. The Fishfingerbutty blogsite reached the heady milestone of achieving 5000 blog hits today. It started in December 2009 as a way of alleviating a bit of boredom whilst waiting for my CRB check to come through prior to taking my first nursing job. What initially started as a hobby soon snowballed in to a full-scale rant-a-thon of the things that have turned me into the grumpy old woman staring back at me in the mirror.  
Reaching 5000 hits is a big thrill for me as I only ever expected it to last for a couple of weeks until the novelty wore off. Now, six months later and I'm still keen to write a load of bunkum for my friends and family's general amusement. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes a little reflective and sometimes it drifts into bonkersville.  
And thank you to all of you who have taken the time and trouble to read the blog and leave comments. All of them (bar one slightly unusual blog reader with a keen eye on spelling and grammatical errors) have been gratefully received and are much appreciated. 
So, here's to the next 5000 blog hits and don't forget to keep checking in and please keep the comments coming...   

Saturday, 5 June 2010

DRUMMER BOY...

Just watching the finals of Britain's Got Talent and the young lad playing the drums has just wowed the audience. He drummed to Wipeout on a floating hydraulic platform and was pretty sensational. Drums for me are always one of the sexiest of instruments and when played well, are the heartbeat of the band making a good band sound fantastic. The drums gives the soul and beat to music and along with the bass guitar, they supply the rhythm singled out when strutting your booty on the dance floor. So good luck Keiran. If he doesn't win tonight's BGT final, I hope he gets himself in a great band to showcase his talent. Of course, he'll have to go some way to catch up to the talent of the greatest drummer of all time - Animal from the Muppet Show. Awesome skills and unblinking scary eyes made him a legend on his own drum kit. These guys weren't bad either....


John Bonham 
Keith Moon 
Stewart Copeland 
Ginger Baker 
Mitch Mitchell 
Buddy Rich


Have I missed any? 

ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR..

Today was the day the morris dancers were let out on community treatment orders for our local town's gala procession. It's a big day in the town's social calendar where most of the community turn out in the streets to watch the procession, get drunk then head off to the local fair to throw up on the waltzers. It's a great day for the kids who sit on the floats looking a tad bored in their costumes with their adoring and tearful mums following chirping 'Sebastian, stop picking your nose and pull your costume straight'. And then there's the rose queen. I always remember as a kid having a secret desire that the rose queen with her perfectly coiffured hair, long dress and white gloves would trip up on her evening gown and fall off the travelling lorry into horse muck. Maybe I was just an evil tomboy who would never be selected to look like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys.  I watch them these days, and they are the similar swotty girls from my childhood although my wish for them to fall off moving transport has diminished over time. 
And then, the highlight of the day would be walking down to the local playing fields and on to the fair. Of course as kids, we'd already been there on the Friday evening known as 'Danger Night'. The rides seemed to go faster and a little longer on danger night. The fair lads would be out in force looking hard on the rides with their gold teeth and tattoos. There was a delicious air of excitement and danger on the Friday evening and our parents used to worry like mad about us being there. The rides were so good as well. I loved the waltzers, the octopus (or Typhoon?), and speedway and particularly loved the 'DJ' in the control box cheesily egging us on by his line 'ok girls, scream if you wanna go faster'. Yep, we screamed, and yes we went faster. The Saturday fair was a family day out and was never as good as the night before. If you were lucky, a lad would take you on the parachute ride and after a quick snog and winning a goldfish, it was the ONLY topic of conversation at school on Monday.  
I drove past there earlier and saw a posse of girls heading down in their make-up giggling like only teenage girls can do. It took me back....



MY BIG FAT ICE CREAM OBSESSION....

Summer's here which means it's open season in the ice cream eating championships. Each year I break records. My number one guilty pleasure above all else is ice cream. I would quite happily sacrifice drink, chocolate, crisps, yorkshire puds, meat, fishfinger butties and midget gems if it meant I didn't have to give up ice cream. But, it's not just any old ice cream. Here's the run down on 'special' ice cream which delights me more than life itself.. 
Numero uno is undoubtedly from Notoriani's in Blackpool. It's been there years and years and hasn't changed a bit. It has an old-fashioned ice cream parlour serving Knickerbocker glory's to die for. The ice cream is a one flavoured variety and I think it contains Carnation milk which gives it a unique creamy flavour. It's served in an old fashioned way by staff who sculpt it onto a cone using a sort of spatula. Bewd-a-ful. 
Followed closely behind are Haagan Daz cookies and cream flavour. Reminds me of going to the pictures and complements popcorn superbly. We luckily have another family-run ice cream parlour close by with Bonds of Elswick. Bonds make multi-varieties of flavours, all of which are excellent. My personal favourite there is English sherry trifle and strawberry flavours. Try getting parked there on a sunny Sunday afternoon.. impossible! 
And lastly, I was fortunate to visit a little town called San Gimignano in Tuscany on previous holidays. If you read this and get the chance to go to SG, as well as being one of the most gorgeous Italian renaissance towns you'll ever see, visit the world renowned Gelateria di Piazza owned by the very lovely Sergio Dondoli. Orgasmic times can be had by a) entering the gelateria and seeing the selections ranging from pistachio flavour (sourced from Tuscan pistachios), blackberries and lavender, champagne and peach, and b) check out and sample the chocolate section. Oh My God. You just want to launch into the fridge display head first and not come out for week. And whilst you're waiting to be served, because the queues are VERY long, check out the photos on the walls of the celebrities who've visited Sergio's. I remember seeing signed photos of Bill Clinton, world famous footballers especially the Italians, Luciano Pavarotti to name but a few. 
Ah yes. Thank you God for giving us the Italians who in turn gave us opera, Ferraris, art, style, fashion, food and wine, great football, culture, Vespas, films.... and best of all.... the ultimate ice cream. Grazie! 

Friday, 4 June 2010

YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE - BUT £6m HELPS....

The news hits the back pages and no doubt gladdens the hearts of many a United fan... Rafa Benitez has left  Anfield and Liverpool FC face an uncertain future of debt, team rebuilding and whether their tape of Gerry and the Pacemakers singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' will hold out for another season.
The fans are always the ones I feel the most sympathy with. The scousers are a devoted and vocal bunch who have had to pay their hard-earned money to watch their team collapse into mediocracy through foreign takeovers and dodgy transfers. Huge  wage bills and heavily-claused contracts which, with the exception of perhaps the 'big 4', are crippling the clubs financially. Benitez himself leaves the club with a £6m contract pay severence after a miserable season that came under scrutiny after finishing 7th in the premiership and making little progress in the Champions or Europa League. 
Rafa will be remembered for winning the Champions League in 2005 in a barmy night against AC Milan. Perhaps unfairly, the win was attributed more to Houllier's legacy and the inspirational Gerrard winning the cup rather than Benitez's managerial tactics and skill. For all that, and I'm speaking as a die-hard Man Utd fan, you had to marvel at Liverpool landing the big one after being 3-0 down. Rafa also managed to poach Fernando Torres, arguably one of the greatest strikers to grace the English Premier League and perhaps even developed Gerrard into an inspirational captain that drove the team on to win games that perhaps they'd have lost otherwise. Gerrard's patience was later to run with his manager this season it has to be said. His capture of Pepe Reina also proved a great buy when he now could ply his goalkeeping skills in any one of the top teams in Europe.  
Then there's Rafa's downfall... His truly awful signings. Luring Robbie Keane after he failed to land Garth Barry and then selling him back at a huge loss was hardly his greatest hour. Add to the list Lucas, Babel, Ngog, Voronin, Pennant and it's not great reading. Losing Alonso to Real left Liverpool vulnerable and they never seemed to recover. His zonal marking, his ill-advised post-match rantings and his at times, questionable substitutions were also the nails in his coffin. So, where next for Rafa? It has to be the Italian Serie A doesn't it? His stock value has probably gone down in the Spanish League and Serie A will probably suit his managerial style. The club itself are in debt and failing a miracle, I can't see them holding on to Torres, Gerrard, Mascherano, Benayoun or Reina. Barca, Jose, Sheik City or Chelski will be circling like vultures with their chequebooks at the ready.  
As for who will be the next manager? The fans are calling for Guus Hiddinck. Can't see Guus would fancy the prospect of a selling club, in debt and having a questionable attraction to the big players. O'Neill possibly, but he'd be leaving one American-owned club for another without too much chance of available funds. Hodgson doesn't travel well up North and his accent is better suited to West London.  
For me, Mark Hughes would be a great choice. He did a fine job at City rebuilding the club before the money came in for a quick fix. Players like him and want to play for him. Whether the fans will accept an ex-United stalwart is another matter...


There's always Ian Holloway, but we'd like him for just one bonkers season at the seaside if that's ok? And then there's Keegan - I'd love it if he went there...LOVE IT.