Why can’t the best player in Scottish football get a game?

commons

Kris Commons, Scottish footballer of the year with 32 goals last season, described by Chris Sutton as the nearest Celtic have got to a Lubo Moravcik and voted as the best player in Scottish football by his fellow professionals is leaving Celtic –why?

He’s 31. Lubo Moravcik was 49 (well 33) when he came to Celtic, or so it seemed as the time. He scores on his debut against Dundee and a fortnight later against Rangers and let’s face it, there’s no better way to start, and we couldn’t care less if he’s father time. Commons scores a double in his debut against Aberdeen. He’s not stopped scoring since then. It’s the nearest Celtic get to a player that says play me and I’ll score.

Looking  over the border at, arguably, the next English Champions  Chelsea and John Terry gets a deal (and they’re a wee bit better than us) and he’s 34. Frank Lampard, who left Chelsea because he was too old at 36, but via a stint in the States, ends up at the other billionaires club of Manchester City and he’s hardly looked clapped out. But let’s face it Chelsea can allow Mata to go and bring in Cesc Fabergas. Who exactly are Celtic going to bring in to score those missing goals?

In our last game against Ross County, which ended 0-0 Commons came on as a sub for a sub. That shows he’s not even a first pick in the subs’ stakes. How dispiriting is that going to be for Celtic’s best player?

Chris Commons doesn’t run about enough, he doesn’t track back and make those tackles that modern players need to make. Neither does Craig Gordon. Nobody can dispute his value. Effe Ambrose runs about like a train on the wrong set of tracks. Virgil van Dilk (he’s off as well, and personally I’d rather keep Commons) is often found patrolling outside the oppositions’ penalty box and Emilio Izzaguire is more frequently, than our so-called wingers, caught offside.  I’ll give you a clue. These guys are meant to be defenders, but usually not in the same way as Ambrose is meant to be a defender.

And anyway, how many defensive midfielders do Celtic need? Stefan Johansen, who has come onto a run of form, can play a defensive midfielder. Scott Brown can also play defensively, as can Biton and most other Celtic players. None of them can score goals with the consistency of Kris Commons. In fact if you add up all the goals scored between them last year, or in fact any year, and you’ll find, as an aggregate total, as a combined group, they cannot score as many as Kris Commons. The only commonality is they don’t score many goals.

So who do we replace out best goal scorer and best player with? Well, there’s always that unknown and untouched talent somewhere in the world and if we can get to him first- on Planet X- and the price-tag is under 50p, then we’ve got a chance of a loan deal.

The simple solution is to give Kris Commons a new deal. But there is little or no point in doing that if he’s not going to get a run of games. That seems unlikely. I’ll miss Kris Commons. He’s been one of our best buys. Cost next to nothing. Came in, done his job and left, all without fuss. That’s the problem. Not enough fuss is being made about his value to Celtic. You’re only as good as your last game. Our last game was a stinker. We need class. Kris Commons is class.

http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole

Why you find yourself humping the internet -and being humped.

humping the machine

Remember the internet in December 1983? Morphing about the place with floppy-disk hair talking about equality, freedom and changing the world. How we laughed loading up computers like washing machines. We’d go to bed, get up in the morning and it would be making that strange noise as it dry humped data, trying to get its insides out.

We’d explain comparing a computer to an electrical typewriter was the wrong analogy. One worked by electricity. The other didn’t work but when it did it was by the strange alchemy of binary code. Nothing was no longer nothing. One had to mean something.

Then the internet hit puberty. Boy did our trouble begin. Not just viruses. Porn discovered the internet or the internet discovered porn. It was messy and mousy. Something hard was always getting stuck in the hard drive. We thought it would be just a passing phase.

People no longer saw eye to eye. They seemed quite content to wave their wands and touch their screens. Everybody became somebody. Selfies and selfie-sticks were the latest cool tool to let your neighbour know you were the latest show. Dinner was in the cloud, delivered from Asda by the son of a boy whose name you vaguely remember from school. You google him. And of course it’s him. You need to google yourself, check out what’s being said about you. It might even be true.

http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole

Avengers Assemble (2012) BBC 1, 8.30pm

avengers

Note: nobody in Hollywood has a normal sounding name, the screenplay was by Joss Whedon with help from Zak Penn. I’m not sure why dear old Joss needed any help with his screenplay but when Walt Disney Studios is paying out (a declared) $220 you can be sure they want bang, bang, bang for their buck. And boy do they get it. There’s a fight every ten seconds involving Loki, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Scarlett Johansson (I can’t remember who she’s supposed to be, but she looks good even when wearing a chair) and Samuel L Jackson never plays anyone but Samuel L Jackson. And oh yeh if that’s not alien enough – alien invaders. They’re a bit like orcs only in flying suits with guns. On the good-guy side ledger, one guy dies a tragic death of cut upper lip, which the Assembled Avengers swear to avenge. On the bad-guy side ledger they get hit with everything but a nuclear bomb, apart from, of course, they do get hit with a nuclear bomb. But the bad guys did get to smash up Manhattan. That can’t be all bad. There were two mildly amusing moments in a film running to 143 minutes. One was about an hour into the film (but it seemed longer) when one of the officer on the Avenger’s Assemble flying ship gives some order and the staff behind him start tapping on computer screens. The camera pans in on one of the screens and the programmer is playing one of those old-fashioned Atari games when the ships buzz down and you shoot them from the bottom of the screen. The other amusing moment is near the end of the film. The bad guys have opened up a portal to let in alien ships and the Avenger team are up batting for planet earth, killing as many aliens as they can without their hair getting too drab. Loki challenges the Hulk to bend his knee and worship him. The Hulk picks him up and smashes him like a cartoon a couple of times. I actually laughed at that. But making money is a serious business. This film made reported returns of $1.5118 billion. Then you’ve got your add on-sale of Marvel figures. DVD sales and selling the first film to BBC so that the next film is being advertised and can make a similar profit. Superheroes are the most visible sign of sure-fire profit that Walt Disney can assemble. Until the figures start flagging they’ll be wearing the same old costumes again and again. It’s old-fashioned wrestling: Good guys versus bad guys (sshhh, spoiler, the good guys always win).

http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole

Dominic Frisby, Life After the State.

ineos rat

I prefer books but I’ve got a Kindle. I’ve downloaded Katy Brand’s Brenda Monk is Funny and read about 16% of it (Kindle doesn’t do page numbers). Brenda Monk isn’t funny, but the novel does give an interesting and readable account of the British comedy circuit. Dominic Frisby claims to be a comedian. I’ve got to about 11% of Frisby’s book and I’m sure he is.  It’s Social Darwinism in its purest form, laissez-faire capitalism doesn’t work because it is being constrained by interference—primarily by the state.  Reagan and Thatcher didn’t work because it was the wrong kind of capitalism, interfering ‘crony capitalism’.

‘Centrally planned economies are always outperformed by disorganized, apparently chaotic market systems. South Korea, for example, is example, is some 15 times more prosperous per head than its neighbour in the north. In the Soviet Union…’

Standing on the shoulders of pygmies you can always pick on the smallest guy in the room. My corner shop outperforms North Korea, but I’m sure quite a lot of planning goes into it. Citizens of South Korea also tend to be taller than those in the North. They are simply better fed and as a result have taller kids. The post- Second World War Japanese economy like most in the Western World experience GDP growth of 2% or less per annum. China with almost half of the world’s population experience GDP grow of over 10% in recent years but this has slowed.  Their citizens are not prosperous enough to be tall. But whisper it, China is buying up most of free-market Africa, owns large chunks of America in safe government bonds and is preparing to feed that population when global drought kicks in with global warming. But the cruel irony is China would already own South Korea where most of the Nationalist Chinese army had fled, but for government interference. Vice-versa had not Marshall (of the Marshall Plan) not dictated a ceasefire in 1946, the Nationalist Army, which outnumbered Mao’s by three to one, and where better organised and equipped, and China would not be Communist. Let’s put it crudely. South Korea is better than North Korea because the government doesn’t interfere (don’t mention the Korean War) and we are better than them. Discuss.

Toss a Frisby back to the start of his book. ‘Why Every Cuban Father Wanted His Daughter To Be a Hooker’ is the prologue. Frisby is in his twenties. He’s rich enough to be able to visit Latin American countries. Havana, he tells us, ‘was an amazing place’.  He had went there with preconceived notions. Cuba had the best health service in the world and the best education (hey, and I’ll fling in the best boxers). But he was quickly put right by Luis a doctor he lodges with ‘What is the point of a great hospital, if there is no medicine…What is the point of great schools when you have no paper?’ To make ends meet he estimated 50% of Cuban woman under 40 sell sex for US dollars.  In Havana he has a Damascus moment when he realised any kind of interference leads to the law of unintended consequences. (shown satirically here http://www.abctales.com/story/terrence-oblong/true-tales-austere-kingdom-%E2%80%93-disability-work-act)  What is more government Frisby believes interferes with a delicate ecosystem called capitalism and that causes untold misery and…well, you know the end of the story and the solution. ‘The central tenet of this book is the one big change the government need to make, apart from money reform, is that they do less’.   Privatisation is the way to god’s kingdom on earth.

Chapter 1 is a case study.  I’m in luck because Frisby is talking about my city. ‘How the Most Entrepreneurial City in Europe Became it’s Sickest’.  He tells us how in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Glasgow became ‘enormously, stupendously rich’. And it happened quite ‘organically’. Skip to the twentieth century and these entrepreneurial people became something else. ‘Heroin capital of the UK… murder capital.’ No Mean City.

But let’s start with the fairy tales.   Glasgow’s economic fortunes began and ended with the Clyde. ‘100 nautical miles closer to America’s east coast that any other British ports’. And during the time of sailing ships this offered a significant advantage. ‘The journey to Virginia’ for example, ‘was some two weeks shorter than the same journey from London’. Tobacco was a lucrative crop. This is his model of good capitalism at work. Tobacco lords creating a trading hub distributing the seed corn of capitalism in which everyone prospers.

Let’s take a step back and look at this in a different way. Geographical advantage is a given, but Scottish merchants were frozen out from transatlantic trading by the English government and the Darien Scheme in the seventeen century had almost bankrupted its government.  The English monopoly was replaced by a duopoly the English and largely Glasgow based tobacco barons. Trade was protected by the Royal Navy.  The goal of the tobacco lords in Glasgow was to capture the whole market. Monopoly capitalism works in that way and they did this successfully by bribing custom’s official, or in other words, theft. They paid up to 50% less than their competitors in tax. Of course if nobody paid tax the Royal Navy would not have been able to protect their boats or cargos. Every capitalist is a pirate and it’s not just trade winds that help.

By the turn of the twentieth century, Glasgow is Britain’s Second City.   ‘Between 1870 and 1914 it produced as much of one-fifth of the world’s ships and half of Britain’s tonnage.’  The turning point he suggests was the First World War.  Here’s a thought.  Too many of the ‘the entrepreneurs, the ideas men, [sic] too many of them were dead or incapacitated’.  There’s a problem of logic here, who or what is he talking about?  Would, for example, Lord Kelvin have come back from the war with shrapnel wounds and say that’s it I can no longer postulate a theory of thermodynamics? Who are these missing men and what are their ideas? If we don’t know how can we rationally discuss it?’ But if the reader moves onto the next qualifying line a clue is offered. ‘There was insufficient money and no appetite to invest’. ‘Insufficient’ for whom? And to ‘invest’ in what? In other words the landed gentry had made an aggregate loss during the war and they weren’t happy about it. They demanded a refund.  The answer of course was liberalisation. If you study newspapers of that era you’ll see the fuss about the lower classes coming back from the war and not being content with becoming servants.

Frisby shows how Glasgow’s endemic problems of poverty, ill health and lower-life expectancy was because they took the wrong path, because of ‘Red Clydeside’. For example, in ‘1911, 11 000 workers in the Singer sewing-machine factory went on strike to support twelve women workers who were protesting about a new work practice’. Glasgow housing was overcrowded, had bad sanitation and was ‘dirty and noxious’. Landlords were attacked for being unpatriotic and the government intervened to peg rents during a rent strike. In ‘Bloody Friday’ the prime minister deployed 10 000 tanks and troops onto the city’s streets.’  Worse was to come during the 1930s Glasgow became the main base of the Independent Labour Party. These are event which I can look back on with pride, but for Frisby a straight line runs from them to junkie city and serves you right. Do as you’re told and die then you’ll be happier. I could make the same request, fling him away and hope Mr Frisby and his ilk don’t return. If you want to read an adult account of economics read Piketty.

http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole

Let them eat cake

osborne snouts

Owen Jones (2012) Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class.

We live in a something for nothing society, but only one party, only one class ensure that its members get away with it. What’s more the top centile of wealth that own almost everything, and everybody, are lauded for their efforts in wealth generation. We eat gruel. Well, not exactly, gruel. Pre-school meals and after-school care in my district are being stopped. Merry Christmas. After all responsible parents should be able to feed their children. The one growth area is in the number of food banks to feed the poor, including the working poor, suggests that this is not the case. But don’t let facts get in the way. We all know what we mean by a something for nothing society.

Britain is the sixth richest nation on earth, yet it can’t feed its children. The ideological wing of the rich, the Tory Party, are Eve-teasing the poor, the working class, those that rely on selling their labour to live. You know you want it they’re saying to the NHS. Bend over they’re saying to education policy. Industry you know you’re fucked, just enjoy the ride we’re giving you. Plan A is fucking up those that don’t want privatisation. Make a profit and then we can talk they say to public bodies. If that doesn’t work, Plan B is more privatisation. Place C is more privatisation. Plan D is… give money to the very rich and they’ll take care of you. It’s renamed ‘the trickle-down effect’.

Where did it all go right for rentier class, the top 1%?  In a simple model we could talk about a shift to the right in which followed the Thatcher and Reagan years. We could talk about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the defeat of communism as a doctrine and as a place. We won the Cold war.

On the home front there used to be 85 000 coal miners and like an Agatha Christie mystery—then there were none. Look back how the media portrayed the aristocracy of the working class, who produced something that the nation actually needed, and after the oil price shock of the early seventies when oil prices tripled overnight, and you’ll see your demons. Go back another generation and you’ll find fathers of miners dying in numbers that front-line troops suffered during the Second World War. Arthur Scargill demonised as a hate figure for suggesting there was a closure programme. The Battle of Orgreave lost. Compare media accounts with treatment of bankers who almost crashed the world’s economy in 2008 and whose manipulation of the money market still trails like a comet’s tail of economic misery behind us.

Look back at Sue Townsend’s account of what it was like to be a single mother with three kids in 1989 http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/13/adrian-mole-sue-townsend-welfare

Try to imagine this poverty as roll up roll up for the good old days as narrated by George Osborne. Townsend, of course, went on to become a successful writer. If she can do it there’s no reason why 30 million other poor folk can’t go on to mirror her success. Those that don’t are just lazy. They don’t work hard enough. They’re scum.

Make your own little book of clichés up put it out as a compendium and treat it in the media as a news flash. A wake up call.  The truth that couldn’t be spoken, but now is openly flaunted. Poor people are poor because…[fill your own prejudice here].

We could talk about Gramsci, cultural hegemony and the working class. The truth is I intended to write something more measured, something nearer to the critique that Owen Jones’s book deserves. But I’m sick of being fucked over by those rich parasitic bastards.  Money flows at an increasing rate one way and it isn’t to me or mine. It is to thee or thine, the little gods far above us that can do no wrong. Turkey for Christmas?

http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole

osborne snouts

Alex Higgins: The People’s Champion BBC 4 10.35pm, produced and directed by Jason Bernard, with commentary from James Nesbitt.

alex higgins

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00tmzfb/alex-higgins-the-peoples-champion

I’m not sure Alex would have liked this hagiography to have been relegated to a place after the darts and the lager-lite personality of Eric Bristow. Alex did his talking with the cue. Raw talent.  He was twice world snooker champion in 1972, in his first attempt and, more memorably ten years later, when he made a Rocky-style comeback from the snooker dead to claim it again, crying, clutching the trophy, his wife with his little blonde haired girl clinging to his neck. If it was a film you’d have cut there and everybody would have left the cinema with a pebble in their throat.

Alex, of course, couldn’t leave it there, wouldn’t leave it there. He died in 2010 of throat cancer. Pictures taken during that period are not kind. Whirlwind Jimmy White spoke of him as a friend and mentor, the player he most admired and came closest to emulating, especially with his own well-documented gambling habit. Ronnie O’Sullivan spoke of his admiration for the Hurricane and, in terms of snooker ability, arguably is a bitter player than both Whirlwind and Hurricane. Steve Davis dominant near the end of Higgins’s career and Ray Reardon at the beginning of it had more wins, made more money, but somehow always left you feeling short. For Hurricane Higgins it wasn’t about the money it was about being gallus and being number one. He was people’s champion because he had that bit of swagger. He looked as if he was just going for a hit about with the boys. On form nobody could stop him. Ray Reardon said he had never seen anyone that could play as well with a drink in him than Hurricane Higgins. He should come to Dalmuir. I’ve never seen anybody play anything well without a drink in them.

Hurricane Higgins did come to Clydebank once. He was on that downward spiral after he’d headbutted a senior member of the snooker hierarchy, fallen from a window, threatened to have Dennis Taylor shot by paramilitaries and was just so plain bonkers my home town was the obvious choice for a paid exhibition match. Eon Brennan tells how Hurricane, drunk and aggressive, threatened to leave without playing the match and how every bouncer was offered ten quid if they punched him before he got to the door. This made him stay long after he wanted to go. Higgins played the match. A life without snooker wasn’t a life.

Everyone was a loser around Higgins. Drink and gambling. The way he looked and the Jeckyll and Hyde, all of these things and the facial tics remind me of my own brother. Hurricane Higgins got a good send off because people recognise someone they know, or think they know. Anyone that swaggered out of a pub with a snooker cue, or a pair of football boots or boxing gloves that wants to be king of the world. No one achieves it, but the few that do stand proxy for the kings of the world that we’d like to be. RIP Alex Higgins.

http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole

Why we’re all in the Jeremy Kyle show.

jeremy kyle

I’m not normal me. I can’t bear to be in the same room as Jeremy Kyle. I want to smash his face in. I really do. I know it will never happen. But that doesn’t stop me hating him. Switch off the telly, turn it over, and watch something else. It’s as simple as that. He doesn’t do any harm. It’s only a laugh.

I’m not laughing. What has made Jeremy Kyle a very rich man has been peddling other people’s misery. Imagine hosting a musical evening for people that are tone deaf asking them to sing and then everybody laughing at them and poking them with sticks to sing that skewed note again, but higher this time. Imagine an afternoon, or evening slot, selling gratuitous rape, but with the disclaimer no livestock got hurt in the process and these people really are incredibly stupid –just look at them, listen to them. Gratuitous means they don’t get paid, but they do get some freebies. Lie detector tests. Paternity tests. Some of them even get to ride in a limousine. And it’s not really rape because they consent.

One research assistant on the Jeremy Kyle show described the selection process as quite simple. What medication are you on? That was the key question on who made the cut for the show. Sick people are made feel better about themselves be being on television, becoming a noon-day celebrity. How sick is the people that feed on this need? Is it, for example, up there with happy slapping, or a more serious offence such as child porn?

Rape on television is never sanctioned unless it is done for a good reason. The best reason of all is, of course, money. I’m rich and you’re poor. It feeds into a larger narrative that these sick degenerates on the programme are an underclass that needs sorted out by people like Jeremy Kyle. His catchphrase, ‘get a job’ feeds into the zeitgeist that Shameless is not a television series but a way of life. The best way to deal with such fucking fecklessness is to make sure they don’t have any money as they’d squander it on fags and drink. And anyway, poor people are always having more sex. They’re always shagging each other. Producing feckless kids everyone else pays for.  Jeremy Kyle laughs all the way to the bank.

Imagine for a moment what would happen if the majority of people behaved this way. You wouldn’t be able to visit a GP without laughing at him or her and accusing him of trying to kill you like Harold Shipman. You’d spit on every priest, minister, or nun and shout ‘paedophile’ at them. Bankers would routinely be punched or kicked and called thieving bastards. Politician would be told exactly what we think of them. You wouldn’t really need to make anything up there. Notice how the extremely wealthy escape such opprobrium. They are so far above us they are invisible and beyond mockery.

I don’t really hate Jeremy Kyle. I hate the idea of Jeremy Kyle, the spite and bile his show relies on. Make no mistake its propaganda. Goebbels filmed the stereotypical Jew in his ghetto. Jeremy Kyle films the stereotypical working class. The question remains, what needs to be done?

http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole