This week’s winners and losers…

6 05 2012

BoJo – on being appointed Mayor of London:

On being re-elected – ‘We survived the rain, the BBC, the Budget and the endorsement of David Cameron’

On becoming Prime Minister – ‘My chances of becoming PM are about as good as finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.’

On how to vote ‘Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3.’

  

Roy Hodgson – on being appointed England Manager:  

‘Dealing with the mass media has been part of my life, not one I’ve shied away from. But my forte, and what I want to do, is coach footballers; prepare, build and improve football teams. If I’m going to be vulnerable or lacking in any area, it might be that I don’t have a thick enough skin to deal with you guys (the press)’     

 

Following my SE Asia sojourn, it’s high time I got back into the blogging groove…

We touched down at Heathrow, just over a week ago, having returned from an amazing, thirteen-day, whistle-stop, ‘Highlights of Indochina’ tour, through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Following a nineteen hour return journey, from Siem Reap, we arrived home to experience, at first hand, the much publicised border control delays – just about clearing passport control within the 45 minute maximum waiting time.

Back in the Shire, we were greeted by brooding, slate grey skies and a lawn which resembled the paddy fields we had left behind in SE Asia. Pretty much incessant rain during our time away, has barely abated since our return, making a predictable mockery of the official, drought status, afforded to much of the country, just prior to our departure.

I know how the argument goes, wrong type of rain, wrong time, wrong place – it’s just like leaves on the track! What about improving the infrastructure – building a few more reservoirs and fixing a few leaks in the mains distribution system?  

Unfortunately clear blue skies and temperatures of 40˚C are already a fading memory. 

But, despite the damp dismal days, it’s been an interesting and busy week with one or two noteworthy events raising a wry smile or two.    

In the world of politics, local elections have produced a mid-term anti-austerity backlash against the coalition government, and a second term as London Mayor for one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, aka BoJo, who survived the endorsement of ‘Call me Dave’, bucking the national trend.

Passed his sell by date, ‘Red Ken’ Livingstone, failed to withstand a media battering and sadly exited, left, a life in politics, spanning over 40 years, to spend more time with his newts.          

It was an extremely close run mayoral election that turned out to be more about personality than policy, and one which Labour might have won with a candidate that carried less baggage than Ken.

It was interesting, but hardly surprising, that the electorates in Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham and Coventry (traditionally all part of Labour’s heartland) rejected Cameron’s call for a mayor in every major city. 

I still don’t feel comfortable declaring Thursday’s results a great electoral comeback by Labour. Even I would concede it was more a case of votes against the coalition and that there is still a long way to go in winning back public confidence before the 2015 general election. 

However what the results have done is secure Ed Miliband as leader of the opposition, which many Labour supporters will see as a negative rather than positive. Although, egg splattered, Ed thought it was a cracking result, even he conceded it was just a start. There is no doubting his honour and sincerity, but he lacks the clarity and sure-footedness of  brother, David, who packs a much bigger punch. I fear the wrong Miliband is in charge.      

All parties should be concerned at such nationwide apathy. A turn out of 31% is disgraceful, no matter how disillusioned people may feel about politics and politicians. A silent majority of 69% is not a healthy state of affairs and in effect only serves to encourage those in power to continue doing as they please, with impunity.

 In the sporting press, the appointment of England’s new football manager caught out most pundits. He might not drop his aitches, like ‘Arry, but as ‘The Sun’ cruelly pointed out, ‘Woy’ has a speech impediment of his own.   

As we know all too well, the Murdoch press, like to get their way. The red top had thrown its full support behind media friendly, Spurs manager, Redknapp, as the next man to pick up the poisoned chalice. But to the FA’s credit they were not intimidated, and following a rigorous appointment process, opted for, the mild-mannered, school masterly, ‘Baggies’ boss, Roy Hodgson. 

Like the playground bully who doesn’t get his way, ‘The Sun’ typically, and unfairly, hit back by immediately ridiculing the FA’s new man.

In my opinion the FA have made a good choice and are to be congratulated. I never thought ‘Arry was right for the job and, to be honest, his performance as Spurs manager has been pretty tame since the speculation, surrounding the England position, kicked off.

Hodgson’s C.V. stands head and shoulders above any other English manager in the Premier League. He has European experience, both at club and international level. He even got the Swiss to 3rd in the world, for heaven’s sake!   

His record, with limited resources, at Fulham and West Brom, cannot be faulted. Yes, there was a glitch at Anfield, where to my mind he was pretty shabbily treated, essentially for failing to be ‘King Kenny’.  

I hope the media and England football fans will, moderate their expectations and give Hodgson the backing he deserves. Although unlikely, it would be lovely if England could spring a surprise at this summer’s Euros. In which case ‘The Sun’ would, surely, have to acknowledge, ‘It’s Woy Wot Won It‘    

Watching yesterday’s FA Cup final, it did cross my mind that if ponderous Liverpool had persevered with Hodgson, there might have been a better brand of football on display from the men in Red – we’ll never know.   

Certainly, in my opinion, Liverpool under Dalglish, have failed miserably, with both their on the field performances, and off the field behaviour – a legendary club brought into unseemly disrepute over the Suarez saga. Kenny’s crown is beginning to look tarnished and distinctly wobbly.   

Yesterday his team certainly weren’t at the races for much of the game.

There was a time when the FA Cup final used to be the undisputed televised sporting occasion of the year. Sadly what was a jewel in the English football crown, has lost its sparkle in recent years.

Times move on, and a domestic knock out cup competition, with a history that was once the envy of the footballing world, is now no more than second-rate, a shadow of its former self.        

At half time in yesterday’s tepid tea time affair, I came very close to switching from ITV’s lacklustre coverage, to ‘Come Dine with Me’ –  which just shows how uninspiring the first 45 minutes had been.    

But the 11 million viewers (undoubtedly, ‘the Cup’ still has a nostalgic allure for many) who stuck with it were eventually rewarded. Chelsea at 2-0 up, after Drogba’s customary Wembley Final goal (four in four) switched off. Liverpool’s last throw of the dice pitched on their over-priced, under-performing striker, Andy Carroll. For one Twitter wag, Carroll galloping into the fray evoked memories of the famous White Horse Final of 1923! 

But the Geordie with the ponytail, seen by many, as more of a cart-horse than thoroughbred, transformed the game and for the final twenty minutes we actually had a spectacle worthy of the occasion.

It was quite alarming, how a Chelsea defence that had been untroubled for over an hour, suddenly buckled, under Carroll’s physical presence. The big man showed deceptively quick feet, in the face of some appallingly pedestrian defending by former England captain John Terry (Roy Hodgson take note) before powering a left foot shot into the roof of the net – game on!

As Liverpool rained yet another long ball into the Chelsea box, Carroll found acres of space to climb and head powerfully towards the top corner. His goal-bound effort had equaliser written all over it, but as it clipped the underside of the bar, Chelsea keeper Cech somehow clawed the ball away before it had entirely crossed the line.

At least that was the linesman’s take on it, and one which, thankfully, appeared to be upheld by countless TV replays. But surely this was another clear example of the case for goal-line technology.  

For sure it was the defining moment of the game, and the single piece of action which will linger long in the memory. ‘Chelski’ deserved their fourth FA Cup win, in six seasons, under the Wembley Arch, picking up a trophy for delighted, caretaker manager, Roberto Di Matteo. But they have far bigger fish to fry, in Munich, in a fortnight’s time.                             

Elsewhere this week, I was invited by the North Worcestershire Rotary Club to give a presentation on the work of VSO, and my recent placement in Rwanda. It was surprisingly well received, and not only have I received a welcome cheque for VSO funds, but also there is a distinct possibility that the Club’s International Committee might become involved in raising further money, for a specific project, involving the two Rwandan schools I worked with – so a pretty successful night!

 

On the music front, I attended Wednesday’s opening gig of this year’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Legendary, Grammy Award winning, song-smith Steve Winwood, former guitar/keyboard and vocalist with the Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and Traffic, was in fine form rocking the colourful Festival Big Top with his current group of highly talented musicians.

I look forward to returning on Monday, when Paloma Faith closes this year’s event, with a world exclusive, performed with the Guy Barker Orchestra, showcasing previously unheard material from her follow-up album to, ‘Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?’.          

 

                     

 

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2 responses

7 05 2012
Gerry

Welcom back to the web and congratulations on the response to your VSO presenration.

7 05 2012
Phil Aldridge

Thankyou. We’ll have to wait and see what comes of it.

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