As we prepare to say hello to a new football season, it is time to say goodbye to this blog. The final post of this sprawling thing which has been a part of my life (as well as the lives of at least 3 other people) for some 5 or 6 years heralds another few months of footy related money, mayhem and madness across the land. Already, the almost indecent spectacle of Burnley taking on Blackpool, whilst at the same time the England cricket team watch the rain at Old Trafford, signals the 125th anniversary of the football league. Typically (in football as in everything else) we seem unable to learn even the most basic of lessons from the mistakes of the past. Doubtless, yet more clubs will suffer the fate of Coventry City, whose fans will have to make the trek to the Sixfields Stadium to watch their once mighty heroes slug it out in the dark web that is the bottom of League 2. At the same time, requiring an almost supernatural ability to deny empirical evidence, (Un)Real Madrid are reportedly offering to pay £100 million to sign Gareth Bale.
One hundred million pounds.
Take a second or two to think about that if you will. Madrid is the capital city of Spain, a country – we are told – with 50% plus youth unemployment and a debt crisis so massive it threatens to bring down the monetary system of the European Union, if not the entire world. Who can make sense of that? Where does the money come from? But then, it seems increasingly plain to me that making sense of anything in the world today is an impossibility. While those who tell us the real news are skulking in embassies or airport lounges, or are about to begin 130 year long prison sentences, we have ‘news’ items dedicated to telling us that Peter Capaldi is the next Doctor Who.
The real news must be: the disgraceful, shameful and worsening way in which asylum seekers are being treated. Truly desperate people, often escaping from situations created by the power-brokers in Washington, Moscow and Westminster, snubbed, abused and denigrated. As if laughing in the face of The Nazis – A Warning From History, the Home Office sends out ad vans telling people to ‘go home’ and then tweets pictures of those it has detained on suspicion of being ‘illegals’ by dint of the colour of their skin. We then find out that said Home Office has no idea of how many immigrants (illegal or otherwise) there are in the country, and it redacts an independent report into the situation, yet has been able to contribute £400,000 to the programme UK Border Force. I found this to be a quite astonishing piece of information.
The real news must be: that we as British citizens are not allowed to read the ‘black spider’ correspondence of HRH the Prince of Wales. We are not permitted to know the reasons why he has met with ministers on 36 occasions (including seven meetings with Herr Cameron himself) since the Coalition took office. The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve says this is because the spider correspondence might give the public the impression that Prince Charles is not scrupulously aloof from party politics. There is no reference to the huge tracts of land Charlie owns, the Civil List payment he receives, or his Duchy Originals fine food empire. Now, if anyone other than, say, Lewis Carroll can make any sense of that, I will eat my hat.
a sharper decline than in the virtually defunct state of Portugal) since 2010, which is coincidentally the same timeframe as Prince Charles’s 36 meetings mentioned above, and marks the beginning of the Coalition’s assumption of power. During this time, the pay of those (almost entirely male) business leaders who sit in boardrooms has risen thus: 2010 – a 55% increase; 2011 – a 49% increase; 2012 – a 10% increase; 2013 – a 14% increase. One news report I read said that boardroom pay is increasing seven times faster than average, but as the recent figures show a drop in the value of wages of 5 and a half per cent, this is hardly surprising. Despite all the current bluster about bankers’ bonuses, the median pay of a FTSE 100 business leader is still being reported as between £3.7 and £4.8 million pounds, with full remuneration for the top 10 bosses around the £9 million mark, right up to that old rogue Bob Diamond, who trousered £21 million not so long ago. And, with every Byron burger Gideon consumes, the chasm between these guys and the ordinary working man and woman yawns still bigger.
The real news must be: that the Trussell Trust (I don’t trust the Trussell Trust, but enough of that for now) has reported a huge increase in people using their food banks. They say that almost 350,000 people were given emergency food supplies in the twelve months up to May this year. Lord Freud, a suitably appointed millionaire to deal with the issue of poverty, stated that this increase is not related to cuts in benefit payments, but is down to the fact that folks just want free food, almost as if these places are victims of their own success. Iain Duncan Smith, another millionaire, then claimed that this rise in the use of food banks was down to ‘increased awareness’ among people, and could in no way be linked to the benefit cuts. He surpassed himself in this one, even managing to piss off the head of the Trussell Trust by saying that they agreed with him on this point, which they definitely do not.
The real news must be: that the Israeli government has just authorised over 1,000 new settlements on land which even it agrees belongs to the Palestinians. They have done this in total defiance of international law and overwhelming public opinion, but worse than that, they have done this while sitting at the table with the Palestinian Authority (although of course, this is not the elected government of the Palestinians) and Senator John Kerry, purporting to be conceiving a new nine month plan for peace. If the life of any baby were to be given a smaller chance of success, it would surely have to be one begun in sub-Saharan Africa. Barack Obama – funny guy – sits with his kill lists and his drone fleets, his intelligence on literally everything that we do, increasingly irrelevant as the next round of electioneering fundraising begins to kick off.
Goodnight. And may your god go with you.