Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Good Week For Gary Lineker

A couple of things I've done for In Bed With Maradona recently. Nagoya before and after their first J-League title.

The Irish Bail-Out

"It's the only way," said Brian Cowen. Except, as Argentina could tell him, it's not. You regulate against reckless lending and out-of-control bonus payments by hitting the people who run the banks, not the ones who clean their floors. "We'll make the banks smaller," Cowen promised, but the only thing they're cutting so far is the €8.65 an hour minimum wage.

"All changed, changed utterly," Yeats once wrote. But as the Irish workers are about to discover, there's nothing beautiful about the IMF.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Upside-Down World

"The upside-down world rewards in reverse," wrote the Uruguyan journalist Eduardo Galeano. "It scorns honesty (and) prizes lack of scruples". In the upside-down world the once saintly Vince Cable became Business Secretary and denied ever breaking his promise on university tuition fees. "We made a commitment in our manifesto, we didn't win the election," he tells an upside-down BBC. "We then entered into a coalition agreement, and it's the coalition agreement that is binding upon us".

In the upside-down world, nobody ever voted for an election manifesto - and a coalition government was always on the cards. "It's not an issue of trust," says Cable. You can only hope the voters disagree - and, at the very next opportunity, consign the Liberal Democrats to the electoral oblivion they so richly deserve.

European Football Weekends

My latest football writing is in European Football Weekends (as recommended by The Guardian, don't you know) and involves a six-hour bus ride to the capital city of Moldova, football in Arctic temperatures and a late-night encounter with kindly officers of the law.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Every time Michael Gove opens his mouth I'm a little more relieved I no longer teach in Britain. "Greater efficiences," in his terms, have nothing whatsoever to do with quality and everything to do with cost. In EFL, people can reasonably claim to have been instructed in the "craft" of teaching upon passing a month long introductory course. But you need, as unions rightly warn, a much wider theoretical understanding before you can actually begin to teach. Lacking in it himself, Gove may be right about the rather obvious importance of emotional intelligence, but he dangerously underestimates the importance of proper teacher training.

As most of us who've actually been in a classroom could tell him, good teachers are born and made.

Rained Off

Woken by the sound of rain pattering against the window and gurgling noisily out of the drainpipe below, I reach out for the alarm clock. 5.30. A milkfloat accelerates down the road with the same noise that scalextric cars used to make just before they flew off the track. "Piss, shit, bollocks," I think. "No football today."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas: Now Coming

The estate's first Christmas lights were up the day after Guy Fawkes. I saw them on a house around the corner which always has one car on the drive and two blocking off the pavement in front. Red santas and blue reindeer climbed up a window, and there were the kind of flashing lights the TV news warn you about in advance all over the upstairs. "November the 6th? Someone should put their windows in," said the person I was with, half-joking. Or at least, I think he was.

Monday, November 15, 2010

UnSuper Sunday

By all accounts, yesterday was one of the most exciting days of football so far this season. Unfortunately, I also chose this particular day to finish a 2,000-word assignment on the use of blogs as a language development tool. I saw just one of Sunderland's goals at Chelsea (and that was more than enough), the final whistle at Goodison as relayed on twitter, and the last twenty minutes of the Milan derby live on ESPN. It's early days, but five wins in twelve games and six points behind AC can't be quite what Benitez had in mind. Wonder who he'll find to blame now he can't hide behind a greedy, incompetent owner?

Monday, November 01, 2010

In the Sack with El Diego

My second piece for In Bed With Maradona: Omiya Ardija's invisible fans. All 111,737 of them.