Hillsborough… and other stuff.

Time wasting

The other day, whilst trawling the internet in one of my all too frequent bouts of boredom, I stumbled across a link which took me to a message board. Nothing unusual in that you might think but this particular one was overflowing with vitriol aimed at a journalist. Mind you there’s nothing unusual in that either.

However, what captured my interest in this instance was the reason for that vitriol. It was the fact that the journalist had written a piece about the Hillsborough disaster.

Now as any football fan will know, Hillsborough is an emotive issue, especially to the people of Liverpool. And as someone who has written extensively about it in the past and being one of the few people who question some of the sentiments which have come to cloud opinion surrounding what happened, I know better than anyone that if you write about Hillsborough, unless you want to get slaughtered you had best get your facts right and/or be prepared to back up every letter you commit to paper.

Sadly, this journalist fell foul of both of these golden rules because to say his article was ill-informed and poorly researched would be to give new meaning to the word ‘understatement’. To make matters worse, the inevitable negative response to his article was discussed on one of those dreadful news debate shows the US media love to produce and if anything, that was even worse! Because whilst their defence of their colleague was stout, their references to the disaster were equally flawed! Not surprisingly, the subsequent response was, to say the least, equally colourful.

The problem was however, that the bulk of those responses were based on a particular perception of what happened on that fateful day. One which placed every single ounce of blame on the police. And as anyone who has ever read any of my work will know, in spite of my sentiments toward the thin blue line, I don’t subscribe to this view at all.

Normally, given that Hillsborough is one of the subjects I tend to shy away from these days (extreme right-wing politics, immigration and women drivers being amongst the others) I would have avoided becoming involved in this debate. However, on this occasion a heady mix of irritation, boredom and a desire for amusement sucked me in.

Even more unusually, rather than make tongue-in-cheek comments designed simply to get people fired up, (as I said, I needed a bit of amusement) the fact that it was about such a serious and controversial issue actually resulted in me behaving myself. The consequence being that aside from resulting in a quite reasonable debate with a guy who eventually almost conceded that I had a point (which obviously I do) I suddenly realised that I had wasted an entire day.

And that, in a nutshell, is the point of this blog.

No, it’s got nothing to do with Hillsborough. It’s to do with time management. Because that day is a day I’ll never get back and it really should have been spent doing something more productive.

Yet all too often in recent years, I have fallen into the trap of getting involved in pointless debates with even more pointless people and if I should have learnt one thing by now, it’s that to anyone who is self-employed, Facebook and Twitter are the tools the devil has devised to exploit our inherent weaknesses and steal our valuable time.

So please excuse me if I frequent them less from now on. Indeed, if I am to make a new years resolution it will be to stay away from social media sites. Although saying that, I do have this idea for a fabulous book about Facebook.

No honestly, it’s genius. It just needs a bit more research……

Cooking the books (and the telly)

For some time now, I have watched bemused as the cult of the celebrity cook has taken an increasingly tight grasp hold on the consciousness of this country.

Almost every evening these days our television channels are swamped with programmes made by smug twats showing us how to cook pretentious food which no one other a wannabe smug twat would ever even attempt to try and cook. As if that isn’t bad enough, a visit to any bookstore or supermarket (sic) will see shelves positively sagging under legions of weighty tomes written by the same smug twats for the delectation of the same wannabe smug twats.

Quite how this cult ever came to pass escapes me and normally I would say a hearty fair play to all of those currently making fortunes off the back of the great British public. After all, I’ve done much the same thing albeit on a (much) smaller scale.

However, the fact that both television and publishing have become obsessed with celebrity chefs is becoming an increasing irritation to me. Not least because some of those at the ‘sharp’ end are seemingly so far up themselves that I’m amazed they can actually see daylight. Saint Jamie Oliver clearly believes that he alone (well, with a bit of help from Sainsbury’s obviously) can save the nation whilst Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall definitely lives in a different world from me. River Cottage my arse.

Antony Worrall Thompson has a face you would never tire of hitting, Gordon Ramsey, clever though he obviously is, brings new meaning to the word annoying (really Gordon, saying ‘fuck’ over and over again might have worked once, now it’s just tedious. Ask Roger Melly) and as for Heston Blumenthal (a man so ‘talented’ he doesn’t have a kitchen on his show, has a lab!) he’s quite possibly the most annoying git on TV.

Aside from being irritating, the one thing all the above have in common is that they are male and hereby lies my biggest problem. It’s not that these ‘cooking’ shows are inevitably slanted toward women (which if nothing else, reinforces the idea that the average bloke can’t or won’t cook) nor is it the fact that by virtue of the fact that these blokes can cook, they are elevated to god-like status in the eyes of the female population. It’s the fact that when you add together the amount of time cooking shows consume on our airwaves and then combine that with the hours of soap’s and home decorating shows which increasingly dominate our evenings viewing, it is clear that the nations broadcasters have forgotten that 50% of the population are actually male! And aside from Top Gear (and even that’s arguable these days) there are next to no programmes on terrestrial TV which are actually directed solely at men! Daytime TV is even worse! Some of the shite on there is bordering on anti-male! Loose Women… please, do me a favour and piss off!

It’s got to the stage now where if we men want to watch something made for ‘us’ then we have  to go to satellite TV and channels such as Discovery, Dave and the History Channel. That’s just not right.

So the next time some woman moans about the amount of sport on TV, feel free to show her the TV schedules and give her a bit of a reality check. Better still, inform her that having wasted countless hours listening and watching as some smug twat instructs her in the art of stuffing a hedgehog with stewed venison tongue coated in elderberry jelly or some other such bollocks, she might actually put some of her new found knowledge to good use by heading for the kitchen and rustling you up a meal. 

After all, you might as well get something out of it. Even if it is inedible.

Something Fishy….

As I have previously stated, I am not an animal lover. Aside from being a source of food, they are as far as I’m concerned, fairly pointless.

Truth to tell I actually find those who do like animals slightly odd. Let’s face it, if you have to rely on a dog (or worse, a cat) for affection then life must be very drab indeed. I mention this now because the other day, I heard a discussion on the radio which referred to the price of tinned tuna and the fact that the price has recently gone through the roof. One of the reasons cited was that fishing for said fish had become more problematic for the poor fisherman because of the need to protect dolphins.

Now as a lover of the odd tuna sandwich (with salad cream and cucumber obviously), I immediately questioned the reasoning behind this but before I could say anything, the interviewer responded with the point that dolphins have to be protected because they are very intelligent and have an IQ in of over a hundred. I’m sorry, but unless turning up and making a few clicking noises, giving the examiner a smile and a nudge with your nose is on the test system at MENSA, this is clearly bollocks.

If dolphins are that clever you would have thought that by now they’d have realised that if they see a couple of boats moving along on the surface being followed by a wall of fish swimming in a ball, it’s a good indication that there’s a net involved so it might be a good idea to give it a swerve. The fact that they haven’t speaks volumes to me.

Inevitably, this led onto another question and that’s that since dolphins look quite meaty and there are obviously loads of them around, why don’t we eat them?

Leaving aside the vegetarian issue (and trust me, you really don’t want to get me started on veggies) the answer of course, has nothing to do with their so-called intelligence and everything to do with the fact that they are cute. Which is exactly the same reason people use for not eating dogs, cats or even monkeys (although if you type ‘monkey rapes frog’ into Google you will soon question the validity of that statement!)

Now I might not have the IQ of a dolphin (sic) but there is certainly a lesson to be learnt here. Not by me, but by the pig, cow, sheep and poultry community. Because if humans only eat cute animals then it might be a good idea to get working on a bit of evolution in the beauty department. In the short term a trip down to MENSA might not be such a bad idea either.

Just make sure you practice those clicking noises first! After all, if it works for flipper, it’s certain to work for you guys.