Friday, 9 October 2015

Klopp's Last Take

As puns go the heading above is wince making, but it will have to do.  Largely because of what goes on in professional football these days defies rationality even more than 1950's high culture did.

It appears that Jurgen Klopp, a boy who done good in steering foreign teams to major prizes is the latest to come and probably soon go with a big pay off, at Liverpool.  Once the club would just go North of The Border for success but no longer.

This will depend partly whether the spectators in The Kop like him or not and even more whether he can at last put Liverpool back on top and rake in the loot for whoever owns the club these days.

One of the ways we have down time in the evening is to play restful music on the radio or stereo and put up the football on TV flicking around the channels to play our favourite game.

It is called "Spot The Manager".  When there is not much happening on the pitch the cameras might show managers and the task is to name him and guess who he is and the club he is managing.

Harder still, is to name and date the other clubs he has managed and the dates.  Given the whirligig of hiring and firing of recent years this is quite a challenge.  It makes a good test of how the neurones are doing these days.

Then there are the faces behind the manager and some intriguing cases turn up in strange places.  How did how get to be there and why?  When did that happen?  There are great mysteries in life.  This is not one of them but it will have to do.

But it was a twitch in the neurones at the back that brought up "Krapps Last Tape", a surreal radio cum stage play of the 1950's esoteric age.  There is a long Wikipedia article which you will not read in full.

Samuel Beckett was the author and highly praised for his insight and challenging work.  Little was rational and less was clear.  His world was a strange inexplicable place where nothing made sense or ever would.

Just like football in fact, which makes it counterpoint to Mozart.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

If It Quacks Like A Duck

Earlier this year, for better or worse, the electorate put the Conservative Party into government with David Cameron as Prime Minister.  Ordinary people, like myself, assumed that this was the deal.

But within weeks of swearing the oath, appointing a Cabinet and making key decisions, suddenly, having taken on the job Cameron announces that he is not going to see it out.

Rather like the plumber who removes the toilet seat but then fails to return after lunch to install the new one but says he has been called away to do another job.

In the Guardian today, Simon Jenkins says this is the worst mistake he has made, there are currently plenty of choices.  I would go further and say it is the worst mistake any political leader can make and agree with him that we are now landed with an administration where the major objective for those at the top is to position themselves for the changeover.

Look around the world and imagine the implications of any of the major leaders elected for a term and then saying, well, it's very hard work so I will be bunking off early to chillax on my private wealth and accrued earnings and payoff.

So we have a lame duck Prime Minister with a lame excuse for taking early retirement at a time when the UK is facing serious challenges across almost the whole field of its activity.  He is presiding over a Cabinet, many of whom will be candidates to succeed him.

Additionally, and this is very serious, we are stuck with George Osborne as a Chancellor that Cameron cannot move or get rid of.  George in the meantime is cooking the books to make sure he will be top of the candidate list cum 2018.

Governments of the past that had duff Chancellors they were stuck with all ended badly.

If you are going to go Mr. Cameron, then the sooner the better.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

He Who Laughs Last Laughs Longest

In his speech to the Conservative Conference David Cameron made a shameless plug for a book he claimed to have read.  It is called "The Joy Of Tax" and is by Richard Murphy.

The book, in fact, is less about tax being a consumer luxury but the scale and nature of tax avoidance if people want to have a big government doing things with big money.

The link to the clip is here and comes courtesy of the Guido Fawkes web site which veers to the Right on most matters.  Given that we have had Labour, Coalition and now Conservative governments that have been letting the tax avoiders, evaders and fraudsters get away with so much do the Tories really want to give free publicity to a chap who has other ideas?

People might actually read it and come to different conclusions.  The reason why Mr. Murphy called it "The Joy Of Tax" rather than some more obvious titles may be more of a marketing ploy than anything else.  Something any capitalist should praise.

Where I depart from Mr. Murphy is about how the government spends and that it is more likely to waste money and make bad decisions on populist grounds.  Manufacturing debt to spend on a large scale with crafty accounting may seem easy but it usually goes badly wrong.

What is worrying me at present is that the Tories have decided on what is almost a cavalry charge against Corbyn's Labour instead of digging in for a long campaign that could turn difficult given the serious uncertainties in the world.  There are some big bad ones that will have to be dealt with.

Cameron and company could well use up all their ammunition before the fight really starts and have their cavalry straggled and scattered around the field and impossible to regroup.  The title of the picture above is "Floreat Etona".

We might remember that the Bolsheviks were a minority who took power because of the errors and over confidence of their opponents.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Was There A Doctor In The House?

The great problem with over arching noble principles and ideals is what happens in practice.  If you are not careful you stumble into the Great Grimpen Mire of no right decisions and disappear from sight.

Especially if you are pursued by Hounds of the Baskervilles in the shape of people and groups whose moral imperatives or personal interests blind them to the nature of reality.

The reference is Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson material from the works of Arthur Conan Doyle and his tale of the Hound Of The Baskervilles. In the Holmes stories Dr. Watson did not seem to do much doctoring.

Perhaps he took early retirement on a offer that he was unable to refuse.  One thing is certain, then there was no National Health Service but there were many and various ways of insuring or being a member of something which gave access to medicine and medic's.

The National Health Service is a noble ideal. But there are the problems of organising, managing and paying for it.  These involve choices that are made not in conclaves of right minded idealists seeking the ultimate good but in others.

These are politicians and the organisations they set up. In turn the politicians want to be popular but are engaged with vested interests, major corporations, trade unions and a whole raft of other bodies all anxious for decisions that suit them.

As it is health it involves the people.  The media are anxious to have stories of those for whom things go wrong; all those deserving persons, tragic cases, rare conditions and  emotional stories to grab our attention and sell the papers or TV service.

At the cutting edge, the front of stage and the crucial decision making are the doctors and nurses.  Recently, they have been reorganised almost every other year.  Also, their training and work has been a major target for the application of many and various high principles.

So there are many issues and conflicts of interest and ideals and they are taking longer and longer and becoming more and more difficult to resolve.  To add to this the more people you have employed then the more there are at the margins and the greater the potential turnover.

If what are deemed "right" decisions are those that conform to the politics and its dogmas and to particular interests and not to the general health then we are heading for a situation where there is no National Health Service at all.

If we are not there already then we will be soon.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Bahamas Disaster And Tragedy

There has been more than enough to distract us recently and the events in the Middle East have been the headlines with its implications for Europe.

But we should be fully aware of what has happened to The Bahamas over the last few days in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin.  It's islands have been devastated in the full meaning of the word.

The scale of the tragedy is immense.  Not just for the families who have lost loved ones but for the many who now face ruin together with the catastrophic effects on the economy and infrastructure.

Much of the housing stock has been damaged or destroyed.  In a seagoing community many of the boats have gone, the communications are shattered and the commercial and tourist facilities have many beyond repair.

This is an emergency in the fullest and truest sense of the word and our government should be both aware and as active as possible in bringing help and support to this former colony.

Missing The Kicks

Well, I am very glad I did not have a ticket for Twickenham.  An 8 pm kick off may be good for TV audiences but traipsing round the M25 at midnight is not my idea of a good evening out, especially when England both lost to Australia and go out of the World Cup having lost to Wales already.

First rule of Rugby, do not give away kickable penalties if the other side have a reliable kicker.  Second, to score tries you have to attack effectively.  Routine bump and grind is not enough and the more so if your players lack basic discipline.

But I am one of those long lost souls still sorry that Rugby Union went professional at the top.  Sometimes I put up on Youtube an international from the past to see the game as it once was.  It has changed and so have I, but I still think a lot was lost.

One intriguing question, however, is whether David Attenborough might have made it into the top levels of Rugby Union as it then was back in the 40's and early 50's. He certainly played for his school, and Wyggeston then had a strong fixture list.

He might actually have played at Rugby School.  Despite the war years and the restrictions on road transport, there were then two services between Leicester and Rugby, the LMS and LNER which entailed less than an hour's travel each way.

It may be like many useful players that when it came to National Service or being at College there were other things to do and Rugby could take up a lot of time with a couple of fixtures a week and training and the rest.

When he joined the BBC by then he was certainly already with interests in nature and science that marked his career and output. But chances of life and all that. If the BBC had been scratching around as large organisations do, he might have been packed off to Twickenham to commentate on matches.

So we might never have had David the naturalist nor Bill McClaren who became the voice of Rugby. The idea of David Attenborough the national treasure Rugby man is a strange one but it might have been.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Joined Up Thinking

It is reported that Lord Nigel Lawson of Beamish has escaped from the cave where old Thatcherites are kept claiming to lead the movement for exit from the European Union.

He is father to Nigella, Head Cook and Bottlewasher, Tenderiser Royal of the BBC, so it is goodbye Paella hello Eccles Cakes.  Also, he was in the Cabinet in the time before the internet, digital TV, the Euro and Premiership football.

He joins a growing number of people who share these views, but one way or another. There seem to be almost as many differing groups as people wanting out.

For some time I have had increasing misgivings about the EU, how it is organised, run, financed and its policies, if you can call their knee jerk responses that.

So one looks for a group that opposes them in a way that might achieve major reform or even leaving if that is the best course.  But given the number of them and the divisions that exist, this is not an easy choice.

The trouble is finding one as this clip from one of the seminal works of our time demonstrates.  Beamish is home to an interesting museum facility presenting life as it was long ago when we were an industrial nation.

It is also part of Gateshead and a visit to Gateshead F.C. website in Wikipedia will reveal a tangled history even more complicated than Lawson's political career, a tale of many relegations and financial disasters.

Perhaps a long really cold winter with a collapse in energy supply and food shortages will do the trick.