Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dopey Doncaster Strikes Again!

May as well finish off the year pretty much where I started – somewhere not far from the Thickthorn roundabout.

Trouble is Neil Doncaster, erstwhile Chief Executive of Norwich City, is just too easy a target. He can't resist writing articles in the EDP and therefore seemingly never tires of making a complete fool of himself.

He's at it again. Somehow he has managed to raise his head above the parapet long enough to realize that not all the NCFC troglodytes are hungrily spooning the drivel he produces down their gullets without puking it straight up.

He decides to tackle some of the problems head on. He seems genuinely shocked that fans are questioning where all the money has gone! (Remember the 25 million for being in the Premiership, Neil?) He plumbs new depths of sickening obsequiousness by explaining that the directors of NCFC are not the money-grubbing misers that some think they are but fantastic football people who regularly buy their own drinks and food on match days. Hurrah!! And, Zippidy-do-dah with bells on it!

He pleads with the fans to applaud the board for not raising ticket prices to exorbitant levels during Norwich's short flirtation with the Premier League – despite the fact that some rise in prices might have produced the kind of team that could have stayed up – and not sunk without a trace! Oh, praise be to the Board for not raising prices!

He shamelessly casts aspersions on those owners who find (without going bankrupt somehow) the means to spend lots of money on good players. He views Chelsea's Abramovich as simply an aberration – and a simpleton. Stupid man! What makes him think he can buy success? Thank the Lord we don't have any such irresponsible spendthrifts at Norwich.

He deplores the other foreign owners who have grabbed a slice of the Premiership action. “What are their motivations? (Snidely!) Only time will tell.” Oh ye of little faith! Is it not written that as ye sow, so shall ye reap. (Yes, Neil, forsooth, it is. What we want to know is when is it our turn to do some reaping – instead of St Delia and her buddies?)

Finally, in a gob-smackingly gormless swipe at the fans he blames them for asking awkward questions and “continually scratching away at the reputation we have built up in Norfolk and beyond for being a unified, family, community club”. Oh praise ye, praise ye, oh saviour of the downtrodden for not mentioning: a successful club; an ambitious club; a well-run club; a club that spends its money building up its assets (no, not hotels and car parks!) but the players!

I really do wish he'd stop writing in the newspaper. It's just embarrassing.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Portman Road Pouncer


Lest I suddenly appear on a suspect's list as the Suffolk detectives trawl the internet for leads into the deaths of the Ipswich good-time girls, let me say, straight away, that I have not been to Ipswich for years; and, more importantly, I am not going analyse the evidence or suspects in the case. I'm going to concentrate on the “plight” of the coppers who are caught up in this investigation.

Not a day goes by but we are treated to either a crime scene or a suspect's residence surrounded by coppers. Spare a thought for those members of the “They Also Serve Who Stand and Wait” brigade who are forced to spend the whole day, or night, standing around in the freezing cold - doing nothing.

“Rent a Plod” has arrived in Ipswich.

Here we have the Suffolk Constabulary being overwhelmed by events. They are – we are constantly being reminded by the media – one of the smallest police forces in the country. Only about 2000 officers to deal with the tragic events at Tractor Central.

Has anyone noticed that a good proportion of them are standing around in the cold doing nothing? Where are they getting them? What are they doing? Have they really got the man-power to waste by paying coppers to stand around? Apparently, they do.

Every time the media power down to a camera shot of a murder scene, suspect's address, police HQ, or Ipswich town centre, the first shot will include three for four Plods standing around in their flashy day-glo jackets. Doing nothing or, perhaps, lifting one of the tapes they use to cordon off houses/streets. Now, there's a growth industry! By appointment to HM the Queen – Purveyors of Fine Tapes!

Can you spot the inconsistency? If the plods are so stretched for man-power, how come they can afford to pay beaucoup dinaro to Brainless Plod to stand around – while the “real” coppers get on with the job. What purpose are they serving? Where are they coming from? Surely, we are not paying Plods from County Durham to stand around the streets of Ipswich lifting tapes? Are we?

I'm hope not, but I'm not so sure.

I'm thinking of starting a franchise operation to provide: day-glo jackets and pull-overs (with Ipswich Bitches 2006 tastefuly embroidered on them); massive gloves (in tasteful day-glo colours, of course); day-glo tape (in a variety of colours); day-glo pens (in case Plod needs to write his shopping list whilst standing around doing nothing); day-glo underpants (in case Plod gets lucky with one of the spare good-time girls) and day-glo boots ( so Plod can pass the time away studying his flat feet – in the dark.)

Bet I could make money.

Speaking of money – for all my extraction of the Michael – it's your money that's being used for no useful purpose.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The God Delusion?

What's the point of it all?

Richard Dawkin's defence, or perhaps proselytization might be a better term, of Atheism in his book, The God Delusion, certainly is thought provoking. Since man first gazed up at the stars, or saw a baby being born, or watched an old person die; we've been asking the same questions. What am I doing here? Where did I come from? How long will I be here? Is this all there is? What happens next?

Richard poses some interesting questions and offers some thought-provoking analysis. He has, predictably, no real answers. We're still waiting for someone to come back from the dead and tell us about it – not counting Jesus, of course. Until this happens, we're all in the same boat. Ignorant. Question is: how do we deal with it? There's a great bit in one of the Indiana Jones films, I think it's the Temple of Doom, where a young accomplice stops a bullet meant for Jones and dies in his arms. His last words are (as I remember): “Into the great unknown, I go first, Indy!” We're all interested in this question.

Perhaps Shakespeare was right (after all, he usually is!!) when he wrote:

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Luckily you are free to interpret this as you like it (nice pun that – don't you think?). Perhaps he meant that there are some things we will never know. Dawkin's problem is: if we accept that this is the case, it makes thin material for quite a long book.

The central premise of Dawkin's tirade against organised religion can be summed up quite easily. He believes instead of religion comforting and inspiring people it is the root cause of much that is evil in the world. He proposes that the wars, persecution and intolerance caused by religions greatly outweigh any good they do. He is not content, as he agrees many people are, to silently “tolerate” religion on the grounds that it might be true, could be true, hopefully is true. He insists that we attack the evils done in the name of religion by attacking religion itself.

There is much to commend his thinking. His ideas are substantiated by some incisive “evidence” and speculation – as you might expect from a scientist. Problem is: in attacking religion he is almost as guilty of mysticism and intolerance as the religious zealots he so deplores. He never acknowledges the “slippery slope”he is on by even contemplating the good religion is capable of doing or has done in human history. His entire appeal is negative.

The most interesting part of his analysis is when he speculates on how religions have persevered throughout human history so as to be still with us today. Approaching this apparent paradox from the shadow of Charles Darwin (one of his real heroes!), he is forced to admit that there must be some Darwinian advantage to religious belief – or it would have died out long ago.

From Wikipedia: The final chapter asks whether religion, despite its alleged problems, fills a “much needed gap”, giving consolation and inspiration to people who need it. According to Dawkins, these needs are much better filled by non-religious means such as philosophy and science. He argues that an atheistic worldview is life-affirming in a way that religion, with its unsatisfying “answers” to life’s mysteries, could never be.

In other words – he cops out – simply unable to admit that there might be any redeeming features in religion at all. He has no answer to his own question – he wonders why humans persist with religion in the face of no evolutionary advantage, but cannot bring himself to admit that there must be some advantage – or religion would have died out long ago.

His unshakable tenet – that religion is the root of all evil is in itself a paraphrase of that well-known biblical injunction - money is the root of all evil. More properly, what it says in Timothy 6:10 is: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

You might profitably enjoin Richard that it is not religion that is the root of evil – it's the love of religion. This is what causes men to abuse and even kill each other. No world religion that I'm aware of asks followers to kill others because they don't believe.

Most religions preach peace and respect for our fellow men. At Christmas time, it would be good to remember that the world would most likely be a better place if we all followed Jesus' injunction to love our neighbour as ourselves – even, for all his faults, our Mr Dawkins.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Post Haste

Post Office Blues

The government's rush to close thousands of post offices is inevitable, but they have the wrong offices in their sights!

Highlighted in every local news bulletin is the dramatic effect on an already fragile rural community of closing its post office. Pub's gone. Village shop's gone. Post Office goes: village goes – swamped by Chelsea tractors driven by interlopers who never buy stamps; they get their underlings to do if for them.

I have a solution!

Some post offices will have to close. It's patently obvious that when you can do almost everything on-line there isn't going to be enough trade to justify subsidising an unprofitable local amenity. The bean-counters win again! Well, there's a surprise.

So, offices will go. The question is where? Solution? Close the medium-sized post offices in medium-sized towns and villages. Keep the small ones open. Sound silly? Not on your nelly!

I volunteer Wroxham Post Office as a trial site. Now, please – before I commit hari-kiri in the queue. You see, a medium-sized office like Wroxham should be a real bonus to the community. Instead, it brings out the worst in both the customers and the staff.

Christmas is worse than usual. Every dough-brain in Wroxham feels the need to queue for hours in order to spend 15 minutes asking (inanely) when the price of stamps went up: does the new size limit on letters apply to Christmas cards: how long a card will take to get to New Zealand: will my sister have to pay postage if I forget to put a stamp on her card (as I have done for the last six years, isn't that hilarious!!): when does the Post Office close for Christmas (there is a very big sign with this information prominently displayed): and (my personal favourite), can I send important documents to the DVLA by regular post? I'm not making these up! I heard them all in just one session of standing in the queue to buy a few stamps.

Now, in a small rural post office some of these numpties would not be there. They would get on the bus and go to Norwich and plague the city-dwellers at the main post office instead. Locals could get in their cars, have a pleasant drive to Coltishall, visit the rural post office and have a pie and a pint in the local pub!

Bob's your uncle: Fanny's your aunt! Everybody wins! The village troglodytes are in Norwich where they will fit in very well. The Chelsea brigade are at home and not clogging up the car parks. The rural Post Office once again becomes profitable. I don't have to regurgitate a perfectly good meal on the clean floor of the Wroxham Post Office while Mrs Minge-Brain wets herself with apoplectic dismay when confronted by the concept of having to produce documents and a cheque made payable to the Post Office all in the same visit in order to tax her car (which she only uses twice a year).

My case is rested.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Yeah but, no but

Spoken English

Two reports and an editorial in the EDP seem to substantiate rumours that youngsters today are all Vicky Pollard sound-a-likes; or, possibly look-a-likes; or, possibly even worse, both.

No less an authority than the Chief Inspector of Schools (no not that fascist has-been Chris Woodhouse! but) Christine Gilbert called for action to improve the speaking skills of today's youngsters. She was responding to a study by Professor Tony McEnery of Lancaster University whose premise, that the Vicky Pollard stereotype was becoming more accurate, she supported. She went on to stress the importance of oral skills in procuring employment and in life generally.

So, what's new?

Like all good comedy, the reason Vicky Pollard and her antics and speech are funny is that they are true to life. Yes, children actually speak like her. Wake up! It's a bit like the “happy-slapping” craze a few years ago. Youngsters often wander around assaulting each other. They seldom need instruction, encouragement or a popular television programme to inspire them! Therefore, children are not mimicking Vicky Pollard; Ms Pollard is mimicking them. What is most disturbing is that the media provides an outlet to make sure her inanities spread to all teens – instead of just most. Teens shouldn't be watching Little Britain anyway – in my view.

What is important is that children are taught a range of spoken English and how to fit their speech to the purpose at hand. I'm sure I read that, or something very like that, in the National Curriculum for English. As long as children recognize that Vicky is a comic character and can adapt their speech to fit their surroundings and their situatiion, there is no problem.

Problems begin when children assume that their human rights are being violated because they are not “allowed” to speak any way they want. The culture of, “I'm entitled to do what I want when I want to” is more applicable to slovenly speech than the spurious notion that teachers don't try to teach children to communicate in a variety of forms and suit each form to its specific circumstance.

It is more important that children are taught that others are going to judge them (perhaps rightly, perhaps wrongly) in part by the way they speak. However much we might think this is wrong, there is very little we can do about it. Children can moan as much as they like about it being “unfair” (another favourite of teenagers!) as long as they realize that it is up to them to adapt their speech to suit prospective employers – not the other way round.

To be fair: most children, once they understand this, are quite capable of recognizing when and where speech needs to be modified so as not to disadvantage themselves. They really don't need the Chief Inspector of Schools to tell them. All they need is a modicum of common sense.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dummy Doncaster

How Stupid Can You Get??

Before I explain just how stupid Neil Doncaster is and what a dissembler he has become, check out my fantastic football quiz at

Writing in our favourite paper on Thursday, our Neil attempts to quell the supporters anger at his lack of insight and ability by explaining why NCFC are not able to sign good players. He explains, as if we are all a little bit thick, that if a player is worth £15 000 a week in the market and Norwich are only offering £8 000 a week, it is plainly irrelevant how smashing a club NCFC is or what a great place Norfolk is to live – the player will go where he can get the most money. Gosh! I never thought of that!

He goes on to explain that despite the fact that Norwich are the best supported club in the Championship they will have no money to spend on luxuries – like good players. He “explains” to supporters that the club has a number of assets: “a number of talented and much sought after players” (how he squares that circle with his view that it is impossible to attract good players to the club beggars the belief!!!); development land (again he fails to mention that it was Bob Chase who had the foresight to get the land in the first place – and he refuses to explain exactly how much the land is worth??); “a 30% stake in the hotel joint venture” (sorry? I thought this was a football club – not a property company – wake up supporters and smell the roses!! The board is full of Delia's property developer buddies!); and, finally, the club is sold out of season tickets (as long as the Norfolk Dumplings who support the club remain as thick as they are – there is no need to change!!!).

He does admit that the loyalty of the supporters is a big advantage over clubs whose support seems to wax and wane. He thinks that the future is “far from doom and gloom”. Just when I was beginning to warm to him, he reverts to his “bean-counter” roots when he says, “Our debt is high . . . . “. Rubbish! For any enterprise the size of NCFC and with the assets and cash flow it generates, the club's debt is too low – not too high.

The real asset of the club is its ability to get to the promised land of the Premiership. Last time we were there we were told it was worth £25 million pounds. Where did all that money go? Come on, Neil – you'll have to do better than peddling the same old squit every day! You just can't fool all of the people all of the time!

Time's up.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Trousering the Lolly

NCFC Strikes Again!!

Norwich City's finances are in the news – again. Reporting on the state of the club's lolly, Neil (Mr “We Never Have Any Money to Spend on Trivial Things Like Players)” Doncaster bemoaned the need to publish accounts at all when he said, “In the year covered by these accounts, and despite a £7m parachute payment, the club's cash position worsened by £1.5m.”

Translation: “We are taking these accounts completely out of context and only talking about events during the dates we choose to report on. The club's cash position is a raw measurement – taking no account of other factors which may have resulted in money gains for the club. I am not reporting on my wages or on the wages of the many hangers-on and directors who make a tidy living out of NCFC. I am also not reporting any gains the club may have made from selling land originally purchased by former Chairman, Bob Chase – because, despite the fact that he is a hated man by the supporters – he was instrumental in putting the club into a position where I can be paid loads of money for cocking things up. Thanks, Bob.”

He goes on, as quoted in the EDP, “. . . the board believed that it should back the judgment of former manager Nigel Worthington and did so, sanctioning player wages during 2005/6 which were only marginally lower than our year in the Premier League.”

Translation: “Nigel Worthington (who has just pocketed £600.000 as a get-lost payment) was an idiot – but the board decided to pay his group of inept players loads of money anyway. We decided to live well above our means (if you believe the figures) in the hope that something would turn up – but it's not our fault that we're idiots – working with Delia has made us this way. Anyway, Nigel's group of players was never going to be good enough to stay in the Premiership. We knew that – but, of course, never mentioned it to the supporters – who may have asked awkward questions. Like, why didn't you make efforts to offer the kind of wages that would attract good Premiership players to the club?”

Finally, he concludes that the club's financial position is “stable”, despite the large debt, which he said was, “structured and manageable”.

Translation: “Financial stability is dependent on remaining in touch with the top of the Championship – not gaining promotion. Promotion costs too much money in the long-term with supporters demanding big-money signings which, if brought to fruition, limits the board's ability to trouser even more of the club's cash. We are committed to earning a comfortable living from the supporters money and not answering questions about where the money goes. Our accounts are transparent – because it is transparently obvious to anyone (who isn't a professional bean-counter that is) that they are designed to disguise just how rapacious the board are and how glaringly stupid Norwich City supporters actually are. Therefore, we constantly bemoan the lack of money at the club, despite the fact that we are the best supported club in the Championship. We believe, and fervently hope, that the local press will continue to be slavishly sycophantic in their treatment of the club, thereby ensuring that the boat is not rocked and awkward questions will not appear in the Eastern Daily Press.”