17 Mar 2010

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a complete body search....

It's that time of year when one's thoughts turn to summer holidays. Like a lot of people I suppose, I love the hols, but am not particularly fond of the travelling to get to the summer idyll of choice.

We don't go abroad every year, but this year we will. Not sure where yet but the main problem with leaving these shores and going any distance is flying, or, more specifically UK airports and the paranoid levels of so-called security now prevalent.
Let's get one thing clear - 99.9% of people behave 99.9% of time, but because of some mentally unstable geezer with exploding shoes we all have to suffer.
We now consider it normal to have to arrive at the airport 2 weeks before the flight leaves so that we can eventually have the pleasure of queuing to check-in where we are asked "Did you pack this case yourself". No of course I didn't. I let this kindly stranger with a rucksack and wearing a rag on his head and a two foot beard do it for me. Then we have to queue again to get through to the departure lounge, which thanks to the aforementioned mental patient with exploding footwear, involves taking off all our clothes to have them scanned for nuclear warheads and cans of petrol. There is now the added indignity of the body scanner, which I'm sure gives the staff behind the screen plenty to chuckle about in their lunch breaks.
Hooray, we are now free to sample the delights of numerous food options and shopping opportunities. Plastic burger with a scolding cup of molten iron for only £10 anyone? Then we're off!!

What I'm getting at is that this process is not in the least bit normal and should not be tolerated. Annoyingly though when asked people to seem think that these added layers of godawful "security" are for their benefit and therefore can be put up with. Wake up! It's just our wonderful rulers paying lip service to a problem that they will never be able to stop. The 0.1% of fanatics, nutters, religious freaks, etc have been around since the dawn of time, and these days blowing up planes is the disruption of choice, and they will always find a way to do it regardless of what checks are in place. That bloke with exploding underwear last Xmas got through it all did he not?

Have you noticed how on the way back home (from Europe at least - can't speak for the USA which I imagine is as bad or probably worse than the UK) it's a lot simpler and quicker getting through the airport and they have not had any more terrorist incidents than us have they?

Remember, it's all for your benefit folks!

11 Mar 2010

The man in the sheepskin coat

This is footy - so those of you not interested switch off now! Also, I’ve just noticed my mate Phil has beaten me to it on this subject, but I’ve gotta get it out of my system anyway 

The race for the Premier League title is tighter than for some years, with an unwillingness on the part of Man U & Chelsea to stamp their authority on the chase, allowing an unlikely resurgence by Arsenal, who have already been soundly beaten by both teams above them. My bet is on Chelsea who have the strongest team on paper. Man U (& England - god forbid) only need an injury to "Wazza" and their season could be over, and you can see Arsenal, despite Tuesday night's demolition of Porto in the Champion's League, dropping points against the likes of Wigan & Blackburn away.

The really interesting thing this season is the race for 4th spot and the golden goose of possible CL qualification. From a personal perspective, it's a mighty shame that for the first half of the season my team Everton suffered an injury crisis I have not seen the like of in 41 (gulp) years of following The Toffees. I am certain that had that not been the case they would be right up there with Spurs, M City, Villa and L****pool.

I think Citeh will get 4th as although they have the hardest run in, like a lot teams, seem to up their game against top notch opposition, but unlike a lot of teams actually have the players capable of winning these games. They also for the most part seem to have stopped dropping points against "lesser" teams.

Spurs, as ever, are let down by their ever changing defence, who in turn are not helped by their keeper’s rediscovered propensity for “flapping”, and will drop too many points, Villa have a habit of fading, although' their run in makes me think they will be Citeh's chief rivals, and L'pool - well what can you say?

Yes, I know I'm biased, but this is probably the worst Red team since the Souness era. Gerrard looks disinterested, Torres is expected to score all the goals, and the rest are no better than average. Oh, and their manager is tactically rigid, clueless in the transfer market, and has absolutely no class. Long may he remain in charge!

So, this is the top 8 imo:

1. Chelsea
2. Man U
3. Arsenal
4. Man City
5. Villa
6. Spurs
7. Everton or Birmingham
8. L'pool (wishful thinking, more likely 7th & 8th the other way round!)

Relegated – sorry Portsmouth, but it’s obviously goodbye, with or without the 9 point deduction. I feel for the fans of this historic club who have seen some stupendously bad management over the last few seasons. Could become the first club to win the Cup and get relegated. The other two spots probably go to the current occupants, but Bolton will give them both something to aim for. Hull, are truly awful away from home, and Burnley, who are awful at home as well as away. Wolves, Wigan, and West Ham remain in contention, but I think each has enough to stay up. Sunderland seem to have arrested their slide down the table with Tuesday’s 4-0 thumping of Bolton.

Manager of the season – Roy Hodgson. Still in two cups, but unfortunately drawn against Juventus in the last 16 of the Europa League. Runner up Alex McLeish. Yet another canny scot who knows how to get the best out of average players.

Special mention for Stoke City, the new Bolton. They will have a big say in who finishes where at both ends of the table.

FA Cup - Spurs. Great cup pedigree, and they are not Chelsea.

Champions League - Chelsea, having beaten Arsenal either in the final or along the way. Despite Arsenal's destruction of Porto, both Man U & Chelsea have their measure, and you just can't see Arsenal beating either over a two legged tie.

Have to say I’ve little interest in the Championship or League 1, but Leeds’ wobbles are a source of amusement.

League 2 - Having been to hundreds of Cobblers games home and away many years back I obviously still look out for their results. Were it not for their woeful home form they would be certainly in a play off place and possibly in contention for automatic promotion. Still have an outside chance of a play off place, but have played more games than those around them. Still fancy them to sneak in there.

The Conference is really interesting with both Rushden & Diamonds (now a “proper” club, owned by the fans) and Kettering hopefully finishing in the play offs. An all Northants play off final would be great, and I would have to side with Kettering who were the best non-league club for quite a few seasons in the 70s before automatic promotion to the Football League. They actually didn’t want to get elected into the league as they felt they couldn’t afford it! If only those ruining Pompey were so prudent.

Also in contention for the play offs are AFC Wimbledon, who have come up through the leagues after being well and truly shafted by the creators of football’s first, and hopefully last, franchise, MK Dons. A soulless club for a soulless city. I do not like to see any club in financial trouble and in danger of extinction, even if it happened to L’pool, but I would make an exception for MK Dons. If their was any justice they should have started at the bottom of the pyramid, just as AFC Wimbledon had to.

Finally, can England win the World Cup? No. More on that later.