The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

Archive for September, 2010

The Return of Mark Halsey

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I read today that Mark Halsey has passed his fitness test and will return to the top flight as a Select Group Referee. This is excellent news and I for one am delighted to see Halsey return to what he does best.

His battle with cancer was well documented and to get back to full fitness in such a short time is impressive in itself. However I’m happy that he is returning not only for him but selfishly because he is one of the top officials in the country.

The way he referees is unlike most of the young up and coming referees. He lets a lot of things go, his attitude seems to be ‘it’s a man’s game’ and lets the players get on with it. He also understands the advantage rule better than most and the players seem to respect his style.

Halsey returning to the middle is great news for him but it is just as good news for fans of the beautiful game. If referees have done their job properly then most people won’t even know who has officiated that game. When Mark takes charge of a game you wouldn’t know it and that is the way it should be.

I wish Mark a successful season and look forward to seeing him referee again this season. Hopefully it can end with him leading out two teams at Wembley for the FA Cup, preferably Portsmouth but some things are a real long shot!

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September 30th, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Posted in Football

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Southend Hospital Radio – dragging themselves into the modern era

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Just a quick post to talk about what I do on Wednesday Night’s – well apart from try and find gorgeous nurses around Southend Hospital. I’m at Southend Hospital for the purpose of presenting a Hospital Radio show. I have done it for four years – although for a while I was in the main an absentee member due to the fact I lived 100 miles away – but now I’m back and once more I feel comfortable with the show and everything.

Now in recent times we’ve got a new guy doing all the technical stuff. This has meant that we’ve worked on our website, put together a blog and I just found out that we are even on Twitter. I mean Southend Hospital Radio on Twitter, whatever next?

Anyway, I did a blog post today over on the SHR Blog about what we do and why Hospital Radio isn’t something that is out of date. I know young people in hospital probably have iPods and iPhones and Laptops to keep them amused but many people do not and for those people Hospital Radio provides a service that they enjoy. It isn’t just me saying that – they tell us themselves – and when they do it makes it feel all the more worthwhile.

So if you are interested in helping out your local Hospital Radio station then get in touch with them. They won’t bite and for aspiring broadcasters & journalists it can be a good learning experience as well as good for the soul.

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September 30th, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Hospital Radio

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Balls by name…

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I’m not sure what I can say really. Anyone who has encountered Ed Balls’ in the past few weeks upon their television screen or on the radio air waves will be shocked by one thing – this man genuinely believes he can be the next leader of the Labour party and in turn the next Prime Minister of this country.

I know. Insane.

Last night whilst watching the interested ‘Five Days That Changed Britain’ – which can still be seen on the BBC iplayer service (for another seven days) it was clear to me that everyone who took part spoke openly and honestly except one man – Mr Ed Balls.

He used his talking head appearances to bash Nick Clegg over the head. Everything was a snide remark aimed at the leader of the Lib Dems and the Deputy Prime Minister. It was like a personal vendetta that he wanted out there. He blamed Nick Clegg solely for Gordon Brown not being PM any more. It had nothing to do with anyone else, it was Nick’s fault.

The actual issue turned out quite simply that Nick Clegg felt he couldn’t prop up a Prime Minister who hadn’t been elected in the first place and then during his first election campaign lost. He felt that there was a future with a Lib-Lab deal (although the numbers wouldn’t have made it easy) but that future could not involve PM Brown and the then PM just wouldn’t let it go. It was Brown as PM or no-one in the Labour party, an act that might be seen by Labourites as selfish. The keys to #10 were there for the Labour party but in a straight choice between himself and his party – Brown chose himself.

Back to Ed Balls. He was the closest to PM Brown and has a legitimate chance of winning the leadership contest even though the Miliband brothers are the favourites. His performance on Question Time after the election showed that he wasn’t living in the real world. Circumstances had changed and the events in Greece in the week running up to the General Election changed everything.

The deficit needed cutting and it needed cutting now. If a country in the Euro Zone could be in the brink of bankruptcy then any country could go. As the country with the largest deficit in the EU, clearly the UK would’ve been next had the World’s money leaders sniffed that we couldn’t actually pay back the money.

I see people saying that these cuts are brutal and it is going to far. If you lose your job and have a mortgage to pay do you keep spending the same amount each month on things that aren’t bare essentials? Do you cancel up your Sky subscription? Does the gym membership go out of the window? Are nights out on the town cut back on? Of course you do and for the country it is no different.

Yes I like the idea of free swimming for all kids and OAPs but at this current juncture we simply can’t afford it. I love the idea of kids getting excellent buildings to learn in but is that sustainable at the moment? No it’s not. Hard decisions have to be made to show the people who have lent us money that we are cutting our spending and we will be able to pay them back in time. If we don’t these debts are called in now and frankly we don’t have the money to pay for it and then we are all screwed.

On Question Time after the election, Ed Balls still said that he would spend our way out of debt by investing in public services and jobs, which is good in one way but all that means is we get into more debt and at some point you have to cut your losses and tighten your belt.

Sadly that is the situation we find ourselves in (thank you financial sector) but that is the real world. I live in it, you live in it, everyone lives in it except Ed Balls. If he becomes Labour leader then it is a slam dun that they’ll still be forming the opposition comes the autumn of 2015, you can bet your bottom dollar on it.

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September 30th, 2010 at 10:42 am

Posted in Politics

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The Cat in a Bin saga

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So if you haven’t seen the cat in a bin incident yet then have a look at the following video:

Having read her interview in The Sun and the Daily Mail article I do feel that this women is being made a scapegoat but then the other part of me is thinking ‘What the [expletive] did she really think she was doing?’ My next door neighbour has a cat and I have to admit that putting him in a bin has yet to ever occur to me. Stroking him when I walk past has when I pop to the shop and quite often he’ll wait by the gate for me to return. He’s a great old thing. Bit fat but he seems like a happy cat.

I’m sure many of us when passing a cat in the street will bend down and give it a stroke or two before wandering on. I’m sure many a person has done so to this cat but what could compel a grown woman to put the cat in a bin and then proclaim that she thought ‘it would be a bit of fun’. In what way is putting a cat in a bin ‘a bit of fun’ or the cat? This woman doesn’t have any record on mental illness so that can be ruled out. It is just sheer stupidity of the worst kind.

I feel for her a bit as it is a small incident, which is rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things but really, how stupid can you be? My motto in life is Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. My mother would inform me that is a biblical quote and the words of Jesus. I prefer to just see it as a basic life principle. I wouldn’t like to be shut in a bin with no means of escape and I’m sure she wouldn’t either so why do that to a cat?

Some people…

PS: According to the WordPress spellcheck, ‘bin’ is not a word…

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September 25th, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Posted in General

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Politics. At times it is far too tribal for me.

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I love Politics. I really do. However some things just piss me off and one major things that gets up my wick is just how tribal it is. MPs are like bleating Lambs arguing for argument’s sake. Labour pretty much oppose everything the current government are doing and to be fair it was vice versa when it was the other way round. Yes I know they’ll always be differences but it some things surely deep down everyone agrees. However even if this was the case then I doubt we’d see it.

I was out the other night doing my Hospital Radio show and I commented that I’m on the verge of finally nailing my colours to the mast and joining the Liberal Democrats. I have core liberal values and always have done and agree with the vast majority of what they stand for. Someone then made a comment stating that I ‘might as well join the Tories instead’ and then I bit back quite fiercely. Just because the party I have long time supported are in a coalition government with said party doesn’t mean that I am one of them. I disagree with several of their policies and key ideals but this is how it is. Are people so narrow-minded and hidebound that they can’t see the world for what it really is?

A coalition was formed because the British electorate didn’t vote any one party into office. The choices were either a minority government, which in this time of financial instability would’ve gone down like a lead balloon in the City or a coalition. The obvious partners for a coalition were the Liberal Democrats and somehow it came together. Five months in and watching Question Time last night one of the questions from the audience was, ‘Could the Liberal Democrats survive?’ and really can you get a more preposterous question? Then a young lady chirped up from the back of the room and basically said that she knew of people who had voted Lib Dem to keep the Tories out and now the Lib Dems got together with the Tories that they’ll never trust them again.

Well guess what folks – The Tories aren’t in government. At some point will people not realise this? The government is a coalition because two major parties. This isn’t a straight Conservative government. They aren’t getting their full manifesto in. The Lib Dems are being able to get some of their policies on to the statute. So by voting for Lib Dem in a way you did keep the Tories out. Just because they are a senior partner in the coalition doesn’t mean they get to do everything they want.

I have always had it pounded into me that I should hate the Tories by my family. My dad says they are all as bad as each other and couldn’t care les but my Mum is just plain anti-tory and will vote for whoever is most likely to keep them out wherever she lives. I know a lot of people like that. It is all just tribal. I look at policies and vote for who I want to win – not for who I want to beat a certain party. In the 2010 General Election I lived in Southend West and it was a pretty safe Conservative seat. Peter Welch the Lib Dem PPC ran a pretty good campaign here and actually increased the Lib Dem vote by 5.4% to become the clear #2 party in the constituency but the Tory incumbant David Amess has been an MP since 1983, first in neighbouring Basildon and then Southend West. My own mother who hates the Tories actually thinks this guy is a good Local MP and is very active in the community but her hatred of his party would never allow her to have voted for him.

I don’t know David at all as I had only recently moved into the area so I have no idea what he is like. I have spoken to Peter on several occasions and he seems like a good bloke. He ran a good campaign and should David retire anytime soon then Southend West might be a chink in the blue armour that is this whole region. So I often wonder do people vote on a national level or on a local level? I have heard of terrible local MPs who get in time and again because the party loyalists will vote along the lines that they always have.

Then on the other end of the spectrum you have these rouge constituencies that keep returning an MP even though the rest of the region is a different colour. For example down in Portsmouth South. Mike Hancock has been an MP for that constituency twice (1984-1987) and since 1997. He is a well-known local MP who is very active in his local community and people feel like they know him. He has also been very active at a local level so it seems obvious this guy cares and does his job and stands up for the people he represents. Considering in 2005 he was up against the daughter of popular local TV personality Fred Dinenage and still brought home Portsmouth South it says a lot about his standing in the city – maybe not the party he stands for but him personally and that is how I think things should be. A good local MP who stands up for his constituency is what we elect.

Anyway as per usual I’ve gone way off course with this blog – let’s try to bring it back to the original point…

Not everything the Lib Dems do is great. Not everything the Tories do is evil and Labour don’t get everything wrong either. Just because my leanings are towards one party doesn’t mean I’ll blindly follow them if I disagree with what they are doing. As it stands I think they are doing what is right in the national interest and tackling the deficit is, in my opinion, the biggest problem on the plate. Now I vehemently hate any idea on a cap on immigration – certainly on skilled workers. Why would a country ever want to cap the amount of skilled people who can enter our workforce. That to me is sheer lunacy and has been done to pander to the xenophobic undertones that have arisen in our communities since certain Eastern European countries have joined the EU coupled with the recession. It flat-out disgusts me. It goes against my values as a person and against Liberal ethics. However it is what it is and for now there is little we can do about it. Yes we could throw our toys out of the pram, pull out of the coalition and collapse the government but what will that do? All it will do is bring a second General Election which the Tories would probably win outright and then they can do whatever they like. As it stands we can placate them on certain other policies and get some of us own in.

Today we saw Ken Livingstone win the Labour nomination for Mayor of London and unless something radically changes then I will be backing Ken. He isn’t a Lib Dem but his policies are pretty clear and in my opinion they are what is best for London. Invest heavily in public transport and keep it cheap. The motorists won’t like the western extension to the congestion charge but if we had first-rate public transport then a lot of those in cars can and will use the tube, the buses and the DLR etc… – London is a giant of the World and it should have a public transport infrastructure to go along with its global position. Just because I’m Lib Dem leaning doesn’t mean I should automatically back the Lib Dem candidate – whoever it may be – but that just might be me who is wrong in that. Once you support a party you do so through everything.

Politics should be about the here and now and not about the past. Parties move around the politically spectrum all the time. Listen to what the party has to say and listen to what your local MP or PPC believes in. Take time out to research for who you want and not for who you think you should want. We all get one vote – whether we are a cleaner or a CEO. One vote each and we all get an equal say in how the country is run. Embrace learning and finding out what you think and what the other who want to speak for you think. Don’t just vote one way because of party loyalty – that is not how it should be. If parties change their policies then so should people change their vote.

Whether I join the Lib Dems or not I don’t know but what I do know is that in the main – that is the party that by far best represents my values and ethics. That might not be the case in 10, 20, 30 years and I’ll always keep a tab on what they are saying and doing as well as what the other parties are saying and doing. But for now – I am proud of what the Lib Dems are doing and I am very much holding my nerve. Whilst deep down I do fear for the long-term prospects of the party, I also know that if we do a good job in power and curbing some of the less popular Conservative traits and helping stabilise this country that the party can and indeed should survive and flourish.

The referendum on AV will be a big moment for the party but that is a ramble for another day…

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September 24th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with

The Interwebs

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Things have been going on in my life over the past few days and one thing has struck me – no matter how hard you try – in this era of the World Wide Interwebs there is very little secrecy. Now I work on the Web, it is my domain, so I should probably have realised this a long time ago. The URL to my blog is my name so anyone searching for me will come across me and will come across me in various other forms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc…) so it is hard to have secrets.

I have chosen to be this way but at times it has come back to bite me in the bum. Several years ago there was an incident shall we say where I wrote about someone else that I knew and a situation they were in. I named names and someone we both knew saw it, forwarded it to the person and let’s put it this way, not a good situation. Now when all is said and done I was in the wrong. Had it been in a diary where no-one else could’ve seen it then I’d of probably been ok but as it was in a public forum then I had strayed over the line. I have since apologised for this and have been far more guarded with aspects to my online presence.

However having my own blog and website no matter how small has once again shown me that writing on the interwebs can be dangerous. I have not written anything on here that I think would offend anyone I know in any way. Yet by seeing who is coming into the blog and the entry paths they have taken to get here it is a bit certainly a of an eye-opener!

In this day and age nothing is secret…

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September 24th, 2010 at 10:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Just like they say – it is a small world

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So a bit of background. Late last year/early this year I was on a rather famous dating website. I’m not any more due to the fact that it became clear that I don’t exactly have pulling power through photos or my words so it was rather pointless. However I did speak to a few people on there and even had a date with one (who cancelled a proposed second date because she had and I quote ‘washing up to do’ – yeah exactly).

Anyway one of them I still speak to on occasion but we never met due to the fact that I don’t want kids and that for her is of utmost importance. I know she only lives a mile or so up the road but still our paths have never crossed. So we get to last night and I’m sitting on the railway platform listening to my iPod and I glance up and look over to the other platform. I instantly knew it was her. I didn’t do anything incase it wasn’t (and my train was coming in).

When I got home I left a message on her Facebook wall asking if she was on said railway platform at said time and she said she was. So there we go – small world. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever just randomly bumped into someone I know from the interwebs but not met before and I don’t think I have. It happened at uni before actually when I was playing 5-a-side v a team and I recognised their goalkeeper from a website we both used. That however was seven odd years ago.

My other experiences of said dating website were not terrific. One person when I told them I was a Virgin said I should come round and she would and I quote ‘sort me out’ – yeah not exactly my cuppa tea there. One seemed to really like me until she added me to Facebook and saw other pictures of me – and then she never spoke to me again and deleted me off Facebook quick sharpish. Another said that she was always too busy at work to meet anyone (so why is she on a dating website?) and lastly I was going to meet someone, she cancelled that morning and then didn’t speak to me again (coincidentally her Facebook pic changed from just her to her and a guy a few days later).

So yeah – my experience with the big famous dating website was shall we say poor and singledom seems even more probably for the short and medium term futures at the moment. The whole hermit and working from home thing really doesn’t bring one into contact with many members of the opposite sex. Doesn’t bring me into contact with many people in fact but heck such is life.

No-one who knows me should be buying any hats anytime soon!

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September 17th, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Posted in General

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The World of the Lady

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The world of the lady. As anyone who actually knows me and not just reads my Twitter et al, they’ll know I’ve been single for a long long time. In fact I have had one date in the past four years and there was no second date because she was – and I quote – ‘too busy as she had washing up to do’ – gotta like that excuse – it is so bad it is funny. Anywho…

Whilst I swim in the waters of general loneliness there are other people I know with very interesting love lives. One of those is a friend who prefers to remain nameless but he had what I call a very normal experience recently. There was the girl who he had been talking to on the Interwebs via a love finding site – think it was eHarmony but it may have been another. Anyway they had a series of dates and were texting constantly. This to me is a good sign. Both wanted to meet up more n more and life was good.

Then he made his move and was rebuffed quite spectacularly so I’m informed and since she hasn’t contacted him. So how can two people go from seeing each other three or four times a week, getting generally closer n closer and more flirtatious and more flirtatious and then suddenly bam, it all ending. My hypothesis is that she met someone else and suddenly decided that was that but there must be more to it than that. I have been in similar situation in the albeit distant past where you are very close to someone and they find another and quite simply you do not exist to them anymore.

So I want to know why this happens. Do women think that they can’t have single male friends when they start a new relationship? Do women think that by having single male friends (or in some cases people they were getting closer to) it’ll destabilise a potential relationship? Are all resources needed to make sure that new relationship works at all costs? I at times do not understand. As a single guy I’d prefer to keep my friends should I ever get into a relationship, whether they be single females or not or would this not be allowed? I find it all very confusing.

There is someone in my past who basically had the straight choice between me and two other guys who were after ger affections. Once she had chosen one of the other guys I was pretty much deemed completely surplus to requirements and she just didn’t speak to me again pretty much. For me that is harsh but heck I’ve seen it more than once both on a personal level and amongst friends and colleagues.

So women – are you allowed to have single male friends when forming a new relationship or is that just wrong?

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September 17th, 2010 at 11:35 am

Posted in Others

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F1 – The Brundle v Legard Debate

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Over on DigitalSpy there is a long thread going on about F1. With strong rumours circulating that Martin Brundle has told the BBC that he can’t work going forward with Jonathan Legard then it looks like one or both of them will be leaving the commentary box on the BBC next season. Most people want Ben Edwards in or just promote both David Croft and Anthony Davidson from the 5Live coverage.

Here are my thoughts on the situation as I posted over there:

As one of the casual observers and F1 watcher I’d like to bring what the average person thinks to this discussion.

They like Martin Brundle. They don’t like Jonathan Legard. They don’t know who the other commentators are.

I have watched the Practice sessions so do but your average F1 watcher for qualifying and the race do not. The average ‘Joe Public’ like Brundle and have done for years. He was part of the last great F1 commentary team in most people’s eyes. His relationship with James Allen was often questioned but deep down they had a respect and understanding. Allen knew that Brundle had insightful things to say and let him say them. Legard seems to want to call everything.

Murray and Martin had a very simple technique when they wanted to talk and the other one was – they tapped each other on the shoulder and it worked. They very very rarely spoke over each other. As far as I’m aware JA and MB used the same communication technique. I have no idea if JL and MB use it but it doesn’t seem like it. Even if something big happens when MB is talking JL feels the need to call it and that is where for me (and most people I speak to) the problem is. This isn’t like football where your colour guy is rarely talking in the middle of a clear goal scoring opportunity – things happen in F1 at anytime.

In cricket they do have lead and colour guys but whoever is talking when a wicket falls or any big event finishes the call and the other guy will chip in with their thoughts when the call is over.

JL needs to get over the ‘I’m the play-by-play announcer’ spiel as even though he is – MB can call live action if he is in the middle of talking. I don’t want MB as the lead play-by-play guy but if he’s talking when something big happens then he can do that. Murray let him do it and James let him do it. Commentators do it in most other sports so why can’t JL do it?

Your average Joe Public would want Murray back but that isn’t happening so all in all they don’t care as long as whoever comes in works well with MB.

To use an old Ferrari term when they signed Rubens – think of A.N.Other New Commentator as Commentator 1a and MB as 1b. That is how it has worked well in the past and how it can work well in the future. James Allen would be fine as long as he toned down his love of the Brits. His voice came across as too faked at times (probably trying to be more Murray like) and he didn’t need to. However he did (and still does) know the sport inside and out so he would be an option that most would be ok with.

As for Ben Edwards – he suffers from ‘Gareth Barry’ syndrome. All the time he’s not there he becomes a better and better commentator. Whether he’ll do a good or great job we won’t know until they try but if you ask every one of the five million or so people who they would like to lose least from the F1 team then it would be MB (followed by JH) and who they would like to see go most it would be JL I’m sure.

To read my thoughts on DC joining Brundle in the Comms Box for 2011 then please follow this link

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September 16th, 2010 at 11:31 am

Posted in Other Sport

Tagged with ,

Thief?

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Am I thief?

Let me expand.

I was in Game yesterday buying Wii Fit Plus and it was absolutely rammed and the queue was insane. So the poor people serving were under pressure and for some reason very slow. Anyway when I got to pay for my ‘game’ which cost £19.99 I gave him a £20 note and then he gave me back £10.01 change. I instantly knew he had given me too much change but I didn’t say a word. I pocketed the tenner and moved on. When I got on the train home I checked the receipt and it said £19.99 so I was given too much money back.

Obviously had it been the other way round I’d of ensured I got my money back but I want to know if what I did was just morally questionable or just plain wrong. I’m torn as I do think I should’ve said something but also they should’ve got it right.

I just don’t know.

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September 13th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

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