Archive for January, 2012
I was just looking at the search terms that resulted in clicks on my blog for the past week and one might say that the hit ITV1 show Take Me Out is driving traffic at the moment…
Either Mark Bolton and Nick Halling were on the show or they are interlopers in this list. Next people will be saying this is a Take Me Out blog…
One thing from this list though is that Gracie has been the most popular searched woman from the show in the past week but overall it has been Bianca then Chloe then Gracie then Bainsey. Make of that what you will.
On Saturday I witnessed one of the most depressing things I have ever seen. I was en route back from London on the train when a dad and his daughter were sitting there in the next set of seats. I wasn’t eavesdropping (don’t google ‘eve stropping’ to check for the spelling of said word – it is a porn star) but I did overhear a tiny bit of their conversation. Is was the dad asking his daughter for her mobile number and the daughter saying that she’d have to ask her mum. She rang her mum and asked and got the ok to do so but also asked if she (the mum) wanted to talk to daddy or wanted her (the daughter) to hang-up and she was asked to hang up.
I know I did this subconsciously but I looked over at this dad and saw his sagged shoulders and the despair he was going through. I have no idea why the relationship he was in didn’t work out. I have no idea as to the state of the relationship but I saw in his face how desperately he wanted to be a significant part of his daughters life and from the signs it looked like he was granted minimal access.
This isn’t a rare occurrence and I have known many parents facing this issue. Parenting is tough but when you so want to be part of your offspring’s life and you aren’t allowed to be the pain must be quite cutting. We hear so much of deadbeat dads who don’t care for their children but that number is dwarfed by those who sit alone at night waiting a fortnight until they can see their child once more.
As a football fan I know many other football fans. In this time I have come to know many fathers who only see their sons (and daughters on occasion) once a fortnight and this leads to them taking them to football. It is a bonding experience. The amount of times I have heard them speak to their former partners to tell them that they wanted to take their kid out after a game to get food or go to the beach only to be told that they had to bring the nipper home at the predetermined time is genuinely heartbreaking.
Personally I’m not a father so I can’t speak from personal experience. My parents split up towards the end of my teenage years so it was a completely different experience for me. However I lived with my mum until I was 18 and moved in with my dad and I know for that year and a half or so we lived apart he missed me a lot. Yes I still saw him but not every day and I know that hurt him. That was when I was all but grown up and by 19 I’d be off to university. How he’d have coped had my parents split ten years or so earlier I don’t know. He would have missed out on so much, not only me but with my brother and sister as well. Whenever I see a dad on a day out with his son or daughter on an access visit my mind always harps back to how my dad would’ve coped and subsequently how would I cope in those circumstances.
Being a single parent with custody of a child is not easy work of that I have no doubt but being a parent without custody who yearns to play a bigger part in their own child’s life must be just as hard mentally. I just think sometimes we overlook these people and laugh at the whole ‘Fathers for Justice’ crusade but they have a story to tell and have a fight to see their own children. Those who at least get access often have very limited contact and very strict rules to follow. That is no way to bring up a child and no way to play any significant role in their upbringing.
I have no idea what to do about it but I just think it is one of the saddest things I see – a parent who wants to be a great parent not being allowed to be because of the courts or their former partners. Every case is different I know but it just saddens me. It saddens me a lot.
A shocking CNN report shows that London has migrated away from its natural home of the Thames for a new rural location:
Who here had me ever writing a West End Review? Anyone? *watches the tumbleweed flows through the lands* well due to the line at the London Aquarium being downright insane on Saturday lunchtime a new plan was hatched. This involved going to see a show. Not exactly what you would call natural Neil territory but heck we were in London and I’m relatively easy going.
After the first two choices were shot down thanks to no tickets being available (Phantom of the Opera and War Horse) the third choice was the one I’d mentioned – Legally Blonde. I suggested this for two reasons a) I knew the story and had gone to see the movie in the cinema and b) I had actually read some very good reviews about it. So Legally Blonde tickets were bought and we had just under an hour to get to The Savoy. If proof is needed that I did in fact but said tickets then look no further (well look just below these words).
I know that is only proof that I bought the tickets and there is no proof I was actually at the show but I was. I didn’t think to take any photos whilst I was there. My main concerns were the lack of leg room at The Savoy theatre and when it started (after a brief delay for unspecified backstage issues) realising it was a little bit shall we say ‘preppy’ and the person I was with likes preppy stuff about as much as I enjoy enjoy mushrooms – i.e. not a great deal. I feared she may not enjoy it and considering it was her birthday trip into London I was fearing my choice would go down like a lead balloon.
My fears were allayed at the interval although I was informed these fears were not exclusive to me after the first few minutes. As for the show itself it was nice and simple. Some catchy tunes (although none that are so memorable that they are still in my head two days later as I’m writing this) but is wasn’t the worst way I’ve spent an afternoon that is for sure. I thought the cast did a pretty good job. I didn’t realise it was Steph from Hollyoaks playing Elle Woods and she was good. The guy who played the UPS guy had a small part but caused the most laughter without a doubt. The staging was all clever. You know what I enjoyed it.
As we left and foraged for food my next big task for the day arrived. Yes I went for a large pizza at Pizza Hut and boy it was large. Gutted I didn’t take a picture of it but it was a large BBQ Americano and I finished it. As I put the last mouthful into my mouth I said (rather loudly) ‘I win!’ at the empty deep dish. Several people looked at me. I think someone was rather embarrassed but I was rather proud of my achievement. I felt like Adam Richmond in Man v Food albeit on a much smaller scale.
So there we go. My Saturday consisted of seeing my first ever show in the West End and taking down a large pizza in one sitting. All in all I’d say that was a successful trip into London. This is not to mention actually going up close to the Houses of Parliament for the first time. I had a quick look in Downing Street and measured up for curtains too…
After several months of shall we call it fun and games with 123reg I have migrated my site to Evohosting and hopefully that should mean that the site won’t be down for several hours each day. I made the switch on Monday but these things take time to propagate across the Globe.
I had forgotten that moving my site would mean all my posts would disappear so I had quite a panic on Monday evening when I logged on to my website and the new version loaded up with a sole ‘Hello World!’ post. Luckily a few minutes later the ld site loaded up and I was able to export my posts and therefore all my posts since I started the blog are still on the site. All the URLs match up too so none of my links are broken. All my images were but I have sorted out some of them. Some on very old blogs I haven’t exactly got round too yet.
Also I forgot that I would lose all my stats. In a sad way I love looking back at what stories are most read etc.and starting from 0 after being at around 123,000 was a bit of a depressing sort. However despite Google saying it wasn’t possible when I put in my Akismet API key in it asked me if I wanted to transfer my stats over from another website. I said yes and hey presto all my stats were there. Also I now use WordPress stats and not Jetpack. I just didn’t like Jetpack and it never let me return to the old stats system. I am certainly not upgrading to Jetpack any time soon.
Also as part of this change on the blog I have dragged myself into the 21st Century. With my new hosting I have set up my e-mails to IMAP instead of POP and set up several e-mail addresses. Therefore all personal/work e-mail is now also accessible via my iPhone as both the virgin.net and neil@neilmonnery addresses are now going into my iPhone as well. If you need/want to get hold of me you can e-mail me via the link in the right hand column.
So yes from now on hopefully this blog will not experience any more downtime. The content will still be the same. I mix of politics, news, sport, random stuff that flutters into my mind. I have transferred all the e-mail addresses who are subscribed over to the new blog and hopefully it has worked. If it hasn’t then please get in touch. You can sign up for e-mail alerts in the right hand column somewhere. You can also like the site on Facebook and all the posts will show up in your Facebook feed.
With that I shall end this blog. Keep smiling folks.
I saw this on Facebook earlier and thought this was terrific. Click on the image below to read the full story.
I started writing this blog post the best part of 36 hours ago. I was found naked in my study by my girlfriend with tears having more than moistened my cheeks staring at the screen suffering from Writers Block. A couple of hours earlier I had rolled over in bed to check my twitter feed and saw reports that Joe Paterno was in a serious condition and that his wife had called the family in from all over the country as his time was short.
I got up and came to the computer to read all the stories and reports of his death. They were premature but he wouldn’t live to see the next day out. He passed at 9:25AM on Sunday morning. I was brought into this world no doubt kicking and screaming at 9:25AM on a Sunday morning. Joe Pa left quietly in his sleep ready to give the big guy hell if he so exists.
Looking back I can count the amount of times I have cried in the past five years on two fingers. Both of those occasions were due to Paterno. One his passing and the second the way he was treated and vilified by the media following allegations of child sexual assault against a former assistant of his. Yes a former assistant. Not a current assistant. Not him. But by someone else. The police acknowledged that Paterno did nothing wrong but the media had a bone and they weren’t letting it go until they destroyed him. This isn’t the time or place to debate whether the actions of the media hastened his departure from this world but when Coach K – aka Mike Krzyzewski – goes on ESPN and basically tells them they did just that it says a lot.
The following is a comment by poster OptaShields over at BlackShoeDiaries which I think sums up a lot of my feelings today:
I’ve heard a lot of people asking “What will be the lasting legacy of Joe Paterno?”
As if that’s a question that anyone could answer. A legacy isn’t something that you discuss. There can be no official determination. The only people who can possibly care about this discussion are the people who have never had their lives influenced by the man. The discussion is abstract and academic, and almost wholly worthless.
His real legacy won’t be determined by words, spoken or written.
It is when I work a little harder on the details to make the brief I’m writing not just good enough, but perfect.
It’s when I meet someone new, look them in the eye while I’m shaking their hand and commit myself to actually listening and being interested in them, because that’s how one shows respect.
It’s when I walk a little further to the sidewalk to avoid cutting through someone’s yard, because you don’t cut figurative or literal corners.
It’s understanding that you can live up to some ideal and be driven by more than just personal self-interest, and then striving to live in such a way and help others in their quests as well.
It’s Adam Taliaferro going from being paralyzed to becoming an elected government official and (hopefully) Trustee within the span of 12 years.
It’s Paul Jones, who committed to Penn State as a 4-star recruit, and has nothing but respect and admiration for his former coach, even after being prevented from playing for his first two years.
It’s the hundreds of former players who credit their old coach for making them into the men they are today.
It’s listening to Urban Meyer and Mike Ditka and Coach K talk about what he’s meant to them, and hearing something much deeper, realer and more genuine than you usually hear when people give respects to an icon.
It’s every current and former player understanding that a scholarship has more to do with class and grades than football, that you run to the whistle (in both football and life) and internalizing the maxim “if you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”
The idea that a legacy is an encapsulation or a summary is silly. A legacy is influence, and exists at a subconscious, ineffable level as much as it does as an actual idea. I am a better person because Joe Paterno was my role model. My life was enriched by the places and people that he influenced and improved during his life. And there are hundreds of thousands like me. That is his legacy.
Legacy is a strange thing. How will Bill Clinton be remembered in 100 years time? Will it be as an adulterer who put his wife through such an ordeal or will it be as the person who oversaw a large economic boom, helped peace processes around the Globe and was a very popular president? It will be the latter. Is Woody Hayes remembered as a great football coach or as the man who punched one of his students? It is the former.
Paterno has a black mark against his name but it is only a chapter of the book. The book has many chapters and the vast majority are positive. Hindsight is 20/20 and everyone knows exactly what they would have done in his position. Everyone is perfect. Everyone would have gone up to Jerry Sandusky and punched his lights out and then dragged him to the police station. It is what everyone would have done. Well everyone in hindsight and everyone who doesn’t believe in innocent until proven guilty in a Court of Law that is. Heck a Court of Law, the Court of Public Opinion, what is the difference?
If you had been told by your superiors that they had done a full investigation on an issue and had acted appropriately then what do you do? Do you say that they haven’t done enough even though they know (or at least portrayed to know) far more than you and then take it on yourself or do you trust them – as it is their job to oversee such matters and get on with things? You do the latter. If you say the former then you are deluding yourself. Some people didn’t do their job in 2002 and Joseph Vincent Paterno was not one of them. Yes he could have done more but when the people in charge tell you they have investigated and done appropriate action then what are you meant to do? I mean really?
The trial of Jerry Sandusky will happen later this year. As will the trials of Tim Curley and Gary Schultz who according to the DA didn’t fulfill their legal obligations in 2002 on one of the incidents that Sandusky is charged with. When this happens it will be interesting to see how Paterno’s name is dragged through the media once more.
The media over the past 24 hours have seen Paterno in a different light. Although certain writers and broadcasters cannot go a sentence without mentioning the charges against people not named Joseph Vincent Paterno. As I wrote before this chapter is yet to be fully written and when it does it will still only be a chapter of a book. His legacy will continue in the people he influenced and moulded to become the people they are today. The motto of ‘success with honour’ is something that I do believe any one of us could live by. There is never any success if you get it without honour.
Paterno influenced many far and wide. The people who met him and even those that did not were helped on their way in life by the way he lived his. He said ‘take care of the small things in life and the big things will fall into place’ which is a great way to be. On the statue outside of Beaver Stadium of Paterno the following quote is etched into the base, “They ask me what I’d like written about me when I’m gone. I hope they write I made Penn State a better place, not just that I was a good football coach.”
Well coach that you did. You didn’t just make Penn State a better place you made the world a better place. You made people better people. You may not have been perfect but who of us can say that they are? You lived your life as to benefit others and teach people about how to live their lives in a better and more meaningful way. If that isn’t the best legacy that you can have then I don’t know what is.
Rest in Peace Joe Pa and trust me when that you will live on in the spirit of the many people you influenced across the Globe and know this – those people will instill your ways into their offspring so that your legacy will go on for many generations to come.
I was sad to see today that a Lib Dem councillor had defected to the Conservatives. Cllr Nigel Clarke was elected two years ago as the Brentwood West Lib Dem on the borough council but he has decided to walk across the floor for reasons that he has kept onto himself.
Personally speaking I find this outrageous. Not just because he’s a Lib Dem who has decided to move on but because he is now not standing for the same values as when he was elected. If he truly believes his political ideals have changed then you can’t argue with that. What you should then do is resign your seat and a by-election called. I think this should be the case in any situation where a person leaves/joins a political party whilst they are an elected official.
I heard the news earlier today and it has been confirmed by the head of the Lib Dems on the Council David Kendell who went on to say the following:
“I am naturally disappointed that Cllr Clarke has made this decision as I believe he has not only let down his friends and colleagues but has also let down the many hundreds of residents in Brentwood West who voted for him in good faith as a Liberal Democrat. I believe that over time he may well come to regret his decision when he realises the local Conservatives are unable to meet his expectations.
“The remaining six members of the Liberal Democrat group remain totally united and focused on holding the Conservatives to account, questioning their decisions and providing constructive opposition”.
When I heard the news my gut reaction was pretty clear. This is what I wrote at the time, ‘Am I just being a complete cynic when I think he’s done this to safe his own hide and that his seat will be safer if he changes hats for when he is up for re-election in two years? If he changed hats too close to his election people might see through it. Ok I’m far too much of a cynic…‘ and you know what I stick by that.
Give up being a Lib Dem by all means that is his right. However he is now not representing the people who voted for him and therefore he cannot claim one iota that he has a mandate. If he had any decency then he would resign and stand as a Tory in the by-election. If the people didn’t care what colours he wore then he would get re-elected. However it seems as though he is actually pretty gutless and he’ll stay on as a councillor until 2014 when he is up for re-election.
It is a real shame as people feel genuinely betrayed by this. You vote for someone and something and then the someone and something you voted for turned out to be the complete opposite on Ronseal. It most certainly didn’t do exactly what it said on the tin. And people wonder why people lose all faith in politicians…
If you get round to googling yourself Cllr Nigel Clarke and read this then grow some cojones and do the right thing. Quit and stand as a Tory. If you get in then that is fine but as of right now you are not representing those who elected you and that is a pretty shocking state of affairs. How would you like it if you voted someone into office only for them to turn around and change everything they stood for? I suspect you wouldn’t like it on the other foot somehow.
I don’t just say this because he is a Lib Dem. I truly think that if you are elected then you are elected both personally and for what you stand for. If that changes then you should quit and stand again under whatever new banner you want to stand under. Carrying on in office is like carrying on your role under false pretences.
NFLUK has just announced that for the next three years the St Louis Rams will play in London for one game each season and for the 2012 season it will be the Golden Boy himself Tom Brady and his New England Patriots who will be their opponents.
I must say I think this is a genuine step forward and a step towards seeing if there is a real viability to having a team play permanently in the UK – most likely in London. By having a team committed to playing here for three successive years the league will be able to see if that team gets a following and whether or not the novelty factor will wear off on British fans.
The St Louis Rams have just appointed a new Head Coach in Superbowl winner Jeff Fisher and with owner Stan Kroneke also being the majority shareholder of Arsenal FC it is exciting times for the franchise and the fan base around the world. I’m not sure how the St Louis fans will be taking this news and it would have been wiser for maybe a franchise who really struggle to sell out such as the Jacksonville Jaguars to be the guinea pig but its a start.
The 2012 game with the Patriots is one that will excite the UK fans big time. The Patriots are without a doubt one of the most exciting teams in the game with a sure fire Hall of Fame QB who boasts three rings at the time of writing but that might well be four by the time this game is played. The Pats have been to London befre and the fact they are happy to return shows that they enjoyed the experience, which no doubt other players and owners will notice.
This is without a shadow of a doubt a precursor to a permanent franchise based in London. The big question is whether it’ll be a 33rd team or a current franchise relocated. With the LA market still vacant it is unlikely a new franchise will come to London until after the LA issue is fixed but for Roger Goddell no doubt London is #2 on his wish-list.
Speaking of the commish he has this to say on the announcement, ‘The response to NFL games in the UK among our British fans has been exceptional, We are confident that having the Rams host one game in the UK in each of the next three seasons will allow us to better serve the growing popularity of our sport beyond the borders of the United States.’
Sounds to me like him saying, ‘if they are sell-outs and the game continues to grow in the UK then we’re coming there permanently’.
American Football might not be just ‘American’ any more…
As a Lib Dem should I really be writing off Brian Paddick’s chances of winning the Mayor of London election later this year? (No you shouldn’t – Ed) Ah well…erm…*looks at shoes is an embarrassed kind of way* but let’s be realistic here. The odds of Brian Paddick pulling off the sensational coup and making arguably the biggest single election splash for the Liberal Democrats in their relatively short history are the same as me actually being in a real-life position having to decide whether Zooey Deschanel or Sophie Ellis Bextor should accompany me to the Ambassadors reception.
So we can write off Brian’s chances and look at the two political heavyweights. A few months ago this seemed like a gentle cruise towards a second term for the bumbling buffoon but the newt isn’t finished yet. Campaigning on things Londoners actually give a hoot about (public transport costs, crime) has actually worked compared to Boris’s campaign of ‘I’ll promote London abroad’. That may interest some in the city but most folk actually care about the real life day-to-day issues that they face.
So Ken now leads Boris in a poll conducted by YouGov. The Evening Standard wrote about with the headline Ken takes lead over Boris in race for Mayor which I suppose gets the point of the story across although it isn’t exactly a humdinger and won’t be up for any ‘Headline of the Year’ awards.
It seems as though this sea change has been down to two things, firstly Labour voters going back to their candidate and not being swayed by Boris and the hate of Gordon Brown’s party at a national level like they were in 2008 and that people see Red Ken as more in touch with ordinary people compared to Boris. I’m shocked it needed a poll to work that out but apparently it did.
It will be a fascinating contest however it goes down and this poll is probably better new for Boris than it is for Ken in a twisted way. Most people though he had it sown up and apathy amongst his activists will have been high. Now this poll will have given them a kick up the rear end that they might have needed. Boris is still the favourite but Ken isn’t an outsider shot any more. He’s a realistic candidate to take the top job in London from the incumbent. Ken v Boris again in 2016 anyone?