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Month: October 2012

First date dating tips for men

Ah first dates. Don’t we all love ’em? *watches tumbleweed flow through the internet* well as someone who has been on maybe 15 first dates in his life (yeah – rock on b’s & g’s) I am actually pretty awful at getting dates and even less proficient at doing well at getting the second date. However I am great at the theory (so the total opposite to my degree – awful at the theory but waltzed the practical) and knowing many women who have talked me through their first date encounters I thought I’d use that wisdom coupled with my own inadequacies and put together a very simple list of things that guys you really should do on – and think about – before your first date with a lovely lady.

First things first what are you going to wear? Now you see women are different to men in many ways but the most stark difference dating wise is clothes. To a guy what a lady is wearing is not all that important. If they wear a dress or a skirt or jeans and a t-shirt most guys won’t make an initial judgement. Now women on the other hand do. Oh boy do they. If you rock up in tatty trainers and jogging bottoms then you are in a bad place my friend – a bad place. So think about what you are going to wear. Make sure it looks like you’ve made an effort because if it looks like you can’t make an effort on date one then the question ‘will they make an effort at any point?’ will be reverberating around the mind of your date.

Second is remember why you are on the date in the first place. You are there to get to know someone. So be prepared for conversation. A first date is essentially a prolonged interview in a less formal setting. Both parties are there to work out whether they want to get to know each other better. Therefore do not talk about yourself all the time. I know you have a few stories that you think are hilarious and show you in a good light but don’t ram-rod them down her throat. Ask questions and go with the flow of conversation. Remember you are there to find out about the other person as much as you are there to try and impress her. You will impress her by listening to what she has to say and following up on her thoughts.

Planning is essential. Look I’m about as anti-plan as you can get. I hate making plans and like to just go with the flow. However if you can’t be bothered to plan a first plan then when will you ever be bothered to make a plan? Even if the plan is as simple as ‘lets go for a walk along the beach and if we get on go for an ice cream/chips/a drink at a pub along the seafront. That is a plan of sorts. Just ‘lets meet at 1PM at x and see what we fancy’ is not a acceptable plan.

Honesty is good – up to a point. We all have secrets and we are always told that women love honesty. They do – up to a point. If you have been dating someone for a year then you might be able to bring up the fact that you have a toe sucking fetish and your partner may think ‘weird but I’ll try it’. If you tell her on a first date that you have a toe sucking fetish then your odds of a second date are deeply diminished. So being a total open book is great in theory but in reality unless you are lucky enough to have a date with someone who is incredibly open and liberal to fetishes then keep them locked away – for now.

The whole payment issue if you go somewhere that involves money. Look I’m a modern man. Straight up I’m a very modern man and believe that women should pay as much as guys do over the course of a relationship but on the first date it is the guys responsibility so pay and don’t think about it. If your date asks you to go dutch or say she’ll pay then politely decline and say that they can pay next time. If they kick up a fuss then of course let them pay whatever they like. I’ve found that if you say they can pay next time and they say ok that there will definitely be a next time.

The debate about taking charge is an interesting one. I’m not a dominant personality. I’m certainly no Alpha Male but on first dates women seem to want a guy to make the decisions so take charge or at the very least make suggestions. This is linked to the planning issue that I wrote about earlier. Planning is winning boys. Planning is very much winning.

Watch your body language and watch that of your date. Shakira once wrote that hips don’t lie and I’m unsure as to the accuracy of this but one thing that doesn’t lie is body language. I am a negative nelly with women. Deep down I think they all hate me. However sometimes I get confused as I see positive body language and this doesn’t compute with my self-doubt issues. Ignore your brain and listen to your instincts. We all know about body language and we know the positive and negative types. If a date is clearly displaying one or the other then go with it. Also remember to smile. Smiling is the simplest body language around and a genuine smile is the best reassurance anyone can get.

Use flattery wisely. Women do not like OTT flattery. It makes them uneasy. If you are going to give out a compliment then make it specific. If you notice for example that they are wearing ladybugs earrings ask about them and say they look nice. This shows you are noticing something specific. Just saying something like ‘you look amazing’ and saying that 17 times within an hour is awkward. Flattery should be used sparingly and for specific things. Non-stop flattery makes it sound like you don’t know what to say.

I think that there is nothing wrong with manners. Having basic manners will never be a bad thing. You may want this bad boy image and think a woman swoons at that but as you get older you’ll realise that women look for a good guy. The younger you are the more pure sexual attraction and chemistry weighs in your factor. They say the geeks shall inherit the Earth and that isn’t too inaccurate. Women always want looks and chemistry. Always. However in time acting like a gentleman and being there for them become far more important. Just showing basic manners like opening doors, being attentive, engaged, happy, act like you are genuine and a woman will certainly think ‘well he’s not like my ex…’

Respect personal space. This is a big one. Don’t be too touchy feely on a first date. Not unless the positive body language is overwhelming. Most women will have a first date and straight away talk to their best friend(s) about it and personal space is a huge issue as is respect. Respect is so key that I can’t stress it enough. Show respect and class and do not repeatedly touch your date.

The goodbyes. A hug I think is the best way to end a date. Not a handshake and not a kiss. Say it was good to meet them and if you are interested in a second date tell them that you enjoyed yourself and that you want to see them again. If you say that you will call her then darn well call her. Women are as insecure as men. Reassurance is something both sexes like and the onus is still on the guy to ask for that second date. So tell them straight up and even though a woman may say yes out of politeness but deep down mean no that is fine. If they say yes then follow up within three days and ask if they fancy doing x, y or z. If they say yes then hooray. If they say no then no problem.

Lastly and most importantly. If they decide that they do not want to see you again then don’t keep asking. The moment you don’t take no for an answer you stop being a date and start to become a worry. Women are always fearful for their personal safety whereas guys are far less so. If a girl you didn’t like kept texting you or e-mailing you repeatedly then how would you feel? Uneasy and freaked out I suspect. If you do that to a woman then they’ll feel the same but 5-10x worse. So if a girl says no to a second date then say no worries and wish them well and move on. If they want to speak to you or see you again then they’ll contact you.

So there we have it. Neil’s top tips for how to act on a first date. I think it’s pretty good. If you follow all that then you’ll be fine. If things don’t work out then they don’t work out. Sometimes it isn’t anyone’s fault. If a first date doesn’t turn into a second then seriously don’t worry about it – and certainly don’t ask why. We’d hate it if women asked us ‘why don’t you fancy me?’ so it only makes sense that women would hate hearing the same question from a guy they’ve turned down.

Most importantly folks have fun, stay safe and have respect.

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NBC stun pundits as they blow rivals out of the water with English Premier League bid

The English Premier League has long been the number one football league in the world according to TV figures but the move from NBC to buy the rights in the American market has stunned pretty much everyone who keeps a keen eye on these things.

When FOX and ESPN signed the last contract for the rights it was for $23million per year but the new NBC deal is for more than triple that and includes the shocking news that every single game will be broadcast. Yes every single game will be broadcast via one of NBC’s platforms (180 games solely online with 200 on TV). Up to 20 games will be broadcast over terrestrial TV live on NBC and these are expected to be the biggest games of the season. NBC Sports Network will be the primary home for the league but they are planning on having a regular set up for time slots so fans know where they’ll find games.

The EPL was first broadcast on terrestrial TV live last season when FOX used the Chelsea v Manchester United game as a lead-in to their Superbowl coverage and it performed way above expectations. Football in the States is slowly becoming more of a TV sport and last season’s final days slate of games saw FOX (and ESPN) show all ten games on Survival Sunday live over their collection of channels for a 72% increase on the previous season. Clearly eyeballs are being drawn to the EPL and the fact it now makes the home pages of SI, FOX and ESPN shows that the league (along with the Champions League and El Clasico) make enough waves to get written about amongst the big four sports.

What this means for UK viewers is not a lot apart from the fact Ian Darke now doesn’t have an EPL contract for next season. The Pompey fan and voice of the sport in the States is contracted through 2014 to ESPN in the States and will head up their coverage of the 2014 World Cup. He’s also slated to work on US Men’s National Team games as they attempt to quality for Brazil 2014. Now does ESPN allow him to go to NBC for EPL coverage? They might but another possibility is ESPN allowing Darke to be the voice of the new BT Sport channel which signed the rights to 38 live games from next season here in the UK.

After snapping up Jake Humphrey last month, the next thing BT Sport had to do was decide on who’ll be the voice of the channel. The obvious choice was always going to be Jon Champion but if Ian Darke is available then does he have interest? Would moving to BT Sport also end his boxing association with Sky Sports that has continued despite his ESPN football duties in the States. Does Darke return to the Sky Sports stable? Many questions but the possibility has arisen that Ian Darke could return to the UK screens for EPL coverage and would certainly be our gain. I’ll certainly be keeping a keen on on the developments on this front…

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Why I both simultaneously love and hate Politics

Look I’m interested in politics. I’m an active member of a political party. The other Friday night I was busy writing the latest Lib Dem Focus for the Westborough ward in Southend. I think that politics is an important venture and that you can really make a change. I’m not naive enough to think that if I ever get elected in any capacity I could change the world but real change doesn’t have to change the world. Quality of life isn’t measured by the big things but all the little things. However in this day and age being interested in politics is certainly not the norm shall we say.

‘It doesn’t matter who I vote for. You are all the same’ is a typical quote that I hear both on the doorstep and on the interweb. It is a depressing thing to hear when in fact a lot of politicians are polar opposite to each other. In Southend in the past few years there has been a rise of the independents to become the opposition group on the council. Yes the independents aren’t actually independent. They are a collective of independents who masquerade as independents. They have group meetings and whilst it is fair to say that they do not actually agree on many things the fact they call themselves true independents is a bit of a fallacy.

If that were true then why do they have meetings and offices within the Civic Hall? What they are are a bunch of people who worked out there was voter apathy with the main political parties and saw an opportunity to jump on that apathy and become elected. This voter apathy has not disappeared and they have gained more than a strong footing within the borough and are certainly here to stay. On one hand you can say that independents will only put the views of their constituents forward instead of a party line but you can also say that those within political parties can put forward the views of their constituents above those of the party as a whole.

The issue I have with independents is that you do not exactly know what you are getting. Take Westborough for example which has two independents but they disagree on a lot of things at council level. Heck in the leadership vote one independent voted for the Tory even though the other independent was in the vote. One is Tory leaning and heavily praises the Tory leadership but the other writes into the Echo most weeks to deride all party politics and how awful it is.

You speak to people about this and they don’t say things like ‘oh I like his views on x, y and z’ they just say ‘oh they are independent and therefore better than everyone else’ and that is so frustrating. Basically to a significant number of people being independent means you are better than if you are a member of a political party. You can be totally nuts and off the wall but as long as you aren’t wearing a coloured rosette they you have a leg up.

Now I’m not going to sit here and type that being in a political party is all sweetness and light and all independents are terrible. That isn’t what I’m saying. What I’m saying is there is so much apathy that independents in Southend are thought of as better than the rest but it is a role reversal elsewhere. Heck Labour could put up a tramp in places like Sunderland and they would probably win. So many people just vote blindly without actually listening or reading what the other candidates have to say and this isn’t getting better. It is getting worse.

The thing is within a party you have a lot of frustration too. Just because you are in a political party it doesn’t mean you automatically have the same views as everyone else. Take my party for example. The spread of views is incredibly diverse and even though you have broad similarities you don’t agree on the small or the medium issues all the time. So whilst you should all be pulling in the same direction a lot of the time you aren’t. You are having internal debates that take time away from actually doing things. These debates can go around and around and around.

Another thing I hate about politics is the rise of the politicos. I’m on twitter. I enjoy twitter. However the tribalism of politicos is something else. I don’t watch Question Time any more because basically people will hear what they want to hear. So few people have an open mind these days it really is a pointless exercise. I follow people of all parties and they all hear just what they want to hear and they say that. You try and engage in a proper adult conversation and most of the time they ignore you or just tell you that you are wrong. No actual discussion. Just black and white.

Well very few things in the world are either black or write. Practically everything is a shade of grey. I can’t sit here and type with a straight face that everything the Lib Dems do is right. It isn’t. I can’t think of any time in my life that I have or that I ever will say that the Lib Dems are perfect in every way. The reason I am a member of the party is because I agree broadly with their ideology. I’m not a member as I like politics but hate the Tories. I’m not a member because I was annoyed with the war in Iraq. I’m not a member because tuition fees was my number one thought in my mind. I’m a member because they in general pull in the direction I pull.

Speaking of another thing I hate it is revisionist history. I was at the hospital last night and do you know what I didn’t see? I didn’t see patients with cheque books. I didn’t see patients handing over cash in order to get treatment or a bed. I keep getting told the NHS is finished but people were still being treated and not paying out of their own pocket for it. So the NHS is opening up to more private companies and everyone is screaming about how bad that is but wasn’t it the previous Labour government that opened the door for this? People seem to have forgotten this.

Tuition fees have gone up and the Lib Dems are evil because they failed to stop this but didn’t Labour introduce tuition fees and didn’t they say they would put them up anyway? Oh wait yes they did. Yet people don’t hear this. All they hear is what they want to hear. Students have left the Lib Dems and joined Labour because of this. Guessing none of them are studying recent political history. It isn’t just students that have left. So many people left Labour to join the Lib Dems after Iraq but have flocked back now. It is like the war on Iraq isn’t an issue any more…

However there are things that I like and that is twofold. The first is there are some people who do actually have an open mind and do enjoy a good discussion. There are respective people out there who aren’t entrenched into their position. Actually having a proper grown up discussion either within the party (as long as it doesn’t go around and around and around) or with either undecided voters who have an interest in politics or even members of other political parties. Having a grown up discussion is one of my very favourite things to do and politics allows me to do that and there are a good handful of people that I can do that with. Sadly this is another of my bugbears as there are so many cliques and there are so many people who think they are cleverer than everyone else and if you disagree then a clique can close around you. I’ve seen it far too many times hence why I don’t think i sit in one. In general I just quietly bob along with this blog.

The other thing I thoroughly enjoy doing is actually the idea of helping people. Doing those little things that can actually make a difference. One man is not going to change the world but you can do those little things that can help people’s quality of life.

So even though I have written in far more detail about what I hate I still will be involved and you never know may get even more involved in the foreseeable future. The bad bits may well outweigh the good bits at times but I still have a rosy outlook and I still have optimism that when all is said and done I will make a positive difference to a few people’s lives. That is what I hope will happen and why I’m happy to persevere with politics. Still at times it can be a depressing slog…

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Tonight I met Tina Cousins and acted very cool and not fangirlish…then I realised I had my flies undone. Fail.

Seriously I had my flies undone. What the hell is wrong with me? (Please don’t actually answer that) So yes the crux of the issue is this evening I met Tina Cousins. Hopefully you all know who she is but if you don’t I’ll put a couple of her music videos underneath this post:

I would like to say I was all suave and sophisticated when I met her but I probably wasn’t however apparently I was cooler than someone else who met her the other day. As you all know I do Hospital Radio and you go around meeting the patients and getting requests. It is one of the unknown pieces of Hospital Radio.

So yes I walk into a room on a ward and go and chat to a lady and ask her if she wants a request. The lady standing up talking to her said that she’d pick one for her and would have ‘one of hers’ and requested Sash! with Mysterious Times. Now I love that song and I know who the singer is on that track and I looked and at her and said ‘you’re Tina Cousins aren’t you?’ and we proceeded to have a chat.

She has some good things on the horizon and is apparently set to work with Sash! again on new material which excites me. It is good to hear that she is still involved in the business and I must say that she is an extremely nice person and very talkative. I think I hid that inside I was going ‘OMG It’s Tina Cousins, OMG It’s Tina Cousins, OMG It’s Tina Cousins, OMG It’s Tina Cousins’ relatively well and didn’t come over as too much of a loser. Result but OMG Tina Cousins…

Not everyone else was as impressed that I met Tina Cousins and this makes me sad. The bizarre bit was ten minutes later I was meeting the footballer Neil Harris. Both are cool and Neil Harris is an absolute legend but I think I was still swooning from meeting Tina Cousins…

So yes this evening was interesting and most certainly different. Throw in my favourite nurse returned for the first times in an age then yes. Tonight was a good night.

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Why I both simultaneously love and hate my iPhone

For years I resisted. My old Nokia 8310 was still just about working. For about three years it kinda only intermittently worked and if I picked it up the wrong way it would stop working but I persevered. I didn’t want to join the smart phone revolution. Well either that or I was tight as hell and didn’t want to buy one. I’ll leave it to you to decide exactly how much of it was one and how much of it was the other.

Anyway I was reading a blog entitled Modern Technology Kind of Makes Me Want to Hurl by Grace over at the Confederacy Of Spinsters today and it must be said she is fast becoming one of my very favourite bloggers on the interweb. Her blogs surrounding the early days of her relationship with Professor McGregor are just wonderful. I have written about it before but it is one hell of a fine read and her use of the English language and the emotion that pours through really ticks all my ‘I want to read all of her stuff’ points.

So away from all that praise – that piece in question is about how much she at times hates her iPhone and that is something that resonates with me big time. ‘At any moment, my phone can beep out a demand that I talk to someone about my feelings.’ laments my favourite faceless Texan. That of course isn’t just an issue with smart phones but with mobile phones in general. We are always contactable. In this modern world we can never just disappear and whilst I wouldn’t say the phone ringing is a demand to talk to someone, it certainly puts a lot of pressure on you to accept the call as you never know if it is important or not.

In general I hate the phone. I think it’s a horrible invention. I use my phone as an actual phone so rarely that it is near enough pointless to actually have the phone function on it. I text a little bit but not a lot and use it far more to have the internet on the move. I check e-mail and twitter constantly and that keeps me plugged into the world but as for actual phone calls. No thank you.

I have always been that way though. I have never really enjoyed chatting on the phone. The phone is for information passing and not general chit-chat. One person may be happy for a chat but how do they know the other person is? The other person may actually be busy and not really in the mood for a chat but saying this is hard because the other person will near enough always feel a bit pissed off that you don’t have time for them.

Lord I dislike the phone. I suspect this is another reason why I’m single. I hardly know any relationship where the phone plays an insignificant role. In general I don’t like people just calling me because they are bored. I just don’t like it…

However of course I do love the internet on the move. I love being able to check things like train times when I’m out and about. I like being able to check websites for the latest news. Nothing really goes down in the world of sport or news that I might be interested in without it being on twitter. I can check football scores when doing radio. I am plugged into everything I want to be plugged into but that does come at a cost. In a way its lucky I don’t have too many friends and I hardly ever give out my phone number. I think I have 68 phone numbers in my phone book and they include people I haven’t spoken to for years.

Grace also talks about the goodness of e-mail and the way you can compose your response and change it before the response it sent and read. It is a bit like in online dating you can rehearse and change your opening message instead of walking over to someone in a club and saying something stupid and screwing up your chances before they’ve even started. Even text messages can be composed, checked and edited if needs be before being sent. Hurrah!

So to summarise I love being plugged into the world. However I also wish I wasn’t plugged into the world at all times. Life is just too complex at times. It really is.

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Are judges ignoring the law and reaching verdicts based on public opinion?

I’m not sure just how worrying the fact that I have typed that title is. I think it’s extremely worrying that it is a legitimate question. Let me tell you the story behind the title as seven men are sentenced to jail for not predicting a deadly earthquake. Yes you read that right. Seven men have been sentenced to jail because they didn’t predict an earthquake.

An earthquake in the small Italian town of L’Aquila in 2009 led to the deaths of 309 people. A tragedy for all involved but how did the six scientists and one government official who visited the town six days prior after two minor shocks end up in the dock? Well they predicted that there wouldn’t be a major quake in the town. They felt that the two minor quakes were not a wake-up for a fault line but more of an adjustment. They didn’t make this prediction based on blind hope. They used all the available resources at their disposal but as we all know predicting things like earthquakes or volcano eruptions or tornadoes are not perfected as yet. Heck do the Met Office get the weather right every day?

So we all know this. We know that predicting events that haven’t happened yet is a bit of a lottery. So we couldn’t ever blame these scientists for getting it wrong, could we? Well the Italian justice system did and has and yesterday they were convicted of 309 counts of manslaughter. Due to the way the Italian legal system is set up the men are free until appeals are heard and in all likelihood they will be acquitted on appeal because the charges are just absurd but as it stands they all face two years inside for their role in failing to predict a deadly earthquake.

I know we all hate the Daily Mail but in Michael Hanlon’s blog on their website he makes some excellent points:

It has been argued that they could have been more circumspect. Perhaps, but even so a criminal conviction (let alone a jail term) is absurd. They will appeal, and will probably be acquitted, but even so this coming from a country which gave us the Renaissance (and which to this day has a hugely impressive record in science and engineering) is a chilling reminder that we cannot take the Enlightenment for granted. It comes on the heels of another Italian verdict, this time by the High Court that mobile phones can cause brain cancer – despite there not being a shred of evidence that they do. What is happening is that judges are reflecting public opinion, not evidence. A disturbing trend we are seeing, and not just in Italy.

The legal system is not in place to carry the will of the masses. We left that behind centuries ago. However events such as these make me believe that even in fully democratic and modernised countries judges are ignoring logic and common sense and making decisions based on both their own personal opinion and the feeling of the public around them. There is no way anyone could ever blame these men for not being able to predict an earthquake. Yes they said that they believed there wouldn’t be a major quake and they were wrong and it led to people dying but can you really lay the blame of an supposed ‘Act of God’ at the feet of these mortals?

No. No you simply cannot. This verdict was reached simply because that was the strength of public opinion in the area because so many had been affected by the earthquake. The verdict was not reached because it was the right verdict to give. This is yet another example of the way the legal system is going and it is extremely worrying.

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Bacon Sandwich is a strange name for a ferret – Is The Young Ones episode ‘Bambi’ the best sitcom episode ever?

Last night I was flicking through the TV channels and found the university challenge episode of The Young Ones and it is still as funny as ever. I started thinking about whether any sitcom had seen such a plethora of comedic talent in one episode and I struggled to think of one. The next thing I wondered about was whether this was the best sitcom episode I had ever seen and I really think that it just might be.

I’ll start with the obvious University Challenge scene which might be one of the most remembered scenes of that era of sitcoms and the most remembered of the show full stop. The whole having one university above one another is how I thought it really was on the University Challenge set for many years and when I found out that it wasn’t I was quite shocked. Vyvyan getting bored and kicking through the floor to knock Ben Elton’s character out still makes me laugh out loud and I know it’s coming but every single time it gets me. Neil’s desperate need for the toilet and the fact it was seeping out is gold and you know Vyvyan would really be pissed off at Mike for answering the questions from The Daily Mirror Book of Facts.

However despite this scene being all sorts of awesome it doesn’t save the episode as it just enhances it. The scene with Smith & Jones as they enter the TV studios is wonderful as Vyvyan tries to trick Jones that his pet is actually a ferret called Bacon Sandwich. The way they mistake Smith’s character for Bambi from the Disney movies is clever and well played and the message that Neil left for them saying they would be late. Wonderful writing and acting.

The train journey scenes with Neil cramming and Rick saying he knew everything about crop rotation despite knowing nothing and Vyvyan tearing a fiver in half and giving the other half to Mike are clever and witty and we haven’t even got to Vyvyan decapitating himself by sticking his head out of a moving train along with Rick’s joke directly to the camera/viewers about British Rail. All of it good but I loved the race to the station scene even more with Motorhead playing Ace of Spades as our four heroes run to get the train. The camera following Rick as he tries to steal a newspaper and Rick seeing the cameras and slying going back and paying for it. Vyvyan walking up to a kiosk and stuffing a whole cake it his mouth as the British Rail clerk tries not to laugh. Rick checking the time on his watch whilst holding a glass of wine in the same hand only to pour it down himself and Neil getting photos at a photo-me booth. All terrific.

Of course the episode starts off with the boys deciding to go to the launderette to do cleaning for the first time in three years and they manage to trick a washing machine into opening believing they are also washing Felicity Kendal’s underwear. Very clever writing and the acting was first rate throughout the whole thing. Even the students of Footlights College in their car to the filming was clever and witty.

I really do think this was in my opinion the zen of sitcom episodes. The Young Ones was one of the great shows and really spoke to a generation (clearly I am not of that generation) but it is one of the few sitcoms that really has stood the test of time. It makes it all the more upsetting that Ade Edmondson and Rik Mayall weren’t able to complete their proposed Hooligan’s Island project. That could have been something pretty special.

If you have never seen ‘Bambi’ of The Young Ones then please enjoy the following…

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Robin Tilbrook (English Democrats – “More Police-Catching Criminals!”) – Oh dear – English Fail…

When the people of Essex go to the polls on November 15th they’ll be faced with the following names, parties and slogans on the ballot:

Nick Alston (Conservative Party Candidate)
Linda Belgrove (Independent)
Val Morris-Cook (Labour Party Candidate)
Andrew Smith (United Kingdom Independence Party)
Mick Thwaites (Independent)
Robin Tilbrook (English Democrats – “More Police-Catching Criminals!”)

We made a decision not to field a candidate.

The one thing that jumps out that is that Robin Tilbrook of the English Democrats wants more criminals catching the police. Oh dear for a misplaced hyphen. Is it bad that is the first thing I noticed from the official list from the returning officer?

There are two independents running and one is a local lad Mick Thwaites who already has the support from the independent group on Southend Council. I know a bit about him but very little about the other independent candidate but her website is pretty darn awful.

At this point I have no idea who I’ll be voting for but I can tell you one person who won’t be getting my vote – the one that wants more criminals catching police officers – that’s who!

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Hear that Chainrai? That is the sound of the good guy winning – now sling your hook

There is only one thing in my world that is more depressing than my private life and that is the very public farce that has become Portsmouth Football Club. The club that I have supported since I was knee high to a grasshopper has been dragged through the mill by a series of shall we say less than squeaky clean owners and that is probably the best thing I can say about them. Carisbrooke High School’s best investigative journalist – or man with a bone attached to the dodgy ones and wouldn’t let go of them Mike Hall has been absolutely crushing the former owners and his hard work has paid of and the administrators have today decided that Portpin are not their preferred bidders any more and the Portsmouth Supporters Trust are.

The people behind the Portsmouth Supporters Trust have done so much against such long odds. The Pompey fanbase was never fractured but they were (and I was without a doubt) at the point where I could see no light at the end of the tunnel. I thought that Chainrai would get his hands on the club again and once more attempt to asset strip it to get his money back – or to make more money at the expense of the beleaguered old club.

However these people saw light and had hope and belief where I had none. The hard work of the likes of Ashley Brown, Mick Williams, Scott McLachlan, Colin Farmery and many others should now go down in history of the club. Obviously this is not a victory that will change everything but it does mean that there is now real hope that we have reached that horrific rock bottom and that the club can now move onwards and upwards.

Like many Pompey fans I am sceptical how the PST will work but they were without even a shadow of a doubt the only people I wanted in charge as they were the only people who I genuinely believed would have the clubs interests at its heart. I don’t care too much about winning and losing any more – at the age of 29 I have mellowed and a bad result doesn’t ruin my weekend but I do care about getting all the shady characters out and most importantly being proud of the club once more.

How many Pompey fans have had people feeling apologetic towards them when they are introduced as a Pompey fan? Back in the day Pompey were known for their passionate fans who would travel the country in vast numbers, be extremely vocal and were one of the few places in the country where you would only see local club shirts being worn up and down the high street. If you were a Pompey boy or girl then you would become a Pompey fan, not Manchester United, not Liverpool, not Arsenal, you’d be Pompey. That has changed after a succession of shady owners who didn’t care about either the club or the community.

I hope that the PST seals the deal and first thing first installs the club into the heart of the community once more. The club needs the next generation of fans to flourish and at the moment that next generation are not as passionate as I was as a kid nor how many adult fans were. If the PST can more more make the club one with the city and the community that surrounds it then all the other problems will be fixed. That in my opinion is priority number one and success there will lead to success everywhere else.

This is a good day to be a Pompey fan. Quite possibly the best day I’ve known and yes I was at Wembley and saw us win the FA Cup in 2008. That was good but a chance for the club to get back to its roots and flourish from a financially sustainable standpoint? The grown up me says that is a far better day.

Oh and as for Balram Chainrai. The airport is that way. I’m sure there will be plenty of locals who would be more than happy to taxi you there and even not charge you for the experience…

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Support for an independent Scotland falls 5% since June

The Scots will get a say whether or not they want to leave the union and go it alone but polling out today from our friends at Ipsos Mori hints that despite being the most popular leader and leading the most popular party it isn’t looking good for Alex Salmond as support for an independent Scotland has fallen by 5% since the last time the company conducted a similar survey in June.

58% of those polled said that they preferred to stay in union – up 3% from June with those who wanted to leave down 5% to 30%. The undecided’s moved up 2% to 12%.

However it isn’t all bad news for Alex as 50% of those polled said they were satisfied or better with his performance for a net +10% overall rating. The plan though seems to be clear as the only other major party that will be campaigning for an independent Scotland is the Green party and their leader is the second most popular with an overall +6% positive about his performance. However alarming this is down 6% from June where both Patrick Harvie and Alex Salmond had sky high approval ratings of +12% and +13% respectively.

The other three parties are unsurprisingly going along the lines seen elsewhere across the UK with Labour being beloved and the Tories and the Lib Dems looking down instead of looking up. Labour though are the party on the move as net satisfaction of the Scottish Labour leadership has steadily increased since the start of the year when Johann Lamont took charge and the public according to this poll believe that she is doing a very admirable job.

So things aren’t looking great for Alex Salmond as he starts this campaign to leave the United Kingdom but 24 months is a long time in politics and a lot could change. If he is to be victorious he needs to convince Scots that they’ll be better off away from Westminster. I think it is fair to say the fact it is a straight Yes/No vote hurts the SNP as most Scots like the safety net of Westminster but would like more devolved powers. Without that safety net would Scots really be better going it alone?

That is what he’ll have to convince them of but the early polling suggests that it’ll be an uphill battle for the SNP leader.

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