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Month: November 2012

Why quitting fantasy NFL has renewed my love of the sport

For many years I have been a fantasy sports junkie. I have had fantasy football teams obviously but never was able to stick at it due to my terrible initial selections and I just couldn’t be bothered. Throw in Fantasy F1, Fantasy Basketball, Fantasy NFL, Fantasy Baseball etc… and you’ll see a deep rooted pattern.

However I made a decision this year to change this up and cut my teams down to just one – the Fratton Yankees in a fantasy baseball league that I have been a member of for now seven years and that would be that. I won a fantasy NFL league last season which was good fun and all but fantasy games are there to make the game more exciting they say – just like betting. Incidentally you can click here for online betting at Top Bet.

My issues with fantasy sports though are I found myself watching the players and fantasy stats more than I did the game itself. This season I have been able to just enjoy the games and root for the teams that I want to root for. I don’t have to think ‘oh I want the Broncos to win but I hope Peyton Manning stinks as my opponent has him’ and that is the type of issue you have fantasy wise.

With my fantasy baseball team practically all the games are in the early hours so I see so few live so it doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of the game but also I have been part of this particular league for as I said seven seasons. That is one of the main reasons I have stuck with it. I even have kept the same original name even though deep down I wanted to change it to the Fratton Yankee Posada’s in homage to the now retired and borderline Hall of Famer Jorge Posada.

Going back though to the original concept of this blog post I can now sit back and enjoy a game of American Football for what it is. I’m not concerned about those stats and whilst I can see why many believe it enhances their enjoyment of the game – remember this is a multi-billion dollar industry in the States – for me I can be more of a purist and just watch and enjoy a game.

Last year was a strange year for me as I had no real rooting interest. My team stunk (and still does) and after a few years of rooting for the old man quarterback (Kurt Warner, Brett Favre) last year I had nothing. At least this year Peyton Manning is back and looks like he can do something and I have been rooting hard for him and the Broncos. Apart from that though there aren’t any storylines that are grabbing my attention and yet I did don’t miss the fantasy aspect of the game. Maybe it is just a down couple of years for me NFL wise (although the Jags are coming to the UK next season) but at least the college game has been insane. Notre Dame being the only undefeated team in the country? Not sure anyone saw that one coming…

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Is the UKIP trouncing of the Lib Dems in Corby actually a good result for the Lib Dems?

Corby has elected a Labour MP. It isn’t the biggest shock in the world lets put it that way. Corby is a clear swing seat with people who are not entrenched into their positions. It is proper floating voter territory and lets be honest – any by-election in a seat like this should be won – and won big by a party of opposition but that isn’t the story that I am going to concentrate on. The story Lib Dems care about is how we did and we didn’t do well but this is not a story – well it shouldn’t be one anyway…

Here are the top four results:

LAB 17267
CON 9476
UKIP 5108
LD 1770

The fact UKIP got 3x the LD vote has caused a proper stir. I have seen tweets from many Labour folk who have basically said that this proves the Lib Dems are now a non-entity and are not worthy of their time. They seem to forget that the Lib Dems are still a party of government but of course that isn’t something they are willing to acknowledge. Nor is the fact that the Lib Dems didn’t lose any council seats yesterday but won five across the county and held three. Again not something you’ll see a lot of prose about over the next 24 hours.

So should the Lib Dems be either worried or surprised that UKIP did so well here? Of course we shouldn’t. What a stupid notion. People that think that clearly are not people who study by-elections too closely. What do we know about close by-elections? That parties of government in bad times do really really badly. How about when we have a coalition government? Then both parties do really badly. How about when one of those two parties is traditionally the protest vote in these instances but can’t be because they are a party of government? Then boom goes the dynamite.

Look Louise Mensch really did screw over the Conservative Party here and the defeat can be laid squarely at her feet. Had she stayed and fought the election in 2015 when it isn’t a protest vote but more of an election then it would have been close once more. The UKIP vote soared because they became the party for the protest vote and they took a lot of the Tory vote because a lot of Tory voters were pissed off with both the government and Louise Mensch.

The Lib Dem vote dropped by around 70% but again that was to be fully expected. They are a party of government, the squeeze was very much on, they aren’t a protest vote. Put all that together and you have a huge fall in votes and that doesn’t even get into the fact that the Lib Dems are truly far more unpopular among floating voters than they were in 2010.

I fully expected the Lib Dems to be well beaten into fourth place. UKIP will say this gives them legitimacy and that they are now the third party in British politics. Well when they have the third number of MPs and third number of councillors across the country then come back to me. Until that point though they are still a protest party with very little to actually speak of. Heck even the Respect Party has an MP so UKIP have a long way to go.

We’ll see how they do in 2015 and lets put it this way…I suspect UKIP will still be way behind the Lib Dems in terms of MPs and it wouldn’t stun me if UKIP still had none. UKIP are basically Tories and they are taking the Tory vote and not the Lib Dem vote. If UKIP have a great national presence in 2015 then it would actually help Lib Dems in many Lib Dem/Conservative marginals in the south so this is not a bad result for the Lib Dems. If I’m being really forward thinking then it might even be an encouraging one…

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Linda Jack is getting a vote from someone who doesn’t like the Lib Dems. Cue twitter meltdown!

I was just settling down to read the local rag before watching The Chase and there was a bit of a kerfuffle on my twitter timeline. A Liberal Democrat candidate for the PCC in Bedfordshire has retweeted a tweet saying that someone was voting for her but that was not an endorsement of the Liberal Democrats as a party. You can see the tweet below:

Linda Jack Twitter
Innocent RT or something more…?

Some people seemed up in arms as I watched the debate intensify and I just don’t see what the issue is. Are we all getting our backs up about stupid things these days? The fact of the matter is we politicos are often blinded by the party that we belong to and we would vote a moron with the right colour rosette on. The thing is for those people who aren’t politicos they can vote for one of two reasons – a party or a personality. Did George Galloway win his spot back in the House of Commons because the people of Bradford truly believed in the Respect Party or did they just like him? They just liked him.

If Linda (or any other Lib Dem PCC) is going to win tomorrow then they will do so thanks to their personality as well as their party. They will need votes from people who ideologically might not be liberals but believe that their candidate has to say. This person believes that despite Linda’s political affiliations that she is a very credible candidate and isn’t that a good thing? People are seeing beyond the colour of a rosette and instead of blindly voting have looked into the candidates and decided who to vote for based not only on that rosette but on the person wearing it. Isn’t that what we are always imploring people to do? Actually look at personalities and policies and not colour of rosettes?

We really should chill out on this. There is nothing to see here. Linda is getting a vote from someone who doesn’t particularly like the Lib Dems. This is a good thing and it certainly isn’t something to get worked up about. She was just showing that people are planning on voting for her despite not being fans of the Lib Dems. In the real world (and not in ideologically cloud cuckoo land) people get votes from people who both dislike them but like the party they represent but also who like them as a person but dislike the party they represent.

I just don’t see what all the fuss is about and because of the noise surrounding it I have spent quarter of an hour blogging about it. Sometimes guys we need to just chill the fuck out and not jump on people for something they didn’t even say.

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Who appointed Peter Herbert as the ambassador for minorities in football?

Who had heard of Peter Herbert a month or so ago? Anyone? Ok apart from the extremely smart and well-read people. Who apart from them had heard of this man? I thought as much. Well in the past month he has become a bit of a buzz name as he is in all the newspapers and wants to change society for the better. Good on him but changing society for the better is something that needs to be done with a plan or not just a scatter-gun approach and that is where this man is going wrong.

The majority of us first heard about him when he reported referee Mark Clattenberg to the police for using a racial slur against two Chelsea players. He decided it was his job to report said abuse even though he himself didn’t hear it but only had the word of hearsay like the rest of us had. If we all went to the police with allegations after we’d heard someone else say that someone had broken the law then the police would go into meltdown but he is perfectly entitled to report said claims to the police should he want to. I have no issue with that. Well actually I have a huge issue with it but I concede that legally there is no issue with that.

However today the police have decided to close the investigation because no victim has come forward to them and nor have that been able to obtain a shred of evidence. Chelsea Football Club have decided not to share with the police their evidence as they believe the FA are the right party to deal with this case. That is their prerogative but what does Peter Herbert think of this? Does he say ‘fair enough – it is up to those who were allegedly wronged to decide how to proceed’ or does he bleat about a conspiracy to save the skin of the referee?

He chose the latter. ‘It sounds remarkably like a football cover-up’ he said this morning on BBC Radio 5live. ‘It sounds remarkably like the football industry wanted to have this issue swept under the carpet.’ are the next words out of his mouth. Yes the football industry wanted to sweep it under the carpet – that is why Chelsea Football Club went public with the allegations not two hours after they first surfaced despite Chairman Chairman Bruce Buck saying he had agonised long and hard over whether to go public with the allegations but I think that is a crock of shit personally. If I agonised long and hard over an issue I don’t take less than two hours to make up my mind – certainly when it is a fast moving matter with lots of new evidence as he spoke to all the players involved during that time. No Chelsea Football Club certainly wanted it out in the open and they wanted it known that they had accused Mark Clattenberg of using racist language towards two of their players.

So we can pretty much rule of the football club trying to sweep it under the carpet and it is they who have chosen not to cooperate with the police. Remember they did not make a formal police complaint so if no victims or no evidence come to light for the police then they can’t really do anything. This has annoyed Peter Herbert a great deal it must be said.

‘The information we had is that there are ‘no victims’. Well, if there are no victims, what on earth has been referred to the FA in the first place?

‘What on earth are the FA and Chelsea playing at then? Are they having some cosy exchange of statements between themselves and not giving it to the police?

‘We’re going to ask the borough commander for an explanation. Was there any co-operation? Was any evidence given? If none was given by the FA or Chelsea we want to raise that issue with the Minister of Sport.’

‘It really does beggar belief that the primary football authorities in the country do not understand the seriousness of hate crime.’

All of the above was said on BBC Radio 5live this morning and quoted in the article linked to above.

Well there are no victims in a criminal sense because none have come forward. Peter Herbert cannot claim he is a victim because he didn’t hear the alleged exchange between the referee and the player. So only those who heard it – and were offended by it – could be considered victims. Peter Herbert knows this but decided to ignore this as it didn’t fit in with what he wants to happen. He wants a police investigation not because it would get to the bottom of it but because it would give him a stronger platform to get his views across.

The borough commander will write back to Peter Herbert saying lots of nice things but will say something like ‘err…Peter. Sorry to tell you this but Jon Obi Mikel nor Juan Manuel Mata have come to us and made a complaint and we have to unable to get any testimony from anyone involved on the potential victims side so there is kinda no case to answer to. As a barrister I think you probably should know how these things work and stop wasting my time’ or words to that effect.

Hate crime is extremely serious and I’m pretty sure the FA know this. Remember they still charged and found John Terry guilty of using racist language despite a criminal court deciding that he didn’t. The difference between that case and this is Anton Ferdinand – the alleged victim wanted to cooperate with police and Mikel and Mata seemingly do not. Shouldn’t the alleged victims decide whether or not they want to take a matter to the police or should outsiders get to decide how each of us live our lives?

Anyway Herbert isn’t finished. Oh no. He wants Spurs fans to stop using the word ‘Yid’ and has given them a fortnight to comply before he reports every single Spurs fan who uses that term to the police. You think I’m joshing don’t you? Well I’m not. Read all about it in the Mirror. He also wants to set up a football association for just black players. Yeah that won’t fester an ‘us and them’ mentality. Of course it wouldn’t Peter…

I don’t know Peter Herbert from Adam as it were but he comes across as a man with no idea what he is talking about but he sure loves the sound of his own voice. He has decided out of nowhere that the game of football needs sorting out having attended a grand total of four games in his entire life he knows the game inside and out. Now the thing is he does make some pertinent points but they are being drowned out by his attempts at making waves.

It is not his job to decide how two football players deal with alleged racist insults towards them. No-one asked him to get involved and he has just taken it on his own back that he is the man to save the day. Well the thing is he isn’t. These two football players are grown men and can decide how they go forward. He is using a high profile case to get on his soapbox and either make a name for himself or he genuinely thinks it is his place to stick his oar in. Whichever it is he isn’t exactly helping the game – or the two players – by the way he is acting. He is trying to stir up racial tensions and when someone is doing that then personally I always question their motives…

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Just a little bit of history repeating? How to avoid the same relationship mistakes when falling in love again after divorce.

Every so often The Rambles of Neil Monnery receives a guest post. Having been reading about my dating woes I got one sent through about falling in love again after divorce. I hope you enjoy…

If you have gone through a messy divorce or you are just recovering from heart-break after the end of a long-term relationship, you can feel like you will never find love again. To find lasting happiness it is important not to fall into the same traps as you did with your previous partner. Here are some tips on how to avoid making the same mistakes when dating someone new.

Happy Couple Photo

Don’t assume all new dates will be like your ex

This is probably the most important thing to keep telling yourself. Just because you have been hurt and things didn’t work out in your previous relationship, it doesn’t mean that everyone you meet will treat you the same way.

If you go into a relationship with a pessimistic and negative attitude then you will destroy your chance of finding happiness with a new partner. You can’t take your resentment towards your ex out on a new date. You need to let go of your anger and to see the person you are dating as a blank slate. Any flaws that they have should be their own, and not ones that you have projected onto him or her because of your bad experiences in the past.

Your new date is an individual, who has the capacity to treat you better than you have been treated in the past.

Let go of your relationship baggage

Just as you need to leave your negative impressions of love in the past, you also need to let go of all your previous relationship baggage. If you let the insecurities you felt in the past carry over into new relationships then you are bound to destroy your future. You can’t punish a new date for mistakes that were made before you met him or her.

Try to let go of the blame you feel towards your partner and think about what you could have differently in the relationship. Learning from your mistakes and destructive habits is key to moving forward and finding happiness with a new date.

Don’t rush into a rebound relationship

If you have just come out of a long-term relationship, even if it hadn’t been good for a while, you will probably find it hard being alone. It may seem like a quick happiness fix to dive head-first into a new relationship, but you need to stop and think about whether you are doing it for the right reasons.

The healthiest way to build a future and to start a successful relationship is to make sure that you are happy with being on your own. Spend some time working on your self-confidence and thinking about what you want out of life and what you want to do differently in a new relationship.

Take the time to heal after your divorce so that you are in a happier and healthier frame of mind when you meet someone new.

unhappy couple photo

Make sure you are compatible with your new partner

When people rush into a new relationship after a divorce they often choose a partner based on superficial reasons rather than considering if they are truly compatible with their new date. The likelihood is that one of the major reasons your previous relationship broke down was that you and your ex were not truly well-matched with one another.

You need to make sure that you share qualities, life-goals and common interests with your new partner, if you are going to be successful in finding a lasting love.

Online dating including like eHarmony allow you to fill out personality tests and to describe what you are looking for in a date, which can help you to meet people who you have the potential to have a successful relationship with.

With profiles of singles in Edinburgh, London and the rest of the UK, you will have the chance to meet people who share your ambitions and desires.

Dating again after divorce is hard, so make sure you ready mentally and emotionally before you put yourself back out there. By following these tips you will help to make your new relationship a positive one, by learning from the mistakes made in the past.

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Will Lord McAlpine sue Sally Bercow and others who named him? If he does it might teach them a lesson

I was so frustrated last week. No not just the fact my first date of the year had been a failure but in the Lord McAlpine story and also the ambushing of the Prime Minister by Phillip Schofield. Now it has been a fair few years since I sat my Journalism Law exam but I remember one or two things and trusty McNae’s isn’t too far away. Namely what I remember is naming someone potentially involved in a criminal investigation when in fact they were not is not really a good thing. In fact it is a really bad thing. Throwing names out there that many people have on the social networks linking them to the paedophile ring in the government is also a really bad thing.

People have the misplaced trust that if 1000s of people name and shame the culprits then the law is on their side. Well that isn’t exactly true. In fact it couldn’t be more wrong. Strength in numbers is a good thing but when you are defaming someone all it means if they have yet another individual they could sue if they wanted to.

The old adage of ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ has been thrown at me regarding this. ‘Look if it wasn’t true then why are so many people talking about it?’ people exclaim. Well another great adage is that in this modern day era a lie is halfway around the world before the truth ever comes out. People believe what they are told by anonymous sources on the internet. If someone sets up a fake ITK account on twitter then people will retweet it and soon the lie becomes so widespread that people believe that it is the truth.

Someone posted the names of several high profile politicians on a group I am a member of saying that these were all the names linked to the paedophile ring according to the internet. It was basically a who’s who of politics over the past three decades. He said that all these people should face a criminal court and should step down as MPs or Lords until the cases were over. I pipped up and said that at this current juncture only one accusation had been made against a politician but that didn’t matter to this person (and several others) as the internet had spoken and the internet is the new judicial system.

What depressed me most though wasn’t the fact that he had said such a stupid thing (and others agreed) but more that his only defence was ‘Hillsborough’ and because there was a cover up in this instance that automatically meant there was a cover up here and that everyone named on the internet had to answer the accusations. I tried to point out that anyone on the internet can accuse another person. If he had been accused by anonymous sources on the internet then what would he do? Would he take it lying down or would he sue the pants off of anyone who spread the lie knowing it wasn’t true? No doubt he’d do the latter.

We live in a dangerous society where lies can be spread quicker than ever before and the lie will always be first and therefore will always live on even after the truth comes out in the minds of some people. Even though the accuser has now backed down in his claims against Lord McAlpine saying that the police told him that the person he identified was Lord McAlpine when it plainly wasn’t – some people will still believe that Lord McAlpine is guilty and there is nothing he can do about it. He cannot change those minds. All he can do is seek restitution against those who spread the lies about him.

There are some (semi) famous people who were dumb enough to name Lord McAlpine including Sally Bercow – who has never come across as the sharpest tool in the box as it were. She has since apologised and says she was irresponsible and mischievousness but does not believe that she did anything libellous. It is an interesting one because she didn’t overtly say ‘Look Lord McAlpine is a paedo’ but she certainly implied – heavily implied that he was the name at the centre of the investigation – which he was. As we now know though all the accusations were false and had she (and others) not named or heavily hinted at his involvement then he would not have been defamed. It would certainly be a landmark case should he sue her and would be extremely interesting to see how it played out as I genuinely don’t know but we need to find out whether just implying guilt on social media is defamatory or not. My guess is that it very well might be…

The thing is though Lord McAlpine was at least linked to the investigation (albeit it turns out falsely) but other names are out there on the internet who are not linked in any way, shape or form at the moment to any investigation around this case. These people have seen people openly tweet about them and even twitter itself may find itself in hot bother with one very senior Conservative MP because when you search for ‘tory paedophile’ or any words to that effect his name came up as one of the ‘suggested searches.’

The sad thing about all this is the investigation is now taking the back seat. Children were abused but that is now not the story. The story is about how the BBC acted and whether Lord McAlpine (and others) should sue – and who they should sue if so. They are legitimate stories because of how things have panned out but it is overshadowing what should be the real story. Hopefully the police can continue their investigation and get to the bottom of what went on but whilst that happens the BBC and potential civil cases will lead the way.

I hope people who were defamed sue – and even if they sue and give all the compensation they get to child abuse charities then some good will have come off it. I just think people need to understand that there is a law of the land and spreading malicious gossip on the internet is generally not considered to be a good thing. I live my life on the basic principle of treat others how I’d like to be treated. Would I like it if people were accusing me of crimes on the internet without having a smidgen of knowledge then would I like it? No I wouldn’t – and nor would any of the people that were doing such to Lord McAlpine and others. If you wouldn’t like it done to you then don’t do it. A good motto for life not just a good motto for not being an idiot and potentially finding yourself facing civil action.

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Southend Council meetings to be streamed live on the interweb – councillors line up to voice disapproval

It has been coming. Sometimes you can sense the way the wind is blowing and these meetings being broadcast live over the internet seemed to be the way things were going and in yesterday’s local rag it was confirmed that the Tory-led council were going ahead with plans to upgrade audio equipment and install video equipment to the cost to the taxpayer of £82,000.

Councillors seem to be in general against the plan – not because they don’t like being filmed or are fearful that people might actually hear what they say – but more because at a time where cuts are being made – and will continue to be made for several years – spending money on this seems like it is money that could be better spent elsewhere. This is the view of Cllr. Ware-Lane and Lib Dem Leader Cllr. Longley (who was quoted in the Echo) as well as Toey Cllr. Salter (again quoted in the Echo story).

Now a couple of local activists are delighted with the plans including Del Thomas and the Echo’s latest columnist Ms. Jack Monroe. So the big question (well not the big question but considering this is my blog the most relevant question is where I’m going to nail my colours to the mast…).

Well I am pretty much in the same boat as Cllr. Ware-Lane, Cllr. Longley and Cllr. Salter. I think broadcasting these meetings is a good idea but at this current juncture is it really going to engage with the local electorate? How many people are going to tune in on a Thursday evening to watch a full council to see what their councillors say? A local Lib Dem activist I know says that council meetings are ‘the best theatre in town’ which either says how bad the local amateur dramatics groups are or grossly over-exaggerates what actually goes on in the council chamber.

There is a real issue with engagement between councillors and the people of Southend. The quite frankly abject numbers who voted in May is testament to this. This might help but how much will it really help? That is a legitimate question and when you couple it with ‘How else could that £82,000 be spent?’ then you have two very pertinent questions that should be answered.

Look I’d probably tune in and just have it on in the background to see if anyone said actually stupid/dumb/interesting/ that I could blog about but it wouldn’t be ‘must see TV’ as it were. Anything really interesting would be covered by someone from the local rag or other bloggers who are far more dedicated than I to spend their Thursday evenings down at the Civic.

£82,000 isn’t a huge swathe of money when you look at the total budget but could it be spent better elsewhere to enhance the lives of more people? I think it probably could and could you spend £82,000 and find a better way to engage with the public? Yes. Yes I think you could. On paper it seems like a good and noble idea but when push comes to shove and in this economic climate the council is having to live under it doesn’t seem like a good investment and the council will not be getting their bang for their buck as it were.

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Phillip Schofield and his Producer are lucky to still be in a job today after his stunt on ‘This Morning’

We’ve all seen the news. We’ve all seen the clip and we all saw Phillip Schofield decide that the internet was a legitimate source for ITV1’s This Morning and a legitimate enough source for him to decide to potentially throw away his career. How insane?

Look Phillip Schofield is about as inoffensive as you can get. Reminds me a bit of Will McAvoy from The Newsroom before his meltdown at Northwestern. Someone who doesn’t rock the boat who people trust. However that all changed today when he decided to show the Prime Minister a list of names that he had found on the internet that are linked to a paedophile ring within government over the past three decades. Firstly just doing this is dumb and secondly he flashed it to the camera so that everyone could actually read the names. Yes the names are out there but it should also be pointed out that these names (bar one) have not faced any accusation from an accuser. They are just people saying they are ‘in the know’ and anyone can be ‘in the know’ on the internet.

I’m old school and don’t like witch hunts. If any of these people are accused of a crime then the police will investigate and they will be tried within the legal system. That is the way we work. We don’t try people in the court of public opinion as the court of public opinion would prefer to kill an innocent man on the off chance that they might have touched kids. Yes I’m more than happy to write that sentence. A large proportion of this country would happily take an anonymous accusation as fact and act as such.

This is why we have a legal system. We don’t have act without evidence. At this moment in time only one man has been accused of any crime and all the other names that Phillip Schofield showed on national television are not accused of any crime but now people think they are paedophiles. Mud sticks folks and you can’t take back what you do or say. These people are now smeared and that will never leave them and people will always think worse of them even if it comes out that the internet rumours were completely made up.

Lets look at what actually happened though as this wasn’t done on the spur of the moment. His producer will have known what he was planning to do and had clearly ok’ed it instead of telling Schofield that if he dared he’d be fired the moment the show went off air. It was a planned attempt to corner the Prime Minister and a planned attempt to take the moral high ground as being the man who had the balls to get the names out there and see how the PM reacted. He (and his producer) knew that would play out well amongst the public and would give the show a huge boost as it would make head line news.

The only drawback though is of course this behaviour is kinda not on. Malicious gossip is what they call it. Accusing people of crimes with no evidence in an attempt to smear them. He has of course since apologised – not for doing it but for doing it in such a way that the viewers could see the names. So he has no problem confronting the PM on gossip but he is apologetic that everyone else saw the name. No doubt he’ll be more apologetic if any of those people named decide to sue the network and/or him personally. I have always found being sorry is not an adequate defence in either a criminal or in this case a civil court.

I hate to call for someone to be fired for a mistake but as this excellent piece in The Telegraph says – it is a very legitimate argument to make. Schofield and his producer and seriously erred and a simple apology really isn’t good enough. ‘We’re sorry we have defamed several people. We have no evidence to back up the internets claims that they are linked to a paedophile ring but we decided to run it anyway on national TV because we thought (as this current juncture) baseless rumours were in the public interest.’

It doesn’t really fly does it> I suspect he’ll keep his job but he’ll get a serious bollocking and never do something so stupid again but if they want to fire him for that one mistake then I couldn’t argue too much with it. It was such an egregious error that it would be justified.

We shall see how it plays out…

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Random memories of being forced to watch Rain Man…

Ah Rain Man. A memory that is dug deep into my brain. Back in the day when I was living and working in Aldershot most Friday nights Dawid, Nicky and myself would get together to watch a movie. These movies varied from the good (Garden State, Lost in Translation, 300, Bin-Jip) to the bad (Rain Man, Rain Man, Rain Man). I could easily throw in Die Hard 4.0 in the bad list as Dawid actually just got up and went home after about twenty minutes of that but lets concentrate on Rain Man.

I hadn’t seen it before and I don’t think Nicky had either. Dawid though was insistent that it was a good film and that we should watch it. Any film with Tom Cruise in already makes me a little bit fearful as I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film where he stars that I’ve enjoyed. I’m going to go check his IMDB profile and see…No it looks like my gut instinct was right but anyway when Dawid has an idea in his head it is not easy to move so we went with it and Nicky and myself spent the whole movie going on about how bad it was – Nicky even got up and went to his work PC (we used to watch the movies on a projector where we worked in the chill out room) it was that bad he went and hid on his work PC. I didn’t do that (but damn it was a good idea…)

If you’ve never seen Rain Man (then lucky you) it is a film about Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) who is a bit of a twat to be blunt but he finds out that he has a brother (Dustin Hoffman) who has been left most of his dead dad’s money in his will. He discovered his brother was an autistic savant who lives in a world of his own, who resides at the Walbrook Institute.

He basically doesn’t care one jot about his brother but wants the money and takes his on a trip to Las Vegas in an attempt basically to get the money. Now of course we are to believe that Tom Cruise slowly grows to love his brother but personally I never felt it. It always felt forced and to me it always felt as though the two actors never had any natural chemistry. Now Hoffman played his role with genuine aplomb and deservedly took home a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Raymond Babbitt.

However the scene that a lot of people remember in the counting cards scene where Raymond could count cards and Charlie saw the potential of making a lot of money at the casinos in Vegas.

It was famously parodied in another excellent movie The Hangover.

The movie Rain Man as a whole just didn’t work for me and yet it won four Oscars including most of the big boys including Best Picture so what do I know? All I recall from the film was the casino scenes and that Tom Cruise’s character was a bit of a jerk and for me never grew and never became likeable. It is interesting that Hoffman originally wanted Bill Murray to play the role that Cruise was eventually cast for as I really like Bill Murray and I think the film would have been very different as Murray would have maybe made me feel some warmth towards Charlie Babbitt. Oh well we’ll never know.

All I know is that if Dawid ever says we should watch Rain Man again I shall politely say no (or run away screaming…probably the latter).

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A Pompey Councillor defects from the Lib Dems to Labour…after just six months!

As many of you know I am involved in politics locally here in Southend but I keep a keen eye on politics on the ground in several places but the one I really keep a keen eye on is in my old stomping ground of Portsmouth. I am you see a Pompey boy born and bred and I still have great affection for the city. Pompey has slowly become a Lib Dem stronghold as the council has been run extremely well for a long time and the people of the city have recognised this.

In May the Lib Dems made three gains from the Tories across the council (with Labour also making a couple of gains from the Tories) as the Lib Dems strengthened their already pretty strong position. One of those who got elected was Aiden Gray who swept in following what is fair to say a shock result in Cosham. Cosham has been a Tory stronghold for an age but their vote collapsed and was split both with Labour and the Lib Dems but it was the party of power that won as the three main parties were split by just 95 votes.

To give you a inkling as to how much of a swing this was – twelve months before the Tories had 1,103 more votes than the Lib Dems in this seat. So a 23.6% swing from the Tories to the Lib Dems is quite something to behold! Labour may well have stolen this seat but for a Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts candidate to grab 141 votes – many of which would have gone to the Labour candidate you’d have thought if he wasn’t there.

So good news you’d think for the Lib Dems but the councillor elected has already defected just six months after being elected after deciding that the council shouldn’t be putting any more money into the Pyramids and should instead be putting money into other projects. Yes that is the one reason he has given for leaving and he’s said that he has been thinking about defecting for ‘at least one month’ and he now fully believes that Labour speak for everyone and are the best choice for both Portsmouth and the country. Quite a drastic change there Aiden but should we be surprised?

Well I don’t know whether we should be but yet again I am disappointed. Not because he has left the Lib Dems but because he has changed his political view to such a degree within a month. We can all gradually change our thoughts but to go from one party to another in such a short time just doesn’t add up. You don’t fundamentally change overnight. So something else is at play here and the best thing I can think of is that he is an idealist.

I have seen people leave the Lib Dems for many reasons and that is fine. However those that leave and go straight to another party really get to me – certainly if they are a councillor. Either be an independent or resign and force a by-election. The people voted for both you but also the party you represent. I have been pretty consistent on this and I have little issue with people leaving any political party and staying on as an independent until the next election but to leave a party and join another sticks in my throat.

It seems to me as an outsider looking in that he saw what being in power is actually like. You have to make tough decisions and not everyday in a walk in the park and he decided that being in opposition was far easier and that he could stay true to his idealist principles. A lot of us get into politics as idealists but quickly become realists and pragmatists.

The Pyramids has been an issue for decades in Portsmouth and it will continue to be so until either it is torn down or starts making money. As a Pompey boy I loved going to the Pyramids. I always had a daydream of actually having a date at the Pyramids but as we all know me and dates aren’t exactly a match made in heaven and it was never to be. Heck as a 29 year-old I’d still say the Pyramids is an awesome date idea but I fear I shall never see it through. I would hate to see the Pyramids go I truly would but it also has to make money and can’t just be subsidised forever in my opinion.

Here in Southend the pier actually costs around £1.5million a year to the local tax payers. It is seen as a worthwhile loss as it brings in tourists to the area. I’m not sure the Pyramids centre does that and the place needs a viable long-term investment to make it self-sustainable. It needs a real plan. What that is I don’t know but to lose it from Portsmouth would be a sad day. That I do know. Just saying that it shouldn’t get investment is lazy and not what the people of Portsmouth want. Also to say it is a north/south thing is total BS. I would travel from Waterlooville to go to the Pyramids and also when I lived on the Isle of Wight we would go there. So people do travel down there from outside of the Portsmouth South constituency. To believe otherwise is crazy talk.

So there we have it. Just six months after being elected and after just a month of thinking he has left one political party and joined another and now fully believes they are the future. Quite a pace to change his mind but it isn’t one of those cases where someone thinks solely about their future. He had a cabinet position and his seat was a Tory stronghold and is now a three-way marginal in a city where the Lib Dems are well liked so whatever his reasons they weren’t seemingly motivated by self-preservation and that is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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