The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

Archive for January, 2015

On what I was doing ten years ago and the most awkward situation I’ve found myself in…

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I often lay in bed or sit on the loo or wherever and think to myself things like, ‘what was I doing this time last year? five years ago? ten years ago?’ and the ilk. Mostly to ask myself would I swap what I was doing at that exact moment for what I was doing then. I did this last night as I lay in bed and I idly thought to myself, ‘what was I doing ten years ago?’ and for once I could actually answer that question very accurately. I was doing something that would significantly shape who I was today. Weird.

So then folks let me tell you a story. There was a girl (isn’t there always in stories like these) that I knew from the world wide interweb and I had gone to stay with her for a few days. I was in my final year at university and earlier in the week I had finished my dissertation and made my radio tutor cry and been threatened to be kicked off of the course (looking back this was quite the week) but those are merely footnotes.

So I met this girl, we got on ok, nothing spectacular but I was there for a few days (Mon-Fri) and on the Wednesday night I was doing some work and I logged into my Livejournal account and checked it and she had updated hers to say she was getting back together with her ex as she’d seen her other option and decided to get back with her ex. Yes I was the other option and I was still at hers and she’d forgotten to filter me out of this update (or maybe she didn’t care/didn’t expect me to read until I had gone home/hoped it would make me fuck off).

Talk about an awkward situation. Now I must’ve been what, 21? and with about as much knowledge and common sense as that of a gnat. I read this pretty late on the Wednesday and she lived a long way away from the railway station and I had no idea how to get there (these were the days before smartphones with maps) and I was a tight student, I wasn’t getting a taxi. What I should have done therefore was made my excuses on the Thursday morning and gone but what did I do? I hung around like a numpty and she wasn’t even talking to me. Yes I’m serious, she wouldn’t even acknowledge my existence. Like how dumb was I not to think to myself, ‘look Neil, even if you don’t know the way back to town, find out and just go’ but no I spent the day in someone elses house with them not even talking to me, good times…

That night she even slept in her own spare room to get away from me but even then I wasn’t fully clued up. Any logical person would’ve got up first thing and just left but I thought I’d at least hang around to say goodbye. She had thought of this and was so adamant she didn’t want to see me that she kept in the spare room with the door shut all morning and at 1ish I finally gave up and just left. I remembered the way we had walked from the bus on the way to hers so just walked in that direction until I saw a bus stop, which turned out to a the right one and got on a bus to the town with a railway station near where she lived, found the station and made my way home.

She wouldn’t even speak to me again for many months (to be honest I ask myself why I’d even want to speak to her again but back then I was a lot more naive than I am now) and we’ve not spoken in years but hilariously are Facebook friends so I see updates from her life whizz through my screen every so often.

In the opening paragraph I said that this incident significantly shaped who I was today and I’ll tell you how. I am hypersensitive to those who don’t want to be around me. Show me a flicker of the fact you don’t want me around/don’t want to know me and I retreat faster than (enter your favourite war reference here). On occasions I’ve been known to put up some sort of fight but those occasions are few and far between. Usually if you show me that you don’t want to know me/speak to me/see me then I’m gone and if their stance on me changes, they’ll have to seek me out.

If someone pushes me away then I’m gone. I often get told that this isn’t healthy, people – women in particular – want a man who’ll fight for their affections or friendship or whatever. I’ve often found that when somebody hints that they want you to back off/disappear then not doing that is deemed as unwanted, creepy or weird. The old, ‘can’t win either way’ issue.

Writing about this today, ten years on and at this exact point ten years ago I’m hanging around her house with her not talking to me. Fun times. It is amazing how things can stick with you and whilst seemingly insignificant it has helped mould how you react to situations in the future. I could point to several situations that whilst not identical, were broadly similar and if someone pushed, I’d not push back. Whether that is right or wrong I have no idea (there is one particular situation I’m thinking about here from many, many years ago now but that is one I would chose not to discuss).

All very interesting. Saying all this though I am actually in a very good place at the moment. I haven’t had a date for months, nor even the possibility of one if I’m being honest but I am just in a good place. I woke up one morning a few weeks back and felt good and that feeling hasn’t really disappeared. Maybe happiness just comes from within and when you are happy with yourself then you are in a better state of mind to take on the world. Maybe that is just where I am now.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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January 27th, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Personal

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On the return of boobs to Page 3 and the next step…

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Who is shocked or even in the least bit surprised that Page 3 of today’s edition of The Sun has a woman with her boobs out on it? Anyone…? If you have your arm raised then I’m looking at you very quizzically.

You see the newspaper never said that it had dropped the topless photo from its daily editions. They actually went out of their way to say very little on the issue. If they were dropping it then you know what, they would’ve said it very openly and very loudly for the positive publicity that they would get from the media and from those who do not buy the newspaper.

Wait a minute…what were those last few words again?

those who do not buy the newspaper

And that my friends (and those who are indifferent and heck enemies if any of them read) is the issue. I wrote this a couple of years back and it still stands true today as much as it did then:

Page 3 to The Sun is nothing to do with their thoughts of sexual objectification. It is all about money (like most businesses) and financially it obviously is worth it to them otherwise they wouldn’t do it. The people who don’t like it don’t buy it anyway so why would they care what these people think? Isn’t that a very bizarre way to run a business? Would you run a business where the people who make you money like what you do but those who don’t make you money are complaining and you listen to the latter and not the former?

So this is what in most likelihood happened over the past few weeks. The Sun decided that they were going to experiment with dropping the tits and seeing how it effected circulation. No-one said anything after Friday’s edition had no boobs but when none appeared on Monday, the news ran with it and ran with it hard. This meant that Tuesday was the first day the newspaper had no tits on show where most people knew about it and what happened? By Thursday the boobs were back.

Either they were trolling the world or they lost a whole load of sales because maybe, just maybe, some people buy the newspaper not for the news but for a picture of a naked woman’s top half. Another newspaper still has topless photos of women on its page 3 and I bet the Daily Star’s sales went up dramatically on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Sun is not a bastion of morality. It is about making money. If they get more sales by having a picture of a woman baring her chest then they’ll continue to do it. That is just business logic. Those who don’t like Page 3 in its current guise don’t buy the newspaper anyway and they won’t return to the paper just because the picture stopped appearing, whereas they would lose sales from those who like it and don’t have it any more, those people will find an alternative tabloid and look what else is out there, is that the Daily Star I see…?

Quoting myself again:

Sometimes we see the world from our own point of view and not from the point of view of others. Page 3 sells newspapers. I don’t like it. You probably don’t like it but it is a fact and until it doesn’t then why would they stop? The Sun as we all know isn’t the bastion of moral fortitude and it doesn’t pretend to be. It is a newspaper that serves as the news of the lowest common denominator. I don’t think that is an unfair statement and the people that buy it are not those who care about tits on Page 3.

I know people will say I back Page 3 because I’ll say I’m not shocked that they continue to publish it. It is either that or I can be the business logic behind it. I don’t understand why people would ever think that a newspaper would change its content to suit those who didn’t buy the newspaper in the first place. If The Sun drops Page 3 then it loses money and also it loses influence and that shouldn’t be overlooked. Having the biggest circulation gives (or at least gives the perception) of more influence over more people. One thing we know about Rupert Murdoch, he likes having influence!

Page 3 will continue to exist as long as more people buy The Sun (and the Daily Star) than would if those newspapers didn’t have a topless woman photo. It is just business plain and simple. Sexual objectification of women and changing attitudes towards that won’t be achieved by cutting off the access to boobs in a newspaper. This is a deeper problem in society and this one symbolic gesture was never going to work as long as they went after one newspaper only and the left the other newspaper who did exactly the same alone.

I’ve said it repeatedly over the years and people say I don’t know what I’m talking about, that is because they are only seeing things from their own PoV and not from a business point of view. Nearly 2.75million people buy either The Sun or the Daily Star daily at a near 5:1 ratio. If just 10% of The Sun’s readership switches to the Daily Star that is a dramatic change and puts The Sun in the clutches of the Daily Mail for biggest daily newspaper and in turn moves the Daily Star above both the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph.

The Sun wants to have the largest circulation in the UK. Tits help them do that. I just wish people would take a step back and understand that this has nothing to do with how The Sun perceive women. This is all about how much money they make, how big a circulation they have and how much influence the newspaper (and its owner) has over the British electorate. It is no less and no more. It is that simple. Whether we like it or not that is why the boobs are back. I’m not a fan. I don’t buy the newspaper. I won’t buy the newspaper with tits or with no tits but I’m not their clientèle and that is the issue. Those that buy The Sun knows it has tits and either doesn’t care or actively like them.

Having written about this several times and along the same lines, I know that people think I’m a moron because I can compartmentalise both my personal opinion and the business decision behind the tits. To get boobs out of newspapers it needs a ban and not out of the goodness of the hearts of the editors of the two dailies who put boobs there. Turkey’s wouldn’t vote for Christmas so why would newspaper editors vote for something that would lose them money? They wouldn’t. The Sun has now seen that they sell more newspapers with boobs than they do without so the boobs will stay until their is legislation that says they can’t. The fight to get tits out of the newspaper has to go to through government, it always has been, now maybe those who are leading the fight will understand this.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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January 22nd, 2015 at 1:19 am

Posted in Media,Politics

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On Joe Paterno, #409, the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal and sexual consent…

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Please note the title. This is the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal not the Penn State sex scandal.

So last Friday the NCAA reached agreement with Senator Jake Corman on his litigation with the association that saw changes to the penalties levied against Penn State university. The headline change to these sanctions is the restoration of all wins by the football team between 1998 and 2011. This means that Tom Bradley now gets credit for his win at Ohio State in 2011 and that Joe Paterno gets credit for his 111 wins between 1998 and 2011 and in turn once more becomes the all-time leader in division one wins for a coach with 409.

This has caused two rather strong reactions from people. Those who think that the NCAA originally overstepped their authority when they originally hit the university with unprecedented sanctions following the Freeh Report and those who believe that it just shows that Penn State still doesn’t get it. The fact the litigation wasn’t pushed through by the university but by a senator doesn’t seem that important to these people and lets be honest here, this isn’t an issue where facts are the top determining factor on your opinion, this is all about your gut reaction.

One such person is former Penn State alum Roxanne Jones who wrote an op-ed for CNN entitled Penn State still doesn’t get it. In it she shows that she doesn’t get it (but she is the author who says that she has taught her kid to get a woman to text him before sex saying she agrees to have sex with him because that is evidence that she consented to sex, not that a woman is ever free to change her mind but still. You think I’m making that last thing up? Think again…

Never have sex with a girl unless she’s sent you a text that proves the sexual relationship is consensual beforehand. And it’s a good idea to even follow up any sexual encounter with a tasteful text message saying how you both enjoyed being with one another — even if you never plan on hooking up again.

So yeah, interesting woman. The whole consent issue is a legitimate one but a text message proves nothing. The woman can always change her mind and what is to stop the rapist taking her phone and texting his phone about consent? Still that isn’t what I’m really writing about today but I just wanted to show context of this authors previous work. Also sending her kid to university with 300 condoms? She must think her kid is a freaking stud. If I’d been sent to uni with 300 condoms…I’d still have 300 (or I’d have sold them off cheap to those who were in fact getting some)

Back to the piece from yesterday, ‘The NCAA had reached beyond its authority in punishing Penn State, they argued,’ she wrote. ‘In other words, their lawsuit had nothing to do with the boys who were raped or abused by Sandusky. Correct but still that isn’t the point of the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed because an authority overstepped their boundaries and had no legal grounds to do what they did. ‘The NCAA caved,’ she decries. No Roxanne, they didn’t cave, they knew they were about to lose in court because they knew they had no legal grounds to do what they did. This is the United States of America, this is a litigation culture so when you do something that you have no legal grounds to do then expect to lose in court.

This isn’t about restoring Joe Paterno’s wins. They should never have been taken away in the first place because doing that does nothing for the victims of the crime does it? The NCAA has its laws and they have punishments for breaking those laws. Penn State did not break any of these rules. One man – a former employee at Penn State – did some unspeakable crimes, at least one of which occurred on the Penn State campus. That we know.

Do you know what else we know? That man is going to spend the rest of his life in prison where he belongs. You see the issues here aren’t about NCAA by-laws, they are about criminal laws and therefore he went to criminal court. Three other men, all university officials have had charges filed against them regarding a potential cover-up but none of them have gone to trial yet. Again they face criminal proceedings, not civil actions or NCAA sanctions because the laws they are charged with breaking are criminal ones.

Anyone who knows anything about civil law knew that the sanctions would get reduced and that the wins would eventually be restored. You can’t punish people for things that aren’t governed by your rules and regulations. It is a bit like a utility company deciding that you’ve used too much energy and are therefore cutting off your supply even if you’ve paid your bill on time. They have just decided to punish you because they want to.

The sanctions were originally levied in the mist of more public shock and outrage than I have seen in a long time. The reporting at the time was reactionary and poor. This is part of the media culture that we live in nowadays. Journalism isn’t about being right, fair and balanced. Instead journalism is about being fastest, being loudest and being the most extreme in terms of reporting. That is a detriment to society but is sadly an indication of where we are.

I don’t know the extent of any cover-up at Penn State and do you know what, nor does Roxanne Jones. Three men are facing charges and we’ll start to get further towards the truth when they face trial. There is still another lawsuit pending by the Paterno family and they want everything to come out wherever that trail leads. Coach Paterno’s legacy will forever be tarnished by what his former defensive coordinator did after he had left his job.

Joe Paterno was never linked to what this monster did, only one person committed unspeakable acts against children and that man was Jerry Sandusky. He was never a suspect in the investigation that led to charges being filed against three university officials, in fact the investigators are on record with saying Coach Paterno followed the law and was a forthcoming witness.

What we all want to see if the truth come out and that best practices are put in place to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again. When something horrific happens then what you want to do afterwards is to have those who committed illegal acts punished within the scope of the law. You want the truth to come out. You want those who were wronged to feel some justice. You want the cracks filled up to ensure that such a scandal cannot happen again and you want the issues highlighted so everyone is more aware of sexual acts against minors and are more attune to the warning signs.

Stripping Penn State of wins, scholarships, bowl games and bowl revenue does nothing to achieve any of those goals. This is why doing it was a show to make the NCAA feel better because the public wanted someone to pay. The fact Jerry Sandusky is in jail is a secondary story because that doesn’t fill column inches. That is such a depressing line to write but it is also true. The NCAA had no legal basis to levy those sanctions and those sanctions also do nothing for the kids who were the victims of this monster. The fact the huge $60million fine is going to help victims of this monster and other similar monsters is something that helps, nothing else does.

A man rots in jail, another three face charges and potential jail time. The whole issue is now front and centre and hopefully lessons will be learned not just in Pennsylvania but all around the US and beyond. I hope the kids who were his victims can find as much peace as possible and if the three men charged were in fact part of a cover-up then I hope they get that justice, they’ve already got some from the fact that Sandusky will never be a free man again.

The fact Joe Paterno now has 409 wins in the record books changes nothing. He recorded those wins within the boundaries of the laws of the NCAA and the players who played those games did not do anything wrong to have their wins vacated. No player who played was ineligible. No coach who coached was ineligible. I’m glad that coach Paterno has his wins back because they never should have been taken away in the first place. Punishing him, his players and his coaches for acts they didn’t do isn’t right. I know the crimes against those kids weren’t right either but two wrongs do not make a right.

Roxanne Jones says that Penn State still don’t get it. I think that she doesn’t get that in the country she lives in, just like the rest of the world, you can’t punish someone or an organisation when they haven’t done anything against your rules and regulations. Those wins were always coming back and anyone with an ounce of legal knowledge knows that. I think her argument is that Penn State should have curled up and allowed the NCAA to do whatever they wanted to them because nothing they could do could be worse than what happened to those kids. That isn’t how the world works. This isn’t an easy case because of the sensitive nature but leave the punishment to the criminal courts because if any laws were broken, that is where the punishment should come from. The NCAA had no power to do what they did and just because they were sailing on a wave of public opinion doesn’t make it right, in fact quite the opposite.

Jerry Sandusky was and is an evil man. Three other people may well be criminals. Everything else isn’t clear and until we know the full story we won’t know the full truth. I hope the Paterno lawsuit gets everything out in the open and then everyone can digest all the information. Most of all I hope that the victims find as much peace as possible and that this incident, no matter how ugly, helps stop further cildren from being victims to evil men like Jerry Sandusky.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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January 19th, 2015 at 2:52 am

Posted in American Sport,News

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On the Lib Dems plans in Southend come May and local political blogging…

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Southend’s newest sensation of the political blogging scene has finally turned his attention to the Liberal Democrats after his recent attacks on the Greens, the Tories and UKIP. In a piece entitled, ‘Where have all the Liberal Democrats gone?’ he opines about the parties fortunes in the borough.

Now I’m not going to fill in all the blanks for him as I don’t want to spoil his fun by bringing knowledge to the situation, that isn’t seemingly what his blog is for. Julian Ware-Lane has always led the field in local political blogging but now he forms a two-headed tag-team and whilst I would love to sit here and be aggressive about it, it is actually fun reading and credit where credit is due, between them they do lead the way in Southend political blogging. Whether much of what they write is fair or written with strong Labour specs on is another matter but they do churn out content.

I was asked the other day if I had any advice for him and I casually replied that he should invest in a copy of McNae’s. All the cool kids have one (myself included) although I aced Journalism Law at university and am pretty confident that my blurbs never skate even near the line.

He questions whether Cllr. Paul Collins’ big defeat (and lets not beat around the bush – it was a big defeat) in Westborough last year is the reason for having no PPC selected for Southend West as yet. I can answer that question, No, No it isn’t. I can give a much more informed opinion of why there is no PPC in place at this point but this is not the forum. I’m being a good boy today.

As for when a PPC will be selected and announced, I’d expect movement to happen on this subject before I’ve raided the Cornish Bakehouse for my Monday four double chocolate doughnuts for £1.50 treat (seriously if I lived within walking distance of that bakery then I’d eat so many freaking double chocolate doughnuts it would be insane).

On the Rochford & Southend East issue, this is a much harder candidacy to fill, I think that is fair comment. The party across the land have lost many members and many good candidates are disillusioned, that is the truth and there is no hiding from this fact. The Lib Dems in Southend are not immune to this but I’m sure there will be a candidate on the ballot for people in Rochford & Southend East to give them a Lib Dem option. Who knows maybe it’ll be a 31 year-old double chocolate doughnut enthusiast? Who knows…? (I know but I don’t want to spoil Matthew’s hypothetical fun)

He really does think the Lib Dems are dead in the water as he predicts that the party will lose Leigh ward but still be a junior partner in the administration come the summer. Well with four councillors (which is the number he predicts) then the Lib Dems would be the smallest party (or group) on the council. If that is the case I’d hope the Lib Dems step aside and allow the other four groups to form an administration. I said this in 2014 that Southend had (rightly or wrongly) rejected the party and should they go down to the fifth largest party then I can see no reason why the party should be involved in the administration in any way. Also losing Leigh ward would be a real kick in the teeth for the party but if I was a bookmaker I wouldn’t be putting my mortgage on that result just yet.

Also he sincerely doubts that the party will be able to find a full slate of candidates across the borough, well lets see what happens eh? I’m not saying I know the answer as nomination papers etc. haven’t been sent out yet but I have an idea as to whether the party will go 17/17 I wouldn’t want Matthew to be unduly surprised so I’ll give him fair warning to not worry too much about the Lib Dems in Southend on this front. If the party goes 17/17 it won’t be a shock but if they don’t I wouldn’t exactly have a heart attack either. Sincerely doubts is probably over-stretching.

I’m not going to sit here and say everything is rosy in the Southend Lib Dem garden because it isn’t. I’m a realist but I also wouldn’t be writing the obituary just yet either. I expect a very good person will be selected as the Southend West Lib Dem PPC within a few days. Just because Matthew Dent isn’t briefed on the inner workings of the local party doesn’t mean nothing is happening. If he is so interested in finding out all the gossip before everyone else I will happily offer him the chance to resign from the Labour Party and join the Lib Dems, then he can write with all the facts, wouldn’t that be novel?

Look I enjoy his blog, I really do but I always struggle to trust any politco (including my lot) who basically say that the party they are a member of is great and everyone else sucks. The political spectrum is relatively narrow as the main political parties are all realists but when in opposition they’ll widen that spectrum to appeal to a wider set of voters before actually narrowing what they do in power because sometimes there is only so much money in the pot etc.

Labour introduced tuition fees and they introduced privatisation to the NHS. The two big sticks they use to attack the Lib Dems and Tories respectively, they actually started. This isn’t political rhetoric, it is fact. It just goes to show that all political parties will often take the same road when presented with similar financial options. The whole funding of new hospitals and new hospital wings with private money was fantastic short-term but has crushed many NHS trusts financially but as Julian Ware-Lane told me on twitter, ‘The GE will be a chance for voters to pass judgement on the ConDem Govt. What happened before is history.’

So the Iraq War, introducing (and trebling) tuition fees, starting the privatisation of the NHS, crushing NHS trusts long-term with sky high rental costs of new buildings, being in charge of an economy that collapsed and let the bankers run wild is all in the past and doesn’t matter. Therefore by the 2020 General Election I’m sure the fact the Lib Dems were in a coalition or anything the Tories did in power between 2010-2015 if they find themselves in opposition won’t matter and won’t be mentioned by any Labour candidate. Yeah right…

I’m not saying Labour are bad. I’m not saying the Lib Dems are great. The truth lies somewhere in the middle and determining where that is for all of us personally should determine where our vote goes. Same with the other political parties. This is one of the things that I really deplore about politics, just how black and white politicos and candidates get whereas in reality most things are a shade of grey to some degree. I’ve written many blog posts both praising and attacking the Lib Dems for what they are doing in government and I like to think that this is a mature attitude and not just acting like a political sheep.

So anyway that will be all. Short version is the Lib Dems in Southend aren’t dead yet and things are going on. Many local candidates are in place and just because they haven’t been announced yet, doesn’t mean that they aren’t. I think it is fair to say that bountiful success is not expected in May but nor do I expect being last in every seat with no votes whatsoever. The reality will be somewhere in the middle. The Southend West PPC will get selected and announced in the very near future and the Rochford & Southend East candidate will be next on the list but who knows who it will be…? *has a twinkle in his eye*

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

January 16th, 2015 at 6:00 am

On how to fix the domestic T20 competition and how great the BBL is…

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First of all let me put this one there, I freaking love Test cricket. Like can hardly get enough of it. A couple of weeks back it was possible to watch non-stop Test cricket from 9:30PM to 7AM and then have the South Africa v West Indies Test start up an hour or so later. I watched a lot of this. Watching good Test cricket is the pinnacle of sport watching in my opinion. However this blog post isn’t about fixing Test cricket (which doesn’t need a root and branch fix but is clearly struggling in many parts of the world *cough* sub-continent and West Indies *cough*) No, this is about our domestic T20 competition.

The thing is I have never been a true lover of the 50 over game. It seems too long for a short format but not long enough to get into the individual battles and nuances of a Test series. T20 though is fantastic. A game that lasts roughly three hours with shows off a very different aspect of the sport. I watch our domestic T20 competition a lot in the summer and until last year, it was in a fixed window in the calendar so you knew that if there wasn’t a Test match on then it was very likely a domestic T20 match was on. Even if it wasn’t the mighty Hampshire it was likely that I would have it on. Last year though they re-branded the tournament and played it primarily on Friday nights and it just didn’t work.

Now here in deepest darkest winter my mornings (well in reality my afternoons as I sleep in and either Sky+ or watch the replay) are being livened up by the Big Bash from Australia and let me tell you this folks, this tournament is terrific and Cricket Australia has to be lauded for how it has firstly embraced the format and also how they have marketed it from both a spectator and TV viewer point of view.

Firstly we have too many teams. Yes I know the county system is in place but T20 needs to be separated from the county system. Have nine franchises playing at the nine Test playing venues (Lord’s, The Oval, Rose Bowl, Sophia Gardens, Edgbaston, Headingley, Old Trafford, Trent Bridge and Chester-le-Street – and yes I know I’ve not used their proper sponsorship endorsed names…). I know the other nine counties will wonder about money and for some of them T20 is their lifeblood but find a way to sort that ECB.

The people in charge of English cricket are getting huge piles of cash thanks to their Sky contract and who has a clue what they spend it on? They have to ensure the future of the sport and that is by getting kids excited by the game and they do that by T20. The reason I say 18 teams is too much is because the product gets diluted. If we had nine franchises then only half the amount of players would get contracts and they would be the better players.

T20 is clearly the vehicle to get kids enthralled by the sport. Young people need to be able to see their heroes and this brings me on to my next point. After two years of being behind a pay-wall and doing ok, for the third season of the Big Bash the rights were bought by a FTA station and they scheduled their evening programming around the Big Bash for the whole tournament and the TV ratings took off along with the crowds going to the games. A whole generation of people were watching domestic T20 FTA for the first time and they were attracted to the sport.

Also Cricket Australia play the games at the right time – the summer holidays and in a block. Our domestic T20 game should be in a block in the summer holidays so people can go and see. If it battles with the Ashes or with other big Test series then it isn’t a problem. The live game can be in an evening like they do in Australia and like most televised T20 games are here anyway. In Australia the Test matches are on Channel Nine and the T20 on Ten, so people can watch both, they aren’t in direct competition.

Next up is a biggie, the TV contract. Sky have exclusive rights to the T20 competition and all live county cricket through 2019. They pay an awful lot of money for this but in reality they are paying for the Test matches and the domestic game is a small percentage of what they are paying overall. If the ECB wanted to look forward instead of just looking at short-term money then they need to split these contracts and find a FTA partner for the T20 competition. Whether that is BBC2, ITV4 or Channel Four or Channel Five I don’t know but find a partner and start making it work. Channel Ten are seeing audiences grow but also all importantly the advertising revenue is set to rise between 80-90% compared to last year. Advertisers are seeing that people are watching and they are flocking to give Channel Ten their money.

I’ve never been a big IPL man as the cricket just seems secondary and it seems like a lot of rich businessmen having a very expensive toy, also the questions of corruption have been rife. The BBL hasn’t had that and instead has just been full of great hard-nosed cricket with innovative marketing and strides forward in terms of technology and interactivity with players and fans. I know over here we have players on the mic but over there they speak to them more often, the players know they are part of the show and embrace that. They are also marketed as stars. They bring in overseas players and they light up the competition.

I have just been so impressed by the whole BBL and would love the ECB to go to franchises for this competition. Play it n a month block, nine franchises, eight games, four home and four away each season so families are only paying out four times a campaign, top four go into semi-finals that are either played like they are in Australia on separate days with the final on another separate date or if they wanted to keep Final’s Day then they could find a way to do that but whilst I adore Final’s Day, I prefer the Aussie system of two semi-finals with the top two teams rewarded with the final at home in front of their home fans.

The final could either be played at the highest seeded team left or at different venues that can bid for the final a la the Super Bowl. Lastly find a FTA partner who is willing to not only invest money but more importantly invest air time and marketing into getting it right. The domestic T20 competition here can flourish but it needs balls and vision. That is not something the ECB has ever really shown us but they have the opportunity. The rest of the world is not playing cricket in July and August bar the West Indies. The big names will come and with a plan the English T20 competition can be as much of a success as the Big Bash is becoming. I just fear the ECB don’t have the vision or the cojones to take it to where it could be.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

January 13th, 2015 at 6:00 am

Posted in Other Sport

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On Nick Clegg and the chances of losing his Sheffield Hallam seat in May

with 3 comments

Oh Sheffield Hallam. The baying public are looking for this seat to provide the Michael Portillo moment. The evil bugger Clegg who sold his soul for a car. Sold out Forgemasters for reasons unbeknown to his mere mortals. Laughed in the faces of students when he turned around and not only didn’t consign tuition fees to history but in fact actually increased them. He also married someone he loved but she was foreign, I mind how fucking dare he fall in love with a non English person and then naming his kids with traditional Spanish names, who wears the trousers Clegg, who wears the trousers? I know that happened ages ago but it still needs to be reiterated.

There is of course no doubt that he’ll lose his Sheffield Hallam seat because he is the most evil of the evil. A man so evil that Montgomery Burns bows down to him as a hero. A man so two-faced that he actually wears a prototype invisible neck brace that was paid for by you – the tax payer – after millions of secret pounds of research were poured into it to stop him feeling the effects of whiplash. A man so dastardly that Mutley now lives with him. A man so blue that unlike every other smurf, he even pisses blue and not yellow.

In case you can’t tell I’m being sarcastic.

The Guardian wrote an article that they have written before and will write many times between now and May over the weekend, Could Nick Clegg lose his Sheffield seat in May general election?. The first five paragraphs of the article concentrate on an encounter Clegg has with a 53 year-old who usually votes Lib Dem but intends to vote UKIP this time. Is he voting against Clegg because he thinks that he is evil? Well no, he’s voting UKIP based on the issue of foreigners and actually says he likes Clegg and has listened to him talk many times and is impressed by him. However his vote is going to someone who hasn’t been selected yet based on reasons that Clegg couldn’t actually do anything about.

The writer goes on to say that the Labour candidate is playing up two things against Clegg, one the Forgemasters loan and one is he doesn’t care about Sheffield Hallam and is busy in Westminster. The article also states that he actually spends two days a week in his constituency, which is actually a very high number for a minister in a non London based constituency but still. The Labour candidate is getting no central money, is starting from a standing start with no ground game, in a seat which is very affluent and remembers the bad old days of Labour in south Yorkshire before the Lib Dems came in and wrestled the seat from the Tories in 1997. This is not a seat where Labour have any realistic hope of winning yet all the talk from the media will amp it up to a crazy and unfair level.

I have just had a look at the Betfair Exchange and Nick Clegg is 1/10 to win. Labour are hilariously at 3/2 – I mean lay that bet as much as you can folks. If people want to throw their money away then feel free to help them. Labour are 19,000 odd votes behind in a seat with no history, where the council seats even in recent elections have been flat out dominated by the Lib Dems and people don’t think Clegg is evil.

As I’m a kind type of person I’m going to help you try to understand how likely a Nick Clegg defeat in May in Sheffield Hallam.

List of things that are as likely as Nick Clegg losing:

Kermit the frog coming out and admitting that he has cheated on Miss Piggy with George from Rainbow.
Pat Sharp not being greeted as the second coolest student union visitor (Karl Kennedy from Neighbours will always be #1)
Jeff Stelling resisting a pun whenever Gareth Jellyman scores.
I get asked to be the fifth coach on The Voice and the fifth judge on The X Factor is a shock duel role as the main influential voice in the music industry.
Kevin Pietersen captaining England in the World Cup.
The existence of dragons gets confirmed and they in fact don’t like the Welsh.
Kay Burley gets through the General Election campaign without being involved in a clash with someone on camera.
Nigel Farage quits his role of leader of UKIP to play basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Ginger kittens will stop being cute.
Ginger women will stop being feisty and extremely attractive.
The People’s Republic of Southsea finally declares independence from the UK.
Leprechauns not liking Lucky Charms.
The Mirror publishing the Ed Miliband bacon sandwich photo on the front page for every day of the General Election campaign with the headline, ‘Ed has Tommy K instead of HP Brown because he’s red through and through’

and lastly…

I’ll attract a female partner before the General Election.

I think that sums up the odds of Labour winning Sheffield Hallam seat once and for all. Look I know Nick’s majority will be reduced, I know he won’t waltz it based on his name but I also am a man of numbers and logic. Despite what Labour activists believe, not everyone pours scorn on Nick Clegg. Plenty of people still believe that the Lib Dems are the better option than the Tories and in seats like these, that is the decision they have. UKIP will take votes from all three parties but nowhere near enough to challenge. Labour will pick up some disaffected Lib Dem voters, of that I have no doubt but look at the numbers. I know in politics people like to publicly say that they are always in it to win it but most of the time candidates are in it to fight the good fight, to give the electorate the option and to build momentum going forward.

So lets not all get our knickers in a twist (for the record at this juncture I am not wearing knickers but boxers) about Labour’s chances of pulling off a Michael Portillo moment. It isn’t going to happen. There will be 100 more interesting battles in March-May but sadly because of the narrative the media will have this seat as #1 because it fits their storyline and that my friends is oh so depressing, the media attempting to create the story because they want sex and excitement. The fact Labour aren’t giving their candidate here any money shows what they really think but still it is the good local man trying to beat the evil Nick Clegg, I mean who wouldn’t want that to be the big story of the campaign? It isn’t the big story of the campaign but the news media don’t report the news these days, they direct and set up the news narrative and that is a problem with modern society and modern news companies.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

January 12th, 2015 at 6:00 am

Posted in Politics

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On reviewing the year that was 2014…

without comments

So 2014 is in the rear view mirror. I’m not sure it will be missed too much but I’m sure I can find some positives as well so why not have a look back at what happened in 2014 and how I feel going into 2015.

One of the bigger stories of my life in 2014 was the end (either temporarily or permanently) of me being involved in radio. I won’t close the door on returning to it at some point in the future wherever I end up but it was a disappointing end. There had been some great points over the past what, eight years, but I have something that I live by and that is when it is made clear that I’m not wanted then I walk away from a situation, this is what happened here and therefore I walked away. I actually only walked away from being part of one show but by doing that it was decided that I should be gone completely, sad times.

This meant that after three years of commentating (no wait, I should correct myself) after three year of summarising, my football days were over as well. More sad times. This year (well Jan-May) I did loads of games including the FA Cup game v Hull where the commentary box was rammed and the great and the good of radio were all in attendance and of course the play-off game. Some fine memories and I thought I was half-decent at it but it was made clear to me that I was nowhere near as good as I thought and that I had too much of an ego so they wanted someone else (pretty much anyone else) to takeover from me. I do find it weird that I suffer from such low-confidence and such low self-esteem that when I find something I know I don’t suck at, that people will still go out of their way to make you feel like shit. Humanity!

Moving to and lets talk about a good moment, my sister got married. The trip to Hull was full of problems thanks to c2c but Hull trains were magnificent and we eventually got there. My sister looked so happy that even a grizzled grump like me was touched. She seems happy enough and that is what matters. Other highlights from this weekend was my discovery of air-conditioning and how much I want it in my home whenever I buy somewhere. I know it is expensive to run but it is amazing.

Politics wise and it was a strange year, a by-election that we nearly stole then coupled with a pretty woeful set of local election results. I have written before that I have zoned out of local politics as it were as I fully anticipated not living here by the time the next election came around, well that situation is still up in the air so it is a bit of a weird one. I’m not exactly on the pulse of local politics but I am keeping abreast of most of the issues. The whole issue of UKIP has depressed me greatly and I firmly hope that their bubble will burst come May but I fear that the whole ‘anti-politics’ and ‘anti-everything’ lobby have got their teeth into this and they’ll be about for a while yet. When UKIP voters say they vote for UKIP because they want people who’ll actually work and do the job and not just take the money and expenses and you point out UKIP’s record at the European Parliament, the voters just look at you like you are crazy or say that the European Parliament doesn’t matter. It is just so depressing.

Also in 2014 I have been on some form of personal journey of discovery and I have realised some things this year and the most stark one is clearly that I’m just not that great. Look I know that isn’t exactly breaking news but it was made clear to me at various points this year by various people. It is always hard in life to hear people being critical of you but you listen and you start to understand. I’m not going to say all the criticism of me was fair (it wasn’t) but some of it really was. Some of it was just linked to the type of personality I have and you can’t really change fundamentally who you are. I’m not saying I’m a bad person (I’m clearly not) but as for how good of a person I am, I think that is now up for more debate than I’d ideally like.

I could say many more things but I have decided to keep certain aspects of my life off of my blog from now on so yeah, this is it for 2014.

As for where I am now going into 2015, well I think at some point in the near future I’ll be packing up my stuff and moving on to pastures new. Whether a fresh start will bring many changes to my life, who knows, but I think it is probably time. I don’t exactly have much to stick around here for. As for where these new pastures will be, that has yet to be decided but we’ll see what happens.

Personally going into 2015 I find that I understand myself better than I ever have done. It isn’t all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows in my world but I do feel as though the more I understand myself, the less angst I have about why some things don’t work out the way I might like. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. A friend said I sounded bitter the other day, I think I’m more bitter at my own inadequacies than I am at other people or the world. Like I said though, the more I understand myself, the good and more importantly the not so good, the easier it is as I can either make strides on those issues or I can learn to deal with them and not get frustrated by them. I can’t change the past and therefore there is no point worrying about things I can’t change.

People may say I’m being too critical of myself (I am known for being way too critical of myself) but if I sit here and say that I’m great and it is everyone else that isn’t, that is just not right is it? My favourite definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If I carry on being shy and awkward then the same thing will keep happening so either I need to stop being shy and awkward or I continue being so – but know it – and therefore be comfortable with it.

So we’ll see what 2015 will bring. 2014 wasn’t great, it wasn’t awful, it was just a year. The only thing I think I know is that when I review 2015, it won’t be from where I’m sitting now. Now for everything else, who knows, that is the exciting part of the journey of life is it not?

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

January 2nd, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Personal

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