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Month: January 2011

Sky Sports News Transfer Deadline Day – It’s Porn for Men at Work

Twice every year football fans get themselves worked up into a lather about football transfers. As the Transfer Window slowly comes to a close hope and panic are abundant amongst football fans and Sky Sports News sees their viewership go through the roof. Every football fan with Sky and a PC will have it on in the background via SkyPlayer and most will go home tonight and watch it until the deadline passes. Something always happens from the famous Robinho transfer to Man City to Lassana Diarra signing for Arsenal 90 mins after deadline. We’ve even seen players sign days later because players have fallen asleep and missed flights. It all goes off.

Today we have two massive transfers on the cusp of happening. Fernando Torres is expected to move to Chelsea in a £48million transfer package that will include Nicolas Anelka going the other way. Also Liverpool are tying up a £26.5million move for Luis Suarez and have apparently bid a quite mind-boggling £35million for Andy Carroll from Newcastle.

These are the headlines but players are moving all over the country today and Sky Sports News will be bringing us the news first. Everyone who is a Sky Sports News Deadline Day veteran will know that as the window reaches its final hours Jim White will be the man to take us through to the end. He has become the face of Deadline Day and really makes the whole show just a bit more exciting. Fans of all clubs will either be hoping for some incomings and hoping that no-one leaves. Big names are still in the mix for moves today even though no fees have been agreed and there is only seven hours or so until it is all over.

As a Pompey fan I expect nothing today. Well nothing good anyway. However the Torres and Carroll moves will keep my interest peaked and you just never know what’ll happen as the day unfolds. You can watch porn whenever you like but Transfer Deadline Day comes about but twice a year. I just wonder who Spurs are trying to sign on the sly after the Rafael Van Der Vaart move on the last deadline day and we all know Harry Redknapp has form…

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Katie Hopkins doesn’t speak for women everywhere. Feminists recoil in terror at her Question Time ramblings.

Last night whilst watching Question Time my twitter feed just about blew up. What politician had said something to upset everyone? No-one. For once the devil was the fifth panelist who is really there to make everyone else look smart. Step forward Katie Hopkins, former ‘star’ of the Apprentice.

She defended Andy Gray and Richard Keys and said that many women aren’t arguing for equal rights but for special treatment.

Cue head explosions everywhere as I sat back and watched the carnage.

One thing she did say that I definitely agree with is that positive discrimination is not the way forward. In a political sense she was talking about all female shortlists. The best person should get the local party nomination whether they are black or white, Christian or Muslim, male or female – gender simply should not come into the equation.

As a broad notion I am against positive discrimination full stop but I can see in exceptional circumstances, i.e. South Africa after 1990 that it has a place. All male lists would be sexist in a local party did that but all women lists are fine and dandy. That doesn’t sit right with me. I know many feminists who believe that they deserve special treatment to make up for decades in inequality but is that fair?

If ITV commissioned a show called ‘Loose Men’ it would firstly be rubbish but secondly it would be derided in the media and amongst women. Men have to deal with the fact that Loose Women is allowed to exist but they can’t have it the other way.

Even at younger ages girls are allowed to join the scouts but boys aren’t allowed to join the guides. Now I know it’s unlikely many boys would want to but still it is inequality against men. There is a female only insurer out there – Sheilas Wheels – and having a look over their website it does seem as though men are not allowed insurance from this company. Imagine what would happen if someone set up a bloke’s only insurance company, I suspect they might get a fair bit of bad publicity for being sexist.

Going back to Katie Hopkins for a minute – the most common point I read on twitter last night was that she didn’t speak for them. Many women pleading with her to stop talking as there she was the official mouthpiece for women everywhere and they needed everyone to know she didn’t speak for them. Well duh. Of course she doesn’t speak for everyone. Did I feel the need last week to say that because I’m male George Galloway doesn’t speak for me? I do not believe I did. Whatever you think of Miss Hopkins she is allowed her opinion – and that is all it is –her opinion – she doesn’t speak for women everywhere and everyone knows this.

Look I know sexism exists and in the grand scheme of things it is far worse for women than men. I know this and I accept this but it is a two-way street to some degree. However it seems as though many women – and certainly the feminists that I know – think that sexism against men is fair but that sexism against women is not. This belief to me is unfair. Because the white man enslaved the black man for centuries should the black man enslave the white man for a few centuries as payback? This is essentially the same argument that feminists put forward for why sexism is allowed one way but not the other.

We are all allowed opinions folks but one person never speaks for another unless you ask them to. Remember that.

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Replacing Andy Gray is tough but replacing Richard Keys…not so much. Step forward Mr James Richardson.

Whatever you think of what went down at Sky regarding Richard Keys and Andy Gray one question still needs to be answered – who will replace them? I’ll have a look at who I see as some of the candidates.

First we’ll look at the #1 co-commentary position – Andy Gray’s old job.

Internally Alan Smith, the former Arsenal and England striker is the obvious candidate. He has been the #2 co-commentator on Sky Football for a fair while now. Knowledgeable but does he have the gravitas to pull off the big games?

Elsewhere within Sky Football you have Don Goodman and Garry Birtles. Both doing well but do the hierarchy really think they are ready for the step up to the big games? I doubt it.

Another name to mention is Chris ‘Unbelievable Jeff’ Kamara. The former Navy boy has a following on Sky but hasn’t done much, if any, co-commentary for several seasons. Was an astute co-commentator when he did it but most would see him as not serious enough for the gig.

So this leaves me to think that for the start of next season they’ll look to bring in a new voice.

Outside of Sky you look at ESPN and they have both Craig Burley and Chris Waddle, neither of whom are exactly the darlings of the message boards. Would be a surprise for Sky to move for either of them.

The BBC has an array on names but are any of them any good in the co-commentators chair? The answer is no, not really. Mark Bright got the big live Carling Cup semi-final 2nd leg this week and was nowhere near the standard you’d expect for a top flight football match. Mark Lawrenson has been ok in the past but would Sky go there? Not sure they would.

Over at ITV you have David Pleat and Jim Beglin and here is where you’ll find the most obvious candidate. Jim Beglin has grown in stature over the years and is now very good at his job. He’d certainly attract some looks from Sky if they look for an external hire. However when all is said and done replacing Andy Gray is not going to easy for the company, unlike however replacing Richard Keys.

When looking at replacing Richard Keys Sky have a very simple decision. Do they promote internally with the likes of David Jones, Mark Bolton, Jeff Stelling and Ben Shephard all already on payroll or do they look externally and go and get the best in the business – yes the best – who is currently not doing any live football to my knowledge.

All football fans who any knowledge or who even have a passing interest in TV presenting know who I’m talking about, yes James Richardson. The former host of Football Italia on Channel 4 and Bravo’s coverage of the same league is the class of the field. He knows his stuff and has a fantastic demeanor. He has been criminally overlooked by the big networks for too many years but now an opening has shown itself and if they want to totally revamp their live football coverage then he is clearly the guy for them.

I won’t knock the internal candidates, all of whom would step up and do a solid job but none of them would step in and bring what James would bring to the table. He knows the game inside out, has a laid back style but asks the right hard-hitting questions. For me this is a no brainer and should Sky want to take this opportunity to move it’s football coverage into a bold new era then they don’t have to think twice.

Replacing Gray will be tough as there isn’t anyone out there who screams out at you but as for Richard Keys, James Richardson is just a phone call away.

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Tony Blair is not a War Criminal.

At times I sit alone on an island. The whole world says one thing and I say another. The war in Iraq and the statement that Tony Blair is a War Criminal is one of those things.

History shows that Iraq didn’t have WMDs. Not much more can be said about that. However hindsight is always 20/20.

The events leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom will always be murky. I don’t know what really happened and nor does a single person reading this. If they say they do then they are a liar. The people that know the truth are a small inner-circle within the Bush administration and the Blair trusted team. They know the truth and what they say in public is roundly derided because people do not want to hear their versions of the truth. Most people have made up their mind already without seeing any of the real evidence.

Now I know millions of people protested at the time, they made their opinions well and truly heard. However I put it to you/them that it is easy to protest on an issue when you are not responsible for the safety of the country. It is easy to say the invasion is unjust when it is the populist thing to say. It is easy to call Blair a war criminal knowing that in retrospect what we were there looking for were not found.

To call Blair a war criminal then unless you are a bit doolally, then you have to believe that he (or someone working for Blair and with his authority) deliberately faked the intelligence that was used to justify the invasion. If the intelligence was just faulty then Blair is not a war criminal. If anyone reading this can honestly say that if they were in a position where they had the intelligence that Iraq was ready to basically nuke us and they had a chance to go in and stop it and they wouldn’t then I do shake my head is disbelief and pray they never become PM and they’ll be a weak PM.

The PM is responsible for the safety and lives of everyone living in this great nation. The President is responsible for many more lives in his nation. If they basically came out and said, ‘We understand that Iraq is about to basically wipe us out but we are not going to do anything because we are only 95% sure of this,’ then I’m pretty sure everyone would be up in arms and calling for a rebellion to overthrow the PM and President.

If MI5 had intelligence that the 7/7 Bombers were about to strike but were only 95% sure of said attack would they be right to allow the attack and loss of life? If the FBI/CIA knew about 9/11 but were only 95% sure of the date and identities of the attackers would they be right to let them get on with it?

If you overheard your next door neighbour saying that he was going to kill his wife or she was going to kill her husband would you stand idly by or would you call the police? If you heard that a pedophile was grooming your kid would you stand idly by or would you go round and confront them (and lets be honest you would do them over). What if you were wrong and the information you received was inaccurate? Are you a criminal for protecting your daughter from someone you genuinely believed was going to cause her harm?

Tony Blair and President Bush were responsible for over 350million lives when they made their decisions. The population of the UK and America is essentially their family. Do you not think that this might actually be quite a pressurised situation? How would you like having to make a decision that will affect millions of lives and if you make the wrong one then millions can and will die?

Intelligence is what it is. It can be great, it can be good, it can be misleading and it can be wrong. I have no idea whether the intelligence on this issue was accurate or not. History will say it wasn’t but who knows what happened in the weeks leading up to the invasion.

I don’t profess to know what happened in the weeks leading up to the invasion but I personally am willing to give the decision makers leeway in the decision making process. The only justification in my mind despite what happened for calling Blair and Bush war criminals is if they deliberately falsified information and do you know what, I don’t know if they did or didn’t.

As a rule I am an innocent until proven guilty guy and I like that. I was a foreman of a jury that found a man not guilty of ten counts of sexual assault against his step-daughter. He may well have done it but the evidence wasn’t there to convict. The evidence isn’t there to say that Blair and Bush went out of their way to change the intelligence. Some say (most Lib Dems for instance) firmly believe that they did but they don’t know – they believe – two very different and distinct things.

So here we are. Hindsight is glorious and is in shiny HD. If we knew what we did now then no doubt we would not have invaded. However – and for this part we’ll assume the intelligence wasn’t faked – however if the exact same scenario came up again then whoever is in office will have to make a very difficult decision. Do they risk the lives of everyone or do they stop a potential attack?

It is easy to be sanctimonious when you are not responsible for anything. However when you are responsible then everything is very different indeed. The Lib Dems as a party hold the moral high ground on this issue as in retrospect they were right but they had nothing to lose. If Charles Kennedy was PM at the time then would he have heeded the warnings or ignored them as he didn’t believe the intelligence?

No-one can know for sure but I think it is more than fair to say that when you have to make the difficult decisions they are a lot easier in opposition. Look at the Tuition Fees fiasco. The Lib Dems if in opposition could have torn a new hole in a minority Conservative government on this and held their ground but as we all know they were not in opposition, they were in government and therefore they had to make the decision.

This is one thing that personally has hurt me in the recent months. It has become clear that many Lib Dems would prefer to be idealist but in opposition so they didn’t have to make the hard decisions. What is the point of that? We live on Planet Earth and it isn’t a Utopia.

So to round up this ramble. If Blair and Bush deliberately lied then the war criminal moniker is fair and just. However we do not know if they did or didn’t and therefore in my opinion is wholly unfair and unjust. Let me just repeat that – we do not know one way or another what really happened. We can all have an opinions but we do not know.

I have a feeling this might be my most unpopular ramble yet. Defending Tony Blair is not exactly cool, certainly if you are a Lib Dem but I think it needs to be said. We do not know what happened but most people believe they do know for a fact what happened and those people are deluded fools.

See. I’m not just a Lib Dem stooge…

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100 Days of this Labour Shadow Cabinet. What have they said?

So it has been (around) 100 days since Labour put together its Shadow Cabinet. That to me is a fair amount of time to look back on to see how they are doing. There was a big press review of 100 Days of the coalition and 100 days of Barack Obama’s Presidency but I’ve heard nothing about how Labour are settling into their new position as the opposition with a new leader. So I thought I’d list all the main points that Labour have thrown out there in the past 100 days.

So far this is what Labour have said:

‘The Lib Dems are evil’

‘The Tories were always evil’

‘We didn’t do anything wrong’

‘The coalition are doing everything wrong’

‘The Lib Dems are evil’

‘We have a blank page of polices but can tell you for sure when we write them they’ll be better than what anyone else has’

‘Lib Dems come over to Labour and write our policies’

‘The Lib Dems are evil’

‘No please Lib Dems. Please come over and write our policies. Pretty Please’

‘The Lib Dems are evil’

‘Our policy of a Graduate Tax would actually cost students more money in the long run but don’t tell them that – they are thickos are too busy on hating the Lib Dems to notice the alternative was – and is – worse’

‘How can anyone trust Nick Clegg ever again. I mean surely a leader with one tenth or so of MPs should be able to get every policy he wants in a coalition. He’s clearly an imbecile’

‘Women are far more intelligent than men. All MPs should be women. Men are dumb and stupid’ (No prizes for which Labour Cabinet member said that)

The Lib Dems are Evil’

‘Phil Woolas is a good man. A man I am proud to have on my team’

‘My brother wouldn’t bow down to the unions. Therefore he’s not leader’

‘My brother did bow down to the unions. It has fucked up our party for the next few years. I thought a party couldn’t screw up a leadership election as bad as when the Lib Dems appointed Sir Menzies but boy was I wrong’

‘I support AV but secretly hopes it fails. Or maybe I don’t. Bob Crow what do I want to happen?’

‘Why have the coalition allowed Katie Price and Alex Reid to split up? Under a Labour government they would still be happily married. The coalition are bad for publicity seeking marriages’

‘We won Oldham East & Saddleworth – therefore if that was to be replicated in every seat up and down the country – I would be 650-0’

‘There’s loads of money left. How dare anyone suggest we have a debt crisis’

‘Bankers are really awful aren’t they?’

‘We are not just saying everything that voters want to hear. We have real ideas and policies. We just don’t see the need to tell anyone of them just yet’

‘If any Lib Dems are unhappy we’ll happily take them under our wing. As long as they write some policies for us’

‘This isn’t the death of New Labour. This is a new era for the Labour Party’

‘I hated New Labour’

‘Spending less money on the NHS is insanity. We paid upper and lower management a bomb and that proves we are committed. I don’t care if the patients didn’t see any benefit. We wrote a larger cheque and therefore were better’

‘If we had ID Cards like we wanted then we could round up all Lib Dems and shoot them for lying or lying by proxy if they are only members’

‘The Lib Dems are evil’

‘We want all Lib Dems to join Labour as we think this is a good home for them’

‘Danny Alexander is a Ginger Rodent but personal attacks are bad and wrong. However he really is one and a big one at that’

‘We have policies. A free gun to shoot Lib Dems with for anyone who votes Labour’

‘Is it not true that we only hate the Lib Dems because the Tories offered them a fuller and fairer deal. We are not not acting like spurned lovers. Do you really think Nick Clegg prefers them to us…?

‘The Lib Dems are acting like every harlot in history. I know we said that in May but it was such a good line we are saying it again’

‘The Lib Dems have Chlamydia. We are glad they chose to infect another party’

‘Seriously how did I lose that leadership election? My brother can’t hold a candle to me’

‘What do you mean that you need a personality to win an election? Are you freaking serious? Fuck. We’re boned’

‘We wouldn’t cut a damned thing because people don’t want that. We’d let the next generation sort our mistakes’

‘Does anyone remember how great we were in 1997 when we had a charismatic leader?’

‘What do you mean that people actually prefer Nick Clegg to me? This must mean I’m really hated because I’ve spent the last six months telling everyone that Nick Clegg and his party are evil’

‘The Lib Dems are evil’

‘Make all bankers work off the national debt via slave labour in new Niké shoe making mines’

‘I do not practice my PMQs debates in the mirror. Whose a pretty boy Ed? You are a pretty boy future PM Miliband’

‘David why are standing behind me when I’m practicing my PMQs speeches?’

‘I am not the Work Experience kid. I am the Leader of the Labour Party’

‘I do love my husband. Balls by name. Tit by nature’

‘What do you mean some eejit has made up fifty odd quotes about us and hasn’t listed a single one of our policies? The man is a fool’

For the record these quotes have all either been made up entirely or paraphrased to the extreme.

This is pretty much how I’ve seen the first 100 days of this Labour Shadow Cabinet and get this – I’m not a Labour hater. I was very supportive of Tony Blair – certainly during his first two terms in office. I thought and still think that David Miliband would be a tremendous leader of the party and of the country as a whole. However all we’ve seen so far is a weak opposition who are more intent on playing on the public dislike than actually paying back the countries debt.

As it stands I have the Tories ahead of Labour in where I think my loyalties lie – and that is saying something. At least Cameron realises there is a real problem and is trying to fix it. Ed Miliband and his party do not accept that the debt is the #1 challenge that faces this nation not in the short-term but also in the medium to long term. If the debt situation worsens then long-term we are all screwed.

Until Labour take their heads out of the sand I don’t think anyone with a clear conscious can genuinely support them on their policies, only on loyalty. One day those that are loyal to any one party will die out if that said party actually stops formulating policies. I support a party due to their policies, if they radically changed then I would shop around and find a home for my political beliefs. I’m not loyal because I am and forever will be Liberal Democrat. I instead choose to support the party at this time because they share the majority of ideals that I do.

Labour will not attract any new members due to policy at this current juncture. The only new members they’ll get are disaffected Lib Dems and people who have strong family ties to the party. For Labour to grow they need to stop dilly-dallying over the steering wheel and decide what they stand for. Until they do this then they are in all honesty a joke and I find that sad because they are less than a decade removed from being a progressive force of good for this country.

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All Hail Professor Martin Conboy

Stepping away from Politics for two blog posts in a row but this is a special one for all that know him…

All Hail Dr Professor Conboy of the University of Sheffield!

Yes that is right folks. The man who was far too intelligent for the likes of me at the little old Surrey Institute of Art & Design University College has moved up in the world and now is officially even cleverer than he was previously – which was to be honest pretty darn clever. I like to think I’m not stupid but in the presence of genuinely dialled in people I feel pretty darn dumb. It is a bit like when doing a Pub Quiz machine with Sean – I’m not even in his league.

Professor Conboy is the author of the following publications:

* The Press and Popular Culture (2002)
* Journalism: A Critical History (2004)
* Tabloid Britain: Constructing a Community through Language (2006)
* The Language of the News: Communication and Power (2007)
* The Special Issue of Journalism Studies on Global Popular Journalism (2007)

So this is a) a short note of congratulations for the man and b) a note to all students who may pass under his – or any other lectureres/doctors/professors – wing. Actually listen to them, work hard and you can get a lot out of it. I didn’t and that was doing myself a disservice. I sailed through university with my only eyes on the practical side of Journalism and had little to no interest in the theory. It was this that turned by comfortable 2:1 into a 2:2. However whilst that might have been all fine and dandy in a practical sense, part of the journey of life and certainly university should involve expanding the mind.

For example Michel Foucault. I know of the name. I know he was pretty darn smart. Beyond that…

I am sure I spent the best part of fifty hours either in a lecture or in a seminar discussing the aforementioned scholar. Alas without doing any research I couldn’t tell you too much more about him. I zoned out. It wasn’t my interest and I’d have preferred to be spending this time either up in the print or radio newsroom. If I had my time again I’d take a legitimate interest to try and understand. So for all those at university or going to university in the future, heed my warning, make a real effort with every class you have. Whilst in the long run it might not directly help you career wise, what it will do is help your ability to learn along the greatest journey of all – life – and those who sail through life and stop learning are people I do feel sorry for.

So well done Professor Conboy on being awarded a personal chair and keep giving the students who pass through your door the opportunity to grow to become the men and women that they can be. If they choose to keep their mind closed then it is their loss but if you get through to a handful and help them achieve greater life goals then it is a job – and life – well spent.

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An open letter to a 17 year-old me.

This is an open letter to myself at 17 years of age.

Hello Neil,

It’s you from the future – ten years into the future as a matter of fact. I’m writing to tell you about how our lives panned out and will give you the option of deciding whether you want the same for yourself as I did for me. I hope you appreciate the advice.

First of all you’ll be doing A-Levels now. In Year 13. You have an idea of what you want to do with life but no real idea of how to get there. Well you’ll apply for university but only get one offer – and it is a conditional one from the University of Central Lancashire. You’ll smirk to yourself knowing that it is in Preston. However that offer wants you to get 24 points. You get nowhere near 24 points as you are a lazy sod and don’t really care too much about History or Politics (at the time). You get 18 points (including General Studies) but you pass them all and walk away with four A-Levels. In retrospect that isn’t so bad.

You’ll move in with your dad at the end of VI Form as mum moves on to pastures new and her next parish. Before this happens you’ll go on a lads holiday with Nick, Hillman, Martin, Stu and House. You’ll get a cold – yes a cold in bloody hot Spain and spend most of the holiday with snot pouring out of your nose. It sucks. Kinda sums up your life though kid. I’m not going to lie to you – your life doesn’t exactly go swimmingly on most things so be warned – life might not be fantastic.

You move in with your dad as I said above and you’ll get closer to Baz and Pickle and for your gap-year you three are like the Three Amigos. You experience some shall we say ‘interesting’ scenarios whilst out on your haunts with these two guys but I won’t spoil it for you. In December that year you’ll bump into a guy called Dominic from your History & Politics class. You know the one. He says uni is great and that I’d enjoy it. It is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and you apply. This time you get four offers. Sunderland, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the Surrey Institute of Art & Design. Cardiff and Bournemouth – your two first choices both turn you down. You accept the offer from the Surrey Institute of Art & Design and start in October 2002. You regret this decision.

The course itself is ok but the university is very small and you don’t live on campus due to living too close to the university – apparently the Solent means nothing to these cretins. However you do like where you live and that part is all good. You regret it because you wish you’d gone to a bigger metropolitan university. You also make one of your tutors cry and have a blazing row with another in front of your classmates. You are in the right but if looks could kill several of your classmates would have burned right through you. As for the people you meet – you do make friends but you are certainly not the popular person on the course – in fact a long way from it. One person with whom you do your final radio piece comments that she was gutted when she found out I was in her group for the final piece but actually getting to know me that I’m a decent guy and not like se thought at all. This sums up how it goes for you as most people just don’t give you a chance and believe that my bad first impressions are accurate. You don’t help yourself in this regard. Not going to spoil it for you kiddo but before university you’ll need to take a long hard look at yourself and make some changes.

These changes are with regards to your confidence levels and attitude around women. You come off as creepy and stalkerish. Both have some credence to be fair. This comes from in part your lack of exposure to women during your school years (as you know – most of them dislike you immensely) and general lack of self-confidence and in a way self-awareness. Here comes an important note and advice that you need to know.

Do not keep putting yourself down. There are a tonne of other people in this world that will do that for you. You don’t need to join in yourself. People don’t want to hear how ugly you are all the time because quite frankly people who say that kind of thing all the way wear on you. Grow some cojones and self-worth. You are not as ugly as you think. You may not be the prettiest apple on the tree but you aren’t exactly rotten fruit on the floor with bugs eating you from the inside out either.

One thing that’ll help you overcome this is by going to the dentist. You know those two baby teeth you still have at 17? Well they don’t fall out until 2008 – so what age 24? They are a big part of your low self-esteem. Get them out and get it sorted. Even if it means braces. Just deal with it. Women aren’t going to fancy you anyway (for a while at least) so you won’t be missing out on anything. I haven’t been since I was 13 and whilst those two teeth are now out, my teeth are in general white and pretty straight – they could be better. You subconsciously learn not to smile as to not show off your bad teeth. This is bad Neil. Bad. So go ahead and sort it – trust me you’ll thank me in the long run.

As for your lovelife. Don’t be buying any condoms kid. Your virginity is still very much in place (although you do turn down a handful of offers over the years). You’ve also not even been in a relationship yet. I know this probably alarms you and should you sort out your teeth and self-confidence issues then things may well be different for you than it was for me. There are women in your life though over the next decade but nothing works out. Nine times out of ten they’ll be someone else who is either more assertive, nicer, a better fit or to be quite frank – just isn’t you that the woman will plump for. You’ll only meet three people you seriously connect with, things don’t work out with any of them. For two it came down to a choice of you or another person (in one case two other people) and in the other the timing was just all wrong and you wasn’t residing on the Isle of Wight any more. The first one you accept that she made the right choice however the other one you still don’t know and every few months you whimsically go down the ‘what if…?’ path with her in your head.

After university you go and live with your Mum and Pete up in Harwich in Essex. You’ve had a real shit end to your course although you graduate with a 2:2 (but all your practical work was 2:1 or higher) but you are unsure of the next step. You can’t move home because Bryn is living in your room. In the long run this turns out to be a good thing that you never return to the IoW (well maybe – well I think so anyway). So you are living with your mum, in a place where you know no-one and got no idea where life is going. This may just be your latest ebb kiddo but you get through it. You decide to volunteer in a charity shop to pass the days and you come to quite enjoy it. Your confidence levels shoot up dealing with customers every day. However full-time paid work still doesn’t come about. You move with Mum to her next parish just outside of Southend-on-Sea and here you join Hospital Radio in a move at the time to freshen up your radio skills. It becomes a key cornerstone in your life.

It is not until June 2007 – a full two years after university – that you get a full-time job. After just missing out on a job with The Sun is London – you were the second choice – you get a job launching a new Sports Network of websites ironically in Aldershot in Hampshire. When you get off the train for the interview you can’t believe you are back in that shithole of a town but you are – and promptly live there for the next two and a half years.

You move in with three women (score) into a very small and cosy room only seven mins walk from the office. Whilst one room changes hands a fair bit – the other two girls and you live together for the next couple of years and there is very little friction in the house and everyone pretty much gets on with everyone. You actually quite like living there. At uni you also live with a couple of mates in Year 3 in the ‘House of Trouser’ named after Toadie’s house in Neighbours. That’s quite cool as well.

As for the job. You will learn so much but get so frustrated at the same time. It was the right job but maybe at the wrong time or with the wrong company. It could’ve been very good but you keep banging heads with others and slowly lose the will for the fight. Then in late 2008 a company offers to basically underwrite most of my salary is a sponsorship deal across the blogs. This is agreed to but at the last-minute your bosses will pull out of the deal. You get really pissed off knowing that these websites are losing money but in one swoop they could’ve started to pay for themselves. That day you get a call from that said company asking for you to go and work for them. You sit on it for four months before deciding to take the plunge. You don’t regret it. This is one of the biggest risks you’ve ever taken – to move from a staff job to becoming a self-employed contractor but two years later things is going fine and financially you are so much better off. You will wonder just how things may have worked out had you stuck at it but then you remind yourself just how frustrated you were every single day with people not listening to you or giving you the backup you needed.

You move a couple more times and then you end up here – where I’m typing to you from. A wet ugly day outside and I’m just back from doing the food shopping. You live alone in an apartment in a place called Thorpe Bay just outside of Southend. You don’t really ‘belong’ anywhere but can live anywhere as you work from home. Working from home and living alone is quite a lonely existence kiddo but you learn to adapt and most of the time you don’t care too much. You aren’t the most sociable kid around and you don’t become more social as the years go on – in fact quite the opposite – you retreat further into your quiet cosy little world. However this isn’t due to lack of self-confidence – you are in general over those issues – it is just you don’t enjoy the pub/bar/club scene – you never have and you never will. You do Hospital Radio still but not too much else. You always want to write a book but never get around to it. However I have typed nigh on 2,000 words already and it hasn’t been too much of a chore. Shows that it is possible if I set my mind to something to write and write and write…

Your interest in politics will rise and your liberal leanings will always be strong. You still haven’t joined the Lib Dems but you are very much a supporter of the political party. In 2010 they’ll even gain some power entering into a coalition government with the Tories. I know you just choked at that as any notice of such a thing ten years ago was preposterous. Your hate of the Tories has been ground into you from a young age but you learn to form your own opinions. You are very much a Liberal at heart but believe that this coalition was the right thing to do at the time.

You will live through 9/11 – a terror attack on America that involved planes being flown into the Twin Towers in New York – a day that changed the mindset of the western world. This led directly to a second war in Iraq where we installed democracy but led to the beginning of the end for Tony Blair and Labour. You will see Portsmouth win the Championship and get promoted to the Premier League. You will even see them win the FA Cup. However the club will be minutes away from collapse yet again and the club aren’t out of the woods yet. What you won’t see is any hard evidence of extra terrestrial existence as yet.

Some more advice kiddo. Give up the coca-cola. It is not only bad for your teeth but it is also terrible for your overall health. In 2010 you give it up cold turkey and lose a stone within three months solely because of this. Exercise more and try to keep playing cricket. You love cricket and you’ll not play for years. Try and find a team to play for on a Saturday or Sunday. Look after yourself more – don’t grow your hair – it doesn’t look good although it is kept in fantastic condition. Shower every single day and learn that you actually feel better about yourself when you put in an effort with your appearance. Get over yourself on jeans too. You can wear joggers and slacks at home and even just around town but when you are out and about doing things it makes you look like a bum. Someone tells that in 2007 that you’ll never get a girlfriend wearing jogging bottoms and they are right (you could retort that you can’t in jeans either but don’t). Jeans can be comfortable if you get the right ones. Just bite the bullet and do it.

You will meet both some interesting and some ‘interesting’ people over the next ten years. I will say this. Don’t rush to conclusions on people and give them time to open up and the more you speak to, listen to and be with a person the more you’ll know. You’ll learn that in time. It is something everyone learns. No-one is ever as bad as their first impressions give but neither are they ever as good as their first impressions. The truth will lie somewhere in the middle and that is part of the journey of life – to find exactly how far they are from good or bad in your mind.

Lastly you still battle with knowing who you are and you know what I’m talking about. You try to give it up when you go to university but it doesn’t happen. It is a part of your psyche and you battle internally with it. (for those who may read this and aren’t a 17 year-old me – this is nothing illegal we are talking about) – sorry just had to put this as I’m going to put this on my blog as well as sending this to you in the past. A blog is kinda like a personal online diary where people talk about their lives and thoughts. It’s quite a big thing as the 21st Century really gets going. Anyway back to the point in hand – I have no advice for you but choose your own path on that front but keep it closer to your chest than I did. Many people are not as liberal as we are.

So there we have it. 2,500 words of advice and commentary of what your future may look ike if you make all the decisions that I did when I was you. It is up to you what you do with this information but I’d at least follow some of it. Teeth, Coca-Cola, Jeans will all lead you towards having more self-worth and self-confidence. You do grow up to be a very independent person and comfortable with how things worked out for you. They could have easily been different but that is how the cookie crumbles.

One thing though Neil. You grow up to be a genuinely good egg and a very nice, polite young man. That is one thing you need to ensure you do – keep your morals and levels of common courtesy. You never screw a friend over for yourself and you never belittle anyone. People may take advantage of that side of you but you learn how to cope with it and adapt the way you are.

One last thing. Invent Facebook.

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The Guardian hates the Lib Dems but the party clearly aren’t dead yet – and they won’t be anytime soon.

We all know newspapers have bias whether it’s to the right or to the left. The Daily Mirror loves Labour, always have and always will. The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph – well you know what you get with them. However the paper with the most political bias at the moment seems to be The Guardian.

On Friday 30th April 2010 – The Guardian spectacularly came in support of the Lib Dems. It seemed like an important moment for the party. In retrospect it was a mere footnote of the 2010 General Election. However when the Lib Dems did not do as well as hoped and in turn joined a coalition with the Conservative Party, The Guardian have acted like a woman scorned.

Yesterday I read an article asking Are the Liberal Democrats staring into the abyss?. The answer is no but the journalistic put together a good 2,000 words to try to suggest that they are. Citing the fall of David Laws, the fact that a few councillors have switched sides and their dwindling support at the polls as his main evidence.

He then speaks to Adrian Sanders, Lib Dem MP for Torbay, who sums up what I think in this one quote, “Unlike the bulk of the Liberal Democrat membership, the current leadership and their advisers are dominated by people who give the impression they didn’t, among other things, enter politics to deny the Conservatives political power. That is the fundamental difference between them, and those who . . . view the Tories as the opposition to just about everything we stand for.”.

The party I support do not exist solely to stop the Conservatives. Surely that has to be the case. However the hierarchy at The Guardian do not agree. They clearly think that doing a deal and not doing everything at all costs to stop the Conservatives is the most treacherous thing that a political party that they endorsed could do.

The Oldham East & Saddleworth result was a wash pretty much. Labour’s support went up as did the Lib Dems. The Conservative vote collapsed. Basically it went down how most people expected but The Guardian in several articles today have made it clear that by not winning the seat – a seat the Liberal Democrats have never won in an election – that it was a disastrous night for the party and once again proves they are spent as a political force.

Just a tad OTT don’t you think?

Had the Lib Dems not gone into a coalition or rebelled over the Tuition Fees or the cuts then the Lib Dems probably do win this seat. The 3rd party often do well in by-elections and at this moment the third-party is Labour as the other two major parties are in government. However national polls say the Lib Dems basically have seven possible voters whilst Labour have 30million and the Tories 25million or so. This means that the odds of any of those seven living in this constituency was surely low but shockingly enough over 11,000 votes were polled for the Lib Dems.

What does this say? It says that once people on the ground listen to why the Lib Dems are doing what they are doing they are being swayed. Oldham East & Saddleworth shows that the Lib Dems aren’t dead in the water quite clearly and the vote share held up. Yes some of that vote probably came from Tories either a) not voting or b) voting for the Lib Dems and some of the Lib Dem vote from May will have drifted away but it also shows that the Lib Dems have not been and will not be wiped out.

So whatever The Guardian wants to print it doesn’t cover up the facts. The Lib Dems are clearly alive and kicking. They might not be getting a parade anytime soon but they aren’t hated as much as the national polls (and the media at large) are trying to make out. If people listen then they’ll understand. The problem for the Lib Dems is that most people will not give them the time of day to listen. If they do – things aren’t nearly as bad as many feared…

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DC joins Brundle is the F1 Comm Box. Legard is out at the BBC.

Two blogs within an hour of each other? What on Earth is going on?

Well the news that Jonathan Legard is gone from the F1 Commentary Box is one that deserves a fresh blog. Now I don’t dislike Legard but I will admit that it just wasn’t working with him and Martin Brundle and one had to go – and considering how great Brundle is – it had to be Legard. I wish him all the best and he is a fine play-by-play guy but for whatever reason with the BBC on F1 it wasn’t working. So onwards and upwards for both Legard and the BBC F1 coverage.

So today after Legard confirmed he was off first thing it meant that speculation would abound as to whether or not David Coulthard would step up into the Martin Brundle role, with the aforementioned Brundle stepping up to play-to-play and we didn’t have long to wait for the answer. The BBC sent out a Press Release at around 10AM GMT that indeed it would be Brundle and Coulthard for the 2011 season. Brundle has only a year left on his contract but if this partnership is a success then you can expect the BBC to pay the going rate and for this to be the partnership well into the next decade.

Having two ex-drivers in the Commentary Box has unnerved some people but it shouldn’t be a problem. Steve Cram is a fine athletics play-by-play guy and everyone loves Jonathan Agnew on Test Match Special. In fact when it comes to cricket the commentary is mostly done by ex-players and it works well. I know F1 is faster but we’ve seen and heard Brundle slip into play-by-play mode on more than one occasion on both the BBC and when he was with ITV and he seemed perfectly adept at it.

Brundle will still do his grid walks, which are an important part of the coverage in my opinion and DC will still do pre and post race with Jake and Eddie in the pit lane. Both workloads will grow but they are embracing the new challenge. I for one am excited about the new pairing in the Commentary Box and we’ll see how it shakes out. I have every faith that Brundle will carry on being a World Class broadcasters and if he and DC bounce off each other the way that I think they can then all will be right within the BBC F1 world.

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Fire Extinguisher Student goes down – and rightly so – protesters should learn from this

Edward Woollard did a stupid thing in a moment of madness. That decision has cost him a couple of years of his life. It is a sad day that it came to this but he has no-one to blame but himself and the courts did the right thing.

As I am sure most of you know Edward Woollard is the 18 year-old who dropped a fire extinguisher off the roof of Tory Party HQ during the first set of student protests in November. It was an instinctive thing that in the end resulted in no real damage done. However that was totally by luck and not by judgement. that fire extinguisher hauled towards a crowd of both policemen and women as well as at fellow protesters would have in all likelihood killed whoever it struck below.

I think this sad tale shows us that peaceful protests are all well and good but when it turns violent and ugly lives can be changed. The only way to not put yourself in that situation is to keep a calm head and know your plan. If you want to be safe then protest peacefully. If you are willing to let your adrenaline get to you then you risk troubles down the road. This kid had every right to protest about tuition fee rises but I suspect as he sits in a prison van on his way to a Young Offenders Institute for a couple of years he wishes that he hadn’t been so bone-headed and probably wishes he’d just gone to college that day instead.

This story should be a warning to protestors that when the adrenaline gets flowing you can make bad decisions that can impact on the rest of your lives. Protest but know your plan of action and stick to it. If the mob goes one way then you have to make the decision on whether you want to deviate from your plan and put yourself in a bad position. Protesting isn’t just about getting your point across but doing so in a safe and peaceful way. Not just for others but for yourself.

This kid didn’t and it has cost him big time and it will probably cost others as well. These young people have brains and want to go to university for free but it is sad that a small minority didn’t use said brains when it came to protesting on that front. The actions of his mother were first-rate. This wasn’t throwing a stone at a window this was just dumb luck it wasn’t murder. It must have been the hardest thing she has ever had to do but she did the right thing and whatever happens I hope the kid realises that and doesn’t blame her for what has happened.

Edward Woollard made his bed and now he has to lie in it. For everyone protesting in the future please learn from this. Have a protesting plan and stick to it otherwise you are leaving things more to chance and to the adrenaline – and that isn’t a safe place to be in a mob.

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