Friday, June 24, 2016

Shocked and Sad

One of the first political events I remember is a spirited debate about the forthcoming referendum on the Common Market around the dinner table of my grandparents house in Stoke on Trent. It must have been the summer of 1975.

Back then, the result was a 2/3rd majority in favour of staying. Last night, it was much closer. But 52% of the people voted for the country to leave the European Union, as old Common Market became.

This result has been one of the most profound shocks of my life. As someone who lived in France from 1998 to 1996, and worked and visited many other European countries during that time, I never ever believed until a couple of days ago that Britain would ever leave the E.U. This despite an uneasy relationship with the E.U that has never been really comfortable for any extended period.

I don't know how to process this result, or what the future holds. Essentially it looks like a colossal gamble. Lets hope it pays off. John Harris writes a typically excellent piece about the referendum here:


In the meantime there's Glastonbury to console us, along with Wimbledon starting on Monday.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Middle Age

Since turning 50 in 2015, I've become more aware of getting older and the various effects of the ageing process.

Miranda Sawyer shares my concerns and has just written a book about being middle aged. I've not read it yet, but the extended extract in the Guardian recently has been impressive. Here are a couple of quotes:

So. It doesn’t matter if you have just run the furthest you ever have in your life, or you neck kale smoothies every day. At some point between the ages of 40 and 50, you and I will have lived more than half our lives. The seesaw has tipped.


and



Suddenly, you’ve reached the age where you know you won’t ever play for your favourite football team. Or write a book that will change the world.More prosaically, you can’t progress in your job: your bosses are looking to people in their 20s and 30s because younger workers don’t cost so much or – and this is the punch in the gut – they’re better at the job than you are. Maybe you would like to give up work but you can’t, because your family relies on your income, so you spend your precious, dwindling time, all the days and weeks and months of it, doing something you completely hate.
Yes - some of those observations are well made. 
The book is called Out of Time and is for sale on June 30th 2016.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Why Successful People are so Boring

There's a really good article in The Guardian today by Gabby Hinsliff.

Her subject is successful career women, but in my experience it could just as easily apply to successful business men:


It was only after a panellist cheerily remarked one year that the price of having four kids and a successful business is having zero cultural hinterland – no hobbies, no opinions on the hit Sunday night drama you didn’t have time to watch, no time or energy to read anything more challenging than a glossy magazine – that the penny dropped. Looking at what successful people do is only half the picture. It’s what they don’t do, in order to fit in all the impressive stuff, that’s revealing.

Zero cultural hinterland - that's exactly right, and explains just how mind numbingly boring many successful people are, and how narrow and focussed they have to be.


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Saturday, May 07, 2016

Great Essay on Donald Trump

It's looks almost certain that the American electorate (poor sods) will get an appalling choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

I loathe Hillary Clinton, but she's not as dangerous as Donald Trump.

Here's great essay by Andrew Sullivan, a writer and commentator I've admired for years, on Donald Trump and the threat he poses to America and the world.


It's rammed full of thought provoking stuff - here are a few selected quotes:

This is an age in which a woman might succeed a black man as president, but also one in which a member of the white working class has declining options to make a decent living...

The deeper, long-term reasons for today’s rage are not hard to find, although many of us elites have shamefully found ourselves able to ignore them. The jobs available to the working class no longer contain the kind of craftsmanship or satisfaction or meaning that can take the sting out of their low and stagnant wages. The once-familiar avenues for socialization — the church, the union hall, the VFW — have become less vibrant and social isolation more common. Global economic forces have pummeled blue-collar workers more relentlessly than almost any other segment of society, forcing them to compete against hundreds of millions of equally skilled workers throughout the planet. No one asked them in the 1990s if this was the future they wanted. And the impact has been more brutal than many economists predicted. No wonder suicide and mortality rates among the white working poor are spiking dramatically.

This is an age in which a woman might succeed a black man as president, but also one in which a member of the white working class has declining options to make a decent living. This is a time when gay people can be married in 50 states, even as working-class families are hanging by a thread. It’s a period in which we have become far more aware of the historic injustices that still haunt African-Americans and yet we treat the desperate plight of today’s white working ­class as an afterthought.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

One More Prediction

Here's another prediction to add to the two below:

The vile Hillary Clinton will narrowly beat the vile Donald Fart in the US Presidential election.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Two Predictions

Blogs are great for sticking your neck out and making predictions.

Here are two from me:

1) The British people will decide to remain in the European Union on the 23rd of June this year.

2) Maria Sharapova, recently caught doping at the Australian Open, will be banned from tennis for two and half years by the ITF.


I really ought to back up my predictions with a couple of bets.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Tennis is hard

Many non-tennis players don't realise how hard the game is, especially if they just watch Wimbledon a few times for a fortnight every year.

But this diagram explains just how tiny the margins are, even at amateur level tennis, and why the instructors always insist you keep your wrist firm and 'follow through' on all your shots.

Courtesy of: FeelTennis.net

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