Saturday, September 22, 2007


Head up to Stoke for my grandmother's 95th birthday and listen to a program on the car radio celebrating 2000AD comic, most famous for Judge Dredd.

An extract from Alan Moore's story The Reversible Man really gets to me; a brilliant whimsical little tale about aging.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

England at Wembley

To Wembley for the first time in 20 years to see my first ever competitive match here; England vs Russia in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

My brilliant friend Steve had been offered two free tickets from a famous database manufacturer, so off we went. Neither of us had been to the new Wembley stadium before.

First impressions, approaching from the White Horse Bridge side were of a shiny modern structure, like all modern stadiums looking like a shiny spaceship has landed in North London. Sad to say, from a distance only the slightly ridiculous arch really impresses.

What a contrast inside! It's massive, yet feels quite intimate, with tons of interesting details. It's still new enough to feel brand new, not a speck of rust or dirt anywhere - the seats unscratched, the concrete smooth, white paint shimmering in the flood lights. The atmosphere has that mildly hysterical feel of 'anything can happen' you get before major sporting events - drama without a script. What really shocks is the height of the stands - tier after tier rises up into the sky, row after row of white or red shirted fans, ever smaller and more distant.

It's a brilliant venue, and must make visiting teams (and match officials) feel small and vulnerable. No England team will lose many matches here, especially when it's as it was last night - filled to capacity.

Britain is an aggressively secular country (we don't do god here), so perhaps football fills some kind of spiritual and emotional need that religion meets elsewhere. When England score their first goal the men SHOUT, the women SCREAM, the children HOWL and you can feel the emotion like a solid object. It's intense and vivid and shocking to be in the midst of such raw passion.

England go on to play with increasing confidence and score another two, including a beautiful shot from Micheal Owen to get his second goal of the match and 40th for the team. My respect for the players grows all the while - they manage to perform the most difficult and at times delicate moves with perfect co-ordination while 80,000 people periodically go insane around them.

One of those vivid evenings I know I'll never forget.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Three Years of Ranting

This blog celebrates it's 3rd birthday tomorrow.
Thanks to everyone who's read it and left comments. We're almost exactly up to 4000 hits now, which is a scary but pleasing number. Best wishes, - roGER

Friday, September 07, 2007

"Incredibile, meraviglioso!"

I've been following the US Open for the past couple of weeks, and talk amongst the bloggers inevitably leads to Roger Federer and his famous Federer moments.

This clip, taken from some indoor tournament (Davidoff Swiss Indoor, perhaps?) is the most spectacular tennis shot I've ever seen. Poor Andy Roddick makes up the numbers, and we can all understand the beautiful Italian commentary.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bait and Switch

I've just finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich's book about her 'futile pursuit of the corporate dream.'

It's beautifully written, and a fascinating look at American corporate culture by an observant and witty outsider.

The book's structure is simple. Fresh from her success after publishing Nickel and Dimed, a study of low paid work and workers in the USA, Ehrenreich began to get letters from white collar workers who were also struggling. Unlike many people in the previous book, the letter writers were educated thoughtful types who'd held good jobs in large corporations, only to be made redundant, often with no warning and when their careers seemed on track.

Many reported how difficult it was to get a similar job, and how their lives were slowly being destroyed by long-term unemployment.

To investigate Ehrenreich decided to change her name, fake up a CV so instead of journalism her specialty was PR, and attempt to get a reasonable job (minimum salary $50,000) in a corporation. She gives herself 4-6 months to find the job (5 months was the average time for unemployed Americans in 2004).

What follows is a fascinating and often repulsive view of an entire predetory industry designed to 'help' depressed and desperate people find jobs. It's filled with people who claim to be 'life and career-coaches' who spout the worst kind of psycho-babel and exhortations like 'mobilise innovation' and 'sell yourself.' Some of these 'experts' charge over $200 an hour to spout this filth.

Later, we get vivid descriptions of the quiet desperation of networking events, and the horrors of career boot camps for job seekers.

Fantastic stuff, and a sombre reminder of how hollow Bush's 'jobless recovery' has been since the dark days of 2001.