Wednesday, 30 September 2009

'sun' leaves labour

Sun turns its back on Labour after 12 years of support:
The Sun has turned its back on New Labour after more than a decade of support and thrown its weight behind the Conservatives with a front page editorial today with the headline: "Labour's Lost It".
The switch to the Conservatives was timed to inflict maximum damage on Labour at its annual conference in Brighton and came hours after Gordon Brown told conference delegates to "never give up" and "fight to win".
The paper said: "After 12 long years in power, this government has lost its way. Now it's lost the Sun's support too."
As Britain's top-selling daily newspaper, with a circulation of about 3m a day and a readership double that, the paper prides itself on being politically influential. Its famous 1992 headline: "It's the Sun wot won it", boasted that the surprise Conservative general election victory was down to its campaign against then Labour leader Neil Kinnock.
"We warned back in 2005 in that election that Labour was on its last chance," the Sun's political editor, George Pascoe-Watson, told Sky News last night. "We feel now after four further years that they have failed the country."
- Guardian, 30 September

Brown defiant after Sun rejection
Gordon Brown has shrugged off the Sun's decision not to support Labour at the next election by insisting "it is people that decide elections".
The newspaper's front page on Wednesday is headlined "Labour's Lost it".
The tabloid backed Labour in the 1997, 2001 and 2005 elections but the prime minister said: "It's the British people's views I'm interested in."
David Cameron said he was "delighted" at the development as he hoped to build the "widest coalition for change".
Andrew Neil, presenter of the BBC's Daily Politics Show, said the switch was "a body blow" for Labour, but other commentators have suggested the paper's influence on voters is overestimated.
- BBC, 30 September

Scottish Sun not backing Tories
The editor of the Scottish Sun has said he is "yet to be convinced" that the Tories are the best party for Scotland.
In England and Wales, the popular tabloid newspaper has signalled a shift in support from Labour, which it has backed since 1997, to the Tories.
Scottish Sun editor David Dinsmore said he could no longer offer his support to the Labour government.
But he said Tory leader David Cameron needed to show more evidence of his commitment to Scotland.
- BBC, 30 September

It's not the Sun, of course, but Rupert Murdoch. It's a scandal how much power he and his family have in this country. The Scottish angle emphasises that 'backing the winner' is an issue as well as political belief; although the backing decision then itself becomes part of what makes the winner.

Monday, 28 September 2009

less passion by less protein

The Wikipedia entry on Stanley Green, the 'less passion by less protein' man we used to see in the West End.

gin, servants and bloodlines for royalty's alf garnett in a tiara

Johann Hari: Gin, servants and bloodlines for royalty's Alf Garnett in a tiara: To be fair to her, the Queen Mother did do one thing well. She supported far-right politics
- a scathing review of the Queen Mum based on a biog, Independent, 25 September, which clearly isn't the line the biog takes but makes her sound very unpleasant and expensive

Sunday, 27 September 2009

alan johnson guardian interview

'I'm not willing to rule myself out…' There is much talk of his succession as Labour leader, but has Alan Johnson got what it takes?
- Guardian, 26 September

question time: politicians interview pundits

Question time: politicians interview pundits. Journalists usually interview politicians, see what happened when we asked them to swap roles.
Vince Cable and Stephanie Flanders: Cable: You were called the credit crunch crumpet - did you like it? Flanders: I thought it was great fun
William Hague and Emily Maitlis: Hague: There was a moment - I don't know whether to raise it…Maitlis: You're the first person to ask me about that…
Caroline Flint and Adam Boulton: Boulton: Debbie Harry trod on my toe once Flint: At a concert? Boulton: No, a nightclub in New York
Diane Abbott and Nick Robinson: Robinson: George Bush once had a go at my bald head Abbott: I think you had got to him
George Osborne and Andrew Marr: Osborne: So being drunk made you miss the story? Marr: That's a fair assessment
Ann Widdecombe and Jon Snow: Widdecombe: I have concluded the interview Snow: We could have a PS
- Guardian, 26 September

Friday, 25 September 2009

those who blamed the state for baby p now cry freedom

Those who blamed the state for Baby P now cry freedom: Ministers are on a hiding to nothing: negligent in cases of harm, intrusive when checking on adults helping out with children
- Guardian, 14 September

whipping up a storm over the bbc shipping forecast sacking

Whipping up a storm over the BBC shipping forecast sacking: The sacking of Peter Jefferson, who read the shipping forecast on BBC Radio 4, has left us all at sea
- Guardian, 16 September

Key extract:
Nearly no one at sea now relies on the shipping forecast for their weather info. Any number of text messaging services, INMARSAT, SafetyNET or international NAVTEX data feeds are piped into bridges and nav stations with immediate and up-to-date satellite imagery. The shipping forecast nowadays is almost entirely listened to by people at home dreaming of past adventures.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

seat numbers on sleeper

My memory was right, rather than the person on the phone booking line - there are indeed single seats in the seated carriage of the sleeper train. The numbers of the single seats which are not facing another seat are 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 21; seats 12 and 15 are back-to-back, at the mid-point of the carriage; I checked these at the end of my return journey in August.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

'kept hidden for almost two decades and forced to bear children'

Led to this Youtube clip by Private Eye, in which BBC World News presenter Jonathan Charles, thanks to a missing full stop on the autocue, says, 'I'm Jonathan Charles, kept hidden for almost two decades and forced to bear children'. As Private Eye points out, it was posted there by Jeremy Hillman, head of the BBC's economics and business unit.

snake with foot

Snake with foot found in China: A snake with a single clawed foot has been discovered in China, according to reports.
Dean Qiongxiu, 66, said she discovered the reptile clinging to the wall of her bedroom with its talons in the middle of the night. "I woke up and heard a strange scratching sound. I turned on the light and saw this monster working its way along the wall using his claw," said Mrs Duan of Suining, southwest China. Mrs Duan said she was so scared she grabbed a shoe and beat the snake to death before preserving its body in a bottle of alcohol. The snake – 16 inches long and the thickness of a little finger – is now being studied at the Life Sciences Department at China's West Normal University in Nanchang. Snake expert Long Shuai said: "It is truly shocking but we won't know the cause until we've conducted an autopsy." A more common mutation among snakes is the growth of a second head, which occurs in a similar way to the formation of Siamese twins in humans. Such animals are often caught and preserved as lucky tokens but have very little chance of surviving in the wild anyway, especially as the heads have a tendency to attack each other.
- Daily Telegraph, 14 September

the wall of death

In an article in Saturday's Guardian, Mark Lawson referred to the display of cigarettes behind a newsagent counter as 'the wall of death', which I rather liked.

the myth of the kept woman

The myth of the kept woman: This week Baroness Deech claimed that wives were doing too well out of divorce, a trend that was discriminatory to men and demeaning to women. The public outcry that greets most high-profile settlements suggests that Deech is not alone – but is she right?
- Guardian, 19 September

Monday, 21 September 2009

alpha male

Alpha Male: interesting series of articles by Adam Rutherford, a 'committed atheist', on his experience of doing a full Alpha course. He wasn't very impressed, far less convinced.

Friday, 18 September 2009

cliff richard – why we've got him all wrong

Cliff Richard – why we've got him all wrong: Cliff Richard is a rock'n'roll pioneer, an accidental maker of experimental pop, and Britain's best exponent of sophisticated MOR. It's time we stopped treating him as a punchline- Guardian, 17 September. Very interesting article by Bob Stanley, journalist and St Etienne man.

lost youth: turning young girls into sex symbols

Lost youth: turning young girls into sex symbols. Toddlers in tube tops and naked teen pin-ups no longer seem to shock us. How the sexual image of young girls is being manipulated
Last Halloween, a five-year-old girl showed up at my doorstep wearing a tube top, miniskirt, platform shoes and eye shadow. The outfit projected a rather tawdry sexuality. "I'm a Bratz!" the tot piped up proudly, a look-alike doll clutched in her chubby fist. I had a dizzying flashback to an image of a child prostitute I had seen in Cambodia, in a disturbingly similar outfit.
I was startled, but perhaps I should not have been. In recent years, the sexy little girl has become insistently present in the media – from 15-year-old Miley Cyrus photographed draped in a sheet for Vanity Fair to websites "counting down" to the day that child stars, such as Emma Watson, reach the age of consent. And, of course, there was Britney Spears, aged 16, prancing around in school uniform and pigtails in her first music video. Their allure is that of "Lolita" – very young and very provocative.
[continues]
- Guardian, 18 September

private eye cartoon readings

From the 4 September issue:
Two tourists clutching 'Inca trail map' stand in front of 'Ferrari showroom' sign, 'Gym of the Andes' gym with bodybuilder inside and weights outside, and rack of 'men's mags', and one looks at the map and says to the other, 'Apparently, we've arrived at Macho Picchu'.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

normandy then and now

Normandy during WW2 and now - a blog entry with photos of post-D-Day Normandy and the same scenes today.

letters of note

Letters of Note is a blog which says this: 'Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and even emails. Scans/photos where possible. Fakes will be sneered at. Updated weekdays.'

wnyc radio lab

Found via Speechification, the WNYC Radio Lab podcasts are very good, two Americans presenting themes of science, primarily, very interestingly and accessibly.

Monday, 14 September 2009

open the door to see the real free church

Open the door to see the real Free Church
- Edinburgh Evening News, 28 July. Interview-based article on St Columba's Free Church, Edinburgh, featuring Derek Lamont and Bob Akroyd.

inside sarah's church

Inside Sarah's Church: In an excerpt from his new book Republican Gomorrah, Max Blumenthal examines the radical beliefs about witchcraft and the “serpent seed” that propelled Sarah Palin into politics.
- The Daily Beast, 5 September

Extract:
Most Pentecostal congregations are socially conservative, particularly those that are predominantly white, but Wasilla Assembly of God was in thrall to a radical Pentecostal trend once denounced by church authorities as heresy. Called the Third Wave, it was rooted in an explicitly anti-intellectual creation myth. According to the Third Wave’s founding father, William Branham, a rural Canadian preacher, Satan had sex with Eve and gave birth to Cain—the so-called “Serpent Seed.” “Through Cain came all the smart, educated people down to the antediluvian flood—the intellectuals, bible colleges,” Branham wrote. “They know all their creeds but know nothing about God.”

Sunday, 13 September 2009

gregory's girl now and then

Gregory's Girl then and now - a set of photos on Flickr of Gregory's Girl locations in Cumbernauld alongside stills from the film.

what the internet knows about you

What The Internet Knows About You is a rather disconcerting website.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

the missing list

The Missing List has worthy aims, but I bet most people just use it to enter their postcode and find a list of crimes which have happened close to them.

Friday, 11 September 2009

chuck klosterman repeats the beatles

Chuck Klosterman Repeats The Beatles: Like most people, I was initially confused by EMI’s decision to release remastered versions of all 13 albums by the Liverpool pop group Beatles, a 1960s band so obscure that their music is not even available on iTunes.
- AV Club, 8 September. Entertaining review based on the premise set out above

a pretty good religion

A Pretty Good Religion: Be wary of anyone who starts praising Christianity.
- Christianity Today, 27 August

It starts:
After a spate of atheist-authored books decrying religion, along comes the contrarian An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity Is Better Off with Religion than Without It. Atheist author Bruce Sheiman reminds us of what many sociologists of religion have been proving for some years: that religion helps people live happier and healthier lives by giving them meaning and purpose; and it benefits society enormously, by establishing food closets and hospitals and rescue missions and what not. As the subtitle says, all told, humanity is better off as a result of religion.
The question, though, is whether Christianity will be better off as a result of this well-meaning book.
Christianity is indeed a religion, and a pretty good religion at that, apparently—over 2 billion people identify with it in one way or another. Still, as a religion, Christianity is very much a human enterprise. Like all religions, it tries to understand the human situation transcendentally, but as a religion, it remains a social phenomenon we can study.
The principles that have helped American evangelicals, for example, become a successful social institution are no religious secret, available only to the initiated. Our leaders look to business gurus to discover how to manage large organizations like megachurches. Our small group leaders look to psychology to discover principles that will help groups become more intimate. Our Christian educators employ the latest secular pedagogies to inform their teaching. Our worship leaders make use of large group dynamics to determine how to use music and prayer to move people into a worshipful mood and send them forth uplifted. Our pastors study persuasion and rhetoric to make their sermons pop.
Look at any successful, growing church in which people and communities are changed, and you'll find that it uses principles common to any well-managed group or organization. Such wisdom is the product of God's common grace, and is available to McDonalds, the YMCA, the homeless shelter, and the political action committee. Such techniques help people feel they've found a place to belong, supply them with a sense of meaning and purpose, help them develop and grow as individuals, and enable them to serve the larger community. What's not to like?
Some critics of "organized religion" decry this reality, as if real religious groups can live an inch off the ground, can survive and thrive without employing this collective social wisdom. But if you're going to form and manage a group for any reason or cause, you've got to use such techniques.
So, Christianity, like all religions, is a good thing, and a human thing.
Unfortunately for fans of religion, the Christian gospel is not primarily interested in religion. To be sure, the New Testament talks about religion. It discourages sexual license and other forms of immorality. It encourages patience, kindness, and other virtues. It tells believers how to worship aright. There is nothing unusual in all this—all religions have similar admonitions. In this respect, the New Testament is realistic. It doesn't pretend that the common rules of morality and social concern don't apply to the church. It understands that groups of people, even if you call them churches, have to behave themselves if they're going to get anything done!
But this sort of thing, religion, does not stand at the heart of the New Testament message.
[continues]

michael's foreverland

Michael's Foreverland: Michael Jackson’s final home, as of Thursday, is even stranger than his Thriller video, sitting atop 13 stories of secret catacombs housing Satanists and gypsies. Diane Dimond tours the tomb.
- The Daily Beast, 1 September

Extract:
The talk of workers on the property today is of exactly where Michael Jackson will spend eternity after his final family memorial service, scheduled for Thursday at Forest Lawn’s Great Mausoleum, inside the elaborate Memorial Court of Honor. In that hall Jackson’s casket is scheduled to be staged under a stunning stained glass rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s "Last Supper" masterpiece. It occupies one entire wall.
This location likely would have met with Michael’s approval. He once commissioned his own special Last Supper painting and for years it hung directly over his bed at Neverland Ranch. In Jackson’s version he occupies the center space where Jesus is usually seen and instead of the disciples there are some of Jackson’s heroes painted in, among them Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Elvis Presley and Little Richard.

anagram tube map

A splendid Tube map in which all the station names are anagrams of the actual names. Hopefully it will be treated as fair use and not taken down by zealous copyright lawyers.

innocent but dead

Innocent but Dead: There is a long and remarkable article in the current New Yorker about a man who was executed in Texas in 2004 for deliberately setting a fire that killed his three small children. Rigorous scientific analysis has since shown that there was no evidence that the fire in a one-story, wood frame house in Corsicana was the result of arson, as the authorities had alleged.
In other words, it was an accident. No crime had occurred.
Cameron Todd Willingham, who refused to accept a guilty plea that would have spared his life, and who insisted until his last painful breath that he was innocent, had in fact been telling the truth all along.
- New York Times, 31 August. A horrible example of why I believe in capital punishment in principle, but not in practice.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

sundry notes from a lewis holiday

There are parts of the Castle grounds I've never been in.

We had a very different view as a schoolkids of what constituted a long way when walking around town. We walk much further now without thinking about it. Parking is perceived as a big problem in town, but we have I think always found a parking place at the top of Francis Street, which isn't that far from the centre of town.

I went into St Peter's Episcopal Church, on Francis Street, for the first time ever. Unsurprisingly looked more like an English parish church than any other church up there. Also interesting that possibly it and the RC churches are the only churches in town, perhaps on the island, that would have been unlocked and at the same time would have anything in worth stealing.

Seeing adults who look familiar and realising that they are from the next generation after the adults from my childhood who they remind me of.

The persistent belief that for a significant number of people who leave the island for education and then don't return, the main reason is the lack of an appropriate job to come back to.

The smell of the cycle shop section of Toy World took me right back to the cycle shop of my youth. I also had the urge to buy an Airfix model while there, though I was no good at doing them as a boy, but didn't succumb. I'm quite tempted by the idea of getting models of the planes which would have been flying above London seventy years ago. As I didn't have enough other things to be doing.

The continuing tension between the desire to be different from other places and the desire to be the same as everywhere else, often at the same time.

The surprising lack of live events on in An Lanntair. How few events there are on in general, and how few people seem to go to those events when they are on. Chris said one programme he worked on in the Stornoway studio a few years ago got bands up from the central belt, some who would draw quite big crowds down there, and they could hardly get anyone along for the free studio audience.

Bethan caught fish for the first time, from Chris's boat, some mackerel. We had some of them for starters the next day at Chris's.

I went into the Coffee Pot for the first time in ages, where I spent many a teenage hour. The main difference I noticed was that there were no ashtrays on the tables, which is an odd thing to strike you I think; perhaps it was because the tables looked as if they were exactly the same ones as before. They also had some plastic high chairs, which was the other most significant change. (There has been a small extension at the back, a raised seating area, but I'd seen that before.)

I was disproportionately pleased with myself to get an equal score with my brother when we played putting.

I went out to the dun on Loch an Duin, five minutes' walk from my house, for the first time in my life. In my childhood it was waterlogged, but some years ago they made a better cut of the outgoing stream and lowered the water level and made the surroundings less boggy. It was more substantial than I'd expected. I'll do a separate entry later (ho ho).

My gaelic joke:
- I heard Donnie singing at the ceilidh last night
- Really? What did he sing?
- 'O nach agharoch...'
- Oh, I don't think that's how it goes
- You didn't hear him singing it

My driving instructor joke
- Is he your star pupil?
- Yes, if by star you mean something that hurtles dangerously and unstoppably through space at high speed on fire.

free press clips

Extracts from the West Highland Free Press of Friday 24 July 2009, the first edition after the first Stornoway-Ullapool Sunday ferry.

Brian Wilson on the coverage:
Most of the comments obtained from opponents of the Sunday ferry were dignified and restrained which is more than can be said for the triumphalism from some of its supporters. Overall, the great event seems to have een a bit of a non-event and life goes on. It was always going to be so.

(The press coverage I did see or hear around the time was quite even-handed, I thought, with people's views being treated with respect and less of the 'and finally, the funny little islanders and their odd ways' than I think there used to be.)

Brian Wilson on religion:
My own view of religion has always been fairly sceptical. One of my problems with it is that if any one faith or denomination is right then the others must be wrong. That makes the odds of hitting the right target pretty daunting. Maybe better just to try to live one's life according to decent values and leave the rest to chance.
On the other hand, I have never felt able to go the whole hog of professing disbelief - not least because some of the cleverest and best people I know have arrived at an entirely different conclusion and I have felt deeply under-qualified to assume that my scepticism is better-informed than their belief. Though, since they range across the faiths and denominations, they can't all be right either so that takes me back to where I started.

The Square Fellow (tv/radio reviewer) on Richard Dawkins' appearance in Inside Nature's Giants (the animal dissection programme):
The experts included Richard Dawkins, who has always struck us as someone who doesn't like to get his hands dirty. He wouldn't be much good in the peats, we feel. And he's beginning to annoy us. He's on the turn. He used to be a scientist, but now his preoccupation is with a sort of quasi-evangelism that consists mainly of refuting Intelligent Design.

(I like the 'he wouldn't be much good in the peats' line. I've heard it before, I think in the context of things like parents' pithy dismissal of daughter's boyfriend.)

From Coinneach Maciver's obituary of Zena Nicoll:
She was proud of her Leurbost connection but she also enjoyed the trappings of being a lady in Goathill until she would hear her neighbour making the sharp distinction between being from the Town and only being from the Country. She was being reminded it takes more than a distinguished education and marriage to one of Stornoway's elite to find acceptance amongst the top set.

(The distinction between Stornoway and the country lost its value by the time you got to Inverness (if not Ullapool) where the folk viewed all islanders as equally barbaric; the distinction between Lewis and Inverness similarly had no meaning in the central belt, who looked north to a single mass of unsophisticated Highlanders; and the distinction between the Highlands and Glasgow wouldn't register in London, to which 'the north' means nothing further away than Liverpool and Manchester; and to bring it full circle, who is there to be more pitied by Lewis country folk than the brutish Londoners?

Equally, some townies, on their removal to the mainland, found that being perceived as more rural than they might formerly have perceived themselves brought beneficial associations of charm, culture, difference and romance, and transformed themselves from townies into islanders. I remember one person who in Lewis had made much of some early years in a mainland city, with accent to match (sometimes), upon going to a mainland city for studies was transformed in accent and manner into one who might never have been across the minch before. Funny old world. Of course there is a spectrum from cynical manipulation to an awakened appreciation of the place where you grew up, and who knows what other factors in play.)

john lennon, the lost interviews

Exclusive: John Lennon, the lost interviews
- Sunday Times, 6 September. The headline overstates the case - it's a Ray Connolly article drawing on his tape recordings of interviews with John and Paul - but an interesting article all the same.

the women at the beatles' sides

The women at the Beatles' sides: Cynthia Lennon, Jane Asher, Pattie Boyd, Yoko Ono and Linda Eastman were among girlfriends, wives and inspirations
- Sunday Times, 6 September

the beatles: what they were like at the beginning — by the fans who were there

The Beatles: What they were like at the beginning — by the fans who were there. They were bottom on the bill to Roy Orbison in 1963; barely a year later, the Beatles were a global phenomenon. In the week of the band’s remastered back catalogue, Times readers relive their memories of Beatlemania
- The Times, 7 September

Going to concerts, and getting tickets for them, in those days seems to have been quite a different experience then. Paul at church saw The Beatles at a local cinema, and many other major bands of the Sixties, and getting tickets seems to have been an unremarkable and inexpensive achievement.

fiona bruce guardian interview

Fiona Bruce: 'If you look like the back end of a bus, you won't get the job.' The high-powered newsreader talks about sexual equality, how much she earns and whether her arched eyebrow is put on
- Guardian, 24 August

Extracts:
During filming of the new Antiques Roadshow series, a man presented a glass bottle he had recently bought from an antiques shop. He had paid a considerable sum – more than £1,000 – and felt confident that it was worth more. He was smartly dressed and well-spoken, and appeared to know what he was talking about. The show's glass expert examined the bottle, consulted a colleague, and delivered his verdict. "I'm afraid it's an empty olive oil bottle, Tesco, circa 2008. It's worth nothing at all."
Fiona Bruce actually winces as she recalls the moment. "Now I suppose we could have broadcast it – but it was just too cruel. The guy was devastated." But surely, I exclaim, that would have been the money shot. "It is the money shot," she agrees. "But he was devastated, this man. And it would – well, it would have been too cruel."
Wasn't Bruce even slightly disappointed to let it go? "Umm, well there's a tiny bit of my brain that realises it would have made great television," she concedes. "But it's just not what the show's about. Poor chap, poor chap. The thing is, if you come on the Roadshow we are not going to humiliate you. The thing about the Antiques Roadshow is not to humiliate people."
...
Her argument about private schooling – "I don't think my children should have my feelings foisted upon them, and have to live with the consequences. That's why I don't send them to state school" – is offered as if it hasn't even occurred to her that she, like all parents, foists her ethics on to her children every single day, hoping they will grow up to live by them.
...
Even an unexpected intervention during the birth of her daughter did not apparently throw her. "I remember," she recalls cheerfully, "the labour went on for ages, and they asked if they could bring some students in. I said sure, I don't care. So students come in, my legs are in stirrups, right at the point of the pushing – so a bit of huffing and puffing goes on, then there's a little silence when you catch your breath before the next contraction and more huffing and puffing. And just in that little well of silence this voice plopped into it, from somewhere around my feet, saying, 'This probably isn't the right time to mention it, but you are my favourite television presenter.'"
Bruce leans back and roars with laughter. "Literally, Mia's head was about to crown. It was fantastic. I said, 'That's very nice to hear, thank you very much'".

agatha christie's private life would have stumped even poirot

Agatha Christie's private life would have stumped even Poirot: The publication of Agatha Christie's notebooks will do nothing to reveal what made her tick, says Laura Thompson. Only her novels can do that.
- Telegraph, 22 August

platelets

Brinker Technology is the firm that was established to exploit the platelets technology that Ian McEwan invented at Aberdeen. Ian's now minister at Baljaffray Parish Church.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

judge 'killer' keller on trial for refusing to hear execution plea

Judge 'Killer' Keller on trial for refusing to hear execution plea
- Times, 19 August

Extract:
Judge Keller, a former prosecutor, earned her nickname in 1998 when she rejected a new trial for Roy Criner, a man with learning disabilities who was convicted of rape, even though new DNA tests showed that the semen in the victim was not his.
“We can’t give new trials to everyone who establishes, after conviction, that they might be innocent,” she later told a television interviewer. “We would have no finality in the criminal justice system and finality is important.” Mr Criner was eventually pardoned by the then Texas Governor George W. Bush.

hitler moustache

The Independent's 19 August review of Richard Herring's Edinburgh show, Hitler Moustache, for which he grew such a moustache. I saw him previewing a bit of it at the comedy night at the Museum of London.

Extract:
Risking being taken for a Nazi nutjob for a portion of this year leads Herring to pontificate about race and specifically the assertion that "maybe racists have a point", a statement that kicked off some brouhaha with The Guardian before the Fringe began. The point of the racists being that they see the world as a handful of different skin types rather than nearly 200 separate nations. "If only the people of India and Pakistan could see themselves the way a racist sees them – 'What are we doing? Why are we fighting? I'm a Paki, you're a Paki.'" Having housed offensive language in a broader point, the intent is clear and, in a way, it's almost an attempt to nullify its insult.

nine inches

The 'did you know' fact in the film listing for Copycat in next week's Radio Times: 'Many of the scenes between Weaver and Hunter were played with Weaver sitting down so as to disguise their nine-inch height difference'. Sigourney and Holly, of course.

players who turned their back on the game 2; shared birthdates

Players who turned their back on the game 2

Last week we looked at some of the talented young men who had given up the game to pursue interests in pastures new, from asset management to religious doorstepping. We've had a flood of further suggestions, so much so that we'll have to spread them into a (3) and possibly even a (4) in the next couple of weeks.

The world and his wife reminded us of the Argentina and Real Mallorca goalkeeper Carlos Roa, the man who denied England's penalty takers in the last 16 of the 1998 World Cup and was then on the receiving end when Dennis Bergkamp did this in the quarter-finals. The season after that tournament he played in the final of the Cup Winners' Cup with Mallorca (where they lost to Lazio – what a team they were at the time – at Villa Park) and finished third in La Liga with the best defensive record in the division.

That summer, at the age of 29, Roa, a Seventh-day Adventist, retired. "The issue of Saturday, the Sabbath, the seventh day, is the main reason why I am leaving professional soccer," said Roa. "For the people of God and for those who respect His Word, this is a very special day, and soccer does not allow me to do what I must do on that day." A year later he returned to Mallorca, but struggled to recapture his best form, drifting down the divisions – and battling testicular cancer – before returning to Argentina. Here's the man himself telling FourFourTwo his tale.

Peter Knowles and Roa are not the only players to choose the pulpit over the pitch. Amanda Brown points to the case of the New England Revolution player Chase Hilgenbrinck, who left the MLS to become a Catholic priest last year. "I felt called to something greater," he said. "At one time I thought that call might be professional soccer. In the past few years, I found my soul is hungry for something else." There's also, of course, Lars Elstrup.

Not everyone, however, hangs up their boots for such lofty callings. "Eddy Schaafstra played for AZ in the early 70s," writes Rudy Janssen. "He was linked to Ajax as a possible signing and even compared to Johan Cruyff. He preferred, however, to be a biology teacher." Rory Allen, a one-time record signing for Portsmouth, quit the club in 2002 to watch the Ashes series in Australia. "It was an amazing experience," he said. "Despite the scoreline [England lost 4-1]."

The former Manchester City midfielder Jim Whitley gave up the game (with a bit of encouragement from his injuries, admittedly) and joined tribute act the Rat Pack's Back as Sammy Davis Jr, while the former Oldham striker Chris Hall retired in the summer of 2008 after juggling his football career with acting commitments. He went on to land a role in Hollyoaks and returned to the game with Stalybridge Celtic and Bradford Park Avenue.

- from The Guardian Knowledge of 9 September

Some of the articles linked to from the above section: Adventist News Network on Carlos Roa; FourFourTwo on Carlos Roa; USA Today on Chase Hilgenbrinck; FourFourTwo on Jim Whitley; Telegraph & Argus on Chris Hall; another Knowledge item on the bonkers Lars Elstrup, which also linked to this Observer item on Lars, this Guardian article on Linvoy Primus and this Observer list of sportsmen who got religion.

That same linked Knowledge from 31 January 2007 also had this:
Age ain't nothing but a number
"Peter Crouch and Dimitar Berbatov are exactly the same age, both born on January 30 1981," notes Matthew Page. "If the suggested transfer of Crouch to Spurs goes through, will this be the first such occurrence of a strike partnership being exactly the same age?"
Not quite, Matthew. The beanpole pairing would be one of a rather exclusive club, currently populated by Dutch duo Ruud van Nistelrooy and Patrick Kluivert, who were both born on July 1 1976. Interestingly, during the pair's time up front (on Van Nistelrooy's debut in 1998, in fact), they played alongside Edwin van der Sar and Phillip Cocu, who themselves arrived into the world on October 29 1970.

I knew when I was a boy that Johan Cruyff was exactly twenty years older than me.

why girls still need the guides

Why girls still need the Guides: After 100 years, the movement's faith in young people is more relevant than ever
- Guardian, 17 August. Interesting article, some horrible comments.

phil vischer christianity today interview

Platform Agnostic: A conversation with Phil Vischer
- interesting Christianity Today interview of 17 August with creator of Veggie Tales

Extract:
- What do success stories like Passion, the first Narnia film, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy tell evangelicals about making successful films?
- I've learned the hard way that movies are not a great teaching medium. If you want to engage people emotionally, great—but you can't ever turn to the camera and say, "Now I have three points I want to make about parenting." You can do that on TV. Sesame Street does that. Dora the Explorer does that every day and nobody says, "That's not filmmaking! That's didactic!" The difference is that people do not go to the movies to be preached at. That's the bottom line. The more you preach, the fewer you reach. What frustrates me with the film business is how much time, energy, and money you have to spend to have the opportunity for two sentences of real transparent meaning.
The Passion was such an anomaly; you really can't use it to learn much of anything about the nature of film. You had the most popular film actor in the world making a deeply personal work of art about a religious story. What are the odds of that happening again?
The movies inspired by the Narnia stories and the Lord of the Rings are also tough test cases. How many Narnias are there? How easy is it to come up with another Lord of the Rings? It's not.There's Tolkien and Lewis and then everybody else. Besides, Narnia had a 50-year history of engagement with fans—and a grandfather-clause evangelical exception for the use of fantasy and magic. You can't get away with that today. Now, if we go to another fantasy world, we need to find Jesus there—literally.
That is why for some evangelicals, the Harry Potter books are seen as being straight from the pit. Even if Rowling says she's employing Christian themes, forget it. How do you write a Christian fantasy today? I have no idea. I don't know that you can. I think we've killed it. I think we are so concerned with how oppressed our worldview is and so defensive that we've painted ourselves into a corner. And thus, we can't tell the kind of stories that Lewis or Chesterton would have told to share the gospel. It's kind of depressing, frankly.

vera lynn telegraph interview

Dame Vera Lynn: the original Forces Sweetheart is still in demand: At 92, Dame Vera Lynn is still merrily doing her bit for Britain – and pulling off a mean impression of Marlene Dietrich. To mark the publication of her latest memoir, she talks (and sings) to Nigel Farndale
- Telegraph, 17 August

was neville chamberlain really the failure portrayed by history?

The Big Question: Was Neville Chamberlain really the failure portrayed by history?
- Independent, 20 August. Interesting article.

The view of Churchill's military nous in this extract is certainly borne out by Alanbrooke's diaries, which I'm still reading:

And there was one other area where he failed disastrously – at least in the verdict of history.
What was that?
He lost the rhetoric battle. He might have had to do what he did, but his words carry a shameful echo. He spoke of poor Czechoslovakia as "a far away country of which we know nothing". He said he had achieved "peace in our time". He hadn't. Contrast that with Churchill, whose great achievement in the Second World War was his rhetoric. Whenever Churchill intervened directly in the conduct of military affairs, as he frequently did, the results were disastrous. But we have forgotten that. What we remember is We Shall Fight Them On The Beaches. We remember Never Has So Much Been Owed By So Many To So Few. We remember Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat. And with Neville Chamberlain, we remember Peace In Our Time (not).

I'm glad I didn't break my leg in the us

In defence of the NHS: I'm glad I didn't break my leg in the US: Stephen Bates' intensive treatment after a serious fall has left him bewildered by attacks on the NHS in America
- Guardian, 19 August. One of many articles I've noted defending the NHS from bonkers US critics; comes complete with bonkers US critics comments in the comments section

what they brought to the table

What They Brought to the Table: For proof that Communism was bound to fail, pull a chair up to the table of a restaurant critic and his three guests. Then watch what happens after he tells them what to order, the food has been delivered, and everyone begins to take bites of everything, making a broad sample of the menu.
- very interesting article from the New York Times of 18 August by the food critic Frank Bruni about how the diners he brings with him behave.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

douglas coupland guardian interview

Douglas Coupland: the writer who sees into the future. In his new world, people don't do anything any more, but merely cut and paste from the past
- Guardian, 7 September

danny baker guardian interview

Danny Baker: 'I'm sensitive to being sat on', says DJ ahead of his 5 Live return. Danny Baker is back on BBC 5 Live in the latest twist in a career including A-list fame, three sackings and iTunes chart success
- Guardian, 7 September

Monday, 7 September 2009

guardian cartoon reading

Berger & Wyse cartoon from the food section of the Saturday Guardian magazine. Nice reworking of old type of photo of skyscraper workers sitting on a girder high in the sky nonchalantly having their lunch, except that the one on the end is toppling backwards off it, having opened his lunchbox to have a 'jack in the box' pop up bearing the message 'Happy birthday dad!'.

the man in the mac: a life in crime reporting

The man in the mac: a life in crime reporting. The veteran Guardian crime reporter looks back on the heyday of his trade in 50s and 60s Britain
- Guardian, 5 September

Extract:
With his belted raincoat and wide tie, and with yards of column inches to fill every day for a gore-hungry public – the Sunday People's circulation was then 5.2m – the crime reporter was the sultan of the newsroom. Newspapers in the 50s had crime bureaux rather than a single reporter. Pages were cleared to report every detail of a major trial. Capital punishment was yet to be abolished and evening papers were guaranteed a healthy sale whenever the jury went out to deliberate in an Old Bailey murder trial that might conclude with the donning of the judge's black cap.

There were more than 100 police forces in England and Wales, and many had only a handful of detectives. This meant that when a big murder happened outside London, it was a case of "Send for the Yard" and for one of the "Big Five" – the quintet of detective superintendents who led the major investigations. Often those detectives would stay in the same country hotel or pub as the reporters, and benefit handsomely from Fleet Street's then generous expenses culture.

Webb was proud of the fact that he could rub shoulders with both the police and the villains (he ghosted gangster Billy Hill's 1955 autobiography, Boss Of Britain's Underworld), and he was not averse to doing whatever might be necessary to get his scoops. When covering the case of the acid bath murderer, John George Haigh, who killed nine people and dissolved their bodies in acid, duty called on Webb to date Haigh's ex-girlfriend. "I detested every minute of it," he told Time. While investigating the Messinas, a prostitute called Ellen offered him a night's hospitality if he could get her an introduction, through his newspaper contacts, to a "certain well-known male film star". Webb made his excuses and left.

Sometimes he made his excuses and stayed: he became the lover of Cynthia Hume, a night-club hostess and wife of Donald Hume, who had been jailed in connection with the killing of a car dealer in 1958. "The reason the underworld chaps talk to me," wrote Webb in his own autobiography, Dead Line For Crime, "is because they trust me. They know I cannot be bought or sold, nor is there a lot of which I am afraid."

funny business: free comics in the guardian

Funny business: Free comics in the Guardian: Next Saturday, the Guardian newspaper starts giving away a free classic comic every day for a week – including the Beano, the Dandy and Jackie. To celebrate, Jon Ronson travelled to the Beano office to try his luck at their ideas meeting. Would his strip pass the test and get into print? Plus Jacqueline Wilson talks about the early days of Jackie magazine, celebrities name their favourite comic characters and today's children give their verdicts on the old favourites we have in store...
- Guardian, 5 September

living statues - the art of not falling over

Living statues - the art of not falling over: Why standing still and not speaking for a living isn't as easy as it looks
- Telegraph, 11 August

crampton school in hansard

Came across online a reference to Crampton School in Hansard of 25 February 1960. They must be digitising and putting online Hansard going back. Extracts:

Mr. Ray Gunter (Southwark) ...
It is the belief of my constituents and local authorities that a mistake has been made. Crampton Primary School has 274 children on the register, in seven classes, almost entirely housed in hutments of a temporary character. One corrugated iron hutment was built for temporary purposes, I understand, in 1882; one was built in 1943, one in 1949, one in 1952 and one in 1954. They are there because of bombing which took place twenty years ago. Three of these hutments have two classes in them, and the classes are divided from each other by a thin partition. The entrance class is taught in the building which, as I have said, was built in 1882. It is a building which the inspector himself has described as follows: The hall, which, it will be remembered, is the oldest edifice, is small, dingy, poorly ventilated and cluttered. A wash-up takes up space on one side, stock cupboards have to be ranged at intervals round the walls, bulky apparatus for physical education is stacked there, and a small movable platform, from which the headmistress takes assembly, has also to be included, as well as a stand for the children's coats when it is wet. 687 Admissions to the school number about 40 children a year. The toilets for these children are part of the original premises, built in 1882, and to proceed from the hutment to the toilets the children must cross open space. In other words, these children must be taken out into the open whatever the weather conditions.

The corporate life of the school, which is so necessary in these days, is desperately hampered because there is no adequate assembly hall. I draw the Minister's attention to a very serious statement made by his own inspector on this matter. He reported The atmosphere in this school is pleasant and secure, but, throughout, the children tend to show some evidence of immaturity for their age. A considerable variety of causes is responsible for this. He went on to say: One or two may be unalterable and some relate to the recent history of the school. In actual material structure, also, the school does not lend itself easily to the development of a corporate sense. We all agree that in these days a corporate sense is essential in a school if the children are to benefit from the facilities of education.

I turn for a moment to the heating arrangements. The heating is done mostly by gas heaters at ceiling level. Thus, the heads are hot, and the feet are cold on concrete floors. I again draw attention to the inspector's report. He reported that Two rather more minor disadvantages are that in wet weather the roofs of three of the most elderly huts are liable to leak and that the heating in two of the prefabricated huts (the oldest) is unsatisfactory; the overhead gas heaters beat uncomfortably upon the head of an adult and at the same time the heat fails to reach ground level. It is the considered opinion of the inspector that children suffer from cold feet and any work on the concrete floors is impossible in very cold weather. I turn to another matter—feeding. Only about 60 children can be given meals at the school because of the lack of facilities. Restriction of the numbers feeding there must take place because of the impossibility of dealing properly with any more. The inspector draws attention to this when he says: About 68 children stay for dinner—a relatively small number which is perhaps accounted for by the limited accommodation. 688 The meal is a transported one. Arrangements for serving and washing up are very primitive and, perhaps in consequence, the service is rather slow, especially between courses. We are considering, therefore, not only the opinion of the school managers or of the local authority in my constituency, for here we have the views of the responsible people, sent around with the specific task of inspecting these schools, who can only deplore the conditions in which these children are educated. No tribute is high enough for the staff, who have fought a relentless battle against these conditions. Nevertheless, the turnover of staff is rather high because of the physical conditions. I must pay an additional word of tribute. The caretaker should have a gold watch as big as a frying pan for the work which he so magnificently performs in looking after the premises and keeping them in the state he does.

I want to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to another factor, apart from the physical conditions prevailing at the school. Very near to the school the Alberta Housing Estate is in process of erection. I understand that it will be near completion in about three years from now. It will then contain 350 dwellings. The significance is that it is essentially a family estate. It is being let to younger married couples with their smaller families. What proposals has the Minister to deal with the growing number of young children, because he cannot conceive the idea that they must be jammed into these hutments.

It was for these reasons that the London County Council wanted to build a new school where the present assembly of hutments exists. The council included it in its 1960–63 programme. I understand that it was struck out by the Minister and is not now in the revised 1960–62 programme. Therefore, it is conceivable that we shall be arguing about these conditions for another three or four years.

I said at the outset of my remarks that I did not envy the Minister his difficult task of determining priorities, but with very great sincerity I appeal to him to have another look at this subject and not allow these conditions to prevail for another four or five years. Will he at least give us hope that he will bear in mind the urgency of the problem and 689 perhaps come and look at the conditions? Will he give to the London County Council the earliest opportunity of proceeding with a modern school on this site? I am confident that he will appreciate the feelings of discontent in the hearts of this section of my constituents who have children, now being educated in conditions which are not worthy of a prosperous and modern society.

no1 ladies - passing legislation

This is quite an atypical quote from The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (which I enjoyed a lot, and intend to blog about, ho ho ho), but a nice little joke, from p193:
'... Really, there was nothing that she felt she had to hide.
'Now constipation was quite a different matter. It would be dreadful for the whole world to know about troubles of that nature. She felt terribly sorry for people who suffered from constipation, and she knew that there were many who did. There were probably enough of them to form a political party - with a chance of government perhaps - but what would such a party do if it was in power? Nothing, she imagined. It would try to pass legislation, but it would fail.'

private eye cartoon readings, and funny old world

21 August issue:
- King Kong on top of Empire State building with mobile phone saying, 'Can you hear me now?'
- parents in empty countryside with padded helmeted child on leash, one saying, 'This looks fairly safe... shall we let him off for a run?'
- counter with sign saying 'new miracle anti-ageing pill', assistant saying to customer, 'It's a cyanide tablet...'

The Funny Old World section is sometimes unreliable - indeed this very issue carries a story revealed as a fake in the letters page of the next issue - but this story actually has a video clip to prove it:

Angry passerby pushes a "suicide jumper" off a bridge in S China
GUANGZHOU, May 23 (Xinhua) -- A passerby pushed off a would-be "suicide jumper" off a bridge in Guangzhou city, southern China's Guangdong province, for he was "too angry about the jumper's selfish activity," Saturday's China Daily reported.
The jumper, Chen Fuchao, attempted to become the twelfth "suicide jumper" of the Haizhu bridge which has gained a reputation as a macabre tourist destination after attracting 11 would-be suicide jumpers since the start of April.
Lai Jiansheng, the 66-year-old man happened to pass by the Haizhu bridge on Thursday morning when he found Chen sit at the bridge threatening to jump off and had held up traffic around the bridge for almost five hours.
Chen wanted to kill himself because he was in 2 million yuan of debt following a failed construction project.
After knowing the situation, Lai volunteered to talk with the Chen to persuade him. After denied by the police, he broken through a police cordon and climbed up to where Chen sat.
Lai first greeted Chen with a handshake, and then he pushed him off the bridge. Chen fell 8 meters onto a partially-inflated emergency air cushion, damaging his spine and elbow in the fall.
"I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest," Lai said.
"They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities' attention to their appeals," he added.
Lai was taken away by police after the incident. Chen is now recovering in hospital.
Police sources said many suicidal people had financial troubles, such as unpaid wages and some suffered from medical conditions and injuries from workplace accidents.
"Traffic across the Haizhu Bridge, which is widely regarded as an important scenic attraction, become worse," said a spokesman with the Guangzhou public security bureau.
He said the situation caused chaos to residents, adding that the city had to send a rescue vessel, an ambulance, several police cars and fire engines each time when there was a "jumper."
- Xinhua.net, 23 May

- video clip on the BBC site, 27 May

cricket at lourdes

Daughter: "Who's playing?"
Father: "England v Australia."
Daughter: "Where?"
Father: "Lord's."
Daughter: "Why are they playing in France?"
Watching the Ashes in conversation with my cricket-illiterate daughter. (Rob Lantsbury, UK).
- from the readers' section of the BBC's sports quotes of the week email of 29 July

mrs tozer

A David Meredith blog post on AW Tozer. Extract:
There is no doubt that Tozer was a great saint but he was also highly cranky. He rarely communicated with his wife about big decisions; he had a very poor relationship with his children and could not stand meeting his congregation in Chicago after a service. He wrote about the benefits of hospitality but didn’t like visitors to the house; he actually went out of his way to cut off relations with his in laws. His wife famously said after his death "I have never been happier in my life," Mrs Tozer then married Leonard Odam and said, "Aiden loved Jesus Christ, but Leonard Odam loves me".

Sunday, 6 September 2009

the puritans and sex

A Challies blog post on the Puritans' view of sex, and the Thirsty Theologian post which it quotes. All for it, apparently.

john wagner interview

'God likes to laugh – he made me a minister': Not your typical member of the Free Church clergy, John Wagner's voice has the drawl of the American Deep South rather than the Western Isles — for all that he jokes about marrying a girl from Lewis.
- interview-based article in the Inverness Courier of 14 August

john macleod

Unlike Facebook, it looks like you can view Bebo pages without registering (maybe it depends on how people set their preferences). This is the journalist and writer John Macleod's Bebo page. This is John's Bebo blog, mostly his Daily Mail columns it seems. I've never read any of his Daily Mail columns, but I've enjoyed his books more than his journalism that I've read - opinionated, controversial, pugnacious, provocative, well-written, would be a fair description, I think, but the first three in particular aren't styles I like even when I agree with the writer. Good points are made well, then the writer goes too far and all the good work is undone. He ploughed a largely lonely furrow on the Sunday ferries debate on Hebrides News site in particular, as far as I could make out (though again I didn't read many of the letters, as with many controversies there's more heat than light). The way things are depicted you'd think it would be those who were in favour of the ferries who would be hesitant to stick their heads above the parapet in the isle of religious tyranny.

Some hits from the first page of a Google search. An unfavourable post on the Croft blog (John pops up in the comments). A favourable post on Newsvine, which seems to be a news-related multi-user blog. An Observer article of 16 July 2006 on his brief and entertaining stint as a PR consultant for the health board (I remember reading extracts from the document, in the Gazette or the Free Press, and remember them as being both entertaining and accurate). Links to his Daily Mail columns.

This is an Observer article of 1 September 2002 on his sacking from the Herald after the Soham article.

I emailed John with a query further to his Iolaire book yesterday and got a courteous and helpful reply, as I'd have expected.

I've met John, a long time ago; we were both leaders on the only Free Church camp I ever attended, while I was at university. It was the kind of thing I thought I should do, but didn't expect to be any good at it or enjoy it, and I was pretty much right. I helped with the adult to child ratio but that was about the extent of my usefulness.

men's health

How Men's Health magazine muscled its way to the top: It is now Britain's best-selling men's mag. But how did it displace style mags from the newsstands?
Ask any lad what he will pay £3.95 to read and I bet he won't answer: a recipe for salad niçoise, stories on how to say sorry and minimise the risk of deep vein thrombosis on holiday followed by another recipe for grilled quails with lentils.
This, however, is the strange brew in September's issue of Men's Health, which has enjoyed an unprecedented 15th consecutive year-on-year increase in circulation and was this month crowned the biggest selling men's magazine in the country, shifting more than a quarter of a million copies and overtaking FHM in the process, all without putting scantily clad lovelies on the cover.
[continues]
- Guardian, 19 August

Friday, 4 September 2009

juggling

Nice joke on We Are Klang, more or less this, in response to a suggestion that juggling is contagious: 'You're not trying to tell me that juggling is catching?'

Another: 'Anything to add, Marek?' Marek holds up an abacus.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

which players have turned their backs on the beautiful game?

Which players have turned their backs on the beautiful game?
"After reading that highly rated Ipswich and Republic of Ireland Under-21 goalkeeper Shane Supple has decided to walk away from football at the age of 22, having played 38 first-team games, can you tell us of any other highly rated players who have turned their back on the beautiful game?" wondered Andrew Laing last week.
"I suppose you could say that I have fallen out of love with the game and when that happens I've always said to myself that I wouldn't hang around," said Supple following his decision to retire from football, possibly to follow a career in cuisine. But the 22-year-old former Ipswich keeper isn't the first bright young thing to seek satisfaction away from the sport.
"My father-in-law, Morris Emmerson, played for Middlesbrough and then Peterborough in the 1960s, in the then Division Two," writes Ian Guy. "Prior to this he had played several matches for the England schoolboys in a team that featured the likes of Terry Venables, and whilst at the Boro he was playing alongside a certain Brian Clough. Anyway, he got the blame by manager Raich Carter for two goals in an FA Cup replay against Chelsea and was promptly transferred to Peterborough. As his wife was pregnant with their first child [my wife], Morris decided football wasn't a good place for a career so promptly left to go and work for ICI, eventually ending up working in IT."
Paul Haynes writes in with the fascinating case of Peter Knowles. The young attacking midfielder was, despite struggling with injuries, a vital cog in Wolves' 1966-67 promotion from the Second Division and earned England Under-23 international honours during the following season. He had an outside chance of reaching England's 1970 World Cup squad, but by the summer of 1969, Knowles' priorities had changed. "I shall continue playing football for the time being but I have lost my ambition," he said. "Though I still do my best on the field I need more time to learn about the Bible and may give up football." Eight league games later he did just that, to follow his beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness. Wolves would optimistically hold on to his registration until the early 80s. A full career history can be found here and the song which his tale inspired can be found here.
Former Tottenham goalkeeper and member of Norway's 1998 World Cup squad Espen Baardsen quit the game in 2003 at the age of 25. "I got bored of it," he said. "Once you've played in the Premier League and been to the World Cup, you've seen it and done it. It was dictating what I could do and when. I felt unsatisfied intellectually, I wanted to travel the world." The final straw, it seems, was when the then Sheffield United manager, Neil Warnock, offered Baardsen "less than what a tube driver earns". He now works for an asset management company.
"Ah, fuck it! I'm away," were the words with which George Connolly, once dubbed the Scottish Franz Beckenbauer, ended his career with Celtic at the age of 26. Connolly appeared to have the football world at his feet when making his mark in the Hoops' first team as a teenager in the aftermath of the success of the Lisbon Lions, but his frequent walkouts were a sign of things to come. "I was going home with £59 a week, he said. "It was costing me money to play football. I had a house to buy, a mortgage to pay, I had two kids, two cars, the gas and the electric bills, and a marriage that wasn't working so what was the point?" More in-depth information on a great Scottish lost talent can be found in this piece from the Sunday Herald and this Celtic fansite.
- from the Guardian Knowledge of 2 September

The story linked to these stories:
- Irish Evening Herald, 21 August, on Shane Supple
- Football-England.com article on Peter Knowles
- God's Footballer by Billy Bragg on YouTube
- Observer, 4 May 2008, on Espen Baardsen
- George Connelly biog on KerrydaleStreet.com
- George Connelly article on KerrydaleStreet.com

testy copy editors

A mention in the World Wide Words email directed me to the Testy Copy Editors forum, which sounded up my street. It's okay.

a-level results, newspapers, and jumping blonde teenagers

A-level results, newspapers, and jumping blonde teenagers
- a Guardian photofeature of 21 August showing photos used by newspapers to illustrate the A-level results, almost all attractive girls.