All entries for July 2005
July 27, 2005
Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/women/4715919.stm
This is nothing sort of disgraceful. Just a few months after the successful women's European Championships and Birmingham City, one of the top flight women's clubs, also my adopted club, are probably going out of existance.
Let's get this in perspective. Birmingham players featured strongly in Euro 2005 – Jo Fletcher, Karen Carney and Alex Scott all played at least two games. Imagine a club with David James, Joe Cole and Gary Neville being on the verge of going out of existance. They've already lost two other England starters, Rachel Yankey and Amanda Barr, in recent weeks, most likely due to the situation there.
BCLFC have been in a poor situation financially for a while but had managed to build up a good youth academy system which contributed to BCLFC getting promoted the the national premiership only a few years ago. Karen Carney is merely the most high profile graduate of the system. In fact on the surface it looks like BCLFC had most of the components a club would need to survive, good players, a high profile (relatively speaking, I'm not pretending for a moment women's football has the profile it deserves) and a good youth system. So what went wrong?
Money as usual.
The successful women's clubs are the ones which have the support of their male counterparts. A brief glance at the websites of Arsenal, Charlton and Everton shows that these clubs have given some attention to their ladies' teams. It's probably not a coincidence that Arsenal LFC won the league this year whilst the other two fought it out in the FA Cup final. These clubs have recognised that association with the fastest growing sport in the country is probably a good long term investment, both in terms of prestige and, in the future, financially too.
Karen Carney (centre) with Eni Aluko (left) and Fara Williams (right).
What is less encouraging is the continuing rash of withdrawals by the big clubs. Manchester United recently ended their senior women's team, joining the likes of Sunderland and Cardiff in doing so. It seems like a waste of a genuine opportunity for these clubs, and certainly Manchester United can't be doing it for the same reasons as, say, Leeds United who ended their financial association with Leeds United Ladies FC recently for financial reasons. As it happens LULFC signed a sponsorship deal recently which should see them remain afloat. But with this going on in the background it's saldy unsurprising that Birmingham City have refused to help their female counterparts despite the intervention of Trevor Brooking amongst others. Without a sponsor, like Leeds were fortunate to get, the league will start with nine clubs and the future of all those associated with BCLFC is uncertain.
The most galling bit is this – all BCLFC need to survive is £75,000 a year. Some footballers earn that in four days. Big clubs are happy to waste millions on useless, overpriced prima donnas but won't even reach out to invest (not bail out as there is much potential) in the women's game. Didier Drogba/Joey Barton/Harry Kewell or a thriving club stuffed with top class England players? I know which I'd rather have.
July 26, 2005
- For most of the last two days a phone has gone off at irregular intervals playing 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas'. I asked why. Apparently it's the emergency phone. I am never asking anything ever again.
- They made me clear out the answerphone. Amongst the people calling on mobiles from the M6 with their screeching spawn in the car, the Scousers with accents so thick that even I (a half Scouser) couldn't understand them and those who didn't quite understand the concept of the answerphone (leave a message, if I want to hear someone breathing I am sit in a room on my own), amongst all this, all this chaos, all this incomprehensible static was one thing which cheered me. Some fool had accidentally rung and left a huge message, a recording of their night out. I had to give up after 10 minutes as it transpired I was not going to hear a crime take place and be able to get lots of debt relieving (oh god a new computer and a trip to Greece to pay for) reward. But I still loved what was, pretty much, the first line.
I fucking hate living next door to a policeman, you can't do anything fun.
- And who the hell keeps stealing the canteen's only copy of the Gruaniad? Why must I live in a world were the occasional ray of light offered by the Times is dwarfed by the enormity of having to suffer, shudder, the tabloids?
To whom it may concern, that new computer and Athens had better be worth this pain.
July 25, 2005
Memo to self: hide this entry once in the Real WorldTM or else!
I am completely and utterly, totally and irredemably unsuited to the world of work! Well, office work anyway.
I arrived at my parents' house on Saturday and with ruthless efficiency mum found me a job to bide my time in an attempt to prevent me imprinting myself too deeply on the sofa. Just one thing, it was an office job. Bearing in mind that most jobs I've had involve some degree of dashing around like a mad thing, I was somewhat dubious. I've worked in an office before, two years ago. Same office infact. But surely I am now more mature and more developed as a person, ready to face, with fortiutude and other big words, the Real WorldTM like an adult.
Am I hell.
I can't do it. One day, that's all I've done, one fecking day and I will happily sit through the Greatest Hits of Atomic Kitten being performed live in my living room rather than go back. I can't handle it. Every tiny detail of the experience is so completely soul destroying that I just want to purge the experience from my addled brain. I mean seriously people, how can a five minute break to eat a breadstick constitiute the highlight of any day? My chair squeaked and creaked whenever I moved, and god help my posture, bad enough at the best of times but something about sitting still causes my shoulders to drop and that annoying pain the back of my neck returns.
And it was cold and quiet. Like the Arctic without the impressive scenery, seals and iceholes. Hell, if a bunch of Canadians had arrived and started culling the other people using clubs I'd probably have run on over to get it over with more quickly. Complain about that Greenpeace.
So far, so air-con hell. No mobiles. No chatting because otherwise it is impossible to complete, with any accuracy, the repetitive tasks of the day. No break in the tedium. An eight hour shift dragged whereas had I been in my normal holiday job (where there are no more shifts till September) eight hours would have flown by… in fact in that job I work ten plus hour shifts and they don't drag as badly. I could barely keep awake.
And this is after one day.
I need either a change of outlook, some very powerful drugs or to get a different job, not just now but for the rest of my useful life. These jobs are probably the sort of things where your boss monitors blogs and where breaking the subtle office ettiquette can instantly destroy all chances of sanity and/or acceptance. What's the point of doing something when you can't care about it? Why bother sans passion?
Argh, another extended period of time to myself to think. Arse. Post insults below.
July 19, 2005
There comes a point in a teenager's life when you must decide what you intend to do with music. The options are fairly simple. Take what's presented to you by the mainstream, the so-called cheese and high profile genre music. Or get way too into your chosen field. No prizes for guessing what someone who is writing a series of large essays (disguised as blog entries) decided to do. Around the start of the new millenium (or 2000, if you're a pedant like my dad and insist the millenium started in 2001) I was drawn into the indie/alternative music scene. Six songs can be used to explain this.
Doves - 'Catch The Sun'.
I was intrigued, at the time, that Catatonia's single 'Game On' did not climb the dizzy heights of it's fellow International Velvet tracks like 'Strange Glue' and 'Road Rage', in chart terms. Instead it stalled in the 30s. This made me wonder if good tracks might not necessarily rise to the top. So I decided to listen to the Top 40 from the very start, 40, as opposed to the top 20 or so as I had done prior to that. The results were worth it. 'Catch The Sun' by Doves may not be their best song but it is one of their most immediate, in fact possibly the only one of theirs which I haven't required repeated listens to 'get'. Within a few weeks of listening from the start of the Top 40 I had been rewarded by discovering this song. I liked it, I liked it a lot and put the album on my wishlist at a time when it took me between three and five weeks of work at my paper round to be able to afford one album. It made my purchases more targeted and I was less able to take risks. But I was willing to give Doves a try.
It was dawning on me that maybe the mainstream was not the source of all the best stuff, merely the most accessible. Anyone who owns Doves' Lost Souls album will be able to tell you that the best tracks on it are slow burners like 'The Cedar Room' and 'Sea Song', tracks which did not make huge splashes as singles. Maybe, and whisper it quietly, Top Of The Pops was not the number one as it so readily claimed…
Idlewild - 'These Wooden Ideas'/'Actually It's Darkness' and Muse - 'Unintended'/'Uno'
Despite having made a note to buy Lost Souls it wasn't the first album I bought by a not-particlarly-high-profile act. Having saved up sufficient funds to purchase one album for the upcoming school trip to Austria I found I was stuck between two albums- Idlewild's 100 Broken Windows and Muse's Showbiz.
Idlewild I came to not long after Doves by the process of listening to the charts. Muse on the other hand popped up from a more unusual quarter, a free CD given away with some cereal I no doubt didn't eat but which ended up in the house some other way. Called, somewhat incongrously (and, in retrospect, completely inaccurately) 'The Best Music Of The Next Millenium', or some such nonsense, it insisted that the eight indie-ish tunes contained within represented a new wave of British music. Now as we all know artists like Cable, Trippa and Serum are huge chart toppers now (ahem) but the act that intrigued me most from the morass of obviously-going-nowheres was Muse. The track was 'Uno', not their best but it had the audacity to not sound like Travis, unlike twenty trillion other contemporary acts. Nothing against Travis but I was not keen on the immitators.
Anyway, I could only have one CD. So would it be Idlewild and their chart hits like 'Actually It's Darkness'? Or would it be Muse with angst hysterics like 'Uno'? The easiest answer was to listen to their new singles and pick the album with the better track. 'These Wooden Ideas' vs 'Unitended'. Idlewild just edged it. Just. When I got back from Austria I bought Muse's album anyway. But 100 Broken Windows remains the better of the two albums and worth a flutter of anyone's paycheck. Not sure what the moral of that story is but I concluded that taking a chance was a good thing.
Elastica - 'Connection'
It may sound odd from someone who's clearly obsessed with music but I find it quite difficult to like the old stuff. For years being a borderline uptight indie snob meant I had this strange belief that I should like certain old bands, the ones who influenced the ones I liked. And I did like some old stuff, The Beatles, The Pogues, lots of punk/new wave. But some stuff just left me cold. It wasn't until recently that I had a conversation with someone else who feels the same way, most old music just doesn't move me. But why does some? It was relatively simple, according to Carts, the music we like is of our time, it affects us because we relate to it. Any old music I do like is either stuff I've heard before, hence The Beatles and all other music my parents liked or which the media saturates us with, or it is stuff which reminds me of the modern stuff which it resembles. There's no shame in the fact I'm not a big Rolling Stones fan, or a big Pink Floyd fan, or a big Happy Mondays fan. They just didn't click with me.
And this is relevant because of a TV show. Trigger Happy TV had a good soundtrack and a very familiar theme tune. I racked my brains trying to place it before I remembered – Elastica! 'Connection'! Wow, that was a blast from the past, a track I could remember from Britpop's heyday. It had the immediacy of a lot of Britpop, hence why it wsa popular whilst other indie (Doves for instance) doesn't hit such dizzy heights. I decided to buy their album after borrowing a copy from my local library (Napster before Napster was born). It was great! I'm even using exclamation marks it was that good.
This was not very old music, but it was music I hadn't consciously registered much at the time, apart from 'Connection' I found I wasn't familiar with most of the tracks… apart from one or two which rang tiny (indie) bells. But it was stuff which sounded like what I wanted to hear. That's not a particularly articulate way of describing it but it's hard to put down in words the way it was. I guess that's a reflection on the power of music. In a good way.
Plus, upon being told by my mum that amazingly, after about a million years of heroin induced inactivity, Elastica were touring in mid 2000, we hurtled off to Manchester to catch them. The results were twofold-
- I consider Elastica's debut Elastica to be the second best album ever made.
- As a result of seeing, hearing and (best bit) feeling the bass courtesy of Annie Holland, I acquired a bass guitar. On my insurance forms there are three items of largescale value – my laptop, my CDs and my bass. The laptop is a piece of crap but the other two are worth every penny I pay to keep them safe.
So I went "indie", made a conscious decision to listen out in as many places as possible for as much music as possible. But not necessarily like an "indie snob" would. After all. most forms of music produce something of merit…
July 14, 2005
Name and shame. I have more CDs than I know what to do with, and yes they are in alphabetical order or I would not be able to find what I want at any given mood swing. But who's responsible?* I'll tell you…
This is all her fault. I am not joking. As I said before, where was the voice I could relate to amongst a sea of early 30-something blokes and neon abominations of pop groups? For some reason I like British accents on record more. I have nothing against American accents but it afflicts all my relationships with music. I'd rather listen to Dizzee Rascal or Roots Manuva than equally dazzling American artists like Outkast or Kanye West** because I find something comfortingly familiar about someone declaring that they "down ten pints of bitter". I can relate. And singing is the same, use your own accent. That's the real lesson of Britpop.
So, having never seen the X Files, I fell in love with a song namechecking the stars. 14 years old and capitvated by the masterpiece that was Catatonia's 'Mulder And Scully'. The Welsh r's. That brilliant concise opening riff. The smart lyrics – no faux-teenage angst from the mouth (nose?) of whining Americans and wannabe whining Americans. As someone who had very little teen angst it was a relief to hear something playful, witty and smartarsed. That Christmas I had my first 'me' album. The house had one copy of International Velvet and it was my copy.
And then mum got me tickets to see them.
Wow. I was entralled. They had fantastic stage presence, Cerys is a superb frontwoman and it was all absolutely thrilling. It was, in short, as music should be. An adventure both personal and vicarious, the music was someone else's life but the night out was mine. The grand opera style glamour of the interior of the Manchester Apollo contrasts with the slightly dodgy area outside it. It was a proper night out. I was irreperably hooked.
Soon my cassette copy of International Velvet was joined by its predecessor, Way Beyond Blue,_ and its successor, _Equally Cursed And Blessed. Neither is as good as International Velvet and honestly I was a bit let down by Equally Cursed And Blessed. Thus the reality that even the bands you love can make stinkers hit home. So I listened to the radio again, watched Top Of The Pops again. I wasn't sure if there was anything better, but I wanted to have a listen anyway. The results were conclusive. Not much was better, but there was something which was, something I'd missed for nearly a decade despite it being there. As 1999 wore on I realised that, as much as I loved Catatonia, they were only second best, and they were second best to some compatriots. I had fallen for the Manic Street Preachers.
How odd that the much denigrated This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours was my way into them. I don't think it's a bad album, the opening six songs are uniformly great and there's a couple of good tracks at the end as well. On holiday in France I hammered by Sony cassette player, an item as old as me, if not older, by playing the Catatonia and, at first, This Is My Truth... . Then I decided to listen to my parents' copy of the previous album Everything Must Go.
The rules changed.
That album is perfect. It is my favourite album of all time. It contains the best song ever written, 'Design For Life'. It, and _This Is My Truth…,_ wanted to be intelligent. Wanted to make big statements and lead from the front. It was what I wanted. The killer opening line
Libraries gave us power/Then work came and made us free
said so much and meant so much. I couldn't believe those who called it depressing. It was so uplifting, they were a band shot through with anger at the crapness. And it was proper crapness, the government, the world, not pointless teenage angst. I loved it and I loved them and I immediately rushed out to find their Richie era albums… which I loved in different ways. The Holy Bible was awesome though impossible to love, its purpose to make music which hurt, which made you understand though you wanted to turn away. 12 magnificent tracks and one which is too much even for me. Gold Against The Soul was a curious piece, the bite was there but they seemed led astray by a desire to sell records. It's the least Manics album. But there's still good stuff there, back in the days when bands weren't dropped if they weren't instantly successful. Times change. Generation Terrorists is not the classic it is said to be. Eight tracks too long (eight!) but boasting some almighty genius, 'Motorcycle Emptiness' and 'You Love Us'. A band who evolved but stayed "4 real". I couldn't be one of those who scorned the post-Richie Manics, I am someone who loved, and still loves, both versions.
And finding something so strong as those two groups made me want to find more. Much more. by the end of 1999, as I bought The Holy Bible and began to convert to CDs, I was wondering if there was more to be found than the exhausted back catalogues of these Welsh wonders. So I looked. And that's when things got really interesting.
*You fucking are. (Name that tune.)
**How good is 'Diamonds From Sierra Leone'? Very.
July 12, 2005
It occurs to me that it's been about ten years since I started really paying attention to music as a form of entertainment and significance beyond it's previous role as background noise. Not for my single figured self was the hi-NRG flame and ballady gloop of late 1980s/early 1990s pop. It's funny, I remember Kylie the first time, and Robbie Williams when he was in Take That, and East 17 who came from the very eat of London like I had. But it never meant that much. I was in thrall to parental whims, and by default those of my extended family. It was Hilary, dad's younger sister, who put Green and Life's Rich Pageant onto a tape for my dad and said "there's this band from America called R.E.M.*, you'll like them.
Oh the hilarity of being told in later years how my parents sang loudly over 'Bottle Of Smoke' by The Pogues to protect their two children from such lines as "twenty fucking five to one/My gambling days are done". We never noticed. But then again if that's what you play to your children. That and R.E.M., U2, Tom Waits, punk like The Clash, the B52s, Crowded House. I guess all the Stock, Waterman and Aitken pop was just too cheap, too nasty for me as a kid, I was happy with what my parents had.
But at ten years old (i.e. as of 2nd November 1994) it was becoming obvious to me that there were newer bands who were more interesting. From the moment someone decided that Suede were the dogs bollocks before they'd even released a single, Britpop was condemning me to what can only be described as taste.
Sure, my parents were still the ones buying the music. They wanted Parklife and Definitely Maybe as much as I did. I was already polluting other people as well. The school disco love of Pulp's 'Common People' meant I bought my best friend their album for his birthday. It was quickly copied and distributed to all and sundry.
I didn't really realise till later how much of the 1995–6 music stuck with me. Later reintroductions to undeniable classics like The Bluetones' 'Slight Return', Sleeper's 'Sale Of The Century' or, significantly, Elastica's 'Connection', showed how much I did absorb though lack of any money meant I did not really consume. Taping the Top 40 was, as for so many, the only real choice. It's funny. As I type my brother is sending me, via MP3 an album only available in America. If I like it I might buy it. But it seems a world away from scrabbling around for recorded versions of the song you wanted, complete with Bruno Brookes jabbering over the top. Yes, Bruno Brookes. I am that old.
And as much as I loved Blur more than Oasis, much as I was happy to infest the world with Sheffields most witty beanpole (love you Jarvis), I hadn't really found my band. The one whose album I bought, not my parents. And then I did. I am not ashamed to say I feel in love with the tongue in cheek, smartarse indie-pop of Space.
Oddly I don't own any of their stuff on CD but it doesn't really matter. Honestly I doubt I'd like most of their stuff now. Beyond the singles the albums weren't great but I can recite the significant tracks off by heart. Test me. I'll give you all of 'Neighbourhood' in a flash. Somehow Mr Miller was a more engaging Britpop clergyman than any of Mansun's stripper vicars. Plus he was a serial killer.
Space were the first band I swa live. Me and my mum in the Stoke Sugarmill. But that was in 1998. Firstly there's the matter of 1996 and 1997.
I didn't realise it at the time but 1996 was the year my favourite album was released. But at the time I liked my Britpop even as it died on its arse, as posing non-entities which I don't recall a single song by (Heavy Stereo, Menswear) allowed Alan Magee to pontificate. Blur's The Great Escape ain't a great album. Don't mention Be Here Now. Pop kicked back with the Spice Girls and Boyzone and an infinite supply of Ibiza choons. I wondered whether I would go to Ibiza when I was 18. Glastonbury was not seen as the option for the 11 years olds of the time.
I think 1996–7 was the dying roar of a musical generation. The big heros, as good as they were, were old. The Verve were the rock big shots though they were being strongly challnged by an even older proposition, three Welshmen calling themselves Manic Street Preachers. They had released their first material in the late 1980s. I didn't quite get it. I didn't quite have someone I could connect to. The easily accessible nature of Britpop drew kids with short attention spans to guitar music. Denser stuff like 'Bittersweet Symphony' was for people older than my 11 years. Also the cult of Kurt Cobain was growing to epic proportions. For someone who never really loved Nirvana, as much as I can recall the entirety of Nevermind as my mum loved it, this didn't engage me. I needed a hero, like the people in the car as a kid, the man with the incomprehensible lyrics about man on the moon, the drunk sounding sweary Irish guy, the pissed off cockneys complaining about London. They were my parents' heros, I needed my own.
Seek and you shall find. This kid, on the verge of losing interest in music, was about to collide with the country down the road from her county.
*I have to add the dots as apparently Michael Stipe says they chose that name because he "liked the dots". This from a man who paints his face blue, by the way…
July 11, 2005
- I'm stuck in a building rut where no wind blows through my bedroom window making it hot and stuffy in here.
- I just found an ant in my room.
- 7.20am. It's when my alarm is set. Ugh.
- I've had to borrow someone else's work shirt because I can't find the person who has my work clothes.
- My bookshelf consists entirely of books by Douglas Adams, Virginia Woolf and A-Z.
- My fourth wisdom tooth is currently rupturing in an orgy of unnecessary pain and enamelled angles.
- I am weak and bought a CD today when I didn't even intend to go into a record shop.
- I want my flags back.
- I'm lifeblogging.
Mmmm, perhaps I should stop whinging… normal service will be resumed.
July 10, 2005
It's big and univiting, and the people in it are unfriendly.
Apart from all those people you know and grew up with, you mean? Y'know, the kids you played with, your parents' friends, your relatives…
That's a fraction of the 10 million people who are there! And it stinks.
Yeah but the fraction of the ones you know who you don't like is minimal. Extrapolate. Anyway, everywhere stinks, the city, the country, you've lived in both, you know this is true.
But it's so brutal, so dog-eat-dog.
You're up to it. You were when you lived there.
Parts of it are falling apart.
And getting rebuilt. The new Olympic site? And the bits that exist ain't too bad. Great Ormand Street? Don't you owe it your life?
Ok, so a hospital and a non-existant sports ground...
And a million and one other things.
The IOC saw it. Remember how we watched on a TV in a hotel in Amsterdam? How the English Eurosport was simply spoken over by a Dutchman. We could still hear the English underneath. The blonde reporter who was bubbling away, clearly biased but trying to be objective. How we groaned as they dragged out the moment when we were sure that Paris would win. Mum said she thought it would be Paris. How we watched the countries' videos, the self important Parisien one, the half arsed New York one, the frankly baffling Muscovite one and the unmemorable Madrileno effort. Ours was witty. It was cute. It had the women out of M People who is half human half foghorn. We were passionate and that's how we got it.
Remember the Dome?
Yes, and so does everyone else. They won't cock this up like that. And anyway I like the Dome. It's a good building and it's being recycled. We recycle our waste. Old buildings and new purposes.
I'll believe it when I see it.
And you'll see it. Live 8? Whatever your stance on the principles, we put it on at short notice and people came.
It involved Mariah Carey.
Not my fault.
So it can host concerts of controversy, so what?
You're not being constructive here. You want to argue with me then be more constructive.
Navigable. You hate driving, and anyway, the public transport there is good…
I know where this is going now.
All doubts must be faced.
London isn't perfect. But imperfection is endearing and deserves better.
Yes and no. Yes for the people, always the people. But no because I can't see anything other than defeat in sadness. Or fear. They want that. That unseen, uncertain 'they' who have such a void in them. I can only feel pity for them, pity that they are such malformed humans that they can twist their lives into the hateful way they are now. I can't bring myself to anger over them because they want that and they do not deserve what they want.
It was a shock...
Yeah, just us and the BBC World Service. There was initial shock, even knowing that it would come can't prepare you for when it does. But it faded and the only option that remained was the one I chose.
They want to change us but we can't. We won't. We will not be dictated to. It's not the London way. We built a city on the hundreds of groups who settled there. It's glue. No divisions, no quarter, no splits. I, and millions of others, will do what we always do, because this is what scares the bombers, our freedom to be as we want to be. I'll take buses and tubes. I'll be free. I always said I could never live in London again, but I'll never feel seperate from it. They claimed they had London shaking in fear. They wish. Look at yesterday and the Second World War comemmorations. These terrorists can look at one of the largest, best organised armies in history, the Nazi army, and see how it failed.
London – The Moscow of the West. You'll have the power if you take it… but you can never take it. It's ours and forever we will guard it.
July 02, 2005
Hi, it's Hollyzone here.
I'm afraid I'm in Holland for the next week. If you need me you can call me on 0800-HOLLAND and ask for the pale girl reading the Philip Pullman books (only a million years after everyone else read them).
- Please collect any letters that get delivered to the Hollyzone, put the personal post in the box marked "Letters" and the bills in the bin marked "Bin."
- Feel free to eat anything in the fridge but leave the pasta and rice as I might need carbohydrate when I get back.
- I've set the video machine to record the BBC 10 O'Clock news on Wednesday as well as Tuesday's Big Brother and three other randomly determined programmes so I won't get behind on culture in this country.
- If Manchester United purchase anyone interesting then please inform me.
- Please organise yourselves to feed my cactus. Ignore it if it attacks you, it's a bit hyperactive.
- I've left the keys under the cat and the milkman under the patio.
See you all soon.