keresaspa: (Heckle and Jeckle)
Before I start I should go on record as saying I'm no fan of Vladimir Putin. A little nationalistic megalomaniac, he is to me about as welcome as Spy Wednesday's leftover haslet on Good Friday. But really the coverage being given to the whole Russia-Ukraine business by the BBC is getting a bit much to take.

Whilst waiting on Match of the Day last night I happened to catch a bit of their news report and was gobsmacked by what I witnessed. The policy of "embedding" reporters has always been a controversial one as impartiality is bound to go out the window. After all, who would see both sides when all they see is one group coming under attack from another, rather than the effects of the actions of the group you are with? But with whom was a BBC reporter embedded? Only the bloody Azov Battalion! They mentioned at the very start of the report that this was a far-right group but from then on it was more or less "look at these bunch of great lads fighting for freedom, aren't they wonderful?". Well, no, they aren't wonderful at all and, whilst I've long since given up expecting impartiality from the BBC, has it really sunk so low that it is now endorsing neo-Nazi groups? Fox News was rightly taken to task for calling the National Socialist Movement a civil rights organisation in the aftermath of the murder of Trayvon Martin and yet I've heard nary a whimper about the publicly funded state broadcaster of a supposed liberal democracy glorifying the actions of a bunch of Holocaust-denying fanatics.

A report in their most recent bulletin about the killing of Boris Nemtsov stated that he had been silenced by the Kremlin. Quite probably but as yet completely unproven although, as I said, the sort of extreme editorialising we have long since come to expect from BBC News, which these days is little more than the Daily telegraph in televisual form. But the Azov Battalion? Good God. I've defended the Beeb for years but increasingly it's starting to look like this organ of state propaganda should be done away with. If it's only purpose is to reflect the opinions of the government (and post-Hutton, that's all it is) then I for one have no desire to pay to keep it in existence.
keresaspa: (Cynthia of Witching Hour fame)
Three cheers to the erstwhile British Telecom and their panoply of sport channels. They may schedule their Saturday matches at stupid times (i.e. when I'm going to an actual match and thus unable to watch) and their output of basketball, men in cages hugging each other and "comedy" with Robbie Savage may be of little interest but thanks to them I've been able to watch a good proportion of the BDO world darts championship without having Colin Bastard Murray inflicted on me as the BBC have once again done. OK, so Tony Green and his biased, senile ramblings are still present and Ted Hankey comes across as really unpleasant in his role as expert summariser but having to miss the Embassy because of the Ballybeen Ballbag is always a real shame so kudos for ensuring that I don't have to.

A real shame I didn't win it though, as I thought I had a good chance and really fancied that I would beat Ross Montgomery in our match. You didn't see me in it? Well I suppose a lot of people didn't and I was going by the pseudonym of Scott Waites but that's me alright. OK, it isn't really but I must admit when I turned his match on last night I actually did think for a second "I don't remember entering this". Give him a slightly bigger nose and a bit of ginger in his beard and it would be me exactly. Don't they say you're about to die when you see your doppelganger? Better measure me for my coffin then!

Rebel songs

Jul. 7th, 2014 08:36 pm
keresaspa: (Maurice Bishop)
One story that did catch my eye during my barely noticed extended absence was the minor fuss locally over the Ku Klux Klan. For those unfamiliar, Island Street is a back street off a back street off the lower Newtownards Road. Made up of 80s style redeveloped Housing Executive houses, it is one of the more soul-destroying parts of east Belfast, saying something given what a bigoted little dump that side of town is. The walls proclaim allegiance to the UDA although, as is the case throughout the east, it is the UVF that largely holds sway with the UDA only existing with their permission and fulfilling little role beyond dealing drugs.

For years 81 Island Street has been a particular carbuncle in the gloom. With a front door festooned with racist and Islamophobic stickers, not to mention a bunch of stuff about Rangers, a Confederate flag flying on a pole and a window filled with KKK memorabilia, as well as UDA flags, it stands as a beacon of hatred. Action taken to address this? None. In an area of low-grade housing, towards which immigrants are likely to gravitate, a public display of racial hatred and xenophobia has for years been ignored. So recently a KKK flag went on a nearby lamppost and a fuss was kicked up but Belfast's own Braunes Haus continues happily in a part of the town already notorious for its racism. The flag was subsequently taken down "following discussions" (rather than torn down with its owner prosecuted under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006) but when I passed that way today it had been replaced by a pair of Southern crosses. Well, that's much better as the flag of a racist state is a lot less offensive than the flag of a racist organisation.

Radio Ulster's decision to interview the local KKK boss-cocky is a dodgy one as it gives him much more importance than he deserves (although is very much in keeping with the ever rightwards drift of the BBC as whole). Given that we have a strongly anti-Catholic organisation in which members are expected to dress like prats and take part in bizarre rites in the Orange Order then it hardly seems surprising that the KKK could come here (although to be fair a few token Africans have found their way into the Orange Order) but it's also probably the main reason that they are an irrelevance. Extreme right organisations have found their openings within loyalism locally but they have never fully taken off nor are they likely to unless the loyalist paramilitaries ever come out unequivocally against racism and start punishing the racists in their own community. However the fuss over the flying of the flag is a little like suddenly becoming appalled about the Cerne Abbas Giant's tumescence - it's been that way years and nobody has batted an eyelid. To think that they're actually sinking money into promoting east Belfast as a tourist destination. God help any tourist who goes over that way and God help even more any poor immigrant who gets housed in Island Street. What an absolute shithole this place really is sometimes.
keresaspa: (Cartman)
I've been desperately trying to take some crumb of comfort from these election but I can't. Swept on by the biased "reporting" of the BBC and all the tabloids bar the Mirror, those hateful shits of the UK Independence Party have come top in the European elections and done fairly well in the council elections (although their head cheerleader Nick Robinson is talking shite by calling 163 councillors out of 2,101 an "earthquake"). If there's any justice they will follow the lead of the now virtually irrelevant (outside Pendle at least) BNP and become victims of their own success. After all the BNP's brief period of success in the early to mid 00s led to to them splitting into several little factions and saw their thuggish, frequently barely literate, councillors make total prats of themselves at every opportunity. Mind you, the BNP were fighting against a cordon sanitaire, something UKIP won't have to worry about given that they had the sense to get in some tokens in advance. I swear if I see Nigel Farage's hateful, smug, buck-toothed, squinty-eyed, batrachian face once more I'm a gonna kick this screen in! And an especial boo to all the Rangers-supporting knuckle draggers in Scotland and all the forelock tuggers in AndWales for following their English masters in electing that rabble too. Pish on the lot of you.

Elsewhere Little Miss Le Pen has come top in France to show that the British lurch to the extreme right is not unique. Given France's unusual history with right-wing extremists (along with Italy, it's the only Western European country where being a self-declared neo-fascist is no bar to a leading role in public life, as the likes of Alain de Benoist and Dominique Venner have demonstrated) and the mess both major parties have made of government it's no surprise but still a real shame. Meanwhile in Finland the rightist Finns Party have added an extra seat, the Poles have returned their usual quota of hardcore Catholic racists who claim the label "centre-right" with straight faces and even in Greece a left-wing victory has tempered by three seats for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. Stygian gloom the continent over.

Locally we are still waiting on the final results of an election held last Thursday but so far, as I predicted, Sinn Fein have topped the poll and Anderson is back in, with Diane Dodds likely to follow soon. Ho-hum. beyond that it's pick-a-dick between Jim Nicholson, Alex Attwood and Jim Allister for third place with Anna Lo not in the running and bloody UKIP even managing twenty odd thousand votes here. In the local elections the Sinn Fein vote pretty much held and, whilst the DUP shed support, it all seems to have gone to the Ulster Unionists (for reasons unknown) or rewarded the bigoted Strasserism of the Progressive Unionist Party or the reactionary High Toryism of the Traditional Unionist Voice. In among all that the dissident republican campaign got nowhere, with Eirigi, Republican Network for Unity and various independents getting almost nothing (OK, one exception but I'm not much of a 32 County Sovereignty Movement fan personally). Hell even bloody UKIP managed to get three seats here and the total mess that is NI21 took one. If I am to finally take that one crumb of comfort I spoke of earlier it will be from the good people of Black Mountain electing Gerry Carroll, a man I very vaguely know, to Belfast City Council instead of yet another faceless Sinn Fein nobody. On his own and stacked up against the cabal of the big five I can't see him being able to make any real impact on the new council when it finally splutters into life next year (that's right, the old council is continuing for another year in a colossal waste of money) but the fact that somebody, somewhere was prepared to vote against oppression and for the people is heartening anyway.

Now if you'll excuse me I think I'd like to find a pile of coats to hide under for a while.
keresaspa: (Cow)
There's one thing we can probably say without fear of contradiction - Yulia Tymoshenko has quite nice hair. Generally the notion that conventionally pretty women don't belong in prison (venomous harridans are fine, but not babes) and as such the outpouring of bollocks about the woman is perhaps understandable. Let's call it Eva Peron syndrome, as I'm at a loss to explain why otherwise sensible people are reacting with orgasmic fervour to the news that an admittedly corrupt President is about to be replaced by a billionaire oligarch whose political stock in trade has always been populist conservatism. That this woman, who made billions by buying up precious natural gas reserves that could have served the people rather than the individual, worked closely with Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko to increase her fortune, a man subsequently convicted in the United States for his corruption and who happily collaborated with Viktor Yushchenko in the Orange Revolution despite the leading role played by the anti-Semitic extreme right and who in 2009 signed a gas deal with Russia without consulting the elected government, is now being hailed as a wonderful heroine, a shining angel in the holy war against Russia, is laughable. I expect the inevitable fawning tone from the BBC, who have been the organ of state since Hutton and who now trumpet the NATO apologist line of William Hague as if it were gospel but seeing more considered people anointing this witch as some latter day Joan of Arc is a real disappointment. She's a right-wing populist and will no more benefit the Ukrainian workers than Russophile predecessor. And clearly she's happy to jump into bed with the extremists too:



So that's what the new Ukraine will be like is it? A historic statue of Lenin tore down and replaced by the symbols and slogans of the SS. Nearly 4 million Ukrainians, Jewish and otherwise, killed by the SS and their Einsatzgruppen during the Second World War and the return of their symbolism is hailed by the West as a great dawn for democracy. Despicable.

I'm certainly no fan of Viktor Yanukovych but he and Tymoshenko are two sides of the one coin; the bureaucrat being ousted and replaced by the monopoly capitalist. That people are giving their lives to replace dominance by one crook with dominance by another is the real tragedy here, not that some blonde-headed bint had to do a bit of stir. Being dictated to by Yanukovych and cosying up to Russia or being dictated to by Tymoshenko and cosying up to NATO - what's the sodding difference? As usual it will be the people who suffer whatever happens whilst those in charge fill their boots. Really not worth dying over, no matter how long somebody's plaits are.
keresaspa: (Huffy beardy weirdy)
I've been dipping in and out of the repeats of Top of the Pops on BBC Four these last lot of months. It was a novelty at first to see these old episodes but, let's be honest, that has very much worn off and what is left behind is a succession of Alan Partridges presenting consistently poor quality and highly forgettable chart music from a fairly fallow period for mainstream popular music.

A lot has been said about the fact that the episodes presented by dyed in the wool dirt bird Jimmy Savile and accused dirt bird Dave Lee Travis, as well as appearances by convicted dirt bird Gary Glitter, have been excluded from the current run. Fair enough if that's how they chose to roll but I was rather taken aback by tonight's episode in light of all of that. Who do we witness "singing" their "comedy" take on "You're the One That I Want"? Why Hylda Baker and Arthur Mullard. That's right Arthur Mullard. OK. So Savile out, Lee Travis out, Glitter out but a man who sexually abused his own daughter is in?!

For my own part I'm not sure how I feel about these exercises in censoring the past and personally think it might have saved a lot of trouble if the repeats of Top of the Pops were quietly dropped when the Savile revelations came out. After all it may be a fun bit of nostalgia for the average viewer but for others it might be a harsh reminder of their ordeal at the hands of a predator. But still, if they fully intend to persist in selective screening then surely it must be applied across the board. Or is BBC Four only interested in the recent cases and is prepared to ignore the Mullard allegations because they can't be arsed doing a bit of basic research? Bad mistake, chaps and alas typical of Auntie in recent years.
keresaspa: (Cartman)
So is that it then? Can we finally hear an end to the unseemly scrap between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney? I'm sure it was $2 billion will spent as I can't think of anything else that the money could have been used on but really US elections just do my head in. There's nothing I can do about who wins and it only has a passing impact on me who wins yet the TV over here seems to think I want to hear about it twenty four hours a day as does the Anglophone internet (which, let's face it, assumes everybody is American anyway). Whoever wins it will still be the same old capitalism and invasions (despite the frankly ludicrous claims that Obama is a socialist) and the global free market economy largely functions independent of governments now so as far as I'm concerned they might as well have had a bro-down to determine the winner and saved us all the hassle and the expense. Still, if only for the facts that he seems a disciple of Karl Haushofer who is hell-bent on a new Cold War and that I can no longer see him without thinking of this piece of inspired lunacy, I will hope that Romney disappears to the scrapheap of history and Obama, despite proving a total liar about the war on turr, triumphs.

Heck finally I might soon be able to turn on the BBC without seeing either of their mugs constantly. Well, if I ever watched the BBC I would but let's not split hairs.
keresaspa: (Lucy Liu)
There are times you just get the feeling you must have fallen down a wormhole in time and ended up back in the past again. No, I'm not referring to the ConDem junta going down the road to the workhouses, nor Greece being bailed out of yet another economic crisis, nor yet more desecration of the Koran, nor even Chelsea losing yet another game of football and placing the officially dreamy Andre Villas-Boas back in the firing line. Rather I refer to what we shall hitherto call Exhibit A:



The third biggest story on their site tells us that that fragrant (in the sense that the stench of desperation is a fragrance) Imogen Thomas was the one who was being bonked by Manchester United youngster Ryan Giggs. Thank you, Exhibit A. I was unaware of that until several months ago when it was reported absolutely everywhere, including even in this load of old tosh. Good to see that Auntie has her finger on the pulse when it comes to the news.

And before Captain Obvious pipes up, I'm fully aware that the story is actually about it now being legally OK to mention all this and that me and the rest were technically breaking the law by naming him previously. Still if that part of Exhibit A is fairly weak in the Twilight Zone stakes then the fifth top story is simply inexplicable. "US X Factor drops Cheryl Cole". Well, I never. I was more than a little perturbed to hear of the sacking of the fragrant (in the sense that the stench of desperation is a fragrance) toilet attendant basher when it happened last May but the fact that it is now the Beeb's fifth most popular story a full nine months later is frankly mystifying. The calendar tells me it is 21st February 2012 but I'm sure there must be some mistake if wor Chezza and ein Imo are still top of the news.

Cuddly Dudley presents an evening with Whitney Houston featuring special guests Eddie Marshall and Gordon Beck, you say? I'll book the tickets right away.
keresaspa: (Scrubber Daley)
Three cheers for Walt Disney. He may have been a talentless hack, a ruthless bully and an anti-Semitic uber-capitalist who built an evil empire on fear and shady practices but thanks to his ESPN subsidiary I have been been able to watch the BDO World Darts Championship this year without it being totally ruined by the BBC's God awful coverage. Well, I say their God awful coverage but of course there is only one thing really wrong with Auntie's broadcasts and that is Colin Murray. God but I hate that Ballybeen bastard with a passion. His constant smug grin, reference after reference to darts' players weights (it's a sport played by heavy men, if you have a problem with that why take on the job?), his stupid "ironic" hipster glasses, his bloody annoying accent, the fact that the BBC has him hosting every bloody sport despite there being no indication that he has any expertise, his shitty taste in indie music, his being a short-arsed son of a bitch and just his general wankerness combine to make him possibly my most hated man on television. It says it all given my enmity for Adrian Chiles that Match of the Day Two actually became even more unwatchable when Murray replaced him a couple of years back. Hazel Irvine, Manish Bhasin, Gabby Logan, Rishi Persad, John Inverdale and Harry Gration are all under contract to the BBC and could all have been called upon but instead they had to go for bloody Colin bastard Murray. So thank God for Uncle Walt's Sports Telecasts who not only have all the games live anyway (unlike Murray and his crappy highlights show) but have had the good sense to leave presenting to Ray Stubbs, a man from the grand tradition of bland sport hosts who let the action take the lead and don't see everything as an opportunity to foist their own "character" onto the viewing several. Plus unlike Murray Stubbs realises that sports presenting is not a substitute for stand-up comedy and, whilst humour can be used now again, it is neither necessary nor desirable to treat everything as one big bloody joke. I watched very little of the tournament these last two years because of Murray's presence but finally this year I have been able to return to the fold and once again make the BDO Worlds one of the highlights of my sporting year. Huzzah!

And finally if you fancy a gamble on the outcome I'll give the nod to Tony O'Shea to win the title by defeating Christian Kist in the final. You heard it here first...unless you heard it somewhere else already obviously.
keresaspa: (Gorilla madness!)
Well it seems that we can all rest easy in our beds once again as the latest brown-skinned bogeyman to terrorise lovely Western civilisation is dead and all is right with the world. Just as it was when Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were killed. Oh wait don't forget about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he's bound to be planning something. And of course there's Robert Mugabe who is no doubt stockpiling nukes as we speak, and that Omar al-Bashir, the world wouldn't miss him. Whilst we're at it who's running Ethiopia these days, they're usually no-goodniks. Still we should obviously joyously celebrate the death of Qaddafi and the liberation of Libya from the Libyans by our brave boys. Libyans can now look to the wonderful example of Egypt and prepare to reap the benefits of demawkracy just as they are doing because there is nothing in the world more important than choosing which rich man gets his turn at exploiting you. Good luck to the Libyans but if they really think things are suddenly going to get a lot better because one man is dead and they have swapped one regime forged in violence for another then they have a quare gunk ahead of them.

I happened to catch a piece about the wonderful world of new Libya recently on that bastion of measured journalism the BBC not long ago. Some faceless correspondent salivated at how great the whole thing was over footage of school children doing a bunch of oddball exercises whilst yelling out extreme patriotic slogans. The slabbers continued to trip him over footage of university shelves emptied of Qaddafi related books followed by footage of the removed books being torched in public bonfires. So hordes of children being indoctrinated and pushed through formation exercises was followed by footage of burning books. Nope, we've never seen anything like that before. Personally I'm with Heinrich Heine when he said "where they burn books, at the end they also burn people" and I have no doubt that these mythical Qaddafi loyalists who keep getting shot to pieces by the Libyan Army will be the first ones to burn.

Still, if nothing else Liz Seawright and Gary McMichael might be able to tap the new government for some compo as, let's face it, there few people more innocent to die in the Troubles than George "incinerated" Seawright and John "shopping list" McMichael and it was clearly Qadaffi's fault that these paragons of human virtue were killed.



And yes I know Qaddafi is not a nice man and he did bad things (unlike our own leaders who are all avatars) but presenting this as some sort of great development in the history of mankind when the same old shit will continue to happen is just silly and so typical of the hyperbole that informs the news these days. Some rotter has been killed, there are plenty more where he came from and so far it seems that all Libya has to look forward is another military dictatorship followed by some rubbish western-style representative government, no doubt with the oil fields sold off to Shell and the like. Not a lot to get excited about really.
keresaspa: (Shakuni (Gufi Paintal))
[Poll #1769171]

Well everybody else has had a go at these so I might as well, seeing as this is, after all, the most important thing to happen in years apparently. As I have already stated a lot of those involved were great sludgers and reet rotters but the way things are this sort of reaction is no surprise and will inevitably continue. We are faced with a government that has put itself at war with its own poor. At a time of rampant unemployment it has turned on the weakest members of society, seeking to take constantly from the bottom rungs by denying access to benefits, making it impossible for people to afford housing and yet seeking to criminalise homelessness, denying those without money access to justice by cutting legal aid and encouraging the creation of a culture where people are being forced to give away their labour for free, either through the so-called New Deal, internships in which people have to do somebody's paid work for nothing or the ultimate oxymoron of Dave's Big Society in which volunteering is compulsory. You can dress forced unpaid work in whatever terms you want but slavery will always breed resentment. Some of this might be justified if we were in a full employment situation but we are a million miles away from that with many more to end up out of work in the not too distant future. It also demonstrates the short-sighted idiocy of the government that they are actually considering evicting rioters from their houses and stopping their benefits. Yes, total poverty is a great way to convince people not to turn to crime. Meanwhile a much bigger problem, that of tax avoidance by the super rich, something that costs the state a hell of a lot more than benefit fraud, is ignored because the Conservative Party will only ever attack the poor. But this isn't just the Tories who are at fault here - witness the BBC sending its chief goblin Dominic Littlewood out to expose those evil scumbags who are fraudulently claiming an extra tenner a week and yet telling us that we should be impressed by wonderful capitalists like James Caan whom we should all celebrate for their entirely legal frauds (like you don't defraud too, Bannatyne) and attempts to purchase human beings.

Of course there remains a hardcore of wannabe bourgeoisie who feel that all rioters are wicked scum and want those nice heroes of the army brought out to dish some Ballymurphy massacre style peacekeeping to the lower orders. The problem with these are that many of them are not the middle classes that they think they are and that will only get worse as wages continue to freeze whilst prices rise. Before long people like that should realise that they are much more under threat from the government than a bunch of misguided young idiots attacking shops and should themselves oppose instead of clucking their tongues and moaning about property values. Assuming they're not too busy reading Heat magazine and going to Starbucks to notice I suppose.

At the risk of repeating what I have said previously treat people like animals and they will act like them. The government is intent on pursuing Social Darwinism but it should know that even weakest rat will attack when backed into a corner and the more rats they insist on backing into corners the more they will have to be prepared for this to happen again. Monetarist governments breed violent societies, as Thatcher and Pinochet have proven in the past, and it was naive to think that putting in cuts-happy Cameron would not have the same effect when experience has demonstrated that it would. Besides one glimpse of the sort of smug, posh-boy, Tory tossery demonstrated by that bastard Michael Gove on Newsnight recently would be enough to make any sane person smash things up. Like one Peter Lilley wasn't enough without son of Lilley being inflicted upon us.

Now can we maybe stop hearing about this whole business as it's getting old.
keresaspa: (Signor Rossi)
The good: I switched on the much maligned (by me, anyroad) Football League Show last night more in forlorn hope than anticipation and what did I find? The execrable Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes and her bloody "emalisntexts" slot conspicuous by its absence and not even a word from Manish Boy that "Lizzie will be back next week". So finally somebody at the BBC has listened me. Yup, I'm taking all the credit for this even though the reality is that nobody from Auntie even knows I exist. Now send Mark Clemmit packing and make Leroy Rosenior first choice pundit ahead of Steve Claridge and we might actually have a good programme on our hands.

The bad: Woke up today with a sudden unseasonably sore throat incorporating blood. Not nice. Knowing my luck I'll be needing my tonsils out at a time when the NHS no longer bothers removing them.

The ugly: Ooh didn't think this far ahead. There is no ugly section. Will this do? He used to be in the Workers Revolutionary Party you know!
keresaspa: (Squidward losing it)
Little to say about the visit of some senile 85-year old to the southern mob and the money being wasted on it when a large number of their citizens are wondering where their next meal will be coming from. I'm sure that cowface Mary McAlesse will be revelling in it - there are few things worse than somebody from a working class area of Belfast who gets a bit of prestige. Buck-toothed sow! One thing has caught my eye however and that is the story on the BBC's website. Promises to be less fawning about the monarchy appear to have been shelved after the verbal wankathon that accompanied Billy and Kathy getting spliced but but do we really need an entire paragraph to say "After lunch the monarch wore a white outfit". Cripes, they might as well have added the addendum "bless her cotton socks". And it's very nice of the "republicans" in Sinn Fein leaving the work of protesting the wasteful visit of the symbol of British imperialism one of the few mobs with any balls left on this island in Éirígí. As long as Martin and the boys have their big salaries coming from Her Majesty why should they bother protesting her I suppose.

Elsewhere I'm certainly no expert on the man's canon but is the recent admission by Arnold Schwarzenegger that he fathered a secret a child ten years ago not a missed opportunity? Surely the news should have been kept buried for another eight years or so by which time the secret child could have 'roided up from here to ya-ya, returned and kidnapped Arnie's current family before being killed in a momentous battle that would climax with our hero saying something like "Daddy's home" before ventilating secret child's cranium. After all he needs something to do now that the whole gubernator thing has come to an end.
keresaspa: (Reiko Ike)
Interesting angle being taken in these forthcoming elections by the self-declared Democratic Unionist Party. We have all known for a long time that when the DUP talked about democracy they always meant it in its most basic 50% plus one person model with any silly little notion like minority rights never on the agenda. Well judging by the slogan being trotted out this time it seems even that narrow definition of democracy has been whittled down even further. Now not only are Fenian votes to be disregarded but those of unionists who support somebody else don't count any more either. So the message now is the election has already been decided, we are going to win and if you don't vote DUP you are a big idiot and your opinion doesn't matter. OK the chances of the Ulster Unionists or even, God forbid, the Traditional Unionist Voice winning are slim to say the least but surely a true democrat should be happy to allow the electorate to decide rather than announcing in advance that the result is a foregone conclusion. Were there any justice the bluenoses would give these cretins a black eye by voting against them and shutting their arrogant mouths but that will never happen here so the poster will be proven right. Note too that they apparently believe spiralling unemployment with the economy dying on its arse with millions worth of cuts to essential services due and a return to daily paramilitary activity is "Northern Ireland moving forward". You would have to laugh were it not for the fact that we were guaranteed another four years of Peter "Mr. Corruption" Robinson and his grinning bastard of a sidekick McGuinness feathering their own nests and those of their cronies.

Coincidentally another avowed democrat whose commitment was shaky at best came up today with the announcement that Bill Craig has died. To be honest I had actually assumed he had died some years ago so low has his profile been but then I suppose only the good die young. Strange that I should mention his Ulster Vanguard recently with regards to the movement's similarities to fascism but there can be little doubt that if Billy boy had his way then the Taigs would now all be serving time in the concentration camps he would have set up in his independent Ulster state. Like the Nazi Party he maintained his own private SS guard in the form of the Vanguard Service Corps, his own SA style street army that he ditched when he got sick of in the form of the UDA, his own Deutsche Arbeitsfront style scab union to be used for the aims of reaction in the shape of the Ulster Workers Council, sought to build a mass party to support an elite leadership (even telling those lovely people at the Monday Club that he could call on 80,000 stooges to follow his orders), preached a form of extreme nationalism that included the palingenetic element of independence and even had his own take on the Nuremberg rallies at which this supposed democrat made it clear that he was happy to turn his guns on the Taigs whenever the notion took him.

Like his good mate and then enemy Ian Paisley he was a master of megaphone diplomacy and, just as Paisley would do with Jim Molyneaux later on, the two dominated the lacklustre Ulster Unionist leader Harry West despite his lot being the biggest unionist party. Before that as Minister for Home Affairs in the old Stormont government he was probably the harshest voice within the cabinet against any notion of Catholic civil rights. Inevitably, as always happens when one of these auld bastards dies, he will now be lionised by the unionist establishment and their BBC Northern Ireland mouthpiece but Craig was an evil man who actively cultivated a close relationship with John Tyndall and was happy to encourage National Front rallies in support of his own fascist movement. The fact that at some stage he apparently underwent a lobotomy and suddenly decided that he would share power with the SDLP, much to the ire of the rank of file in the Vanguard, cannot excuse his other crimes. And just to show that nothing ever changes around this parts I notice that the earlier mentioned Peter Robinson, who actually won his former seat in East Belfast at Craig's expense in 1979, has been amongst the first to heap praise on Northern Ireland's own version of Corneliu Codreanu. Still why would he not as, after all, this hard-line militaristic pair were always cut from the same cloth. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
keresaspa: (Dipsy)
I'm sure there will be those of you amongst my hordes of readers who will be unfamiliar with the work of the great Linda Yamamoto. A shame that this lady is not better known really because not only was she one of the finest Japanese singers of the 70s but she also looked the business throwing karate shapes whilst wearing satin flairs, a combination that we all know from bitter personal experience to be very difficult to pull off properly. A recent listen to the just bloody excellent Nippon Girls compilation inspired me to find more from Linda but I was disappointed to find that she joins an ever lengthening list of Japanese women whose music cannot be found in the English speaking world for love nor money. Three cheers for YouTube then who came to the rescue with a plethora of videos of the great woman in action, most of which have been subsequently converted on the highly recommended Youtube mp3 which is now my first port of call for these sort of conversion jobs. Great stuff all round as there is no way you can ever have enough Linda Yamamoto in your life. It's rather nifty too that somebody has taken the time to upload some footage of her shaking it 80s style. Well, what's the point in being Japan's answer to Lulu if you can't match Paul Merton's favourite singer in the naff stakes every now and then? Linda Yamamoto then - check her out if you know what's good for you as she really does deserve to be huge everywhere.

Elsewhere finally the football season starts up again this weekend (albeit outside the top-flight). Even with this being a tournament summer the weeks without football have been as boring as they always are and I look forward to the joys of watching Jeff Stelling and the chaps shouting at TV screens and laughing at Chris Kamara once again. Of course Albion won't be on until the next week as we are having one of our regular breaks in the Premier League this year but still the Football League will provide more than enough diversion to ease us back into things. Who knows, the BBC might even have listened to my constant crabbing and put Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes and Mark Clemmit out to pasture for this coming season. There again they might have kicked out Manish Bhasin and replaced him with Linda Yamamoto but I won't be holding my breath. Either way it will be reet grand to get back to the humdrum of league football once again and I even reckon that Albion might be able to stay up this time. Famous last words!

And finally a little outside my usual area this but I was rather surprised to see that the king of "featuring" himself Wyclef Jean is to run for the Presidency of Haiti. It's all relative of course as, when you have had to endure the Tonton Macoute and the Catechism of the Revolution, I suppose a man who made his name constantly shouting about time whilst recording songs with Dwayne Johnson and Brian Harvey seems positively sensible. To his credit he does a lot of great work for the place but alas this looks another attack of the old celebrity aggrandisement as until Jean has given no indication that he has the first idea about what a President should do. If it happens I hope it works out as few places deserve a bit of luck more than Haiti but this looks about as likely to be a success as George Weah would have been as President of Liberia. Heck, you would be as well asking Malinda Jackson Parker to become a Haitian rather than a Liberian in order to take the Presidency as at least you would be guaranteed some music a lot more original than anything Wyclef ever managed. OK, I imagine she might have about six feet to go before any of that could happen but it still sounds as good an idea as the one on offer.
keresaspa: (Fran Drescher)
Today, we were told, was going to be all about the Best in the World (right). We have the Best footballing nation in the World, the current Best in the World and the supposed Best footballer in the World all sharing the same stage so all we had to do was set back and marvel. That was the theory at least - the practice proved to be somewhat different.

It's always struck me as terribly unusual that, given their constant trumpeting of all things digital and interactive, the BBC does not have a digital channel broadcasting during the day for anybody over the age of about 12, particularly given that the audience for the CBBC channel tend to spend their days at school or hassling OAPs outside local shops. As a result North Korea-Ivory Coast was hidden behind the mythical red button and for users of Virgin Media such as myself that means it might as well be in China as accessing Virgin's red button resources is a process every bit as slow, arcane and unrewarding as a Find Familiar spell. Heck, you don't even get wide-angled vision out of it! As a result I had to choose one match and ignore the other and so I made what I felt would be the smart move and opted for Brazil-Portugal. Big mistake as it was, to use the modern vernacular, utter pants. After a load of build-up from Lineker it was always bound to be a disappointment but this was a lot worse than anybody could have imagined. The Portuguese are admittedly a technically good side but they are a horrid bunch of cheats and whiners whilst Brazil looked decidedly ordinary. Meanwhile the Coast racked up the goals in a vain attempt to reach the second round and all we saw were shrunken version of the goals. A chore and no mistake and the fact that I spent much of the match playing Snake Xenzia says all you need to know about the quality of what was on offer. It also must be said that Jonathan Pearce's rum habit of occasionally adopting an indeterminate Mediterranean accent whenever referring to a player from that general area or one of their former colonies is incredibly grating and was fundamentally overused in this game. In fairness this match was quite meaningless and both of these are a lot better than this but it is a shame that the Ivory Coast didn't have Drogba fit from the start as they might just have taken the Portuguese down. As for North Korea they were nice in the first game but as soon as the novelty wore off it was clear that they were well and truly out of their depth.

The other Best in the World (or at least the one that was until they lost to Swiss) came next and once again the band made an arse of things by cutting off the stirring "O el asilo contra la opresión" bit of Chile's national anthem with Spain's silent effort. It did the Chileans no harm in the early stages however as their play was excellent and Spain looked like being overwhelmed and bundled out. As the inevitable 0-0 between Switzerland and Honduras rumbled on (a match I was able to watch freely but never felt the need to see) it soon became clear that Chile badly lack a goleador in the Zamorano mould and as such the game became, very briefly, more about duff commentary than anything else. Chris Coleman's ill-omened few months at Real Sociedad made him the Spanish football expert by default, although if the rumours are to be believed Cookie learned only about the Spanish nightlife in his time in Iberia. Meanwhile Clive "that magical night at the Nou Camp" Tyldesley told us that Marcelo Bielsa being a qualified PE teacher was obvious from his habit of wearing his glasses on a piece of cord. Perhaps it's just me but that's a look I have always associated with the stereotypical librarian rather than the failed professional footballers that humiliate fat children in the name of PE "teaching". Still, whilst I was considering that particular conundrum David Villa suddenly belted in a goal from nothing following some comedic hi-jinx from the Chilean keeper. Spain may no longer be the Best in the World after the Switzerland result but they might just have the best out and out striker in the world in Villa. Meanwhile Iniesta soon made it two with an absolute peach of a goal, although he was due something special after a ropey start. Very unfortunate to see Estrada get a red card because the woefully ineffective Fernando Torres fell over during the build-up but there was a violent side to Chile in this game alongside their nice play. The 2-0 half-time score could hardly have been more flattering to the Spanish but they do say that true champions will grind out results even when they're not playing great. The sudden Chile goal at the start of the second half suggested a classic was to follow and Spain certainly improved when Torres, whom you have to assume is injured rather than just suddenly rubbish, left the scene for Fabregas. However before long the game petered out, presumably with word filtering through that the Swiss were doing their usual no forwards routine, and the last twenty minutes or so became very turgid indeed. Still, there was enough time left for Clive to make another balls-up as he proceeded to tell us that apparently North Korea had qualified for a second round tie. Bad news for Portugal, I suppose! God, Brian Moore you are sorely missed at these tournaments. In the end Spain just about shaded it and were probably worthy group winners whilst Chile will be a much more entertaining prospect for the second round than the deathly dull Swiss. Poor old Honduras were never really at the races and I think it's fair to say were actually a lot worse than their results suggest.

The real stuff can begin in earnest tomorrow and isn't amazing how received wisdom has again been proven to be the words of wiseacres. They told us ad nauseam that the South African winter would suit the European teams as the South Americans (most of whom play in Europe) don't know what winter is as they all live in places so hot that even the salamanders complain. Absolute tripe, as all five South American teams have gone through whilst seven of Europe's bloated contingent have buggered off home. In fact given the way the draw has turned out there will only be three European teams in the quarter-finals which is the fewest in the history of the competition. Admittedly 1930 and 1950 did not have anything like quarter-finals due to a lack of participants but, although 1978 and 1974 did not have quarter-finals either, they did have eight team group stages, each of which had more than three European teams. 1982 was even more confusing but their second group stage had ten European teams out of 12 so it was a lot more than this time out. So if three out of eight represents conditions suiting the Europeans I dread to think how they perform when it is held in Brazil.
keresaspa: (Lolita No. 18)
Another day another ill-starred attempt to watch two matches at once. Figuring that it might be the one where most would happen I opted for Italy-Slovakia as the main game with the odd dabble with Paraguay-New Zealand. It proved to be a wise decision as, whilst Paraguay put on a pretty turgid display against a thuggish New Zealand (whom the commentators seemed to think should definitely win for some reason), the other game proved to be something of a classic. Slovakia began the game improved on their previous weak performances and were just about good value for Vittek's opener, even if it was a De Rossi error that gifted it to them. Italy looked decidedly out of ideas approaching half-time but improved when Pirlo was introduced. However the luck just wasn't with them (as inevitably seems to be the case with Italy) whilst in Iaquinta they had a striker who was some way short of the class of a Rossi, Schillaci or Del Piero. Slovakia meanwhile seemed to have a strange preponderance for wearing strips of blue on their legs with Kucka practically wearing blue tape leggings. Any ideas on what that was about? Poor defending allowed Vittek to grab a second before Di Natale pulled one back, sparking an inevitable rumpus. The Slovak goalkeeper Mucha did not come out of this game with much credit as he sought any opportunity to cheat or time-waste whilst the Slovakians as a whole were very prone to extreme levels of gamesmanship. Italy came back strong but then fell asleep for Kopúnek's goal, a strike that came straight from the Stoke City playbook. With Paraguay heading towards a bore draw the Slovaks looked set to win the group and condemn Paraguay to a hiding from the Netherlands. God bless Fabio Quagliarella for that late goal then - you may be out Fab but you'll be welcome in Asuncion for evermore! When the whistle finally went there was a clear feeling that something special had ended. The Italy side had been great but this looked a tournament too far and it is a shame that the international career of a little warrior like Cannavaro, not to mention Pirlo, Gattuso, Camoranesi and Zambrotta, had to end like this. Slovakia deserved to win overall but it was hard to warm to them as they were a petty bunch and the Dutch should just about edge them. As for Paraguay winning the group is a job well done (just as I predicted) but there will need to be improvements in the next match as, apart from a few decent runs by Vera and Valdez, New Zealand frustrated them badly at times. Cardozo also needs to end his shoot on sight policy as soon as possible as he has wasted a few chances that way. Still on the positive side Santa Cruz looked sharper and went damn close with a free kick so if he can hit form then the Japanese should be beatable. Or not, it transpired....

It seemed an odd decision by the BBC to choose a match between an already qualified side and an already eliminated side as their main game. Still, their coverage has been plagued by gaffes and so it seemed ordained that the rubbish that is BBC Three would be my home for much of the evening. Luckily somebody saw sense and made the switch at the last minute as we were treated to a surprise master class. It was all about Denmark in the early stages and then suddenly the Japanese blossomed like the sakura and became world class out of nowhere. Honda, ignoring the showbiz ref who seemed determined to get noticed with daft yellow cards, struck unquestionably the free kick of the tournament so far to put the Japanese ahead and to prove me right for rating him. As if that wasn't enough Endo promptly scored another free kick goal to put them two up. There's nothing to this free kick lark, is there? Honda continued to look great throughout and he is bound to be in demand when this tournament is over whilst Matsui also played a blinder. For their part the Danes saw more of the ball after half-time but by and large they huffed and puffed to little real effect and the penalty when it came was as much to do with Agger's theatrical leap as the slight shove he absorbed. It was no surprise that Jon Dahl Tomasson, who looked his Newcastle self rather than his AC Milan self here, missed but he did get the follow-up and I suppose you have to say well done on getting his record. Mind you it is debatable if he was the worst Danish striker on display out there as at the start of the game we were treated to the bizarre sight of Nicklas Bendtner colouring in his socks with a red pen. That was about all we saw of him too, as the self-proclaimed best striker in the world was pwned by the veteran Nakazawa and really needs to learn to keep his mouth shut or at least back up his words with performances. The Japanese third goal was well deserved and once again saw some tremendous work by that man Honda, who combines the raw power of Lolita No. 18 with the swagger and élan of 54 Nude Honeys and has been the find of these group stages. All things considered this was a joy to watch as the Japanese, whom I was justifiably criticising for their negativity only a few days ago, played like a team reborn and slapped the ugly, clogging Danes down with a style and joie de vivre that will take some topping. But not only was it pretty they also had plenty of bottom to them as they stood up to rough Danish treatment strongly and even paid them back in kind when the opportunity arose. All of which is bloody bad news for Paraguay who have face them in the next round but for the moment I would rather simply enjoy what I just watched. And so good was the Japanese performance that I never once felt the need to switch over so I can add little or nothing about the Cameroon-Netherlands game. The Dutch struggle to hold my interest at the best of times and unfortunately Cameroon have been the poorest African team at this competition so I don't imagine I missed much anyway. Besides had I missed the reincarnation of this Japanese team I would have been kicking myself forever.
keresaspa: (Beatrice smoking)
Before I start on today's action there is one thing I need to get off my chest - this enmity between Ireland and France has to stop. Listening to Jim Beglin ripping into the French because of a single football match made the bile rise in me. There can be few countries in the world that Ireland owes more of a debt to than France be it for providing gainful employment to the Jacobite armies of Ireland when King Billy sought vengeance after the Williamite wars or being in through the inspiration they gave to Wolfe Tone in establishing independence as a real goal. Indeed I would argue that, were it not for the positive influence of France, there might not be an Ireland, or even a concept of Ireland, today so let's stop the hatred over a simple football match. Too much of it has been constructed by the English media and the sympathisers in the Irish press in a post-imperialist attempt at imposing English prejudices so let's turn away from it now and remember that the French have been Ireland's friends for longer than anybody. Apart from all that there is no evidence that Ireland would have won a penalty shootout (especially as the team was nearly all brought up the English way and so would never have practiced penalties) and do we seriously believe if it had been Robbie Keane or Kevin Doyle doing the handling that they would have come over all George Washington and admitted it? And pigs will fly.

Apologies for that little rant there; I shall now resume normal service (you'll be thrilled to hear). I found myself sympathising with Raymond Domenech when today's "festivities" began. I've always thought him a bit of a merde tête but he has been beaten from pillar to post in this tournament and has been badly let down by a number of his players. As usual trouble emanates from Nicolas Anelka, a man who has always been a wrong one ever since his days at Arsenal when he threw all manners of tantrums and made all manner of threats to get to Real Madrid. Tosser! Adrian Chiles' opening gambit was horrible to watch, filled with vile xenophobia against the French and I swear he was just a whisker away from calling them "frogs". This revolting human being, his unfunny attempts at comedy, his twisted ugly face and his revolting racist opinions have been an absolute blight on this World Cup and I call a pox on him. Not far behind him has been Jon Champion, who opened his commentary with a rant about how France have an inflated opinion of themselves. From an Englishman this was the biggest joke of all, given that he and his colleagues insist that they are favourites for every tournament going despite the fact that they have only won one of them (compared to France's three). The game itself proved to be an oddly sombre affair, despite the reasonable performance by South Africa, and had a whiff of the last rites about it given that neither team had much hope of qualification. Gourcuff's red card, which appeared to be for jumping whilst being in possession of a pair of arms, set alarms bells ringing as I started to fear the dreaded FIFA nurse the hosts trick, although the 2-0 half-time score was only to be expected. After all it was what the healer told Lebo would be the half-time score in compellingly awful Soccer City Live on Eurosport. By this point I had lost interest in what I was beginning to think was a bought game and so I switched over in time to see Uruguay score against Mexico and make me even more suspicious. In fairness however Uruguay are a better team than Mexico and the goal scored by France, which was a nice bit of play and the sort of thing they should have been doing since the start, restored a bit of credibility. Absolutely no offence to South Africa, who were a game bunch, but they were clearly the weakest team in this group and it would have been a farce to see them in the second round. Their point in the opening game was as much to do with Mexico's chronic inability to put the ball in the net as anything else whilst their win today clearly came about due to France falling apart. The game against Uruguay was the real Bafana Bafana who would not have qualified for these finals were they not host - an indisputable fact in this case. As for the other two Uruguay are a neat side with good strikers (particularly Forlan, who has been excellent) and a solid defence who should at least make the quarter finals whilst Mexico, who play pretty stuff but just can't finish, should be easy pickings for Argentina to say the least.

It was hard to pick an evening match as in theory both or neither could have turned out crucial. But in the end I plumped for Greece-Argentina, hopeful that Maradona's mob would turn on the style. That was, to quote a phrase doing the rounds, a big mistake. Greece, who needed the result lest we forget, reverted to how they were against South Korea and defended constantly whilst Argentina seemed a bit disinterested. It says it all that the first 45 minutes was all about watching the Cosmic Kite's reactions rather than what was happening on the pitch. Meanwhile the Nigerians and Koreans were trading goals but the slow-coach BBC was only telling us a good five minutes afterwards so as there was no chance to turn over and catch the replays. Sloppy, Auntie, very sloppy! I grimly persevered with part of the second half before finally deciding that nothing was going to happen and turning to the other match, by this time 2-1. I turned over just in time too as by the time I was five minutes in Yakubu had missed an absolute sitter, scored a penalty and thrown a tantrum upon being substituted. "Finally some action" I thought, but of course that was it and the whole thing went decidedly flat and before long word came through that I had missed yet another goal as Argentina finally took the lead. Fortunately the finish to the Argentina match, which I returned to, was pretty exciting and their second goal was a sight to behold with a sublime run by Messi and an emotional strike for Palermo. The Argentineans were worthy winners in the end and if they can keep playing to their strengths and covering their defensive frailties could go all the way. South Korea, on the other hand, shouldn't give Uruguay too many problems as they looked very average in their game against Argentina. As for the two eliminated I'm a little disappointed to see Nigeria leave although they were poor at times whilst I'm glad to see the back of boring old Greece. One other thing I will be glad to see the back off is these simultaneous matches. I appreciate the reason for them given the Austro-German carve up of 1982 but they give us all the unhappy prospect of match selection which for me invariably means a wrong choice. Still, only three more days and the real stuff starts.

Capital

Jun. 17th, 2010 10:34 pm
keresaspa: (Gorilla madness!)
That was a bit more like it by Argentina in their match with South Korea. The defence had its shaky moments but they were sold to us on the basis of their attack and it finally came good here. Tevez puts in so much work that it is a wonder he doesn't drop down dead after every game. One thing is for sure - if he was English we would never hear the end of him. Messi meanwhile had some really special touches and a particular run near half-time really deserved a goal. However I still reckon he needs to do a bit more before we can start talking about him as one of the all-time greats. As if those two weren't enough they also have a mighty finisher in Higuain whose second goal was a master class in the poacher's art (even though I missed it live due to leaving the room). His hat-trick was taken with aplomb and the third was a true work of art with the sort of passing that just oozes class. The South Koreans however did have their moments and, although their goal (also missed by me) probably wasn't deserved after a weak half, you suspect that if they had a good forward they would have a chance of going far. Argentina's defence might let them down in the latter stages but for now I am contented to enjoy this performance for what it was and breathe a sigh of relief that this World Cup has finally picked up.

Terrible news to start the next game - the BBC decided to inflict Colin Murray on us as host. Just what have we done to deserve this smug, mouthy, smirking, diminutive, self-serving, self-satisfied, little bastard? He has no personality, he demonstrates no particular knowledge of football and has a voice that could curdle milk so why under God do the BBC feel the need to force him on us? So far I have completely ignored the BBC's highlights show due to his presence but now they're putting the tossbag on during the day too. Between him and Chiles there seems to be a real determination to force annoying shits down our throats at this tournament. But enough about him, the hateful little turd. I had low expectations for this game but it actually proved to be a very entertaining romp. Things did not start great as Greece looked their usual dull selves but another great free kick saw Nigeria take a deserved lead and things were looking up, especially for Nigeria's crazy supporters who included a dancing man reading the Bible and a chap in what appeared to be a Smurf outfit. A shame Sani Kaita had to ruin it with a stupid red card but the sending-off and the appearance of Samaras did at least allow the Greeks to come out of their shells. For a team that is so defensively minded they are actually not particularly good at defending and yet they proved to be quite effective going forward. Their two goals were both lucky and I was gutted for Enyeama on the second one as, that mistake apart, he has been the find of the tournament so far but they had plenty of the play and will probably regret being so negative against South Korea. A full Nigeria team would certainly have done better, although Yakubu looks a bit past his sell-by date and I would certainly question the validity of his claim to being 27 years of age. Still, despite occasional lulls, this was a very enjoyable spectacle between two not very good teams who nevertheless at least had a go. Both could well be going home early but they made a positive contribution to proceedings here.

A shock of sorts followed in the next game. Not so much France losing as Mexico scoring. Having watched that France team against Uruguay I fully expected them to be equally bad in this game but I also felt that Mexico had no goals in them due to their shot-shy forwards. It was a decent enough performance by the Mexicans over all but the real story was how bad France were. Of course given that they were first round casualties in 2008 and they only qualified via the play-offs this time it is hardly that big a shock but, like all tournaments, the commentators and pundits seem to think that only the distant past rather than the recent past counts for anything. No less an authority than Danny Baker (a man who would immediately improve coverage by 1000% were he to be drafted in as a replacement for Colin Murray but who would never be considered as he is fat and bald) came on after the match and argued that the French would still qualify but on this one I feel he and I will have to agree to disagree as, not only will Mexico and Uruguay play out the draw they need, but this rotten team deserves to go home. Still, all things considered, this was the best day so far and long may it continue.
keresaspa: (Sergio Aragones)
For the first time since this World Cup started I have felt the inescapable urge to use the word quicksilver. There can be no more apt description for Chile in the first half of their match against Honduras. The only slight disappointment was that it reaped only a single goal as if any match deserved more then it was this. For their part Honduras were hardly at the races but they weren't quite as bad as some have suggested they might have been and Noel Valladares did pull off a spectacular save from the unfortunately named Waldo Ponce. It didn't please Craig Burley of course but there again nothing ever does and you rather suspect that were he to win Euromillions his only response would be "shame it isn't a rollover". A brickbat too for Jon Champion for suggesting that the Soccer War was simply a case of Honduras declaring war on El Salvador because they lost a World Cup qualifier. I suppose it had nothing to do with Oswaldo López Arellano persecuting and expelling Salvadorian immigrants, then Jon? A shame that in the second half Chile tailed off a bit but in the first half at least the Hondurans might as well have laid out the Welcome mat. Sorry.

"So much for Spain" would be enough to sum up the second game. Good to see the pate of Howard Webb, who is apparently "our own" now, and speaking of baldness, could anybody but that big galoot Senderos contrive to injure himself in a World Cup finals whilst tackling one of his own team mates? Poor showing from Jonathan Pearce as well, who proceeded to tell us that the veteran Blaise Nkufo was in his "mid or late twenties" and that Spain and Switzerland had met in the 1990 finals despite the Swiss not having qualified. The commentators on this tournament have been as lacklustre as most of the football. The first half here was OK with the Spanish as pretty as promised, albeit with little end-product, and the Swiss negative but well drilled in the same mould as Japan. Of course the Swiss improved immeasurably after the break and Manchester City reject Gelson's goal was a blinder, the sort of roughhouse rushed in strike that I assumed had been banned these days. Nice work by Our Own in letting it stand as there was technically nothing wrong with it. Spain had more purpose after the hour mark and the form of Navas begged the question of why he had not started but the Swiss goal led a charmed life and the Spanish defence looked a bit chaotic whenever the Swiss broke. Certainly this team did not look world beaters and they will need to buck up their ideas pretty quickly if they are to go far. As for the Swiss their ability to beat Spain suggests that they should also be able to beat Chile, a team in the same mould but (in theory) not as good, whilst Honduras should be easy pickings for everybody. As such for me it is between Chile and Spain for second place. Good to see a shock at last but we really could do with fewer 1-0 wins lest this become known as the World Cup Twenty One-Nil.

But thankfully the knights in shining armour came riding over the hill to save us from narrow victories in the shape of Uruguay. All respect to South Africa who are a fine team of try-hards supported by a great bunch of knockabout rapscallions but they were firmly put to the sword by a rampant Uruguay and in particular an imperious Diego Forlan. It is surely one of the few question marks against the record of Alex Ferguson that he failed to get anything useful out of a player of this calibre. Who would have thought that not everybody would respond to being yelled at in their faces?! It's hard to see how South Africa can go on from here as, if France are bad enough for them to beat in their final match, then surely Mexico will also beat the French making that result academic. As for Uruguay they look a class act in their stride and they could well go to the quarter finals at least if they can keep Forlan fit. Plus the penalty award (which was right) and red card (also right according to the rules, although in my opinion the penalty should be punishment enough in these circumstances) demonstrate that this is going to be a clean competition and not one where the hosts are nursed through, which is good. A shame then that the BBC had to end their coverage of this grand performance with yet more anti-North Korean racism masquerading as "comedy" but unfortunately that is fast becoming a feature of coverage of this World Cup.

The omens are good so fingers crossed that things will pick up now that everybody has got their opening night nerves out of the way. This round of games should produce more and at last the tournament can really get going as a spectacle. Ten 1-0 wins in a row it is then!

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