Friday, 26 June 2009

Another column about Jacko

(image: Daily Mail)

Well, in case you haven't noticed by the wall-to-wall media coverage, the alleged 'king of pop' is dead. It would be very, very easy to write a blog entry today which put the boot in, but I wasn't brought up to speak ill of the dead, so I won't.

Fact is, I'm no Jackson fan. I own none of his records, have never wanted to buy any. His earlier work is excellent, but just not my taste. His later stuff is garbage, and no doubt we'll see plenty of Jarvis Cocker's Brit-award 'moment'. Quite justified, really. The guy was acting like Jesus! Then there were the legal matters, trials, and allegations. Again, the guy was cleared of all wrongdoing, but that mud properly stuck.

But I'm a charitable person, occasionally. Jackson's legacy in the pop music business is without question, and the tributes from leading musicians & artists back this up. There's no doubt that Jackson's childhood was crazy, and there's no surprise he grew up with serious emotional problems, all well documented elsewhere. I'd also suggest that his life wasn't his. I actually wonder if he really wanted to do the 50 shows at the O2 arena, or more likely he had very little choice? People have said on TV this morning that he was quite a sharp, astute character, but when millions of pounds are involved I would suggest he wasn't quite so in control.

Anyway, the press have now dictated we go into national mourning, but that won't be happening in our house because I'm just not that into his music. His crazy fans will all be over-reacting for a week or two, and I'm sure there'll be litigation and legal actions appearing in the next few weeks, months, years. It would appear his life is incredibly complex, and unravelling it could be messy.

Let the media circus begin. And, I guess, RIP Jacko.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Can't we be friends?

I see the new fixture lists are out, for the football season. Excellent. Hull City's first match, Chelsea. Man Utd on boxing day.

I'm glad. Honestly. Well ok, I'm not too fussed. Football interests me to the extent that I love to see City doing well, and I was as happy as anyone when they avoided relegation last year. But to claim I'm their number one fan is a lie.

My mother was brought up on Hessle Road in Hull, and her house was about 30 seconds walk away from the Boulevard, which any sports fan will know is the former home of Hull FC, the super-league club to the west of Hull. So, that's what I was brought up with, and that's what gets me going. Sure, I've been to Boothferry Park, and had a great time. I saw Dean Windass put the Tigers in the lead against Bradford, before getting sent off. I experienced Duane Darby scoring a last-minute equaliser against Whitby Town in an FA cup game - 8:4 final score. I even endured 90 minutes of misery at Huddersfield Town's old Leeds Road ground, in a 3-0 defeat. Yes, those games live long in the memory.

But for me, it was all about the black and whites. Greg Mackey's bomb in the 1991 Premiership semi-final that led to the winning try. Cardiff 2005. The old threepenny stand, and being told by the tannoy-bloke not to jump around in it because it might collapse. Getting threatened with eviction at Featherstone, for flicking the V's at the home fans (who were doing far worse to me!) The advertising hoardings at Keighley giving way, resulting in 1 broken leg and a week of - undeserved - negative press. The goalposts coming down at Huddersfield, and the sickening trip home knowing what the rugby league world would be saying, and the chief executive standing amongst the away fans at Warrington in the very next game, to prove a point that he was on our side and a few morons wouldn't result in him letting down the majority of decent sports fans.

Because that's what sport is about. Not just the results, but the experience, good and bad. Sure, I was happy the day Hull City won at Wembley, but I'll bet the people who were there, and have been there for many years, were in another place that day. The nervous night before, the trip down, the game, the journey home, the open-top bus, the pub on the night. It's all part of being a fan. I've never experienced that with City. I've been there with Hull FC.

Ultimately, though, just because I'm not the Tigers' Number one fan, doesn't mean to say I can't wish them well. We share the same ground, we come from the same city, but for heavens sake we are different sports. Hull KR play the same game as FC, and there's no way I could ever wish them well, but that's an obvious rivalry. Hull City are different. So I despair when I read comments on the Hull Daily Mail website, like;

  • I agree Rugby Supporter, Why do we have to put with this dribble of a head chaser game!!!
  • Rovers, Fan
and;

"These eggchasers dont like football and Hull City getting any headlines do they? Makes a change from rugby league players appearing at court though you must admit."

This dumb little war has been going on for years, and is worse since we both moved to the new ground. And I'm not going to take sides, because frankly, both football and rugby fans are as bad as each other. It's truly pathetic. Obviously, football gets bigger crowds. Obviously, some people prefer rugby. Makes no odds to me. I just can't get my head around why people can't follow both games if they want.

So, for the record. Good luck to the Tigers next season, and for crying out loud FC, sort your sorry backsides out - I'm sick of losing every week!!!!!!!

Friday, 12 June 2009

"Dear sir, I'm writing for permission to have a poo..."



The picture above is a bacteria - a coliform, apparently. And our water supply is rammed full of them.

Not your water supply, I'd guess. If your water comes from the local water company, it'll have been filtered, treated, scrubbed, and cleaned to within an inch of it's life. That's why you pay the water company for something that's free. No, just our water supply.

That's because our water comes from a tank at the top of the hill. The stream that runs past our house fills the tank, and the water comes to our village. There are 5 houses connected to this supply. The water board could supply us direct, but then they'd charge £5,000 a house to connect us, and frankly they can take a running jump.

So, this water comes into my house, goes through 3 filters which kill these little beggars (and remove any lumps of peat from the water - oh yes, when it rains our supply is a lovely dark brown colour) and then we don't drink it. The emphasis on the word 'don't'. We boil it, wash in it, wash pots in it, but there's no way in a million years I'm drinking brown water that comes from fields full of sheep crap. The ablutions of our farm animals, incidentally, are the source of these beggars.

And, I can even tell you how many of these critters are in our water. On 9th June, there were over 201/100ml of water, of which 74/100ml were faecal coliforms. I know this because on that date, Harrogate Council sent an environmental bloke round to test the water coming from an outside tap on the side of a house up the lane.

Oh yes. Despite the fact that we are all perfectly aware of the water quality, a man from the council has decided that we are too dim to work out that brown unfiltered water is a bit manky., and has sent us a letter telling us why it's full of bugs, when they are doing a second test, and what to do. Apparently we should boil the water in the meantime. Durr. Two of the houses are lived in by families who have farming pedigree going back hundreds of years, in the Nidd valley. I don't think they really need a patronising letter from the council telling them the bleeding obvious now, do they?

Best thing is, they didn't even send me the letter. Even though I pay them a 4-figure sum in council tax every year, the 5 letters were all sent to old names. My letter is addressed to the woman who moved next door. The bloke next door passed away last year. The third house along got a letter to a bloke who moved out 5 years ago. So, I would have known nothing about the imminent health risk if my neighbour hadn't come round and pointed out that this statement of the obvious is probably going to cost £15, at least. And as yet, I've no idea what will happen if the water fails it's July test.

I'll keep you posted!