Tradition versus Innovation.

(Tradition)

So, Hampden Park is to remain the home of Scottish Football. Huzzah!

It’s not very often I agree with our game’s administrators and policy makers, but I do feel they have made the right choice this time. Whatever steps they next take, may however, elicit a completely different reaction. But for now, let’s give them some credit, and look on the bright side.

You see, I’m an out and out traditionalist. And if that means being regarded as a misty-eyed plonker who views sporting life through a black and white lens, then I’m afraid I’m guilty as charged, m’lud.
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Toys and Prams.

The recent incident where Celtic fans unfurled a huge banner declaring that Dedryck Boyata was unfit to wear the shirt of Celtic Football Club, no doubt proved an embarrassing episode for all parties concerned. Certainly, from the brief highlights I watched on TV, the player looked very subdued and sheepish. I didn’t see the faces of those fans bearing the banner after their anti-hero scored the only, and winning goal of the game, but surely they must have been a picture of confusion?

That a group of fans would go to such lengths (and it was a lo-o-o-ong) banner) and expense (unless they had all roped their grannies into a week’s worth of communal needlecraft) to express their feelings, raises several points of worthy debate.
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It’s Football, But Not As We Know It.

Time and tide wait for no man.

But, it would seem, both are understanding of the tardiness displayed by this great game of ours, Football.

While the world of sport in general has been quick to embrace the advancement of technology, Football has remained rather reticent; reluctant to change a perceived winning formula, preferring instead to adopt an ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,’ mentality.

For although there have been circa seventy changes to the laws of the game in the last fifty years (I will, perhaps, count them properly for a future article), many are simple tweaks to existing rules for the purpose of clarification, and nothing more.

Others are purely cosmetic, it would appear, instigated one could imagine, as a simple tactic to further delay the implementation of available scientific advancement. (Non-intervening, pointless and superfluous assistant referees behind the goals, for instance.)
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UEFA Fair Play, My @>$£

The following is copied directly from the ‘About UEFA’ page of the official UEFA website. I’m just going to park it here for a while. I have highlighted some segments in bold font, and we’ll return to them in a while:

‘UEFA – the Union of European Football Associations …..is the umbrella organisation for 55 national football associations across Europe. Its objectives are, among other things, to deal with all questions relating to European football, to promote football in a spirit of unity, solidarity, peace, understanding and fair play, without any discrimination on the part of politics, race, religion, gender or any other reason, to safeguard the values of European football, promote and protect ethical standards and good governance in European football, maintain relations with all stakeholders involved in European football, and support and safeguard its member associations for the overall well-being of the European game.’

OK – so here’s where I’m going with this: we here in Scotland have grown accustomed to a feeling of injustice when it comes to our clubs – well, Celtic in recent years – having to walk the early season tightrope of  previously three, and now four, two-legged qualifiers just to reach the Champions League Group Stages.
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How Much Do You Want It?


HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT IT?

As football fans, each and every one of us wants our club to be successful. That’s the whole point of sport, right? To win. Unless of course your name happens to be Claude ‘Lefty’ Williams, the three-game losing pitcher for the infamous Chicago White Sox (subsequently referred to as the Black Sox) in the 1919 World Series.

But what price, success? How much do you crave it?
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Bring back queues. Please.

 

Social media has come a long way in recent years.

Remember the time you’d receive, through the post, a quaint little invitation, hand-written on rose-bordered notepaper bought from the ‘three for two’ bucket in WH Smith.? It would request the pleasure of your company at a friend’s fondue party, organised as an excuse to show off the new eighteen inch, colour television set.  

Oh dear God! The sheer terror! Your mind would immediately click into excuse mode, but you were fresh out of dead grannies and if the kids were sick any more, you’d be reported to the Children’s Panel.

Nowadays though, it’s possible to ‘virtually’ attend such a party from the comfort of your own armchair. No longer need you fret over being polite to the host when they ask you to comment on their newly wood-chip and emulsion decorated home.

Of no concern either, is that irritating know-it-all who’s experienced everything you have, only longer, better or in the case of ill health, worse.

And, while the host is able to give you a flavour of the party as they Face-Time you around selected guests, what they are entirely unable to do, is  pressure you into sampling the culinary non-delights of salmon and cucumber on a rye crispbread.

Of course, social media messages are prone to hacking from time to time – something that was unlikely in the days when communication was principally done by lighting a bonfire on top of a prominent hill.
“Look yonder! A third, bonfire has been lit. This can only mean bad news.”
“You’re damned right. That’s no bonfire – that’s your house. You’ve been hacked.”

But for all the obvious benefits the various interactional platforms bring, they also encourage another modern day phenomenon. One with a terrible, sinister underbelly that gives voice to those previously considered quiet, mouse-like, introverted people. A virtual power that amplifies the booming opinions of those already with an overspill of self-importance.

Communal Anguished Hand Wringing. (read more …)

REVIEW: ‘The Bottom Corner: A Season with the Dreamers of Non-League Football’ – Nige Tassell

As a follower of Non-League football myself, I found this book quite engrossing.

The format was tidy, accounting for the season and off-season on a month by month basis, and concentrating on only a couple of clubs each chapter. I would, though, have preferred to read about more teams from the middle the pyramid, my only slight criticism being that the book seems more focused on National League, and then clubs right at the bottom of the pyramid.

But that really doesn’t detract from providing a well written account of life at the Bottom Corner. of British football

REVIEW: ‘Raising Steam’ – Terry Pratchett

I enjoyed this, as with all Terry Pratchett books, but if I’m honest, it was the one that had less impact.

There were the usual witty lines and excellent character portrayals, but I felt the storyline was a bit thin. It just seemed there was very little actual plot to it.

Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable, but if this is your first Terry Pratchett novel, don’t pre-judge others on this. As good as this is,, others are way better.

Uh oh! That’s me, that is …

(Written for my football club’s match-day programme – January 2019)

On our recent holiday, my wife and I met a very interesting lady. I’m not sure what her exact job-title is, but she is a ward manager in secure units. As such she has come face to face (or, more accurately, face to shoulder – she’s rather petite and definitely not the kind of person you’d imagine in that type of role) with some of the country’s most notorious killers.

She does all that ‘seeing inside the mind,’ stuff, and although I don’t think she is a criminal profiler per se, her experiences mean she has a good handle on people’s true personalities.

“So how would you categorize Cee Tee?” asked my wife.
“Warm hearted, friendly, determined and kind to animals,” I envisioned the reply, as I smugly quaffed my beer.
“Obsessive,” she said.

I was momentarily stunned, but before I could blurt my protestations, she explained.

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It’s All About Me (of course!)

The following is a reproduction of the interview that appears on the excellent Lenka’s List website.

What inspired you to write?
There was no blinding flash of light, no epiphany moment as such. I have always enjoyed writing, be that school projects, internal memos at work and as Scottish correspondent for a national music magazine, Artrocker. (I stopped that a few years ago.)

Probably what gave me confidence to tackle a light-hearted book, was the favorable comments I received for my Facebook posts.

Did the inspiration to write come to you suddenly, or had you been thinking about it some time?
As far as writing ‘Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee’ is concerned, it was something I had a notion for doing as soon as I started my own petcare (dog walking) business.That was about eight years before I started on ‘DD&RW.’

However, I viewed it as practice-run for the book I’m currently working on. It’s a comedy-fantasy, and I just really sought some form of reassurance that I could make people smile / laugh with my writing, before embarking upon it.

How did you tell your story? In other words, did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
Being basically memoir, it was pretty straightforward. No plots to worry about! Nobody could take issue with the characters in the book as they were all real! So, it was just a case of ‘start at the beginning,’ and highlight the more humorous and poignant moments under single word headings / chapters.

Did you receive any encouragement from family and friends, or did you work on your book alone?
Oh – my wife was very understanding, what with my locking myself away in the evenings to write. (She was probably more than happy to have the TV controls uncontested, and didn’t have to watch football every night.)

I actually didn’t tell many friends and relatives I was writing the book, but I did join an online writing group, and several people there were very supportive and helpful.

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
The opening, without doubt. Same goes for my present project (now with a working title of ‘Evhen & Uurth.) Getting it to a point where you are confident that it will retain a prospective reader’s attention is not as easy as i thought it would be.

What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
Dreaming of what I was going to say on the TV chat shows I felt certain I’d be invited on. That, and deciding whether I should spend the first batch of royalties on a a flash car or exotic holiday.

Did you experience any personal transformation after the book was published?
Yeah, most definitely. I’m no longer a hopeless and hapless ‘dreamer.’

What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity?
Facebook.

But there’s loads of distractions – sport / training / reading and critiquing other authors’ works / work itself.

What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
I’m pretty thick skinned really. I think you learn to identify what is actually meant as constructive criticism, and what spiteful. I now have a band of writers whose opinion I value. So much so, I feel I can now do without the large online writing group that I subscribe to – you get so much conflicting advice, it can all get too confusing. Best to have a consistent pool of reviewers who are basically on your side, but not afraid to be blunt and to the point.
I make a definite point of asking them to be brutal in their feedback. Then, if any patterns of criticism appear, you know it’s a legit point..
Far better to have criticism now, at the WIP stage, rather than having it panned on Amazon or wherever after its publication.
Bring it on, I say!

Have you received any awards for your book? 
The short answer is ‘no.’ No awards. Nada. Nuthin. I guess it’s just not found its way onto the shelves of the bookshops frequented by Messrs Pulitzer or Booker.

Are you working on a new book at the moment? What are you up to nowadays? 
Yes … I’m working on my light-hearted fantasy. Working title is ‘Evhen & Uurth.’ This was the idea I had before writing ‘Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee’ as an exercise to see if i could actually write, and just as importantly, successfully market it.

Here’s the brief synopsis: A rather incompetent junior god and his beautiful minder; a bad tempered, cantankerous crow, and a psychopomp with a troubled past – why would anyone put the fate of the planet in the hands of this motley crew? The Dux Shrevas may just be having second thoughts.

Progress is slow, unfortunately. Trying to find time between work, training, tennis, baseball (watching) and an elderly cat with separation issues, is proving difficult. I’d like to think I can get a proper run at it and have it ready for autumn / Christmas (that gives me a decent window!).

Do you have any author appearances coming up and/or are you doing any books giveaways or contests?
I have no more promotional appearances for DD&RW planned. I will probably do another 99 cents promo in US in next few weeks. I’ve used Fussy Librarian in past. But while working on the new book, and running own business, there’s not a lot of time left for promo of the ‘old’ book. I DO know, however, that if I can get it out in front of the right audience, it WILL continue to sell. Only this week, this comment was placed on the FB page of Clean Indie Reads, by an established author:

Lia London-Gubelin: I still think that’s one of the funniest books I’ve read in years. Too bad I’m not Oprah to promote it for you with a single shout out… (15th May 2017)

Tell us more about yourself… Where did you grow up and what is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
I grew up in suburban Glasgow. It was a happy childhood – lots of playing outdoors and football. LOTS and LOTS of football (soccer.)
I honestly can’t think of any bad childhood memory. Nothing that’s haunted me ever since. (There is one helluva embarrassing memory from Primary four at school – age about 9 or 10: after watching a schools geography TV programme, teacher asked the class,
“Now, children – where is Bali?”
I had been daydreaming, but recalling something sai by the little kids over the road from my house, who went to a fee-paying, private school and had been educated in classical arts by their parents, I stuck up my hand to answer the question. Miss Wotherspoon (I’ll never forget that name) and proudly said,
“At the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, Miss,” at which point the classroom was filled with howls of laughter, and a warm glow emanated from my face.
(Yeah – where my parents and grandparents would take me to the movies (‘pictures,’ as we call them) or to see Glasgow Rangers, those little brats over the road were taken to art galleries (‘pictures,’ as I call them) and to see The Royal Ballet.

Do you have a favorite quote?
‘You can lead a horse to water, but if you can make it do the backstroke, then you’ve got something.’ (Woody Allen)

What is your favorite show on TV?
Sports programmes and cartoons mainly. And old-school UK TV comedies.

Would probably have to say Fawlty Towers and the old Sixties Batman TV series are my big favourites.

Favorite movie?
Life of Brian and Blazing Saddles. (I’m not big on movies, really.)

Favorite book?
Any by Terry Pratchett.

Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
Have always said Neil Armstrong, Bob Marley and the wee sod who stole the milk and newspaper from my doorstep this morning.

Is there a talent you wish you had?
I’d love to be able to play an instrument. Preferably bass guitar or drums. Both my boys played in touring bands – I have no idea from where they inherited the ability.

What’s something about you that would surprise us?
I’ve had a gun pointed at my face during a bank raid.

Describe yourself in 3 words!
Short, funny, punk