Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kevin Myers and 'the English out of Ireland'...

Another post, another link to an article by Kevin Myers in the Irish Independent.

For once, I would take issue with some of his assertions - primarily written for an Irish audience as they may be. For instance, my regular reader cannot be unaware that this Englishman most definitely does take more than a passing interest in Irish history and Irish politics; I would, however, have to concede that I may be in something of a minority amongst my countrymen in that particular regard.

That said, I agree wholeheartedly that it is high time that we (in this instance the government of Britain, not England, as he deliberately misprepresents the case, presumably for effect) withdrew from any future role in the governance of the northern part of the island of Ireland.

I have been of that opinion for some time now, and I am in the process of formulating a post - probably quite a lengthy one, I suspect - to outline my position.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is that thing sharp?

Apologies for the even thinner than usual level of posting; I'm recuperating from what I like to describe as minor (and elective) abdominal surgery.

More when I can it at my keyboard a little longer...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ali Dizaei: the high-stakes 'game' is afoot...

The 'game of high stakes' I wrote about here is now most definitely afoot.

I await developments in the case with interest...

Monday, January 04, 2010

Why Bolton, Owen?

I have to say, both as a football fan generally and a Lancastrian one in particular, that if it actually comes to pass, this story surprises me greatly.

Why on earth would Owen Coyle - an unqualified success as manager of Burnley, a club he steered into the Premier League last May - want to swap the hot seat at Turf Moor for the one at the Reebok Stadium as manager of Bolton Wanderers?

Whilst Bolton is a far bigger town than Burnley, the Trotters' (Bolton, to the uninititated) fan base is not much bigger than the Clarets', given the proximity to Bolton of the two giant Manchester clubs.

Furthermore, the Trotters are also in a worse league position than Burnley right now and therefore, theoretically at least, at greater risk of relegation to the Chumpionship.

More unusually still, it is widely known that following his success in returning Burnley to the top division of English football for the first time for more than thirty years, Coyle, a Glaswegian, was offered the manager's job at Celtic, an opportunity he turned down to guide the Clarets into the Premier League.

Let's just pause there for a minute.

Owen Coyle, a sensible, well-spoken, intelligent, tee-total Glaswegian Celtic fan turned down the chance to manage the club he supported as a boy, to remain loyal to Burnley. He chose to stay in Lancashire, battling against what were then (and still are) steep odds to keep a mill-town club with average home gates around the 20,000 mark, in the English Premier League, rather than assume command of one of the biggest clubs in these islands, with a virtual guarantee of Champions League football every year, to say nothing of Scottish League and cup titles and the unswerving loyalty of 55,000 fans every week.


The only explanation I can come up with are that Burnley matched the salary on offer in Scotland, plus Coyle's commendable loyalty and his desire to compete week in and week out against the best teams in the country - not something on offer in Scotland, it has to be said. It might also be the case that as a relatively young man, he has a young family who are settled in their schools and together with his wife, he chose (sensibly) not to uproot them unnecessarily.

But why consider a move to Bolton, and why now?

Bolton, Burnley, Wigan and Blackburn Rovers, the four 'small' Lancashire Premier League clubs are all much of a muchness, it seems to me, in terms of their potential, although I did tip the Clarets for relegation at the start of the season.

Unless I'm missing something here, such as Burnley's chairman refusing to back him in the transfer market, or worse, planning for relegation, I can't see what a shrewd and excellent young manager like Owen Coyle has to gain by moving the twenty miles or so from Burnley to Bolton.

I suppose we may find out, if and when he holds his first press conference as manager of the Trotters, but until then, I'm scratching my head, frankly...

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Well actually, I'd rather it didn't really; because living on a hill as we do, it makes getting around more than a little difficult.
That sensible, if rather joyless observation aside, I have to concede that when there is, in the continued words of the song 'simply no place to go', at least, in my case, until Monday morning, it can make for a very pretty picture, such as the one to the left of this post, which I took just before four o' clock this afternoon, no more than fifty yards from my front door.
I just hope it melts sufficiently by Monday morning for me to get the car out...

Eat, drink and be merry?

As those of you who have been visiting the Throne for some time may recall, I exercise regularly, watch what I eat (though not slavishly) and drink in what I would describe as moderate (whilst others would not) quantities. As a result, twenty-seven years on, I weigh the same amount as I did as a twenty-one year old, with a waistline to match.

So, you may imagine that I would heartily welcome this story in today's Telegraph, warning us all in near-apocalyptic terms, that deaths from obesity have doubled in a decade.

Actually, I don't; quite the reverse.

Ignore for a moment the claim (correct or otherwise) that the number of deaths has doubled and instead concentrate on the total number of deaths involved. Let me quote directly from the article:

"The official figures disclose that in 2000, just 25 people aged between 46 and 55 died “where obesity was the underlying cause of death”. By 2005, the number has increased to 51 and last year it was 70.

The “number of deaths where obesity was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate” rose from 121 in 2000 to 257 last year for the same age group. Similar increases were also recorded for those aged between 34 and 45 and 56-65."

A little research shows that in the thirteen years from 1993 and 2005, between 513,000 and 580,000 died in England and Wales each year. Having no reason to suppose that the figures vary greatly from the end of that period to the present day, let's agree (rather unscientifically, I concede) that the average number of deaths every year in England and Wales averages out at 550,000.

Call me old-fashioned, but a blind man on a galloping horse could plainly see that deaths numbered in the hundreds from that one cause pale into statistical insignificance when compared with a total well over half a million a year.

I do not, of course, for a minute suggest that allowing yourself to become obese is a sensible thing to do; far from it as my first paragraph hopefully reinforces.

But I do wonder what a serious newspaper like the Telegraph is doing printing unsupportable rubbish such as this and if anything even more so at the involvement of Conservative politicians, such as Andrew Lansley, parroting the nannyish, infantilising NuLabour line in suggesting the imposition of warning labels on 'bad' or 'fatty' foods.

Step away from the cream cakes, Mr Lansley and put the marker pen down...