Sunday, April 25, 2010

Burnley FC: Good bye-ee, don't cry-ee...

Without blowing my own trumpet too loudly, but as I predicted last August, Burnley Football Club has been relegated from the Premier League this afternoon, with the coup de grace being administered in some style by Liverpool.

That result will not have gone unnoticed a few miles down the road at Wigan, whose top-tier status has been guaranteed for another year with Hull City, now their nearest challengers, unable to match the Latics' current 35 points.

The only question now to be resolved at the bottom of the table is whether it is Hull themselves, or West Ham Utd who follow Burnley and the benighted Portsmouth into the Championship. Bearing in mind the fact that West Ham have a six-point advantage over their Yorkshire rivals with two games to play, to say nothing of a goal difference twenty-three goals better than the Tigers', it would take a quite unbelievabe series of results to see West Ham take the drop.

So it looks like Hull City will return from whence they came only two seasons ago.

Meanwhile, following Burnley's demise, which without being unkind I believe they had all but accepted when they appointed Brian Laws to replace Owen Coyle when the latter jumped ship to Bolton in January, Lancashire will now have only 35% of the clubs in the Premier League next season.

And to add insult to their injury, they also lost to their arch rivals Blackburn Rovers, both home and away. Knowing some Burnley supporters, they would have accepted relegation with a certain equanimity had those results been reversed, but it wasn't to be and in the end, the Clarets simply weren't good enough, it's as simple as that.

As promised last August, I will be reviewing my full list of predictions for this season when the final games have been played in a fortnight

Friday, April 23, 2010

And you, good yeoman, whose limbs were made in England...

May I take this opportunity to wish all my fellow Englishmen and women a very happy St George's Day. But in addition, it is also the anniversary of both the birth and death of perhaps the greatest Englishman who ever lived: William Shakespeare. And so, in tribute to him, I hope you enjoy this small section of the speech made by Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt:
And you, good yeoman
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start.
The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'
As you might expect, I'm going to celebrate in my usual way later on, so before I do, here are two more appropriately English-themed poems by the great GK Chesterton for you to enjoy:
The Englishman

St George he was for England.
And before he killed the dragon
He drank a pint of English ale
Out of an English flagon.
For though he fast right readily
In hair-shirt or in mail.
It isn't safe to give him cakes
Unless you give him ale.

St George he was for England,
And right gallantly set free
The lady left for dragon's meat
And tied up to a tree;
But since he stood for England
And knew what England means,
Unless you give him bacon
You mustn't give him beans.

St George he is for England,
And shall wear the shield he wore
When we go out in armour
With the battle-cross before.
But though he is jolly company
And very pleased to dine,
It isn't safe to give him nuts
Unless you give him wine.
Or, quite appropriately and pointedly as the General Election looms...
Elegy in a Country Churchyard

THE men that worked for England
They have their graves at home:
And birds and bees of England
About the cross can roam.

But they that fought for England,
Following a falling star,
Alas, alas for England
They have their graves afar.

And they that rule in England,
In stately conclave met,
Alas, alas for England
They have no graves as yet.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Guess the location, anyone?

I had thought of introducing this post by posing the question 'can anyone identify the stretch of river depicted in this photograph', thinking that some may have thought it was in Scotland, Wales or rural Northumberland.
I decided against doing so, because I suspect that anyone who has visited the Throne will have automatically - and accurately - assumed that it is actually in Lancashire.
In point of fact, it is a section of the River Ribble which runs through Dinckley in the Ribble Valley and, as I'm sure you'll agree, strikingly beautiful it is, too.
Possibly more surprising is the fact that this rural idyll is only seven miles from the centre of Blackburn. I'm not a gambler, but I'd have laid good money against anyone suggesting that!

St George he was for England...

This photograph depicts part of King Street in Whalley, which, as you can see, has been liberally decked out with the Cross of St George in anticipation of their celebration of our patron saint's day next Friday.

In point of fact, every business premises on the road was sporting our national flag, creating a parade of red and white about a quarter of a mile long.

Looks like the people of Whalley intend to take their St George's Day celebrations seriously this year; not too strenuous a proposition even for the most athletically challenged, given that there are four pubs within a fifty-yard radius of the spot from which I took this shot, alarming the two men in it in the process, I suspect...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Another excellent blog...

As I've written here on a couple of occasions previously, not only have I never smoked a single cigarette in my life, I've never even held a lit one to my lips, and what's more, I'm absolutely certain that I will never do, either.

That said, I'm becoming increasingly irritated by the militant 'health' lobby, who not content with turning smokers into pariahs, doomed to huddle outdoors in all weathers to enjoy their admittedly dangerous habit, are now training their guns on the overweight, those of us who 'fail' to take enough exercise (neither of which applies to me) and those who - whisper it dark - have the temerity to enjoy drinking alcohol (of whom I'm most certainly one).

My take on them is that, far from being concerned about improving the health of the nation, their chief driver is the wish to control the very minutiae of our lives; nothing more, nothing less.

I despise their dishonest, holier-than-thou sanctimoniousness and their nauseatingly judgemental finger pointing. Indeed, in my view, their increasingly strident triumphalism leaves people whose lifestyle choices they disapprove of - the 'fat', 'incorrigible' smokers, and 'problem' (i.e. all) drinkers - just one short step from the tumbrel in which they would be dragged around for the 'righteous' to harangue and disparage.

Anyway, enough from me; but all of the foregoing, and the excellent writing, are just some of the reasons I am linking to this excellent blog, both in this post and in my sidebar.

Please give him a visit: I'm sure you'll enjoy his jottings as much as I do...

Monday, April 05, 2010

How sharper than a serpent's tooth...

Apparently, Her Royal Highness the Princess Beatrice has let it be known that her younger sister, Her Royal Highness the Princess Eugenie is a 'reluctant royal' who would apparently 'give it all up tomorrow', adding that if she could choose any other life, then it woud be one without the public duties and, to paraphrase slightly, the sacrifices which come with the suffocating blanket of royal status. Furthermore, it is clear from her comments that she has a good deal of sympathy with her younger sister's position vis-a-vis the difficulties of being a princess.

Well, I have a solution for the two of them, and it is one wrought not too far away from their own gilded cage, by their aunt Anne. Her children by Capt. Mark Phillips, Mr Peter Phillips and his sister Zara, are, as the Queen's grandchildren, every bit as Royal as Beatrice and Eugenie; but as you will have noticed, neither of them prefaces their name with the title of His or Her Royal Highness and nor are they styled Prince Peter or Princess Zara either.

I think you may see where I'm going with this, and to reinforce my point still further before I even make it, barring an absolute disaster, these two girls, fifth and sixth in line to the throne respectively, will never be called upon to serve the country as its queen.

As such, and bearing in mind their status as 'reluctant' royals, why don't they both simply renounce their titles and divest themselves of the encumbrance of royal nomenclature in the process? I'm sure the appropriate paperwork to facilitate such a process could be drawn up in very short order. Their renunuciations would then be publicised with a strongly worded request to the press and media in general to apply a self-denying ordinance as regards publishing any other material either identifying them, or discussing their lives, from that point on.

Hands up anyone who thinks that these two really rather ordinary-looking and clearly spoilt young women would actively consider adopting such a course for more than a nano-second.

No, I didn't think so.

All this outburst has served to demonstrate is that both Beatrice and Eugenie (or should that be Beattie and Jean in their new, egalitarian world?) want the cake of wealth and prestige of Royal status, whilst simultaneously and childishly resenting having to pay the ha'penny of scrutiny which is its inevitable corollary.

As I have written here many times before, the Throne is an unapologetic supporter of the English monarchy, both as an institution and in the person of the present incumbent; but I'm afraid that stories such as this are manna from Heaven for the abolishionists, and I dare say, extremely irritating for their grandmother, a life-long paragon of duty and self-sacrifice.

Shame on them, their childishness and their nauseating self-pity: and may I wish them the very obscurity they both so richly deserve.

Post script:

As soon as I posted this story, the link to the article in the Daily Mail was disabled, sorry. there again, you've probably got the gist of it anyway...

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Lancashire at its best...

For those of you unfamiliar with the Red Rose county, this shot, taken once again on my trusty mobile, is of the hills surrounding Whitewell in the Forest of Bowland.

The area is best known for the inn which shares its name and I think you'll agree with me that it is a beautiful part of the world; and if my recommendation doesn't convince you, Her Majesty the Queen owns a good deal of the land in this vicinity, though the Duchy of Lancaster estate.

Recommendations don't come much higher, or more significant, than that.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Breathtaking chutzpah, Archbishop...

I'm not normally one to comment on religious stories, but I couldn't let this one pass without offering my two penn'orth. What's more, I certainly don't consider myself a religious scholar of any sort, and certainly not one in Dr Williams' league; but given the record of the Church of England on this topic over the years, I would have thought the following lines from the Gospel according to Matthew (from the beautiful King James Bible) would be more than apposite:

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

And for the avoidance of doubt, I am a confirmed, but seldom-attending member of the Church of England, just like upwards of ninety five percent of its members...