Thursday, 27 December 2007

Mistletoe and wine

As both of the readers of this blog will testify, I am quite a miserable bastard and what better time of the year for the miserable bastard to be inundated with opportunities to complain about something than Christmas.

If it isn’t young, but possibly not naive girls from Manchester being roasted over an open fire or more probably in front of an open fire but under a group of Manchester united players then it’s the guaranteed plethora of absolute shit on television on all the channels, without exception.
This is also the time of year when Cliff Richard sings his cheery festive ditty about mistletoe and wine with children singing Christian rhyme. But it does make me wonder where the fuck Cliff Richard lives because you can be sure it isn't South Wales.

I was visited today by three ghosts… no, wait that’s a film isn’t it? I mean two young men from the Mormon faith who apparently have nothing better to do than to walk around, sticking out like proverbial sore thumbs and converting, or attempting to persuade people to join their faith. I was waiting from a friend to arrive when they knocked the door and as I’m not afraid to speak about religion I decided to speak to them for the five minutes I had to spare
(indeed when I’ve had a few beers I court the taboo topics of religion and politics. Maybe that’s why I sometimes get into trouble!). Twenty minutes later my friend had not arrived, the Mormons and I by had by that time covered the basics, where they were from (Finland and Colorado) and what I thought about Christmas. They seemed pleased to hear that I was not in favour of the ridiculous commercialisation that goes on and that it should be a time for families. I did however seem to have a prefix to most of my sentences which enlightened them as to my position on religion, it was "I’m not a religious person but…"

Anyway after 32 minutes of talking, me denying a request for them to come into my house to sit through a DVD about the Mormon church and them giving me a copy of their book ‘The book of Mormon’ my friend arrived and I was rescued (I did enjoy talking to them for a little while but it does get very boring when you reach a point where they just spout religion at you).

Whilst there is no fear of me being converted to Mormonism (although the practice of plural marriage is something to be considered) we did discuss some interesting points about Christmas including me teaching them something! The vision of the jolly old man in the red and white suit was in fact a creation of the Coca cola Company (the red and white suit that is).

Christmas has changed since I was a kid, or at least that is how it appears. It is now a time when we, as a nation stuff our already fat faces with sub standard supermarket shit that we wouldn’t normally buy or even eat. The stock response when asked about the seasonal eating habits is always the same, "its Christmas isn’t it!" and it truly is, every f’ing where.

I have just returned from a supermarket where I foolishly thought I could pop in and buy a bottle of wine (I know, tosser) and a bottle of beer (have I redeemed myself?) to watch a football match and I sear to God (not specifically the Mormon god, any god) it was the last time I will ever enter a supermarket and not just at Christmas either, ever, I hate them.

They always seem to be full when I want to go, especially at Christmas , of greedy bastards who fill both of their trolleys to tipping point with seasonal ‘treats’ to gorge themselves on whilst sitting (always sitting) in front of the TV watching the latest offerings from the special Christmas schedule.

These trolleys are laden with fizzy drinks, crisps, sweets, cakes and all sorts of heart attack inducing foods as well as the obligatory several cases of lager. The remainder of the trolley is filled with seasonal treats that these people have never eaten and probably wont eat this year or any other year, things like Stilton ( oh no, it’s got mold in it) and sherry (It’s Christmas isn’t it!).

These slugs waddle around, propped up by their wheeled food troughs, indiscriminately clawing things from the shelves like one of Dale Winton’s supermarket sweepers only in slow motion.

Whatever happened to quality over quantity? Why has it never occurred to me that at a time of year when the shops are closed for an absolute maximum of 2 days I should stockpile enough food to feed an African village for a month? Is there something wrong with me?

If these Christmas behemoths want to pile on blubber for the winter then so be it, it’s not my job to save them from themselves (although it is everyone’s taxes that pay for them to have their stomachs stapled!). It’s when they turn a 5 minute jaunt into a supermarket to grab a few things into an hour long battle to pay for my single bottle of wine or beer that really winds me up. They move with sloth like speed in their own little worlds, hell bent on cramming up the aisles and making escape impossible. When I finally do get out and one of the greeters says something festively sickening like have a nice day or merry Christmas I feel the need to run through my response in my head first in order to avoid the same fate that befell the escapees from the POW camp in ‘The Great Escape’ as they get onto the bus, as if they might hurl me back into the aisles with the rest of the fat Christmas turkeys when they realise I'm not one of their Christmas automata.

Christmas is just an excuse for spendthrift, over indulgent, hypocrites to spend beyond their means, get into debt and complain in January that they have no money and are overweight.

My new years resolution may well be to never darken the door of the UK at this most grotesque and commercial time of year again, a promise I don’t think I will have a problem keeping.

Bah humbug.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Back in the USSR? I wish.

Not long ago in a county far far away I could sometimes be heard saying that I thought the UK was the best country in the world and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I was newly arrived in a foreign and exotic land and was due to live there for the following twelve months. I had, some 6 or 7 weeks previous made a decision to go and live in Korea as an English teacher with my girlfriend.

For the first time since university I felt I had a future and had an overwhelming feeling of optimism in this future. This new found feeling of contentment grew steadily as my time in Korea progressed. As the departure date moved ever closer I began to feel a little bit uneasy at the prospect of getting back to the UK and beginning a fresh new life. The hope that some time away would of re-invigorated me seemed to be fading and I soon realised that the optimism building inside me wasn't optimism at all but contentment at living in wonderful Korea. I would arrive back in the UK in time for my birthday in mid November and then spend the Christmas period lulling around, enjoying life in the UK under a new government and living of what I had earned but not spent on my travels.

I have been back home now for around 7 weeks and I can assure you I will never again repeat the naive and ill conceived statements that would lead anyone to believe I was actually proud to be British and longed to return to my homeland because I didn’t and don’t.
I am from South Wales and we Welsh usually have a particular gripe when it come to being lumped in with the English and have been known to take offence at such ignorant jibes but when I refer to my disdain for the UK I mean all of it, especially South Wales.

I met lots of new people in Korea during my stay and some of them have become friends who I will remain in contact with and visit when time and distance permit. One particular friend was from Newcastle, New South Wales, a lively girl who could easily drink most of my male friends under the table and out of the door and I’m sure she would fit right in with The Geordies of the original Newcastle, who have been known to like a drink or two (She is actually living in Scotland at the moment so may well have found a group of drinkers to equal her thirst for the amber nectar, or any other nectar come to think of it). I have always found it a bit amusing to think that Australians (and Americans) have so many places named after places in the UK, especially New South Wales but after being home in the original South Wales for seven weeks I can categorically state that it is surely the Australians who are laughing. The reason they have a "New" South Wales? Because the old one is shite!

A long standing complaint that has recently been returned to the forefront of my mind and been exaggerated by my time in Korea is the state of public transport, particularly the rail services in the UK and the astronomical costs associated with getting from A to B. I want to reduce my carbon footprint, I like to recycle and I truly believe we should ‘feed the world’ but that is made increasingly difficult by the utter incompetence and miserly tariffs imposed on us by the rail operators. I can understand why people want to drive their cars, it’s usually quicker and cheaper than getting a train or bus, especially if you decide on a spur of the moment trip to see your granny in the Lake District. I don’t drive (yet) and the rail and bus companies have me over the proverbial barrel. My girlfriend lives in Liverpool you see and my options are severely restricted when it comes to going to see her, plan well in advance ( four, five or six months was the answer when I asked how far in advance the cheaper tickets for my journey are released!) or pay ridiculous rates on the day. Over a barrel.

The other thing I didn’t miss one iota about this country is the people, the heaving masses, the general public, what a group of people. The great British are no longer, and in my opinion have never really been that great. But when you combine the two, irritating and potentially phenomena you get the main reason for me wanting to leave. The public are the second worst thing about public transport (after the cost) , most are perfectly nice (like me) but there is always someone ready to cause a scene or make the expensive journey you begrudgingly paid for, even worse.

Train people are different from bus people, they think that because they don’t, most of the time buy a specific seat for their journey they are entitled to take as many seats as they think they need to accommodate all their bags and they think that they have the right to not sit next to anyone else, which is why they pile their bags onto the chair next to themselves, usually the inside chair so as to block off the pair of seats. This is bad enough when there are luggage racks but is made even worse when there are people stood up, people who won’t tell these selfish bastards to move their ‘effing bags (I'm certain if you did say that you would be slapped with an ASBO before you could say "How much for a single to Runcorn?"). If these people want to buy two tickets then by all means take out a second mortgage and buy your obviously important bag a seat all of its own, otherwise move them.

My most recent train journey was from Coventry and had, at no extra charge changes at Birmingham and Shrewsbury. On the platform at Shrewsbury we clambered onto the train and there were quite a lot of empty seats and so, fancying a bit of luxury for my money I decided to sit on a seat in a bank of four, two pairs facing each other with no table, so I could stretch my legs out if nobody sat opposite me.
Shock of shocks, nobody did sit opposite me but someone did sit next to me. A rather portly gentleman from Cardiff thought it would fun to pen me between his ample frame and the window, my misery, apparently not completed by my empty wallet and the delightful stays at Birmingham New Street and Shrewsbury stations. He squeezed and squashed his larger than life carcass into the seat next to me and proceeded to spill over his seat and into, or should I say onto mine, or rather me. This flowing of blubber rendered me immobile all the way from Shrewsbury until I had to ask him if he would be kind as to shoehorn himself out of his chair and peel me from his side so I could finally disembark.

Now, I don’t discriminate against people, I am in fact a supporter of equal rights for all sectors of society but I don’t really see overweight people as a separate sector of society and I feel it would be wrong to treat people who essentially eat too much and don’t exercise enough as the same as disabled people and immigrants. I'm not saying overweight people have an easy life but it is something that could be avoided. People don’t become grossly overweight by accident or by force of nature; it is entirely in the hands of the individual. I'm not fattist (I think you’ll find YOUR fattist – A Jimmy Carr original, not a Jim Davidson!) but when it encroaches on my life, or my seat then I’m not overjoyed about it. Would I be expected to not be so ‘mean’ if it was encroachment of another type, a loud ipod perhaps or some particularly bad smelling food?

Anyway, my plan is to return to Korea as soon as 2008 begins, but due to some new laws in there I will have to go through a month of bureaucratic bullshit until I can leave, but leave I will and I might not ever return.

Season of good will to all men? Bah humbug.

Last night’s TV 22nd December 2007

Britain sings Christmas was surely ITV’s weakest contribution to the festive schedule (although I am sure there will be many more disappointments to come) and what a real load of shite it turned out to be. This festive, vomit inducing program was hosted by Kate Thornton (who seems to have no noticeable talent apart from getting booked to host any old shit) and was a glorified karaoke night with audience members and people up and down the UK encouraged to sing along. With this display of carol killing Ms Thornton has added to her ever growing CV of; forgive the pun and Americanism, turkeys.
The incredibly simple and cheap format shone through to the program and revealed more about the nose diving careers of some of the nations once loved celebrities (not by me I hasten to add) than it did about the nation. The people who shameless put themselves on display were nothing more than a collection of publicity starved and possibly penniless "stars" who have turned out to sing the nation's favourite Christmas songs.
Such luminaries of the entertainment industry who graced my screen for the duration of the first song only included, former Eastender Charlie Brooks (she was fat Barry’s wife, Jeannie Butcher), Kim "I haven’t got a garden to tend to" Wilde, Jo "I used to be funny as a militant man hater but since moving into regular TV have decided to sell out and take whatever work I can get" Brand and a whole host of other Z list celebrities who couldn’t find an envelope opening to go to.
What a rubbish and one dimensional format that is you might say, but you’d be wrong. There was an audience participation part too. Mugs, I mean members of the public from four cities around the UK (Birmingham, Cardiff, Belfast and Gateshead) gathered together in the cold, presumably in front of a big screen showing something they could watch at home in front of the fire to sing along and occasionally clap and cheer like sea lions at an aquarium when told to by Ms Thornton.
There were some people there who could sing, they were professional singers from the west end and the opera world but, like all of the people who voted I didn’t know who they were and I didn’t care enough to find out their names.

Where exactly did they get the nation's favourite songs from? The nation of course, or more accurately the people who have nothing better to do than phone and register that they think Bing Crosby’s White Christmas is the best Xmas song of all time.

This merry band of serial song slayers were guided by an incredibly irritating pair of Grants, David and Cary who both insisted on standing in front of these so called singers, waving their arms around like Simon Rattle on acid.
The highlight (or lowlight, I’m not sure) was undoubtedly the pairing of Diarmund Gavin and Jo Brand singing Fairytale of New York; her because presumably she looks rough and fits in with the Macoll/Mcgowan pairing and him because…oh yeah he’s Irish.
Kate Thornton kept adding to the misery in between every song by reminding us that we could order a CD of all of the night’s songs to listen to whenever we want ( £2 of every £2.99 sale went to the prince’s trust). That would be the musical equivalent of getting food poisoning from a restaurant and then winning a year’s supply of free takeaways to re-poison yourself at your leisure.

The nations 10 favourites contained a few notable exemptions for me and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the Paul McCartney had refused permission for them to perform Wonderful Christmas and that the phone in was rigged (as seems to be the fashion nowadays) and only songs that were within the range of the performers were included (had that actually been the case then the program would have been very short indeed!).
I think Gary Glitter’s 'Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas' should have be included, but then he is evil isnt he and by proxy so is everything he has ever recorded. Other notable absentees were Blue Christmas by Elvis, Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow by Dean Martin and Jonah Lewie’s Stop the cavalry which is probably a touch too political for prime time TV.
I was however incredibly pleased and surprised to not see Cliff Richard make a cameo appearance singing one of his dull and preachy Christmas songs.

Thankfully I was a click away from listening to these songs the way God intended (or at least the original artists) by choosing the appropriate song from my computer. This was car crash TV if ever I saw it, you cannot help but watch these poor wretches humiliating themselves on national TV.
I have lost 5 minutes of my life that I will never get back and the worst part is that I don’t even get paid to watch this drivel. Hark, the herald angels sing? I think not.

Next on ITV was Star traders: the Christmas challenge where something shit was traded for something else shit until they had something that was deemed worthy of auctioning in front of a studio audience. I watched just enough to realise I didn’t want to watch the rest. That point came when I realised the host was the silver fox Phillip Scofield with sidekicks Kieran Bracken and Mylenne Class. I turned the TV back on in time to see the end, where someone in the crowd, inspired by Queen of the Jungle Christopher Biggins to part with £35,000 for some jewellry and a pair of football boots worn by Wazza Rooney. By far the best part though was when the man from the charity Shelter came to say a few words with the lucky bidder and put both feet well and truly in his mouth. He explained how the money would be used , said how pleased he was and how the money would help them touch hundreds of children. Not what charities should use money for is it?
Orson Welles once said that he hated Television. That he hated it as much as peanuts. But that he couldn’t stop eating peanuts. Well I hate peanuts too but I cant stop eating them either which perhaps explains why I feel compelled to expose myself to something on TV I know will infuriate me at least once a week.

Next is an audience with Celine Dion and I really am turning the TV off until Match of the day comes on because the only way I can exorcise the demons of these diabolical programs is to write something about them and I fear that if I keep watching terrestrial, Christmas TV, I will spend the festive period in front of a computer instead of in the pub like most people.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Episode 2 - The return

I know of 3 people who have read at least one thing each on my blog and that is enough to keep me going. The real reason however for my continuing and probably worsening view of the world is that I have a big mouth and a lot to say but most of my friends and definitely my girlfriend have had enough of my rambling, ranting and complaining about all sorts of things and the blog gives me an outlet for my passions and frustrations that would otherwise boil up inside me until such times as I would vent my frustration on someone or, more likely something and end up with an ASBO. And because I have read some of the absolute shit written by Russell Brand, in of all places, but not limited to, the sport supplement of the guardian “I was a druggie, I was addicted to sex wha wha wha” and if he can get a plum job like that, I can publish something on the net.

After returning to the UK I have seen loads of changes and at the same time realised that nothing changes at all, my hometown for example now has a Starbucks and a Subway sandwich shop, classy eh? At the same time, as the train pulled into the small train station the rain was pouring and that night a young man was assaulted outside the local Wetherspoons who later died.
Gordon Ramsey and Nigella Lawson both have new TV series ( you have to concentrate to see it though as they look exactly the same as every other series they have produced - formulaic is not the word) but before I left I used to enjoy watching both of them but now I am repulsed by both of them, he is a megalomaniacal nutter who swears like a child who has just learnt a new word and has been told to stop by his parents and she is as seductive as a naked fatty in a g-string, her sultry swishing about her house like she is doing a photo shoot for a weekend newspapers supplementary magazine drives me f’ing nuts. These things haven’t changed I hear both of you cry, but I have (not grown up as such, just changed) and now I find both of them incredibly annoying. Almost as annoying as Gordon’s, the Gin company hiring Mr Ramsey to promote their product, talk about lazy advertising.

The UK soaps are another thing that haven’t changed, they are still shit.

Stay tuned for more ranting and raving.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Premiership game week 4

Saturday 25th August

In the 12.45 kick off Liverpool faced a very tricky fixture away at Sunderland, the kind of team that in previous seasons may have put a dent in any Liverpool title challenge. Rafa Benitez has already made his thoughts clear when it comes to Liverpool’s fixtures after European and international games and so after a week of international games, predictably, Liverpool have an early Saturday kick off while Manchester United have a later Sunday kick off. Actually United need the rest as they are in desperate need of a result, just because Liverpool can turn out a result with little rest doesn’t mean they can does it?
Liverpool went to newly promoted Sunderland off the back of some good results on the field but some bad results off it. Liverpool were denied the services of Gabriel Heinze from the Salford reds as the premier league predictably ruled in their favour. Even though Heinze had a letter signed, sating he was free to move if the price was right, the letter failed to specify which clubs could buy him. The 3 man panel of United fans, I mean independent football type people judged that even though the letter did not rule out any team from buying Heinze, United probably should have stated that Liverpool were out of bounds. The panel, in its infinite wisdom decided that that fact should be understood, written or not and Heinze was denied what he longed for, a move from Manchester to Liverpool, he has now signed for Real Madrid.
On the field Liverpool fared better this week (unlike last week when Rob Styles gifted Chelsea a point) when they travelled away to Roy Keane’s Sunderland. Sunderland flew up from the Championship last season but will be among the favourites to go back down, Keane seems to have the right qualities as a manger and I think he will keep them up and he could even become a regular in the league. Sunderland also had the opportunity to start with a front 2 who would be know to all football fans, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, the very same 2 who had partnered each other at Manchester united alongside Keane. Keane signed Cole the day before the game but confirmed he would play no part; it will be interesting to see if they can rekindle some of the form they had for Manchester united years ago.
The game started well for Liverpool who were dressed in black, with Voronin going close very early on after he ran onto a bad back pass but Gordon saved well. Not long after that Darryl Murphy’s shoulder came out on top in a battle with Sami Hyypia’s nose and the big Finn eventually had to be replaced by Daniel Agger.
Sunderland had a good opportunity when Pennant gave the ball away about 40 yards out, it was fed through the defence and Chopra found himself with the goal in his sights, his tight angle shot beat Reina but it didn’t have enough power to get past the substitute Agger. Liverpool looked likeier to open the scoring, Pennant causing some problems down the right wing and Voronin and Torres always lurking. The break through eventually came when a lofted Alonso pass into the box was headed back by Pennant, it fell to Voronin, who noticed Momo Sissoko steaming up from midfield, he laid it off for him and Sissoko smashed it into the bottom right corner of the net from 20+ yards. Unbelievably it was Sissoko’s first ever goal in a Liverpool shirt, a great way to get off the mark.
Just before the end of the half Liverpool had a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 when a bad clearance fell to Voronin, he fed it to Pennant who crossed first time to find the head of Torres. A good save from Gordon down to his left, he then turned and scrambled to the ball before it crossed the line, after today's performance Keane will be looking for all those boo boys in the media who criticised him for spending what could end up being 9m for a goalkeeper.

Early in the second half Gordon would come to Sunderland’s rescue again with a fine save, the ball was given away by Sunderland on the halfway line, it was picked up by Torres who had 2 men to beat, they closed in on him from both sides, he knocked the ball through the middle of them and sprinted through the gap, he got a solid shot off that hit a well placed Gordon square in the chest. The story was all too familiar, Liverpool looked like they had a problem in closing a game out, in so many seasons past we have taken the lead only to waste opportunities to kill it off and regretted it later. Bad news was to come for Liverpool when Jamie Carragher was injured in a collision whilst trying to defend a free kick, the knock looked innocent enough but it was confirmed later that he had broken a rib, not a good ay for Liverpool center backs!
Sunderland came close with a snap shot from Stokes but Reina saw it go wide of his right post. A good piece of skill by Torres saw him go past a defender to the byline, his pulled back cross ended up at the feet of Voronin and his powered shot was again stopped by Gordon, not that he knew too much about it. The killer blow, which has been lacking in previous seasons, was eventually delivered to an outclassed Sunderland side in a nice team goal. Babel and Pennant played one two with Pennant back heeling his pass back to Babel. He in turn passed across to Torres; Voronin was outside him running ahead and was fed the ball by the young Spaniard. With a defender in front of him the Ukrainian striker turned him to put the ball on his right foot and placed it in the far bottom corner of the net from about 16 yards, my man of the match, Craig Gordon got a touch but it wasn’t enough, 2-0. The game was finally closed out with 3 minutes of normal time to go; a little earlier in the future will do many red nerves the world of good.

In the 3pm games Arsenal won their home game against a rampant Man City 1-0, Chelsea beat Portsmouth 1-0 at Stamford Bridge with a trademark goal by Frank Lampard, it went in off someone else, this time the keeper.
Sammy Lee got some relief when Bolton won 3-0 at home against Reading, Relegation candidates Derby and Birmingham fought over 3 potentially priceless points with Birmingham coming out on top 2-1. West Ham and Wigan took a point each at Upton Park and Villa beat Fulham 2-1 at home.

In the Sunday games the North East derby between Boro and Newcastle saw 4 goals, each side scoring 2 and Manchester United had to rely on some bad refereeing to secure their first win of the season against Spurs. The Londoners were denied a clear penalty for handball and United had to rely on a great strike of the ball from Nani, not exactly the kind of win or goal that would inspire confidence for coming games including Keane’s return to Old Trafford, Everton at Goodison and Chelsea at home.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Premiership Game Week 3

Saturday 18th August

West ham got their first win of the season with a Mark Noble penalty settling their game and Spurs also got their first win of the season with a very comfortable 4-0 win over Derby County. Boro’ beat Fulham 2-1, but the Londoners were denied a goal after the ball was deemed to have not crossed the line, which it apparently did. Newcastle and Villa played out a 0-0 draw in a game that I’m sure was as dull as it sounds. Pompey continue their impressive start to the season with a 3-1 win over Bolton, Sammy Lee may be in the running to get the sack first as Bolton have now lost all 3 of their opening games and sit rock bottom of the table with -5 goal difference. Reading ended Everton’s impressive start to the season with a 1-0 win at home courtesy of Stephen Hunt and Wigan won their second home game in a row with a 3-0 win over Sunderland although they needed 2 penalties to get there, they top the table at the end of Saturday’s games.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

In the early Kick off Manchester United travelled to Eastland’s stadium to face rivals Manchester City, (city rivals in name only of course because United’s Old Trafford stadium isn’t actually in Manchester, as it’s name suggests it’s in the borough of Trafford – so there really is only one team in Manchester!) without Rooney and Ronaldo but they have players they can bring in to replace them so to call them under strength would not be fair to Manchester City should they get a good result.
The Manchester City fans were in good voice, as you would expect seeing as they sit 2nd in the table, (admittedly with only 2 games played) but the noise was subdued a little when after around 7 minutes Ericsson was forced into an early substitution when Valeri Bojinov had to be stretchered off on his debut. He was replaced by Emile Mpenza. The game wasn’t as free flowing as the neutral would like and United did seem to be lacking something up front and although the possession stats would suggest United dominated the game, it was pretty even. That was until the 32nd minute when Deiberson Geovanni fired a shot toward goal that eluded Van der Sar after a deflection off Vidic. The ‘Citeh’ fans were ecstatic and those sitting next to the away fans immediately turned and began goading their nearest but not so dearest.

Tevez missed an absolute sitter the 91st minute, the United bench were up, broad smiles of relief on their faces only to have them wiped away a second later when they realised that their prize capture of the summer fluffed it, Fergie’s face was absolutely priceless.

In a desperate attempt to get something from this game United bring on Chris Eagles, a really desperate and possibly irrational move. Then to make matters worse, he brings on Campbell, I swear I heard “who the hell is Campbell” echoing around the away end of Eastland’s. United lost the game and now have 2 points from 3 games, Could this be a season too far for Fergie?

I went to the pub to watch the Liverpool V Chelsea game and to my delight there was a Manc there, moaning about losing but not actually having anything to complain about other than the fact they they were beaten by a better team. We exchanged a bit of witty repartee (the wit coming from me I might add) but he seemed to turn a little bit bitter when he realised that he really should be quiet and that as far as this season is concerned he has no defence for United’s disastrous start, but he didn’t, instead he turned to that oldest and most ridiculous trope of all tropes, the last refuge of the desperate Manc and said "How many Premier league titles have you won?”, to make himself look like an even bigger tit, he gestured with his hands “0” . Sad indeed.

The game of the day was undoubtedly Liverpool V Chelsea at Anfield, a match which has become something of a grudge match in recent seasons, what with us beating them in the Champions league a few times. Liverpool started with what looks like Rafa’s favourite premiership starting 11; Reina, Agger, Carragher, Arbeloa, Finnan, Gerrard, Alonso, Pennant (Babel 68), Riise (Crouch 83), Kuyt and Torres.
Chelsea started with Cech, Essien, Ben-Haim, Terry, Ashley Cole, Kalou (Pizarro 46), Wright-Phillips (Joe Cole 77), Obi, Lampard, Malouda (Alex 85), Drogba.

Liverpool started like the team who wanted to win the game with Kuyt running around like a madman, seemingly not stopping to breathe and Gerrard marshalling the Reds from the middle of the park.

The game was always destined to be a fiery meeting given the games in recent seasons but this particular match was overshadowed by catastrophic and baffling refereeing decisions by the B*****d in the black, Rob Styles.
Gerrard started like a man with a point to prove and he certainly proved to the Liverpool fans watching around the world that he is committed to the cause and is seemingly willing to give it his all to bring the championship home come May, he was easily the best player on the pitch and warranted the captain's armband more than ever. Liverpool started the better of the two teams and the Torres and Kuyt partnership would seem to be a good one, Torres came good after only 16 minutes when he ran onto a through ball from Gerrard, slowed and then sped up to skip past Ben-Haim, he then opened his body up to expose the far right corner of the goal and simply slotted it in the corner, a fantastic goal on his Anfield debut.

The Chelsea players tried their best to intimidate the referee and it seemed to work with Chelsea winning the vast majority of the 50-50 free kick decisions but the pressure of the big game was too much for him and he started brandishing yellow cards like he was giving away sweets, 9 by the end of the game.
Styles really cracked under the big game pressure and unfortunately for Liverpool when he cracked and lost his mind it was Chelsea who benefited from his lost head. The first and most costly mistake he made was the awarding of a penalty to Chelsea in the 62nd minute, the Rafa dubbed ‘Invisible Penalty’ was the most curious decision of the day and nobody inside the stadium could possibly justify its awarding. The ball was played across the edge of the box by SWP, Finnan and Malouda went for the ball but ran into each other as the ball ran behind them at least a yard away but Styles blew and pointed to the spot, which justifiably enraged Carragher. There wasn’t a Chelsea protest in sight. Lampard put the penalty away and then celebrated like a petulant schoolboy with a point to prove. The reality is that the penalty was a fantastical creation by Rob Styles that only he can explain and Chelsea didn’t deserve to draw level. In the immortal word of Jimmy Cricket “there’s more”.

11 minutes later Styles brandished the yellow card at John Terry for protesting at a Ben-Haim foul on Torres, he walked away and Michael Essien, who had been booked after 12 minutes remained talking to the ref. Less than a minute or so later Styles produced the yellow card again with Terry nowhere in sight. Ben-Haim was now present with the Ghanaian and the ref waved the card in their direction, they had both been previously booked and so all Styles had to do was to clarify for the 45,000 crowd which one of them was given their marching orders. But he didn’t. The game continued and those 2 bizarre decisions in 11 minutes cost Liverpool 2 points which could prove crucial come the end of the season. Styles claimed to have been showing the card to Terry, but this is inconsistent with what actually happened.

Liverpool had opportunities to finish the game and render obsolete the workings of Styles, Riise had an opportunity from close range but Cech saved well and Babel fired a shot into the side netting. Maybe we should have taken one of them and killed the game off but that shouldn’t let anyone skirt over the worst display of referring since Graham Poll's 3 yellow card antics at the World cup. Maybe Styles should suffer the same fate as him.

Predictably Mourinho thought the ref did a good job and claimed that a few Liverpool players could have made his afternoon a little bit easier, well he would wouldn’t he. As it turns out Rob Styles didn’t do a good job, Referees' chief Keith Hackett said so, so Jose was wrong. Styles admitted he made a mistake and Hackett offered his apologies to Liverpool and said Styles should do the same. Styles has been dropped for the weekend's upcoming games but that doesn’t change the point that we wuz robbed.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Premier League - Week 2

Wednesday night was round two of the premiership (excluding Everton’s game on Tuesday) and at the start of play Everton topped the premiership with their win the day before. Liverpool and Arsenal miss this round of games while they attempt to gain entry into the Champion’s league proper and a few other teams didn’t play either.

On Tuesday, Everton shocked a few people by beating Spurs 3-1 at White Hart Lane and condemning them to their 2nd defeat in as many games, a terrible start for a team who looked like they were going to really be contenders for some silverware this season. Lescott scored after only 3 minutes to give the blues the lead but Gardener struck back in the 26th minute to level the scores and put some shakey spurs nerves at ease. That was until Leon Osman’s goal 11 minutes later restored Everton’s lead, the game was effectively won when Alan Stubbs scored in the 45th minute to seal a second successive defeat for Spurs. Everton go to Reading on Saturday and will believe they can keep this run going while Spurs host derby and will surely go all out to record their first win in a so far dismal opening month to the season.

The shock of the Wednesday night games was Manchester United’s second successive draw; they drew 1-1 with Portsmouth at Fratton Park. Carlos Tevez set up United’s goal with Scholes putting the ball away but Zimbabwean Benjani Mwaruwari levelled the score after 53 minutes. The game ended on a sour note as both sides had a man sent off. Muntari was sent off after 83 minutes for a second yellow card and 2 minutes later Ronaldo was shown a straight red for his involvement in a scuffle with Richard Hughes. United must now go into the Manchester derby without Ronaldo or Rooney.
Other results on Wednesday saw Man city beat Derby 1-0, they now sit second in the table, Birmingham and Sunderland drew 2-2 in an early season battle of the relegation favourites, Fulham beat Bolton 2-1 to hand Bolton their second defeat of the season, Chelsea managed to beat Reading 2-1 after the Royals took the lead and Wigan beat Boro’ 1-0 at home.

Round 3 on Saturday.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Week 1 of the Premiership

The premiership season started Saturday with a bit of a surprise in Sunderland beating much fancied Tottenham in the early kick off. Roy Keane’s team were always going to give it their all on opening day but I doubt if Keane himself seriously thought they were going to win against a spurs team that has been charged with trying to break into the top 4 this season.
The highlight of the day must be seeing the goal of the month scored on opening day by Steven Gerrard. Liverpool travelled away to Villa for the opening game in what in past seasons would have been a very tricky opener. Liverpool haven’t lost at Villa park since the 97/98 season, when they went down 2-1 but it was precisely these kinds of games over the last few seasons that has seen Liverpool fall behind Manchester United and Chelsea in the race for elusive championship number 19. Fernando Torres started up front with Dirk Kuyt, Gerrard started in his favourite position, right in the middle of the park, Arbeloa started as left back with Riise playing in front of him, Carragher, Agger, Alonso, Finnan and Pennant made up the starting line 11.
Liverpool were the dominant team on the pitch and looked the most likely to take the lead. After several chances, a few of which fell to Torres, Liverpool went ahead when a pass, dummied by Kuyt, fell to Torres, his shot was parried by Taylor but Kuyt rescued the ball before it went out and his cross was knocked into the Villa net by Laursen. Liverpool kept their lead and looked good for the win until 6 minutes from time when Carragher handled the ball in the area, Mike Riley pointed to the spot and Gareth Barry converted the kick. Liverpool would be justified in feeling a bit hard done by losing their lead so close to the finish but 2 minutes later a Gerrard run was impeded by Stiliyan Petrov and a free kick was awarded when it became clear there was going to be advantage. Riise and Alonso both stepped up but it was the captain who decided to take it and try to rescue Liverpool on the opening day of the season. A sublime and inch perfect free kick left the keeper floundering at full stretch and even though he got fingertips to it, he was never going to get enough on it to keep it out of the net. This was not the first important goal that Gerrard had scored for Liverpool and it most certainly wont be the last but the importance, psychologically at least for Liverpool to win their opening game of the season away from home cannot be underestimated. Last year Liverpool had to wait until December for their first away win of the season and it is the first time in 5 years Liverpool have won their opening game. There are great things to come from Liverpool this season and this is the first step in a very long season but this is now something for us to build on and with Chelsea at Anfield next in the premiership, we have a great opportunity to get a leg up on one of our title rivals very early on in the season. With Arsenal and Chelsea also winning their opening games it was doubly important to not fall behind on the first day. While Chelsea apparently cruised to victory, they conceded 2 goals in the opening 36 minutes of the game at home against a team that you would expect to be fighting for their lives come the end of the season and Arsenal had to be saved with a late winner over Fulham after Lehman made a almost fatal error after less then a minute. Manchester United fared less well as they had a torrid time at the hands of a tactically astute Reading side that restricted United to a single effort that looked like it had a chance of sneaking in, Giggs’ effort in the first half which hit the post. Liverpool's 3 main rivals for the Premiership crown were all at home and all looked less than convincing.

Newcastle top the table after a win over their manager's former club 3-1, new boys Derby drew 2-2 with fancied Portsmouth, Liverpool's Merseyside rivals Everton beat Wigan 2-1, Blackburn beat Middlesbrough 2-1 and Man City beat West Ham 2-0 in London.

So week one is out of the way and I am relieved Liverpool have come through unscathed, we will surely go into next weekend's Anfield opener against Chelsea as favourites. United’s result will have little bearing on the overall season but if Reading can hold them to a 0-0 draw then it's obvious they are beatable, but I knew that anyway. Better news than the result was the injury to Wayne Rooney, he had to be substituted during the half time break with a hairline fracture of the foot, an injury that will keep him out for most of September I hear, thank you Michael Duberry.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Thursday 21st June

After being stuck in a classroom all day with the windows closed in order to get the room nice and chilly via the aircon, I often have no idea what the weather is like outside. I often hear the odd noise, a advertising lorry blaring James blunt or something equally shit or the smash of 2 cars colliding ( in fairness this has happened only once) but I cant see anything and so the weather usually eludes me.

Until today that is.

Rain has been on the cards here for a while, the rainy season has been threatening and the newspapers have been predicting its start of a number of weeks now. Well it started today and I could hear the noise outside that signalled around a month of almost non stop rain with tropical temperatures (I am British remember). I didn’t actually look out of the window as rain is rain, but when I finished work at 8pm I decided to go to the supermarket and so made my way down to the exit and ran across the road to the relative shelter of a shop awning. I realised that If I wanted to get a taxi I would have to stand at the edge of the road and worse still, on the way back would have to wait on the road outside the supermarket, laden with bags, or a box nowadays (I try to do my bit for the environment) and wait until a taxi ventured my way. It can take some time to get a taxi at homever and I was sure today would be a record breaker. Sensibly I decided not to go and instead ran home. A futile effort as within seconds the biblical rain had soaked me to the skin. I looked like Dr Foster not long after his ill fated trip to Gloucester. The rain seemed to be coming down in sheets instead of drops and there were torrents flowing at the side of every road, how the drains will cope I don’t know. Funnily enough the word for rain in Korean is Pi (pronounced Pee) and so it was fair to say it was literally Pi’ing down!
I wonder what kind of things I will see flowing around in the coming month as Korea seems to have a drop where you like policy when it comes to the various categories of waste and recyclables.

Now I know what incy wincey spider felt like after he had been dumped from the water spout by the rain.

And to cap it all off I was actually singing, in the rain. What was I singing? Agger do of course. Albeit a slightly altered version that pays homage to the left back dynamo that is Daniel Agger of Liverpool FC. What are the words? Ok then, they are:

Agger do, do, do
Chase the cockneys up a tree
Agger do, do, do
Just like Carra, Sami too
To the left, to the right
He brings defenders to their knees
To the Kopites delight
To the man signed from Brondby.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Korea V Netherlands

As I travelled from Jeonju to Seoul on my way to watch Korea V the Netherlands at the Seoul world cup stadium little over a week ago, I reflected on a few things. Why are the buses and trains in Korea so much better than in the UK? They are cheaper, quicker and more comfortable. Why does it feel like the people who own businesses don’t consider the financial bottom line to be the most important thing in the world? The fact that side dishes are free and you can eat until you drop in most places with refills a plenty doesn’t seem to bother anyone and why is Korean football so different from European football or should I say the Korean attitude to football?

I go and watch the home games of Jeonbuk Hyundai motors, my local team. I love football and so watching a game of football, any game is better than not watching one; even if the standard is not great. The standard of the game on the pitch isn’t great in Korea when you compare it to Europe or England in particular but there is something else, a little je nais se quoi as they might say in France, which makes it better in a different way. I go with a few friends, we have a few beers, watch the game, chat intermittently and we love it, usually on a Sunday afternoon or evening as the summer approaches. It is the highlight of the week sometimes.
Football matches in Korea can act as a window on Korean society, you see all sorts of people there from all walks of life, the old, young, married, single, men and women and usually with hundreds of kids running around the stands. The patriotic attitude of Koreans is embodied in football matches too, especially at the Korea national games but football in Korea is a real family affair. You see families waddling into the stadium carrying bags of various bits of equipment they might need for the game including an array of food and drinks as well as umbrellas/parasols and all sorts of other things you never thought you’d see in a football stadium. The families sit together and get the Soju flowing and the packets of dried squid open, they then cheer, drink and eat until half time when they go for a walk to stock up on more food and drinks in anticipation of the second half.

When we arrived in Seoul we headed to Itaewon to procure some lodgings for the evening; 30,000 won in a clean but basic motel did the job, located around the corner from the wolfhound it is the perfect place to fall from the pub into bed. I would rather spend my money on nicer things in Seoul than a bed so the cheap price suited my taste but in hindsight maybe a room with at least a window would have been better in the stifling heat!

The tube to the stadium was predictably full but his time there was an odd mix of everyday Koreans going about their business and the football fans heading to the game. But there was something different about these fans, they weren’t all drunk and singing songs and being abusive as football fans in Europe have been known to be on occasion. No, they were families, men, women and children of all ages dressed in their team colours, all going to support their country.
We emerged 30 odd minutes later from the station to be greeted by a wall of steps leading up to the stadium. Each step had people sitting, talking, eating and drinking with everyone sporting some kind of red or orange piece of material on their bodies or orange hats made from balloons in the shape of the crown, signifying the Dutch royal connection.

There was actually a distinct lack or orange or white shirts but certainly no lack of non-Korean faces, there were huge groups of foreigners all sporting red shirts, here to support the land that currently hosted them. The atmosphere was fantastic, a sea of street vendors selling their wares, mekju, kimbap and tokk being amongst the biggest sellers as well as the obligatory Korea paraphernalia from t-shirts to head scarves. We stood around and savored the atmosphere, drank some beer, posed for photographs and waited to go into the stadium.

Inside the stadium the atmosphere was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, the Koreans seem to have a fun at all cost policy and receive their hosts with emphatic friendship and admiration, from the individual foreigner to entire national football teams from other countries (although I’m not sure how warmly received Japan are). Football is different in Korea, I’m not going to say better but it certainly makes a change from football in the UK. People like us who are obviously not Korean were welcomed with such enthusiasm it almost made me want to cry, especially when I think about what might happen to someone if they admitted to a group of European fans something similar. This hospitality culminated with a group of several lads in front of us turning to us when a Dutch substitution was made. My friend and I wore our Liverpool FC shirts to the game, I don’t have a Korea shirt and my Liverpool shirt is red so I thought it was appropriate. There were many other Liverpool shirts around the stadium too.
Dirk Kuyt came onto the pitch and immediately the few Koreans boys in front turned to us to almost congratulate us when they realised he came on because he plays for Liverpool, they actually applauded him along with us and they seemed happy for us. That made my night.

Koreans have the right idea when to comes to football, play for the love of the game, support your team with passion but never cross that line, the line of taking the game to seriously. Koreans have no problem with that. At most stadiums in the UK there is a dedicated family section where people who want to take their kids can go and not fear for their children’s safety if the result of the game doesn’t go the right way. I looked for a family section at this match but failed to see one. I quickly realised that they don’t need one, indeed the stadium was the family stand, kids were every where and everyone was having fun with the smattering of Dutch fans mixed in.
The level of patriotism inside the stadium made me a little bit homesick and for a brief moment I wished I was home, in front of a crowd of my own people being this patriotic and supporting my country with such desire.

There was an incident that shattered the atmosphere momentarily. From what I could gather a young man had asked another, older man if he would mind sitting down instead of standing as he and his friends couldn't see, the older man took exception and a small scuffle broke out. This system of unquestionable respect towards ones elders has its strengths and its weaknesses and is open to abuse from people who demand respect yet give nothing in return and I’m sure this is not what Confucius had in mind! The incident was resolved and in case anybody spent too much time looking at the arguing group a man started singing and encouraged all around to join in, which we did.

Korea lost the game 2-0 but you would have never have guessed from all the smiling faces exiting the stadium past the small queue that had formed to have their photograph taken with myself and my friend in our Liverpool shirts.

European football teams and countries could learn a lot from Korea and they would only have to spend a short amount of time in the country in order to experience the hospitality. I will be sad to leave Korea when the time comes but then I will probably do what a lot of foreigners do and return here as soon as I can. The kim chi and hospitality are both addictive and I'm not sure i could lead a life without either.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007


The recent revelation by glorified UEFA press officer William Gaillard that Liverpool have the worst fans in Europe is slanderous at the very least, ridiculously sensationalist and fails to address the state of football in Europe in general. His comments are in contradiction with others from within UEFA (and himself) and I think he has embarrassed UEFA and taken away any creditability they had, if, indeed they had any.

It is true that Liverpool have a diseased element following the club but this is true of all top flight clubs throughout Europe, without exception. These people are partly to blame for the trouble and I would like them to take their share of the blame, whether they were getting in with forged tickets or without tickets at all and denying people with genuine tickets a place in the stadium. These “fans” could easily be from other clubs (I’m not suggesting they were) or the kind of people who aren’t real Liverpool fans at all. There is no law forbidding the wearing of a football shirt from any team but putting one on doesn’t automatically make you an ambassador of that club. It is said time and time again that football hooligans aren’t really football fans and the general, law abiding football population shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush.

There are a few key contradictions with what Mr. Gaillard said and they come from the very organisation he is trying to cover up for. Michel Platini, former footballer and current president of UEFA commended Liverpool for the atmosphere after the semi final game with Chelsea, the clubs fans were honoured by UEFA at a gala dinner in Monte Carlo in 2001 as joint Supporters of the Years with Alves after the UEFA Cup final in 2001 and then there is the comment from Mr. Gaillard himself on the eve of the final that Liverpool supporters 'have a tradition of good behaviour'. Worst fans in Europe? Since when?

The club itself had produced a report for UEFA a week beforehand predicting, sadly, all of the things that did go wrong. The clubs intelligence suggested there were 5,000 forged tickets in existence. UEFA knew and the club knew that thousands of fans would travel without tickets and the need for a proper check at the outer cordon was stressed.

There is no good going to come of playing the blame game but nobody wants to accept responsibility and someone has to. But who? The so called fans who instigated the melee or UEFA who should have had plans in place to combat what happened, especially as they had been briefed by the club itself as to what could and did happen. Had the people trying to get in been Greek locals would we be discussing this now, is it a grudge against Liverpool, English football or do UEFA stand by the deluded Mr. Gaillard?

To think that the supporters of other clubs in England do not have the same, hooligan and scum elements is to be incredibly naïve. I will never condone the actions of those fans but to say that it was only Liverpool fans who could have acted like this is beyond naïve, it’s ridiculous. When the England national team play they are usually treated with caution and this phobia seems to have crept down to a club level, add this to the cock eyed, stereotyped view that people have of Liverpool and the citizens of the city and the bile spouted by certain media organisations it is no surprise that people like Mr. Gaillard comes out with such ridiculous and contradictory comments. People from outside Liverpool base their knowledge of the city and its people on ridiculous stereotypes and second hand knowledge and judge an entire community with their half assed, ill informed views.

Ultimately, the question is of blame. The club cannot be held responsible for what people do in its name; anyone can don a shirt and do anything they please. Are Liverpool fans to blame? Yes and No. The kinds of people who use forged tickets or try to get in without a ticket aren’t real fans of the club; they are pretenders who think only of themselves. Does putting on the shirt of a team really make you an instant fan? If I put on a Manchester united shirt and throw a brick at a police car outside Old Trafford does that make all Manchester united fans unruly thugs? No of course it doesn’t. Im not suggesting that the problems were caused by people imitating Liverpool fans, rather people who think they are Liverpool fans but clearly not knowing what a fan is.

Are UEFA to blame? I have to say yes. It is their responsibility alone to arrange all the security and to police these high profile games. They knew what might happen, they were told by the club. The venue was unsuitable, a stadium not designed for football without turnstiles. The security was lacking and the Greek police were heavy handed, I fear UEFA are a group of over paid ego maniacs and wont learn from this. The next final is due to be held in the similarly unsuitable Luzhniki stadium, Moscow. There was a crush disaster there during the UEFA Cup match between FC Spartak Moscow and HFC Haarlem on October 20, 1982. The official number of deaths is 66.
As for Liverpool fans being the worst in Europe, I think on reflection Mr. Gaillard will regret saying those words. He must have a very short memory if he has forgotten already the Italian policeman killed in Italy as a result of rioting, the fact that games have had to be played behind closed doors more than once in the champions league in the last few years as well as numerous instances of violence and unruly behaviour in Spain and Italy, severed pigs heads being thrown onto the pitch, racist chanting, flares being thrown around and players giving Nazi salutes on the pitch. This with the corruption scandal in Italy that saw Juventus get relegated and other clubs, including the holier than thou AC Milan almost miss out on the champions league all together until they were mysteriously reinstated. Not to mention this seasons incidents with Manchester United, Roma and Lille.
The problems that happened were predicted by some when the ticket allocations were announced, they were absolutely unsuitable and an insult to both clubs. It was Liverpool however who had more of a problem with the paltry ticket allocation because there are always so many supporters who want to attend the games. It affected Liverpool more than Milan, simple. The 11,000 tickets that were eventually offered to fans is a pathetic amount and the ticket situation needs to be looked at as the starting point for this madness and learnt from.
Lessons need to be learnt from this and I hope UEFA come to their senses and admit some responsibility and the situation is resolved with out the need for further discussion and finger pointing.

There are many things in hindsight that could have been done to prevent the kind of fraud that happened and people getting in with anything from paper napkins to nightclub fliers and UEFA seriously need to look at what happened and never let it happen again. The fact that paper tickets are still the norm for such high profile events is baffling, why can’t we go more hi tech? The tickets should only be available to people registered with the respective clubs and so why cant some kind of electronic ticketing be introduced, much like the e-tickets you can get with airlines. The Glastonbury organisers have recently introduced a pre registration scheme with photo ID, why couldn’t this work? All you need nowadays to book cinema tickets online is your credit card, you then you swipe it when you arrive to get your tickers, why can’t they have swipe card readers at the grounds in future?
In the world cup in Germany, only last year the tickets were imbedded with pinhead-size radio frequency microchips with ID codes unique to the holder. Aren’t UEFA and FIFA supposed to be part of the same big football family? Maybe they are the kind of family that doesn’t talk to each other much.

To prevent people with no ticket at all getting in why can’t the security be more streamlined and better organised, we need to do away with the need for temporary police barricades made by over zealous police officers.
A cordon around the stadium with all the facilities inside the supporters need to enjoy an afternoon before what might be the one and only time for some fans to a see their team in a champions league final is another idea. The tickets could even have a designated time to be inside the cordon for, stagger all the times and the authorities will have time to thoroughly check all the tickets.

Finally, just allocate the majority of the tickets to the fans and not to corporate big wigs who leave at half time or sit in their box sipping champagne and eating prawn sandwiches.

What would Roy Keane think?

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Arevaderci Manchester

Manchester United bowed out, no crashed out, no spectacularly fell out of the champion’s league against AC Milan in their semi final 2nd leg. Although they were mauled by Milan at least they left with their dignity intact, didnt they? Actually no, that was, as their champions league ambitions now are, in pieces. United found themselves 3-0 down and all but out of the competition when an altercation took place that involved a particularly upset Gennaro Gattuso and ended with him being booked for unsporting behaviour, grabbing someone by the throat is unsporting isn’t it?
Why the altercation? Kaka went down injured, it turned out to be cramp but all the same the ball was put out by a Milan player and when play resumed United kept possession instead of doing the sporting thing and returning it to Milan, this incensed Gattuso.
Post booking Gattuso put his English skills to good use with a multitude of insults, all clearly lip readable toward United players as well as a few universal hand gestures. A desire to win saw United throw sportsmanship out of the window, that coupled with woeful play saw them get what they deserved in the end, a beating.
As in the first leg Kaka was excellent and if this form continues Liverpool will have to pay special attention to him, Seedorf was also impressive for Milan and even though he wasn’t the captain the Milan number 8 Gattuso seemed to be leading the team. He was substituted a minute after he was booked for his own sake rather than tactics I think.

The pitiful claps at the end of the game by some of Manchester United’s travelling support summed up their team who never really threatened to make the game interesting and it is worth noting that Milan had a sort of second string defence out as Cafu and Maldini were left out of the starting line up, although Cafu came on to replace Gattuso.

Goals from Kaka (11), Seedorf (30) and 66th minute sub Gilardino (78) won the game but United were left playing catch up after the first goal and it was Milan who looked the more likely to go and get more goals. The 1999 champion’s league winners looked lackluster and devoid of passion and the team selection suggested either scant pickings or a defeatist attitude. Either way a team with John O’Shea and Wes Brown as your centre back pairing are not going to win you games like these, equally players like Darren Fletcher looked out of his depth and Carrick failed to live up to his ridiculous price tag. All the players you would expect or hope, if you’re a United fan to provide the moments of match winning brilliance, Giggs, Ronaldo and Rooney all failed to turn up and as a result left Milan with a clear path to their 2nd final in 3 years.

Ronaldo was booked in the 83rd minute for unsporting behaviour but by that time the game was well and truly out of United’s reach and Milan were more than deserving of the win on a thundery night at the San Siro and few could argue that Milan deserved to go through overall. United will rue not making much of a tactical effort to keep a clean sheet at home as that is surely why they went out and why Milan and Liverpool both progressed. The 2 away goals for Milan seemed to give them the confidence to attack United from the first whistle and why they never gave in and were rarely under much pressure. Alex Ferguson isn’t much of a tactician but instead has individual talent to rely on in players like Rooney and Ronaldo but when they desert you and you don’t have a real game plan to fall back on you end up getting humiliated, that is what happened tonight. Alex Ferguson and the Manchester united obsessed media may well blame the performance and starting 11 on the fact that they had 3 trophies to play for, congratulations but you will get no sympathy from me or most football fans.

Trying to win everything and ending up winning nothing is what happens when you are greedy, Chelsea may be able to testify to that at the end of the season as they may well end up with nothing (well nothing worthwhile, the League cup rarely takes pride of place in many top trophy cabinets).

So to Athens’ Olympic stadium for a repeat of the 2005 final, dubbed by some as the greatest final ever, I can’t disagree. This seasons final wont be the first time the stadium has hosted such an event, in 1983 it hosted the European cup final which saw Hamburg beat Juventus 1-0 and in 1994 the Champions league final with Milan beating Barcelona 4-0.
The home of AEK Athens it underwent a 260 million Euro renovation in 2004 in time to host the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the football final of the summer Olympics in 2004.

On the 23rd of May 2007 it will host the 52nd final of the premier European cup competition and Liverpool will be looking to equal Milan’s 6 European cups/champion’s leagues.

Rafael Benitez and Carlo Ancelotti will both be confident going into the final with their respective semi final wins but will psychology have a role to play and will Milan minds be cast back 2 years when they step onto the pitch? Time will tell but I for one hope that Milan remember that night in Istanbul when they thought they had the game won and their names on the trophy and I hope Gattuso again touches ole big ears when he walks out onto the pitch.

All that is left for me is to find a place to watch the game with the few reds I know. Finding somewhere that stays open till 3.45am (KO time in Korea) and beyond on a Thursday morning isn’t that easy but a few well placed phone calls to the local foreigner bar should do the trick.

Monday, 30 April 2007

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Red Dragon Rising

A recent news article revealed that school places in Cardiff’s Welsh medium schools are being snapped up by parents. The supply of 505 places is not enough to fill the demand. There have been 540 requests for places and parents aren't happy. The solution offered by Cardiff city council was to create a number of ‘starter classes’ in existing English medium schools across the city. Some parents say they should build more Welsh medium schools.

This is a very encouraging sign for the future of the Welsh language.

Wales has a population of around 3 million people and according to the last census (in 2001) there were around 21% who could speak Welsh, an increase of 2.3% from the last census, 10 years before. While this is a small increase it is an increase all the same but there is still a lot of work to be done if we are to get back to the 54.4% of 1891 and beyond.

The decline in the language can originally be attributed to invading forces such as the Vikings, the Normans, Germanic tribes and in more modern times the English. Devices such as the ‘Welsh not’ were used by the English to try and break the spirit of the Welsh people and destroy the language. The ‘Welsh not’ was a small sign that was put around the neck of children who spoke Welsh in school and was passed around from offender to offender. Whoever remained with the ‘not’ at the end of class would be punished. Devices like this were responsible for many children growing up with not being able to speak their native language and I’m sure many children of subsequent generations didn’t even get the chance to speak their language.

As with all imperialist regimes and conquering nations language represents a big, if not the biggest threat to any hostile takeover. The fact that any occupying force may not be able to see, or more appropriately hear a revolution being formed under their noses was too much of a risk. It happened in Korea (as well as many other countries I’m sure) when the Japanese invaded and gave all the Korean people Japanese names and made them speak Japanese. The hatred for Japan and the Japanese runs deep in Korea to this day. Much the same happened in Wales although I hasten to add that the hatred is not felt in Wales with the same venom most Koreans feel for the Japanese.

I don’t speak Welsh, it’s a sad fact and a hard one to admit when people from other countries find out I’m from Wales and ask me if I can. I have a moment of shame almost but then I feel I have to justify it by telling a brief and probably factually inaccurate version of history and why I, and many Welsh people don't speak Welsh. As long as they get the point I don’t care.

I'm from South East Wales and live about as close to England as I do to Cardiff and any invading forces would surely have stumbled into my future home before marching into the rest of the country. Wales did get invaded, many times and as a result ( plus other factors) the percentage of native speakers in Wales has dropped to a very sad figure indeed. The same year I left school Welsh became part of the compulsory education you received up to GCSE level which was too late for me, I had to make do with learning French. But with the advent of initiatives like that one and others from the assembly government, the Welsh language looks like its getting some protection and hopefully there will be a new generation who grow up with Welsh not looking like a foreign language. Bill Bryson said of the Welsh and our language in his book, ‘Mother Tongue’ “The fact that the Welsh language has survived in the face of such adversity is due to the character of the Welsh people.”

There is a legend in Welsh mythology about a battle between a Red dragon and an invading White one and maybe sums up the spirit of Wales.
The Red dragon fights with the invading White dragon. His pained shrieks cause women to miscarry and animals and plants to become barren. Lludd, king of Britain, goes to his wise brother Llefelys in France. Llefelys tells him to dig a pit in the centre of Britain, fill it with mead and cover it with cloth. Lludd does this and the dragons drink the mead and fall asleep. Lludd imprisons them, still wrapped in their cloth, in Dinas Emrys in Snowdonia
The dragons remain at Dinas Emrys for centuries until King Vortigern tries to build a castle there. Every night the castle walls and foundations are demolished by unseen forces. Vortigern consults his advisers, who tell him to find a boy with no natural father and sacrifice him. Vortigern finds such a boy (who is later, in some versions, to become Merlin) who is supposed to be the wisest wizard to ever live. On hearing that he is to be put to death to solve the demolishing of the walls, the boy dismisses the knowledge of the advisors. The boy tells the king of the two dragons. Vortigern excavates the hill, freeing the dragons. They continue their fight and the Red dragon finally defeats the White dragon. The boy tells Vortigern that the white dragon symbolises the Saxons and that the red dragon symbolises the people of Vortigern. If Vortigern is accepted to have lived in the fifth century, then these people are the British whom the Saxons failed to subdue and who became the Welsh.

I think the story has a nice metaphorical ring to it when talking about the Welsh language and our hopes for its rise from near extinction.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Virginia tech shootings

The man who killed 32 people and took his own life in the Virginia tech college shootings was from South Korea.
With this revelation the story has suddenly become more important and relevant to me as I live in South Korea.
Whilst this is undoubtedly a tragic story of a sad person who has committed unspeakable acts, I can’t help but be concerned and curious as to what this revelation will mean for the Korean communities in the US and how Korea will be portrayed in the world and US media. With a recent Korean news article highlighting the negative view of Koreans in Hollywood I wonder how Koreans will be received by the average American on the street.

Cho Seung-hui moved to the US when he was 8 and went to school and college in Virginia. The BBC seemed quick to point out that he was actually from Korea, even though he had lived the majority of his life in the US. Maybe they are just stating the facts but does it really matter where he was from?

The question that should be asked again is what drives these people, usually children to do these things? This is obviously not an isolated incident as shootings in US schools unfortunately seem to be common, since October 1997 there have been 19 school shooting incidents across the US, most resulting in fatalities, they are;

April 2007: At least 32 people are killed in two shooting incidents in the campus of Virginia Tech University in Virginia.

October 2006: A 32-year-old gunman shoots dead at least five girls at an Amish school in Pennsylvania, before killing himself

September 2006: Gunman in Colorado shoots and fatally wounds a teenage schoolgirl, then kills himself; two days later a teenager kills the head teacher of a school in Cazenovia, Wisconsin

November 2005: Student in Tennessee shoots dead an assistant principal and wounds two other administrators

March 2005: Minnesota schoolboy kills nine, then shoots himself

May 2004: Four people injured in shooting at a school in Maryland

April 2003: Teenager shoots dead head-teacher at a Pennsylvania school, then kills himself

March 2001: Pupil opens fire at a school in California, killing two students

February 2000: Six-year-old girl shot dead by classmate in Michigan

November 1999: Thirteen-year-old girl shot dead by a classmate in New Mexico

May 1999: Student injures six pupils in shoot-out in Georgia

April 1999: Two teenagers shoot dead 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves at Columbine School in Colorado

June 1998: Two adults hurt in shooting by teenage student at high school in Virginia

May 1998: Fifteen-year-old boy shoots himself in the head after taking a girl hostage

May 1998: Fifteen-year-old shoots dead two students in school cafeteria in Oregon

April 1998: Fourteen-year-old shoots dead a teacher and wounds two students in Pennsylvania

March 1998: Two boys, 11 and 13, kill four girls and a teacher in Arkansas

December 1997: Fourteen-year-old boy kills three students in Kentucky

October 1997: Sixteen-year-old boy stabs mother, then shoots dead two students at school in Mississippi, injuring several others

The same arguments will be brought up by the same people; some will say it is the proliferation of violent computer games, some will say it is the ease with which you can buy a gun in the US and others will have their own theories.

As a young Korean man who lived in the country of his birth for 8 years I would imagine that he had a real grounding in the Confucian style adopted by Korean society and all the pleasures and pressures that come with it.

It has often been said that the suicide rate is high in Korea due mainly to the amount of pressure put on students to succeed academically by their parents and their peers. Im sure this will all come to light over the next few days as will the fact that Koreans seems to have, at times an unhealthy appetite for computer games, you can walk into a PC bang and see people of all ages playing online games for hours on end, but then you can see it in houses all over the world too.

I think that in the nature versus nurture debate, each side has its merits but I know people who have unhealthy obsessions with all sorts of things but they don’t commit acts like this and if guns are so freely available in the US why aren’t there more incidents? I have to say that I think the single, most important factor in a child’s life is the influence of the parents and as a result parenting techniques or lack of may need to be looked at when examining the causes of these kinds of events. Im sure there are many causes for this kind of behaviour and I am sure that there isn’t a single one that is solely responsible, more like a combination of factors and I hope a single factor isn’t blamed although im sure it will be by some fanatic/pressure groups.

We will have to wait and see the reaction to this in Korea and the US but I hope the reaction is to the tragedy and the reasons why it happened rather than to try to assign blame and use this tragic incident as an excuse for xenophobic retaliation.

Actions speak louder than words

The so called language barrier isn’t always a barrier. I have met several restaurant owners and shop owners that speak not a bit of English, yet I have a great relationship with them, as good as you can have with someone who it is impossible to speak with! We have an unspoken relationship, literally and yet it seems to be fine as we share looks or gestures and these seemingly small things mean more to me and I think to them than anything I could say or they could say to me. We don’t have any uncomfortable silences or neither one of us says anything we wish we hadn’t; there are no big debates or arguments over politics or religion or anything else.

A common language can in fact be as much of a hindrance in some circumstances as not having one can be in others.

I have met several people in Korea that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, they’d probably get on!

I have met an obnoxious Australian, several Americans, who get on my nerves in a multitude of ways and a guy from London who though the sun shone out of his own backside! The single thing we all have in common is our language, but even that is a tenuous link as some of the debate with the Americans is over how they speak and even worse, their criticism over how I speak. It seems that when you share a language you really get to know people, even if you don’t speak to them directly you can overhear a stupid comment or get one directed at you and all the while they have a smile on their face.

Language or lack of it seems to be a great leveller. There is no pretence, no underhanded comments that are said to be heard. There is just honest facial expressions and body language. Things that you wish you hadn’t said aren’t a problem when what you say isn’t understood anyway but I have never really felt like I want to say anything in anger so badly to a Korean, we have an unspoken rule and that is we cant understand each other so lets make the best of it.
I am trying to learn Korean and a few phrases do go a long way to making life a little easier but I think my relationship with Korea would change if I understood everything, much as my relationship with some other foreign teachers is failing.

It’s sometimes nice to be the foreigner and Korea would surely lose some of its quirk and charm if I were to understand everything. Where is the adventure in buying a bus ticket or finding the obscure attractions without a bit of a challenge, where are the stories to tell the grandkids?

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Korean football - It’s a family affair

The beautiful game in Korea hasn’t yet been ruined by money; in fact there seems to be very little money in the game, with both ticket prices and attendances low there can’t be too much money for salaries.
Ticket prices are very reasonable indeed, around 4 pounds for a ticket, this keeps costs down and so it is very common to see entire families go. In fact the majority of the people who go to these games seem to be families, you can see sometimes see a few generations of the same family at the game all having a picnic of Korean treats and various alcoholic beverages. The fact that at some premiership grounds you can buy a watered down beer for about 3 quid and cant take it to your seat is bad enough but when you get to Korea and can quite easily take a carrier bag full of your own beer into the stadium with no hassle makes it all the worse, I'm not sure if its technically allowed but they don’t make a fuss and everyone does it.
You can actually buy food and drink inside the stadiums too and the costs are also kept right down here, its weird but it’s almost as if the food and drink stalls are there for the convenience of the spectators and not to extort money from usually working class fans. Football is an international language but there is no doubting you are in Korea when you go to get your half time pie and are faced with dried squid, various moulded meat on sticks or instant noodles!

Incidentally, I have recently read that the cost for fish and chips at the new Wembley stadium is around 8 pounds, a scandalous amount and the price fixers should be ashamed of themselves. This is twice the cost of a ticket for a K league game! I am ready to admit that the standard of football here is nowhere near the standard of the game in England but people come to cheer on the team and have a nice day out with the family. As with many things in Korea they don’t seem to take it too seriously. I am an avid football fan myself and sometimes the lack of passion does get to me but when I reflect on it they seem to have the right idea.

Just because the passion seems to be lacking a little that doesn’t mean that they are devoid of it completely, quite the contrary. The atmosphere from the away fans and the dedicated section for the ‘mad green boys’ (Jeonbuk’s hardcore) seems to be full of singing and drumming. The lack of atmosphere comes from the fact that the away fans at the latest game I went to, against Daejeon Citizen probably numbered around 50-100 fans and the hardcore home fans don’t number much more than this.
The songs they sing are quite interesting and it is possibly worth the trip to see a game just to hear what they are going to sing.

The K league was founded in 1983 and judging by what they have sung at some of the games they looked to England for inspiration. At the latest game Daejeon’s main chant was based on the tune of ‘Popeye the sailor man’(not particularly English I know). It's Funny when you have to do a kind of double take, or double listen and you recognise the tune amongst the Korean lyrics. Even more ear lifting was at the game of Jeonbuk versus Suwon. With Suwon being founded in 1996 and Jeonbuk in 1994 they have not had the time clubs in England have had to form a history and a set of traditions and so it would seem that they have borrowed from English clubs and English music. As a Liverpool fan it was a bit strange and at times chilling to be so far from the UK yet hear several thousand fans singing very familiar tunes. Yellow submarine and ob la di ob la da were the first and the final twist was when the crowd started singing ‘Scouser Tommy’, they obviously had Korean lyrics but the tune was unmistakable.

Suffice it to say, I am glad to watch premiership football when I get the chance and there is no competition which is the better league but Koreans have a different attitude to things and football is no exception.

Monday, 16 April 2007

It's Daejeon!

Daejeon is the capital of Chungcheongnam-do province and is the fifth largest city of South Korea, with a population of 1,442,856 at the end of 2005.

‘It’s Daejeon’ is the slogan of the city and the honest folks of Daejeon haven’t tried to mislead the public by claiming anything outlandish in their slogan. They didn’t try, for example to call it ‘Dynamic Daejeon’, ‘It’s Daejeon, great isn’t it?’ or even ‘It’s Daejeon and we like it, we hope you will too’ (maybe they should use ‘It’s Daejeon and its just ok, nothing special but we like it’).

Daejeon barely gets a mention in the lonely planet guide to Korea but a few things are missing from the guide. The main thing that seems to be missing is Daejeon Zooland, it’s not actually the kind of thing that a traveller who buys lonely planet guides would probably want to see but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get a mention. The fact that I live in Korea and have bought the guide suggests it also appeals to a different audience than the regular traveller who spend a month or less in one place and then move on. As a resident I want to know what’s here and what’s worth giving a look and, importantly what’s not worth my time. There is also a stadium built for the 2002 football world cup and if you’re a football fan like me you may want to give it a look.

Zooland will pop up on various websites if you’re looking for the sites of Daejeon and should really be avoided. It’s a theme park with a few rides that has a “Zoo” attached. In reality the zoo has the de rigueur reptiles, birds and other traditional animals. At its centre is an African safari. This costs extra (you can buy a combined ticket on entrance) and takes a round 10 minutes to go through a faux African safari park, the animals look malnourished and generally are in a bad state, they have lions and black bears that roam free but the tigers are in a cage and the other animals you can see at any domestic farm in the UK, in short, its not pretty.

Im sure for kids it’s great but Im not a kid and I wont be going back to Zooland.

Daejeon does have a few more things listed in the lonely planet but at the time of writing I hadn’t experienced them, the main ones are the Expo park, Kumdoriland theme park, the national science museum, an observatory (all of which are housed together) and 2 market/eating/shopping areas in Dunsadong and around Daejeon station ( not to be confused with Seodaejeon station which is further to the east) although a worker at a information centre told me to avoid the expo park and the associated attractions, she did mention that the observatory was worth a look.

Daejeon is given three pages in the lonely planet and half of one of them is with a map that is poor at best, it doesn’t have the expo park and associated delights, Murphy’s bar (a recommended food/drink place) or Zooland.
The directions to Murphy’s bar are so bad that the info centre worker said it would be difficult to find as the Dunsadong area of Daejeon is large and this is the only direction the book gives. We didn’t try to find it but I will find it next time for the sole reason that my girlfriends surname is Murphy and it might provide a cheap laugh and a cheesy photo opportunity.

The 2 other places to go and see are the areas surrounding Daejeon station and Dunsadong. The former has sprawling markets where you can see pig’s heads and various types of Korean cuisine being consumed by the locals on the streets and men playing Korean games, sometimes in their hundreds. I found Dunsadong after a while of searching but wasn’t impressed as the place seemed to be distinctly lacking in life, I will try it again on a Saturday night. The station area has plenty of bars and restaurants including a Turkish kebab shop complete with western owner, not sure if he was Turkish though. There is also an Italian restaurant called ‘Cin Cin’ around the corner from the kebab shop that is very nice indeed.
The local specialty of Daejeon, which I have yet to try, is acorn jelly!

The lonely planet guides highlights a website to look at but is no longer working, I did however find another more current website maintained by foreigners in Daejeon and it can be found at

Daejeon doesn’t seem to have anything special to make it stick out from the other cities in Korea, the fact that everywhere else does seem to have a hook means (Jeonju with the food, Seoul is the capital – which seems to be enough, Busan has the coast and with it seafood and the ports and everywhere has temples and parks) the other cities seem to be leaving Daejeon in their collective wakes.
If you have been to several cities in Korea and have a limited time scale then you won’t be missing anything by bypassing Daejeon, if you live here you really should pay it a visit just so you can say you’ve done it. Incidentally, a lot of westerners/non-natives will have some experience and may have been to Daejeon several times as it has a branch of Costco, the American wholesale supermarket that stocks western food items. It really is a sin to travel to another city for the sole purpose of shopping, make a day of it and see the few sites Daejeon does have to offer.

Daejeon isn’t really worth an extended visit as the maxim ‘first impressions count’ applies well here, I wasn’t impressed on first glance and as there are plenty of other cities to explore I may not go back.

If you do plan on going to Daejeon then the info centre at Seodaejeon rail station is a good place to start, but be aware, there is precious little to do in Daejeon. Residents of the city may disagree but they live there, you have been warned.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

The Russians are coming

For the first time ever there are three English teams in the semi finals of the UEFA Champion’s League and this guarantees at least one English club will contest the final. In 2005 there were two English teams battling out a semi final, Liverpool and Chelsea. Liverpool won the game and used it as a springboard to go on and win the final against Italian giants AC Milan in the greatest final and greatest comeback football has ever seen. In 2003 there were three Italian teams in the semi finals and in 2000 the Spanish had three teams in the semi finals.

The first semi final is a repeat of the 2005 semi final where Liverpool beat Chelsea with a Luis Garcia goal, whether it crossed the line or not doesn’t matter, Liverpool went to Istanbul, Shevchenko missed, Dudek was the hero, we won number 5 and we got to keep the trophy.

The other game will see The Salford reds... I mean Manchester United battle against AC Milan, the beaten finalists from 2005 to see who will take their place against the winner of Liverpool and Dynamo Chelsea.

Liverpool and Milan could again meet in the final and few could argue that it would surely produce another great football match. With the pedigree they have (11 champions’ league titles between them, compared to the 2 Manchester united and Chelsea have between them!) fewer could argue that they are easily the most fitting of the teams to contest such a grand prize.

Even with three English teams in the semi finals an all English final is not guaranteed; in fact I for one will be hoping that doesn’t happen. There are two reasons, the first is that for it to even be a possibility Manchester united would have to win their tie with Milan and the thought of them being 90 minutes away from the title is stomach churning. The second is that I feel Liverpool have an advantage over Milan, both psychologically because of Istanbul but also because we seem to play better in Europe and there is a chance that against an English team the match would take on a premiership feel and that could work against us.

With United performing like Jekyll and Hyde will they get the opportunites against Milan and will Milan waste opportunites to kill the tie off? This tie could see United unmasked and given the hiding they have been asking for throughout the tournament.

Liverpool on the other hand are a much better team than in 2005, personnel changes mean that beating Chelsea again is a greater possibility and I'm confident we will do it again.

Jose Mourinho is very aware of this fact too and has already began his war of words with Liverpool by suggesting that we have an advantage over them in that they still have three competitions to compete for, good, I’m glad we have an advantage and I hope it’s the difference between the teams. Rafa Benitez responded to these childish remarks in his usual dignified manner with comments about Jose befriending only the managers of the teams he can beat, that’s why he has a go at the managers of the top clubs.

Time will tell but I for one can’t wait to see the Russian rent boys crying on the pitch come the end of this semi final, much the same as the last time. Jose will pack his bags, Roman will follow soon after and Chelsea will return to the obscurity they came from, cant wait.

The dislexical ramblings of our cousins across the pond

Some Americans sometimes have funny ways of saying seemingly English words, these funny ways can have consequences and breakdowns in communication are common place and would be more frequent if people didn't account for their 'ways'. Here is just a sample of a few of the current lexical quirks doing the rounds, most of these seem to centre on the apparent replacement of 'T' with 'D'. This list will also be helpful to guest houses and other institutions that deal with tourists who are expecting American visitors.

Just remember, they may not be asking for what they think.

Warder - The chief official in charge of a prison or a guard or porter of a gate or watch tower. Do not present them with a middle aged man with a inferiority complex, instead offer them a glass of H2O.

Bedder - No, not someone who 'beds' people, not an ornamental plant suitable for planting in a flower bed or a house keeper from one of the colleges of the University of Cambridge. Instead they are trying to convey to you that they require something greater in excellence or higher in quality.

Liddle - Again don't think they want you to present them with a versatile Scottish footballer who scored 229 goals for Liverpool FC and was never booked. They probably want something Small in size or Short in extent.

Oracle - Not an authoritative person who divines the future or a determiner that may indicate the specificity of reference to a noun phrase. No they mean article, as in 'newspaper oracle'.

Aerobic - Not living or active in the presence of Oxygen but relating to or characteristic of Arabs. "I'm learning aerobic"

That concludes episode one of 'The dislexical ramblings of our cousins across the pond', stay tuned for more of their amusing interpretations of English.

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