Sunday 18 September 2011

Moors first home victory of the season!

It was a truly wonderful sight to see the Moors victory yesterday. There are shots of the Altrincham game on flickr and they're okay - looking like a Shakespeare comedy or drama. It's very poor form to laugh at the opposition when they're starring defeat in the face. I can't say that I like anyone to do this, but yesterday was possibly one occasion when any of the Solihull Moors faithful would have been forgiven for this type of behaviour. Great game.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Oh dear, another date another dollar....

I mentioned to a work colleague earlier today that I was seeing a young lady this evening and as internet dates sometimes tend, it didn't go quite as well as I had anticipated. Blind dates are something that I have done before and to a degree, I find they are notorious for adding to the stress of an already stressful event. Having only seen a picture of the lady that I'm going to meet I knew it was going to be worth it whatever happened. I was hoping for the nerve-racking end of the blind-date spectrum rather than the unbearable/semi-suicidal that I've hit a couple of times I arrived, looked around the pub, I couldn't see her. I thought I may have a couple of minutes to compose myself and then try as hard as I could to look sincere, intelligent and sophisticated. The last of the preening, clearing my mind as if I'd been preparing my mind and body all day rather than for the last ten minutes as I walked down Broad St. I wandered around the pub looking for her, Lillian, as I thought about the picture that she had on her profile on the dating site. It wasn't too difficult to spot her, she was a Central American, Honduran to be precise, and had the most enigmatic face. The high cheek bones, the rather prominent but yet graceful forehead, the dainty nose, the sensual lips a pretty little chin and a pair of knockers to die for. She was sat, in the Brasshouse, away from the crowd at a table with a bottle of wine and two glasses, one empty awaiting my arrival. I walked over and tried to calmly introduce myself and she went to shake hands as I leant forward to kiss her on the cheek, with her taking my hand asking me to kiss her on alternate cheeks in the manner that those of Spanish influenced culture seem to be so good at being forthright and yet extremely considerate at doing. We talked for the next hour like wild horses galloping alongside and around each other on a grassy plain at sunset. She didn't really stop talking - it was all so sincere, so open and so honest about what sort of person she was and who she was looking for. I tried to explain life in the UK as I saw it and how much things had changed over the last thirty years and that now narrowly defined gender roles are not what most men in the UK expect to fall into with many women. Feminism has even reached Wolverhampton, where she's living and working. I didn't really get the feeling that I fitted the bill, nor that she was interested in the life of a man who tries to sell hearing aids over the phone to people who have no idea what he is talking about half of the time. There seemed to be something missing - something that I couldn't really do much about. It wasn't until after I'd texted her that I realised what I did wrong. On the way there waiting at a junction I sent her a text which was aimed at being some form of icebreaker. I'd always thought that it was funny when you turn up to date and the picture that someone puts on a site doesn't indicate that they're a dwarf, have one leg longer than the other and perhaps. So I sent her a text telling her 'oh, by the way, did I tell you that I have a wooden leg?' and I didn't think as she seemed to send a joke reply, that she'd believed this and been too embarrassed to ask me if it was true. Ho hum - talk about spoiling a good evening without even trying....! I'm possibly going to see her again - other texts messages she sent me afterwards were a little more encouraging - by the way, if anyone wants to learn Spanish I'm sure she'd be a very good teacher. I've always thought soul searching was something that I've done too of - maybe I should just crack fewer wooden leg was like an urban myth materialising in front of my eyes - should I write urban myths or Mills and Boon, tough one that. I hope you find it in everything that you seek, thanks Howard.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

The Chess Team wins....

Following a few good performances Mutual Division 6 Team has won it's first team game. I wondered how long it would take but having played three, won one, drawn one and lost one we've finally achieved a victory as a team. Beating the West Midlands' Police Team was something I thought I'd relish but in actual fact there was very little in the way the Police's play that made me think their training had affected their chess playing. It was quite mild, they may have kettled a few of my pawns and tried to cause a backlash before sending the knights in. The bishops didn't do much, as per usual and the king and queen may as well have just hidden away right the way through the game.

I won a game without any flashbacks or recollection of having met the players before, I have at least minimal condifence that it was a genuine game and a genuine victory. Having said that, I'll probably have some recollections of where I met my opponent on a few other occasions and why the victory doesn't hold firm. It's not quite the way anyone would want to win, I guess it's why the taking part is the most important element of the game. I wonder if this is the type of thing that has happened to any of the Grand Masters?

Saturday 30 October 2010

Cameron - Guilty until proven innocent?

It's not that long since the cuts have been announced and there are going to be a few hundred thousand people who are going to find themselves in a position that I did - looking for a job during a severe recession. I've had a few doubts about the level of caring conservatism that David Cameron genuinely wishes to put into practice. There were the comments about the looneys and fruitcakes of UKIP and Nick Clegg being his favourite joke - demonstrates that the man is not a natural coalition builder. Nor does he have a genuine interest in assisting the working classes.

A few things struck me about the Raoul Moat situation that gradually unfolded several months ago. Firstly, the family stated in the press that they'd offered to speak to him, this possibly providing adequate support to ensure that he survived arrest and initial imprisonment procedures. This was denied and the position that arose appeared to contribute significantly to his suicide.

The government may have chosen to implement guilty until somehow found to be innocent policies resulting in facilitated social breakdown, that is refusing contact with the family when he was in an isolated situation. There was decision without trial and what resulted contributed to his death. What's interesting in this situation is that it is not clear where the decision was made, nor who made it.

What may not strike many of the public about the police after working with them in Kings Norton, is that they struck me individually and when carrying out their duties to be a generally diligent and compassionate group of people on the whole. What quite often is not clear is that it is the will of the right wingers in the UK to make the police an intimidating force, to oppress and bully those who may have had little in the way of choice on the route into a crime ridden life. There's still the convention of trying to make the police appear larger than they really are by getting them to wear the head-extending helmet on their heads and I wouldn't be surprised if Mr Cameron had the doors of new Police Stations built so they suggested the Police who would run out of them were seven foot tall.

There is a Victorian set of principles around Mr Cameron and his outlook on crime and disorder. It strikes me as very discordant in terms of the affinity that he needs to be finding quite regularly with the Liberals with whom they have this historic coalition. Is the government going to make it into the 21st Century with regard to their outlook on the impact of the police - that they should themselves cease to be the threat and everything should be meted out through the penalty that is implemented by the Criminal Justice System.

There seemed some intent, by refusing contact with his family, to edge Raoul Moat closer to the edge and no clear indication on what level the decision was taken to refuse contact with the family. If it was within the senior staff of the Home Office or by a senior police officer who had a responsibility for the case then I would hope that it would be indicated. I imagine this blog won't be adequate to influence the situation and the cost of a public enquiry would be far from the ideal outcome - especially in the light of the cutbacks that are going to be taking place. Are there going to be further actions of the Police to serve as a social breakdown agency? If so, will there be more people who die, guilty before never being found innocent?

I personally don't want to be seen to sympathise with Raoul - more with the police officer who was injured - though I do want the public, and potential offenders, to know where they stand and it appears that there could be significant deterrents to violent crime spelled out by the media regarding how the Police will be instructed to act following a crime involving violence - hand yourself in, you'll be classed as being guilty until you're found innocent may be one message.

Saturday 7 August 2010

By 'Ec: The high life at Solihull Moors

I've always hated paparazzi scum snatching shots of famous people, annoying the innocent and just getting in the way of reasonable people relaxing. Then I saw Alex McLeish standing around in the Directors area of Solihull Moors and couldn't resist grabbing a shot of the great man who has done so much with Blues in such a short space of time.

On the subject of Blues, I didn't think I'd want to return the ground following the riots in the mid-1980s that resulted in the death of a teenager who was much the same age as myself but following the many spirited, resiliant and convincing displays early in the season I returned to St. Andrew's last season to see a few games. Watching the Tottenham faithful silenced by a 90th minute equaliser was funny but, they were without a doubt the most orchestrated and noisy away fanes I heard. Beating Wolves was quite lucky with them having the bulk of the play but Blues almost effortlessly at times soaking up all of the pressure without breaking into a sweat. I didn't expect to see Solihull Moors beating a Birmingham City side but as the team was largely made up of the youth academy it was understandable. Moors wanted the victory and the Blues team seemed very much without the necessary will to win. It was showcase football quite often with Blues playing some great passing moves and both sides attacked and defended with vigor. Shots of the photoessay of the game are here should you want to take a look.

Sunday 27 June 2010

Capello - and other reasons we went out....

While I was never a critic of Fabio Capello I don't think there are that many people who would feel comfortable vouching for him at present. It was a quite disappointing display by England on so many levels that I would rather forget about it. There was something very clinical about the observations that the commentators and pundits made that made it all so clear that a reasonably good England side managed to play well below their potential and didn't do much in the way of performing anything like the team that they can be.

The notion that the Germans had decided to allow Upson as part of the back four to hold onto the ball, which was sensible because any long pass he played seemed to go straight out for a goal kick; the idea of playing two players on Rooney, who looked below strength or fitness anyway, to ensure that he didn't get much in the way of a chance of shooting at goal; the lack of ability of the England team to get to grips with the German attacks and to act as the defensive whole that they can do. It was uncharacteristically weak and when I find myself quoting John Motson I can only imagine that there is something wrong - he said it was the worst England performance since a game he had commentated on in the early 1970s. When England had almost faultlessly qualified without appearing to break into anything more than a mild sweat, there seems to be very good reason for asking why they underperformed so significantly at a tournament that the country relishes watching their national team perform at.

The Germans were good - though the goals they scored looked very much like the type of attempts that a Premiership side would put in against an average Championship side. What made it all so frustrating was that the England team were out of sorts, looking totally naive so many times and did not have a readily identifiable problem that could be solved through action of the captain or a substitution. Rooney-dependency rather than drug dependency of Maradona has been Fabio's vice and this has cost him heavily. I don't like Milner and Barry possibly because they're Villa players but also, perhaps because they haven't quite got the pedigree that the other first choice players have. They're adequate fillers that have not really shown why they're in the team, they haven't performed. When we look at the German side - it was good but it wasn't that good.

The Lampard goal that wasn't maybe represented what the game was - badly judged, unfair and saddening. England can play so well but didn't come close to hitting form for more than a few minutes in this World Cup - perhaps other sides had plans of how to stop England playing - and England should have been prepared for this, but weren't in the least - apparently the preparation went well - I saw no evidence of this having happened. It's amazing how one goalkeeping error virtually ended the World Cup for England. If Rob Green hadn't made that error against the USA then we would have qualified as group winners, then played Ghana and undoubtedly done better against them than we did against Germany. We would still have a World Cup dream. Instead, we have questions, reports and decision-making to deal with.

In the recent past, we've lost out because of Steve McLaren's occasional indecision, we've now lost out because of a lack of invention, flexibility and confidence under Fabio but largely I don't think he really did much wrong. Maybe I'll be the only of the conspiracy theorists who think there was something unusual about England's inability to perform at this level - was there anything going on that would lead to the only UK side to exit very early? I'm afraid I doubt that there is an idea in my mind that this could have taken place. I don't think it was Capello match fixing - it was perhaps some anti-Capello reaction. Versatile England and total football ahead - are we good enough for this? Perhaps we need to think about it.

Sunday 13 June 2010

Joe Hart - Is he what England need?

Reading through a few of the magazine articles that I'd seen over the last few months on the lead up to the world cup, there were several tongue-in-cheek comments regarding the likelihood of a faultering start from the England team. Perhaps no-one should feel surprised, we should all remind ourselves of the dodgy beginnings of the 1990 world cup against Ireland and the fact that most sides that have gone on to win the tournament have started poorly and improved as a team on the way through the tournament.

Though anyone who has seen Birmingham City play this season would probably agree, I don't know how widely respected Joe Hart, on loan from Manchester City has become, outside of the St Andrew's set up. He's managed to form a solid relationship with the centre backs and other defenders which led to two unusual things to see as a Birmingham City fan. Firstly, there was the longest unbeaten run the in club's history for over a hundred years. Secondly, there was the best defensive record outside of the top three clubs formed because of the ability of Hart to work with his back four. Admittedly, it was a very stable defence and when changes were made they were less effective at keeping clean sheets. It's more a case that the club are out of favour and despite finishing much lower, Portsmouth and West Ham are classed as producing more international class in terms of the players ability.

There was another Birmingham City connection on the TV today was Nikola Zigic, the Serbian forward. I hope he plays a better game before too looks like everyone at St Andrew's will be reliving the Christian Benitez experience of last season - will McLeish be able to get his to shoot on target? Will he be able to get Kevin Phillips to begin his coaching career to get the best from him. I'd love this to happen but really there doesn't look like there will be much in the way of change from last season. Only a few sides looked like they had really sussed how to play against our defence last season, if more do this season coming, then there could be far greater reason to need to see the forward players doing well. If they don't we're looking distinctly bottom half again. I have concerns that the season will shape up like the second season that we had when Steve Bruce had led us to a safe season in the top flight in 02-03 and the following season when the class players who'd been brought in failed to really perform - perhaps McLeish has learnt from this and only brought in a few players that he can see performing. Enric Valles, Michel and Nikola Zigic all playing well up front next season? It could happen...

Thursday 15 April 2010

What are the real risks with Class A drugs?


The government claim to be doing a great deal to tackle the major problems linked to drugs and their misuse. Although I have a degree in psychology and an MSc in public health and health promotion, I'm more skeptical about the real reasons that drug misuse tends to be linked so closely with a number of social and individual problems than a great many people in a similar position.
There are reasons that I wouldn't dispute as being reasons that drug use can lead to the problems that it does and these alone are probably adequate to deter most people from considering trying drugs. The quality factor does tend to be a major problem - that you've no real way of telling what you're going to be buying, the lack of consumer rights over quality if it is particularly bad, the lack of grounds to come back on someone who attempts to con or fraudulently sell you drugs - legally you have very little in the way of support should this take place, you are engaging in what can only be classed as an illegal arrangement if you buy street drugs. Drugs need generally to be strong enough for you to notice a change in your autonomic nervous system but refined enough not to cause much in the way of long term damage and there is scope for some individuals to take drugs over a period of years and not have much in the way of a problem but for one or two unlucky individuals to experiment maybe only once or twice and find that they've been one of the unlucky ones. In the same way that everyone who owns a motorcycle tends to think that they can do enough to reduce the chances of being involved in a motorcycle accident, those who experiment with drugs thinks that the types of personal and psychological problems that can occur will not happen to them as a user.
While I may appear to sound very much against drugs because of similar reasons to the government I think it’s worth offering explanations of street drugs and their associated problems which I think could deserve consideration. These other reasons, which I think will only get dismissed as conspiratorial, are much stronger reasons for considering avoiding drug use or misuse than many would acknowledge.
Firstly, drug misuse is costly to the government on a number of levels and any action which aims at reducing the likelihood of individuals using drugs may be in their interests, including operating services which are less favourable towards drug users than non-drug users. I have concerns that the Steven Lawrence related concerns are still not entirely addressed - race was the major issue that led to discriminatory action, though he may not have been a drug dealer or user, there still seemed to be a strong current against him or others like him who may be discriminated against by the police in a manner that the mass media may class as quite acceptable. The three major parties are relatively weak in tackling unnecessary prejudice on the part of the press who pat themselves on the back because they've recognised racial discrimination is bad - the mass media, linked to pub and alcohol vending chains through a rather disturbed international business community aren't interested in balanced opinions - they're largely interested in their profits which can be affected by drugs becoming fashionable, and thus affecting their takings. Were the media, in being involved in the Steven Lawrence incident basically saying, racism is bad and shouldn’t lead to prejudice but exercising prejudice against someone who has used or uses drugs is perfectly acceptable?
There are massive costs to bar and club outlets if the majority of individuals in the club are not using alcohol, the preferred drug of the UK government and retailers. If this is allowed and there are no disincentives for the misuse of street drugs then there could be a massive migration away from alcohol use towards use of street drugs, like cannabis, ecstasy, speed etc. in place of alcohol as some individuals choose to do.
On a few occasions I've been out with friends and we've had what I class as very unusual memory blanks, we've all forgotten what happened say between 8.00pm and 9.00pm in the evening and continued to drink alcohol without much in the way of a problem of remembering what else happened - what's unusual is that if this was due to alcohol then we would have memory through the evening which gradually deteriorated. I've found it difficult to get anyone who will agree with this but think there is a possible phenomenon that requires better explanation - I at present am being dismissed as full of conspiracy, if not totally ignored by the politicians I've contacted. I think there is facilitation and drug users are being drugged with other substances which could be the reason for the development of mental health problems.
Are the international business community so concerned about their profit margins that they would be part of facilitating or supporting action against individual drug users on the basis that it would assist with profits? I've considered what type of organisation may do such a thing and it's difficult to say that I can reasonably identify any organisation that would consider drugging drug users in order to increase the chances of them from suffering from mental health problems. Thatcher’s edict, let the markets rule, may run very true in today’s Britain – perhaps there could be greater consideration given to other risk factors associated with drug use and misuse. Are there other risk factors that are being entirely overlooked?
The criminalisation of those who use street drugs does tend to also act as not only a disincentive to many for using such substances, though it can act as an incentive for some feeling very anti-establishment, but will partly explain the social breakdown process that can be associated with an individual’s demise when classed within a group as a drug user - they become a social outcast to those who are largely concerned with maintaining social norms. Doing something illegal for almost everyone is going to be a source of stress and distress, without contributions from changes in social status as a result of having done something illegal.
This may sound as if it is gross paranoid nonsense and this may seem reason to dismiss this on the basis that there could be very little in the way of reason to substantiate what I'm stating but as I've indicated, there's very little in the way of commitment from the police towards drug users - they may be receiving a substandard service on the basis that they may have misused drugs - they'd be very much unable to get a solid report backing them up if they did have unusual memory blanks during the course of an evening they were out. What these memory blanks may be masking could be linked to all manner of government or international business community action.
There are issues regarding the diagnostic labels and what they are meant to achieve as well. If an individual has taken drugs and then makes an allegation that they may have also have been drugged by others, the police perhaps, then there could be employment of the diagnostic label schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is more than a diagnostic label – it also acts to breakdown an individual’s social networks and carries a great deal of stigma and prejudice particularly in relation to an individual potentially being violent, unbalanced or delusional. Quite insulting comments to make about an individual – is there any wonder that some people labeled as schizophrenic do become aggressive or violent in some circumstances. Schizophrenia marginalizes individuals and may be fully intended as a capitalist facilitated condition to be used to cover up what should be classed as illegal government action – surely the government wouldn’t do this to control their own populations?

Saturday 10 April 2010

Arun Ghosh - Rush Hour Blues, 9th April 2010.

Sitting at the back of Rush Hour Blues running through a few notes I'd made on my photographic exploits over the last twenty five years did leave me feeling the need to be a bit more disciplined. I hadn't really been ruthless in any respects photographically speaking and not really made any progress beyond reasonable amateur status - there has been something a bit lacking in the images I'd worked on.

Perhaps the same could be said of the shots of Arun Ghosh that are on flickr. There are a few which work reasonably well but there's a characteristic lack of real edge in some of them which I should leave out of the set. A couple of weak pop art styled shots that were only included because I thought they'd off-set the rest reasonably well work okay but when I'm working on sixty or seventy shots from an event I guess I have my excuses for not getting every single shot up to standard.

The set that was played by Arun's band was really enthralling and went down well with the crowd. He was a likeable front man who drew the best out of the band. The influences he drew together included the melodies of traditional Indian folk music within Jazz themed structures and styles. There was perhaps a need for some similarly styled Indian Folk/ Jazz vocals to compliment the sounds but the instrumentals alone were entertaining enough to keep me absorbed for the full length of the set.

Friday 9 April 2010

Balsall Heath Hustings - Let the transparent banners hang

Attending the hustings in Balsall Heath last night was quite interesting. It was not attended by Roger Godsiff MP who thought it would be hijacked by party activists - to a point I think it was but with the degree of pressure the government have been under to ensure that there is a real chance of engagement with marginalised Muslim communities to reduce the chances of terrorism, he could have showed his face as the others did. A problems with successful politicians perhaps, they're willing to send men to war but not willing to sample a samosa with the locals in Mary Street Church Centre.

Hypocrisy was a major issue and one which the mainstream party candidates dealt with to an extent, though having said that I did feel that Salma Yaqoob was on more solid ground than anyone else when criticising the Labour government over their policies towards Afghanistan & the Middle East. I must admit I felt it was very important to be around people who felt very strongly about the failings of US and British foreign policy with particular regard to the Middle East and Pakistan area. Why not attend the occasional hustings where you're likely to get a drubbing Mr. Godsiff if it's in the national interest of reducing terrorism?

Watching Jo Barker try to deal with the haranguing she was getting was interesting as well. There seems to be a prevailing attitude amongst Conservatives that men should still be more than willing to take verbal abuse in the line of duty and not be bothered by this in the least - which is why I think they could be so willing to still engage in forms of banter in the Commons which make most politicians look like farm-yard animals to the masses who see them on TV. Did Ms Barker feel discriminated against because the residents of Balsall Heath behaved as badly as her potential colleagues in Parliament? Do the Conservatives consider it good form to be verbally abusive towards men and think it despicable if this same behaviour is carried out towards women?

If I ask the question whether or not Parliament will be the last workplace where verbal harassment is considered part of the heritage of the location or football grounds and the verbal harassment of players the last place where harassment takes place in the UK without significant penalty I would be highlighting a sad facet of British culture - to state that it is currently more likely that football grounds will tackle this issue more likely than Parliament doing this - I would be highlighting a sad facet of British politics.

There's a slideshow on flickr showing each of the candidates who participated - Salma Yaqoob (RESPECT), Jerry Evans (Lib Dems) and Jo Barker (Conservative) and the location this took place in. Not the best quality shots but it does have it's moments. I did wonder if there was anything symbolic about the transparent flags - other issues burning through the mask of nationalism perhaps, maybe poor symbols but worth considering.

Monday 29 March 2010

Fat Chops At TASCOs

The jazz community is a little bit of a fringe society in a number of respects and being on the edge of it does leave you just a little bit marginalised. Nonetheless, being at a Fat Chops gig does leave me feeling just a little bit like I'm on the way to getting myself into an elderly underground thing. It's quite an institution in many respects - hope it last much longer. Slideshow is relatively good. See the slideshow of Fat Chops performance at TASCOs on Sunday 28th March 2010 to check out what it's like....

Saturday 27 March 2010

The East Side Project and the West Side Project

I picked up a leaflet last night from the foyer area of Symphony Hall during the interval when watching the Rush Hour Blues Poll Winners, the University of Birmingham Big Band. This leaflet told me all I think I needed to know about the East-Side area which I guess is partly inspired by the Lunar Society. What I thought may be suitable for the Birmingham area, largely to keep Cockneys happy would be the antithesis of the Lunar Society on the West Side of the City. While the Lunar Society and the East side project tend to be focused on stimulating ideas, broadening debate and catalysing action for the most ingenious use of industry and commerce, there is the opposite on the West side of the city.

This is largely the purpose Broad Street - reducing the quality of thinking and productivity throughout the city, getting the least out of people, bringing them through places like Spearmint Rhino to their lowest levels of conduct etc. etc. etc. Perhaps there's a social history of stupid things that people in Birmingham have done over the last few hundred years - an issue that may appeal in some form of joke museum - which side of the city should this be on? Surely this could keep those who wish to maintain a regional predjudice against the Brummie very happy. I say that thinking there aren't any joke museums around - they tend to be quite sober places - am I wrong about this, I guess it's an issue to reflect upon. They tend to be places that facilitate what I can class as an air of humility and respect towards your fellow man rather than places that cause a degree of distain, disrespect or concern. 

I heard that there were suffragettes in Birmingham a century or so ago and they failed to build an national or international reputation like those in Manchester or London. Whether this was because it was true that after objecting to the content of the newly built library in Northfield, they decided to burn it down. Why can't you be like those nice suffragettes in Manchester I hear the council ask them, even a century later.  

There's possibly quite a role for myself and others who may not feel adequate when they look at the achievements of the Lunar Society -is that what I would be saying if I were to be part of the Eastside project? A latter day Lunar Society wannabe? No, the Eastside project looks like it spans everyone and everything. It's got more of a working class edge to it, being based in an industrial heartland - working class people are meant to at it's heart. There may be some scope to try and inspire a few young people to innovate and do something a little more creative in the world of the arts - could the East-side project area be a means to doing this through an organisation like the Pump? There is at least a good chance young people would be able to get a project started if they wanted to make it on in the arts.

I wonder if this will be recognised as a means of establishing the year of Culture in Birmingham - innovation and stupidity, surely two things that Birmingham has the edge on over the rest of Europe. The East-West divisions within cities may be very much a national or internation trend that has taken place over hundreds of years and the plans the city council has had to redevelop the Eastside of the inner city to be more of a centre for art, culture and education show the city falls in line with international trends - the glitzy wealthy and partying side of the city on the West, those who'd rather stick their nose in a book (kindle, tablet or phone I maybe should say) on the East.

Friday 12 March 2010

Migraine, headaches and mania - do sunglasses reflect a disorder?

I've been wearing sunglasses for a while now - nothing that unusual about that I guess but I've had a reduction in the low levels of tension that I tend to suffer from and on balance less of a feeling of pending headache that would be impossible to escape from. It was an issue that I raised with a health service representative who suggested I did a little basic research on the matter as there wasn't anything they'd been trained on regarding theraputic possibilities of sunglasses. It appears that their first thoughts were roughly correct, if information that you can access through the first few pages of a google search can be anything like reliable.

For some individuals there can be negative impacts it seems - sunglasses can actually cause headaches for some wearers - for me and perhaps a few others, there is the opposite impact - there is the general reduction in low level tension which can result in a headache after a while or if there are other contributing factors. For me, when I've been reliant on the standard methods of trying to get tension levels down, through relaxation, controlling my breathing, eating regularly and trying to exercise etc. avoiding the factors which tend to cause an increase in tension it's been almost a revalation. Sunglasses seem to be working as a means to taking the edge of the tension I tend to experience.

I don't think there is anything like the type of empirical evidence that would be necessary to cause individuals to get this type of treatment on the NHS especially when it's possible to get a decent pair of sunglasses for under a fiver on ebay. It would be interesting to find out which factors co-occur in determining who benefits from wearing sunglasses, even in normal lighting conditions, and who finds it a potential hazzard to health and well-being. Though I don't think I become rock star like, I do find that I can benefit from daily wear sunglasses and hope other people can too.

Monday 8 March 2010

Bovril Bee Bop

The concept of doing something in the same style as a jazz musician is something of a cliche in the arts - Jackson Pollock painted in the same manner as a jazz musician, Jack Kerouac wrote prose in a long continuous flow like a soloist and I, well what was it that I did? This is rather more difficult to explain than I can really express.

It was a number of years ago at Swanshurst when I was at sixth form there that there were a few names mentioned having been seen in the dreams of staff and students who were at Swanshurst at the time. The names didn't mean a thing for years - until I met people who's names were mentioned at a place I worked at recently. It doesn't surprise me that this type of thing takes place - coincidences purposefully manipulated in order to cause an individual what I class as distress through what may appear like a paranormal phenomenon. This is a pretty unusual form of harassment I'd tend to argue, a form that should result in at least investigation by the Police but may be this won't take place.

What may seem quite a coincidence is that I've not had full recall of the events that took place there over twenty years ago now - when I lost an entire weeks memory - I had no recall of an entire half terms break. What I think took place was a brainwashing session similar to that shown in the Mancurian Candidate that is only likely to be dismissed as pure paranoia - a product of my own imagination. One of the concepts that I think has emerged recently, has been the Bovril Bee Bop that I didn't understand for years. The concept of Bovril in Birmingham is quite unique - a drink that you have only at a football match, and at no other point in your life - as Jasper Carrott said once.

What I think took place was only manipulation that I think was totally unnecessary - I think the concept of 'Bovril Bee Bop' was born, only for the purposes of ridicule. What I tended to do when I was taking shots of the musicians performing at Rush Hour Blues was to try to mimic the senses of the musician while I was taking photographs of them, trying to photograph in a manner enhanced by the subtle changes that drifted around the room as the music took control. When Charlie Parker played jazz, the world listened, when Kerouac wrote the world read his free flowing text and when Pollock painted the world wanted to watch the results emerge. I have been photographing non-league football with the same gusto as Charlie Parker played his most inspired solos, as Pollock painted his most magnificent works, as Kerouac expressed the doubts and fears of a nation. When I photographed non-league football the world until now has ignored the freeflowing photoessays that make up bovril bee bop shots of Solihull Moors home games this season. Maybe one day, the world will flow with the tunes of Bovril Bee Bop.

In some respects I think there's a possibility that the idea was one I was manipulated to have - what ever took place there at Swanshurst on or off the grounds does still bug me - perhaps very little took place. Was the concept of Bovril Bee Bop something that was generated only for comedy purposes - and why have I lacked so much in the way of inspiration when it comes to finding a means to connect with a jazz community? It's a real shame that I didn't manage to get my ideas in order but I guess, like jazz, photographing jazz is very much about the moment and somehow, the moment even though it may not be caputured perfectly, can still be represented. While I suggest that there's been some form of ridiculous manipulation I can only expect to be beleaguered by problems but for whatever reason, I guess I still think this makes more sense than anything else....curious really.

Friday 26 February 2010

The importance of family

Just think Rembrandt used to spend hours getting his models to pose. Leonardo Da Vinci used to get very frustrated over the Mona Lisa and yet in just a few seconds I can conjour up something just as good with the most unlikely models in the world - my relatives. I'm sure anyone who is connected to fine art would agree with me, anyone who is worth talking to at least. There is just such poise, balance and humility in this one photograph some professionals would spend hours aiming to get something closely resembling this - it is quite magnificent - or am I on my own with this?

Thursday 18 February 2010

Suspended for a week because of Sid the Sexist.

While I've never been known for perfect gender politics, I generally haven't engaged in much in the way of extreme sexism which is what I felt I was being accused of when I was taken into a meeting to discuss my careless conduct with regard to a poetry pamphlet that I'd left on the desktop that I'd been using. A colleague had found it and read through it and described it as offensive. I didn't really think that because the wording I'd used was potentially rude, personal or sexual that there would be a problem, forgot the item - or didn't throw it away - and then found someone had been through it, and then made a complaint. It does beg the question that one shouldn't read through colleagues personal possessions and find something objectionable, complain and expect there to be some form of disciplinary action as a result. Anyway, here's the poem....needs a bit of work as they say....

Oral Delight
Dainty beauty,
Unspoilt unkempt,
Not to tease,
Deal without relent,
Wish to keep,
To take what's meant,
You mean more than anyone could follow,
As your lips eat into tomorrow,
And I guess you may choose to swallow,
Leave me left with what I can borrow.
As you stand I feel you rise,
And know we both feel satisfied,
Was it Sid who kindly said,
Look out sugar here it comes,
Get your gums around my plums.

Apparently, the lines about choosing to swallow and 'gums around plums' caused one person offence - I wonder if there was anything really that offensive about this or there was someone with an axe to grind.

Anyway, offended though I was and glad to be suspended for a week and not have any work to do, I have given in my resignation and generally I'm quite glad about it. It did remind me of the obscenity case that Lenny Bruce fought in the States - he was prosecuted for use of the word 'cocksucker'. A judge asked him if the regarded the word to be appropriate and he stated that most of the people he'd described as cocksuckers did actually appear to be cocksuckers to him. I think this is largely adequate as a defence, but then again I was nearly sacked. Still all that worldly experience, it's left me feeling more of a kinship with Salman Rushdie and Lenny Bruce than I could ever have imagined.

Monday 15 February 2010

Moors win 3-0

As I arrived at the ground on Saturday afternoon I heard that Corby were the dominant force in the first ten minutes. This was not to remain, the balance of possession changed and the team who took their chances was Solihull Moors. The slideshow has a shot of the header which rebounded off the crossbar and the challenges that resulted in the third Moors goal. It was a really enthralling game that left Moors six points above the relegation zone. Perhaps there's a chance of safety now but this should not have been in question. See the 150 plus shots on flickr here. Maybe a lot is owed to the referee - the decisions didn't seem to assist them in getting back into the game.

Monday 28 December 2009

Well, an enthralling game of sorts - I did take a large number of shots again - I can't wait for the light to come back so I can take shots without the blur that's created by low light. It's been interesting trying to get to grips with sports photography but I have reached a bit of an early plateau. There are action shots close in on the players that I can take, there are shots of the ball as players go up for a header but really I am yet to find a genre or style in all this. It's interesting to try this as some form of photo-essay bordering on social documents but again I have to push a little further in order to achieve this. We lost 4-2 but that besides, it wasn't a bad game.

See all the shots through here and here.

Saturday 28 November 2009

Discriminating against the Irish - why were Sinn Fein referred to as the political wing of the IRA for so long?

While many of my views on politics may not be that well thought through and Id say I'm definately not what I'd class as well informed, I think there's a distinct possibility that I am right on a few occasions every now and again regarding a few relatively important issues: the naivity of the Labour Party Leader, Gordon Brown to state there was an end to boom and bust when the UK economy is so strongly linked to that of the US (theirs is intrisically linked to boom and bust because they class this as a freedom - bunch of thickos if you ask most brits), and the fact that there is perhaps a degree of racism in using the term terrorist when describing the IRA, the Irish Republican Army. I should, when point is made like this, discuss in quite a lot of detail the period that the term 'political wing of the IRA' was used by the BBC and other media bodies and the relationship between these and Thatcher's and Major's governments and those of Blair's and Brown's to elucidate exactly how media organisations have been influenced and whether or not this served a genuine purpose for the public in Northern Ireland or were just acts of injustice aimed at the final struggle to maintain an empire or commonwealth when there is no great drive to achieve this.

It is notable though that those governments for the period in our recent history been content to use the language of the politician who have dealt with operations of the IRA as acts of illegal criminal action rather than that of an army engaged in warfare. Was this act of aiming not to recognise the IRA as an army, but rather a reckless gang of criminals, just part of the game-playing involved in the British maltreatment of the Irish? Is ridicule and trivialisation of the Irish and their state part of a relationship that the British governments seem unable to break? This to me, seems to be an ongoing element of life in the UK taking varying forms rather than actually appearing to ever stop and there be a meaningful end to maltreatment of Ireland and the Irish.

Were there reasons for describing the IRA as terrorists which aimed only to undermine the legitimate political actions of Sinn Fein, who were frequently described by the BBC as 'the political wing of the IRA' - surely there is misrepresentation here - should we treat our own government equally and describe them as the political wing of the British forces, a formidable terrorist outfit if ever the was one, always profiting from the legal loopholes that acting as an army or defence force can offer. Should the political wing of the British forces be denied the oxygen of publicity that they require for survival - perhaps this is one of the reasons that Thatcher's medics told her not to speak publicly again - what a damn hypocrite. Is there some form of divine intervention here or am I imagining things?

On a slightly different matter, I had on a number of occasions asked the media through several points of contact to try to open up a number of issue areas in the press through background websites which offer an introduction to the main background issues - I never as a youth felt I'd get a handle on the complexity of issues in Beruit in the 1980's which seemed to get more complicated on almost a daily basis, so I am pleased to see the website pages the BBC have added on the background of the peace process in Northern Ireland (see: Northern Ireland background from the BBC) which does give quite a comprehensive background on the 'troubles'. At least this is happening, despite it being nothing to do with me personally, I imagine.

Sunday 25 October 2009

Bouyant Solihull Moors take opportunity to win.

After several years away from non-league football, the display of football on Saturday at the home ground of Solihull Moors was a refreshing experience that brought back a number of good memories of the years I supported Moor Green when they played at The Moorlands on Sherwood Road, Hall Green. The quality of the football had improved, Solihull Moors, by my opinion at least frequently outclassing the opposition, Harrogate in what was a generally very well fought contest allowing the ability of both sides to show in good October conditions. The strong wind that assisted Solihull Moors on the attack in the first half didn't cause great problems in the second-half - Solihull Moors looking the more likely to score throughout the game.

Whilst there may have been greater creativity on the part of the Solihull Moors attack and perhaps greater stability in their defence there was not a massive gulf in performance - a number of crunching tackles were made in midfield, notably several made by Harrogate players resulting in Solihull Moors freekicks, most of which didn't trouble the Harrogate defence to any degree. The penalty which decided the game was won, at the time I thought very fairly, however, the photograph I took of it illustrated the Harrogate keeper was making strong attempts to withdraw his arms as shown in the photograph at the top of this blog. There was earlier in the half a disallowed goal scored by Harrogate that, because of pushing against the keeper, didn't stand. The photograph of it perhaps shows this.

After going a goal down late in the game Harrogate looked far more hungry than Solihull Moors to equalise, if not go on ahead and win. Frantic responses from the crowd reminding the players not to become to complacent while leading appeared to convince the players they had what it took to regain control. The final whistle came and Harrogate, if they hadn't won the game, had won a few admirers in the Solihull Moors crowd. A well contested game. See more shots Buoyant Solihull Moors take opportunity to win.