Labour Conference

pm-gordon-brown

Just the heading in Google news was enough for  me:

Hard-hitting stuff from Mr Brown – who seems genuinely to be enjoying it up there. He says the true test of a government is not the quality of its marketing but the quality of its judgment.

Well, if it’s a matter of judgment, Gordo, you’re knotted, mate, come next May.

Welcome to the new site

This wordpress version of Nnourobscurbannourishing Obscurity is, as you can see, in magazine format but apart from that, there’s little fanfare or bells and whistles.

To the left is one of the original banners for the old site; it’s a bit sad that it has to become an archive but there is a point to the timing.  Tomorrow, I also lose someone very special to me, it’s her birthday today and so it seems the appropriate occasion to move on.

Hope you like the new site; hope I like my new life.  Remember, the old site hasn’t bitten the dust, it’s just resting.

Comments

The site is configured so that you need to have your first comment approved but after that, you just comment freely, as and when you want.  Naturally, some people are blocked.  I’m not running the registration option or captcha because it’s a pain in the neck for visitors.

By far the biggest decision was choosing the theme.  Knowing I wanted a magazine style, I must have looked at quite a few hundred themes, before coming down to three:

1.  News Magazine 640, which had the advantage of postingthe latest post in each new theme – very nice but there were text problems and in IE6, apparently, one whole panel did not show;

2. One which had advertising in the top right but there was no way, except by altering php, of chanigng or loading ads;

3. Atahualpa, which gives you over 200 configurable options – mindblowing – but is still the old three column version I had at Blogger.  Nice but it needed a change.

So I ended up with this one.  WordPress, I’d suggest, is not enough in itself.  It needs to be combined with a great theme which gives many options, with the proviso that the more options, the more you have to think about and the more which can go wrong.

Britblog Roundup N241 – Best of Britain

As my blog changed on September 29th, most comments on this Britblog Roundup are at the old site at this url.

It seemed better to include a bit of text with each link in this week’s Britblog Roundup but of course, this lengthened the whole thing. Never mind – think of it as an afternoon’s read. 🙂

Let’s cut straight to the chase:



Political issues
of the week

Andrew Allison has had a shock – a council which actually did the right thing, which is a sad statement in itself:

In my work for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, I am regularly quoted criticising councils and councillors. Some would say I never have a good word to say about any of them, although I hope the councillors I do work with think differently. Today though I am writing this post to commend Hull City Council. Yesterday all our recycling bins were emptied and taken away.

Speaking of bureaucrats and jobsworths, Tim Worstall, quite unusually, addresses something else Polly has now said – that we’re a social democratic nation. He gives three reasons to disagree:

The second is that we’re actually appallingly bad at running the encoutrements of a socially democratic state. The jobsworth, the form filling, clipboard wielding bureaucrat is a national figure of fun and has been for generations. In a way that a bureaucrat in Sweden say, or Germany, simply is not.

Mick Fealty, in the Telegraph, returns to the MPs expenses issue, noting:

…if we accepted the pay-it-back-without-further-punishment priniciple we might solve the prison overcrowding problem

Mark Thompson revisits the spending cuts horror facing us all after the election and points out that swageing cuts of staff and services aren’t going to help anyone:

Making people redundant is expensive and time-consuming. Companies that go down this path may live to regret it in a year or two when they suddenly find they have a shortage of staff and then have to start recruiting again (also not cheap) when they have only recently made staff redundant.

Mark Wadsworth says, “And another thing about Land Value Tax”:

In other words, the NIMBY & Greenie Lobbies will prevent you from doing the obvious thing and building a nice little wind-surfing resort or nature retreat or whatever it is that people are prepared to pay for, instead, the owner has to tippy-toe gently through his own forest doing somebody else’s bidding (at unknown cost).

… which led to this reply from The Economic Voice:

So I say, let’s just wind the clock back at least fifty years and do what we used to do.

… followed by his own proposals.

The inscrutable North Northwester tackles the Home Office crime stats:

Now if anyone; anyone at all, wants to explain why police recorded crime figures are held to be less reliable than those produced by the noble Home Office statisticians, then feel free to use this blog’s comments facility.


We’re told by new blog Nothing British:

Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, take note! A great scientific mind has emerged from the depths of the BNP.

It’s put me in a difficult position that I’m supporting Nigel in Buckingham, because the Witanagemot mainstay, Little Man in a Toque, reports on the Bercow move, which might help England, if Bercow can be believed:

John Bercow has indicated that he would be prepared to preside over a debate on an English Parliament. Mr Bercow also indicated he would be prepared to preside over a debate on the establishment of an English Parliament, but added it was not the Speaker’s role to call for such a discussion.

That could set the cat among the pigeons.

Mr Eugenides considers the efficacy of a university debating background in leading to a later parliamentary career:

More to the point, perhaps, we played the game in the right spirit, dammit. Not for us the rituals of debating geeks up and down the land, burying their heads in back issues of the Economist and memorising statistics about world trade.

No, GUU men (and girls) stood up and took the fight to the opposition with rhetoric, confidence and (on a good day) razor-sharp wit; bristling with aggression, chutzpah and balls (particularly the girls), we were the first into the bar at the end of the day and the last out every night, without fail.

Trixy enlists Flanders and Swann to answer the organized Irish who gave the No vote UKIP spokespeople a hard time and whilst she does that, offends just about everyone else who’s not English:

[I]t’s a sad state of affairs when these useless little jobsworths with no chance of getting even an internship in a private company have to drag everything back to William the Third, as the song goes. Or even Henry VIII.

The Devil’s Kitchen comments on Charlotte Gore who wrote a rather good post on why statism is like having to make tea for the entire office:

“Yes, yes,” I hear you cry. “But haven’t you done that subject to death?”

Well, I have made my feelings fairly clear on a number of occasions, yes.

Last but not least, Janine, the Stroppybird is annoyed:

Firstly, the repeated mantra that “Everyone now accepts that there must be cuts in public spending.” Secondly, the constant reference to “Britain’s nuclear deterrent” in reports about Gordon Brown announcing a reduction in nuclear-armed submarines from four to three.


Old politics, same issues today

Still political but hardly current, The Croydonian has been trawling old Hansard and came up with the question of the dilapidated condition of the resting places of National Heroes, to which the reply was given:

The UNDER-SECRETARY for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Masterman) The Secretary of State finds on inquiry that the vault which contains General Wolfe’s remains is not in a dilapidated condition, but in common with all the vaults under the church it was closed and bricked up many years ago …


Political doublespeak has never altered, it seems and nor has the economic situation, which Tiberius Gracchus traces to its roots, historian that he is:

The first thing that strikes me as an amateur in medieval history is that by the twelfth century, the review and hence the study probably suggest that monasteries evolved a more specialised structure in the period.

Monks specialised in hospitality for guests- abbots moved out of the general refectory, out of the general monastery into their own quarters. The structure of the society is both specialising and complicating.

By the way, Gracchi is the only blogger in the Britsphere who is actually two people.


The conferences


The estimable Tom Paine opines on the state of play as we go into the conferences:

No-one can guarantee us the government we hope for, but our expectations set a cap on the quality of our governance. As those expectations spiral downward, so do our chances of ever being well-governed.

Ross Fountain live blogs from the Lib Dem Conference and as it’s a very long post, you’ll need to go there to read the eulogy.

Nich Starling [indirectly] hits back:

The truth is this country needs more than a rearranging of the deckchairs. We do need policy that will dramatically alter the directing we take if not we risk returning back to where we are now in 10 years time because nobody genuinely believes the Tories will properly regulate the City (after all, their fundraising efforts are co-ordinated by hedge fund managers) whilst genuine policy breakthroughs like those outlined by IDS the other day on welfare do not seem to have been welcomed with open arms.

Jonathan Calder bemoans the changes at the Lib Dem conferences:

Whatever the truth of that, viewing this week’s Liberal Democrat from Market Harborough rather than Bournemouth has shown me how much things have changed since those days. And not only because it is now the Lib Dem leaders who provide the outlandish policies.

… while Max Atkinson notes:

So it was bad luck for Nick Clegg that he was wrapping up the LibDem conference at the same time as President Obama was speaking to the United Nations in New York, one result of which was that Sky News opted for live coverage from across the Atlantic rather than from Bournemouth.

Don’t forget to head over to Helen Duffett’s Liberal Democrat Voice for the winners of the Blogger of the Year Awards – I won’t spoil it now by giving the game away …

… and there is frightful news in the Lib Dem camp – Costigan Quist, at Himmelgarten Café, having swept all the awards but not wishing to get tied up in any shenanigans, has decided there’s no point going on. He’s called it a day and wishes the Lib Dems well.

Bill Quango, after commenting on the “church fete atmosphere” of the Lib Dem conference, looks towards the Labour Conference:

“Where are your troubles now.
Forgotten!……. I told you so.
We have no troubles here.
Here life is beautiful – the girls are beautiful – even the orchestra is beautiful.
Leave your troubles outside! Life is disappointing? Forget it!

… which requires Dave Cole to come in to defend Labour, particularly against that malcontent, Charles Clark:

Brown is going to be the Prime Minister into the next election. By continually pushing this point, Clarke is becoming more of a single-personality politician and all he is doing is damaging the party.

Mac the Knife weighs in [invective #*&^$% removed] on Cameron:

According to The Times, no fewer than 28 of his PPC’s are either lobbyists or PR weasels.

Well, of course they are. That’s exactly what parliament needs. Who’s going to notice a few more whoring scumbags at the trough? Who in their right #*&^$%ing mind would consider selecting individuals of proven worth and achievement?

God forbid!

Religion corner

The sort of social madness besetting our land today, this time bureaucratic PC madness, leads The Quiet Man to say, about the latest attempts at Christian-bashing:

[N]ormally I avoid health and safety gone mad issues (it’s for the good of my health) but this crossed my path and I wondered if this was a deliberate attempt to alienate the population of England or merely another case of officious bureaucracy having a go at a weak seeming target (Christians).


In other religious news, Andrew Ian Dodge looks at Israel, nuclear weapons and Craig Murray:

Craig Murray is the same guy who once raised a quite commendable hell about a fat Uzbek oligarch Alisher (Jabba) Usmanov.

… and the Britblogosphere’s own Archbish, Cranmer, writes, in answer to Dr. Suhaib Hassan, one of the UK’s Sharia judges, concerning women under Sharia:

Quite so, Dr Hasan. But what of Muslim women who are not content with your ability to ‘enforce’ rulings in which women are manifestly not treated as equal to me? A very brave Muslim woman, Kavita Ramdya, has written in response.

Feminism corner

Jess McCabe says women are still under-represented in climate talks [we men are such beasts]:

Out of 146 national delegations at the UN climate talks on Tuesday, only seven were headed by women. Oxfam says this is an example of how women’s voices are still absent from the debate on climate change and what to do about it, even though – particularly the poorest, most marginalised – women will be worst affected, IPS reports.

The Daily [Maybe] takes the MSM to task for eulogizing Bardot:

The most outrageous element of the piece though is just that Bardot is held up to be some sort of feminist. AC Grayling that well known feminist philosopher (ummm) says, “I think Bardot represents one trend of feminism,” Oh, do tell us which trend AC! ”

She represents the power of women. What’s iconic about her is her shape, the way she occupies space.” What? She’s a feminist because she’s got T and A? This would be new feminism would it?

Laura Woodhouse‘s feminist hackles are raised by the University of Buckingham prof:

Female students do not attend lessons so pervy lecturers can take mental images of our curves and project them onto their no doubt long-suffering wives to improve their sex lives. Liberal Conspiracy’s Laurie Penny reports the same story.

Cath Elliott, as she states in her “About”, is an “unapologetic feminist”. Interesting then then that I, a mere male, can agree with her on this completely:

We understand that prostitution is a form of violence against women. International and national studies show that for the vast majority of prostituted women, men and children the experience is one that involves physical, mental and sexual violence which traumatises and de-humanises.

Philobiblon says we can learn from a feminist utopia:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, published in 1915, created a new sub-genre, the feminist utopia.

There’s something delightfully ironic about the creation, for there’s no doubt her world, an all-female one getting along very nicely thank you, would have horrified the original creator of the form, Sir Thomas More.

Jackart, on the other hand, defends the equality of the sexes in their traditional mode:

I don’t know why women get offended by people choosing to watch pretty tennis players. The motivation for women to watch rugby always seems to involve the word “thighs”. Do I feel objectified?

I like pretty tennis players because I am biologically programmed to seek out healthy, youthful-looking women as mates. Girls like muscular Rugby players because they are programmed to seek out dominant, physically fit men to give their offspring the best genetic inheritance.

… and Feminazery quotes the Mail article on feminism, in an attempt to put it all in perspective:

“Thirty years later, when feminism exploded onto the scene, I was often mistaken for a supporter of the movement. But I have never been a feminist, because, having experienced my mother’s violence, I always knew that women can be as vicious and irresponsible as men.”


Other UK social issues

Andrew Scott touches on the difficult one of someone suiciding and the inevitable recriminations:

“Mary’s just done it for real. The hill… Eh? Hawkins… Mary Hawkins. She’s just gone over the edge. Nuts eh? Bloody nuts.”

An hour or so later Dr. Ben sat down beside Matt in the day room at the hospital and asked “Why didn’t you try to stop her?”

Deogowulf takes a well known Britblogger to task on the mystery of life:

“The aim of life is to pass on one’s genes”, says Mr Worstall, adding that “we are told by the scientists” that it is so.”

Well, randy scientists might tell him such things, but science — as knowledge only of the empirical-mechanical aspects of the world — does not.

Tim had put this point:

“Would I be being exploited if someone was crazed enough to want to carry and raise a child from my sperm? Absolutely not: I would think that I was exploiting them and rightly so.”

A controversial nomination and inclusion this week is a non-blogging reader whom the Britsphere know very well from his meanderings and pithy observations and it’s on account of his relevance and ubiquitousness that he’s hereby included. Dearieme castigates your humble Britblog guest-host for this week on his defence of windfarms:

Your picture should be captioned “Two Sources of Shite”. Wind farms are just subsidy farms – they are an utterly dud idea; you should be ashamed of yourself for entertaining the preposterous notion that they have any merit at all.

Jonathan Calder quotes Jenni Russell in the Guardian, to his surprise, on the adult/child issue:

This removal of general authority from adults, and its gradual replacement by state-sanctioned interventions, is utterly corrosive. It infantilises grown-ups, who lose one of the roles that societies have always expected them to fulfil.

Julia M also has something on Jenni Russell’s article on the matter:

Stealthily, and without open political debate, we have moved from the assumption that all adults have a role in socialising children, towards a new and uncertain world in which contact with children is increasingly regulated by officials and the state. It is a kind of collective madness, in which the boundaries of what we are allowed to do shift too fast and too secretly for us to keep up.

Letters from a Tory comments:

Vetting scheme for adults gets even worse! Geeesh. And I thought the adults-giving-lifts-to-children vetting scheme was bad.

On the issue of child “counselling”, following the horrendous accident in Suffolk, Pavlov’s Cat says, in a post entitled “Vultures” [invective #*&^$% removed]:

For #*&^$%’s sake, were they on speed dial? Although I bet they were already on their touchy-feely way, once they’d pulled on their Orkney sweaters and Batik skirts and donned their Crocs. Did anybody ask the parents if they wanted their children ‘counselled’* or would refusal be seen as akin to child abuse these days.

Reynolds brings us another human crisis involving a child:

My crewmate got the child out to the ambulance (where most of our equipment is) while I listened to the GP as he gave me a history of the child. Small for her age she had been vomiting for a few days, now she was severely dehydrated.

This is why she looked like one of the babies they show on the news when there is a drought or famine in another part of the world.

William Gruff has strong opinions on murder and decries the state of society today in England:

There are murderous scum walking our streets who should have been broken and disposed of long ago and a fear of condemning the innocent should not prevent us from dealing effectively with the guilty, no matter how ‘redeemed’ they may say they are.

Barkingside 21 blog has a problem with aircraft noise:

Last week I was waiting at the bus stop in Clayhall Avenue when a medium sized jet propelled aircraft of the type used at London City banked overhead and disappeared off towards the north. It was very noisy.

So, I was thinking about that during my bus journey. Part of the reason for the increased noise pollution is that the flight paths have been lowered by NATS. Why?

The Daily [Maybe] comes out strongly for the Tongan [which many might actually agree with]:

We push people to the margins of society, forbid them from working then harangue them for claiming benefits. We force people to live like animals then despise them for the conditions we have put them in. It’s inhuman.

Concluding this section, Lord T, he who pulls no punches,wades straight in on the appalling state of our education system and what it’s going to take to try to mend it:

Now to be honest it has been apparent this has been going on for several decades but has been accelerated and hidden well under a mountain of paperwork and statistics.

There have been a few holdouts, schools which are not controlled by the government, home schooling etc., but these areas are all now under attack, even when it is recognised that the general education system is not fit for purpose.

The socialist mantra seems to be we cannot have some people being better than others and so we need to make sure everyone is at the same level. Barely literate.

It is time we brought this under control and returned UK education back to being one of the best in the world.

The nature of being British – English, Scots, Irish or Welsh too

The Britblog Roundup need not be all about politics. Well yes, it needs to, to an extent but many other aspects of Brit life need to come in for comment as well:

Jams O’Donnell brings cheerier news, reporting on the increasing numbers of Sea Eagles in Scotland, a welcome sign:

“This is the result of a huge effort by many people over the past 30 years, he said. It shows what can be done to reinstate a key part of our natural heritage.

It remains important however for the population, especially the newly released birds in the east of the country, to be allowed to fully settle in and establish territories.”

Angus Dei, in his Saturday Snippets for example, writes of the matchstick Dalek being created by Brian Croucher:

This full scale matchstick model of one of television’s scariest aliens is the work of Brian Croucher, 66, who spent more than two years on the task in the sitting room of his end of terrace house in Bognor Regis, West Sussex.

I’m not sure if the cultured Chameleon, whom you’ll find at performances like Berg’s Wojzek at the Flemish opera, is linking Glasgow and juvenile behaviour but she waxes lyrical here, tongue in cheek [if such a thing is possible]:

Not that we really bear any deeply ingrained grudge against the inhabitants of our largest city, some of my best friends come from Glasgow.

The inevitable pang of guilt that accompanies such recklessly juvenile behaviour (in my case at least) assuaged by the fact that the replies bawled in unison are normally so garbled that the likelihood of them deciphering our abuse is negligible.

Susanne Lamido has had an achievement in being elected a Chair. Now I’d love to be a chair too, so well done to her:

Being the Chair for two years is a real commitment but everybody including officialdom seems to feel I’m up to the task.

Cherry Pie takes a sympathetic look at the Black Country:

In addition to the old industries and working life displayed at the Black Country Museum there is also a traditional funfair. The swingboats brought back fond memories of Sunday afternoon walks up the Wrekin.

Phillip Wilkinson, author of The English Buildings Book does the sort of post many out there in the Britsphere appreciate – politics-lite, heritage-rich:

Round the back of the refurbished and extended St Pancras station lies a secluded garden made up of the Old St Giles’ burial ground and the churchyard of St Pancras, a quiet spot shaded by plane trees.

Apart from two men sweeping leaves I had the place to myself, and I was certainly the only person there interested in making a pilgrimage to this small but oddly influential English building, the mausoleum of the great architect Sir John Soane and his family.

In a similar vein, Diamond Geezer thought he’d visit Haringey:

Just for a change, I thought I’d spend my Open House weekend scouring two individual London boroughs. And the (unlikely) borough I picked for Saturday was Haringey (think Highgate, Tottenham, and all points inbetween).

Haringey merits but a single page in the Open House guide, and few of its attractions will ever draw large crowds from further away.

… and muses about a Green Olympics.

Speaking of Green, Philobiblon brings us the essential guide to Green Thought, with snippets like this for your delectation:

Bruno Latour’s theory of “hybridity” – spreading the capacity to “speak” across the human and non-human realms. Sounds odd – but then his claim that some parts of nature “speak” very loudly – charismatic megafauna such as polar bears and orangutans (through influential organizations) – much louder than of what many humans are capable.

Rivetting, eh?

Peter McGrath, at Swordplay, couldn’t get more British than this:

“She sat up, broke wind and died.” Ena Sharples in the first edition of Coronation Street, replayed on BBC Radio 4’s always excellent Pick of the week.

Still on the topic of age, Missy Martin addresses the vicissitudes of getting old in Britain and she decries granny taxes:

I also seem to be going to a lot of funerals recently for another thing. An old family friend I’ve known since we were both kids said to me at one recently, “Weddings and funerals, that’s it for us now, Misssy. Weddings and funerals. Next time I see you will be when someone’s died.”

Taxes aside, Sackerson compares life in China and the UK:

In Britain, the 27.5% of the “people of working age” that might be employed but are not, number approximately 10.96 million. In China, estimates Eric Janszen of iTulip, there are 20 million officially unemployed and the real tally should be 40 – 50 million.

The technological Brit is a phenomenon of these isles and Neil Craig‘s A Place to Stand, following comments last Britblogroundup [240], publishes a submission on taking the money currently put into ESA & intead using it for space X-prizes. He quotes an expert that 2 years of our funding would be enough to give Britain a commercial orbital shuttle.

The Jailhouse Lawyer shows that Britblogging need not always be about politics.


Britbloggers casting eyes elsewhere

Harry Hook, always ascerbic and right on the money, turns his attention to this appalling situation in the U.S., which is becoming more and more militarized as that unhappy nation goes on:

Pittsburgh University students get a taste of the New World Order.

… rivetting, horrifying and also commented on by Trooper Thompson.

Charles Crawford runs a piece on the Russian mindset, something I know of quite well, having lived there for 12 years until last year, when I returned to Blighty:

Russians of course are entitled to be proud and tough people. They have good reason to fear that their unfeasibly large country has to go through further spasms of de-imperialisation, and must eventually disintegrate into many smaller units. Russia does not have the people to deal with the Chinese/Asian ‘colonisation’ of its eastern reaches which is slowly happening.

For a good take on foreign affairs from a Brit perspective, Alex Goodall and Scott Green are your boys.


Finally

Britblog stalwart Matt Wardman has himself run his mini-roundup and there are some fine sites to visit at the end of Matt’s link.

A further reminder, readers, that Cabalamat will be hosting the Britblog Roundup next week, so get all your nominations in to:

britblog@gmail.com

… and while you’re there, you might like to check out the other Britblogs listed in the sidebar. The old site is http://www.nourishingobscurity.blogspot.com .

Apologies to those who put their entries in after this went up, expecting that they were early enough for a Monday roundup. Mea culpa. I forgot to mention that I tend to be early, the type who arrives at his funeral the day before he dies.

Not to worry – those nominations will be picked up by Cabalamat, for N242.

2009 AFL Grand Final – Geelong v St Kilda

All photos are courtesy of The Herald Sun Online and The Age Online.


Luke Ball neatly summarised the grief that washed over the St Kilda rooms after their loss of a desperately close 2009 AFL grand final to Geelong on Saturday.


Tears were plentiful – not least from inconsolable captain Nick Riewoldt – as the Saints came to terms with the fact that this was a year in which they carried all before them except the premiership cup.


“Half an hour ago was the worst feeling I’ve had in my life, to be honest. It was shocking,” Ball said. “Just looking around at a few of the older guys as well, it was as bad as I’ve felt.


St Kilda’s efforts in 2009 were inspired by how the Cats had raised the standard of the game over the previous two seasons, and Ball said the league owed much to the Geelong club for their combination of class and unstinting application.


“Full credit to them, they’re a fantastic team,” he said. “The competition as a whole has a lot to thank Geelong for over the past three years, the way they’ve gone about it. We certainly chased them pretty hard and tried to model ourselves on them a bit, but they were just a bit too good when it mattered.”


A word of explanation about this. The AFL instituted, in the early 90s, a new policy which evened up the competition. Until then, the moneyed clubs [the Man Us of the world] usually won or were thereabouts and consequently had the largest number of fans. The also-rans, like St Kilda, were the perpetual whipping boys and some of these clubs broke up in the reorganization.


St Kilda, one of the original teams, did not break up and slowly, over 5-7 years, built itself up until this season, when they swept all before them, including Geelong. In Australia, there is great affection for St Kilda and many rate them as their “second club”, along with the old Fitzroy. No one dilikes them.


So, in 2009 unfortunately, Geelong were cast as the party-poopers and yet theirs too, many forget, was a rags-to-riches story, some years earlier.


Geelong was one of the two original teams, with Melbourne, in 1859 and is from a coastal town [now a city], often referred to as “sleepy hollow”. Let’s face it, they can be a bit provincial down that way and the city slickers make a lot of fun of the town’s reputation as “hicksville” though this was far from the truth.


For all that, over the decades, they’ve produced some stunning teams, country boys, farmers’ sons and while discipline was never their catchcry, exciting, free-flowing football was their motif, not unlike the southern hemisphere clubs and the Barbarians in rugby.


As the outsiders in the competition but never one of “the city clubs”, not unlike me in the Britblogosphere, they rebuilt and had some hearbreaking losses in the past five years, despite co-opting a coach [manager] from one of the city teams, a proven champion and a hard taskmaster.


He taught them self-discipline and dedication and two years ago, the result came – they took the flag after a 44 year layoff, that previous flag itself after an 11 year layoff. You get the idea – always up there but never getting the cream.

In 2007 though, they were the champs.


In the modern system, teams tend to be up for three, maybe four years and any flags have to be won during that time, before players age too much and the machine shows signs of cracking. That’s why, last year, having won almost everything during the 2008 season, often grinding other sides into the dirt, they were pipped on the one day which counted – the last day in September.


As you can gather from the opening remarks in this post, that hurt. That really kicked them in the guts. Would they recover in 2009?


Well, they did and they didn’t. The new golden boys, St Kilda, all praise to their coach and to them, were now sweeping all before them. After Geelong lost to them mid-season, they fell apart a bit and it was touch and go if they’d even see the grand final.


As you know by now, they did manage to get there but as the underdogs to St Kilda and throughout the game, that’s how it was panning out – St Kilda having far more scoring shots but Geelong pressure and their nerves not helping them in their cause.


Geelong, now an ageing team, would surely succumb to the fresh youngbloods but in the end, it was sheer grit and experience which saw them over the line in a very close battle all day.


Relief, more than elation was the prevailing emotion, some sort of redemption after 2008 and the coach, Bomber Thomson, made that point in the after-match press conference. The other coach, Ross Lyon, stoical, put it down to those small percentage things on the day.


What next?

Can St Kilda show real character and bounce back next year to “avenge” their loss?

Can Geelong do it one more time, after their sell-by date? Will they still have the hunger?

There are 14 other teams who’ll have a say in that matter as well.


… for now.

The Illusion of Beauty


Detractors would call it contrived and yet Francophiles would call it designed. The Anglo-Saxon and Russian would say the Frenchwoman is not “naturally beautiful” with that dark-haired, chisel-jawed slight masculinity which they try to overcome by heavy emphasis on deportment, the tricks of the trade, grooming, dress and cosmetics.

Some of those tricks can be seen in the photo on this post, where the girl is actually wearing a dress and a modest one at that [I know this from the other photos] and yet, photoshot in that way … well, you see what I mean. The bare lower legs and the cheeky smile do it for her.

That’s why most women admire the French and the Italians, the way they do it, with that panache, that style. Interesting that in the current retrospective on Bardot, le Figaro mentioned:

C’est vrais – la France créa Bardot. Celle qui fut vingt ans durant une star internationale et un symbole de la France des années 50-60 fêtera ses 75 ans lundi prochain.

N’oublions pas, par exemple, Edwige Feuillère dans Lucrèce Borgia – elle est aussi une rétive, une insolente, une fille qui a beaucoup d’esprit, le sens de la repartie.

Audrey Tautou – too twee for French tastes?

For those who don’t read this language, it roughly means that she was both a creation and a symbol of France, of what she stood for but we shouldn’t forget that there were others and Bardot wasn’t the first.

Interesting, to me, was “une rétive, une insolente, une fille qui a beaucoup d’esprit”, much admired in France, just as the Italians admire “furbo” and “bella figura” or looking and playing the part with panache.


The cosmetic and fashion industries would maintain that beauty can be manufactured or at the very least, greatly enhanced but I would argue that lack of cosmetics and well cut clothes, along with deportment and that indefinable character can carry all before her.

A woman I saw the other day would have been described by the English as “without artifice” and by the French as “without style”. She was quite gauche but at the same time, seemed a fun loving person. As I live in the land of my ethnic group, then its take on what constitute good and bad qualities must rule. Solid values and sensible shoes also tug at my heart strings, along with the tweed and the Barbours and so on.




Zeroing in on the French concept of beauty

The French fixation with Bardot seems strange to me. For a start, she looks more nordic, more Britt Eklundish than French but it was the sensuousness really, with her – Carla Bruni also practices the studied look into the eyes, the deep, sensual voice and so on.

Far more seductive, IMHO and far more Gallic, was Françoise Hardy, [don’t forget to sound the s, drop the h and sound the last syllable] who perfectly embodied the sultry, melancholy and reserved femme fatale. An example of one who was almost completely Frenchified was the English Jane Birkin. No beauty in a classical sense, she adopted the whole culture as far as she was able and so produced this with Serge Gainsborough:

While real Frenchwomen like Sophie Marceau, Eva Green and Clémence Poésy could never be taken for Anglo-Saxons, they’ve diluted their Frenchness to appeal to a wider public and in In Bruges, Poésy, in the restaurant scene, sounds “American youth”.


Less so in France and more in Russia in my experience, there’ve been women who’ve filled the space the eyes take in and later, I’ve always wondered what it was that that particular woman had which overpowered the senses. I could only conclude that it was the little gesture here, the disconcerting but flattering way she studied you and the attention to detail – everything had to be perfect in order to make demands herself.

So now I’m back here with an eye out for the English Rose but I suspect the English Rose has finer fish to fry than your humble correspondent.

Beauty – what is it?