Monday, 18 August 2014

Not so quiet desperation

It has been brought to my attention that many of my social media buddies found my exasperated twittering about the plight of my beloved Manchester United last season highly amusing. Gary, aka @Gerrarrdus, was still chuckling about it when we met up for a pint in Norfolk last week. I had been looking forward to this season as a fresh start; an opportunity to tweet away about victories secured under the new management of Louis Van Gaal, culminating in posting a picture of the MUFC squad parading the Premier League trophy around the Theatre of Dreams in May 2015. There was promise in a pre-season build up which included a very successful and no doubt lucrative trek across the U.S.A. finishing off with victory over Liverpool.

Then the new season kicked off on Saturday and it was like last season's nightmare hadn't come to an end. The only saving grace was that I was driving during the first half of MUFC v Swansea and was thus prevented from venting my spleen on-line. All the old failings were there: the lack of precision in passing; the lack of pace in attack; a defence that didn't seem to know each other's names; a midfield wandering about mindlessly as the game passed them by; reversion to crosses into the box in hope rather than expectation; a squad ravaged by injury and depleted in talent; a manager looking dumbfounded at the mess unfolding before his eyes; a Belgian basket ball player masquerading as a footballer flailing his arms about in opponents faces; Wayne Rooney despairing at the mediocrity around him; promising youngsters overburdened with expectation while over-paid internationals ran down dead ends, fell over and looked like novices.

The MUFC gravy train executives had promised that we would take this summer's transfer window by storm. We were encouraged to expect record breaking, championship winning, top ranking heavy weights of the international game to be filing through the gates of Old Trafford. Instead, we have had to watch bemused as one by one our targets head off to join our chief rivals' squads. Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has one job to do and a couple of weeks left to do it in and that is to sign some players fit to wear the MUFC shirt. So far Woodward seems hell bent on replicating his performance last summer, when he panic bought at the last moment and overpaid for a player who wouldn't even have made the bench under Sir Alex's reign. I'm beginning to think Ed Wood would have made a better fist of things.

Of course behind Woodward sits the Glazer family, who purchased a financially sound club in a leveraged buy out and saddled it with astronomical debts. They have treated MUFC as their private piggy bank and the weakness of the current squad reflects their parsimony in the transfer market. Only the brilliance of Sir Alex's team management covered the problems lurking beneath the surface and the consequences of the Glazers' ownership are there for all to see.

So I anticipate another season spent in not so quiet desperation, as I am forced to watch our main opponents disappear out of sight at the top of the table and I dread fixtures against teams who a couple of seasons ago feared MUFC and now lick their lips at the prospect of picking up points.


Friday, 15 August 2014

This is what I think

I have been struggling to write a post regarding a current debate about church growth. This morning I read a blog post that succinctly expresses my thoughts on the matter titled Two things that always seem wrong.
What the World thinks of all this is neither here nor there. It is not supposed to be a popularity contest. It is supposed to be the Gospel.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

An appeal

I was so deeply saddened to hear of the plight of Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds, who has revealed his ongoing struggle with living on £90,000 plus expenses a year (his local paper estimated he claimed £173,000 expenses in 2013). Simmonds has rightly taken the principled stance that he is not prepared for his family to live outside Westminster. Why should he be expected to commute to work like anyone else? It breaks my heart to think of these government ministers desperately scraping together resources to maintain their political careers and the lifestyle commensurate with their position in public life. To combat the ongoing suffering of these impoverished souls I have decided to set up a relief fund and appeal for your support.

There are various ways in which you may join me in caring for this economically challenged group of public servants.

  • You may make a cash donation to 'Campaign for the relief of Government Ministers' by PayPal. But remember, if you stump up enough dosh you may end up in the House of Lords with the extra costs that entails.
  • Please consider adding this Twibbon to your twitter avatar.
  • Lobby your local MP to recall parliament to discuss this tragic situation. Though this might create the financial hardship of other government ministers having to find the money to pay for their flights back from the Maldives.
Remember, some of these ministers haven't been able to afford a third overseas family holiday this year. And the next time someone complains to you about their struggle to live on £62 in benefits a week, just remind them of the hardship endured by our government on their behalf.

Update: The Telegraph has revealed further details of Mr Simmonds harrowing plight.

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Friday, 8 August 2014

Lord White of Baghdad

Today another batch of bods to be awarded peerages was announced. I resist any comment about the worthiness of those to be ennobled, though I note the donations given by some to their respective political parties. What I would like to suggest is a rather simple idea; make Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad, a Lord as a statement of our support for and solidarity with his extraordinary ministry in Iraq. Others have recounted the work Andrew is doing at great risk to his own personal safety. All I would add is that Andrew is there seeking to address a mess that we helped create and the least our country can do is recognise his work and our responsibility.

If you would like to support the work of Canon White donations to the organisation supporting his ministry can be made here.

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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Voiceless

Plenty of other people have commented on the resignation of Sayeeda Warsi from David Cameron's cabinet over the government's stance on Israel and Gaza. The only comment I would make about that issue is I haven't the first idea what our government's stance is, apart from the £8billion in arms that we flog to Israel.

What is perhaps just as concerning is that as a result of Baroness Warsi's resignation we have lost one of the only voices in government prepared to speak up about persecution, not least Christian persecution, across the world. In her resignation letter Warsi specifically mentions this issue and I for one am grateful for her work in this area. I contrast it with the silence emanating from the rest of government about which I have previously posted.

The media has been a bit more vocal about the issue of Christian persecution. This morning the BBC Today programme even managed to find a couple of minutes in its busy schedule for a piece in which Christians connected with the eradication of the church in Mosul, Iraq, were able to articulate their concerns. Here's the clip from the Today programme.



One final thought. Some of the more right leaning Christian social media commentators were very quick to disparage Warsi and RT others attacking her. They might like to reflect that we have now lost the one person in government who was prepared to speak up consistently for our brothers and sisters in Christ whose very lives are at risk across the globe.

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Monday, 4 August 2014

Wreath row

Had a brief look at my Twitter timeline this afternoon to discover a row breaking out about the wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the outbreak of World War One. It seems that the Prime Minister had written a personal message for his wreath while the Leader of the Opposition had not. It didn't take long for some of the commentariat to begin attacking Ed Miliband for not caring or being incompetent. However, it seems that none of those laying wreaths, apart from the PM, had the opportunity to write a personal message and the hand writing on each of the wreaths looks identical. This hasn't stopped the criticism and the cheap political point scoring in the mainstream and social media. Is this where our public political discourse has ended up when even commemorating the war dead is seen as a legitimate excuse to attack political opponents? If you want to know why so many people are disengaging from mainstream politics you need look no further.



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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Bacon bap fail.

The Guardian has an article today in which the author describes teaching her children how to make a Bacon bap from scratch. A noble idea and it looks like good fun. The problem is it fails at step one when they go to the butcher to buy some pork belly which they will then cut up and cure. Now I may have misunderstood but surely if you are going to make it all from scratch you need to buy a piglet, avoid giving it a name, raise it, slaughter it, butcher it and then cure the pork belly. Otherwise to my mind it isn't making a bacon bap from scratch but from basic ingredients.

But here's the real failure in this article. Tomato sauce - NO! The only sauce in a proper bacon bap is brown sauce, the more toxic the better. My preference is for the sort that eats through a kitchen work surface if not cleaned up within thirty seconds of spillage.





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