Plug Me in and Leave Me for a While

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Well bloody hell, it’s been two and a half months since I last posted a blog. Sometimes I can be so withdrawn that I don’t even feel like writing even though that is my best form of communication. I should have wrote about my amazing Las Vegas trip but that didn’t happen. Many times I’ve almost wrote an angry blog just attacking people that do things that annoy me (like people who are so addicted to their mobile phones that they literally cannot even shop without checking Facebook. Seriously, they stand in front of the bread totally struck dumb and unable to think and then they just take their phone out of their pocket and stare at it like zombies. Get the shopping done and then get on with your life, sod your social media shit. Ok, time to get out of this tangent). And I have a politics blog in the pipeline. Oh, also one day I’ll need to write about Israel. But for now I just need to write a bit of self-help to myself.

Lately, as usual, I’ve felt a lack of energy. I have a new idea about what causes me to constantly feel like I have no energy. And it is to do with personality types. We all fall on a spectrum where at one end there is introversion and one end is extroversion. I’m most definitely an introvert. It’s not always true but most of the time I like solitude. I look forward to being on my own and having my own time to do my own simple things like reading my current book or something. Sometimes I like to be around others and do things too but I always seem to need a break from it pretty quickly. Like if I’m with people doing social activities for a couple of days in a row then often it doesn’t matter how great an event can be I would rather have a day away from people. This isn’t unique at all. Many introverted people are this way and the reason for it according to a few things I’ve read is that social interactions drain us. We sort of recharge our batteries when we’re by ourselves and get drained quickly when around others due to listening and concentrating on making an effort to be sociable. Extroverts are the opposite. They are drained when alone as they need other people to sort of charge them up. They need the attention of others and thrive off social encounters. This makes sense for me. It sounds like such an antisocial thing to say and I guess it is but people really do drain me and some more than others. I keep my circle small. Some people that feel like they’re a friend to me don’t actually even know me as I just throw up this bullshit personality for them to interact with whilst staying in my own little bubble deep down. That bullshit personality takes effort. It’s a constant act. There are only a few who I don’t feel like I have to act with and so that’s why for me I feel like I have hardly any friends. I’m not sad about this – it’s just the way I am. When I’m on my own I’m mostly happy. It’s not like I feel alone in those moments. I feel a more deep sense of loneliness in the grand scheme of life but it’s not about solitude and more about lack of a connection to anything forever. That’s something else though. Being on my own in a flat for a day is cool and I love it. Being alone in the Universe forever sucks haha.

None of this stuff I’ve re-realised is new but it does give me a better understanding of why I feel such a lack of energy. I have a job where I have to interact with people all of the time. The bubble needs to constantly be shielded by the bullshit personality. The words out of my mouth need to be pleasant and cheery whilst the words in my head are often anything but. Being fake leads to being angry and that leads to being exhausted. My job has also recently changed. I no longer work nights. I was happy to be moving to more sociable hours as I really got sick of sleeping when the Sun was up and being awake when it was dark. But now I’m on less money, do less hours, have more social interaction and need to get to know a whole new bunch of people whilst heading into a busy business period. And ridiculously I seem to have people looking to me for guidance. I don’t want to lead lol. I know my future is not where I am now. I had the crap job that I stayed at for far too long following University. I needed to step away from that and almost anything was a bonus as long as I got away and I did. I stepped sideways. And now it’s nearly time for the next move. This move doesn’t need to be upwards for me. I want a job that I can do and not have to clock watch and wish to high heaven that I wasn’t there. I need to be able to afford to live but I don’t need much. I don’t have much ambition either really. I just don’t want to be bored or drained. Is that so much to ask the Universe for? I’m a good employee. But I don’t know what to do. There are some career types that I can just scratch off easily. I don’t want to sell things for example. I don’t want to even think much about profit and that limits me because all this world cares about is money. I really need a good think about this as I want to find a job that I can be moderately happy doing and stay at it for a long while. It would be nice to find that.

I’ll save my writing for another time when energy levels are higher I guess. For now I have a couple of more hours to enjoy being by myself before work. I probably will get the anger out with a blog attacking everybody who has annoyed me soon. And I definitely want to write about politics and how crazy things have become. Donald Trump, seriously? Wow, 2016 will be looked back upon as a turning point that’s for sure. I’ll save it for a rainy day. Peace x

Current TV programme: Black Mirror – incredible, everybody please watch it

Current book: Mistborn: The Alloy of Law – 2016 has been all about Brandon Sanderson for me

Current music: Chance the Rapper – If gospel and soulful music had a baby with hip hop they would create the sound of this guy who is one of the few mainstream artists today in rap worth listening to

 

 

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Black Holes and Toilets

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Some people believe in free will. Some believe in fate. Some in a mixture of both. I’ve mostly always believed in free will. I can do whatever I choose to and that is the beauty of life. I can sit here and do nothing. I can go outside and cause mayhem. We all can do whatever we choose and our actions can change on a whim. We have to maintain control of ourselves because we are responsible for our lives.

The other day I was burning some energy via my exercise bike. The thought of exercise is exhausting sometimes. I can’t be bothered with it and it’s kind of boring. But I’ve realised that when the heart is racing and the oxygen is flowing to my muscles my mental state massively improves. It’s good for you and makes you feel better so you have to fight the boredom and the laziness and just get it done. Plus you can listen to music whilst doing it to alleviate the monotony of it. No only does this activity make me feel better but it also gives me time to think and my thoughts seem to race. It’s as if the brain tries to keep up with the body and processes things at a faster rate. So there I was racing myself whilst listening to Death Grips (always Death Grips. Tangential topic here but I urge every human to stop listening to all other music and embrace Death Grips. Especially when doing any kind of activity as Death Grips is like the most stimulating drug the world has ever seen. Their music makes me want to fight/dance with inanimate objects. Some of their songs just start like an explosion and you are almost literally blown away by their power. And then they increase the force and build it and build it. You think things cannot get any more intense but they do. They build to one explosion after another taking you to greater and greater heights. They achieve the impossible. And it all builds to nothing. It takes you to such a crescendo that you need some resolution but they give you none and will pull the rug from under your feet so you fall off the mountain they lead you up. You will feel pumped up and unfulfilled. The only thing to do is listen to more and reach those heights again. Death Grips forever). The blood was flowing. My eyes were closed. I felt good. I felt alive. I often feel half dead but right then I felt totally alive and blessed to be so. There I was existing and glad to be existing instead of not existing. I had a positive vibe about the fact that billions of atoms of the Universe were united in making the cells of my body work as a system to allow me to be there in that moment on that exercise bike.

Next I thought about those atoms that are currently “me”. I wondered where they have been before. The stuff that makes those atoms has always (always) been. This stuff has flown through rivers and been in the clouds. It’s been through space and at the very centre of stars. It’s been through black holes and toilets. It will exist forever.And it goes all the way back to the Big Bang. That’s where we all were. Every human and animal and alien that has ever existed and will ever exist came from there and at one point was all part of the same whole. This stuff blows my mind on a daily basis and is nothing new but still makes me stop every now and then and berate myself for feeling a bit gloomy when reality is so miraculous. But on this particular occasion it blew my mind harder than it ever has before. I had a thought and this is not a unique thought but it is the first time that I had ever really thought about its implications. The potential truth is difficult to describe and also totally potentially not the truth at all anyway. Every piece of matter came from the Big Bang. Every particle, every proton, every quark, everything. In theory if there had been somebody  there at the Big Bang with the right equipment then they could have measured the energy involved. The speed and direction of every particle could have been measured and with that information every collision between particles could be predicted. Therefore every reaction would be known. Every star and galaxy that would be formed over the billions of years would be known. Every gas and every planet would be a known guaranteed inevitability. The nature of the Universe was determined in the very moment of the Big Bang. If you know the state of each point of space-time at the initial point then everything else that follows is inescapable. You would be able to predict Earth’s formation. You would predict every reaction that lead to the first carbon based life. You could predict the evolution of each microbe due to knowing every detail of nature and how each part of it would affect another part. The dinosaurs were inevitable due to the conditions established in the Big Bang. And the asteroid that killed them was always going to hit at that moment in time. Humans were inevitable. And every reaction that lead to everything we have ever done was guaranteed. All conditions are known and given every condition is a fixed thing then every decision is also fixed. Every war we’ve had, every murder. Every marriage and every birth. All things were guaranteed since the very beginning.

All of a sudden this insane concept seemed to make more sense to me than free will. Free will contradicts a Universe where every particle can in theory be measured. The implications are scary and can humble a person. Maybe we are not in control of our own destiny. We are subject to a higher power and that power is everything that is connected to the Big Bang. Our DNA is just information that has been passed from the first microbes that existed throughout all of the history of life on the planet until it reaches us. Before the microbe were other compounds, before that there was space and stars and before that was the Singularity. It was always pre-determined. We call it fate. And fate is a fact if it is in theory possible to know the original conditions of the Universe. There’s no escaping it. If you think you can do whatever you like and escape it by throwing a brick through your window right now then it is just the chemicals in your brain reacting in an utterly predictable way and that too was always known since the very start. You always would have been there. The Earth cooled. Life formed. You existed through evolution and your ancestors and your mental condition is guaranteed due to your genetics and your environment and all conditions in all of nature and in every human brain was always known even if you throw a brick through a window thinking you’re proving your free will. It blows your mind. That we are everything and have always been and always will be. We have no idea why things are this way and where they’re going but we are a function of the Universe in the same way a supernova is just a function. Different reactions but all caused by the same event. It’s like there’s a beginning of time and possibly an end of time and there are events between t = 0 and t = infinity and this moment now is just a slice of where we were at (as determined by previous events) in the space-time that we can experience at t = 13.8 billion years.

Philosophically this is irrefutable. Measurement leads to predictive behaviour of particles and that leads to a deterministic Universe. And that means you are not free. So there I was riding the exercise bike feeling like everything has changed. Your outlook on life is much different if free will doesn’t exist. It means we are blameless for our failures and our successes were nothing to do with us either. The people we meet are guaranteed. When we fall in love with somebody it is utterly predictable and was always going to happen from the moment the Big Bang happened. Every illness, every fall down the stairs, every sneeze, every free kick from Lionel Messi, every beat (boom!) from a Death Grips track was literally written in the stars. After hitting my target distance on the exercise bike I ran to my laptop desperate for this conundrum to be disproved by some clever asshole on the internet. I knew the make or break of this dilemma lay in the realm of Quantum Physics. Can you really know where every particle from the Big Bang would go given the initial conditions? I studied Quantum Physics at University a bit and I would say it is the most complicated thing I ever studied by far. At school and beyond I always seemed to understand everything I was ever told. The truth always makes sense and I never had trouble understanding. My only trouble was recalling such truths under exam conditions sometimes. Except when it comes to Quantum Physics. I never really understood it and I still don’t. I don’t think anybody understands it. Maybe our brains aren’t capable of understanding it yet. But there’s a thing in this subject called the Uncertainty Principle. I remember that when it comes to the position of electrons you can only use probabilities and can never know for sure. The truth is something like this – if you know the speed and direction of an electron then maybe it’s 80% likely to be in a particular location but 20% of the time it will be elsewhere. That’s a vague and wrong example but that’s the kind of way it is. You’d think if you knew the speed of a particle and where it was going that at a fixed time later you would be able to measure it and it should be where it should be right? Not on a quantum level. It only might be there. And as soon as you know the location then you no longer know its speed again. It makes no sense at all. But fuck all that. The crucial thing is that it isn’t possible to measure where the hell particles may or may not go and so that may mean things are actually random and it brings free will back into the picture. The problem is just because we have no way of properly measuring things on a quantum level it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. Maybe we just haven’t figured it out yet. And so this is the situation….if we ever figure out how to precisely observe things on a quantum level so that we know whether Schrödinger’s Cat is dead or alive before we look at it then that will prove that the Universe is deterministic and fate is real. If things 100% cannot be measured then I guess there’s a chance that we have free will. Intuitively things must be able to be measured right? There must be a way to know where a goddamn electron is for sure. If not then reality is so weird. Scientists need more time to work on this problem.

I believe (I have to believe) that everything obeys the laws of the Universe and so this is also true of things on a quantum level. I just think we do not have the technology and the insight for it yet. And if that is the case then free will is impossible. Everything I’ve ever done and ever will do could only have ever been the way it went and it was all predictable. My mind comes up with nothing unique as it is just a product of genetics and environmental conditions. Maybe a cigarette smoker was never free from it even before they got addicted. Either way we’re all a part of the same whole. We see light due to evolving eyes capable of registering a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum as a way to use information. But there’s much going on beyond what we can see. We’re so limited and these questions are mind boggling. That’s why I’m so against anything that hinders science and the finding of answers. We want to know why the Big Bang happened and what was going on before then. What’s at the edge of the Universe? An end or infinity? Why are we here? Where are we going? What are all the aliens up to? Why won’t electrons behave normally?

Sometimes in the most mundane circumstances these questions penetrate us and make us want to get a pencil and a ruler out and start working a few things out. I never expected a simple exercise biking event would lead to me reading about Quantum Physics again but I guess causality dictates that for me the latter would always happen due to the former and the former would always have happened due to my boredom at that moment. And this blog was inevitable.

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Trapped in a Flesh Prison

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I don’t know. This piece of writing is probably going to be quite negative. It’s time for another therapy session. Many overwhelmingly suffocating thoughts have been occurring lately and this is me giving them their time so that I can hopefully be rid of them. Each thought can be it’s own little mini-blog. It’s similar to when I wrote The Lost Blogs blog. I’ve been saving a series of phrases that have caused me to feel some kind of panic or gloom…

  1. Pokemon Go. I have never played this game and yet I’ve thought about it a lot. The media has given it much attention. People in the UK were using a workaround to get access to the game before it was even released here. And then it did get released and BOOM. The world changed. I didn’t think I would like the game so wasn’t going to bother but after seeing how big it became I decided to give it a try as I didn’t want to be left out. What if it is the best game ever? However my phone saved me. When I got my Galaxy Note 3 a couple of years ago one of the first things I did was get root access. The only custom thing I wanted to do was to increase the volume of the device above the shockingly low limit Samsung had given it. That’s all I did. And since then I have not been able to update the Android software. I think there’s a way I can manually do it but it looks complicated and I can’t be arsed. Anyway, the point is the software required for the game is Android 4.4 minimum and my phone currently has Android 4.3. So I can’t download it. I thought about getting a new phone as there are other problems too. But I’ve fixed all of the problems now and playing Pokemon Go is the only problem left. Even though I don’t want to play it. This little scenario caused me to panic. It’s the most ridiculous thing in the world and it took up far too much of my thoughts. And that is the world today. Phones, software updates and stupid games. People are walking around like the walking dead looking for a Rattata to capture in an imaginary ball. Businesses and churches are becoming Pokemon Centres and putting offers on to Pokemon Go players. The game fills me with dread. People are shopping and looking at a Pidgey next to a tin of baked beans. It’s utter nonsense and it has taken over the world. This is our generation and this is the future. Who cares about why we’re here when there are Pokemon to catch? This game is like confirmation that nothing matters. We’re a big cosmic joke. It’s an absolute wonder and a mystery that we’re here in this insane Universe and the reason people are exploring it is to obtain a piece of digital information on a stupid smart-phone. Panic attack inducing is what it is.
  2. I was having a bath. My back was aching. I sneezed. I felt dizzy. And I felt a surge of adrenaline. In what is supposed to be a relaxing situation I felt the fight or flight response. Utterly retarded. Yet these are our limitations. We’re trapped in this flesh and can be subjected to all the maladies it throws our way. Physical and mental illness, injuries, fatigue etc. I have so many things I want to experience and there are so many things to be curious about. Everybody hopes to remain healthy and to be able to live a fulfilling life. But I could slip in the bath, hit my head and slip out of existence in an instant. In these gloomy moments I often think of tragedies. That day I had seen a video on the internet that was basically HD footage of the attacks on the World Trade Centre. I watched this stuff for an hour or two. The first tower burning. The plane hitting the second tower live on the news. People with kids in their living rooms in apartments near the towers watching them crumble live. They would zoom in on the part of the tower the plane hit. They would zoom in on people that were jumping from the heat of the building to plummet to the Earth below. All of them trapped in their flesh prisons. I listened to phone calls from people in the towers calling emergency services. Total fear in their voices as the suffocating heat surrounded them. Until the moment the towers fell and you heard a scream and then a dead phone line. I listened to an air hostess calling people on the ground telling them that the cockpit crew were dead and the plane had been hijacked. She was so calm and gave the information she could. And then she stopped replying as the plane had hit the tower. The whole day of events played on my mind. I imagined the people on the planes scared and wondering what the hijackers wanted. I wonder if they saw the towers ahead at all or if they were dead before they even knew it. I imagined the people in the towers working in their offices like a normal day. I wonder if some of them looked out of the window and saw the plane flying at them or if they were in the inferno before they knew it. I imagined the people in floors above burning. I wonder if they had hope they would be saved at first. I try to imagine how bad it must be to choose to jump out of the window. To jump is certain death in one of the most terrifying ways I can imagine. And there are things like this going on all over the world everyday. One minute you’re watching a film at the cinema, next minute somebody is spraying bullets into your body. One minute you’re attending a parade, next minute a truck is smashing into you. One minute you’re buying some apples, next minute the guy standing next to you is exploding and wiping you off the face of the Earth. One minute you’re the lead singer of Nirvana, next minute you’re so sick of everything that you blow your own head off. It’s so morbid to think of these things. But it is a truth in this mad world. So I sat there in my bath feeling just as trapped as a passenger on a flight heading into the World Trade Centre. They were powerless as they hurtled toward destruction. As am I. Hurtling toward some unknown destruction. As are we all. Most of the time we block these thoughts out. But if you give them some time they can weigh you down. We’re all in the same boat and that is some comfort. But on the other hand it is no comfort at all. I know the answer is to not think like this and to focus on the positives of life and use the uncertainty as a reason to live for today. It is incredibly important to distract yourself. I guess that’s why people play Pokemon. If they need to go to the other side of town to hunt for these imaginary creatures then at least they aren’t imagining the absolute horror of being a passenger on a plane heading into a building.
  3. I was walking home from work. A man was walking towards me so I made sure not to make eye contact. I never make eye contact with strangers. But I could tell he really wanted to make eye contact. So I sighed inwardly and looked at him. He had a suit on and my impression of this guy was that he was kind. Unbelievably he said “good morning, hope you’re having a great day!” I replied, “good morning, yes thanks and hope you are too”. I had a bag of shopping in each hand but he wanted to give me a leaflet so he popped it into my carrier bag. I mentally rolled my eyes. I knew what the leaflet would be and you can probably guess. I got back home and yes, it was a Jehovah’s Witness leaflet. Typical. That takes the shine off a random “good morning” from a stranger as there is a motive. I read the leaflet. I always do. And you know the thing about religious leaflets these days? They try to use science and logic rather than just Bible passages now. It’s really interesting actually. I guess since science and rationality has quickly been destroying religion over the years they are trying to use the weapons of reason against the reasonable people. They now realise the battle for people’s minds is something they can’t win without some kind of real explanation. I admire how creative they can be. But in summation this is what they do…first they only take one point from the Bible. And on this one point they try to use logical reasoning, historical facts, science and the words from the Bible as some kind of way to prove their point. And the case they make might seem convincing to somebody who is already on their side. But they will always fail when it comes to rational thought. At first glance their argument may seem sound. The historical facts may be debatable and the science may be wishy-washy. Their logic may be flawed and the Bible is a way of proving itself which is bullshit. But together they form some kind of argument. All you do though is attack it from each angle. Prove the history is unproven, show them the science and logic are flawed. And even if in a person’s mind it is still a 50/50 issue on whether atheists are right or the Bible is right on this particular point you can let them have the win and then go through the Bible and pick out hundreds of inaccuracies. So I don’t see how they hope to continue to sway people’s minds when science is only getting stronger and stronger and the Bible is becoming more and more of a joke. It reminds me of Pokemon Go again really. Except instead of a smartphone people are walking around with their heads in the Bible. Both are just distractions from reality. And this leads me on to the next mini-blog.
  4.  Passion. For me lately passion in everything seems to be waning. I know this is a symptom of depression. I understand that I can overcome depression but sometimes I just accept it. People get depressed. I’m one of them. People get over depression. I probably will. But it is what it is at the moment. But passion is waning. I find it hard to focus on an important football match or a great film. I find I don’t care about much at all really. Some days I’m content to speak to nobody and I do nothing but read and play games and piss about on the internet with a few beers. I don’t feel like going out and I have no hobbies. Nothing interests me really. I don’t pay much attention to facebook these days as I don’t really give a shit what people are up to. New car? New house? Awesome holiday? Gone to the gym? Had a nice meal? Took a new selfie? Don’t give a shit. The few perks of having facebook are almost losing against the disadvantages of having to view all the narcissistic insanity on there. It just seems to highlight my lack of passion for anything. My favourite things on facebook are nihilistic memes and satire taking the piss out of anything and everything. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a passion and a hobby? Wouldn’t it be really cool to be a part of a club with like minded people? And this brought me back to the Jehovah’s Witness man. And also I’ve just discovered that my current favourite author (Brandon Sanderson) is a Mormon. Mormons and Scientologists are probably the most stupid of all religious groups I think. But this Sanderson guy is very intelligent. His books are amazing. And I’ve watched him on YouTube giving lectures about creative writing and it’s really insightful. Yet he’s a Mormon. He’s done missionary work abroad. He goes to his church club and he believes in what they preach. It’s incredible. I think this is what some people choose over the truth of science due to them being incapable of processing the truth. I worry I too am incapable of processing the truth. Maybe atheism is partly to blame for my depression. It would be much easier to be happy if I was a member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints or if I joined up with that kind Jehovah’s Witness guy. They offer explanations and purpose. They offer friendship. And they’re all part of something where there is an overall aim. I’m so envious. Joining a church ticks absolutely every box for me with what I need in life right now. Except one. I would have purpose and a hobby and a passion and friends and I wouldn’t be so terrified of being all alone in my flesh prison if I had a connection to the creator and orchestrator of everything. The box it doesn’t tick though is truth. I could never have the passion for something that isn’t true. Part of me has considered ignoring truth. How important is truth really? Life is a journey and does it really matter that there is no heaven and no God if you can be part of a group of people that have some passion and want to do good? Maybe I should join a church anyway and just be part of it for a while. But I know I never could because it would drive me crazy with the fake kindness just to please an imaginary God. It’s not fair that these groups of people get to delude themselves and be happy with false answers to our deepest questions. They must lack faith at times. And as an atheist what I would love to do is to get people to confront the lack of faith they sometimes feel and increase it. I want to convert people away from the nonsense. All atheists should aim to do this for two reasons. Religion with all of its bloodshed and all of its dogma slows down the progress of the human race. Without it we could come up with better games to distract ourselves with than Pokemon Go and we wouldn’t sometimes end up with planes flying into buildings. The second reason is that these people have no right to delude themselves with false happiness when I and others are forced to be content with the depressing truth of reality. I need the Jehovah’s Witness man to wipe the fake kindness off his face and realise that the answers are not so simple if there are any at all. I want him to sit in his bath in despair when he understands as I do. The truth is the Universe is indifferent when it comes to our existence and we are insignificant. It’s not that it wouldn’t hesitate to kill us all with an asteroid as it isn’t evil, it’s just that if it is capable of thinking and acting and an asteroid was on a collision course with Earth it wouldn’t bat an eyelid as it hit us like a white cue ball hitting a green ball and throwing us into a black hole. I’d loved to be a part of a group that spreads good vibes and builds schools in poor places and does a lot of charity work. But when they sing about Jesus saving us all and God loving us it is infuriating. I guess that is something that I have some passion about still.
  5. Timehop isn’t so great for a chronophobic asshole like me. Everyday it shows me thoughts that I had years ago and I remember them like they were yesterday. I no longer write so many thoughts on facebook due to my lack of passion about anything. Things used to annoy me and bother me on a daily basis so I’d have to write a status to get it off my chest. Now I largely just don’t care. But when I read these thoughts on Timehop I realise that between 8 and 3 years ago I was extremely angry at everything and between 3 and 1 years ago I found some kind of peace. I posted many quotes about inner peace and philosophy. And now I don’t believe many of them either. I still think Buddha was amazing and Buddhism is amazing. I need it right now but struggling to give a shit about it. Maybe all I need is one big meditation session and all of this confusion will fade away and clarity will return. But as I said I am currently embracing my depression and accepting it. However I do have an issue with some of these new-age-second-coming-of-Buddha-wannabees. I thought they were wise and were on the same spiritual journey that I was. Maybe they are. Maybe I’m just too cynical right now. I feel I can see through it as it is all superficial bullshit. They themselves are really just a product. They say wise things in videos and give great advice on how to live life and be happy. Go Vegan, think of others, don’t be materialistic, don’t think about money, live in the present moment etc. And they are always smiling and are living evidence that these methods work. But what are they like off camera? Still all singing and all dancing? Are they really not living this way as it is a job to them and really it is mostly about money? Again, like all spirituality it seems to come to money eventually. Every church prays on our insecurities and seems to do some good for our well being whilst raking in the cash. And every spiritual leader that is independent seems to do the same. Everybody has confusion and everybody wants to be happy. Give the people advice on how to be happy whilst obviously appearing to be happy yourself and also have an online shop where they can buy your books and your t-shirt and pay for one on one life coaching sessions. It reeks of bullshit to me. Buddha gave all of his knowledge for free and seemed to really just want to help people. Unless that was all bullshit and was made up by humans like everything else was. Either way all of these new age wannabe-Buddha’s can do one. Nobody knows anything. We’re all clueless. I’m totally against people acting like they have answers. And over the last couple of years at times I myself have acted like one of these idiots. Thinking I had answers. Hoping I had answers. When really I didn’t have a clue just like always. Just like everybody else. Buddha said search within yourself and don’t listen to others. He even said don’t listen to him. We really are on our own on our journey. There are peaks and troughs, highs and depressions. I know I’m on a downer and that is totally fine. I don’t want to artificially eject myself out of it with the made up nonsense from another. What works for them will not work for me. Inner peace is unique and also elusive. Maybe some of us never find it. But I’d rather that over lies. The truth is too important to pull the wool over my own eyes. The Jehovah’s Witness man looks wise but it’s easy to see through the disguise. Uggh. Yeah. Uh-huh. Yeah. Maybe I’ll write a rap about it. But I’m done for the day. I know these have been some negative words and I need to slap myself out of it. But it really is ok to just accept the way we actually feel. Just because everybody on social media seems to be having the time of their lives doesn’t mean that they aren’t really just another poor soul in a delicate little flesh prison of their own with no clue about what to do in life in this confusing and chaotic Universe.

Peace and lov…

Contentment and neutrality x

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Artificial Death in the West

“Play your fucking part – I’ll bleed my fucking heart dry”

DG

Just who the fuck are Death Grips?

For me the quality of life at any given time is massively influenced by whatever music you’re listening to at that time. Sometimes it’s like the good times in life are good because there’s a new band you’re into or a great album that has just been released. The music puts you in a great mood which influences how happy you are and how positive you are which leads to more enjoyable days. Sometimes there’s no new music to listen to. Everything sucks and fails to grab your attention. And then life is bland and boring. Nothing happens. You put your headphones on and listen to your favourite songs but your brain just needs some new vibrations to bounce along to and nothing you have in any playlist can satisfy the itch.

Then you have these moments where you just totally get into a band and everything in life is ok again. Over the years I’ve had these moments a few times. In very recent years The Beatles (finally), Opeth, Massive Attack and (the most recent) The Smiths have been the bands that totally encapsulated me to the point where I almost needed to play their songs all day every day for a few months until they became one of the typical favourites and my brain had chance to crave something new again. These favourites are still great and you can still listen to them a lot and never get bored. But it’s not like the addiction of being into something fresh. I know not everybody can relate to this. There are friends of mine that will only really listen to radio hits and never really give anything new a chance and have no desire to. I always wonder how they ever begin to like a new song or band. I guess the song must be on the radio station they listen to frequently and after that station plays it a few times it becomes familiar and can then be liked. I guess not everyone cares so much about broadening their taste since music is not so important in their lives and that is fair enough. But I always need new music. I search for it via reviews and videos. If you can find a great album then you’re happy. If you find a band with a consistently interesting discography then that’s awesome. But the holy grail is finding a band where you are invested in them as a band with both their music and their vision. This is a rare thing. When you find it their music speaks for you and you can relate. And they’re real. The lyrics in the songs are meant and they back it up with their actions. And when that happens for a few months at least you will love the soundwaves that this creative force has come up with and it will merge with your life. In the future those very vibrations will be tied to a nostalgia of a particular time. I guess for me this time it will be the soundtrack of the summer of 2016 when the politics in the UK totally lost the plot.

The band in question for me this time are called Death Grips. I first heard about them and listened to them about a year ago. I follow a popular YouTube channel called The Needle Drop (Anthony Fantano). His reviews on music are always informative and I feel that he gives his honest and uncompromising opinion on music. He judges it on its merits and doesn’t really think about image, hype or fanbase so much. This guy always gives Eminem pretty crap reviews and since I’m a huge Stan I totally disagree with him but massively respect his opinion. So many times I’ve thought an album was the dog’s bollocks and I’ve checked into The Needle Drop sure that he will be giving an 8 or 9 out of 10 only to be dismayed to see him give the thing 5 or 6 out of 10. For a while I used to think that he was just a music snob. Fuck him. What the hell does he know? Eventually I learnt to just respect what he says but be at peace that my opinion was different to his. And sometimes he did love albums that I loved too. I’d never seen him give out a full 10 out of 10. Even when I was sure he would give a 10 based on how his review was going it would only get a 9. So I decided to find his really rare reviews on when he’d given a 10. I discovered two albums that this music snob raved about. The Madvillain album was one of them which I’d already listened to a bunch of times and though I think it is great I don’t know how he loved it enough to give a 10. It has many skits which add to the vibe but eventually just interrupt the album for me. The other album was The Money Store by Death Grips. Holy shit. I remember listening to it with my headphones and understanding how it was worth a 10 on first listen. It’s sonically something else. It’s mega aggressive and gets you so pumped up. For some reason though I didn’t listen to it that much. I guess The Beatles were still overshadowing everything.

Then recently I see a new Death Grips album review by Fantano for Bottomless Pit. His mind is blown again and he gives it a strong 9 out of 10. These guys again. So I decided to have another look at them and see what they were about and what they’d accomplished so far. And they’re simply one of the strangest bands around. There’s three of them. MC Ride is the rapper/screamer. Zach Hill is the drummer/producer. And Flatlander is the keyboard player/producer. Two white guys and a black dude making hip hop music. Except it isn’t hip hop music really. It’s far too heavy and aggressive to be classed as that. It’s very experimental, very punk, very electro, very industrial and completely mental. It’s like what would happen if you merged The Roots, The Sex Pistols and Nine Inch Nails and then added an unhealthy dose of insanity. Every song of theirs is interesting and creative. Most of them are outstanding and make you wanna get up and move/smash things. I guess angry music was what my heart desired this time after so much melodic and peaceful music lately. And this band ticks a lot of boxes. The rhymes are there and the lyrics are always a bit nuts and make little sense in a good way. There’s so much going on with each track as they use samples and guitars and insane drumming with synthesizers. And considering they only got together in 2010 they have absolutely thrown these songs out at an incredible rate. More than an album per year at the moment. I don’t know how they’re doing it or where they’re finding the creativity. Each song is different and each album is a curveball.

It’s always nice to find a new band that are consistently delivering the music that you love. But Death Grips are also more than that. There’s a mystique to them.  Eminem uses the character of Slim Shady to act like a maniac in his songs. At the end of the day he can step away from that and be himself. Death Grips are nowhere near his level of fame. But in their lyrics they are at least as mental as Eminem. Except that how they seem to act in real life seems to reinforce that that is just how they are. They started out with an EP and then a mixtape called Exmilitary. Then they got a two album deal on a major label. The first album was the instant classic The Money Store. The samples used range from snippets of ringtones from the Middle East to strange and obscure footage they’ve seen on TV or recorded in real life. They even used the grunt of a female tennis player as a sample. And they turn all of this into music in weird ways. After The Money Store they said they would release another album the very same year. Their label told them they wouldn’t let them as they need to wait a year. Death Grips decide this album will be far more electronic and stripped down than The Money Store. For the album cover Zach Hill took a picture of his erect dick with the album title No Love Deep Web written on it. Obviously this is crazy and is censored everywhere. The record label must be wondering what they’ve gotten themselves into. Still they’re adamant the album won’t be released for a year. However Death Grips does what it wants and they like to release albums when there’s a full moon. Plus they’d already told fans that two albums would be released that year. So on the date they had said and when the moon was full they leaked their own album all over the internet screwing themselves and their label out of a load of money. The label dropped them. Death Grips didn’t give a shit.

The madness continued. They would drop out of shows at random. Sometimes giving no reason and not even telling the organisers. And some of these were big events. They released another album. It was largely instrumental and weird. Then they released another album for free and said it was part one of a two part album with the second half to come at some point. They had a tour booked with Nine Inch Nails where they would open for them. A massive opportunity you would think. Except before the tour Death Grips handwrote a statement on a piece of paper stating that they had split up because they have reached their best. They pulled out of the tour and quit music but said they would still finish part two of the album they already had out. Everybody asked when? When!? When goddamn it!? They released an instrumental album called Fashion Week where the track names spelled out Jenny Death When. Part two of the album was to be called Jenny Death and so this was them saying it would be out Fashion Week. It got released and it was typically chaotic and amazing. This insane band manages to release an awesome album every time. But they were done now right? All over? Nope. They announce they’re making a new album. They start playing shows again. They release the new album and it’s just ridiculously good again. And then they release a new song which people think means a new album is already being made. Except nobody knows since Death Grips are totally unpredictable.

I didn’t really want to type out all of their antics and there are many more. It is probably explained better elsewhere on the internet. But the way they act really interests me. It seems that there are two possibilities that explain them. Option 1 is that they really are crazy and they really truly don’t give a fuck. They don’t just rap about being mental they actually are that way. They only think about the creative vision they have and they don’t care about fans, fame, money or acclaim. Option 2 is that they’re very smart and risky. They know that by being the embodiment of what their music portrays it will cost them money short term but will get a lot of people interested in them. The hype will increase the more unpredictable they are and this will lead to more sales in the long term. I guess maybe they could just care so much about their art that everything else is just background noise to them. If people love it and want to hear it or watch them play then cool. But they are uncompromising. They really don’t seem to care if people like them or not. And that is admirable. They are real and there aren’t many real artists out there in 2016. Death Grips seems to be three dudes not paying attention to what anybody else does and just does what they want. The music they create is raw and organic. So when they have a song that feels unhinged and is about heavy drug use and extreme violence it actually seems believable. That makes them a bit scary. But that is far more interesting than the bland shit we get through our radio stations that are watered down to suit everybody. I get sick of being presented with a product that has been designed to fit the masses so as to achieve high sales and make rich assholes at record labels with no talent even more money. I want to be shocked. I want to feel something. I want to be presented with something ugly and unpolished if that is ultimately the truth of things. And when the music is this natural and so far away from mainstream bullshit but is also consistently incredible and being showered with universal critical acclaim then it means a great summer is ahead listening to these ferocious sons of bitches that seem just as angry as I am living in the UK in 2016.

Fuck it, I’ve rambled enough. If you want to listen to something that will make you feel alive then give these guys a listen and enjoy. You won’t be able to pin down their sound and 95% of people probably won’t like them. They’ll never be on the radio. Although I guess it would be typical Death Grips to next make a pop album that sounds like the Backstreet Boys. But yeah, give them a bash if you like angry music. Start with The Money Store. Just don’t try them before you are about to go to bed as they will make you need to jump around and attack inanimate objects.

 

 

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Stars in a Circle

This indecision’s buggin’ me (Indecisión me molesta)
If you don’t want me, set me free (Si no me quieres, librame)
Exactly whom I’m supposed to be (Dime! ¿Qué tengo ser?)
Don’t you know which clothes even fit me? (¿Sabes que ropa me quedar?)
Come on and let me know (Pero tienes que decir)
Should I cool it or should I blow? (¿Me debo ir o quedarme?)

A Union Jack flag flutters next to European Union flags ahead of a visit from Britain's PM Cameron at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels

A Union Jack flag flutters next to European Union flags ahead of a visit from Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 16, 2016.

June 23rd 2016. It’s a big day for the people of the UK. The EU referendum to decide whether we remain a part of it or leave it takes place and it is a huge decision that will affect us for the rest of our lives. I guess like many people I have some thoughts on the topic. This blog post contains my meandering opinions on the whole thing. I’ve read about it and thought about it a lot. And I know nothing. But here it is anyway…

There are many people in the UK who have been sceptical about the European Union for a long time and this has meant that David Cameron had to let us have a referendum to appease these Eurosceptics. So now we actually get to choose. We are currently part of a 28 nation EU and we are a little bit of a special case I suppose. We’re not connected to the mainland of Europe as we are a little island under the clouds. We’ve also managed to keep our lovely pound coins instead of having the Euro monopoly money. British people are strange. I can’t really explain why I love the pound coin. But I do. We love our traditions. We’ve very proud. There is a a feeling amongst British people that we are different from continental Europeans. We identify as British and within that identity we also are either English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish and we’re very proud of that too. The majority of us are nationalists. You can see it when England play at a major tournament and we basically scream our national anthem. We love the Union Jack and St George’s flag. Many people are proud of the empire we used to have. Our history is incredible really. Right up there with Egypt, Italy and Israel as the most eventful existences. We love our language. We love our humour. We love our fish and chips. We feel we gave the world football, cricket, rugby and tennis. We became industrialised first. London is the best city on Earth. We fought the bad guys and won in two World Wars. We’re simply bloody amazing in our own eyes. I often feel it myself. When we hosted the Olympics in 2012 I would get choked up as we won medals in front of the home crowd. I guess almost everybody loves their country. We always have pride in our heritage and it is a deep part of who we are. The weather might be shit. But it’s our weather and we get wet together.

So with us being all British and loving it there is a feeling amongst many that our very sovereignty is under threat due to the EU. The EU is an institution that is largely undemocratic and has the power to bring about laws in the UK that the UK may not actually want. The people don’t like it. The nationalists see this as going against our own values. We fought and won wars to be free and yet are giving away power to Brussels. They see more nations joining this union and as we get to a closer union people are fearful that eventually we will lose the pound and everything else too. Britain will stop being Britain and just be another part of Europe. Maybe eventually we’ll be the United States of Europe and our little island becomes just the equivalent of California in the USA. Many people think we are heading that way and are afraid of it.

The economy is important. Undoubtedly if we leave the EU we’ll probably be worse off. We’ll have tariffs to pay where currently there are none when trading with EU countries. Maybe the main reason some non-EU corporations invest in the UK is for easy access to the EU market. Would they do the same if we were on our own or would that investment go elsewhere? It’s a tough one. There are a lot of scare tactics on both sides of the argument regarding the EU and the economy. One side claims we give over £350 million per week to the EU and though we get some back in the form of investment we have no say at all how that money is spent. These Brexiteers don’t seem to acknowledge the fact that due to our trade deals we actually make money from the EU. It is claimed by the remainers that for every £1 we put into the EU we actually get £10 back. Whether this is true is unclear as there are many exaggerations that have been thrown around lately. And is £350 million even that much money when you are talking about government spending? The fact that Team Leave say that if we could save that money it could be used to save the NHS really irritates me. There is no way that these people would save the NHS. The Brexiteers mostly seem to want things that harm the NHS. To use it in their argument wreaks of bullshit. If we leave we’d save some money and lose some money. Same if we stay. The whole thing is uncertain because nobody has ever left an EU before. The truth is we don’t really know what will happen. Especially if we leave. How long will it take to set up new trade deals? We became the 5th largest economy in the world whilst being in the EU so is it really such a bad idea to stay in it? Or could we do better alone? Is it holding us back somehow? Economically it is tough to know what to do and for most people this is not even the main issue. My opinion is that whether we stay or go does not matter as much as either side says it matters. If we leave we will be ok. We’re still worth trading with and we’ll continue to import and export with the EU whilst trade with non-EU countries will be unaffected. The likely outcome will be that we get a similar deal with the EU anyway. Which means we’ll still have to pay the EU and accept their non-negotiable free movement of labour. In that case why bother leaving at all? If it changes nothing accept our place at the negotiation table just why would we give up our vote? We’ll surely be left to accept whatever rules the EU comes up with and will have given no input. Currently we may not always get our way but at least we have a say. If we formed the right arguments in Brussels we have a chance at influencing ourselves and our neighbours in a positive way. If we leave we might just have the rules dictated to us. So are we more free? Or less free? We’ll be able to govern ourselves and apparently save a load of money. We’d be free to deal with countries however we choose. But would this “freedom” be a mere illusion? On a global level would we lose some of our influence? It is a fear I have.

On the flip side I hate rules. I really think there are too many of them. Silly little rules in our insanely bureaucratic world. And the EU loves rules. Whenever anybody says to me the term “EU regulations” it just makes me want to throw myself down the stairs. Some of the rules are obviously great. Guaranteed holidays for workers and all of the other workers’ rights that are protected by the EU are things that we should be thankful for. Would we keep these rights if we left? The fear campaign ran by the remainers warns us that we should not leave these rights in the hands of David Cameron and co. The thing is that any changes to these rights if we left would be made by a democratically elected government by British people. So we could only blame ourselves if we lost some rights and then in retaliation we could bide our time until the next election and get rid of the bastards and get the rights back. So I have no problem with the fact that we could govern ourselves there. We always have and I have to believe in us as a nation. My problem with the EU is that it is a massively capitalist institution and I’m not the biggest fan of capitalism in the first place. That is a whole different story. But there’s a part of me that does not think like the average person thinks when thinking about this referendum. This is my blog and my thoughts and I guess I can be honest here so let’s just get it out there. On the balance of arguments regarding staying or leaving I think it is probably best to stay. I hate the fear campaign but sort of trust the people in team remain more than I do with the Brexiteers. But…there is a part of me that would like to see us leave. This side of me thinks that things need to get worse before they get better. Maybe the EU is a failed project and we should ditch it. Maybe other nations would then also leave. Maybe our economy will be wrecked if we leave. And maybe we need that to happen. Maybe we should upset the status quo and mix things up. Perhaps the fear campaign is right and there would eventually be war in Europe again and it all starts from Brexit. Who knows? Obviously I don’t want war. But there’s a part of me that thinks the world might be going to shit and it has to go to shit before it can rise from the ashes and become something better. We need a new way of doing things that can give the people hope again and bridge the gap in wealth as things are distributed more evenly. If we keep the status quo the rich keep getting richer and the poor get poorer. Banks and corporations already run the world and that is the true reason democracy is dying. So if Brexit causes shockwaves and an economic crisis then so be it people. We’d have voted for it. I would enjoy the drama with some popcorn. And while we’re at it let’s get Donald Trump in as President of the most powerful country on Earth too. Why the hell not? Break up the EU. Break up the UK. Bring anarchy to our shores. It would be one hell of a story. I doubt things would ever get that dramatic but it’s far more likely to happen if we leave the EU. Inside the EU things will go as they do now. Kind of mundane. Yeah we have nice rights and a decent economy and no war and nothing much to complain about. But still we complain anyway. The papers whip up nationalism and a hatred of immigrants and many people feel outraged. I don’t think they have anything to be outraged about and they annoy me. So yeah. Let’s leave. Give the people what they want. And then laugh when they realise the mistakes finally. When it’s too late. And we’re just little Britain. A little insignificant fish in the vast ocean.

That’s the asshole in me. And the asshole wants the nationalists to choke on their words so much that I’d actually walk down the path with them and vote leave myself. But I guess that would be cutting one’s nose off to spite one’s face because at the end of the day if we leave the EU and it’s the first step on a winding road to destruction then I’ll also be sitting amongst the rubble instead of typing words on a laptop. And the popcorn wouldn’t taste so good then. So I have to push the asshole down and think like a normal person again. Do what’s right and vote for what I actually believe and not listen to the anger in me that wants to see the apocalypse. And so what do I believe in? The key issue for many people seems to be national pride and the fear of immigrants. People don’t like the free movement of EU nationals. It means people from Romania and Poland can come and live here and work here. The argument is that British resources should go to British people first. And we don’t want to dilute our society too much. These aren’t my views but are the views of a huge proportion of the UK. They see mosques in their cities and they see Polish sausage in their supermarkets. They work with people who aren’t British and they see our money flowing into the hands of non-British people who then hand it to family members living back in their own country. People idiotically think the NHS is under pressure due to these immigrants. They give little thought to the immigrants that are necessary to run the NHS in the first place. This proportion of British people are very much against the free flow of people from the EU. They vary from just being conservative and right wing all the way to just being totally racist. Not all but many of these Brexiteers are using politics to act on what is pretty much just plain old fashioned racism. Every now and then they let the act slip and truth comes out. “Fuck the muzzie scum”. You hear it a lot. And it’s just hateful. All of these people are in the Vote Leave camp. And I just do not want to be associated with them. Immigration is a part of life. We need immigrants and are also free ourselves to move abroad. At the end of the day we’re all humans living on a stupid rock in space. The whole thing is our home. Borders are man made (well, I guess they’re kind of natural when you live on an island but still) and whilst a dose of patriotism and national pride is a good thing there’s no need to take it so far. I’m an idiot when it comes to national pride. I watch the English players before the match and hear our anthem and I almost cry with pride for our beautiful land. But then I hear the opposing nation’s anthem and ridiculously I almost cry for their pride too. I bloody love Italians and would love to go there. I love Norwegians. And the French and the Spanish. They all have their own heritage and the whole history of Europe is awesome. It’s a great continent to be a part of and every time I’m abroad in Europe or anywhere in the world I find myself fascinated with the culture. It’s much deeper than some stupid nationalist zealotry. We’re more than that. We’re part of humanity and we need to think on global levels rather than just focusing on the British people on this little island. Scottish people have much pride and it almost lead to them leaving the UK but they saw sense that we were better together. We’re always better together. The EU isn’t perfect at all. But how is it a bad thing that we get together with other nations to come to decisions? Maybe it needs to be reformed and become more transparent and more democratic. But if that was to happen then surely it’s just a great thing to be a part of? Together with other EU countries we advance technology and scientific understanding of the world around us at a faster rate than we ever could do on our own. Free trade and free movement of people and decisions made for the benefit of all the people in the continent must be a good thing. People worry about TTIP but it looks like it won’t come into place due to the people putting pressure on the EU and a veto looks likely. That is true democracy. The people have power. Especially with the power of the internet in our hands. A united voice makes things happen in the world. But if we’re not at the party then how can we tell the DJ’s to play better music? If we leave we’ll be in the room next to the party and will still hear the music. But our requests will never be heard. The tracks will go from Rammstein to Andrea Bocelli. Coldplay will never get a spin. Regardless of what the campaigners of either side say it is better to work together with people than be exclusive and look solely after our own interests. We share the world. Decisions made by the EU will affect us whether we are in it or not so we would be daft to give up our voice. I fear that foolish pride is going to lead us to making a decision that costs us influence on a global scale as well as economically. Yeah we’ll be able to have less immigration but maybe that won’t be down to us. Maybe nobody will want to come here and we’ll have to clean our own toilets. I hope as a nation we can overcome our absurd distrust/dislike of other people. We’re better than that. We love curry and Islam is only as daft as Christianity. We’re all just silly humans. We should be inclusive of all of our quirks and embrace them. The British people will always have a place on this rock. Our sarcasm is going nowhere. Our story is forever cemented as a crucial part of the total story of all nations from all of history and our story will carry on. Interweaving with the stories of other nations. We need to be a strong character in this story and be sociable with others. Not run off sulking because we want our own toys only for ourselves.

Well, I said that I don’t think the EU decision was as crucial as either side is making out and yet I’ve made it sound massive. It is a big decision as it affects us on many levels and says a lot about us as a nation. I’m really interested to see how the vote goes as it really could go either way. And I do believe that either way we’ll be fine probably. I just think we’ll be more fine if we carry on as a member of the EU. I guess all I can do now is cast my vote and then sit back with a beer and see what happens and then try to make sense of whatever result comes. Que sera sera! I’m sure I’ll write more when we have a clearer picture of our future. Peace and love my fellow humans x

VOTE REMAIN (…unless you look forward to chaos, if so mischievously vote to leave because fuck ’em!)

Rule Britannia! God save the Queen! Rule Europe! God save the EU! #TEAMWORLD

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Equine Dream

4473

For most of my life the sport of horse racing has not meant much to me. I’d never followed it. Never been interested in it. Never had a bet on any horse ever. Couldn’t name any horse and the only race I’d heard of was the Grand National. To me it seemed a bit foolish. People risk money on how fast an animal may be able to run? Why risk it? And how is it entertaining? Plus it has always seemed a bit cruel to me. Though I imagine the horses are treated well they seem to get spanked and run ragged and you hear of the unlucky ones that fall and are “destroyed”. Football, tennis and the occasional boxing match does it for me. Horse racing is for the wealthy and also for the gamblers.

Then what happened? A good friend of mine called Marc started paying some attention to this sport and would talk to me about it. A lot of it went over my head but the odd phrase would stick and intrigue me. There was talk of a novice horse that was set to run in a big race. The horse was called Min and this was easy to remember. It was unheard of and mostly under the radar at first but people in the know had heard of it and had money on it. Every time I heard about this Min it seemed more people in the World believed in this horse and the odds of it winning were getting shorter as it appeared more likely to happen. The fact you could have a bet on something when its price was 25-1 and then see the odds slowly come down to 3-1 over the months must be quite pleasing. It got my attention definitely. Who were these original people that knew about this horse? Are there people out there just looking at a novice horse stroll around the stable and see some potential there? I knew nothing and came up with my own stories. The owner that bought Min saw something and he only buys the best. The trainer had a reputation. I never even knew that the trainer of a horse was as important as it is. I literally knew nothing. And with my 0% knowledge I’d booked a ticket with a group of dudes to go to spend a day at Cheltenham Festival 2016. It sounded like a great day out. The people going knew about horses and could advise me what to bet on. It’s all just a bit of fun and I was never going to risk much. If I lost then whatever and if I won some money then that’s even more fun. So the trip was booked and nearer the time I decided I would have a look at what it was all about.

Marc continued to tell me things over a few pints from time to time. He seemed really interested in this horse racing lark and to be honest I just didn’t get it. He showed me this Min in action. With no effort Min absolutely blew away the horses against it in the race. As I watched Min on YouTube pulling away from the rest I saw a glimpse of what could make this a good sport to follow. People had money on this horse at mad prices like 50-1 when nobody gave a shit about it. And here it was with the World seemingly at its hooves. For every £1 bookies were giving £50!? For this beast!? Bloody hell! I logged into my Bet365 account to have a look. The price for Min was 8-1. Bastard! Why did I not act upon what my friend was saying weeks ago? It was seeming less like a bet and more like an investment opportunity that I had been presented with and decided to pass on. Now the price was 8-1 and that doesn’t seem so enticing and surely the price won’t get shorter. It’s still a novice right? Maybe this thing works like shares and the price will go the opposite way eh? So I leave it. Checked back close to the time when Cheltenham Festival was starting and the godforsaken odds were now 3-1. Why didn’t I put a bet on at 8-1!? Idiot! Haha.

I had to get creative and put a bet on with Min and a small football accumulator. If the football results go right then it’s like better odds on Min. I had to get involved somehow. Also there were other horse’s names that had filtered through to my brain that were worth betting on. Douvan, Annie Power and Faugheen. The prices on all of these horses weren’t great and I’d been told to wait until betting sites have some offers. Fast forward to the first day of Cheltenham. I opened some new betting sites and had some amazing deals. They offer you great prices for the best horses and I guess they hope the horses fail. I put a few bets on and there was potentially crazy money to be won if it went right and I wasn’t even risking much. I woke up on the Tuesday of the festival pretty hungover after two bottles of red wine the night before with a good friend of mine. Felt like crap. But it was a sunny day and there was anticipation in the air. The other dudes had been talking about and looking forward to this day for months. We had a crate of beer and were due to meet up at a house to watch the days racing. Never in my life had I had plans to watch a race and place bets. It was new for me but I was looking forward to it. I liked the way we began the day beforehand. Waking up hungover and early made it feel like a real festival. Like it was Glastonbury or something. Instead of the first band we would look to the first race. I went to Marc’s house with the paper (the bastard Sun of all things). The paper had racing news and a free £1 bet. We watched The Morning Line. Then we headed into town for beer, breakfast and to go to the bookies to put our placepot bets on. I’d never even put a bet on at the bookies before and ridiculously it felt like such a “man” thing to do. We were men as fuck that day. Full English breakfast, beer, bets, horse racing. Next we went round to our friend’s house. Amongst the excitement I’d read more about the racing that day. I knew all the favourites and had plans to bet on every race. I could tell I was getting sucked in. It was down to the occasion and I guess the anticipation of the others was rubbing off on me. If Min wins the race then I win a nice amount of money with the potential for much more if the day’s accumulators win at my lovely enhanced newbie prices. Others in the group had more money at stake and so it must have been a bit nerve wracking for them I would have thought. When it came to tips on who to win the first race many were saying watch out for this prick called Altior who was a real danger at 4-1. Who the fuck was this evil Altior character? There wasn’t supposed to be a villain. Last minute panic caused the majority of us to hedge bets and bet on Altior in case of an upset. There was a great offer to get your money back upto £25 as a free bet if your first race pick didn’t win. £25 on Altior from everyone. Except me who stupidly already had an account with this Skybet website but couldn’t remember the details. It was too late. The horses were off. And in that moment I got it. Something clicked for me. I saw them all running and there was a buzz from it. Money could be won or lost based on this beautiful animal that was bombing around the course. It’s absolute insanity definitely. But there’s something about it. It’s like a combination of a great sporting event mixed in with the lottery except with less to win but with an actual good chance of winning. You find yourself willing your horse on and every hurdle or fence fills you with dread but elation after your horse lands unscathed. By the time Min reached the last hurdle we were all on out feet biting our knuckles, drinks forgotten about. Such drama unfolding right in this very moment. I knew right then I was going to follow this sport more closely. Of course the evil Altior stormed to victory down the final stretch. It had to be that way. Altior pulled some cash away from me but also pulled me into this sport. Min came second. All that build up came to a crescendo in one dramatic moment. The second that Altior won it seemed so much longer than a second. There were people around the country that would have lost thousands there and people that would have won thousands. The boys around me were glad to have put £25 on Altior but the overall feeling was that this was the public versus the bookies and they had taken a 1-0 lead for the day.

The next race was the mighty Douvan. This horse is just ridiculous. The clips I’ve seen of him have shown him win his races with no effort. He seems to always have so much more energy in the tank and maybe has never been pushed to his maximum. He was a dead cert. No way he could fail. And I had a great 4-1 enhanced price bet on him to win. But so far in life I had one experience with horse racing and that was Min. The favourite and the one I backed that had failed to win. And what did I know? Nothing. As Douvan was running around the track I once again realised the insanity of it all. It was just an animal that breathed, ate, slept and crapped. Does it really care how fast it is? Probably not. The horses have no idea that people are betting stupid amounts of money on them. It’s crazy. Doubt filled me. Douvan wasn’t winning. He seemed invincible but it wasn’t to be. It just wasn’t his day either. Like Min he was going to be unluck- oh shit, he’s winnin- shit he’s won! He battered them! Without a care in the world! What a horse. I check my account and there’s a load of lovely profit. Fun and money at the same damn time. Everybody is happy and won some money there. Champagne is passed around. Two very different feelings after two races but it had been much more exciting than watching Louis Van Gaal’s Man United team pass the ball from side to side lately.

The rest of the day was all about free bets from the offers for me. Some won, some didn’t. It was a profitable day and a lot of fun. There were some horses that won that had really cool comeback stories and I was unaware of these. It was pretty cool to see though. Some people in our little group won quite significant amounts and that was awesome. The next day started in a similar fashion which added to the festival feeling. Breakfast, beer, bets, pub. Racing, excitement, winning, losing. It was a whole conversation I’d missed out on previously. It’s nice to get interested in a new sport and realise that these events have been going on for years and will continue to do so. Thursday was the day we went down to Cheltenham to see the races. It was rammed. The atmosphere was amazing. It was St. Patrick’s Day and there was Irish music on and everybody was on the Guinness in the Sun. Everybody seemed to be winning too. Since the bookies took an early 1-0 they had been mostly spanked ever since. I won some and lost some. Had a lovely little accumulator that finished on the Friday but three of them raced and won on the Thursday whilst I was there. Again, some of the lads did really well. It was great to see the jockeys sat upon the horses. In real life both the horses and the fences are bigger than you’d imagine. It must be pretty scary being a jockey. You’re sat high upon a powerful horse and it jumps over 5 foot fences. A fall at that height could be disaster so it takes some balls especially as you could potentially land in front of a stampede. It was a great day at the festival and then we went out in Cheltenham town which was also rammed. It’s a cool town and we had a curry and many beers. It was a bit of a party vibe and already people were signing up verbally to come back next year.

The next day I woke up early and tired. It had been a hectic week off work and it was the last day of the festival. For me it turned out to be the most profitable of the four days racing. It was another day on the beer. And by the time the last race ended I had that end of festival sadness. It had been such fun. It had been the topic of conversation all week as we checked odds and bets and news and tips and form as we watched and drank and cheered. I really never knew I’d even give a shit. But I was hooked. I started looking at the Grand National and started looking at the next day’s racing. To a lesser extent this racing lark happens daily. Some people had such insight when it came to the horses. People knew about form and which horse prefers which ground. Which horse has more potential than it has shown. I want that knowledge! It’s incredible to have a bet on a horse based on something you think could be a crucial factor in the race and see it come true. And it sucks to bet on a horse and then see the odds go crap and then watch as the horse seems disinterested and puts in a poor showing. It’s all a gamble but when controlled it is a lot of fun.

The thing that intrigued me the most was the uncertainty surrounding tips and the odds on horses. This is just really interesting to me. A horse can be a massive favourite and then just before the race everything changes and as the race starts it may only be third or fourth favourite whilst a horse nobody seemed to care about mere minutes ago becomes the new favourite. Just what is that about? Was there something in the air? What changed? It’s like there’s a flutter of chatter…a mild panic…a new hope…a spanner in the works…some crucial piece of information previously overlooked… I’ve seen a horse get tipped and I’ve just looked at it and been confused. Maybe it has been 16-1 say. Then I carry on looking and it’s 14-1. Then 12-1. Then 8-1. Then 7-2. And then it goes off as favourite and wins. It’s impressive.  It’s like as the information filtered through to the public the whole market changed accordingly and it can happen really quickly. And it can go the other way too. A favourite just drifts and does nothing in the race. Did somebody at the stable see the horse sneeze or something? Was its piss unusual that morning? Did it refuse to eat its weetabix? Just what the hell happened? Haha. The absolute truth is that the horse is unaware of the expectation it carries unlike the weight it carries. It doesn’t care whether its price gets shorter or drifts it will still do what it would have done. Only our perceptions and predictions change. I guess the deeper you get into that the closer you get to being able to make such informed choices that you could win more than you lose on a regular basis. I tried an experiment the other day based purely on odds. I’d had some reasonable success on betting small amounts on certain horses and I’d noticed that the odds on the winners got shorter. People out there knew things so they bet things and then the bookies knew those same things and reacted. It’s a lot like the stock market in a way. So my experiment was this: I bet a low amount on a horse about to race that I know nothing about. I will read nothing about the race. I’ll know nothing about any of the horses. I won’t look at current favourite. I’ll look at previous odds and current odds and let the market tell me things that I have no way of knowing. If a horse stood out under this condition I’d bet it. I found one such example. The first price it had had was 16-1. The next price it had had was 8-1. Then it seemed to be moving a lot between 8-1 and 5.5-1. There was the experiment. A small bet was placed each way on that one. There was 10 minutes until the race and the price continued to change. It went to 3.5-1 and was joint second favourite. It was close but that horse won. There was a reason it went from 16-1 to 3.5-1 and that was because money was getting thrown at it so the bookmakers reacted. I have no idea why money was being thrown at it. But whoever was putting money on it did know why and that’s all that matters. I don’t really need to know why as long as it works sometimes. Also a lot of it is probably similar to share prices in the fact that little details can set off pessimism. Maybe loads of people bet on a horse because they like the name or colour of it. It probably has the same outcome. The odds get shorter. But not because the horse has woken up the right side of the bed that morning and has the look of a Champion but because a bunch of randomers like the white colour of the horse. I definitely need to look into this more. But I guess that’s what some smart people do. Look at odds and let the people tell you where to put your money. The skill is betting when the price is still good and not when it’s too short to matter. There have been times where I’ve tried this and just as the race is about to start I could cash out right there for profit. That intrigues me a lot. Studying figures is basically what my brain loves to do.

I have so much more to write about horse racing. I could write a whole blog on Douvan where I just throw superlatives at him. There’s the excitement and insanity of the Grand National where I had the absolute outsider in a sweepstake and the thing went and came 3rd against all odds. There’s the fact Aintree was like Cheltenham part 2. There’s more to come in the coming weeks. It is a new hobby of mine and it’s great to know it’s here to stay. There’s also the negative side of things to address at some point. The Vegan part of me (that has been locked away for now) should not enjoy this sport. It can be cruel and the people that want it banned have a point on some level. That’s for another blog though. It’s a grey issue in a grey world. For now I just wanted to get some thoughts out on this topic as it has been a great addition to mundane life over the last few weeks and I look forward to more events in future. Scottish Grand National next!

Godspeed 🙂

 

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Football Clubs: Good V Bad

“Ludere Causa Ludendi”

celtic

I love football. Many people do. It’s the most popular sport on the planet. Each country has its own league system and its own clubs with their own unique history. Some clubs interest me more than others. They just have something about them and they’re the kind of football club that you think would be a great project for a game like Football Manager. You find yourself looking out for a cool club’s results at the weekend even though they’re not the team you actually support. And then there are clubs that irritate you. Their decisions, their fans, everything about them just annoys you and you find yourself wishing total misfortune on these clubs every weekend. This blog post is about a mixture of clubs that I either find interesting or that do my head in. Let’s get to it…

Team Good: Leicester City

This first one should be of no surprise to anybody alive in the year 2016. Leicester City are a team I’ve never really cared about. They simply existed and there was nothing special about them. Sometimes they’ve been in the Premier League and often they haven’t been. I remember they had a couple of League cup wins in the late nineties when they were managed by Martin O’Neil and Emile Heskey played for them. Other than that they weren’t really on the radar. Last season after being newly promoted to the Premier League they struggled as everybody thought they might do. At one point they were bottom of the league and cut adrift from everybody else. Relegation seemed almost certain. Then they bucked their ideas up and went on a run that included 7 wins from their last 9 games to somehow stay up. During the summer they sacked their manager Nigel Pearson due to off the pitch dramas and appointed Claudio Ranieri. Many people saw this as a mistake but I actually thought it was a good move. He’d been a great manager for Chelsea in the Premier League. I can’t claim to have envisioned what came next though. This current season Leicester have been simply amazing. They defy the odds week after week and currently sit top of the league 5 points clear with 9 games to go. They were predicted to be in another relegation battle yet will almost certainly qualify for the Champions League and have a great chance at being crowned champions of England. Finishing above all the huge Premier League clubs when you’re supposed to be Joe Average has never been done before. The same teams win the league unless a huge cash injection has happened to a club. Leicester are on the verge of history and if it happens it will surely be the most unlikely title win in the history of football. It’s a true fairy-tale season and everyone is behind them now. They’re every fans second team. After looking at the results of your own team you now next look out for the Foxes and will them to win. With Vardy and Mahrez they’re a threat to everyone. Good luck to them. This is what football is all about and it brings hope to everyone that one day a team can be put together that will be able to challenge and surpass the big clubs with their insane amounts of cash.

Team Bad: Chelsea/Manchester City

I’m going to put these two cheating clubs in the same group because they’re both assholes for the same reason although one is even worse than the other. Chelsea were always a good Premier League team and though they never won the league (they have only 1 title win in their history before the Premier League era) they did win a few cups including the last ever Cup-Winners Cup. The last season in which they weren’t a cheating club was the 02/03 season. During this season Ranieri was manager and guided them to 4th place and the final Champions League place. Then they got bought by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and English football changed. Money is a huge part of the game but this seems an unfair way to catapult yourselves to the top. There are clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal who are also able to spend big on transfers and wages. These clubs have global appeal and make a lot of money but it all stems from their original ability on the pitch. Great teams got assembled (like at Leicester City right now) and trophies got won. Success was sustained over a long period of time due to hard work and so a fan base was built up. Success brings money through progressing in competitions and obtaining better sponsorship deals. Fans from all over the world buy merchandise increasing a club’s wealth. But this has been earned and any team could have achieved this. Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and other clubs over the years are trying to achieve this the hard way by signing some good players and achieving amazing results on the pitch. Chelsea got bought. That’s all they did. And due to the new owner being rich as hell he was able to outspend the successful clubs who had earned their money. All of a sudden Chelsea start paying crazy money for the best players and ever since the trophies have come thick and fast. That success has now lead to them being a big global brand too and so now they don’t even need the owners money as they’re able to sustain themselves. But they wouldn’t be there without that cash injection. It has hurt teams like Spurs, Everton and Aston Villa the most. These are clubs that have either finished in the top 4 or got near to it over the last decade or so. If not for Chelsea and their cash injection these clubs may have reached the Champions League places more regularly and with the money that they would have gained for this due to their own hard work then who knows where they would be now. One season in the Champions League can change your future. Qualify a few years in a row and all of a sudden you can compete for trophies. Chelsea have been in the Champions League ever since the takeover and it has denied another Premier League team without the same resources the same opportunity to progress and it really isn’t fair to them.

Then there are Manchester City who have done exactly the same except it is even more unfair. At least Chelsea qualified for the Champions League sometimes before they had rich owners. At least Chelsea had a talented squad that were able to win some competitions before the money started flowing like the River Thames. Manchester City were a yo-yo club bouncing between the Premier League and the Championship and at one point were in League One. They were at best a midtable Premier League side and if not for a cash injection would have been in relegation battles. Where would they be without the owners from the Middle East now? They may not even be in the Premier League at all. And this may have denied some other club like Derby County, Wolves, Birmingham City etc the opportunity to rise above Man City and have a place in the Premier League. And what has happened instead? Man City have won 2 Premier League titles, an FA Cup and 2 League cups since being bought. They qualify for the Champions League every season and it seems only a matter of time before they win that too. They’re a true force to be reckoned with and it’s all due to who bought them and how much money they have. It was a fast track to the top denying other teams the same success when they deserved it more due to having less resources and still being competitive. Maybe Everton would be an established Champions League side now if not for the likes of Manchester City and their riches. It’s annoying. I guess it’s amazing for fans of these clubs and they would say it gave them a chance at upsetting the status quo. But Leicester are proving this season that though a difficult task it can nonetheless be done with hard work. You could throw other teams into this category too. Paris Saint-Germain are another. They were a midtable side in the French Ligue 1 and now they win the title year after year and look capable of winning the Champions League. All it took was a rich owner. Easy peasy.

Team Good: Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao first hit my radar when they beat Manchester United in the Europa League a few years ago. It wasn’t just that they were underdogs and won. It was the way they won. They played some absolutely great football and had some amazing players. The Spanish league is absolutely dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona but sometimes there are other clubs that can manage to break the duopoly. Valencia won back to back titles fairly recently and Atletico Madrid have won the title recently too. Sevilla have had back to back Europa League wins. But Athletic Bilbao are always around doing alright whilst never seeming to win anything to truly capture the limelight for a season or two. They intrigued me so I did a bit of research on them and fell in love with their philosophy. There are only three clubs that have always been in La Liga from its start to now. Everybody would guess Real Madrid and Barcelona and be correct. Bilbao are the third. They’ve won the league an impressive 8 times in their history and have won the second amount of Copa del Rey trophies after Barcelona. However the main reason this club are unique and amazing is the fact they have achieved all of this whilst only ever using players from the Basque region of Spain and France. They don’t buy foreign players. They don’t even buy players from the Madrid area. All of their players of the Basque region and most of them are young talented kids that have came up through the ranks to the first team. I don’t know of any other team that does this. Imagine the team spirit this must instill into the players when they’ve grown up together playing and made it to the first team of an established La Liga side together. It’s so cool. It’s like Arsenal only using players from London. Most clubs barely stick to talent from their nation so to exclusively believe in the local talent and still be successful is unbelievably admirable in today’s footballing world. Kudos to Athletic Bilbao, I hope to one day again see them win La Liga.

Team Bad: Real Madrid

Where to start with Real Madrid? In my opinion they are by far the most disgraceful club in the world. They have no honour. They have no class. They’re run by brats and their fans are the worst fans in football. This is a club that just has to comfortably be the best all of the time otherwise it is unacceptable to these cry babies. They need the best players. If any player is considered world class then Madrid want him and he wants to play for Madrid according to every newspaper. It’s not always true but it gets said. Luis Ronaldo was the deadliest striker in the world and Madrid got him. Zidane was the best midfielder in the world and Madrid got him. Cristiano mastered the Premier League and Madrid got him. They’ll pay anything to get these stars and pay stupid wages. Their youth doesn’t get a chance in this team of galacticos. They’re not even a team; they’re just a bunch of superstars and the line up gets changed each season by a new face who’s now considered to be the best. It’s so nice to see them use this crap philosophy and yet not be that successful. Since the turn of the millennium they’ve won 5 titles out of 15 and that will soon be 5 in 16 after this season. It would be a good record if they weren’t Real Madrid who believe they should have won 15 out of 15 all with style. And considering they have spent by far the most money this isn’t actually that great of a record at all. Thankfully the talent of Lionel Messi has continued to thwart the bastards.

It’s not just this galactico philosophy that annoys me. It’s the fact that they seem to sack managers every season no matter what. If Madrid are second in the league the manager is likely to be sacked. If you don’t win the Champions League you’re likely to be sacked. There have been occasions when the manager has won La Liga and still been sacked due to not thrashing teams heavily enough. If Madrid thrash a team they’re barely satisfied. If they’re winning 1-0 then it isn’t good enough and the fans may boo them. Cristiano Ronaldo has a scoring rate of more than a goal per game since he’s been there. He’s writing his own history with his goal scoring exploits in La Liga. Are Madrid happy with Ronaldo? Are they happy to see one of the best people ever to play the game single-handedly destroy teams week in week out? Are they fuck. They actually boo the guy if he misplaces a pass or misses a shot. The fans don’t love Ronaldo and players do not get better than him in the history of the Universe unless they are Lionel Messi. How much ass does a guy have to kick to get some love at Real Madrid!? It’s unbelievable and says all you need to know about them as a club. Zinedine Zidane will get the sack no matter what he does. It’s a matter of time. Madrid will continue to eat up world class players and spit them out like it’s nothing if they don’t win everything in sight and with ease. No class at all. It’s hilarious to see them in third place and feeling like it’s a disgrace. Vamos Athetic Bilbao!

Team Good: St Pauli

St Pauli are a super cool team. They’re based in the red-light district area of Hamburg. When I think of Hamburg I think of The Beatles since they were based there for a few years before they made it big. Also I’ve heard Hamburg is a great, vibrant city. Maybe it’s due to being based near an area of prostitution that makes their fans unique. For purely footballing reasons there is nothing unique about them. They play in the second tier of German football and have only ever been in the top flight on a couple of occasions. But they have a fanbase that is notoriously left wing politically. Football has struggled with hooliganism over the years. There are sectarian chants and ne0-nazis at some matches over Europe. But the fans of St Pauli are the antithesis of these hooligans. Their identity is totally tied into a stance of anti-sexism, anti-homophobia and anti-racism. Add to this the fact that considering their modest footballing achievements they have a disproportionately large “kult” following. They often sell out their 30,000 capacity stadium despite playing in the second tier with seemingly not much to shout about. Their identity is also synonymous with the punk music scene. Their colours are black and brown. Their crest that is flown on the flags is a skull and crossbones. If I lived in Germany then I would support St Pauli as many do there. They seem rebellious. Even their business decisions are of benefit to local companies at a great cost to themselves. Hopefully they can push on this season and gain promotion to the Bundesliga 1. They’re a force for good in contrast to the many money grabbing clubs of today that have fans with questionable political beliefs.

Team Bad: Milton Keynes Dons

Ahh MK Dons. You know what would bring justice to this club for what they have done? Kicking them the hell out of the Football League. They should have to apply to a non-league league way down the football pyramid. They should start where newly formed clubs start. At the very bottom. Basically they were a newly formed club founded in 2004 but got to start in League One. Not only that but they totally destroyed another club at the same time as they replaced their identity. When I first started following football Wimbledon were a Premier League side known for causing upsets and punching above their weight. They were well liked by most and had the nickname of the “Crazy Gang”. Then they struggled a bit and fell down the leagues. Milton Keynes was a newly formed town in the UK and they had intended to build a stadium to host a Football League club. Incredibly the owners of Wimbledon decided that they needed to move to Milton Keynes and occupy said stadium in order to stop the club going out of business. Imagine what this was like for Wimbledon fans. Their club was moving locations away from them to the people of Milton Keynes. The name changed and their history was given up. MK Dons became the new team for people of Milton Keynes to follow whilst Wimbledon fans were left clubless. I wouldn’t mind so much but this was just a cheating way to avoid setting up a new club and attempting to climb the ladder. No other club could set up a team and just swallow an existing team and take their place on the footballing pyramid. It’s bullshit. And this MK Dons side are now just one step below the Premier League and all the wealth that it offers. Thankfully they’re nowhere near the top of the Championship. Hopefully they get relegated. And then relegated and relegated until they’re at the bottom. Where they belong.

Team Good: AFC Wimbledon

So what do you do when your team just leaves you and gives up the identity that you were a fan of? I imagine I’d pick a new existing club to follow. But this was unacceptable to the Wimbledon fans and they immediately set up a new club after their club was dissolved in the pure evil that is the MK Dons. It’s admirable but futile you’d think. Forming a new club and starting at the bottom is all well and good but you’re going from supporting a League club to a lowly team at the very bottom of grass roots football. They started out in the ninth tier of the football pyramid. This meant they were 5 promotions away from League Two. And the original Wimbledon were in League One at the time so 6 whole promotions away. You’d think they were still bouncing around the lower leagues today but incredibly they gained 5 promotions in 9 years and once again became a League club. It’s a great story. Now the fans have a club where it should be in terms of location and place on the footballing ladder and they did it with hard work in under a decade somehow. Truly commendable spirit by all involved. Hopefully they eventually climb above MK Dons in the ladder so they can look down on the cheating bastards.

Team Bad: Cardiff City/Hull City

Ok, I have nothing against either of these sides. The problem I have is the same problem that their own fans have. Namely the godforsaken owners. First Cardiff. They’re called the Bluebirds. They play in blue and have a Bluebird on their crest. That is how it is. Until in 2012 their idiot owner Vincent Tan changed the kit to red and put a dragon on the crest (albeit with a small Bluebird underneath it). I understand his reasoning to a point. Cardiff is the capital of Wales and Wales play in red with a dragon on their national flag. By identifying with Wales as a nation it broadens their appeal and could bring in more fans and money. But they’re the Bluebirds and they play in blue. You cannot change that. You cannot alienate the fans they currently have since they are the club. It’s a shame there’s not a successful Welsh club with a red kit and a dragon on their crest but there simply isn’t. It’s a void that will never be filled unless a new club is formed and rises up the English leagues. Leave existing clubs alone! Similarly with Hull City. Their nickname is The Tigers. Their owner Assem Allam decided that it would be a good decision to rename them Hull Tigers. I guess it’s a cool name and it would have more appeal in Asia and so again would bring in more fans and money. But at what cost to the club’s original identity? If the fans don’t want a name change you can’t do it. Cardiff have since gone back to the old kit and crest but the Hull owner hasn’t given up trying to change Hull’s name. What is with these power crazy owners? The fans are the club.

Team Good: Queen’s Park

I’ve always been interested in Scottish football. As an English dude I’m lucky to live in the country that has the best football league pyramid in the world. Football was created here. There are 92 League clubs and below them there are thousands of teams with their own histories and a mixture of triumphs and failures. There’s nowhere that can compare when it comes to history. Except north of the border in Scotland. Scottish clubs are up there with the English sides when it comes to the history of the game. So it’s a cool league and deserves more attention I feel. For me, my Scottish team will always be Queen’s Park. Once again this is a unique club that go against the trend. They play in the Scottish League Two so they’re a long way from the top. There are a couple of cool facts about this team. They play at Hampden Park which is the stadium that the Scottish national team play their home matches at. It holds over 50,000 people and yet the average attendance of a Queen’s Park match is about 750. It must be strange to be a 4th tier team playing with crowds that are in line with that status and yet be playing at Hampden every other week. Strange too for the other sides in that league. Lowly Annan Athletic get to play at Hampden every season when they’re up against The Spiders (cool nickname). Queen’s Park were formed in 1867 and so are the oldest Scottish club and one of the oldest clubs in the world. They’re the only Scottish club to play in the FA Cup final. Rangers were formed in 1872 and Celtic in 1887. Along with Queen’s Park they’re all from Glasgow. So for 15 years before Celtic were formed the original Glasgow derby  was between Rangers and Queen’s Park. Also, Queen’s Park have historically won the Scottish Cup the third highest amount of times after Rangers and Celtic. That’s a great achievement to be above the likes of Hearts and Aberdeen there. Also you know that passing football that we all love to watch? Barcelona may have mastered it but it was developed first by Queen’s Park. They were the first to think less about dribbling your way haphazardly towards the opponents’ goal in favour of passing the ball around to exploit space. Very cool.

However the coolest thing about Queen’s Park is the fact that they’re still just an amateur club. Everybody around them are semi-professional or professional. There can’t be many teams in any of the professional leagues across the whole of Europe who are just amateurs, if any. This means players do not get paid by Queen’s Park. They just play for nothing. I think there’s a system where fans can sponsor a player but basically they don’t get any money. They have other jobs in life. The motto of Queen’s Park is Ludere Causa Ludendi which means to play for the sake of playing. Once again I find this admirable. They could have changed but have chosen to remain an amateur side. And it’s not like they aren’t competitive. They’re currently third in their league which would be a play off place with the chance of promotion if they keep this position. Imagine if this bunch of amateurs that play purely for the love of the game reached the Scottish Premiership and threatened to challenge for a place in Europe. What a story that would be. Much love to Queen’s Park.

Beyond Good and Bad: The Old Firm

There is simply no rivalry in sport that is as intense or as interesting as the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers. It just does not get bigger. As stated previously Rangers were formed in 1872. Their formation and their historical links are largely intertwined with Protestants in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Celtic were formed in 1887 to counter this somewhat. They needed a team to represent Catholics and Celtic also represented the poor, working class. I’m not actually sure if this means that traditionally Rangers fans come from wealthier backgrounds. Maybe it matters less today. Celtic are called Celtic due to their Irish ties. You’ll often see Irish flags at Celtic matches. Obviously there have always been problems in Northen Ireland between Catholics who hate the British (and therefore hate Rangers) and Protestants who’re proud to be part of the UK (and therefore hate Celtic). This is such a monumental divide. Rangers and Celtic are from the same large city and so the derby between them would naturally be fierce anyway. But when you add in the religious and political divide too that has spread over two countries where there has been a lot of bloodshed it just adds fuel to the fire. The divide matters on a global level too. In Italy you’re more likely to follow Celtic due to the Catholic background. I doubt anybody in Italy cares about Rangers. But Rangers have a global following too. Though not as vast as Celtic’s since Catholics outnumber Protestants globally obviously. It’s all about that religious divide. Even Snoop Dogg supports Celtic.

Not only is there this unique divide but they also happen to be the two very best clubs in Scotland. Rangers have had their problems lately with being demoted due to going bankrupt and that has temporarily halted the rivalry as they haven’t played in the same league as Celtic for 4 years now. But other than that these two rivals battle for the title every year. It’s currently 54-46 in favour of Rangers in terms of title wins. That’s just ridiculous. Not even in Spain is there such a duopoly. 100 league titles between them and the majority of cup wins too. Some seasons you will have Rangers play Celtic 4 times in the league and battle it out in the latter stages of the cups too. Pride and trophies are always on the line. Celtic have suffered without Rangers in the Premiership but the rivalry will be back next season since Rangers will almost certainly complete the last required promotion of the comeback. In Turkey there is the huge Istanbul derby between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce. Both sides from the same city also often fighting for the title. In Spain there is El Clasico between two of the best teams in the world in the same league often both fighting for the title. In England there is Liverpool versus Man United who hate each other and are often fighting for the title. There are massive rivalries throughout the world of football. But none compare to the Rangers and Celtic derby. No doubt the next 100 titles will be decided in bad tempered matches between the two whilst both sets of fans sing hateful songs against each other. But one can’t function in the same way without the other. They need each other and really love hating each other. It’s the best rivalry in sport. And I’m sure if you’re a Celtic fan you see Rangers as pure evil and it’s the other way round if you’re a Rangers fan. Awesome.

 

Anyway, that’s just some of my thoughts on some teams I like and dislike. Every weekend I check for the results of these clubs though I actually support none of them. I did buy a Queen’s Park hat once and really want to buy a St Pauli shirt. Basically I think it’s important to recognise when a football club has great values that it sticks to. A club should keep its identity especially if it has long been a tradition and is particularly unique. The clubs that are all about money and business will find out the long way that the fans they obtain are fickle. Money flows better when the people believe in the story, the myth, the badge, the motto, the history etc. History can be built over time but it can’t be bought. Passion will always rule over money and club owners need to remember that when they’re thinking about ticket prices and shirt prices. The fans are football.

 

 

 

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