I’m so British it makes me slightly anxious

Signals for Pilots. British. Johnson's new cha...

Being british is about being awkward, not to mention the innate love of constantly talking about the weather, everyone knows that.This outburst has come about because of a recent revelation and so here we begin, belt up.

It struck me recently, while slumped on the sofa, resembling something of a cat, or a middle aged, depressed, loveless woman, that I am infact ridiculously British by nature, no real surprise for a British person I suppose. However, I’ve always liked to think of myself rather cosmopolitan. What reason I haven’t a clue, probably some White English desire not to be another language flop.

Anyway, the moment I realised what a British toff I am was, typically, when watching tennis, I know, I stink of stereotype. The realisation struck, rather embarrassingly, when I noted that I always feel slightly nervous and awfully awkward, when I see tennis players walking to their seats from opposite sides of the court. The moment that haunts me is when the players have to directly pass each other to get to their seat. You see, there’s not enough room to walk past each other so they have to time it perfectly so to not clash face on. Eugh, the thought of the side step shuffle that occurs when facing an opposing human makes me shudder. If I found myself in the same situation everytime the game had a drinks break, I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself walking around the opposite side of the net altogether, just to get to the safety of my seat. It’s stressful stuff!

It’s not that I hate human contact at all. I simply find having to negotiate a pass-through,mentally, with someone not well aquatinted, or even a rival, a horrifically unnecessary and displeasing event.
Life is tough being British. It isn’t easy fearing embarrassment induced by social contact. Life is riddled with the stuff, you can’t get away from it, it hunts you down until you collapse into a mush of apologies and nervous giggles.

If you think I’m being ridiculous then you’re probably American, and probably shouting to your neighbour to pop over for a swim with just your speedos on, and your probably taking no notice of the weather report either.

I can’t help but think us Brits have got it all right in a wrong way. Oh did you see the weather we had today? Nightmare.

Is Sport ever sporting?

English: John Terry Nederlands: http://www.pos...

John Terry

With Wimbledon well and truly over the sporting world’s eye turns to the court case between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand. After such a smoothly run tournament, Wimbledon once again comes out looking like the perfect child. Football, on the other hand, comes out kicking and screaming, fully keeping its ugly stereotype intact.

But its not just football that has an ugly side, sport in general is pretty horrible. Serena Williams, the golden girl of wimbledon 2012, displayed her less than pleasant side in the 2011 US Open Final, when verbally abusing an umpire. Why is it that people in the public eye so disappointing? Well because there just humans after all, the real disappointment is that people actually look up to these, so called sporting heroes.

It was nice to be able to celebrate a successful tournament in Wimbledon and to fairly congratulate the winners for their tremendous effort. But within a blink of an eye our attention is rudely drawn back to a less than celebratory characteristic of sport. John Terry’s on-going racism trial optimises how sport is a game of two halves, there is the good and the bad. Terry may be a fantastic footballer but that does not in any way qualify him for being a fantastic person, sadly.

The trial has helped to heap on the negative stereotypes that surround football at the best of times. It has revealed a little more of the dark side of sport that no one wants to witness, especially with the Olympics on our doorstep. We can only hope that justice is done, whatever the outcome, and the media don’t sink their unrelenting teeth into Terry’s trial and shake it all over the Olympics’ parade. This summer should be a showcase of the best of sport, so can everyone for once just be set and on their marks for good behaviour?

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Ciao England, Good-day Wimbledon

Court No.1, Wimbledon, 2004 Photo by Alexander...

Court No.1, Wimbledon, 2004

Last night England were duly dumped out of the Euros by Italy, no real surprise there. What is surprising is that before every championship English football fans have a delightful ignorance, they believe that somehow, logic and all sense forgotten, that this year is our year, football is coming home. This blind faith is short lived and it is not long before everyone realises that the English football team, unfortunately, just doesn’t play as well as many others, especially the ones in the knockout stages. And so with their pride in shreds the English fans crawl home, taking a little compensation in the fact England are still the best team in the United Kingdom.

With the football hooligans passed out in their local, their sorrows well and truly drowned along with their livers, a new crowd emerges from the woodwork. This is no ordinary crowd, no common patriotic skinhead, this is the Wimbledon faithful. A whole class of their own, an opinionated, caesar salad eating, Ralph Lauren wearing bunch capable of making any man feel utterly insignificant.

Cardigans tied over shoulders, Pimms in hand this is simple the best of Britain. The start of Wimbledon means three things: sun, tight skirts and a whole lot of tennis, what’s not to like about that. By the end of the two weeks the nation is captivated with tennis, although serving is a pain in the behind, we all love a spot of tennis with the chums. Wimbledon helps to define Britain, it is a little bit of our history and a whole lot of our excitement. Us Brits love a good tournament to unite us, especially when the football team left many feeling rather melancholy. Any excuse to show the world how to host a tournament is gobbled up, politely of course, by our jovial Wimbledonians.

It is with pride that many tune in to the wonder that is Wimbledon, for two weeks Britain is again in the spotlight.

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Racism rife in Euro 2012 capital

Donbas Arena, Donetsk, Ukraine - UEFA Euro 2012

Donbas Arena, Donetsk, Ukraine – UEFA Euro 2012

With the European Championships just round the corner all eyes turn to the host nations, Poland and Ukraine. In many ways this is just another championship in two ordinary countries in a exiting summer of sport. However, this championship could prove to be at the heart of the most controversial decision UEFA has ever made. By allowing the Euros to take place in Poland and Ukraine UEFA may be lumping their own heads on to the chopping board. The choice to allow Poland and Ukraine to host such a prestigious European football tournament could have dramatic consequences. It has been revealed that both nations are home to a horrific racist footballing culture. With this in mind we have to ask the question whether UEFA awarded the Euros aware of these barbaric attitudes, and if they were not, why they were unaware of the situation at hand?

I had read a few articles and heard the odd rumour that Polish and Ukrainian football fans could be racist, even to the point of undertaking racist attacks on other supporters and players alike. An awful thing to hear, especially when the UEFA are continually taking steps to rid football of racism. However, I didn’t really grasp the full magnitude of the problem that is blatant racism in these nations, until I watched the BBC Panorama programme Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate. To understand the extent of the behaviour adopted by football fans you have to watch the programme. There behaviour can no longer be graced with the title Right Wing politics, it can only be described as hateful, anti-Semitic nazism.

These stadiums are a breading ground for prejudices, enmity and hostility to mere scapegoats labelled as the stimulus for their hate. These stadiums are the same ones fans from countries all over Europe will be sitting, singing and celebrating in. Does it seem right to welcome men, women and children into a place that houses an atmosphere resembling the horrific years of Nazi Germany?

It was very saddening to discover the racism that was so blatant in Poland and Ukraine, whether only in the footballing community or not, that is no excuse whatsoever. I sincerely hope UEFA have not, as I have, just discovered the situation they have entered players from all ethnic backgrounds into. This could seriously be a disaster. UEFA may have just opened a can of worms too big to swallow. UEFA must be accountable to the actions that take place in the host nations, after all UEFA were the ones gladly giving Poland and Ukraine the seat in the spotlight.

I can only hope that Poland and Ukraine are not embarrassed by these minorities who believe there is still a place for racism, let alone neo-nazis viewpoints in today’s world. In no way do I want an act of racism to be a feature of Euros 2012, however, I also don’t want these diseased cultures to go on unrecognised. There must be action taken against those who openly exclaim that ‘Jews should be hated’. There is something seriously wrong with a culture that overlooks the exclamation of racial hatred.

I had naively believed, hoped, that human nature had moved on from the past and learnt from the costly actions of others that in no way can racism, antisemitism or general hatred of an ethnic group be acceptable. We must destroy this misplaced anger, we have to, it is imperative if we are to survive as a species.

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An Absolute Horo Show

Astrological clock at Venice

Astrological clock at Venice

Horoscopes; a future telling forecast of your life according to your star sign which is categorised by the month you are born in. So logically the predication is going to be bang on! The idea of reading a forecast of my life that is based on my star sign, whatever that really means, is less than attractive. How low have people’s self respect got for them to think, ‘yeah, actually, I will read a fictional forecast to enlighten me to what will happen in my train-crash of a life’?

As most people, sane ones, would agree that as human beings we are all individuals, there are no two humans the same, like snowflakes. So with this in mind we have to ask why a generic 100word prediction of your week will be of any use whatsoever to anyone? With maybe thousands of readers it would be nothing short of a miracle if the horoscope related to one person’s week in the slightest.

As you may have realised I not a massive fan of horoscopes, funnily enough. They just remind me of a bad horror story; you shall have a bad experience but then love shall be around the corner, oh really will it? I just don’t understand why people put their faith in a prediction that may just happen to have no relation to their life, whatsoever.

Maybe I’m being harsh and horoscopes are a harmless piece of writing aimed to fill people with confidence that their life really isn’t that bad. Yeah, that’s what it is, just a piece of writing not aiming to get poor, low esteemed individuals addicted to reading their predication on the off chance it might say something nice will happen. No it’s not like horoscopes are trying to con people into becoming reliant on reading them to survive this harsh world where ‘love is never too far away’. Eugh, ok, I can’t even be positive about what their aims might be, I just detest them. Seems rather forward but I just don’t really see the point in them, sorry.

I did hear, sources may not be reliable, that the previous French national football team coach Raymond Domenech would pick his starting line up depending on their star signs. Call me liberal but that sounds like a horrific idea. No wonder the French team had some less than successful times under Domenech.

The example above shows how extreme the impact of horoscopes can be on people’s lives, even ones in positions of power which slightly scares me. I hope no one told Boris Johnson about these things!

I suppose what I’m getting at is that life is something that is unpredictable in a nasty as well as brilliant way. Can we ever hope to plan our way through life? I would argue no, because well, it’s pretty impossible. What makes life a joyous experience is that it has so many twists and turns that sometimes what you thought was the worst thing in the world, at the time, has given you the good times you may now be in. Life is a gift and it’s in our hands, the world is ours to live, love, hate and even taste. So why would you want to pin your life to a prediction that is so broad it could fit multiple bags of beans across it (anyone get the pun?), it will only lead to a unsatisfied lifestyle craving that unrealistic target.

To sum up quite magnificently; don’t waste your time waiting for someone to tell you how to live, just do it, you were born to do it. I feel like this got unnecessarily deep, I feel like a ‘life coach’ or something which doesn’t suit well, horrible business! I seem to have so bogged down in my dislike for horoscopes I have given in to emotional guidance for life, please don’t take any notice it’s probably a load of rubbish. I suppose after this I could be accused of writing a dumbed down version of a horoscope, if possible, therefore I should remind you that I’m a student and life is just one big lie-in, trust.

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Politicians: How about the truth this time?

Image of the front door of Number 10 Downing S...

Number 10 Downing Street

Now when I say the truth I mean the real truth, the one that isn’t a lie. You may be thinking, well obviously the truth is not a lie, and is there even such a thing as the ‘real truth’ because surely by definition the truth is real truth anyway. Besides giving myself a headache I’m come to the conclusion I’m talking rubbish: normality resumes. This article however, has got some point to it, whether you will be able to extract it is another matter all together, but we’ll have a go.

What the introduction was meant to state, but failed miserably, was that politicians are well overdue in telling us the truth, the real truth that is! In other words politicians are made of some crafty stuff, for sure. I was watching the News when it hit me; you rarely ever get the truth out of a politician and it’s like getting the truth out of Pinnochio, damn difficult, I think, isn’t it?

It really is no coincidence that as soon as the governmental flavour of the month is voted into power they begin their landslide into a pit of hate from their own voters. This amazing feat is repeated pretty much election after election, but for some reason everyone just seems to buy into it and vote for the ones they used to hate four years ago? Strange.

What annoys me most is that for some reason these same politicians believe they have some ‘get-out-of-jail-free-card’ for telling the truth. You have to give them some credit though, they give a masterclass in avoiding saying anything of any relevance to the probing question posed. Interview after interview, whatever the question the reply always seems to be along the lines of…’well what our government is doing, which I personally supported, is to provide economic growth to a country left in ruins by the previous (add formally elected party name here) government.’ Voila call me a politician and vote me into Parliament!

So why don’t they tell the truth anymore? Are their minds and hearts so scarred by the world of politics they have become immune to the notion of truth? I doubt it, but only just. They don’t tell us what is really happening and what is really going on because they know they can get away with not telling us. We just happily let them pull the wool over our eyes, but why?

I think it’s because so many people have lost faith in politicians they just don’t care what they say anymore, they just know it’s something that resembles a big fat lie. The real question we have to ask is why are the elect elite so untrustworthy? That we even have to pose this question is a good indication that something somewhere has gone horribly wrong. We, as a society, have become so fickle and judgemental that we form so many of our views on what that guy said in that newspaper; which, for anyone that didn’t catch on is a rubbish way to form a view. We support this MP because of this but hate this MP because of that, but isn’t the difference so marginal? I am opening myself up to some hideous political naivety, I apologise. But I think maybe we are the ones who have forced politicians into a truth-less, lie defining, parasitic existence (I added the last bit for affect, too much? Yeah, ‘parasitic’ was a bit harsh and pretty meaningless in this context too but roll with it, thanks)

Running the country must be no mean feat and how we haven’t all started attacking each other with pitchforks yet would suggest it’s going pretty well in my book. You can never please everyone, that is for sure. Shut down the animal testing centre and you please the animal rights activists but annoy the scientist who lose their jobs. Politicians are frightfully worried about votes, which makes sense. But because we despise and abandon so quickly, we cause politicians to turn to lies so to hide the truth that will only make us switch our allegiance, again.

So we conclude that politicians lie to us to stop us from turning to the opposing party, who they believe will do us more harm and damage our precious lives immeasurably, so it’s kind of sweet that politicians avoid telling us the truth. Oh don’t be silly that’s a stupid idea, their just bad sports, liars too!

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Public Transport: where did it all go wrong?

Hopping on the bus to work the other day cost me a whopping £3.20. Fares these days are rising like unemployment, that’s stupidly high for anyone that didn’t grasp my poor attempt at a political gibe.

Standard class interior of National Express Ea...

Wishful thinking!

Now I know we are in a recession, which means we have to pay more for absolutely everything, which I don’t really understand, but we’ll skip over that as it’s the first of many. So with this philosophy it is expected that one should pay more for bus fares, naturally. It’s not like the recession means we have less dollar in our back pocket at all, grab away government it’s all good here, no worries we got your back!

Anyway, with all this complaining I am starting to sound far too similar to someone well matured in the fine wine that is life. And so before I bore you all into thinking that public transport isn’t quite as bad as this article I return to our subject matter: public transport. You find yourself sitting on a packed, rickety old bus smelling something like a cesspit that’s been flooded by Stella, wondering, where did it all go wrong? It really did seem like a good idea at the time I’m sure, but public transport is acting like a smelly child that just won’t go to the toilet. It just keeps hanging around, continually acquiring a greater hatred from it’s uses. You have to question is it just us or is public transport less than desirable on the continent as well? No don’t be silly, everything is always more desirable on the continent. I would pay £3.20 just to watch a continental bus, oh don’t ask!

Unfortunately you’re not off the hook yet, the rant continues, I know I amaze myself at times. It is deeper than just a poorly designed system that is the real problem. Public transport is the bane of commuters lives; Buses are delayed, trains are overpacked and overpriced and flying is way to extravagant. Attempting a trip into town at peak times has become a folly ambition, let alone commuting into London everyday, it’s pretty much perceived as suicide, talk about staring death in the face. Pubic transport just has that stigma about it nowadays, as a nation we are not proud of the national service, we even sold most of it. We approach it with an air of suspicion and a great wodge of lack of faith that it will succeed in its core mission to get us to our destination. But why and how did this travesty occur, where did it all go wrong?

Sadly, I don’t have the solution, because well I’m not a politician (my second attempt at a political gibe). However, like an annoying teacher’s pet I have introduced the question secretly so I can have a crack at it. Here goes, hold on to your expenses (third, and admittedly more horrific, political gibe if it can even be graced with that title). As I mentioned early we have no real faith in our public service and this could be the crux of the problem. Society needs to stop dodging the blame and take a long hard look at itself in the mirror, metaphorical of course, government could never commission a mirror to be made that big, silly idea really. Our lack of faith has physicalised into a lack of respect through mistreating our transport something chronic, the amount of rubbish you find on a bus has caused me to accidentally catch a ride on a dustbin truck by mistake. I joke. The poor treatment we dish out is reflected in the service we receive and in reality we probably get a good deal for our lack of care. So does the issue really lie with us?

Can we change our attitude and take a little pride in the service that has changed the world and moved forward our society in many ways; scientific, industrial, and economic to name a few. With a new mindset and respect we can impact the service we receive, so really we are our own downfall, but, only if we don’t take any care.

But I mean, what do I know I’m only a student really.

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The perfect return…

Thierry Henry, playing for Arsenal against Cha...

Thierry Henry, playing for Arsenal against Charlton Athletic

Thierry Henry returned to Arsenal on a two month loan from New York Red Bulls in their close season. Henry was a legend at Arsenal before leaving for Barcelona in 2009. With Henry on the pitch you knew there was always a chance. He had goals in his blood, if the ball dropped to him anywhere in the box, or outside for that matter, you could pretty much say goodbye to keeping a clean sheet. Tonight Henry was back in an Arsenal shirt at the grand age of 34. The Gunners were facing Leeds United in the Third round of the FA Cup, 60 minutes on the clock and it was possibly the most unentertaining cup game of the weekend, but then the introduction of Thierry Henry, now if that can’t liven up the match then I don’t know what will. As expected his introduction brought a big of jazz, if that’s even possible?

In less than 10 minuets guess who was breaking the deadlock and placing their name on the scoresheet? Yeah you got it, Thierry Henry!

For anyone who says he’s lost his class think again because Henry’s back.

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How Much is a Degree Really Worth?

English: Academic procession at the University...

Graduation

As the Christmas break draws to an end I try to emotionally prepare myself for living without good food and clean clothes, if deposited at the right place, again: life’s hard as a student. The thought of returning to University dump those nervous butterflies into my stomach as I realise I have rather a lot of work to do and rather little time to complete it in, again, life’s hard as a student!

Meeting up with friends who also study at Uni’s all over the country made me realises how much I compare my experiences with theirs, in a slightly competitive manner, competitions good anyway, right? I mean it’s not like I’ve reduced them to a shivering wreck on the floor because I keep screaming ‘I win, I win.’ It’s not like that, I don’t, well, screaming has very negative connotations these days, unfairly negative! Anyway, hearing about everyone’s experiences got me thinking, yep dangerous stuff, how much is a degree really worth?

Maybe it’s something you can’t put a price on, but Universities are pretty quick to give it a go. My tuition fees are at the delightful total of £3,375 and for the amount of doors that a degree opens in life then maybe that’s a fair price, who can really say. However, it’s a lot of money to spend when there is no guarantee of a job at the end, especially in our slightly worse for wear economic climate.

Now, I must note that I love my university and I have learnt so much, not just academic knowledge but real life experiences, that I believe at the end of my three years I will be a much more rounded individual. Obviously, everyone has a certain allegiance to their own university and wants the best from it and for it, but I must say I sometimes wonder what my fees are actually being spent on. Unfortunately, it may not be anything that is advantageous to my learning experience.

A little too harsh? I’ll explain why I feel slightly aggrieved about the whole issue of paying thousands of pounds to learn independently for a few years. My main problem comes from the fact that I have a seminar leader who is scarcely older than me, and studying for a PhD. I fully sympathise that in his own private opinion his PhD is his priority, it would be for me, but paying as much as I do for my degree status I can’t help feel a little short changed. I want to be taught be men and women who are experienced in their field with a real desire to enthuse others, not by those who are taking the opportunity to achieve their doctorate status.

Am I just being a grumpy teenager? Or are we students being led a merry dance by Universities who sneakily abuse our desire for knowledge by taking a little too much and giving back not quite enough?

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On the Twelfth Day of Christmas…

christmas 2007

Image by paparutzi via Flickr

And this, my dear friends is the last post in my Twelve Days of Christmas series, otherwise, I suppose it wouldn’t be a Twelve Days series, would it? So get prepared because hopefully this post will get you all festive for the big day…

So, I finally thought that I should get down to some serious Christmas shopping. After my last shift for Christmas I headed off into the treacherous, swarming town. It was a dangerous task and one I was uncertain I would succeed in. Town was busy and as you know I hate a busy town…

I cannot begin to explain how horrible the shops were, they were crawling with people. I thought ‘sod this’, but then I remembered I only have one more day to get this shopping done and that’s Christmas eve, and I already decided I wanted to do absolutely nothing all day Christmas eve. So with this in mind I trunched off into the heart of the shops and grabbed the first things I thought may be appropriate and took them to the tills and scarpered off home.

The feeling of knowing that I don’t have to face these Christmas shopping nightmares is a good feeling, indeed. Now, all I can do is relax and enjoy Christmas, not bad ey?

So all I can do now is wish you all a very merry Christmas and thank you for supporting my Twelve Days series. I leave you with the hope that this Christmas you all remember the real message, that God sent his only Son to earth as a loving gift to save us.

And that has been your final daily fix of Christmas.

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