Categories
Politics

Hancock’s ‘Young People are causing problems’ is just another way to divide us.

The Health Secretary’s finger pointing at young people does not comprise of smart, stable and confident leadership; it reeks of desperation and campaign-like attempts to retain some form of dignity and once more, shift the blame from the ever-growing, all-encompassing abominable mess this government has created.

“Don’t kill your gran by getting Covid” said the Health Secretary last week. Not exactly the confident statement you’d like to hear amidst the most uncertain times in living memory. 

Perhaps one could calmy nod along with Hanock at this statement with a tranquil acceptance and feel assured by his blunt honesty and stark warning of the danger of this disease. Perhaps it could have been the abrupt wakeup call needed to stun young people into following the covid guidelines more rigidly. Perhaps it could have just stopped us all going out altogether, again.

But no, this statement and babbling tirade of finger wagging came just a week after an audacious attempt to get everyone out and about again. It is verging on offensive that this government can one week run a campaign calling on people to fulfil some sort of moral duty to reignite the economy amidst an unparalleled pandemic, then the next, blame them for a rise in infections. 

For our elected ministers to haphazardly blame and pinpoint a certain group of people for their own failings has been a consistent theme during this era. It highlights an inexperienced, ill-equipped and insecure cabinet completely and totally out of their depth. 

For example, the more experienced and more statesman-like governments across Europe have not turned on themselves, their respective cabinet members in charge of health have not sighed, eye-rolled, laughed and stumbled through interviews with obvious disdain for normal, working class people. In France, Macron has not attacked ‘young people’ in fact, he has once more called for unity;  “The only way we will succeed in stopping this epidemic is if all of us are vigilant and stick together.”

In Germany, Angela Merkel has not played on everyone’s moral duty to spend in pubs and bars then chastised them for doing so, the very well qualified chancellor said in April: “caution is the order of the day, not overconfidence” and has believed this ever since by remaining transparent, restrained and accepting of the virus; all while not pointing the finger at certain groups. 

Merkal’s caution statement is the complete polar opposite of Johnson, too. Our zany Prime Minister visited a school earlier this month to highlight it was safe to reopen. He stood, mask-less, Infront of clearly unconvinced students packed side by side and said: “Quite frankly after all that time -159 days – the risk to your health is not from Covid, because statistically speaking your chances of suffering from that disease are very very low, the greatest risk you face now is continuing to be out of school.” What has come of this school? It has now closed, less than two weeks after reopening, because of? You guessed it… Covid-19. 

A division tactic? 

To be young is to vote left. That’s the new order of the day. Gone are typical class divisions, gone is the power of unions and gone is the pull of the left for working men and women. Now, the biggest indicator of voting intention is age – to be young, is to be labour. So, is this government pin-pointing the young as a dangerous force? 

As mentioned above, this government is insecure, they’re vastly out of their depth. As characterised by the entirety of this Brexit fiasco, they would jump at any chance to further their cause… is this another example of that? 

It certainly seems to have begun something. Two pubs in Yorkshire have banned under 25s amidst fears they will spread the disease. This to me, feels like the start of ageism.

Although I recognise that the figures of late have indicated a greater infection rate for 17-24-year olds – I firmly believe this isn’t their fault. The Governement called on us to eat out, to help out. It encouraged us to drink, to eat, to restart our lives, to socialise. It has then turned on us when the obvious effects of this has come to fruition. The government refuse all accountability, it absolves itself from blame and points the finger at groups which may challenge them. 

Categories
Sport

The Curios Curse of Manchester United’s Number 7 Shirt.

As Jadon Sancho’s transfer from Yellow to Red looks imminent, it seems inevitable that he will be the new number 7 at Old Trafford. We wanted to take a look at the legacy of this famed number and why no player has lived up to its hype in recent years.

Since 2009, 5 players have donned united’s famous number 7 jersey, scoring 15 goals accumulatively. For comparison, the previous 5 number 7’s had scored 349 goals between them.

The number 7 encapsulates more pressure than any other, its legacy has been sculpted and moulded over decades from the best players, the biggest personalities and the finest footballers. So who’s done it, and who’s contributed to todays curse?

George Best

First there was George Best, signing professionally for United in May 1963 as a skinny kid from Belfast, he made his debut and scored his first goal in September of that year. Best’s biggest contribution that season, a timely goal at Ellend Road ensured United beat Leeds to the league title, their first in almost a decade.

In 1968, he was instrumental in delivering the first European cup to British soil, his 28 goals that season made him PFA and European footballer of the year. In 1970, Best thumped 6 goals past Northampton Town in an 8-2 victory, giving him the record for the most goals in an English game, which still stands today. 

His meandering runs down the wing and sublime bolting shots from 40 yards never ceased to amaze the inspired United faithful. He really was Best by name, Best by nature. The only two who could seemingly get close to his ability at the time, Charlton and Law, could perhaps produce equally awe-inspiring displays, but Best could do it with a gut full of Guinness and, most probably, a bra still hanging over his bed frame. His personality boosted his ability; he could talk the talk off the pitch, but deliver seamless, breath-taking displays on it. Best amassed 136 goals in 361 league appearances, making him the 6th top scorer in history.

Season after season, Best delivered, right up until 1972 – when his personal demons (which would cast a shadow over much of his life until his untimely death in 2005), led to a steady decline. He ultimately left old Trafford in 1974, embarking upon a colourful 17-team globe-trotting journey, playing for teams in Africa, America, Hong Kong, Australia and, as some forget; Fulham and Bournemouth.

One of the first true rock ‘n’ roll footballers, Best was immortalised in United legacy by his own words: ‘I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars, the rest I just squandered’. His charisma, charm and whit could sparsely be embodied by any other statement. Best brought character, ability and true showmanship – the first great number 7, he laid the precedent for its legend, he catalysed the very meaning of it.

Bryan Robson

Following Best, the legacy of the 7 was not yet to be fully appreciated, nor pressurised. Its fame was still in its infant stage and to wear the jersey did not carry as much pressure as it does today. A series of mediocre and average players sported the famed jersey, without developing its legacy further: Clayton Blackmore, Neil Webb, Paul Ince, Gordan Strachan and even Lee Sharp all donned the top, but as typical ‘squad players’ did not enhance its legacy beyond Best. 

The acceptation of this era lies with Bryan Robson. If anyone could help incubate the legend of the seven, the country’s most expensive player was surely a good place to start. Robson quickly became club captain, he altered the playboy image of the seven into that of the workman. Where Best was a sybarite who indulged in many playboy-esc off-field antics, Robson contributed leadership, workmanship and stature. If Best was the style of the 7, Robson was the engine. He led united through their darker period, becoming a staple in the early Fergie years and before, he amassed over 350 appearances in red, winning over 11 trophies. 

It was testament to Robson’s character that in the year prior to his record arrival at Old Trafford, he endured 3 leg breaks and came out the other side virtually unscathed, securing a record transfer to the then ‘sleeping giants’ of English football. A 3-lunged leader, ‘captain marvel’ possessed a fantastic passing range, aggression in tackling and a decent set of wheels gave him some good pace on the break. Robson led united to a hattrick of FA-Cups in 1983, 1985 and 1990 and lifted the first ever premier league trophy with Steve Bruce in 1992 – ending a baron a spell of 26 years without a league trophy.

The legacy of the 7 was now well and truly on its way, two greats of the game; the worlds best and the teams best players had incubated a legend. Only one man could possibly live up to the expectation now weighing heavy on whoever should don the top..

Eric Cantona

By 1992, the erratic Frenchman brought no-end of showmanship to the legend of the 7. The leadership of Robson and the egotism of Best were embodied by the King. Eric Cantona may only have had a short tenure in red, but every appearance was sheer thespianism. With a collar stiffer than Fergie’s fists in the latter stages of the 2011 champions league final, he introduced a level of swagger and showmanship incomparable in his era. 

Cantona was the ultimate talisman, if Sir Bobby Charlton believed in the Theatre of Dreams; Cantona was born to be the leading protagonist. His sublime goal against Sunderland in 1996 epitomised his style. An effortless, pinpoint floating chip rounded off by his beautifully-arrogant celebration; with his chest puffed and his shoulders lifted, the macho Frenchman assessed his arena, of which he knew – he was the king. This goal in itself seemed to instantly cement itself in premier league history, almost destined to be replayed on Sky ads and Match of the Day intros from the moment it left his boot.

A year earlier, Cantona had Kung-fu-kicked a Crystal Palace fan in unbelievable fashion. He served a 9-month ban and over 100 hours of community service for the assault, but the incident was not condemned, it was celebrated. United fans consider this the epitomy of Cantona, he was unpredictable, zany and endlessly entertaining. The juxtaposition between his volatile aggression and sheer brilliance and charisma only cemented his legend, he was erratic, talented and excellent. 

Cantona excelled as a centre forward, a galvanising force in his 4 and a half years in red, he inspired the rise of Fergies first great squad, an experienced bargain (at £1.5m) amongst Sir Alex’s famed class of 92’. He amassed 82 goals in 182 appearance. Every time he pulled on the number 7 jersey; it was magical. As Ferguson would note on retirement: ‘in my 26 years, only 4 players were world class: Giggs, Ronaldo, Cantona and Scholes.’

Alas, Cantona rather prematurely retired at the young age of 31, he would later, in true eric fashion, cite boredom as the reason for quitting, claiming he literally gets ‘bored to quickly’ and lost his heart for the game. He ignored the plea of Ferguson and retired as one of the most entertaining and talented footballers to grace Old Trafford.

The amalgamation of George Best, Bryan Robson and Eric Cantona had made the number seven the most hotly contested shirt in Manchester, a true great had to earn it. Gone were the days of squad players and bit-part wearers, the three legends forced the seven into folklore; it was the shirt at old Trafford. Up step, the biggest name in football…

David Beckham

David Beckham is today more of a celebrity than a footballer. The father of metro-sexuality, Beckham was notorious for his haircuts and dapper image. An unblemished icon who still today symbolises the idea of: ‘men want to be him; women want to be with him’. But before his iconic appearance propelled him into international stardom, he was a half decent footballer. 

Beckham shot to attention in 1996, scoring that audacious half-way line goal against Wimbledon on the opening day of the season. The game was already won, it wasn’t a final, nor anything significant, but as Beckham later confessed: ‘when my foot struck that ball, it kicked open the door to the rest of my life.’ Perhaps prophetically, the commentary of that goal hears Clive Tilsdley shout “you might expect Eric Cantona to do that” – a year later, Becks was the new number 7 in Salford.

With a delivery that could put Hermes out of business, his free kicks and crosses were second-to-none. Kids today can even appreciate the video doing the rounds on social media of him effortlessly and precisely kicking a ball into bins on the beach, some 80 yards away, completely bare foot. On his day, he had the best right foot in world football, and set the benchmark for freekicks and corners. He made United’s right-hand side his own for over a decade during the most successful spell in history of the club. With 394 appearances and 85 goals, 

His legend was cemented in 1999; two pinpoint corners in stoppage time delivered in his trademark style to secure an unprecedent treble. That year, he was runner up to Barca’s Rivaldo in the ballon d’or, the highest of any English player since Gary Lineker in 1986.

Beckham’s notoriety wasn’t just for his look or his ability, his off-field antics pushed him onto the front pages, as well as the back. In an era when footballers were considered over-payed, spoiled brats, Beckham capitalised. He married the biggest pop star, he got the most extravagant haircut, he partied at the coolest hangouts, wore the biggest brands, and above all, he played for the biggest club. Beckham encapsulated the united saying: ‘Hated, adored, never ignored’. 

As an English man who had it all, anyone who didn’t support united hated Becks. He was the first scapegoat if England weren’t doing well, and with that, media attention on him exploded. He became not only a football star, but a tabloid star. Famed fall outs with the gaffer, cheating accusations and poorly timed red cards for the national team all fuelled the fire against him. At times, Beckham’s life played out like an overpaid, over-groomed soap opera. Despite this, time and time again Beckham was able to deliver, to show mental tenacity to succeed against the odds. He made the 7 his own, he contributed the wow factor – the celebrity factor.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Following becks would never be easy, an English sporting icon with the lifestyle of the rich and the famous and the ability of the very best, but if one person in modern football could eclipse his legacy and live up to the hype now well and truly implemented on the number 7; Cristiano Ronaldo was a pretty safe bet..

Arriving as a scrawny 18-year-old in 2003, Ronaldo was virtually unheard of. A blistering 30-minute cameo against Bolton Wanders later, the United faithful knew what they had their hands on; a rare talent who would become one of the very best. In his first season, the teenage Cristiano would be named player of the year with 39 appearances and 8 goals. 

Ronaldo’s time in red proved iconic, from those free-kicks against Portsmouth and Arsenal to that bullet-header against Roma, His ability to entertain was unparalleled in the premier league; dazzling defenders with his treasure chest of step overs and flashy tricks, he could leave the world’s best defenders looking like local Sunday League footballers. Never shy of controversy, Ronaldo’s sheer tenacity to succeed was encapsulated when he managed to get then club-team-mate Wayne Rooney sent off in the 2006 quarter final of the world cup. That wink propelled Ronaldo to stardom – like Beckham, this stunt pushed Ronaldo to the front pages of tabloids, the man everyone liked to hate; he fulfilled the incredible legacy of the 7.   

Ronaldo had, and still has, this incredible impression that if he wasn’t a footballer, he would be an Olympian. His look was everything a 7 should be, his attitude the same and his ability, undeniably so.

His last two seasons in red cemented his position as the very best. 42 goals and a league and European cup double in 2008, followed by another league title and the Ballon D’or in 2009. But Ronaldo’s sheer drive, ambition and determination to be the best is what makes his legacy the toughest to follow. Where Cantona, Robson and Beckham were the best in the team, Ronaldo has gone on to become the very best in the world. A 5-time Ballon d’or winner, 5-time champions league winner and for a long time the most expensive player ever, he still performs at the very top and breaks records every week. Ronaldo’s continued success offers a looming shadow over the legend of the seven. By the time he left in 2009, he was the worlds best player. The number seven had become synonymous with romanticism, showmanship and undeniable ability, it is no surprise then, that those who have followed, have thus, far, never lived up to the almighty expectation.

11 Years of flops…

Owen, Valencia, Depay, Di Maria, Sanchez. 5 players well known in footballing spheres. Owen, a former Liverpool golden boy and Ballon d’or winner, joined at the twilight of his career. For a player who struggled so vividly with injury, he was never going to be able to assert his own stamp on the famed number at the back end of his career. His goal against Man City in stoppage time in 2010 offers the best moment for a number 7 since Ronaldo. But that is shining light in an otherwise dismal set of events. 

Valencia followed and duly vacated the number within a season, unable to live up to the pressure. 

Angel Di Maria followed with all the potential to make the number his own, a ready-made superstar in Spain, a united-record signing and a flair which could match the best. But a string of burglary’s in his Cheshire home quickly left him pining for pastures new, he left the following season and never lived up to expectation. 

Memphis Depay duly adopted the number, a new kid on the block, relatively unknown but signed with a glowing review from then manager Louis Van Gaal, he too struggled to adapt, not shy of the spotlight but with sub-par performances and limited game time, he left within 18 months. 

The latest to be given the honour: Alexis Sanchez was signed as one of the best players in the league, with a pedigree of success in England and Spain, surely, he could fulfil the legend of the seven. No, the signing of Sanchez appeared more to stop the noisy neighbours snapping him up than to fulfil any particular role. A string of injuries resulted in a quick-fire loan move to Inter, all but ending his dismal spell in Manchester. 

So, the legend of the seven has been crafted by superstars with personalities to match. It has been hindered by them too. Maybe Uniteds legend cannot be continued until Ronaldo retires, and the pressure eases on the wearer. But with his exemplary athleticism, it doesn’t seem likely any time soon. 

Or perhaps, like in the 80s, we are enduring a darker period, when only squad players will don the top, maybe, like with Cantona, we’re on the verge of a great one.

Categories
Sport

The U.S Female Team DOES generate a higher revenue than the Men’s

But are we ready for that conversation?

Taking on Football Avi twitter is nothing to be done lightly. The army of teenage, young adults and far too often, grown men hiding behind their favourite players picture to pour a relentless assault of rubbish on to the feed is a common site to the Twitter faithful.

But this week, as Megan Rapinoe’s attempt to gain equal pay ends in vein, each of these detestably similar accounts has spewed the same sort of line: ‘As soon as they make the same revenue, they’ll get paid the same’.

The ignorance of this breed of tweeter is quite obviously summed up by this statement. Seemingly overseeing the very fact that this is the U.S.A national team, not a European team, where Football, or Soccer, as the Americans call it, has a much smaller following. 

One quick Google could set these lads at ease, a host of reputable sites quite plainly summarise ‘U.S Soccer’s’ audited records, detailing that the women’s *National Team* game has grown to make more than the mens; the Wall Street Journal and CNBC both reported this, with politifact summarizing the findings: ‘During the three years following the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the women’s team brought in slightly more revenue from games than the men’s team did. While marketing and sponsorships are sold as a bundle, there are anecdotal signs that the women’s brand is surging in popularity.’

It appears that the Women’s national team, who have been crowned World Champions a record 4 times, generated £59.8m in revenue from 2016-2019, whilst the men generated £49.9m.

One can only assume that the British Football Avi user neglects the fact that the lawsuit is in relation to the national team, not an assault on the MLS, and that this user is incapable of recognising that football doesn’t cultivate the same passion across the pond. 

Now I’m no fan of Megan Rapinoe at all, I think her toxic lawsuit badly undermines the women’s game and is counter-productive to the growing popularity that they’ve worked very hard to generate. Personally, I think Rapinoe would have amassed some incredible support if she asked the men’s team to fall inline with the Women’s, rather than the visa versa, and re-invest the money in grassroots football. Perhaps then, she could have generated the admiration of football avi-twitter, rather than their unanimous condemnation.

There is intense speculation about whether the women’s team are already receiving the same money as the men’s, but that’s a conversation, or rather a throng of tweets, for another day.

Categories
Travel

ALTERNATIVE BARS IN LISBOA

If you enjoy the abundance of activities that city breaks have to offer, but don’t want to stray into a corporate landscape filled with towers and grey brick, Lisbon is the perfect city. We stumbled into Bairro Alto and the surrounding area during Festas de Lisboa (throughout June). The Festival is a bit mental really, we had no idea it was on and it just slapped us in the face like one of the big fat sardines that were being cooked on every corner.

The festival is a celebration of the city and it feels like a mini Rio De Janerio; a month long street party with brightly coloured banners, wine, beer and sardines and traditional Portuguese music down every narrow cobbled street. It’s worth a visit if you’re into that thing.

Amongst all the fuss of the festival, we did manage to step into the odd bar for a cheeky Supa Boc. See what you think of our favourites below:

MUSEU NACIONAL DO AZULEJO

Bit of a weird one here. Bare with me.

This place literally translates as ‘National Tile Museum’ and unless you’re touching 70 or have a weird connection with tiles, you’d probably avoid this one before even giving it a second look. But the cafe is a little hidden gem.

Situated in an enclosed garden terrace, it’s properly secluded, it even has some terrapins bodding about freely.

It’s pretty far out the city and took us a good 40 mins to walk to, but if you jump in an Uber it won’t take anymore than 10 mins. It’s worth the trip out and a glass of Super Boc is no more than 2 Euros.

LIVERPOOL BAR

As the name suggests, this place is an absolute dive.

But that’s what makes it so good. Any Brit abroad always dives into the first bar that sounds familiar, but this is different. No Brits.

Situated on ‘Pink Street’ (the central drinking area) this place is cheap as chips and open till about 4am. With a proper tacky interior full of mirrors and random old football games being played on the telly. Like most late night bars in Lisbon, you can smoke inside, so be prepared to double wash your garms when you get home.

JAMACIA BAR

Nonstop Reggae.

This place is a bit more of a club, but get there early and you can sneak in a quick drink before it gets busy. It’s just full of Bob Marley tracks and all-night Reggae.

Reggae do as Reggae is though, this club is relaxed and not too intense. Be warned, though, there’s a lot of smoke.

VILLAGE UNDERGROUND

A bunch of buses piled up on top of each other in a skatepark, what’s not to like.

This is a good spot to take some tragic self-timer pics (not that we’d know about that). You can wander in and out of a bunch of double decker buses piled up on each other, there’s all sorts of things here; tattoo shops, offices, little clothes shops and a little bar too. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s definitely somewhere cool to see something different.

PARK BAR

The aptly named Park Bar will take some finding, despite being right in the middle of the city. It sits atop a multi-story carpark and doesn’t exactly give itself away.

Surrounded by lush greenery and 360 degree views, this hidden secret is definitely a must see. It’s not the cheapest, but as soon as the first pitcher of Sangria goes down, you don’t really care anyway.

In-house DJ’s will play the day away, and before you know it you’ll be stumbling through a multi story carpark feeling like something out of inception.

MEZ GAIS LX

No that’s not some Trump supporters in a sports bar in Texas, that’s Lisboa.

This odd little bar is part of the LX Factory, but I thought it was worth a mention if you fancy seeing something a little different.

If you’re lucky, you could go eat your dinner inside a boxing ring, if not, you’re just gonna be sat on a standard chair, in a standard bar, drinking standard beer. So unless you jump in the ring, I’d give this one a miss.

LX FACTORY

The Creme-dela-Creme of rooftop bars.

This is a bit of a stroll out of the city centre, but 100% worth the trip. The factory is comprised of hundreds of independent shops and eateries, all with ample space to lay your hat. This place could take up a whole day, and at the end of the road, you must get yourself to the rooftop to soak in the view and a sip a beer in the warm breeze.


OTHER SNAPS FROM LISBOA

Categories
Group-Chat Patter

The suns coming and the pubs are open – which character are you going to be this weekend?

Here we go, finally it’s summer. we’ve waited since about August 2019 to have a warm weekend in the pub, and finally after 4 months under Soviet style law, countless bluffs from the hapless chaps in charge and Boris’ best attempt to create a political embodiment of Katy Perrys ‘Hot ‘n Cold’ we can, kind of, sort of, sit in a beer a garden on a hot July day.

Drinking in Britain is what swimming is to fish, it’s inevitable – so which pissed up character are you going to embody now you can let some steam off?

Donna – Mamma Mia

Will you be a young Donna from Mamma Mia? swanning off to Greece at the drop of a hat and embarking on 3 whirlwind romances in as many days?

It’s a fair shout, I mean, flights to Greece will be pretty cheap and if you have to quarantine – that farm house is as gooder place as any.

Gary King – The worlds End

The King, the don, the maverick. Actually a pretty sad story this one, a lonely old chap destitute of attention and family wants to embark on the ultimate pub crawl.

Will this be you? are you touching 4o and coming close to a midlife crisis? or are you young Gary starting out? Either way, we feel like this is the most likely outcome of the bunch; a group of British lads diving from pub to pub until the sun goes down. I’d be surprised if a group of random aliens comes and spoil the party, but then again, a lot has happened this year.

E.T – Err, E.T

Who Remembers this little wrinkly bastard getting hammered off a couple of beers in the fridge?

Nah, I don’t either, it was donkeys years ago. But I’m told it was comedy gold back in the 80s.

Either way – will this be you this weekend? hiding away from the newly restricted freedom, sinking some cans on your own. Perhaps you want to take on a stubborn protest until things are really normal. Or you’re just very safe, probably like we all should be.

McGlovin – Superbad

Superbad is immortalised in mid 2000s comedy gold. The oh-so familiar tragic tale of teenage lads trying to shake their V-plates at a far too cool party.

That all sounds very American though. I mean, don’t most brits shake their V plates behind some bike sheds or something. Anywho, every group has one, an utter pest; do you know a hapless grafter? if you don’t, maybe take a look in the mirror.

Jay Cartwright – Inbetweeners

Legend. A true icon of British TV. Scratch that – of British Culture.

Is this how you hope to end up? face down in an ants nest wearing a scruffy England top. This image optimises the Brit abroad; outside a shite hotel, covered in bites wearing a footy top. Seen as Ibiza’s back in its own lockdown, why not pull a Jay this weekend.

Ross and Rachel – Friends

The decade long would they won’t they couple. Now all I see when I watch it back is Melman from Madagascar hitching up with Jennifer Aniston.

But could this be you? could you sneak a trip up to Gretna Green for an impromptu wedding. Or are you just planning on spending the sunny weekend locked in side a casino with drawing on your face? Either way – get stuck in.

Frank Gallagher – Shameless

Have you just been pissed up the whole time? look at him there, two cigs on the go, no idea how many kids he’s got, an absolute burden on society. Great stuff.

Is this your plan? carry on as you have – ride the wave of pissedum right through, at least you can do it in the sun this weekend. Does your local know your order? are you partial to a special brew on the walk home after dark? you’re a Frank, a true legend of the drinking game. Congrats.

Either way – make sure you PARTEEEEEH.

Categories
Group-Chat Patter

Which Lockdown Look Are you?

Lockdown has changed the world in more ways than that chap from limitless could even count. For a short period, it was even illegal to venture outside for more than hour, or was it? Could we go the park, or couldn’t we? I’m still lost as to what the actual guidelines were, or are, or will be for that matter. But one thing we can know for sure, is that people couldn’t go to their barber or hairdresser.

Alas, as the world stopped still and the distant fear of a baron ’28 days later’ world became a weird reality overnight, hair grew wild, beards grew long and style, well, style just left the picture.

From growing it out or sacking it off all together and going straight for the buzz cut, the resolute human spirit never wavered in it’s crusade against unstylish trims, but often, might we say, it was just in vein.

Some of you may think you’ve gotten through this gracefully so far just like Malcom McDowell in A Clockwork Orange doin’ it up classy in his gown and sipping some fine wine.

Of course David Beckham’s gotten through this all classy, like he always does, that goddamn handsome bastard. Let’s face it though, he could pull of a bin bag. But check out this trim from 2003, how many of you chaps have gone full becks?

Most of us have ended up feeling like Jonah Hill full of ‘Luds over here in The Wolf of Wall Street, only without the smart garms.

Although Jonah Hill manages to rock the 1980s close-to-overdosing millionaire look, I get the feeling that in that situation in real life, we’d look a little more like Rocky Balboa at the end of his first film, just not shouting for Adrien. Speaking of which, who’s rocking the Jesus-Christ-Superstar young Stalone look?

Now we’ve heard that running shoe sales of gone through the roof, and bike sales for that matter. Everyone’s that bored they’ve started exercising. But who can forget the best Athlete the world has ever seen? Has anyone seen a full-blown Forest Gump bodding around?

I don’t suppose anyone’s gone for the Liam Gallagher looking like Edna Mode look have they? could be a classic, one day.

19/06/2008: Liam Gallagher seen near his North London home this morning. Credit: Shephard/GoffPhotos.com Ref: KGC-82 Exclusive To GoffPhotos.com – All Rounder

In actual fact, the rest of us are probably closer to the random kid in a bath full of potatoes, or at least we will be by the end of it.

Categories
Politics

Racism in Rural Britain

I wanted to write something about the naivety of the British public in the face of Racism for a long time, but since the death of George Floyd, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated and sad at not only the incomprehensibly unjust murder, but the tirade of hypocritical ‘support’ seen across social media. Some of this support has felt counter-productive and more like support for supports sake, with no real impetus on the desire to push for change, further the cause or desire to truly understand racism. 

I must stress, this is a small proportion of my viewing, and not a comment on the vast majority of inspired protesters making a stand in the face of discrimination. 

I grew up in a small rural town about 30 miles south of Manchester. The town is predominantly white, and we scarcely saw a great deal of ethnic diversity growing up. Surrounded by local quarry’s and farms, the vast majority of the local economy is propped up by manual jobs and people can largely spend their entire lives in the same 10-mile radius, surrounded by the same white faces. 

In my experience, this has created a hotbed of racist tendencies, often, without people knowing it is actually racist. Locals refer to people from western Asia as Pa*i’s, people of African descent as ‘N*ggers’ or ‘Charcoal men’. In my year group of roughly 400 students, there was only 4 black students. These students were consistently and perpetually signalled out, often called ‘stormzy’ behind their backs. 

‘he was great big spear-throwing type’ ‘tribal looking’, ‘n*gga nose’ are all backwards, detestable, undeniably racist terms I’ve heard pass without so much as the bat of an eye. But this is a truth I’m sure is paralleled across a range of all-white rural towns in Britain. 

In my experience, these terms are not used in to be intentionally and entirely derogatory out of feelings of intense white superiority, but rather considered by the perpetrators as harmless jokes or as labelling terms to define those they are talking about. People refer to a car wash within my town, not by its geographical location like the other two we have, but as the ‘p*ki carwash’, and this is the accepted explanatory term for it. From a young age, Children are taught to label people of colour, by their colour, not by typical characteristics one would describe a white person with; hair style, height or size. 

And this is the very problem with our country, our working-class white towns have not grown with the times of globalisation. Where our cities place a genuine impetus on being increasingly diverse, cosmopolitan and tolerant environments, which grow as the world and as our laws grow, rural Britain is falling behind. My school did little to bridge the gap, black history month always felt like a month for black people, not a month to educate white people about inequality.

In December, when Stormzy called out Racism, he was critiqued, picked apart, attacked and denounced by large sections of our society. The UK is racist. There is no doubt about it. That this is such a divisive statement, stems from small-minded attitudes, local-level normalisation and lack of education about what racism is. Embedded in our predominantly white suburbs and towns is an intrinsically racist society, blinded by our own excuses of tolerance, force-fed ideas about the greatness of the British empire from a young age and naïve to what racism truly is. 

Too often have I heard groups believe they are not being racist, because people of colour cannot hear them. That they’re not racist, because it’s a joke. I was shocked to see the same people who call local corner shops ‘p*ki shops’, sharing posts about justice for George Floyd, out of a genuine belief that they had not been racist.

Rural Britain looks to detach itself from the problem. It feels too easy to absolve uncomfortable truths by saying ‘America is backwards’ to blindly believe in our own innocence. This is unfair, wrong and a complete oversite of the unjust slurs and attacks on our shores. In not recognising its own accepted racism, rural Britain is as bad as the genuine believers of white superiority. 

I like to believe that my experience of racial slurs in rural Britain grows out of naivety and a lack of open-mindness, not a genuine belief in white superiority. But is it any less detestable? Does it make the life of black men and women in the UK any easier? No. We must do better. 

We cannot dress this problem, we cannot excuse this problem, you cannot justify slurs and bigotry with fantasies that if it’s not said in front of a black person, it’s not racist. It simply isn’t true.

Did Adolf Hitler start at the top? No, he spoke selectively about his racist ideas to small groups in beer halls in Munich. Did Tommy Robinson start on national papers? No, his ideology grew from low-level acceptavism. Localising and normalising racial terms, gives platforms and justifications to extremists at all levels, that is why, regardless of who you speak to, regardless of what context, racism is still racism. It is a plague that needs to be eradicated at its source, and that is within your living rooms, within your group chats, within the ‘dark humour pages’. 

Rural Britain needs to stop its own hypocrisy, you cannot label people based on derogatory racial slurs one minute, then post support of George Floyd in the face of popularism the next. The low level acceptavism is the route of racism, the route of the issues which killed George Floyd and so many others in the western plague of racism. 

Rural Britain cannot return to this naivety and blatant racism, to truly help the cause, stop the cause at its source, British men and women must reflect on their own naivety, and denounce derogatory slurs at every turn.

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Politics

Corbyn Wasn’t unelectable – his followers just didn’t show up.

Brexit has shifted the goalposts, to be young is to vote Labour, not to be working class, and when the young don’t show up – how could Labour possibly have won?

Time and Time again this year we’ve heard so many spewing the same line that ‘Corbyn just wasn’t electable’ that his breed of left-wing politics was ‘out-of-touch’ or a ‘fantasy’ as the Tory-in-disguise Tony Blair said in December. Bitterly destroyed in the voting booth only to see his socialist programmes adopted on a mammoth scale some 4 months later (albeit in spectacularly irregular circumstances), it wasn’t his policies that cost him, but his followers, those who do and those who should.

Sure, his campaign wasn’t perfect, or even closely as invigorating as the percussing one in 2017, when Corbyn turned around an inevitable Conservative Landslide to a precarious minority government in as little as six weeks. But, Labour deserved to do better.

Labour grew from trade unions and socialist parties, it was, and is in its very nature and in name, a working-class party designed to represent the masses. Embedded in its very core are values of social democracy, large government, nationalisation and responsibility and empathy for those who cannot provide for themselves. It was and is still, positioned as the party for the people, or rather, for the many, not the few.

One need only look at the history behind Labour MPs and their previous professions to understand where they have traditionally gained their votes. Roughly 25% of Labour MP’s since 1951 have been manual workers, another 25% being teachers. On the contrary, the largest chunk of Conservative MP’s professions have been Company Directors (24%) and Military Professionals (20%).

The contrast is obvious, class-lines have divided the parties for a generation. Labour has a strong pedigree; working men and women, who want to elect their fellows to represent their interests in governments. But, the last two elections have shown that class is no longer the indicator of voting intentions. 

The cataclysmic event of Brexit has blown voting demographics apart, age has now become the key indicator of voting intention, not class, so Labour can no longer depended on their very routes of existence for support, for the political spectrum has been shattered altogether. 

We, the young have grown up in a generation like no-other (as every generation before us did, too). A period of exceptional technological development has made us all experts and introverts. But our generation is a volatile and unreliable source of votes for Labour, who cannot be relied upon for two reasons.

Firstly, Voter turnout amongst the young in 2019 was incredibly low. YouGov compiled a study assessing the turnout in constituents with varying age profiles. The constituencies with the oldest proportion of voters (65 and over at 33%) was 71.4%, 4.1 percentage points above the national average. The constituencies with the youngest proportion of voters (65 and over at 12%) had the lowest turnout, 64.5%, 2.8 points below the national average.

Further studies suggested that only 47% of voters aged 18-24 years old turned out to vote, and 74% of over-65s. Quite clearly, young people didn’t show up in the numbers one would have hoped. I myself know a few with a vocal disposition for the government, who didn’t bother to show up to the voting booth. Young people don’t entertain the same faith in the democratic process as the old, perhaps it is a distrust in the whole thing, a disinterest or maybe a lack of life experience. Each individual will have their own reason, but this disposition towards voting is a hugely costly to Labour, who needed the support of their new, key demographic to stand a chance of beating the Brexiter-in-chief Boris Johnson.

Perhaps, this very laissez-faire approach indicates an entirely different aspect and equally as unreliable characteristic of today’s young; arrogance. Speaking to one former Labour voter this week, he put it quite plainly: “Labour Used to be for the Working Class, now it’s just for the narcissistic socialist who think they’re better than everyone.” This in itself indicates that the young are not only not voting in the numbers they should, but deterring support for the party they seemingly represent too. 

The Young of today are certainly more intelligent than ever; The average child with a smartphone has more access to information than Bill Clinton did in the most powerful job on earth some 20 years ago. We are all Wikipedia experts, able to divulge our peers and our seniors with an onslaught of information on any given topic in seconds. We are better educated, with university more accessible than ever, living at home for longer, with the homes increasingly expensive and becoming parents later. All would suggest a more self-indulged individual, focusing on themselves, rather than improving society. Perhaps the lack of responsibility has allowed self and peer reflection to be embed deeper into the consciousness, giving us a sense of ‘wokeness’ in spite of, not in line with, generations from before.

It is true that the Boomers are commonly viewed as the generation responsible for todays problems. The first cohort of true excess, of the new materialistic world. Holidays of plenty, clothes of plenty, white goods, cars, TVs, stereos, phones and fast food; all the things which our generation are slowly turning their back on, in favour of a world view of simplicity, organic, home-grown, equality. Does this in itself bring in a sense of arrogance? A sort-of narcistic view that our moral compass is on point, that we are ‘woke’ against the ills of generations gone by. 

Perhaps then, with a growing focus on oneself, the young have not dashed to the cry of the Tories but become reluctant to vote all together, and in turn, the ‘wokeness’ has repelled further support for the socialist cause as it is now the young that represent Labour, not the Working Class. After all, the young are typically liberal, open minded, globalists and generally feel as though their view of the world is better than our parents, but yet feel less obligation nor desire to vote, a volatile mix which can only reduce the chance of support for labour. Ultimately resulting in the landslide victory of The Conservative Party in December 2019.

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Politics

This is what happens when those in charge have absolutely no concept of the society they are governing.

This bank holiday weekend has been one to undoubtably forget over at Tory HQ. The news emerged on Saturday morning that the prime minister’s most trusted advisor, or more accurately, conspirer, broke the lockdown laws he was prominent architect of. The country has since reacted in a more united sense than they have in the last 5 years, when he again orchestrated a methodically intense culture war which has dived the country left to right, young to old, more-so than ever before in living memory.

It is as if the entire frustration of 9 weeks of mourning, disruption and irritation has been channelled into cummings, and he has rightfully been the focus of concentrated and prominent attention. Every major paper has led with an image of cummings this weekend, he has been trending on twitter for at least 48 hours and the subject to intense harassment from that campaign vehicle and a whole host of journalists who have camped outside of his ritzy London address. 

Boris and his cabinet (who championed Brexit with their impetus on the will of the people) have scrambled desperately to defend an unelected bureaucratic aid before supporting the will of the people. We cannot underestimate this; this is but one further example in a long line of Tories backing Tories and putting party politics above the country. Cummings moving freely sets a precedent for the rest of us, the end of lockdown. Cameron put the party first in 2015, and we’re still paying the price for it. Johnson, in defending Cummings is doing the same, but this time it’s as literal as a matter of life or death.

The hypocrisy of the government is unambiguous, they have enforced one law on the society they represent and followed another for themselves. In doing so, they have, at least for now, at least for this very fleeting moment, unified a country they so wilfully separated in a bitter culture war for half a decade, the only issue for them, is that we are now unified in our complete disparagement of our leaders.

But this is what happens when those in charge have absolutely no concept of the society they are governing. Take Boris Johnson, a public-school boy, Eton no less, Oxford alumni and a net worth of approximately £1.6m; he’s never in his life had to want for anything, he’s never experienced the poverty that 22% of UK residents experience on a day-to-day basis. Johnson’s upbringing is one of privilege and academia, he has never gained the invaluable life-experience of basic management which so many of us succumb to on a daily basis; of time-management in avoiding traffic on the way to work, of money management in ensuring you have enough money to pay your bills each month, or of parental management in ensuring you do best by your children.

Johnson’s naivety in the face of the great British public can be so amply personified by his tirade of waffling books, quotes and articles before his premiership. In 2005, in an article for the Daily Telegraph, Johnson called the poorest 20% of society: ‘chavs, losers, burglars and drug addicts.’ In 1995, Johnson also wrote that working-class men are ‘likely to be drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless’. Just last year, Johnson Sr. went on national television to say the majority of the country were too dumb to spell Pinocchio (thank god for spell check).

The majority of the current cabinet have come from extreme privilege: 69% of whom were privately educated, compared with 6.5% of the population, the highest number since John Major’s cabinet. 50% are Oxbridge graduates, too, contrasted with 1% of the general population. How can a cabinet which does not accurately understand nor represent this society, have their best interests in mind?  

Dominic Raab, Priti Patel, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock have all consistently voted against welfare benefits, against paying higher benefits over longer periods to those unable to work due to illness or disability and consistently voted against money to help create jobs for young people.

In 2013, Michael Gove hinted at the idea that poor people were to blame for food banks, claiming families only needed them due to a ‘failure to manage their finances’

Leader of the commons, Jacob Rees-mogg, once used the word ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ in open parliamentary debate, (a word seemingly only understood by Etonian peers) in itself grotesquely arrogant. Mogg has such a high disdain and condescension for the country he serves, that he once claimed that the deceased victims of the Grenfell disaster died because of their own lack of ‘common sense’. 

If Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Cummings in Brexit: the uncivil war is even remotely accurate, the Cummings really is the career psychopath David Cameron Labelled him as. In 2017, he even admitted in plain English that Tory MPs do not care about poor people or the NHS, citing his own vast experience with them as evidence for his claims.

‘Caring for your wife and child is not a crime’, Tweeted Gove in defence of Cumming’s actions this weekend. The irony of this is palpable, some 5 days after passing a momentous immigration bill which will quite literally criminalise immigrants from abroad for caring for their families and seeking a better life upon our shores. 

This government must learn about the people they serve, they must understand what goes on in working class households and they must, above all, stop thinking they are above the law and better than us all. 

Categories
Politics

The Dangerous Numbers Behind the UKS Nursing Shortages… As Warned Over the Past 5 Years

We are fighting a war against an invisible enemy, as Boris Johnson so Churchillianly expressed, but what he didn’t mention, is that we don’t have the foot soldiers to fight it. 

Time after time throughout this pandemic, the Great British public has taken to their doorsteps with pots and pans, their TikToks for their dances, their Instagram for their runs and their gardens to complete fund-raisers to show support for our brave NHS workers. Such support is humbling and heartwarming. But, in the week that the Government promises a £60,000 cushion to bereaved families, does it feel a little like a gross oversight into what Tory HQ has done to our sacred NHS over the past decade?

A little over 4 months ago, my Girlfriend was admitted to hospital with border-line sepsis, she had to spend 4 nights in Stoke Royal, one of the largest hospitals in the UK. During her time in hospital, she was told she needed to remain on a drip with essential anti-biotics for the entire duration of her stay. Upon changing wards, she was left off it for 7 hours while only 3 nurses covered 5 wards, approximately 25 beds. The nurses were overwhelmed, unable to keep up and unable to offer the incredible service that Nay Bevan envisioned some 75 years ago. This was before the pandemic, but certainly not the first experience of an utterly underfunded National Health System.

Fast forward to today, a world away from the freedom of January; every evening at 5 o’clock, the Health Secretary or whichever Johnson stand-in can face the media, addresses the nation to deflect questions about the approach to this pandemic. The truth is, the warnings of under-funding have been there for years, we just didn’t listen quite as well until it was completely and totally forced into the forefront of daily conversation over the past 6 weeks. Austerity felt, to some, like an over-politicised campaign term from the left to bring down the Tories, but now we can all see first-hand, a National Health Service on the brink.

In 2017, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) surveyed 30,000 nurses across the UK about job satisfaction and quality of patient care during shifts. The results were, as they put it ‘Shocking’, they showed ‘nursing staff in every setting across the UK in crisis’. The report published on the back of this survey, entitled ‘Nursing Against the Odds’ detailed over 50% of nurses reporting their shift not-staffed to the level planned, over a third were leaving care undone due to lack of time, and two-thirds working un-paid overtime regularly. 

The report was frank, it warned drastically that lives were at risk if untrained support staff were on call, and not registered nurses, who’s overall number on duty in the survey was down 4% on the number in 2009. To further empathize the point, the survey was conducted in May, well outside of the typical winter-boom in hospital admissions. It concluded “Short-sighted cost-saving measures and lack of funding have been demonstrated to be significant factors in the issues described”.

The Nursing Against the odds Survey was conducted 1 year after ‘Exercise Cygnus’; the then-little-known study into how our country would cope with a pandemic; the result showed the countries health service would collapse. The report was kicked into the grass until brought to the public’s attention this year and shows clearly that the government willingly ignored a decisive study about the state of our Health Service.

The RCN pleaded again for funding in 2018, with acting Chief Executive Dame Donna Kinnair

Saying “The answer to the problems [facing nurses] is a comprehensive workforce plan focused on recruitment and retention that links population need to staff numbers.” Kinnairs evaluation still rings true today. In the ten years of conservative power, we’ve seen a 1% increase in nurses, contrasted with a 6.9% increase in population. We now have approximately 7.8 nurses per 1,000 people. For comparison, Germany has 12.85, USA 11.61 and France, 10.46. We have a similar rate to Lithuania and Czech Republic.[1], our GDP is 53 times the size of Lithuania. 

Prior to all of this – In 2016, the government took one of the most drastic decisions in the nursing-shortage saga. They opted to remove the Student bursary to supposedly increase the number of nursing places available. The then-existing NHS Bursary scheme limited the number of student nurses to 20,000, which couldn’t be increased because of the government policy of austerity, thus, as Tories do best, they lumped the burden of student fees onto the student, in theory increasing the available intake. The following year, applications to nursing related subjects was down 23%[2]. The overall intake now is 8% down on the 2016 number.

In the December 2019 election, Labour reported we’d lost 200,000 nurses in the decade of tory Austerity. As is uniform with all party ‘facts’ this must be taken with a pinch of salt, (figures include deaths and retirements) but it does bare some truths. It highlights that not only are we not attracting new nurses, but the nurses we’ve got are quitting in record numbers. 97,000 nurses left their positions voluntarily in the time period given, citing things such as poor-work life balance (up 163% to 18,013 in 2018) and health reasons (up 99% to 4,234 in 2018). In 2018 alone, 27% more nurses quit the NHS than in 2010. The bottom line – more nurses were and are leaving the NHS than joining it. 

Since 2010, the Conservative government has strangled spending in the NHS, resulting in a reduction in nursing numbers, student nurses, quality of care and quality of life for the nurses themselves. Over the past 5 years, The Royal College of Nursing has pleaded with the government to pour resources into the NHS to stop a potentially catastrophic long-term issues, those calls fell on deaf ears. Today, we face the largest health crisis in a generation, one in which we are woefully underprepared for.  


[1] https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/resource/the-nhs-workforce-in-numbers#7-how-do-we-compare-to-other-countries

[2] https://www.health.org.uk/blogs/general-election-2017-why-were-nurse-bursaries-removed