Get On this. The best under-rated bands to listen to

With the rise of the internet we are pretty much spoilt choice in terms of music.  Whether it’s Spotify, You Tube or even digital radio there are a plethora of bands and different genres for everyone’s tastes.

Nevertheless there are still some bands that deserve recognition and to be shared for those who might actually appreciate their music.  Below are a list of bands some of whom have split up or are still going.  All deserve a listen and who knows you too might be lucky enough to find something that you enjoyed and wished you had discovered earlier.

The Liminanas

Hailing from Perpignan, France this trio are a 1960’s psychedelic influenced band with other influences such as the Velvet Underground.   There is a certain European chic that makes the Liminanas sound unique.

The band’s first album Liminanas was released back in 2010.  This album is probably the more commercial sounding album but don’t let that put you off.  From the little hiss of the needle at the beginning of the ‘Darkside,’ you instantly feel as though you have just reached the bottom of a 1968 basement passing off as a rock club in Paris, with masses of people enjoying the vibe.  Other tracks worth a mention are ‘down under ground,’ and ‘Je Suis Une go-go girl,’ which has plenty of attitude.

Crystal Anis was released in 2012 but it is pretty hard to get hold of. Liminanas last album was in 2013 entitled ‘Costa Blanca.’  This is certainly a darker and definitely a more psychedelic album than their first.  There is an intensity and a driving force with each track as it builds up to a big climax which is certainly the case with the last track ‘Liverpool.’  Other tracks of note are ‘My Black Sabbath,’ ‘Alicante,’ and the fantastic use of the Wah Wah pedal in ‘Rosas,’ that I defy anyone who loves music not to enjoy.

The Liminanas ‘My Black Sabbath,’ live at Oui FM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kykf6C3hMVQ

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci

Gorky’s were always on the verge of making breaking into the mainstream but sadly never did.  Indeed the Welsh band hold the dubious distinction of being the only group to have eight singles in the top seventy five without ever making the top forty.  The band released nine albums with ‘Barafundle,’ ‘Spanish Dance Troupe,’ ‘the Blue Trees,’ and ‘How I long to feel that summer in my heart,’ are probably the one’s that stand out.

Formed back in 1991 Gorky’s were a mix of folk and rock that gave them their own distinct sound that made them unique from the other British bands that came out at the time.  It’s a testimony to the band’s talent that their stuff still sounds as fresh now as it did back in the 1990’s unlike other Brit Pop bands of the era.

Gorky’s had the ability to pull at every bit of your emotions.  Whether it was a nice feel good relaxing tune such as ‘This summer has been good from the start,’ or the darker songs on Barafundle such as ‘Starmoonshine,’ or ‘Hallway,’ which is about death and ‘Sometimes the Father is the son,’ about having to grow up quickly, they are songs that tug at your soul that you cannot be helped but be moved by the bittersweet words.

Other tracks of note are ‘Faraway eyes,’ ‘Spanish Dance Troupe,’ and ‘Desolation Blues.’  Even the Brit Pop tune ‘Poodle rockin,’ (no doubt they probably got told to make a version of something like Country house,’ ironically when Brit Pop was on the slide) has a certain likeable naffness to it.  Nevertheless Gorky’s are a rich treat for your ears.

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci ‘Spanish Dance Troupe,’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hG6yOcUfjO8

Bat For Lashes

Natasha Khan or as she is more commonly by her stage name ‘Bat For Lashes,’ is an artist who is highly rated by the critics.  However unlike other singers or bands Bat for lashes does live up to the hype.

There is a distinct haunting quality about Natasha’s voice that can capture a various range of emotions that pull at you.  Her first album was ‘fur and gold,’ but it’s ‘Two suns,’ that is a stunning album.  This was incidentally followed up by ‘Haunted Man,’ in 2012.  Tracks to try are Glass, ‘Sleep alone,’ & Daniel.  However each track on the albums are quality enough without feeling the to hit the fast forward button.

Bat for Lashes ‘Sleep alone,’ live at Glastonbury

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqlIb5dLiv0

 

The Last Internationale

Hailing from New York this is a band with plenty of energy, passion, and verve.  The guitars just growl and snarl with the band’s influence varying from rock, blues, folk, and even punk.  What makes this band stand out in particular is the vocalist Delila Paz has a strong and distinct voice that drives each song with passion and intensity.  Like Natasha Khan her voice makes you sit up and take notice just like Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, and Grace Slick.  Add this to the guitar playing of Edgey Pires and the drummer Brad Wilks of Rage against the Machine makes the band that strikes a chord with you.

The songs are political which again makes them stand out from Nickelback and the whiny pop punk band Sum 41 with their bland ballads.

Although it isn’t clear as to when the band form some websites state 2013 but the band have been credited releasing the album ‘Choose your killer,’ in 2011, they are a band definitely worth taking a chance.  Their latest album ‘We will reign,’ was released last year with a couple of EP’s as well as the 2011 album.

Tracks to try are ‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of Indian blood,’ ‘Moanin at midnight,’ ‘wanted man, ‘and ballad of a ‘yuppie liberal.’

Last Internationale ‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of Indian blood,’ live on David Letterman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq3OaQvgXPU

Joy Zipper

The chances are you probably have heard a Joy Zipper track either as a track on a FIFA game or background music in a advert or television drama.  Formed in the late 1990’s the married duo of Vincent Cafiso and Tabitha Tindale have produced some fine songs.

Named after Tabitha Tindale’s Mother their influences vary from the shoegazing movement to the West Coast sounds of America.  Either way there is a dreamy like quality sound to the music which is accentuated with the soft, mellow voice of Tabitha Tindale.

This compliments the bands style as the dark lyrics ( and they are very dark topics which cover death, loneliness, and suicide) give Joy Zipper that bitter sweet, unsettled edge to their music.

In total Joy Zipper have released four albums, the first ‘Joy Zipper,’ ‘American Whip,’ ‘the stereo and God,’ and the ‘Heartlight set.’  The best out of the four are ‘American Whip’ and the 2007 ‘Heartlight set.’  If you wish to sample a few of their tracks I would recommend ‘Out of the Sun,’ ‘2 dreams I had,’ ‘Go tell the world,’ ‘1,’ and ‘Christmas song.’

Joy Zipper ‘Out of the sun,’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxIyZZunTBs

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The cost of football is squeezing the ordinary fan out

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Liverpool’s Spion Kop 1960’s

The new supporter is nothing more than a paying extra    

Remember when watching football was just that.  You would go the match were it would only cost a couple of quid as a kid to watch top flight football.  For me it would be the Liverpool team of the late 1980’s with John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, John Aldridge terrorising defences with their fast free flowing football.   Of course they were highly paid but not on the astronomical amounts that players are on today.

Back then the clubs relied on the turnstiles for their main source of income.  Indeed some visiting teams used to look forward to playing at Anfield simply because they had a decent share of the match day revenue.   The big clubs at the time (Liverpool, Everton, Arsenal, Man Utd, and Spurs) didn’t take kindly to this and pushed forward for what we now know as the Premier League.  It meant more money was given to the big clubs and with Sky willing to pay big money for the ‘best league in the world,’ it transformed football forever with the avalanche of cash that suddenly swirled around top flight football.

This all tied in with football  becoming popular when England were a penalty kick from reaching the 1990 World Cup Final.  Ticket prices started to increase with the excuse at the time that it was to pay for the all seater stadiums as instructed by the Taylor report.   This though hasn’t stopped the clubs over the past twenty years later to keep on hiking up the amounts that a report in the Guardian last year stated that paying to watch football since 1990 has gone up to a thousand percent.  It cites how in 1990 it would cost £4 (£7.09 with inflation) to watch Liverpool whereas now it is £45, an increase of 1,025 percent.   That incidentally is not counting the cost of having a cup of tea or a hot chocolate at Anfield which is £2.50.  Unlike Leaf in Bold street who specialise in fancy tea’s (incidentally they are also cheaper) it is a Typhoo teabag with a bit of hot water.

Gone are the days when as a kid I would go down the match with friends on the day for a couple of quid.  Now it’s paying sky high prices and having to arrange tickets on a military scale.   For those not lucky enough to have a season ticket (or the money I would also like to add) you have to pay £20 for a membership card and get this you are not guaranteed a ticket but given an opportunity to apply for tickets.  That’s if you have been to enough games previously.

Ordinary people and certainly some of the fans that went when gates were low pre 1990 are being priced out of going the game.  Certainly in this economic climate with wages being low and the cost of living escalating going to watch football is to take a back burner.

Football and certainly the Premier League is now more about marketing and hyping the product.  Supporters are seen as commodities and it is about selling the experience.  Everything is hyped with every comment or action scrutinised.   You only have to turn on a sports show on the radio as they encourage listeners to contact the station.   The more eccentric or stupid the comment the better as this in turn encourages more outraged listeners to contact the station.  This is also true of newspapers as they hope it helps boost sales.   Transfer deadline day on Sky Sports news is treated as a major event with reporters outside every top flight club.  As the day draws to an end the hysteria blows up to a climatic end as though it was the ending of an action blockbuster film.

Football in the Premiership is about marketing and trying to  make the game an experience.  Take for instance the handshake before the kickoff and the Premier league anthem.  It isn’t about promoting gamesmanship but making it an occasion for the casual match goer or tourist visiting.   Kickoff times are scheduled around television’s convenience.  It certainly isn’t for fans that somehow have to make it to the other end of country for a 12:45 start for a game.

The much mooted 39 game shows the direction that the Premier League wishes to take.  Never mind that it would unbalance the competition it’s all about the money that they can make by franchising games abroad as well as the revenue to be made through television deals.  The fans who actually go the game their views don’t come into it.  As far as they are concerned you are just a willing paying extra for this great enterprise.   Regular football goers are like addicts were despite the moans and the continual hiking of prices will do everything to get their fix.  However you can only push people so far.  These are the supporters who somehow manage to find the time and put themselves into debt just so that they can follow their team.

Nevertheless it appears that football clubs just see supporters as a walking pound note.  When a club like Liverpool can actually charge people a fiver for wanting to stay on a season ticket waiting list, who cares if a few say no more and spew their season ticket.  There is always someone else willing to take their place.   Besides the money is to be made from the tourists who will spend money in the club shop, buy the food and drink inside the ground unlike the fan that has been going for over thirty years, who will have a pint at one of the local pubs and go straight the match.

Everything is about squeezing every last bit of money out of the supporter. Liverpool’s return to the Champions League this season saw the match day programmes cost £5 from the usual £3 on match day to commemorate being back amongst European’s elite.  Incidentally there is nothing extra in the programme except it being bigger in size.

Some fans are protesting and there have been protests this season from the Spirit of Shankly group at games this season.  No doubt the club probably snigger that they are still paying the £45 to stick up a flag saying that they are not prepared to pay.  Indeed the best way of protesting would be to boycott a televised game and let Sky or BT film the ‘world’s greatest league,’ in an empty stadium.   That though seems unlikely as people still want to get their fix of live football.  Yet even when attendances are low such as the Aston Villa and Southampton game which drew a 25,311 crowd on a Monday night game before Christmas the supporters still get it in the neck.

Never mind that Villa have been poor, never mind that Southampton fans were expected to travel and find the time off from work to travel to the midlands, never mind that it was £40 for a ticket before Christmas, never mind people in this dire economy would rather save their money and either watch it at home or have a couple of pints at the pub, the fans are derided as being disloyal.

Of course it’s a bit hard for Sky to sell the experience of Premiership football at an empty stadium.  Rather than question that the football clubs ought to reconsider their ticket prices  may be the reason why people decided not to buy a ticket the fans get the brunt of the blame for being disloyal.   This was also true when Manchester City failed to sell out for their Champions League game against Roma earlier on in the season.  Again rather than question whether it is reasonable to be charging £40 for a ticket, City fans were sneered at on social media for voting with their feet.

What really takes the biscuit is when you have multi-millionaire footballers such as Rio Ferdinand sneering at the supporters who decided not to go by tweeting that City fans would rather be at home watching Ramsey’s kitchen.’

The Premier League like to use the big crowds and the atmosphere to sell to the world of being part of this loud, bright experience yet clubs milk their regular supporters for all they are worth.  Indeed these supporters are seen as the extras to sell their product.  The audience across the globe are sold on the atmosphere as well as the blood and thunder of the English league.

Football is certainly not the working man’s game anymore and unless someone decides to make ticket prices more reasonable it will come to the point that regular supporters will spew it. By then though it will be too late and going the match will be like going the theatre rather than supporting the team.

Maybe it is time to take a stand and start boycotting games.  Let Sky broadcast a big match at a empty stadium.  Maybe the clubs may sit up and take notice.  After all clubs earn most of their money from television and sponsorship deals.  The money from the turnstiles is no longer the main source of income.

B. Benjamin

Send the gunboats up the Mersey.

Liverpool and the 1911 General Transport Strike

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Mass strikes, troops sent onto the streets, protestors getting shot, gunboats being sent up the Mersey with the guns positioned on the City itself, and the country seemingly on the verge of revolution it is a period despite all this instability that is hardly ever scrutinised with information about that era hard to come by.

Nevertheless it is a story that sounds eerily familiar in the sense of wages failing to keep up with the rising cost of living, poor workers rights and contempt for Trade Unions. Poverty was also rife despite Liverpool being the second richest City behind London. In short people were struggling to live and simply wanted a decent standard of living.

Tonypandy riots

The initial seeds of discontent broke out amongst miners in the Rhonda mining areas of South Wales which later became known as the Tonypandy riots. Miners went on strike over the poor working conditions. This was inflamed even more by the lockout at the Ely Pit in Penygraig on September the 1st 1910.  Miners were accused of deliberately working slow, when it was the new equipment that slowed them down.

Mass picketing was organised with all mines being shut apart from the Llywnypia pit which resulted in the Tonypandy riots. Trouble had broken out when miners tried to prevent strike breakers from entering. This resulted in miners being forced into Tonypandy square with the controversial decision by Winston Churchill to send in troops. Further rioting broke out within the area with the 18th Hussars being dispatched on the 9th November to quell the trouble. There was one casualty Samuel Rhys who died after being struck by a Policeman’s baton.

Sadly the miners were forced back to work in August 1911 but it resulted in further strikes with the miners gaining success when they striked in 1912.

The 1911 Transport Strike

GT striike

In Liverpool the general transport strike stoked up a huge amount of unrest that led to yet another infamous decision by Winston Churchill.

It started with the seaman’s national strike with a huge demonstration by the TWF Union demonstration taking place in Liverpool May 11th 1911.

With the strike strongly supported the companies had to agree new terms with the union. Encouraged by this the dockers who also went on strike with yet again companies having to agree better working hours and pay.

It was the Transport strike during August that was to see matters escalate even further and near pushed the country to revolution. This incidentally was a national dispute with the railways going out on strike. This in turn was supported by dockers and other transport workers that saw the transportation of goods being brought to a grinding halt.

Tensions were rising with the shipping companies stating that the docker’s were in breach of their contract and declaring a lockout. To add fuel to the fire they also tried to call the military in as strike breakers.

For the authorities they were in essence alarmed at what they saw as a virus of support for the strike and were determined to stop it before it spread even more. Consequently when a mass demonstration at St. George’s Plateau in the City centre was planned (the prominent Trade Unionist Tom Mann was speaking) they quickly added troops and extra Police from other parts of the country. To feed the hysteria even more Winston Churchill sent a gunboat HMS Antrim up the Mersey with its guns facing the City.  Another gunboat incidentally was also sent up the Mersey.

Liverpool_transport_strike-1911

Looking back at the photos of the 13th August 1911 with the masses of people thronging the plateau it reminds you of the Arab Spring protests. As you look at the faces it dawns on you that these are ordinary people. All with their own hopes and dreams, skills, family and their own stories to tell. But above all though, it was a show of solidarity, of wanting steady work, better wages and living conditions plus a better future for their children which in some respects would be us.

1911

Reading Fred Bower’s account of workers marching from all over Liverpool must have shaken the establishment. ‘From Orange Garston, Everton and Toxteth Park, from Roman Catholic Bootle and the Scotland Road area they came. Forgotten were their religious feuds. The Garston band had walked five miles and their drum major proudly whirled his sceptre twined with orange and green ribbon.’

‘Never in the history of this or any other country had the majority and might of the humble toiler been so displayed. A wonderful spirit of humour and friendliness permeated the atmosphere.’

Bloody Sunday

Tom Mann speaking at Liverpool 1911
Tom Mann speaking at Liverpool 1911

On all accounts it was a nice hot sunny day. Indeed you can imagine marching with the other thousands feeling proud and excited. After all this is your chance to air your voice that you want steady employment, a decent wage and decent hours. Tom Mann a prominent orator is about to speak about your cause. It is a jovial and friendly atmosphere.

Then there is maybe a sound of alarm amongst the crowd. You look around puzzled only to be alarmed as Police on horseback charge indiscriminately. Chaos ensues as people try to flee to safety.

There are no records of why the Police decided to charge a peaceful crowd which resulted in a mass panic with 186 people being hospitalised and 95 arrests.

Fred reports how after the carnage caused by the Police that it resembled a battlefield with wounded men, women, and children, lying singly in heaps over a vast area.

One record states that the Pathe Picture people had been taking a moving picture of the charge. Somehow they got away with the negatives but Pathe were warned by the Government that under no circumstances were the pictures to be shown in public knowing a public outcry would ensue.

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More disturbances broke out that night but rather than try to stem the damage already caused with Bloody Sunday the authorities continued to try to break the strike by bring in over 50,000 troops across the country and using brutal force. Troops even opened fire on civilians in Great Homer Street but far worse was to follow.

Following Bloody Sunday a convoy of prisoners who had been arrested on that day were being escorted by thirty-two soldiers of the 18th Hussars on horseback fully armed with live ammunition along with mounted Police. A magistrate was also present carrying a copy of the riot act. However before it could be even read a disturbance broke out on Vauxhall road with troops opening fire, injuring five people, two fatally. The victims were John W. Sutcliffe and a twenty-nine year old docker Michael Prendergast. Five days later, on the 19th August two more civilians were shot by troops in Llanelli. These are the last occasions in history when British soldiers have killed civilians on the streets of mainland Britain.

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By now the situation was at breaking point not just in Liverpool but right across the country. Birmingham Police who had been dispatched to Liverpool had now been recalled back home to deal with disturbances there and due to the railway strike had to march the 40 miles to get a train to take them to Birmingham. Soldiers were also starting to desert rather than fire on their fellow-man.

The Government was shocked to the core as the dispute was steadily getting out of hand. Anymore fatalities or disturbances for that matter could be the powder keg to it erupting into full revolt.

It was with this point of view that Lloyd George persuaded the Prime Minister Asquith to call in the railway owners and force them to quickly come to a swift settlement with the Trade Unions. Not surprisingly the Unions won the concessions for their members to bring an end to a very troubled but united strike.

Despite calls for a public enquiry into the fatal shootings in Liverpool and Llanelli the Government did their best to sweep it under the carpet. Parliament adjourned on the 22nd August so further questions could not be raised whilst it was still fresh in people’s minds. Churchill himself (as Home Office files later revealed) ensured that minimum publicity was given to the Court Martial of a Llanelli soldier who had refused to fire on civilians and had deserted on the spot.

Not many people probably realise how unsettled that period actually was. This though is the history of ordinary people.

They shaped history by fighting for decent working conditions and a fair wage. Furthermore they also wanted better living conditions. All of our working rights such as maternity, the minimum wage, maximum working hours, various health and safety legislation are all thanks to people like those who took part in the 1911 strikes.

In turn it could be argued that they led the way into ensuring better housing was provided for people as well as the establishment of the NHS. After all the establishment were well aware of what working class power could achieve and probably viewed it as best to give in to some concessions. Nevertheless it is a fascinating part of history that should be discussed so that we can not only paint a true picture but find out how we got here today.

 

 

Brian Benjamin

The guilt of watching the World Cup & England’s exit

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So far the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has been very enjoyable. The majority of games have been excellent with the Germany v Ghana, Spain v Netherlands, Chile v Spain, Italy v Costa Rica one of many games that have stood out so far.  It is also looks like a open World Cup in terms of who will eventually win the competition.

There is however a feeling of guilt about watching this World Cup and that’s mainly down to the shenanigans of FIFA and the money that has been spent by the Brazilian Government with critics describing it as ‘the biggest theft in history.’ The real cost of the World Cup, critics claim is more close to $46 billion US dollars. The celebrated ex-footballer, Romario who is now a politician wants a deeper investigation into the misuse of public funds.

A lot of Brazilians believe that the money would be better spent on public services such as health and education rather than the large white elephant stadiums that will be hardly used once the World Cup has left town.

Protests broke out last year during the World Cup rehearsal of the Confederates Cup over the increase fees of using public transport. Many felt it was an excuse to make people pay for the increasing costs of holding the event. The protests gathered momentum with an estimated 250,000 protestors of various cities taking to the streets.

It also led to the surreal sight of a football match being played whilst outside the stadium Police were firing teargas and rubber bullets at protestors.

Even now whilst the World Cup is being played there have been protests in Porte Alegre and Sao Paulo some which saw Police clashing with protestors and being accused of being heavy handed. Again teargas and rubber bullets were used.

On Wednesday the 18th June there was a demonstration of 400 to 500 teachers f Rio de Janeiro. Dave Zirin author of ‘Brazil’s dance with the devil,’ in a interview with Democracy Now stated ‘They were also protesting for their co-workers who went on strike in protest against FIFA and the World Cup priorities, saying, “We want FIFA-quality schools.” Their co-workers who went on strike were actually fired, which is a violation of Brazilian law. So 500 teachers were marching behind a banner that said, “FIFA, go home!” demanding that their co-workers actually be rehired.’

This incidentally is one of the accusations against FIFA in terms of acting like a mafia state. For starters they have been granted a special law meaning that FIFA and its official partners are given tax exemption up to a estimated tune of $250 million dollars.  Only official traders are allowed to sell products around stadiums. All other street sellers are excluded and will be moved on by Police if necessary.

The sale of alcohol is normally prohibited within Brazilian stadiums but because one of their main sponsors is Budweiser this law has been waived. Brazil will also assume civil liability on behalf of FIFA which contravenes its own constitution on this issue.

Homes have also been torn down and people displaced without being adequately compensated or having anywhere else to go in order for stadiums and infrastructure to be built.

Workers and human rights is something that FIFA seem to overlook. Take Qatar for example. Aside from the allegations of bribery, Qatar has one of the worst human rights records in the world. Indeed the US has expressed its concern and downgraded the country due to its poor record.

The Guardian newspaper amongst others have reported how migrant workers are treated like slaves. Harsh conditions, pay denied, and even being denied to leave the country.  FIFA though appear to turn a blind eye to all this and that’s before we get to the fact that the hot weather in June and July would make any match unplayable whilst Qatar is hardly a hotbed of football.

FIFA in short has more than a strong whiff of dishonesty about it. Furthermore it acts like a medieval fiefdom as they run roughshod over laws and squeals furiously if anyone dares questions its activities. On top of which for a non-profit organisation I quite like Jon Oliver’s quote on Last week tonight ‘A reserve of a billion dollars? When your rainy day is so big you’ve got to check it for swimming cartoon ducks, you might not be a non-profit anymore.’

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Yet despite all this I will still be watching the World Cup. Part of me doesn’t want to because of FIFA and the reasons why Brazilians are protesting. However like a junkie I’ll still be tuning for my next fix.

England crash out

Inevitable there will be the usual post mortems about England’s display in the World Cup as they crash out after losing to Italy and Uruguay. Much will be written about foreign players stifling English talent as part of the problem.

Even if the FA was able to impose quotas on English clubs all it would do is dilute the quality of the teams. The same problems would still arise in terms of the quality of English players.

If you’re looking at other countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, Uruguay, and Germany they all look at football differently. To them the key element is about passing. It’s about seeing and moving into space to pass or receive the ball. Furthermore the technique on the ball is largely better than England.

Part of the problem is still the mentality of ‘showing heart,’ by running around without actually thinking about why you’re moving there or looking to create. The physical attributes of the game is still largely lauded. For example a player will get a bigger cheer for slide tackling into someone rather than a player showing a bit of skill.

Defensively England was not that great. Cahill and Jagielka are not international class. The pair are both slow and ponderous who are unable of carrying or passing the ball out. Suarez easily evaded Cahill who managed to break the most basic of defending by allowing Suarez ahead of him.

Time is something that has always been constantly preached but until you change the mentality were technique and passing should be the main elements of your game over running your heart out then nothing will change.

B. Benjamin

 

 

The key moments of Game of Thrones (series one)

As the fourth series draws to a climatic end here are the key moments starting with series one. Below is the key for its impact.

The death of Jon Arryn

With the death of the King’s Hand (later found out to have been poisoned) Robert ventures up North to replace Jon Arryn with his old friend Ned Stark. After reluctantly agreeing he also agrees to betrothed his oldest daughter Sansa to Robert’s petulant son Joffrey as the family move down to Kings Landing.
There are also strange omens with rumours of the white walker’s roaming with Ned’s brother Benjen Stark missing from the night’s watch. On top of which a dead dire wolf is found after giving birth with each of the Stark children given a pup.
Poor old Brandon Stark is pushed by Jaime Lannister when he accidentally catches him at it with his sister Cersei who literally keep it in the family. Meanwhile the exiled and petulant Viserys Targaryen marries his sister Daenerys to Khal Drogo in return for the Dothraki warlord’s army. The game of Thrones begins!

poisongame_of_thrones_dire_wallpaper_by_chadski51-d4stzqzInceststock-illustration-15926320-cartoon-wedding-couple

 

King Robert’s death

Robert Baratheon comes a cropper against a Boer, although it might have been the wine that he was enthusiastically necking that did it. The kingdom is thrown into turmoil especially as Ned Stark discovers that Robert’s children are not his but the result of Cersei’s incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime. Despite giving Cersei notice she turns the tables on as Ned and has him arrested as a traitor.

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Ned Stark is beheaded as war looms

Vary’s convinces Ned to plead guilty of treason and swear that Joffrey is the true King in order to save his family and the seven Kingdom being thrown into war. In return Ned is to be banished to the night’s watch on the wall. There is one small flaw in the plan. Namely that Joffrey is a sadistic, psychotic, bully who has Ned executed anyway. War is definitely on the way.

In the meantime Drogo has died due to a wound despite the help of black magic. In revenge, Daenerys burns the witch and steps into the fire with her dragon eggs. Once the fire subsides, Daenery’s is sat in the middle with the three dragons hatched.

psychoned S beheadedimagesZW5R8RDSimagesLGWNBWYVthunderstorm

Key

poison = poison game_of_thrones_dire_wallpaper_by_chadski51-d4stzqz = dire wolves

Incest = keeping it in the family stock-illustration-15926320-cartoon-wedding-couple = wedding

imagesS3IIMPPM = fighting Boer untitled = a death

140087672323 = skeletons in the closet stupid_ned_stark_by_bangalore_monkey-d4soezy = Head in the lion’s mouth

psycho = psycho ned S beheaded = executed

imagesZW5R8RDS = Didn’t see that coming imagesLGWNBWYV = baby dragons

thunderstorm = war clouds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Year that shook the world 1968

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The 1960’s was generally seen as the decade that brought about a lot of social change. However it was events in 1968 that made this more than apparent.   Indeed the generation gap between young and old had never been greater.

Many attribute this to the fact that the first grown up generation born during or just after the war. Critics believed that they were given a better insight into the events of the world thanks to radio and the new technology of television. Furthermore public education was becoming more widely attended and standardized. Added to which the world was becoming a much smaller place as people either mixed with people from different backgrounds or through television. It was a generation that was more self-aware and more united as a group than the generations before it.

Added to which this was the generation that was first brought up during the opening of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Consequently they were aware that a nuclear attack could end their world and consequently became more anti-war as a result.

There was also a big determination of equal rights throughout the 1960’s which also helped create this social movement. This was seen through the Civil rights movement and feminist movement.

In many respects it was an era of ideology of wanting to make the world a better and more equal one. Everything from music, fashion, and politics was seen as experimenting with something new and exciting. Even in the Eastern blocs there was focus for change. They too wanted a world of equality, free speech and something new from the lives of their Parents.

Although not all protests were successful it did bring around a change in social attitude and in many ways influenced the way we live in today. Below are some of the main protests of that year with the key at the bottom.

Prague Spring
Recently made First Secretary of the Czech Communist Party Dubcek wanted to bring in a wide range of policies which he ‘dubbed,’ ‘Socialism with a human face.’ Thus he launched an ‘action programme,’ of liberalisation including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, & movement as well federalizing the CSSR into two equal nations. The Soviets took a dim view of this as they feared it may weaken the Communist bloc during the Cold War. Consequently five countries from the Warsaw pact countries (Soviet Union, GDR, Bulgaria, Poland & Hungary sent in the tanks along with 200,000 troops entering the country. Despite protests the Soviets ensured that Dubcek was replaced by Husak to repeal the reforms with Dubcek given a job as a forestry official.

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Anti-war demo in Grosvenor Sq. gets heated
With the daily TV news beaming reports & graphic images of the US fighting the Viet. Cong into people’s living rooms, many people questioned the American involvement in the Vietnam War. Consequently protests (not just in the USA) but across the globe erupted with anti-war groups arranging demos. The trouble followed a rally in Trafalgar Square, when an estimated 10,000 demonstrated against US action in Vietnam.
Initially the mood at the rally was good-natured until the Police cordoned the US embassy in Grosvenor Square were the actress Vanessa Redgrave had earlier handed over a petition against the war.
Tensions rose as the crowd refused to back off and mounted Police charged at demonstrators. Bedlam then ensued as protestors broke through with a battle ensuing with the Police. Reports at the time spoke of protestors using their flags as spears by throwing them at the Police who in turn fought fiercely with protesters before finally dispersing them.

_38372519_1grovesnorbbc300Kaizer_Chiefsbritish_police_helmetmaxresdefaultimagesZW5R8RDS

Black Civil Rights Movement
Following the assassination of leading civil rights activist Martin Luther King in April 1968, a wave of riots broke out most notably Louisville, Baltimore, Washington, & Chicago were the City’s Mayor ordered the Police to shoot anyone in the act of looting or committing arson. The death of King saw the American black power movement become more militant in their fight for civil rights. It was during this period that the Black Panthers rose quite prominently which started the slow change in trying to end racial discrimination in America. There was controversy in the 1968 Mexican Olympics when the two Black American athletes Tommie Smith & John Carlos gave the black power salute on the podium after winning gold and bronze respectively.

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Anarchy French Style
Although the May protest of 68 could be deemed as a failure, the repercussions were seen as a water shed by the French. It saw a shift of Conservative morality to a more liberal morality which dominates French society today. The protest started out due to student protests of the political bureaucracy that controlled the Universities. Matters came to a head when the University of Paris was shut down by officials with the threatened expulsion of 7 students. On the 6th May over 20,000 students marched in protest towards Sorbonne University which had been closed by Police due to an earlier student protest. This turned into a full-scale riot with the Police’s heavy handedness making matters worse as the protest lengthened with the students getting support from the populous with large strikes and marches appearing to be bringing down the French Government to the point that the President De Gaulle had left the country. Instead workers returned back to work and De Gaulle won the following election in June.

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Tet Offensive
The Viet Cong made what is now known as the Tet. Offensive and although the US and the South Vietnamese claimed victory it was the world-wide media coverage that changed American opinion of the Vietnam War. In 1965 the majority of American’s were in favour of the war but as coverage of the war and most notably the Tet offensive were broadcasting television reports (with some critics calling it a “living room war,”) to millions of Americans and even the world, people were shocked at the brutality of the conflict and for the first time questioned why the USA was involved in a war that was no threat to the US. A wave of anti-war protests broke out in America and the world, eventually leading to the US withdrawal in 1973. The legacy of the war in terms of media coverage ensured that future Governments kept a tight rein on what the press covered lest that there should be a backlash.

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Key
dirzXb5i9= Socialism with a smile! angry man= Annoyed Soviet cold_war_pic_prague_russian_tanks_1968= Invasion

_38372519_1grovesnorbbc300= Mass protest Kaizer_Chiefs= I predict a riot british_police_helmet= Rozzers

maxresdefault= Fisticuffs imagesMTKTSW79= Let down untitled= Black Civil Rights Movement             imagesZW5R8RDS= Shock

428px-Red_flag_II.svg= Revolution vietnam helmet= Vietnam WarTV = Media coverage

!CDmOG9!CWk~$(KGrHqR,!iwE0FwCJVIbBNPIEEI2sQ~~_35= Black power salute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apathy In the UK, We don’t need no education, & Atletico Madrid

apathy

Apathy In the UK

The recent Local and European elections saw all the major parties and UKIP claiming a victory of sorts. Labour declared that they had made significant gains which would win them the next election although polls predict they would be just short of a working majority. Meanwhile the Conservatives claim it was a decent result as Labour did not win enough of the vote as predicted. UKIP crowed that ‘the UKIP fox is in the Westminster hen-house.’ Needless to say they must have forgotten that a fox is seen as a shifty bastard with a hidden agenda but I digress. As for the Lib Dems, well it wasn’t all that some people did vote for them.

As always the truth is slightly different. Labour didn’t make the important gains needed to show that they are a force. The Conservatives votes and seats in the local elections were down whilst in the European elections they finished third behind Labour and UKIP.

Whilst UKIP despite talking about a ‘ruffling of feathers,’  gained no control of any local councils although they did make the most gains in the European elections. For the Lib Dems they were virtually wiped out and on this showing face near annihilation in next year’s election.

Despite all the analysis what seems to be overlooked is the actual turnout. Only just 36% bothered to vote in the local elections whilst in the European elections the figure was 34%.

On this basis nobody can claim any type of victory. Nearly 75% of the population did not bother to vote for any of these parties. It’s not just a case of people not being interested in politics but feeling completely disenfranchised.

Russell Brand in his interview with newsnight probably struck more of a chord when he stated that there was no difference between any of the major parties. They all have the same ideals and would be carrying out the same policies no matter who is in power.

This is precisely why people are turned off politics. Everything despite what happened with the banking crisis of 2008 is still all geared towards business. Austerity measures after all are seen as more to try and boost the economy.

For most people nothing is being done about the rising cost of living with wages remaining low. The rise of people using food banks is disturbing especially as some people are working all hours. Furthermore cuts to vital services and benefits are seeing people drop even further into poverty.

Job security is pretty grim with the rise of zero hour contracts and work fare on the increase. These are just some of the issues that the major parties are failing to address. It doesn’t help that  people think politicians are out of touch especially with the expenses scandal of recent times.

Much has been spoken about the 99% being ignored in favour of the rich 1% and it is certainly hard to argue against this opinion when the obsession is about how to remedy the economy for big business. It’s as though they think spreadsheets will feed people and improve living standards.

The electoral system needs a complete change to the first past the post. Proportional representation is something that should be considered. However the biggest challenge is that none of the major parties are offering any real alternatives. It still seems to be pretty much the same status quo. The only difference between the parties is the colour of the rosettes on their shiny suits.  Until the political system is changed and a party is prepared to represent the people and not the corporate businesses then the disillusionment will continue.  Indeed it could be argued that at present we just have a mirage of democracy.

Michael Gove ‘we don’t need no education.’

Once again Michael Gove shows himself to be narrow-minded by dropping US authors from the curriculum. Apparently he professes that he wants more focus on British authors particularly Dickens and Austen. As anyone who has read any of these tomes they are not exactly the easiest of works with some novels quite laborious.

It shouldn’t really matter were the author is from. Literature and indeed education as a whole is about opening people’s minds and allowing them to develop their own opinions. Reading such tomes as suggested by Gove is more likely to turn children off.

I wrote a while back on this blog about the perils of education is that you can be in danger of teaching how to pass an exam rather than understanding or even showing an appreciation of the subject. This to me is what will inevitable happen. The student will remember key themes and quotes to pepper the essay with rather than voicing a real opinion.

Cynics could argue that dropping the likes Harper Lee and Arthur Miller the Crucible is more to keep people ignorant rather than understanding the themes of prejudice and politics. I actually think Gove’s mindset is more old-fashioned in the sense that I believe Gove feels that English literature is being undermined by other foreign works. Furthermore I think there is an element of snobbery as the likes of Mice and Men is considered more childish by some critics.

Either way I think it is a depressing thing to do in terms of restricting literature. It should be about making it accessible and yes letting kids enjoy reading. Gove’s education policies are not about improvement but taking it back to were teaching rote is King.

Atletico Madrid gives hope

The Club side of the season has to be Atletico Madrid who have punched way above their weight in winning the La Liga and reaching the European Champions League Final. With Real Madrid and Barcelona vastly ahead of other La Liga sides in terms of money and resources it is an incredible achievement.

When Diego Simeone took charge Atleti were four points from the relegation places winning only five out of the sixteen games played. The first words that Simeone talked about was that Atletico was not about the individual but was for the club and the collective. Everybody had to work hard for the collective good.

These words were certainly taken on board as Atleti finished fifth and won the Europa League in 2012. The following season they won the Copa Del Rey beating Real Madrid and finishing third in the League.

This season the aim was a top four finish with many tipping Atletico as dark horses to win the Champions League. Whereas the league was largely considered to be between Real Madrid and Barcelona due to the gulf in resources between the two clubs and the rest of La Liga.

Atletico’s tactics is more of a counter-attacking style. Furthermore they normally wear teams down and as a result  ensure that they take advantage. Even half way through the season nobody not even the majority of Atleti’s fans expected Atletico to remain top. After all they have a relatively small squad and with European Cup football it was expected to take its toil.

Somehow though Atletico kept themselves up there although admittedly they did look like they were running out of steam. At times they were patching Diego Costa up who quite clearly wasn’t fit in both the Barcelona game and the Champions League final. This could also be said of Turan who had problems with his groin.

Nevertheless they managed to find some energy in the tank to snatch a draw at the Nou Camp to win the title against all odds. It was a well deserved title as Atletico were the best and most consistent team in La Liga.

Consequently they entered the Champions League Final with nothing to lose. A win would make this team immortal in Atletico’s history but even a defeat wouldn’t put a dent in a fantastic season.

As it was a scrappy goal from Godin (who incidentally had scored the equaliser against Barcelona) almost won the European Cup for Atleti who were two minutes away from victory. However Atleti’s legs had gone and they were holding onto the ropes until Ramos equalised. The 4-1 score line after extra time didn’t really reflect the result as Atleti didn’t have enough left in the tank.

Jamie Redknapp wrongly labelled Atleti as anti tika taka. Although their style is different nor is it a negative style. Atleticio know how to take teams apart when they are given the chance but also play to their strengths. The fact of the matter was they were running low on energy.

Personally apart from Souness I would have preferred having the Revista De La Liga team with Scott Minto, Graham Hunter, Terry Gibson and Guillem Balague who have more knowledge on Spanish football.

Either way Atletico have given other clubs hope such as Liverpool that with an excellent coach and a good team willing to work hard that you can win a major league, despite the obscene wealth of some teams. Personally it was a breath of fresh air to see someone else outside of Barca and Madrid win the league.

 

Brian Benjamin