Earlier this month a judge awarded damages to the Parr family in Texas amounting to almost $3million for losses on property value, physical pain, mental anguish and suffering due to the effects of pollution caused by fracking near their home. The jury returned a verdict saying Aruba Petroleum Inc. “intentionally created a private nuisance” resulting in the Parr family suffering from symptoms including chronic nose bleeding, irregular heartbeats, muscle spasms and open sores due to the environmental effects of this controversial gas mining process. Aruba are the first company in the US to be found guilty of charges due to pollution caused of fracking.
Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) involves drilling horizontally deep under the earth and injecting fluid at high pressure to fracture shale rocks and release natural gases. This gas is then used as fuel for energy. It is considered by many to be extremely harmful to the surrounding environment and has divided opinion across the world as to its viability as a safe method of mining for fuel. Ten countries including Spain, France, Germany and South Africa have already banned this controversial mining process over concerns about pollution and the environmental risks. It’s believed by many that fracking can pollute water, release dangerous methane gases that damage the ozone layer and even cause earthquakes. The landmark verdict in Texas indicates that many of these claims are actually true, but what are the fracking facts?
- Around 600 toxic chemicals are used in the fluid used for fracking, including uranium, radium, hydrochloric acid, mercury, lead, formaldehyde and even bizarre substances like instant coffee and walnut shells.
- It takes around 1-8 million gallons of water to complete each fracking job and each gas well needs an average of 400 tanker trucks to carry all the water and supplies to and from the site. This produces about300,000 barrels of natural gas a day.
- There are around 500,000 active gas wells in the US that use in total around 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals in the fracking process and only 30-50% of the fracturing fluid is recovered. The rest of the toxic fluid is left in the ground and is not biodegradable.
- Canadian mining companies do not disclose all of the chemicals used for fracking or their quantities. Most oil and gas wells in Canada don’t have to go through an individual environmental assessment process or disclose any information about the chemicals they use on the Canadian National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI). This means that the companies themselves decide what information they want to release about what’s in their fracking fluid, despite the fact that tests have shown that many of the chemicals they use are known to cause serious health problems such as cancer or organ damage.
- In British Columbia, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, who are the organisation responsible for promoting oil and gas development, are also the organisation that regulate fracking. Contamination of fracking fluids from one well to another have been reported in British Columbia and there are well-documented cases of water contamination caused by fracking in several countries around the world.
- A 2011 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed a clear link between fracking and water contamination and there have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas where companies have used the fracking process to drill for gas. This contaminated water is usually used for drinking water in nearby cities and towns.
- In Pennsylvania, USA, there has been a rapid development of the Marcellus shale site, which it’s estimated could produce 500 trillion cubic feet of gas. It’s believed that’s enough to power all American homes for another 50 years.
- In 2010 Pennsylvania officials fined Chesapeake Energy $1 million for contaminating water supplies in Bradford County. Because the company had not properly cemented its drilling boreholes, methane gas escaped from the well and contaminated the water of 16 families.
- Between 2009 and 2011 there have been a series of surface spills of toxic fracking fluids and two blowouts at wells operated by Chesapeake Energy and EOG Resources. There was also a spill of 8000 gallons of fracking fluid at a site in Dimock, Pa., which contaminated groundwater in the Marcellus Shale region.
- Supporters of fracking claim that it is a proven gas extraction method that has been used for decades. However, according to Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, a hydraulic fracturing expert from Cornell University, mining companies have had less than 10 years experience of using the fracking method on a large scale.
- Robert Mair, a Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Cambridge chaired a committee to analyse the environmental, health and safety risks of fracking in Britain. He concluded that it should only take place at depths of several kilometres. At present the fracking in Britain has been at depths of 1.06 miles (1.7km) and 1.93 miles (3.1km), which would make water contamination “unlikely”. This risk could be increased by poorly constructed and badly regulated wells, an area in which Britain has an excellent record. However, Professor Mair recommends that methane emissions and groundwater composition should be monitored at potential sites before any fracking takes place.
- Rex Tillerson is the CEO of ExxonMobil who are the biggest natural gas producer in the US and heavily rely on fracking to extract it. It’s his job to promote fracking and fight regulations preventing mining. However, when a fracking project was proposed near Tillerson’s $5 million Texas home, he joined a lawsuit to block its construction with the damaging consequences of fracking cited as one of the main concerns.
- The coalition government in the UK have offered tax breaks to councils who allow fracking projects to go ahead. However, Michael Jones, the leader of Cheshire East council, which is the same constituency of coalition chancellor George Osborne, opposes the use of fracking, stating: “Fracking may well be a useful technology for other areas and good luck to them if it is, however the people of Cheshire East have our assurance that there won’t be any in our borough.” Meanwhile Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to push through legislation to change anti trespass laws so that fracking firms can drill underneath private land without the owners’ permission.
- Peaceful protests against fracking at the Barton Moss site in Salford, England have resulted in violent assaults against the protestors by the police. One police officer at the site was caught on camera lying to fabricate the false arrest of a man who was documenting the events taking place. The violence used by the police prompted Bez, the maraca shaking dancer of The Happy Mondays to run for mayor of Salford; stating “I got sent to prison for being accused of doing that sh*t. Three grown men battering a woman on the floor…I’m in shock.”
- The Daily Mail reported details of the arrests of 82 protestors at the Barton Moss site in Salford, in England earlier this year, with police accusing protestors of offences ranging from ‘assault, damage, harassment of residents and workers, a flare fired at the police helicopter and threats to kill’. However, what the popular press have not reported on is the fact that no successful convictions have resulted from these arrests, despite policing and court costs costing the UK taxpayer almost £1,000,000 so far. However, the independent newspaper The Salford Star has documented the events surrounding the Barton Moss fracking protests and reported that five of those cases have already been dismissed by judges in courts in Manchester. In summing up one case the judge said that he found the absence in court of key officers involved “astonishing”.
As the fracking debate continues one fact remains certain, our society needs energy and there are alternatives that are scientifically viable. There are a number of renewable energy sources that are in use today. The most familiar ones are solar power, which generates energy from the sun, wind turbines that harvest power from the wind, wave and tidal power that generate energy from the sea, and hydroelectricity that draws energy from the gravitational force of flowing water. Other lesser known alternatives include geothermal energy which is generated from natural heat within the earth itself and cold fusion which generates energy from non-toxic and radiation-free nuclear reactions. Biomass energy uses biodegradable rubbish and burns it as fuel and also uses plant matter to generate electricity. The sunlight captured by plants is transformed into chemical energy and then converted into electricity, heat, or liquid fuels.
Aside from all these alternative energies we also have the technology to build energy efficient homes and buildings. Buildings that not only save energy, but also produce energy. So with all these alternatives to pursuing environmentally damaging mining processes and burning toxic fossil fuels, any sane man would wonder why more isn’t done to develop these alternative methods of energy production. Well the answer is simple – money. The motivation for investing in the pursuit of these alternatives is anchored to the noose of capitalism.
Whilst the capitalist imperative continues to be the voracious pursuit of wealth for individual, selfish gain, energy will always be coveted as an economic advantage and a source of control for the nation or corporation that has it. Yes it would make much more sense if governments and corporations and all of those greedy corporate psychopaths, oligarchs and megalomaniacs dipped into their Swiss bank accounts and threw all their financial resources at environmentally viable energy solutions with the same enthusiasm shown for funding commercially viable projects like an Olympics or World Cup. It would make more sense than spending billions on military equipment to go and murder hundreds of thousands of people in wars for the control of oil and gas in countries in the Middle East. It would make more sense than exploiting the natural resources and environmental beauty of South East Asia, Africa and South America and brokering deals that circumnavigate all the wealth from those countries into the pockets of a small, undeserving minority, whilst subjecting the poor of those countries to lives of impoverished degradation. It would make more sense, it just wouldn’t be financially viable for that small percentage of people in the world that have all the wealth but none of the ethics. Meanwhile, whilst those people pursue the best way to become even more wealthy from sucking OUR planet dry, we continue to fret about how we are going to pay them for it. If this doesn’t make us mad then we’re already crazy, so could the last person to leave the asylum please turn the lights out.
I’ve been on somewhat of a sabbatical from the daily grind of work over recent weeks and have been spending a lot of my time reading and researching some serious material for a serious piece of work I seriously hope that I actually have the commitment to finish. But seriously, I am by no means shallow, but there comes a time when you need to step away from the ills and injustices of the world and enjoy some of the things you enjoy. I enjoy a good movie and have been fused to my comfortable sofa most evenings indulging in my extensive collection presented through the immaculate reception of big screen Panasonic NeoPro Plasma. So I’ve decided to do one of those ’10 of the Best’ list things… only I couldn’t decide on just ten so I went for a dozen. It must be a pretty universal choice as when I was looking for the YouTube links to include it seems that most of the scenes on my list are on other peoples’ lists too. Worryingly, I also appear to share the same taste as Guns And Ammo!
Any director making an action thriller knows that a good shootout at some point in the film is an absolute must. However, just like car chases, there are hundreds of shootouts in hundreds of movies, but not many remain in the memory for a long time. All too often they are too predictable or too improbable. They can be too long or just so chaotic that your retina-to-brain function no longer retains any of the explosive, wood splintering, glass shattering, blood splattering mayhem that is taking place on screen. It isn’t necessarily all about the action and the stunts. Acting, camera angles and movement, the point in the movie when the shootout happens, what leads up to that point, who is involved, who dies, who doesn’t, the dialogue – or lack of – and how the whole thing rests within the narrative context of the drama all contribute to making a truly memorable shootout. So here is my list of some of the most memorable shootouts in movie history.
Heat – Brian De Palma (1995)
Why save the best until last when this scene is so badass; Brian De Palma is a veritable master at scene composition, but he really excelled with the heist scene in Heat. Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Ving Rhames, Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore as the family man (really!) are enough of a screen presence to get you thrilled, but it’s the sheer adrenaline rush of the scene that makes it so damn good. The authentic sound of gunfire as it ricochet’s off concrete and tarmac in the middle of the city gives the scene a sense of realism – like watching a siege unfolding on the news. There’s no superfluous dialogue, no masculine roars, no macro pre-emptive build up to the moment of impact, just a rollercoaster drop into violent chaos. Fast paced, tense, realistic – badass.
The Matrix – The Wachowski Brothers (1999)
You know the one, the lobby shootout. If you’ve seen it then descriptions are redundant. The Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon of shootouts – visually stunning, logically ludicrous, Neo and Trinity in long black macs kicking digital ass – pure genius.
The Wild Bunch – Sam Peckinpah (1969)
Back in the 60’s before the likes of John Woo and Quentin Tarantino were doing hard-boiled, ultra-violence in slow-mo with every bullet wound exploding in a shower of bloody claret, gunplay was a little more dramatic and a lot less graphic. When people got shot there was usually a loud crack, somebody would grab their chest and you would perhaps see a patch of blood to indicate they had been hit as they slumped to the floor. Then along came The Wild Bunch and everything changed. Sam Peckinpah’s film changed the western in the same way that twerking changed Hannah Montana. Even 40 years on, the final shootout at the end of The Wild Bunch holds it’s own amongst some of the clinically choreographed, digitally mastered contemporary shootouts of today. Sam Peckinpah, we salute you – a 21 gun salute.
Scarface – Brian DePalma (1983)
“Say hello to my little friend” is the iconic phrase that everyone remembers from Scarface, Brian DePalma’s violent, cocaine-fuelled, gangster epic. Loosely based on the story of Al Capone, Scarface chronicles Tony Montana’s rapid rise from Cuban ‘refugee’ to cocaine kingpin of Miami. Al Pacino puts in an epic performance as the psychotic drug lord who scales the heights of the cocaine business before going out in a memorable blaze of glory after upsetting a Columbian cartel. One huge pile of cocaine, a sweeping white staircase, garish red décor, an angry little man with a very big gun and enough gangster dialogue for a decade of hip hop samples – now that’s a shootout.
The Way Of The Gun – Christopher McQuarrie (2000)
“There’s always free cheese in a mousetrap” – what a line, what a film. Christopher McQuarrie won an Oscar for his script for The Usual Suspects, so it’s no surprise that his writer/director debut is full of great dialogue. Whilst The Usual Suspects is a great movie, it’s very much a Hollywood movie. From the opening scene to the final shootout, everything about Way Of The Gun oozes originality. It feels like an American movie made by a Korean director. It’s as if McQuarrie wrote the script, then went back and changed all the clichés into something… something completely different. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you stall on this part of the list and go find a copy to watch.
Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino (2013)
Tarantino is often criticised for stealing his ‘original’ ideas from other movies. Who cares? Tarantino is to movies what Xibit is to cars – he takes what is predominantly crap and makes it outrageously better. Django is a case in point. However rose-tinted your movie-watching spectacles are, the original Django was no classic. However, once Tarantino pimped that cinematic ride it looked a whole lot better. The penultimate shootout in Django Unchained undeniably gives a big nod to Sam Peckinpah. The slow-mo blood-splattered gunfight between Jamie Foxx’s Django and the henchmen of Leonardo DiCaprio’s sadistic plantation owner Mr. Candy makes the list, not only because it’s one of the goriest shootouts of all time, but because it’s just so satisfying.
The Long Riders – Walter Hill (1980)
Walter Hill is an unashamed Peckinpah contemporary who is best known for films like 48hrs and late 70’s classics The Warriors and The Driver. His trademark style is the violent, hard-boiled, action thriller, often with comedy, always with tough male characters and sharp dialogue (he’s also a prolific screen writer). The Long Riders is one of several contemporary westerns made by Hill, although the western theme runs through all his films. The Long Riders features James and Stacey Keach as the James’, the Carradine brothers as the Youngers and Dennis and Randy Quaid as the Millers in a biopic that tells the story of the rise and fall of the notorious James Gang. The standout scene is when the gang are ambushed in Northfield, Minnesota in 1886 after robbing the local bank. Outnumbered, outgunned and surrounded, the gang are forced to literally shoot their way out on horseback. The carnage is graphically highlighted with a mix of slow-mo shots and pitch-distortion on the sound of each bullet that hits one of the robbers. This is raw, bone-crunching, macho-grimacing, pain-defying, mayhem. The battering the horses take is enough to whiten the knuckles on this ride. Great stuff.
Taxi Driver – Martin Scorcese (1976)
Robert DeNiro plays Travis Bickle, the taxi driver of the title who becomes disturbed by what he sees around him in New York City. Many of us have become familiar with the amazing film work of Martin Scorcese and his visceral depictions of violence, however Taxi Driver remains one his most memorable films. Particularly the scene at the end when Travis Bickle shaves his hair into a Mohawk, arms himself with a revolver and concealed sleeve gun and embarks on the suicidal rescue of Jodie Fosters’ teenage hooker, Iris. More of a massacre than a shootout perhaps, but Scorcese’s attention to detail is in every sound and second of the scene as he graphically pores over every violent action and detail. He even manages to add a vein of black comedy into gore and profanity – and that doesn’t include Harvey Keitel’s red flares.
True Romance – Tony Scott (1993)
How do you take a Tarantino script, change it, make it your own, and still create a classic? Get a slick, shit hot director like Tony Scott to make it. Tony Scott made his name with films like Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II and Enemy Of The State, but True Romance (and perhaps for some, Man On Fire) really is his finest work. They say you can make a bad film out of a good script, but you can never make a good film out of a bad script. In Tony Scott’s hands he made a badass film out of a badass script and amongst the many memorable scenes from True Romance, the OTT shootout at the end of the movie between the mafia, the feds and every motherfucker in the room really deserves a place on this list. Energy, energy, energy, slow-mo, pillow exploding madness and just pure energy. A great shootout, a great movie, and a great loss to the filmaking world. RIP Tony Scott.
Reservoir Dogs – Quentin Tarantino (1992)
Tarantino started as he meant to go on with this daringly original [in style] and violent character piece. It’s a simple story about a bank robbery that goes pear-shaped and turns into a blood bath because an undercover cop infiltrates the gang. The final scene is a tense and ultimately bloody standoff between the gang members as Harvey Keitel’s Mr. White tries to defend Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange, who is lay bleeding to death on the floor of their warehouse hideaway. Peppered with the kind of razor sharp, macho dialogue we have come to expect from Tarantino, it’s the brutal yet touching paternal angst of Keitel when he finds out the truth that makes the scene all the more special. It’s not easy watching a hard man cry.
Once Upon A Time in The West – Sergio Leone (1968)
It’s a little strange that of all the shoot out scenes from the Leone westerns to make the list, this one doesn’t feature Clint Eastwood. Three gnarled men wait at a dusty train station and it’s Charles Bronson who takes the lead as the monosyllabic, enigmatic, gun-slinging stranger. As the train pulls away, so begins one of the most unforgettable introductions in the history of cinematic introductions as Bronson appears on the other side of the tracks blowing the haunting strings of Ennio Morricone’s score through his harmonica – boom! Like many of the great shoot outs in Leone’s westerns, it’s all about setting the scene, building the tension for the moment of the draw and nowhere does he do it better than in the opening of this classic western. If less is more then less is best as even within the spartan dialogue of the scene there’s still room for the killer line; as Bronson’s character notices that his would be killers have only brought three horses, one of them laughs and apologises for forgetting the fourth. Bronson’s reply is pure James Bond – “You brought two too many.”
Léon – Luc Besson (1994)
Luc Besson has been prolific throughout his career and made some right stinkers along the way. But Léon has to be one of his all time greats. The touching [dare I say] romance between Jean Reno’s middle-aged, child-like hit man (albeit a lethal child) and Natalie Portman’s precocious little orphan girl was controversial and played down in the American release. However, there’s no love like the paternal love of a your own personal hit man as Leon proceeds to kill an entire SWAT team to protect his little Mathilda – and his potted plant. The score, the action, the subtext, the escape (almost) – sheer awesomeness.
Dear BT Sport;
I know that you’re new to this whole sport broadcasting thing, but if you continue to be a provider of Premier League football coverage there is one thing that you absolutely must do. You have to banish Michael Owen from your team. Do not let him represent you by speaking in any way manner or form in a public broadcast again. He is terrible.
They say some people have a face for radio, well Michael Owen has a voice for mime. Aside from his barely veiled bias toward Liverpool and his hard on for Man United, he sounds like what cardboard would sound like if it could speak. He has a voice like the Richard Harrow character off Boardwalk Empire, except that character has a voice like that because half his face has been blown off, which is naturally going to effect the way he sounds. That and the fact that he murders people for a living are inclined to make him also sound a bit dull and depressive. Michael Owen does not have this excuse.
Listening to Michael Owen, it… it… it actually hurts. Not in a the way a sharp object hurts when you are stabbed with it, Michael Owen is way to dull for that effect. It’s more like chronic discomfort. It gives you a feeling of anxiety, nausea and mild depression all at once – like the side effects of bad sleeping pills.
Please get rid of him. Please. He was a decent footballer (if not a chronic ‘sick note’), I hear he’s good at golf and a really good horse breeder, but you can’t be good at everything and he truly, truly, sucks at sports punditry. Even when he’s on screen he looks like he’s a prototype of an android, he’s unbelievable awkward looking and dull.
Some things work well together, like strawberry’s and cream, Morecambe and Wise, Lionel Messi and a football. Michael Owen and broadcasting are like Chris Quentin and the American film industry – it’s never going to happen. That is all.
PS: I am not alone:
Oh selfie oh selfie
Such self loving ain’t healthy
But by God I can’t help me
How I love me endlessly.
iPhone prepped nice and steady,
Prepared pout and pose ready,
In a club somewhere trendy
With my girls who’re my Besties.
With some guys who just met me,
In a toilet nonchalantly,
Silly face or seriously,
Or just me being me.
In my room getting ready,
Half naked, in flagrante,
Showing off my hot body
And my big bubble booty.
The people will love me
Repost and promote me.
They’ll all look and see me.
They’ll all want to be me.
Everybody will watch me
Nobody can stop me
Oh selfie oh selfie
How I love me endlessly.
I found this list of 50 questions on Joanna Best’s blog. They didn’t originate from Joanne Best, but she had a link on her blog to where she’d got them from. When I clicked that link it took me to ‘A War In My Brain’. Not literally of course, that was the name of Megan’s blog which was where Joanne found the questions. But Megan hadn’t originated the questions either, although she did like cats.
The fact that Megan liked cats didn’t really help me find the origin of the questions. However, the link on her blog led to another lady’s blog who also liked cats called Felina. I don’t mean this lady only liked cats called Felina – that would be pretty limiting; no, I’ve probably just missed a comma there somewhere – Felina was the name of the blogger who also had this list of 50 questions. I think the name of the blog is a play on the word ‘feline’, which is why I think she also likes cats. That and the fact that she has a picture of her tabby cat on her blog. I’m assuming it’s a picture of her cat and that the cat didn’t write the blog, but I don’t know the actual name of the lady who did write the blog either because it’s a ‘sparkle page’ blog, which is a set up I don’t really understand so I couldn’t find her name.
Anyway, Felina – or whatever her real name is – she didn’t have a link to where the questions came from. She just wrote ‘I’ve seen this on some blogs, thought I’d give it a try just for fun’. This pissed me off as I really wanted to know where the questions originated from. Anyway, England and Denmark were playing a friendly and it was about as action packed as a vegan child’s lunchbox, so I decided to answer the questions myself. First I opened a another can of Stella Artois as I’d drank the last of the one of the previous three I’d already had. Here are my answers:
1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
Yes, my older brother and two sisters. I was the second youngest of five, so my younger brother was named after me.
2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
The second time I knew I needed a number two after I had my haemorroidectomy – after the first time I was aware of the agonising pain I was about to experience. After that I decided to make sure I was really drunk and high for the rest of the week.
3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
I’m not too sure, I use a keyboard most of the time, or a touchpad. When I write by hand it’s usually scribbled notes so it’s pretty messy.
4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LUNCH MEAT?
Jerk chicken served with rice and peas. I don’t want to be a grammar Nazi, but I think this should read ‘luncheon’. But it doesn’t matter because I don’t really do sandwiches, unless it’s a triple-decker bacon and egg sandwich, which I’ll usually have for breakfast, so I guess that doesn’t count.
5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
No, I’m a male so I don’t have the biological mechanics to have kids.
6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?
I hope not, because that would mean the other person that I would be would be a schizophrenic and I don’t think being schizophrenic would be fun, even if I was another person.
7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT?
8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
No, but I kept my daughter’s because I was really annoyed that I didn’t manage to save all of her baby teeth. At least with tonsils there is just one set so it’s not too hard to keep up. And even if it wanted to, the tooth fairy could never get in that jar because I’ve closed it really tight – ha!
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
I would if it wasn’t so damn expensive.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CEREAL?
Kellogg’s Cornflakes, but for some strange reason I never have cornflakes for breakfast. I tend to eat them after dinner, although I don’t really do desserts.
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
They’re already untied when I put them on. I really don’t see any reason to tie them up when I take them off as they can’t go anywhere unless I’m wearing them.
12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
In relation to someone who is weak, I am most definitely a He Man.
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ICE CREAM?
That’s easy – Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Munky.
14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
Whether they try too hard to be likeable.
15. RED OR PINK?
16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
My fickle temperament.
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
The first goalscorer in a winning bet. If got that prediction on target every week I would be a rich man.
18. ANY TATTOOS?
Not any, they’re there for life so I’m very particular about the tattoos I choose.
19. DO YOU HAVE ANY HOBBIES?
Yes – writing, Djing, watching movies, watching people, playing football, watching football, getting drunk and partying hard to house music and early 90′s drum and bass.
20. WHAT COLOUR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
I’m not wearing shoes.
21. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
A chocolate Boost bar, a Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut and a packet of Walker’s salt and vinegar crisps.
22. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
The pundits talking about the really boring International friendly between England and Denmark that’s just finished, although I’ve not really noticed that it was still on until now, so technically I’m just hearing it like background noise rather than listening to it. However, for some reason I am listening to the clock ticking on my wall and the rhythm of my fingers hitting the keyboard on my MacBook. A siren went past just then. I’m also aware that I’ve just listened to myself say to myself in my head; ‘you’re a strange man’ upon realising that the main thing I am actually listening to is the sound of me typing and the clock .
23. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOUR WOULD YOU BE?
A really dark purple.
24. FAVORITE SMELLS?
Freshly talced babies, fields of flowers, the names of which I couldn’t tell you if I was smelling them, the aroma of the air when walking through a pine forest, burning matches, ‘Antaeus’ by Chanel and ‘The One’ by Dolce & Gabanna.
25. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
26. MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY OR BEACH HOUSE?
27. FAVOURITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
Football, Wimbledon (quarter finals onwards) and post 60′s to pre-milennium boxing.
28. HAIR COLOUR?
29. EYE COLOUR?
A brown so dark they’re almost black.
30. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
No, I keep them in my phone like everyone else.
31. FAVOURITE FOOD?
My mam’s apple pie is unstoppable. The lamb roast she makes at Christmas and Easter is incredible. My own Caribbean salsa chicken recipe is awesome when it’s right. The jerk chicken and the curry goat and rice they serve at Notting Hill Carnival. Escovitch fish with rice and gungo peas, and the Thai hot and sour soup they serve at Ark Bar on Samui Beach (I love food lots) :-P
32. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
33. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
The last movie I saw was The Good Shepherd, but it was so tediously long and dull that I stopped really watching by the time Angelina Jolie got fed up with being ignored by Matt Damon’s cold, detached CIA husband. The last movie I watched was Spike Lee’s remake of Oldboy, but only because I was holding out in the hope that it was going to come good before the end. It didn’t.
34. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
35. SUMMER OR WINTER?
Who likes the winter!? I’m a man filled with Caribbean blood living in Manchester for Christ’s sake, summer is like therapy.
36. HUGS OR KISSES?
37. FAVORITE DESSERT?
My mam’s apple pie.
38. STRENGTH TRAINING OR CARDIO?
39. COMPUTER OR TELEVISION?
Computer feeding movies and mini-series’ through my television. Television is like a social lobotomy.
40. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?
I’m writing one and reading several for research. The most interesting and disturbing is ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman’ by John Perkins.
41. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?
My computer, an ashtray, a can of Stella and various receptacles for storing stationary – these questions must have come from the 90′s because nobody uses a mouse pad anymore… do they?
42. FAVOURITE SOUND?
43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES?
44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
Somewhere out of my mind on LSD.
45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
I was told by my school teacher that I have ‘great perspicacity’. Aside from that I can pretty much sleep anywhere under any circumstances if I’m tired enough.
46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
SM7, St. Mary’s Hospital, Manchester.
47. WHERE ARE YOU LIVING NOW?
Manchester… I need to move on, really, holidays just aren’t enough.
48. WHAT COLOUR IS YOUR HOUSE?
49. WHAT COLOUR IS YOUR CAR?
It will be silver when I eventually clean it again.
50. DO YOU LIKE ANSWERING 50 QUESTIONS?
It’s better than watching 90 minutes of England in an international friendly with Denmark… but yeah, that was fun. Now can somebody tell me where these questions came from please?
The airport procedures involved in travelling by airplane are lengthy and laborious at best. Lots of checking, searching, walking, waiting and standing; yet it never ceases to amaze me how travellers can’t help but fall into the fruitless enchantment of the boarding gate wait. Despite the amount of dragging around of bags and beating of feet on hard marble and concrete floors they do, even seasoned travellers find themselves lured into this futile ritual. Airlines have tried to offer support by prioritising and calling out seat numbers in groups to save people the discomfort of pointlessly standing around for lengthy periods of time, but it’s like a mental illness that effects almost all travellers regardless of age, gender, race or creed.
So you know you’re allocated a specific seat on the plane, right? You also know that no matter what happens you’re not going to be asked to rest your hand luggage on your lap throughout the journey, right? You know that as long as you are at the gate prior to the departure time of your flight that the plane isn’t going to leave without you, right? You can see the seating scattered all around the gate for the purposes of your comfort. So why do you insist on standing up, edging forward one bag shunt at a time, pushing and jostling like a desperate refugee waiting for a food parcel, in a queue that stretches ten, fifteen, sometimes twenty metres back into the airport and has barely moved for the last half hour? It’s absolute madness!
I think this is one of the rare occasions when more mature adults act more childish than the young. Younger travellers tend to be more carefree in this situation. They often seem to just symbiotically merge with whatever formation of authoritative structure is placed in front of them as they laugh and chatter their way through the airport rituals. They’re often drunk or hungover and aren’t really paying attention to anything. As long as they have their bag, their passport and their ticket they’re happy. But the 40 pluses, the families and the retirees who holiday two, three and four times a year, seem to be hypnotically inured to assume formations of rigorous, efficient futility. Furthermore, they will defend that futility with a youthful vigour usually reserved for those evenings when the kids are out or Viagra night.
Maybe it’s years of state indoctrination of subservient adherence to bureaucracy. Maybe it’s a predilection to a domestication instinct to follow the crowd and join a queue. Maybe it’s all just part and parcel of the ritual excitement of travelling to a foreign land in a huge flying metal beast (although I find that hard to accept because people do it on internal and return flights too). Maybe I’m just trying to be nice and it’s simply the idiotic herd mentality of Sheeple.
Whatever it is it’s stupid, so stop doing it. You’re only going to be stood up longer than is necessary. You’re going to be wrestling with other passengers again when you get on the plane because everyone in there is probably a petty, priority Nazi like you. Even if you do get seated quickly, you won’t be able to relax because you’ll be spending the next half hour or more having your knees and elbows assaulted by the rest of the passengers and stewards as they stow away hand luggage and seat themselves.
If you had have showed some restraint and independent thought you would still be sat in the relative calm and comfort of an airport waiting lounge. You would have then entered the cabin of the plane facing a group of predominantly seated and settled passengers, and stewards who are far less agitated. You would also have done a favour to those who were seated before you by relieving them of the chaos caused by the rushing of irrationally impatient passengers onto a stationary aircraft. In short, you wouldn’t be contributing to the already excessive amount of hostile stupidity that plagues the world. You would have made one small, unhurried, step toward being one of the lesser fools of man, and hopefully made one sensible, independent step toward the betterment of mankind.
You see it’s bigger than just the terminal madness of the gate queue. The irrational gate queuers are usually the same idiots who unclip their seat belt as quickly as a sprinter leaves a starting block the moment the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ sign is switched off. They then jump up to be the first to get their hand luggage out of the overhead compartment, elbows lunging as they drag their belongings out as if there’s a fire. Then they stand in the gangway for twenty minutes clutching their bag, being nothing other than an idiotic obstruction as they wait for the cabin doors to be opened. These same people then rush to get to the baggage carousel in a scrambling hoard in a desperately futile belief that standing by the conveyor belt and staring at the hole in the wall will make their luggage come through quicker than the arbitrary baggage handling process permits. It’s idiotic. I know it’s idiotic because I have been one of those people. Now I know better. And if you have read this then so do you. A holiday is a time for relaxation. Extend that relaxation as far as you can and just wait for the inevitability of the process to run its course, it’s so much easier.
“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”
Eric Cantona’s response to the press after winning his appeal against a charge of assault for attacking an abusive Crystal Palace fan in 1995 is arguably one of the most famous football quotes in Premier League history. Ok, it’s not directly about football and it wasn’t exactly spontaneous, but for sheer originality alone, it has to be up there with the very best. However, I would suspect leading the argument against with a fanfare blown from his very own trumpet would be a certain Portuguese football manager.
José Mourinho is now probably known as much for what he says off the pitch as for what his teams do on it. The self proclaimed “special one” would surely have the statement that announced his entrance onto the Premier League stage at the top of any list of Greatest Premier League quotes if there was one. He would likely argue that he has won the league in four different countries and that his quotes are about football rather than being some cryptic analogy about seagulls, (the press) sardines (news stories) and trawlers (footballers) spouted by a player who didn’t even win a Champions League – of which he has three. He would argue his point because it is true and right, but mainly just because he loves the attention that a good verbal bust up gets. But then again, maybe he wouldn’t argue at all. Maybe he would make a point of not arguing his point, knowing that his refusal to engage in the argument would in itself gain attention. Or maybe he would just sniff the air, claim he can smell a headline and leave the building in a laundry basket. He is the Special One. He does what he wants.
“I am a special one”
There used to be something about José that was quite interesting, quite intriguing. He is undoubtedly a very talented football manager, which his success has clearly proven. However, unlike the genuinely enigmatic, Gallic forward known by United fans as ‘King Eric’, José has become a bit boring. If Eric Cantona was John Lennon then José Mourinho would definitely be Paul McCartney – talented, yes, accomplished, yes, but perhaps he’s been around doing the same thing for too long to remain interesting or even relevant anymore.
Eric Cantona will always be better known for doing his metaphorical talking on the pitch than he will be for his surreal, verbal stab at the media and the kung fu kicking he gave an abusive fan. Despite reconstructing himself into a serious actor after his premature retirement from football aged 30, Cantona still retains his enigma and mythical status amongst the red half of Manchester. In contrast, the self-proclaimed ‘special one’ has become a little… predictable – dull even. And to be honest, the football his teams produce isn’t that much more interesting.
Perhaps it’s just me, but it appears that despite his impressive CV, José’s footballing achievements seem to have been overshadowed by his headline grabbing, media performances. The paradox being that, as he has increasingly come to believe his own hype, his concerted efforts to make every press utterance a quote-worthy headline seems to have bored everyone into indifference. When I watch Mourinho in a press conference I see a man painstakingly shepherding his thoughts and filtering his words to make them into something… something… more. More than what they are, which is just a bit of sport punditry. I mean let’s face it, he’s not presiding over civil war every week is he?
There have been times when José has deferred praise and come over all humble, but it’s just not convincing. However, if there is one person who José holds any reverence for, it is Sir Alex Ferguson. When Real Madrid beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Champions League in 2013, José’s apologetic submission that “the best team lost” carried the melancholic weight of a Greek tragedy – it was almost pathetic. Like watching Princess Diana’s butler cry after admitting selling her secrets to the tabloids for money. Despite his managerial talents, José is no actor. When he is trying to feign humility, the fact that he’s trying – and trying really hard – shows like a heavy layer of sweat, weighing his words down with a soggy contrivance.
There’s no doubt that José is a winner, but there are two kinds of winners in sport. There are those who think only of the result and their ego, and those who revel in the competition and the performance. The former would argue that the result is all that matters when making history, but I think for those in the latter category the result diminishes in importance if not matched by the performance. As a spectator I would agree with the latter. When I think of the great teams and the great athletes, I remember their performances.
In tennis Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras were great, but win or lose, I always enjoyed watching John McEnroe and Boris Becker more. Whilst Alain Prost may have won more Formula 1 titles, Ayrton Senna’s name will be long remembered in the hearts of the fans after Prost’s has been forgotten. And when we think of boxing, the names that spring to the forefront are Ali, Tyson and the two Sugar Ray’s – Robinson and Leonard. Can we say in 50 years time that Lewis, Klitschko or Calzaghi will stir as much reminiscent excitement? And whilst we all remember the great Brazil teams and their flamboyant displays on the pitch, we don’t always remember the solid performances of the Germans or the Italians, despite those nations having arguably parallel successes over the course of history. There is no doubt that José will be remembered in football’s history, but I wonder if any of his teams will be.
José’s brand of football seems to reflect his style of media delivery – dull, methodical, defensive, solidity, punctuated by occasional incisive, attacking moves and usually finished off by a big, hard, unflinching, direct striker. Relentless and monotonous are two words that spring to mind for both aspects of José’s career – coaching winning teams and soliciting media interest with a relentless conviction and monotonous regularity. But for José the off-field media play is as an important part of his game plan as his team formations and tactics. For José, it’s not how you play the game, it’s whatever you can get away with to win it.
Much of José’s game plan is about getting under the skin of his opposing managerial competition, but during his time at Real Madrid his inability to destabilise Pep Guardiola and upstage Barcelona got to him. Pep was younger than José, more dignified, composed, more respected and better liked than him. In his debut managerial job Guardiola had produced a Barcelona team that the footballing world were drooling over – the best football team to ever grace the field of play they were saying. No matter what José would ever do, he knew that nobody would say that about any of his teams. That type of accolade transcends winning trophies – which Guardiola also did – a domestic and European treble in 2009 no less. So how did José cope with his new competition?
Despite having the most expensive player in the world in his team (although not the best – parallels between Mourinho / Guardiola and Ronaldo / Messi can be easily drawn here too), José just couldn’t outplay Barcelona. So he resorted to kicking and violence. But the kicking and the violence didn’t work either and Mourinho suffered the most humiliating defeat of his career at the Bernabeu in 2010; Barcelona battered his team 6-2. This was followed by a run of 4 consecutive defeats against his Catalan rivals (including a 5-0 drubbing at the Nou Camp) only punctuated by a 1-1 draw in Madrid. But perhaps the most humiliating episode in José’s career to date is the petulant eye-poking assault on Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova that followed a flare up during the Super Cup in 2011. That act really unveiled the façade of composure that belies the inner tantrum of a sore loser. Perhaps more telling than ironic, Madrid actually won that game.
José left Madrid in 2013 after he finally managed to win a La Liga title, but many were glad to see the back of him. They felt that the dirty tactics he adopted to overcome his Catalan rivals tarnished Real Madrid’s image. By then Guardiola had already left Barcelona and rejected an offer to become Chelsea manager to take a sabbatical from the game. Meanwhile, Alex Ferguson, the one manager for whom José had nothing but reverential admiration for, was on his way out of Old Trafford. What next for José? A return to the place where he was loved – Chelsea (but only because Pep Guardiola turned down the job).
José’s return to the Premiership was relatively low key. He seemed to be more mature, less severe and a little softer around the edges. He played down his chances of winning the league and spoke of Chelsea as the “little horse”, and his “beautiful young eggs that need a mum”. This was a team he was building for an assault on the league title next year. The mediocre and typically uninspiring performances of his team reflected that. But it wasn’t long before the nasty barbs came out again and the targets were the obvious ones – anybody threatening his title challenge. So there were patronising backhanded complements given to Brendan Rodgers, the “young manager” who was once José’s understudy. There was mud slung at sexagenarian’s Arsene Wenger – who he labeled a “specialist in failure” – and Manuel Pelligrini with whom he already had previous, having mocked his appointment at Malaga after he replaced him at Madrid.
Now we’re at the money end of the season and Chelsea are title contenders, the abstract distractions – references to money, fixtures, players even the scent of goals – all these things are part of José’s arsenal of obfuscation that he utilises to attain victory. Unbowed by grace or humility, José will try anything to win. He is no respecter of age, rules, rights or wrongs. His aim is to make history and make a few headlines along the way.
For some, a simple statistic in the history books is all that matters. For others, a chapter that is retold over and over, telling a story of strength, desire, skill and passion means much more. In an era where every second of every football moment is recorded in posterity, I think those looking back from the future on the great teams of yesteryear will be enjoying the games involving Manchester United, Barcelona and even Arsenal more than José’s Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Madrid. It is very possible that in 50 years time people will remember José more than his teams. We will remember his post and pre-match interviews, his touchline performances and his increasingly self-indulgent ramblings, but how many of his incredibly successful teams’ performances will last in the memory?
Despite all of this, there’s still something about José that I like. For all his flaws he offers more entertainment value than Moyes, Allardyce, Martinez, Hughes, Hughton, Pulis, Rodgers, Pelligrini and even Wenger. In the absence of characters like Alex Ferguson, Harry Redknapp and even Roberto Mancini, post-match press conferences have become a wasteland of blandness this season. For all the criticism that can justifiably be landed at his doorstep, José does give an otherwise anodyne arena of sport the promise of something a little bit different, even if it is more of the same.