Archives » 2010 » December

Friday On My Mind 39: Gimme Shelter

This wasn’t a single (so falls outwith the artificial borders of my category – which admittedly I have breached at least three times already) but there is a link to this time of year, albeit tenuous.

The first time I heard this was on a BBC retrospective of music from the 60s, aired I think on Hogmanay 1969. As I recall Mick Jagger was prancing around with some floaty bits of black cloth which were attached to his shirt flying about as he moved.

The intro for me conjures up weird, not to mention approaching menace. Much more so than Sympathy For The Devil.

“Ooooh, ooooh, ooooh… Ooooh, ooooh, ooooh…”

The Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter

Winter Break

Could it be almost over?

Still three days to go, though; plenty of time for the weather to turn again.

The restart when it comes could go one of two ways.

Either the break has given Alan Adamson the time to instil more confidence in the boys and we’ll hit the ground running or our lack of matches will mean we’ll be absolutely gash and back to square -3.

Slight Hiatus

Well Christmas has been and gone, and my birthday just before it.

We had both boys, plus the younger’s girlfriend, with us for a few days. A nice family time. Among other things as presents I got a few more tins for the collection; mainly containing biscuits.

Yesterday I was van driving again, the road and the miles to Dundee. Not to mention humphing furniture flat packs up two flights of stairs at the other end.

I can barely move today.

So there’s not been much time for posting.

There has also been a full scale thaw.

Another Christmas Saturday

I remember Saturday Christmases. Well, one in particular, when I did something inconceivable nowadays. I attended a professional football match.

It was the last time a full Scottish football fixture list was played on 25th December. Five years later – another Christmas Saturday – a couple of games managed to avoid being called off, thereafter Scottish football gave up swimming against the tide of the Christmas juggernaut.

It was 25/12/71 and the location was in Love Street Paisley. (Was it officially St Mirren Park? It was never referred to as such.)

The fact that a full Scottish football card was played on that date wasn’t what makes it memorable. It sticks in the mind because that day I saw the best goal from a Dumbarton player I have ever seen.

There have been a few belters; Jumbo Muir’s at Shawfield – predating George Weah’s waltz up almost an entire pitch by quite a few years – he collected the ball in our penalty area and just went with it till he scored, none of the Clyde defenders seemed able to cope with him; Lee Sharp’s cracker at Livingston; John McQuade’s marvellous team goal against Cowdenbeath at Boghead in the promotion season from the old Division Two in the days of three Divisions (Cowden had just equalised and the ball went from kick-off to net via I don’t know how many passes without one of their players touching it;) Chic Charnley’s goal from inside his own half – which unfortunately I did not witness personally; Paddy Flannery’s skiter from just outside the centre circle at Central Park – though the keeper was gash for that one; and many others not quite as good.

At that Love Street game I remember I was standing near to Sons legend Jim Jardine, who had can of beer in hand, (yes in those days you could take drink into a game) giving a running commentary on the then inexperienced Billie Wilkinson’s performance at left back, “Nice wee nudge, son. Oh; he’s spotted it.”

Anyway Charlie Gallagher swung in a free kick and Kenny Wilson threw himself full length to head it into the net. That was in the middle of Kenny’s long run that season on his way to a club record number of goals in the league, averaging more than one a game, when he scored in every game for what seemed like ages, including not a few decisive goals in one-nil wins. His effort at Hampden against Queen’s Park took an age to hit the back of the net – they had long stanchions at Hampden in those days – it took so long we all thought it had gone past the post.

But that wasn’t the special one. That came later, the second in the sequence of three in a row of Big Roy McCormack’s thunderbolts. The first had been against Alloa at home the previous week, the third at Kilbowie in the defeat of the Bankies on New Year’s Day a week later.

But our second goal that day and Roy’s second in the sequence was the best of the lot.

He took the ball up, right out on the left wing about ten or fifteen yards inside St Mirren’s half, it sat up nicely and he just belted it. It flew over the keeper’s head, hit the stanchion and bounced out beyond the penalty spot! We went mental.

The referee thought it must have hit the bar and was waving play on till he saw the linesman (no assistant referee rubbish in those days, thank goodness) running back up the pitch signalling a goal.

It being 1971 there were no cameras there to mark the event so it’ll just have to stay in the mind’s eye.

It’s one of my best Christmas memories.

Not that things stayed that way. St Mirren were full time, I think, and we tired. Whatever, they pressed us back for the rest of the game, scored twice, the equaliser coming just before the end.

We had the last laugh, though. Despite them beating us at Boghead in the second last game we still got promotion, and the championship, the Wednesday after. They came third.

Friday On My Mind 38: Christmas Song

This partly breaks the rules I set myself for this category in that I’ve already featured Tull.

But it’s that time of year isn’t it?

It’s also by way of responding to Big Rab’s comment on my festive posting last year – Tull’s 1970s seasonal opus Ring Out Solstice Bells.

Jethro Tull: Christmas Song. Original version: a single in 1968.

“Hey. Santa. Pass us that bottle, will ya?”

I like the adaptation of the Aqualung cover, with the tramp being dressed as Father Christmas, on the still for the video.

While browsing You Tube I came across this variorum version of Christmas Song which features only guitar, mandolin and Ian Anderson’s voice. No strings and no request to Santa at the end.


Merry Christmas one and all.

Sonstrust Questionnaire

Further to my recent post about the mooted league reconstruction, Dumbarton fans’ organisation, The Sonstrust, has put up a questionnaire asking for views on the proposals. If you click here it will take you to it.

I and several others have already commented.

None of the contributors to this so far has been in favour of the changes the SPL apparently has in mind.

I urge you to add to the chorus.

Wrong Storm, Wrong Teacup

Yes, Vince Cable should not have said he’d block the Murdoch takeover of Sky but the other stuff is totally unremarkable. It is perfectly obvious to one and all that had he resigned from the government at any point up to now then the coalition would have been in deep trouble. (The same may no longer be true due to the fallout from this.)

However, the fact that he was entrapped is what bothers me. Moreover it ought to bother anyone who might have to contact an MP about a constituency matter.

This underhanded piece of agent provocateurship does a profound disservice the democratic process as it operates in the UK. (What passes for a democratic process.) Anything which undermines what little restraint or influence constituents can have on their MPs between elections is to be deplored.

I heard some journalist on the radio saying that everyone understood that if as an MP you said you were talking “off the record” then that would be adhered to. If you didn’t – and Vince hadn’t in those terms – then you were fair game. That totally ignores the fact that Cable did not think he was talking to a journalist; he thought he was talking to a constituent. There is a world of difference.

Of course he would not have said these things to a journalist. But most people say things to others they don’t necessarily mean. In some cases it’s known as being polite.

Also, things said in private may not always correspond to public utterances. An employee, for instance, may be less than enthusiastic about his/her employer when not at work – sometimes even at work – but never to the boss’s face.

We are not, here, discussing criminal behaviour (where such tactics by journalists may be justifiable in uncovering wrongdoing) but about the interaction between a representative of the people and his constituents. Cable had, I believe, not even done anything against the ministerial code of conduct as he had not yet actually made his decision about the takeover. It certainly hadn’t been announced. He was guilty only of boasting, puffing himself up; as I suspect most MPs would/do in these situations.

An MP has the right to expect that those who come to him for help as a constituent are who they say they are. Otherwise it will be difficult for him or her to do their job properly.

This journalistic sting succeeded in that it revealed Vince wasn’t too happy about aspects of the Government’s programme.

Hmmm.

Didn’t we know that already? And that other Lib Dems felt similarly?

Who potentially benefits from all this fuss about nothing?

Murdoch and News International.

That tells us a lot.

The Great Wheel by Ian R MacLeod

Harcourt Brace, 1997. 458p.

Global warming has come and stayed, one of its ramifications being that only Christianity has survived as a major world religion. There is a division between Europeans and people from outwith Europe who are called Borderers. This is so marked that Borderers can die merely from contact with Europeans.

Father John Alston of The Holy Apostolic Church of Rome is a priest sent to the Magulf, a part of The Endless City which runs all the way along North Africa up through the Near East and peters out somewhere in the Russian steppes. There he acts as a kind of pharmacist dispensing medicines to those denizens of the Magulf who come to the clinic attached to his church. The diagnoses, though, are performed by a machine, known as a doctor. Europeans in the Magulf wear special gloves to prevent touching the locals, gloves which burn up when discarded, and keep mostly to the Zone, a gated area where few Borderers are present. Borderers working in the Zone are protected from the contaminating European viruses by taking a drug called lydrin.

In his ministrations Father John comes to recognise that there is a higher incidence of leukemia in the Magulf than there ought to be. He links this to the chewing of a leaf called koiyl and with the help of a Borderer named Laura Kalmar sets out to find the source of the contamination, which may be near a nuclear bomb site dating from the attempts to prevent immigrants moving from Africa to Europe when the sea levels started to rise.

In many ways this is a conventional tale of a missionary priest who goes a bit weird when he encounters the locals. A nice touch is the fact that Father John’s bishop is a woman. There is an added subplot about John’s brother, who is in a coma after almost killing himself, which in turn may have been due to his guilt about the murder one year of a Borderer girl from the traveling shows which came annually to their boyhood town. Father John’s ambivalence about his faith is a rather well worn staple, though.

This book is much better proof read than the editions I read of MacLeod’s otherwise excellent subsequent novels The Light Ages and The House Of Storms. Here there was a span count of zero, but I did spot two sunks, unfortunately.

It is a measure of its complexity and slight strangeness that The Great Wheel is actually quite difficult to summarise. MacLeod can undoubtedly write. He handles and delineates character very well indeed.

Recommended if you like your SF with a touch of difference.

Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 18. Greenock (1)

These pictures come from the trip I took “doon the watter” (by road) in 2009.

We stopped off in Greenock for a wee wander and I spotted these two Art Deco style houses, in Johnston Street I think it was.

They are not major deco but I haven’t posted any for a while nor have I got round to photographing any significant buildings recently so here they are.

They had what appeared to be inbuilt garages which this second photo shows. If this feature is original they must have been among the first houses in Scotland to have incorporated a garage into the body of the building.


The Death Of Scottish Football? 3.

I’ve posted about their sheer damned nerve before. Twice over in fact.

But now we see it in all its naked self interest.

These proposals are not to the benefit of Scottish football as a whole.

They would do nothing – absolute zero – to improve the national team’s efforts to qualify for major championships.

They would do nothing to further the development of young players – quite the reverse: their appearance in first teams would be much less likely.

Neither would the base of the game be widened and strengthened. It would almost certainly mean the demise of the current SFL clubs who have little chance of ever reaching Division 1, far less the SPL. By and large these clubs live within their means and on occasion turn up players whom the bigger clubs have missed. They also have dedicated fans (albeit in small numbers) who are passionate about their allegiances and would be lost to the game if their clubs were to go under.

Any clubs who aspire to SFL membership will not gain from this either as very shortly there wouldn’t be an SFL to aspire to. The new SPL2 won’t let the likes of Spartans in, you can be sure of that.

What the proposals might do is ensure that the Old Firm continue to receive the lion’s share of television exposure – and monies – and entrench the current imbalance that is the true source of Scottish football’s malaise. (Two teams win most of the competitions and the rest barely get a look in.)

They will also make sure that the SPL1 and 2 is in fact a closed shop.

The SPL says it has canvassed thousands of Scottish fans about these proposals. Well; nobody asked me.

A discussion on the fan site Pie and Bovril did direct me to a survey (http://www.surveymonkey.com) after the proposals were announced, but this isn’t connected to the SPL, I believe. Just in case it is I urge you all to access this and opt against anything similar to an SPL1 and 2.

And as for regionalisation below the SPL, that would largely deprive me of the chance to watch my team as I no longer live in its area. At the moment I can attend lots of away games; under regionalisation that would probably change. From being a frequent attender at matches, I would become more or less a stranger to Scottish football.

The suggestion that SPL reserve teams should play in the regionalised league below SPL1/2 is simply outrageous. They had a reserve league of their own and disbanded it. Let them set it up again or else loan their reserves out to gain experience. Do not sully a totally different competition with teams you can’t be bothered to cater for otherwise. Foisting them on someone else is more than high-handed. It smacks of bullying.

I can’t tell you the despair that these proposals have engendered in me. Quite simply, without the prospect of promotion and relegation throughout the Scottish football system – I am by no means against a pyramid coming into being provided that there is a suitable league for demoted SFL clubs to play in – but, remember, for most of those located in West and Central Scotland there isn’t at the moment – then there is little point in carrying on.

The main things that would free up the current arrangements and lessen the staleness that abounds are either

1. immediately increasing the available promotion spots from SFL1 to the SPL, or

2. getting rid of playing teams four times a season (in other words increasing the size of the various divisions.)

That last would probably mean only one SPL league and two SFL divisions.

I do hope the teams at the top of the SFL Div 1 won’t be seduced by the mere possibility of games against the ugly sisters that they will go for this.

In fact, they’re probably going to do better in attendance terms if they are doing reasonably well in the SFL than if they were struggling in the SPL.

The response of the SFL to all this ought to be, “Two words; seven letters; three of them ‘f’.”

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