So the longest serving manager in European football is to retire.
(This apparently will leave Ronnie McFall of Portadown as the holder of that accolade, at least according to The Belfast Telegraph. There is nothing so good for a newspaper as a local slant to news.)
SrAlec’s tenure at Manchester United has certainly been a fruitful one. He has amassed a haul of trophies unlikely ever to be matched.
But how much of a turning point will this be for the club, though? Especially as he will be hanging around behind the scenes.
When Matt Busby stepped down to be replaced by Wilf McGuiness things were never the same again, probably partly becasue Busby was still hovering in the background.
It is of course an honourable thing for the club not to discard its loyal employees when their main use has been superseded but there are dangers here. United went into a sharp decline (which arguably had already started under Busby) and were relegated to the second tier a few years later, from which they quickly bounced back up.
However, it took till Fergie arrived over 20 years later for the really good times to roll around once more.
It seems David Moyes is the favoured replacement. Good timing, with him being out of contract at Everton in a few weeks.
Moyes has done an incredible job at Everton with little in the way of resources by comparison with Man U. If he is offered and accepts the job he is probably a strong enough character not to feel overshadowed by Ferguson but what if results should fall off? Will he be given the same slack from fans and board that Ferguson has enjoyed when first Arsenal and then Chelsea and lately Manchester City threatened to become top dog in English football?
It most likely won’t happen but I wonder what odds you’d get on United being in the Championship in four or so years time?
There has been a lot of outrage expressed (some of it probably confected) over the campaign by some to have the song Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead get to number 1 in the download charts this week.
Isn’t this one of those examples of the law of unintended consequences?
For the irony here is that it is those who were/are the most avid acolytes of the “Blessed Margaret” as they saw/see Mrs Thatcher who are the ones most loudly decrying the situation. (And make no mistake: we have been subject to a concerted effort to portray her as some sort of secular saint – it was hours before I heard any sort of countervailing opinion on the BBC News on TV or radio on Monday and on Tuesday Matthew Amroliwala persistently tried to force Douglas Alexander to agree that her legacy was entirely beneficial.)
Notwithstanding the point that using the song in this way is arguably sexist – there is no male equivalent to witch that carries the same degree of derogatoriness – wasn’t her attachment to market forces well documented enough and isn’t this the perfect example of those same market forces?
To assert the primacy of “the market” and then to say that a choice people make under its auspices is wrong or reprehensible is hypocritical at best. You cannot be both for the untrammelled workings of a market and at the same time complain about any of its manifestations – except from a position of intellectual bankruptcy.
If you claim that some choices ought to be limited or should not be made then you admit that markets need to be constrained. You have lost the pass, conceded the game.
The question is then of where to draw the line, not of having no line at all.
It is customary not to speak ill of the dead – or at least those of recent demise.
However, in some cases it would be rank hypocrisy to follow that tradition. Today is such a day. (Only it’s not so much speaking ill as speaking the truth.)
Frankly, I was sickened by what I can only describe as an outpouring of smarm on the BBC News attendant on the announcement of Margaret Thatcher’s death. She may have been the longest serving but she was also the most contentious and divisive Prime Minister in recent British history. The second part of that assessment has been getting brushed over.
All this was after what can only be described as an ongoing softening-up process by the hagiographic treatment of Government papers relating to her premiership released under the thirty year rule. My previous thoughts on those are in some of the posts here and on Thatcher’s legacy here.
And I had to laugh when some Tory sycophant said she paved the way for Britain’s economic recovery. She it was who dismantled financial regulation, who encouraged not only “me”-ism but greed, short-termism and the pursuit of profit above all else. In many people’s eyes she turned selfishness into a virtue. As a result she set in train the conditions that made the banking crash of 2008 not only possible but inevitable. How can anyone in today’s economic circumstances mention “Britain’s economic recovery” with a straight face?
And this wasn’t the worst. The worst was she demolished that society which she said didn’t exist. The Britain I grew up in was a more caring, more compassionate place than the one she has bequeathed us. A symptom of that was the selling off of the social housing stock without any provision being made for – indeed a ban on – its replacement. The result was a continuing boom in house prices and, latterly, of private rentals making it all but impossible for young couples to buy a starter home or to rent at reasonable rates. Any present crisis of homelessness is directly traceable to that decision. I do not blame anyone for taking advantage of the opportunity to buy “their” council house, it made absolute financial sense for many who did so, but in effect it licensed the stealing of public assets for private profit – as was the selling off of nationalised industries.
Another commenter said private companies now compete to provide us with these sorts of services. Well they don’t. I have one electricity line, one gas pipe, one telephone line coming into my house. In what sense are they competing to connect me to their services? It’s utter bilge.
And I’ve not noticed any benefit to the consumer on the bottom line. Quite the reverse. But that, of course was always the object.
The country is now run for the sole benefit of profiteers and exploiters. All that can be laid at the door of
Margaret Hilda Thatcher (née Roberts,) 13/10/1925-8/4/2013. So; it goes.
I’ve only met Iain a few times but he was always unfailingly polite and good company, not to mention supportive.
Though it seems there is one more novel to come he will be much missed in the UK SF community and the wider literary world.
Long time readers may remember my post where I said it was Iain’s first SF novel Consider Phlebas that demonstrated that being Scottish was no longer a barrier to having SF published and as a result he represented something of a role model for me.
Dundee songwriter/singer Michael Marra died a few months ago. The Guardian’s obituary is here.
The obituary mentions his songs General Grant’s Visit to Dundee and Frida Kahlo’s Visit to the Tay Bridge Bar saying they illustrate Marra’s humour. Well, maybe. What is most astonishing is that General Grant (as President Grant) actually did visit Dundee. I don’t think Frida Kahlo ever frequented the Tay Bridge bar, though, which is an example of idiosyncratic humour.
I didn’t mark Marra’s passing at the time because I was searching for a particular song of his which I remember from the first time he came to my attention. This was on an STV programme after the late evening news many moons ago. For this one he strode, wielding his guitar, through a flat in the process of refurbishment.
The song was the almost bizarre Painters Painting Paint which I have now been able to access. You can find it if you scroll down to number 36 on this webpage.
His gravel voice was not to everyone’s taste but he was a significant figure on the Scottish music scene, not least for his influence on it.
This You Tube clip says “Mother Glasgow cover.” In fact Marra wrote the song and it was Hue And Cry who covered it.
Michael Marra: 17/2/1952 – 23/10/2012. So it goes.
I heard today that jazz trumpeter Kenny Ball has died.
My eldest brother was into trad jazz in the early 1960s and had several of Kenny’s singles. Some of those songs were in the run of early 1960s singles I included in this category about two years ago.
Here’s the band playing I Wanna Be Like You, one of the songs from the Disney version of The Jungle Book. I remember seeing them perform this on television – probably before I ever saw the relevant clip from the film.
Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen: I Wanna Be Like You
Kenny Ball (Kenneth Daniel Ball): 22/5/1930-7/3/2013. So it goes.
I’ve said before that for a while in the Sixties The Troggs were my favourite band so I was sad to hear of the death of lead singer and composer of a fair few of their hits, Reg Presley, earlier this week.
Thinking about it, it occurred to me that, with the sparseness of the arrangements in the raunchier part of their output, they were a kind of proto punk band.
Not only was Margaret Thatcher less than forthright in her testimony to the Franks committee, it now seems she intended to dismantle the welfare state. She apparently claims in her memoirs that she was only horrified at the proposal by the thought it might be leaked, but it was all of a piece with her known predilections.
Well, contrary to her dictum, I think that there is such a thing as society. I only wish it were more cohesive.
The country I knew and grew up in was devastated by her policies. The United Kingdom is a harsher, less compassionate, more squalid place as a result.
Her heirs and successors in the present Government are well on the way to completing the demolition project.