Monday, 5 April 2021

Critical Wraith Theories

 It wasn't the Frost Nixon interview, but Steve Wraith's chat with Yaxley Lennon caused a furore. Here's my take on it -:


On Thursday 25th March, around 2pm, Steve Wraith created a social media pandemic when he announced on Twitter that he was to interview convicted mortgage fraudster, serial public order offender and unapologetic brawling stalker, Stephen Yaxley Lennon. Steve invited questions and so, within 5 minutes of the announcement, I began a 7 day Twitter ban for a direct personal attack on Yaxley Lennon, after inquiring why the odious little shit didn’t top himself. In retrospect, you can understand the automated banning response, as it was triggered by oath-edged talk that could be seen as targeted abuse.

Of course, this banning order was an ironic by-product of my long-held belief that fascists (including TERFs) should be vigorously deplatformed. You’ll notice that I’m not shouting and bawling about the suppression of free speech, which I’ve long regarded as a farcical canard, mainly on account of the fact that those who shout loudest on this subject regard Free Speech as the supposedly legal right to say what they want and listen to others who mimic their opinions, while calling for the muzzling of anyone who has a different opinion. In England’s repressive, quasi Police State, only those whose authoritarian populist, pro-militaristic, Islamophobic rhetoric strictly parallels the fascistic ideology of the ruling elite, are allowed the honour of Free Speech. Witness how long it took for the Met, home of murderer Wayne Couzens, took to investigate the neo-Nazi activities of Benjamin Hannam, who was banged up last week.

Witness also the kerfuffle concerning Batley Grammar School, where some unthinking oaf of an RE teacher used the Charlie Hebdo Mohammed cartoons, in total defiance of the words of the Qur'an, which has caused outrage in the local Muslim community. The teacher has been suspended and will probably tender his resignation, which is a better result than if the lads from the local Mosque got hold of him, but the wider point remains that the teacher, not the followers of Islam gathering at the school gates, is the one who inflamed the situation, by the misuse of Free Speech.

Perhaps the biggest irony of Steve Wraith’s announcement was that it took place in the week that the appalling report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities was published. This mendacious tissue of horseshit was allegedly an investigation into institutional racism in England; instead, it was a collection of lies and half-truths, attempting to portray a country, rent asunder by strife, as living in racial harmony. Ray Honeyford, Roger Scruton and probably Bernard Manning would have blushed in shame at the weasel words it contained.

With the 7 day ban in force, I spent little or no time on Twitter, so I had no idea of the magnitude of the rancour and bad bloodletting that was taking place among the NUFC Twitterati over Steve Wraith’s proposed interview. Suffice to say, the whole platform was divided into two distinct camps, with endless cyber finger pointing and gesturing disfiguring a debate that generated far more heat than light. When I returned to Twitter, I posted a tweet saying I’d be addressing this subject in my next blog. In a surprisingly touchy outburst, Steve Wraith expressed disappointment with this and anger at my expense. This took my breath away as, in all the time I’ve known him, Steve and I have never had cross words. Let’s put this in context, shall we? I’ve known Steve Wraith nigh on 30 years now, first meeting in 91, back when he used to edit The Mighty Quinn fanzine, which then became The Number 9 after our erstwhile Scouse goal getter was first injured and then sold.

Unlike The Mag, Steve’s publication had a different tone, including interviews with the likes of John McVicar and references to many London underworld figures. This apparent veneration of a criminal demi monde has been used as a stick to beat Steve with ever since, generally by unscrupulous bullshit artists with their own agenda, but has never bothered me; while I was reading The Mighty Quinn, I was also collecting all 150 issues of Murder Casebook, which I’ve still got in binders incidentally. I’m no longer as interested in serial killers as I once was, because people change their hobbies, don’t they? Considering other NUFC fanzine editors have lost everything and almost bankrupted their business partner because of a pervasive gambling problem or collected more Nazi memorabilia than the late Frank Wappatt, I don’t have a problem with Steve’s interests as a younger bloke. I don’t judge Steve for how he was aged 20 and I’ll always be grateful for how he intervened and helped protect me from the relentless cyber campaign Mental Mickey conducted against me back in 2015. He’s not the only ex fanzine editor I’d have a drink with either; Half Mag’s David Jameson is a blinding fella and Talk of the Tyne’s Derek Graham always cheers me up when we run into each other, but they’ve both long abandoned writing about Newcastle United. Sensible lads.

Politically, I’ve never had a problem with Steve either. Sure, he’s on the other side of the spectrum to me, but I fully understood his decision to stand as the Tory candidate for the Felling ward by-election for a seat on Gateshead Council. You see that by-election was caused by the death of my uncle: long-serving Labour Councillor John Hird (the dad, not the unhinged Leninist loony son of the same name). John’s death came at a time when the BNP, who had a history of activism in the Felling, Deckham, Leam and Shipcote areas going back to the 70s, were possibly at their strongest as an electoral force around that time. It’s not certain but if Steve, who was a resident of the ward at that time, hadn’t stood for the Tories, the BNP could have won, which would have been an absolute disgrace for one of the most impoverished areas of the entire region. Of course, we’re talking about, what were for the bits of my family left standing, emotive events that happened 15 years ago. It seemed possible at the time, but the actually voting figures completely disprove my memory, which is unreliable in this instance. Steve got 74, the BNP got 96 and Paul McNally succeeded John with 896 votes. Heck, there was even a Lib Dem candidate who got 206. Apologies for this; I didn’t do my research. Let me be clear about this; on that occasion Steve Wraith stood up against Fascism and I have absolutely no belief that he is a follower or fellow traveller with the organised ultra-right wing. You may disagree with his decision to give Yaxley Lennon publicity, but to depict him as a card-carrying, far right thug is way wide of the mark.

Now, looking at his decision to interview Yaxley Lennon, I have to say I was in opposition and would not, under any circumstances, have gone ahead with this interview if I’d been in his position. I look upon his grinning photo with Yaxley Lennon as an ill-judged publicity disaster. To be frank, I was worried that the final product would be potentially ruinous for Steve’s reputation and a crass own goal. However, while being aware of the righteous anger and utter condemnation of large numbers of decent, salt of the earth Newcastle fans who I’d like to think of as friends, as well as many hypocritical opportunists who climbed on the bandwagon to get publicity for their loathsome Twitter profiles, despite being Fascist sympathisers themselves, I promised not to comment until I’d sat through the entire 1 hour and 45 minutes of the encounter.

It was a tough listen, but not fawningly hagiographic. The headline conclusion is that Yaxley Lennon’s paranoid ranting will only appeal to the terminally hard of thinking underclass whose ignorance is matched only by their malleability. For some reason I’ve never really got on board with the podcast revolution, so I tend to find them either stilted or embarrassingly enthusiastic. In this case, it was a bit of both. Steve was true to his word and asked the questions he’d been sent, but perhaps because they weren’t his invention, he hadn’t anticipated the answers he would be given; thus, he wasn’t there with follow up questions to really nail his victim. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t soft-pedalling, but perhaps an indication that if Steve wishes to expand his horizons and explore what hard talk really means, he needs to sharpen up. My advice would be to secure an interview with former Benwell Labour Councillor Dipu Ahad, who would be diametrically opposed to Yaxley Lennon on any ideological continuum.

Yaxley Lennon, other than endlessly betraying his hatred of Islam, Marxism, Black Lives Matter and “student” politics, didn’t say anything particularly inflammatory, or interesting. Hence, the news he has a warrant out for his arrest after this, suggests talking shite is now an offence. Yaxley’s demeanour is that of a barely controlled, tightly wound fighting machine, ready to explode in the face of anyone who questions or doubts him. His rhetoric is endless banal, superficial populism. Any experienced political interviewer would absolutely wipe the floor with him. Yaxley Lennon is utterly unapologetic for his prior misconduct and refuses to accept that his criminal past is anything to be ashamed of. Rather like his pitiful grizzling over his ex-wife’s decision to cut all ties, he lacks any understanding of the result of his previous actions.  The most piteous thing is how, when animated, Yaxley Lennon’s voice rises to a hysterical, camp falsetto that makes him sound pathetic. In short, anyone with any basic level of education can discount Yaxley Lennon and his squalid gang of low life followers; the bloke is as thick as pig shit and no threat to the ruling elite. I simply cannot envisage a situation where Yaxley Lennon, or indeed any other right wing demagogue, will succeed at the ballot box. However, whether it is in the company of the nefarious hoods behind the discredited and despicable Justice 4 Chelsey campaign, or mobilising his squad of street thugs the next time a Batley type local incident blows up, we know Yaxley Lennon has the power to make the lives of ordinary people, especially if they are Muslim, an utter misery. That is why we should oppose him by word, or deed if you prefer, at every opportunity.


Two final points; firstly, I’d like Steve to clarify if he had met Yaxley Lennon once or twice prior to this. It seems that Steve met Yaxley Lennon after his visit to Sunderland ended in a pub in Whickham and during his ill-fated trip supporting Luton in the FA Cup, when he was reputedly put on his arse by an Asian Antifa activist. Secondly, if Yaxley Lennon prides himself on his research, how come he didn’t know that legendary anti-Fascist campaigner, Councillor Nigel Todd, had died the weekend previously? Nigel was a good man, whose life was both well lived and considerably longer than the loathsome Piers Merchant.

 

 


Tuesday, 30 March 2021

The Filth & My Fury

 1312


Far too often, I find myself furiously nodding in total agreement with George Henrik von Wright’s analysis of his friend and peer Ludwig Wittgenstein’s influence on humanity -:

His ideas were generally misunderstood and distorted even by those who professed to be his disciples, while he doubted he would be better understood in the future. He once said he felt as though he was writing for people who would think in a different way, breathe a different air of life, from that of present-day men.

In so many ways, politically and philosophically, that is my experience of the world; beating on, a boat against the current. However, often almost imperceptibly and at a glacial pace, I all too infrequently see evidence of those who may have decried my words in the past, coming to a broad agreement with me. Take, for instance, my attitude to the Filth; the revulsion and hatred that I hold them in was once seen as wild or excessive nihilism by many of my associates. Now, other than those bald authoritarian populists whose neo-Fascist conformism obliges them to regard Babylon as their enemy’s enemy and so a surrogate friend, vast sectors of society hold the Peelers in abject contempt. 

You wonder why I think like this? Parking the conduct and influence over the local Blue Meanies held by Robin Fisher and Elaine O’Connell-Gray, come and enjoy a typical Sunday with me. It may help you understand why I feel like I’m the new Alan Barnes.

Mid-afternoon I say goodbye to Laura and the cats, then head home from the coast, in preparation for the working week ahead. I’m turning right on Park Terrace by Davinder Singh’s corner shop, heading to Linskill Terrace. Opposite me is a bright red boy racer VW Golf, number plate NG11 BBF. There’s three of them in there; a little cunt driving, a big cunt in the front passenger seat and a scrawny cunt in the back. The little one does an oh so hilarious wobble with the steering wheel, as if he’s going to run me down, before pulling up at the shop. I say out loud, “clever lad,” as the big cunt gets out. From inside the vehicle I hear “get some cat treats” and a squeal of infantile laughter.

At this point I should leave it, but frankly I’m sick of this kind of taunting. Yes, events of June 19th last year were less than memorable, but I’m sick of being made fun of. I go back to the car and open the rear passenger door on the driver’s side, asking the two occupants what the joke was. Things escalate; the two squealing cunts in the car scream for the Lenny lookalike, who grabs my untended bike and hurls it across the road. They abandon this shopping trip and tear off. I feel hurt, angry, upset and, most of all, vulnerable. Naively, I call the Pigs. The call handler, who doesn’t give his name or collar number, isn’t interested. The best he can offer me is a call back on Tuesday, which I tell him is inadequate and ask for a call on the Sunday. He ends the conversation and I’m feeling no further forward.

After spending 10 minutes rethreading the chain and checking the bike is still in working order, I pedal slowly into the teeth of a stiffening headwind, making slow progress. About 10 minutes later, I’m heading up Queen Alexandra Road, about halfway between The Gunner and The Alex when NG11 BBF crawls past. Skinny cunt is leaning out of the window screaming, “you fucking little nonce. We’re go to fucking do you, nonce” repeatedly, while filming me. I get off the bike and call Babylon again. This time the handler is quite sympathetic, promising me a call back on the Sunday, but no chance of a Plod coming to see me now.

All I can do is head slowly home, feeling tearful and worthless. About 100 yards from home, I get a call from Sergeant 3114 Simpson, who is frankly the most arrogant, objectionable and unsympathetic Rozzer I’ve had to deal with in years. She ends the call abruptly as I’m not immensely grateful for her efforts (there’s a complaint going in about that one I’m telling you). Twenty minutes later, I get my 4th different Pig on the line, who is ever so pretend sympathetic, but the best I can get is a Tuesday 6pm slot to receive a call, to discuss this incident. The call, when it first comes, is at 4.50pm when I’m still at graft. I explain this and then get my proper call 15 minutes late. Yeah he’s sympathetic and that, but all he’s doing is second stage triage; six phonecalls and I’m yet to give a statement. Fucking pointless, and further evidence of Northumbria Police’s agenda against me. The local Pigs are corrupt and incompetent; they do not investigate any complaints I make in a satisfactory manner, but are only too keen to persecute me when Fisher and O’Connell-Gray are greasing their palms. No wonder the whole country hates them.

It’s not been the best of times for the Scuffers of late. Following the arrest of a serving officer for the brutal abduction and murder of Sarah Everard, the Met showed their true colours when launching an abhorrent, ill-judged, but institutionally absolved, attack upon a socially-distanced, peaceful vigil in Sarah’s memory on Clapham Common. The utter lack of empathy and point-blank refusal to accept responsibility for such an outrage by Cressida Dick, Head of the Met, made her force’s behaviour appear to be a planned show of strength in support of Wayne Couzens.  No doubt it was. No doubt the same flat-footed psychos in DM shoes and Primark dress pants will have donated to some secret rainy day fund for Dorset pig Tim Brehmer, who has recently had his risible 10 year stretch for throttling his lover Claire Parry to death in a pub car park, doubled.

Not all violence towards women is perpetrated by members of the Constabulary, but all of it is condoned by the Po Po; especially when it is against members of the Trans community. The murder of Amy Griffiths by Martin Saberi showed which side the dated, dangerous, dungareed Millie Tant Tendency were on, when their leading spokestermagant claimed Amy’s murder not to be a hate crime. These hatchet faced TERF crones oppress Trans women in a way akin to Yaxley Lennon’s thugs beating down on Islam. These Spare Rib anachronists are still to be found worshipping at the feet of evil Graham Linehan; a straight, white male so eaten up by his hatred of Trans women that he registered on gay dating sites, pretending to be a Lesbian, to out Trans women. Unsurprisingly, his wife divorced him, out of revulsion at his obsession, though he can now take the pick of whichever Andrea Dworkin and Bea Campbell soundalike he fancies. Lucky bloke eh?

Fair play to the sisters and brothers down in Bristol whose heroic Kill the Bill demos have exposed the Avon and Somerset bacon for telling lies about broken bones and punctured lungs. In the words of the late, great Bernie Grant, the Five-O have taken a bloody good hiding on at least three occasions now. The Manc Filth showed themselves to be as evil as when Anderton was in charge; 60 of them wading into a couple of dozen student sit down protestors.  What a shame Dale Cregan couldn’t have been there.

Meanwhile Northumbria Police continue to be the focus of my ire. You’ll recall the complaint I made last June when I grew weary of PC Doyle’s continued campaign of social media vilification against me. Well, after Winton’s witless wankstains completely arsed things up, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner stepped in and the Forth Banks fucktards were told to do their job properly, which encouraged me to donate to Kim McGuinness’s re-election fund. The Filth didn’t do much of a job, as you’d expect, but at least they actually looked into my 3 complaints.  In short, they rejected 2 and accepted the other.

The easiest one to deal with is my assertion that the elusive CI Lowther who never even sent me an email, but took Doyle to one side for a cosy chat about Twitter, didn’t do his job properly. Presumably this was rejected so they could heap the blame onto Lowther’s subordinate ACI Hall, who they found to have fucked up. I have to say at this point, she is one feisty customer and, reading between the lines, it is absolutely clear she does not accept for one second that she has done anything wrong; more fool her. Doyle, as you’d expect, was utterly exonerated and is therefore free to continue his vendetta against me, no doubt with the aid of his only three friends.

Good news though; I’ve put in an appeal to the Independent Office for Police Conduct against the decisions related to Doyle and Hall.  I explained that it was both the way my complaint about Doyle was handled, which I do not regard to have been rigorous enough, and the outcome of this complaint, which seemed to be an inevitable whitewash after the desultory manner in which it was investigated, that made me appeal. I admitted that I am content to allow the complaint about the mythical CI Lowther to lie, though I did point to the absolute lack of insight and contrition by ACI Hall, which to my mind constitutes serious professional misjudgement, leading me to question her suitability for any role in the Police.

My specific complaint about the inquiry into Doyle's bullying and intimidatory conduct towards me is the utter disinclination of Northumbria Police to research the content of his Twitter account, where his abusive posts were simply hidden by him protecting his account. This prevented me from presenting compelling evidence of his bullying and intimidatory conduct towards me and made me wonder exactly why he was not compelled to show his tweets to the investigating officer. I also queried why Doyle claimed, when interviewed in July 2020, that he had left Benfield a year previous. In fact, he left almost synchronously to that interview and, in December 2019, had been the leader of a witch hunt against me that saw me banned from the club. Doyle proves himself a liar here and the sloppy approach to the investigation by ACI Hall allowed him to get away with this.

Secondly, I pointed out in the most strident terms possible that I am appalled Doyle was allowed to make the value judgement that my tweets were "offensive," and this not be challenged when he said it, or in the subsequent evaluation of my complaint against him. It is further evidence of his personal vendetta against me, as is his interpretation of the events of 2 December 2017, when he, as a serving police officer, shows his approval of an attempted attack on me by several known risk supporters. It is my contention that Doyle is a swaggering, unprofessional bully of limited intellect. Therefore, I believe Northumbria Police's investigation, as conducted by ACI Hall was not fit for purpose. In an ideal world, I'd like them both facing criminal charges or, at the very least, a professional disciplinary hearing. If they want to fob me off with an apology, I want a face to face one. This case needs investigating properly to eradicate this miscarriage of justice.

But if I do get justice for this one, there are still other cases to deal with. Remember how I started off this piece with an account of how the first day of spring was ruined by 3 Neds and 4 hopeless Coppers? Well, New Year’s Eve just gone wasn’t that great either. I headed into Tynemouth to get some last minute things for the Hogmanay gargle and, on entering the Co-Op things went awry. Obviously the incident of last June had a negative effect on my privileges in the NE30 area, but I hadn’t suffered direct discrimination until the cocksucker who I’d had the run in with, tried to fling me out of the shop. I stood my ground, so he dropped his arse and called for the Pigs.

Now, if you still think I’m paranoid, why did it take 2 coppers in vans to come screaming up Front Street to sort this? And what a pair they were; 2242 Duffy was a stunted, spherical brain donor, while 8020 Oliver (no, seriously) was the tough guy. His Paddington hard stare at me was the most pitiful attempt at intimidation I’ve come across. Although, to be fair, he was engaged in fairly heavy duty flirtation with the cocksucker in charge at the time.

Following 20 minutes of hard man, fat woman interrogation by a pair of the thickest polis I’ve had the misfortune to meet since that clown Pilgreen threatened to take me into custody the night before my mother’s funeral, they left. I wasn’t going to take their shit, so I biked it down to North Shields sty to make a complaint. Turns out, the only way to do that is to pick up the battered Freephone outside and dial 101. Three different call handlers failed to get anyone to come down and see me, so I was left with no choice but to fill out an online complaint. I did so and, to be fair, the Professional Standards (don’t laugh) investigator hasn’t done a bad job, though March 29th was the deadline for her to respond to my answers to her questions below.

1.      What was it that made you believe the person serving with the police’s words or actions were discriminatory?

I may have a different set of values and social expectations than serving members of Northumbria Police, or indeed the force as a corporate entity, but I would expect that innocent civilians who have broken no laws and are behaving in a co-operative way would be spoken to with a degree of respect and calmness, rather than the hectoring, intimidatory and indeed accusatory fashion that PC 2242 Duffy used in the entirety of the incident outside the Co-Op. When she asked what “the likes of you” were doing in Tynemouth, it was clear to me she was referring to my cultural identity as a Rastafari. PC 8020 Oliver may not have been quite as fulminating as PC 2242 Duffy, but the look of contempt and intimidation he gave me, obviously not recorded by his bodycam, showed the utter contempt he held me in.

2.      Do you feel that the person serving with the police made assumptions about you because of your protected characteristic? What were these assumptions? How did they impact on the actions of the police?

I feel that both officers made judgements about me; PC 2242 Duffy made her negative judgement about me on sight, because of my cultural identity and that it was reinforced by her response to my unwillingness to adopt a subservient attitude to the police. PC 8020 Oliver had a friendly and almost flirtatious encounter with the Co-Op manager and set his brows in a steely grimace of rebuke when seeking to badger me for my presence in Tynemouth.

3.      Did you note any differences in the way you were treated compared with others?

I was the only person presenting as culturally Rastafari in Tynemouth as I could see. I was the only person cajoled, browbeaten and bearded by the two officers.

4.      Did you note any differences in the way that this person serving with the police behaved compared with other persons serving with the police (either on this or other occasions)?

Over the past decade, I have been subject to repeated harassment from Northumbria Police, from both Newcastle and North Tyneside scions. In particular, the zeal with which the police have sought to investigate a litany of unfounded, mendacious allegations made against me by Elaine O’Connell-Gray and Robin Fisher, as well as David Caisley, that has seen me pursued, detained and interviewed on about a dozen occasions.  As can be seen, despite the incessant, intimidatory tactics of Northumbria Police, not one single allegation has resulted in so much as a caution; the actions of the officer who arrested me at Mr Fisher’s request in January 2017 (I do not have her name), plus the grievous conduct of PC 8151 Pilgreen in September 2017 are enough to demonstrate the severity of the persecution against me, as should the two reports I made of assault against my person in January and May 2020, neither of which were investigated.  Northumbria Police have a policy towards me that is repressive and intimidatory; it is from such a culture that the officers’ actions towards me sprang.

Now in contrast, whenever I’ve had cause to ask for the help of the police, the response has been considerably less than adequate. In December 2013, I was mugged on the Metro between Wallsend and Hadrian Road, where the attackers escaped. I pulled the emergency brake and the cops came. Unsurprisingly, the CCTV on the train didn’t work and the cameras at both stations missed taking any images of the 3 of them who jumped me. Case closed; unsolved. Shoulders shrugged; I was left to deal with it. In May 2015, outraged by the Greville Janner case, I finally plucked up the courage to report my mother for the years of sexual abuse I’d suffered as a child. I didn’t do this simply for my own sake, but for other potential victims. However, despite having clear evidence of my mother and sister’s extremely close relationship with a notorious resident of Dolphin Square, who boasts of being a worldwide authority on Lewis Carroll, nothing came of my statement. Seems abundantly clear to me that some families get better protection than others from the constabulary; looks like I’m not inside the tent. Indeed when my sister was finally warned as to her conduct towards me by Northumbria Police, I rather feel it was more a case of a word to the wise from another one of the gang from around the camp fire, than a case of helping a victim. The police in Newcastle and North Tyneside simply do not respond with any degree of professionalism when I require their assistance; am I paranoid or are they incompetent? Or worse; corrupt? It’s up to you to decide.

5.      Was there anything about the person serving with the police’s language that added to your concern? Did anyone else witness the incident and were any comments or reactions expressed to you at the time or since?  What was the impact on you? How did it make you feel?

It was their tone of voice rather than the carefully chosen words of PC 8020 Oliver and the limited, infantile vocabulary of PC2242 Duffy, as well as their menacing, intimidatory body language that concerned me. The fact they effectively kettled me in front of the Co-Op meant there were only a few onlookers, none of whom could hear the verbal intimidation I was being subjected to. This incident made me feel worthless and oppressed. It ruined New Year for me.

6.      What would you see as a good outcome from the complaints process?

The reason why Northumbria Police are so despised by the average citizen is because of the way they conduct themselves in matters such as this. It’s all about power trips. It’s all about social control.  The strategy they employ, often at the behest of their benefactors, involves harassment, persecution and intimidation of those who do not unthinkingly obey them, or pay tribute. Northumbria Police deny the right to freedom of speech; they violate human rights and degrade those who oppose them. I will not remain silent and allow them to persecute me any longer. I would like a verbal apology, delivered in person, by both officers.

Unsurprisingly, there was no contact, either by phone or email, on March 30th. No doubt there will be some prickly, confrontational response in the days to come, justifying their indolent inaction, as a prelude to another whitewash. Whatever; ACAB.


Tuesday, 23 March 2021

The Scenty Bottler

 Three distinguished North East writers: Dan Jackson, Joe Sharkey and Theve Broooooth. Which one of them is the least qualified to keep NUFC in the Premier League?


Be honest now; we all knew that Brooooth would be a load of shite as manager. Just because he’s been marginally less hopeless than Benitez, Carver, Kinnear and the car crash Souness administration that is no excuse for him remaining on the payroll at SJP. I was wrong to have any faith in him. The epicurean fraud should be driven out of the city with a sharpened pitchfork teasing his capacious buttocks, to school him against returning. Let the deserving poor feast upon his store of buffet Scotch eggs, mini pork pies and crates of John Smith’s.

Even less than a month ago, I still didn’t accept the stark reality of our situation. However the 90 minutes shot shy shit show at the Hawthorns saw the scales fall from my eyes, following an utterly witless non-performance where we turned up with the sole intention of grabbing a wholly undeserved nil-nil draw against a side who are even worse than us. Fair play to Brooooth; that is exactly what we got. If West Brom hadn’t been such an abhorrent load of inadequate hoofers, we’d have got turned over. The tin hat was put on our display by Fulham, like Brighton and Burnley before them, collecting three points at Anfield from the dying embers of the Liverpool supernova.

From then on, it got appreciably worse. We may look stupefyingly dull without St Maximin or Wilson, but we were a hell of a lot better than a Villa team without the Midlands Quisling, Grealish. Again though, minimal creativity and inadequate finishing saw 2 points spurned. The stunned feeling of revulsion when Clark’s unfortunate intervention hit his own net was literally nauseating. Many of us were away from the screen, choking back or clearing out vomit when Lascelles scored a bullet header at the Gallowgate for the second game running. Like Wolves, a point wasn’t enough, but it was something to hold on to as Fulham lost to Man City and then, semi-climactically to Leeds, which left many of the former NUFC Twitterati inconsolable with grief, on the Friday before we went to Brighton.  

Blind optimism made me lose the run of myself beforehand, as I was convinced we’d get all three points, despite the 3-0 annihilation we’d suffered back in September when Potter’s wizards crushed Brooooth’s lizards 3-0.  After 30 inept minutes, while Brighton toyed with us like a stricken mouse under a sadistic tom cat’s front paw, our return to the Championship was confirmed when Isaac Hayden, the only outfield player other than our injury blighted duo of Schar and Wilson, who has proved to be anything like reliable and consistent this season, crumpled with a knee injury. As he departed on a stretcher, not to be seen again this campaign, so did our hopes; three, stylish unanswered goals, including a brace of glorious strikes from Danny Welbeck (who most of us thought was probably playing for chump change in the Belgian second tier these days) saw Newcastle United collapse like the interior of the Grand Hotel after the Bhoys had done a spot of redecoration back in October 1984.

This was a bigger hammering than the pretty boy conformist Mods took at the hands of the anarchic rebel Rockers on the stony pebbles athwart the decaying pier in Quadrophenia.  Our game plan was sliced apart quicker than Spicer’s cheeks by Pinky’s shiv. So much for my theory that Brooooth’s one tactical masterstroke was to bring back Dubravka for Darlow, as I’d assumed we’d concede far fewer goals, though I don’t seek to blame the Slovak stopper for any of the goals and agree that it was time to take Darlow out of the firing line post Man United.

The final whistle, after a game where, other than the injured Hayden, not one player left the South Coast with their reputation intact, never mind enhanced, should have marked the immediate termination of the current management team’s terms of engagement. Incredibly, this did not happen, which suggests to me that our absentee owner and his underling have both lost all interest in the fate of the club, which begs the question why anyone else should care. In the week that Percy Main Amateurs announced their intention to close down after 100 years of history and tradition, it seems almost shameful that Newcastle United are continuing as a going concern. Perhaps the avarice in Brooooth’s heart is what makes him remain in situ. What else could his motivation be?

So now we sit 2 points above the drop zone, the same place as we were a fortnight ago, and still with a game in hand. Despite a potential 17 point run-in under the stewardship of any competent coach, Ashley and Charnley’s stubborn inaction, means Newcastle United look utterly shot and certainties for their third drop in a dozen years under Ashley’s ownership, whatever the current table says. Those who have been comparing the Brighton game with Southend on New Year’s Day should remind themselves that low-water mark did not signal the end for poor Ossie Ardiles, as there was the run of Watford (A; 2-2 after being 2-0 down in 4 minutes), Charlton (H; lost 3-4 to an injury time own goal, after being 3-0 up in half an hour), crowned by a 2-5 thumping at Oxford in a pea-souper that saved us frozen diehards on the Cuckoo Lane open terrace from seeing the reality of what happened on the pitch. I’ve not even mentioned the Bournemouth cup debacle. The message from history is; we might not even have hit rock bottom yet.

I’ll tell you one thing though; if we do go down, it’ll be exactly what some of the fans deserve. In some ways, I can understand the cowardly deserters who hope for the drop as they’ve now nailed their similar colours to Scott Parker’s mast. I myself cut the umbilical cord from Newcastle in 2009 and would not be anywhere near as interested in their fate, or wildly optimistic about their prospects until recently, if proper, non-league and grassroots football were available on a weekly basis. Once they are, come Easter Saturday, I will be able to walk away from the bawling, brawling Tower of Babel that the on-line world of NUFC supporters has become. I’m not just talking about the watch and sandshoe obsessed nouveau riche out in the Desert who deserve to see their empire of sand come tumbling down once all talk of a Championship takeover is stilled, but the local scourgesayers who’ve come up for air after a couple of years in social media solitary. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Moaning Minnie is wrestling with his poison pen at True Farce once again. The sheer volume of bile that drips from his nib is matched only by the repetitious nature of what he has to say. Yes dear, I know Ashley is a tyrant, Charnley couldn’t run a bath and Brooooth is a bad joke. Give it a rest eh? What I really don’t want to hear, ad nauseam, is that Brooooth doesn’t sound like “a Geordie” and may even not be “a Geordie.” Well, neither are many of our supporters by birth or, in my case, by inclination


Slightly late to the Book Club coffee morning as ever, I’ve recently read two pivotal texts about our region; Dan Jackson’s compelling The Northumbrians and Joe Sharkey’s slightly less convincing Akenside Syndrome.  At this point, I must pause to offer my sincere condolences to Dan on the recent loss of his wife.

Being honest, I initially found The Northumbrians a challenging read; Dan’s academic style took me back to those days of study when you read a book, not with the intention of enjoying it, but with a deeply critical eye in the hope of finding points you agreed with and others you took issue with. There were plenty of both. I have to say I totally concur with Dan’s thesis that the majority of those who hail from the North East are not revolutionary firebrands, but social conservatives with a small C, who show a greater allegiance to the Establishment and ruling elite than to their class comrades. Perhaps this is why the Follonsby Lodge banner is so well known and prominently displayed at the Big Meeting; the images of Marx and Lenin are as rare as streets named in their honour, such as those in wild and desolate Chopwell. As a region, it’s nowhere special. Same as the club’s support is no great shakes. We’re no better or different than anyone else really.

In the North East, on the banks of both Tyne and Wear, we hear endless proselytising about the merits of our home turf. It has never stirred me. I’m happy to say I’m from Newcastle, ignoring how my first 20 years saw me dragged up in desperately unhappy circumstances in Felling. This means I have developed a distinct loathing and a degree of fear associated with anywhere south of the river. But it isn’t just a geographical phobia; it’s an utter revulsion to and rejection of toxic masculinity with a bald head and a Stone Island jumper. For me, it is the case that, while growing up, I identified more with John Hurt’s portrayal of Quentin Crisp than Jimmy Nail’s take on the demotic yob Leonard Osborne. Oh how I hated those boorish blokes in Auf Wiedersehen Pet. Years before that, I’d only come to enjoy When the Boat Comes In after it abandoned the mean streets of Gallashield for the wide expanses of the Iberian Peninsula and the Spanish Civil War. I chuckled with glee when learning how my mam’s school pal Alex Glasgow, who sang the theme song, had immigrated to Australia and punched the air with delight as I read of James Bolam’s loathing of the North East and refusal to return.

All I wanted, once I was old enough to understand what University had to offer, was to escape the North East for a world of books.  Yes I loved Beamish Museum, but as an outsider and not a nostalgic native, for I’ve never felt that. However, there was little else bar a few friends, a ropey Division 2 football team and a few pals that I would miss. Certainly nobody I was related to.  Despite my accent, birth certificate, passport and place of residence, I’ve always gone back a generation and felt, from an early age, to be Irish. I don’t just mean I held an affinity with my ancestral homeland, but that my very essence and soul were in thrall to the kind of certainty of identification that those born in a gender they instinctively know to be unnatural feel for their actual one. However long I’ve lived, I’ve never felt any spiritual or elemental attachment to the Geordie identity. Simply put, I was born here, but I am not of this region.

In many ways, I feel Dan venerates the Stakhanovite work ethic of “the Geordie.” I’ve never felt that; long periods of time spent on tiresome labour with other grunting men, returning home filthy and exhausted, but proud of having made a rich man richer just wasn’t for me. Surrounded by books and bathing in words; that’s where I’ve spent most of my life, despite entreaties by relatives to put great works aside in my teenage years and “read more comics you headbanger.” In Akenside Syndrome, Joe Sharkey identifies such sentiments as what makes Tyneside historically an uncomfortable place for artists, intellectuals and all those who did not fit the Geordie stereotype of beer, birds and mindless violence. However, while he tells a cracking tale, it is a thin theory rather than a convincingly elucidated philosophy (everyone knows St Cuthbert’s Old Boys run this city, as most of the RGS lot head south for careers in the City or the Law); many people abandon their home town for a more congenial anonymity in the artistic milieu south of Watford. Or they did; Newcastle is a considerably more tolerant, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic city and football team compared to when I grew up. And much the better for it.

Now I don’t want to be regarded as Beatrix Campbell with bollocks, but the negative attitude to Steve Bruce in many NUFC fans’ minds, is based on his accent. The bloke who moved to first Gillingham, then Norwich, then Manchester, then Birmingham and then loads of places for about 18 months until his teams turn to shit, and has needed to communicate with players from about 50 different countries who spoke 20 different languages,  is abused, as is his son, for not having a Geordie accent. Indeed, he apparently speaks with something called a “Scenty Bottle” voice, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. So what? Theve Brooooth, as most ultra-Geordies call him, is totally unsuited to his current job not because of his voice, but because of his timid and terrible tactics and it sickens me to my core when otherwise sentient adults refer to this, then dig up aged, unfunny Oz memes to have a pop at Bruce. I don’t care that he can’t talk the talk, I’m just frustrated he won’t walk the plank.


Friday, 19 March 2021

Shelfishness

 I've not read loads lately, but here's a take on most of the books I've dealt with in 2021


At the end of last year, I joked that my main resolution for 2021 was to read less as I was running out of space to store the volume of new books I had still to find room for. Thankfully, Ben, Lucy and Sara came to my rescue at Christmas with a superb new set of bookshelves, thoughtfully assembled for his impractical old fella by my handyman son. Ironically, I have been reading less than last year, where from the moment Lockdown 1 happened, I buried my head in Houellebecq and BS Johnson, to blot out reality.

In 2021, I have eschewed fiction. Instead, I’ve completed my collection of all 51 issues of the Rothman’s Football Yearbook and successor editions, but I’ve not as yet found an author my life has been improved by reading, so the books I’ve devoured this year have been somewhat eclectic in subject matter and, with a nod to future thematic blogging, I’m not going to talk about them all here.

Courtesy of my SAFC supporting Twitter pal Kev over in Ambleside, I was delighted to receive a copy of Winter Journal by Paul Auster; an American writer of avant garde lite of whom I’d only read a single short story about 20 years back in a promotional paperback, including such storied storytellers as Peter Carey, Junot Diaz, Thom Jones and Garrison Keillor, that came free with a box of Caffrey’s unpleasant nitrokeg red ale. The title of the collection was Strong Words, Softly Spoken, which may have been great as a tagline for the beer, but did nothing to encapsulate the mood of the throwaway whimsy Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story. However, it certainly is a more than fitting epithet for the by turns sombre and by others sentimental non-linear memoir that is Winter Journal.

Started on 3 January 2011 and finished exactly a month later on his 64th birthday, Auster ruminates on his dysfunctional childhood in the exurbs of upstate New York; his artistic mother and distant, dull father, his education, his loves, his travels and the contentment that came with his second marriage, children and a house in Brooklyn that became a home. All the while, there is the sense of time passing and a forensic examination of whether the years have been used or wasted. Reading this book was an unambiguously useful act and I may seek out more of Auster as my own time ticks away.

Somewhat surprisingly, to me at any rate, I found myself compelled at the end of last year to purchase several high-profile titles: This Land by Owen Jones, which I reviewed and farmed out to my mate Stoke Dave straight after, Dan Jackson’s The Northumbrians, which I’ll deal with later, and Fake Law by the Secret Barrister, which must have about the most woke populist title published last year. I tell you what; it’s bloody good. Not having read his eponymous first effort, I was unsure what to expect, but it soon became clear that like any good brief, his argument is lucid, compelling, meticulously researched and guaranteed to provoke an emotional response to the visceral injustices done to the common law by the idiots we’ve had ruining this country for the past decade and a bit. Of course there’s also plenty of pointed, necessary digs at the pricks from the so-called People’s Party who ran the shitshow before that.

This is a portrait of and a guide to the criminal justice system in England and Wales today, not to mention a first-hand account of the personal dilemmas facing someone whose professional life is spent in and out of crown courts, police cells and prisons. It is above all a plea to rescue a justice system that has become utterly broken. What is so compelling about The Secret Barrister’s account is his ability to reveal a picture that is a commentary on society’s mean-spirited and devilish attitudes as a whole, rather than just a litany of legal shortcomings.

The author argues that the dangerous levels of public ignorance about the law, whether this is caused by historical or present day mendacity by the clowns in charge, cause the average Joe to believe and echo a starling number of untruths about how our legal system operates. Witness the repeated, erroneous claim that defendants are prosecuted by the Police. They aren’t; that’s what the CPS does. Also see how those found not guilty are repeatedly described in common parlance as having “got off” with a crime, as if being charged is a presumption of guilt.

The Secret Barrister writes compellingly about issues as varied as the treatment of vulnerable victims in rape trials and the state of sentencing law, but at its deepest level, this book is not about the criminal justice system at all. The Secret Barrister writes about our idea of us as a nation; an England still so confident in its upholding of democracy and justice, when in practice the law is now less of a model for others to aspire to than a dire warning as to what can go wrong.

Rather different in tone is Brix Smith Start’s autobiography The Rise, The Fall and The Rise which is part Valley of the Dolls, part Nil by Mouth and part Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. I’d bought this last year when I was completing my Fall print odyssey and left it to one side, partly because it was so blinking long. However, when taking up the challenge, I found it to be a mostly compelling read, with several heart rending passages that indicated what a lousy time she had of it. The most surprising thing is that Mark E Smith is not the most wholly evil character in the book; that dubious accolade goes to her rotten father, who hasn’t an ounce of decency in him. He is mainly to blame for Brix’s peripatetic, cash rich, emotion poor childhood and adolescence. After she drops out of University halfway through, she moves to Boston and within a couple of weeks becomes MES’s partner, replacing Kay Carroll who left the tour bus just days earlier, somewhere in New Jersey.

The book was published in 2016, so the last pathetic days of the squalid drunken demon that was latter day MES were still a thing, so his physical and psychological torture, during both her stints in Das Gruppe is soft pedalled, to spare him further obloquy. I’m not keen to repeat any of the abuse Smith inflicted on his wife, but it is a shameful tale. Brix’s subsequent dalliance with Nigel Kennedy doesn’t paint the rosiest of romantic pictures either. Kennedy seems to be a self-obsessed narcissist man child, though at least he keeps his hands to himself and cock in his strides.

As for the remainder of the book, which is filled with self-congratulatory homilies to her rich and boring husband Phillip Start, whose business successes in high end fashion from a parade of shops in Hoxton, allow them to bathe in money and her to engage in her twin obsessions of breeding pugs and playing in Brix and the Extricated with the infinitely more talented, as writers and musicians, Hanley Brothers. I am glad I read this book; because it is genuinely encouraging to see someone who has transcended the abuse doled out by MES and made a happy life. Well done Brix.

Without question, last autumn’s Small Axe season by British director Steve McQueen was the television highlight of 2020. The penultimate instalment was an eponymous biographical film about Black British YA author Alex Wheatle. At Christmas, Laura gave me 5 books by Wheatle, but the only one I’ve read so far is his most recent one; Cane Warriors. The book is a moving tribute to the 1760 Tacky Rebellion in Jamaica, when plantation slaves rose up to confront their oppressors.  Cane Warriors’ narrator is 14-year-old Moa, who retells the story in an unapologetic and matter of fact style. We are informed how the effects of slavery have destroyed his family’s physical strength, though not their indomitable spirit. His mother, a cook, lives in terror of abuse from the lady of the house, for the tiniest of errors. His father suffered a life-changing work accident, but still has to work, where his blood still stains the machinery that he uses every day. The book tells of others dying from exhaustion in the field, and being buried where they fall, with no mourning allowed, depicted without emotion, as are the brutal attacks and scars that the workers endure from the inhumane overseers and plantation owners.

What Wheatle gets across in this captivating story, is that while the cane warriors only had the agricultural tools that they worked with, they kept their anger in check and worked in an organised military fashion to outmanoeuvre the English for many months. Part of this was to do with the mountainous Jamaican landscape, that neither the British, nor the Spanish before them, were able to completely control. However, it is not solely a story of strategy; it is one of emotion. At the heart of the book is Moa’s belief and dream of a better life. Many of Tacky’s descendants still wait for such.

 


Saturday, 13 March 2021

Mature Teams

 2021's Rock Action; minimal but magnificent.....


Musically 2021 seems to have got off to a slow start. Obviously that’s the case with live action, as we’re still under lockdown and there’s nothing on the horizon I can see until Arab Strap at the Boiler Shop on September 9th. Please don’t tell Laura about that one as it’s on her birthday. Of course, there have been a few on-line performances, but other than an absolute killer of a set by Alex Rex from the Glad Café, they’ve all passed me by. Somewhat ironic that one, considering two of the three acts I’m about to talk about did live shows. When it comes to records, then it is very much a case of absurdly high quality product that deserves veneration. April will be bookended by long-awaited albums from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Teenage Fanclub, which means I’ve got to keep taking the Beta Blockers if I want to be here when they come out such is my excitement, but before then a trio of tremendous releases by bands that have been round the block and back again have had me in raptures and them on rapid rotation.

First of all, Mogwai’s As the Love Continues debuted at the very top of the album charts. Now that was a sentence I’d never expected to type, but a superb social media campaign from their cottage industry Rock Action label, and the sheer brilliance of the product on offer, took them to number one.  And deservedly so; like all 3 of the bands I’m about to talk about, there is a degree of predictable comfort, if not formulaic ritual, about the content of the music. Lots of slow starts, quiet reverie, ear-bleeding thrashing drone that gets ever more intense and post-coital meandering are in evidence, but that’s no bad thing when Mogwai do it with such powerful panache. The album begins with a sort of post-rock Vangelis feel on To the Bin my Friend, Tonight We Vacate the Earth where an arresting synth riff drives the song on and is replicated in minimus by Dry Fantasy, before the eulogistic single Ritchie Sacramento is enhanced by a restrained vocal performance, the only one on the album, by Stuart Braithwaite. So far, we’re in introspective minor chord territory, but the big, bad noisy beasts are crowding round the door. Drive the Nail, Ceiling Granny and Pat Stains have beauty and brutality in equal measures, before the glorious, anthemic send off, in the shape of the tellingly titled It’s What I Want To Do, Mum, leads us euphorically spent, out the other side. Mogwai have 25 years’ worth of a high quality back catalogue behind them; As the Love Continues deserves a place on the top shelf of their trophy cabinet.

Also on Rock Action are the magnificently seedy Arab Strab. Following a decade long hiatus, Adrian Moffatt, whose career I’ve followed with intense scrutiny and Malcolm Middleton, whose work escaped my attention for the most part, are back together and making the sound of the sewers for those whose moral compass is permanently on the blink. As Days Get Dark perversely came out in early March, just as lighter nights and the promise of an end to lockdown are in sight, though the themes under Moffatt’s menacing microscope are almost uniquely set in the darkened realm of drunken, drugged-up, dystopian nights of flawed or frustrated passion. Nice to see it hit the charts at number 14. Their career has always had something of The Rake’s Progress about it, though what we’re presented with is more of a sordid, seething stumble through the undercover passages of a bad Bacchanalian netherworld as ever it is compelling, creepy and a triumph of all that is hideous and hateful, right from the opening bars and deliberate false start of taster single The Turning of Our Bones.

As ever, each song is a soiled narrative, steeped in booze, jizz and puke, with only the dysfunctional love song, Another Clockwork Day, that tells of a middle aged bloke secretly accessing an aged external hard drive so as he can pleasure himself to younger images of his wife, who snores upstairs, blissfully unaware of this bemusing gesture of enduring love. Everything’s Getting Older, as Moffatt said in his fabulous duet with Bill Wells, and that’s for certain here. From the knowingly retro Windows XP homage sleeve to the turn of the century sampled beats, we have the true experience of ageing, drunk blokes, too old for drugs but too young to accept that, trying to make sense of their social irrelevance by making some of the most poignantly bleak tracks you’ll come across all year, apart from the jarring prim Prebyterianism of the startling homage to sobriety, Here Comes Comus! At their very best, which is about 90% of the time on this album, Arab Strap are contemporary Hogarths; swimming with the tide in a shit storm of drunken aggression, failed sexual encounters and the sharp pains of bitter, hungover self-recrimination. Particularly noteworthy is the instances of extended metaphor to tell the narrative on Fable of the Urban Fox and Sleeper; a real step forward stylistically there.

If Arab Strap are likely to self-harm on a bouquet of barbiturates and wire, The Wedding Present have always been more likely to get duffed up by the school bully on the way to delivering a dozen red roses to their latest object of semi-requited love. For nearly 40 years David Gedge has sang plaintively of his personal pain from the privations of courtship. Unfortunately for too much of the last decade and more his way of dealing with this has been to make a romantic trip in a pony and trap more likely a trip to the slaughterhouse to see how much he can get from punting deceased nags. At last, following the uninspiring live versions and faithful retreads of George Best and the like, he’s gone out and made an almost new record. Don’t get me wrong; The Wedding Present’s 2016 album Going, Going is a work of delicate beauty, so the lad can still cut the mustard when he decides to. Without question, Locked Down and Stripped Back is an absolutely essential purchase for any serious fan of the Gedge oeuvre, for the absolutely definitive version of My Favourite Dress alone.

When Charles Hayward and Danielle Wadey quit the band to embark upon Planned Parenthood in late 2019, The Wedding Present were forced into another incarnation and, with 2020’s lockdown to deal with, they recorded this lo-fi almost semi acoustic take on a dozen different numbers. Frankly, it’s a triumph. The current line-up features Melanie Howard on bass, Christopher Hardwick on drums and Jon Stewart from Sleeper on guitar. It is the latter named who has helped contribute the two previously unreleased songs that stand out on this album. You’re Just a Habit that I’m Trying to Break is the first fruit of David Gedge's new songwriting partnership with Stewart, whilst We Should Be Together was originally written, but never released, by Sleeper themselves and this version has Louise Wener on vocals. There are 9 other tracks on the album, namely: A Million Miles, California, Starry Eyed, You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends, Granadaland, Crawl, Sports Car, Deer Caught in the Headlights and Blonde. Of those my initial favourites are the incredibly sparse version of Blonde and Melanie Howard’s vocals on Sports Car. I’d like to think Gedge might decide to release a whole album of new stuff, but if he does, that won’t be for a while as they’re touring Seamonsters for the next year or so. Oh well, whatever pays the mortgage I guess….


Friday, 5 March 2021

Euclidian Space Cadets

 And here's to Matt Ritchie with Steve Brooooth's teeth in his hands....


I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing the Mighty Magyars of the Aranycsapat or the revered Austrian Wunderteam either in the flesh or on film while they were in their pomp. Although the famed Brazil 70 outfit is only a distant memory from my early childhood, Holland 74’s Total Voetbal left a lasting impression on me, as had the Ajax team on which they were based. The glorious, romantic failures that were Brazil 82 and the triple tournament-winning Spanish tiki taka generation are both close to my heart as well. When I think of club sides, everything from Liverpool’s Red Machine to the Barca way, with nods to the sublime catenaccio of Milan and Juve in their pomp and the joyous invention of Pep’s Manchester City, not to forget Keegan’s fabulous, flawed Entertainers will always provoke bouts of misty-eyed, nostalgic sighing. However, not one of those sides can hold a candle to Colonel Scott Parker’s legendary footballing artistes Real Fulham whose achievements are rightly lauded by their massive Geordie on-line following. The Tweets, as Parker’s perfects are known, are good enough to play Spurs in the Europa League on a Thursday, gaining 20 points for heroically losing 1-0, before coming back on the Sunday to face the dying embers of what were once Liverpool in the Champions’ League. Gannin’ along the Hammersmith Road, to see Scott Parker’s Geordies…

Actually, questions about places of birth and allegiances can throw up some pretty strange paradoxes. Steve Brooooth is certainly an incompetent football manager whose sides have the milk of human invention ruthlessly squeezed out of them, but he is a Geordie, even if he was born in Corbridge. As I’ve grown tired of telling people, Newcastle’s capacity for maternity units at the turn of the 60s was minimal at best. If the old lady didn’t get her name down for bed, board and birth at the Princess Mary in Jesmond, it was off to the Tyne Valley for countryside confinement. Brooooth may have been born in bucolic Northumberland but he was raised up on the rough pavements of Walker, attending Benfield School.

Matt Ritchie is a Scotland international, though he was born in the Hampshire highlands in Gosport. Not even Gosforth, home of high horses and even higher dudgeon, but Gosport. When Ritchie and Brooooth butted heads this week, courtesy of a story spread by the Geordie Luke Edwards, that notorious doom-monger Craig Hope, NUFC’s Fulham focussed Twitterati immediately took Ritchie’s side, demanding the manager’s instant dismissal. I don’t recall Kieron Dyer getting such social media acclamation when he fell out with Bobby Robson, or George Eastham with Charlie Mitten (although that was before I was born). Personally, I’m behind the manager in this instance, at least until he’s sacked (which must happen at season’s end in any circumstance), mainly because I have little sympathy with Ritchie on account of that own goal versus, you’ve guessed it, Fulham. You’d be forgiven for wondering if that’s why Newcastle’s on-line support has abandoned the club in their hour of need to engage in a spot of Cottaging.

The truth is, Newcastle United’s support has adopted this craven attitude because it contains a large percentage of vain, spoilt, virtue signalling brats whose sense of entitlement is enough to make you throw your guts up. If our club goes down, the ownership, management and players will take the blame, but it is the support who will deserve vicious and vituperative criticism more than anyone. Euclidean geometry states that two points a fixed distance apart, will maintain that gap after they have gone over the horizon and headed onwards to an infinite place in the future. This is the nature of the relationship between Newcastle United fans and reality. They are the people who blame Brooooth’s training methods, which I’m reliably informed involve letting Agnew and Jones get on with it while he takes his dog for a walk or sits in the office chaining Chocolate Digestives and watching the cricket,  for injuries to Wilson, ASM, Manquillo and Almiron. To be fair, Brooooth knows a fair bit about cricket, while the NUFC Twitterati are probably now demanding Root gets the sack and Mark Wood opens the batting in The Ashes. Sacking the captain in cricket would be an act of crass folly. Similarly in soccer, giving the manager his cards doesn’t always work, but I hope it does at Kilmarnock where Tommy Wright is now in the hot seat, after Alex Dyer was relieved of his duties, with chairman Billy Bowie stating he wanted to make some “Ch-ch-ch-changes.”

Now back to Newcastle United’s injury list; admittedly the first two’s absences have left the club woefully short of credible attacking options, though I’d counsel that without Almiron, we will be a stronger side, benefitting massively from Fraser’s presence in the side, as can be seen from his cross for the goal against Wolves. The problem with a squad on the bones of its arse is that it reduces the options for vicious on-line abuse of perfectly good players, limiting the potential targets to the likes of Hendrick or Sean Longstaff. Thankfully Brooooth stepped up to the mark, throwing Dubravka, Joelinton, Lascelles and Ritchie under the bus after the Wolves game, probably in an attempt to curry favour with the Fulham Fallout Squad (FFS). Anymore of this and we’ll need to build a couple of inspection pits at the bus stop opposite Crosslings, since half the squad are to be found getting challenging coiffures at Tom Baxter’s barber shop, 177 Coast Road, killing time on the dozens of days off they’ve been granted. This is why, in my eyes, Jeff Hendrick and Andy Carroll are beyond criticism; DeAndre Yedlin too. But it is criticism that we must turn to in analysing the seven Premier League games that garnered seven precious points, since we were last here:

Villa – woeful

Leeds – encouraging

Everton – joyous

Palace – deflating

Southampton – delirious

Chelsea – drab

Man Utd – infuriating

Wolves – ominous

Yes, this is crap form, even if Fulham’s win by the same score at Everton was hailed on Twitter as equivalent to a Champions’ League final win. Yes, if we maintain a point a game for the last dozen we’ll undoubtedly stay up, even if Twitter thinks Fulham deserve a dozen for each of their 4 (count ‘em) wins this season. Yes, it is utterly unacceptable and a clear sign that Brooooth is useless and would get chased by most Sunday morning sides. I know a dozen blokes in the Alliance who could make us more adventurous going forward, effective in midfield and robust at the back, but we are where we are.  I know I’ve been wrong this season, spectacularly so when I felt having a week’s break between Southampton and Chelsea meant we could get a few back and head there with a better perspective on what’s need, taking advantage of playing last in the set of scheduled games. True to type, we rolled over and had our belly tickled in the first half, before Chelsea got their slippers on after the break and we went for it with the aggression of a gang of nonagenarian Quakers in a pub brawl.

I mean, the Wolves game, despite the subsequent kerfuffle, wasn’t a bad performance. We’d had a nice, quiet build up and there was a palpable sense of disappointment at the result. However, looking at it objectively, the Fulham performance v Palace and then v Spurs aren’t really much to worry about; are they? Brighton and Burnley have had more calamitous and dispiriting results and performances than us of late, so we should have enough to stay up. Surely? I believe so.

There have been far more distasteful things related to the club in the media of late than the annual late Winter, early Spring flirtation with relegation. As my pal Tom points out, the dossier following the investigation into Jamal Khasoggi’s murder should make those whose Twitter avatars carried a Saudi flag bury their heads in shame. It won’t, though neither will the revelations about further legal actions against George Ormond, that the club are refusing to accept liability for. Perhaps it’s because they’re too busy trying to find a defence for the catastrophe involving the Joyce family and the Academy. Thank God there are Northern Alliance games on April 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21 and 24 to distract me. Thank God there is more to football than Newcastle United.

In reality, we have no serious choices. Let’s gird up our loins and stick with Mr Fishcake & Chips until season’s end and then try to find a proper manager; ideally, a young, ambitious bloke who is hungry for success and not battered sausages. I have to say James McClean or Scott Brown would be great shouts if we want a player manager, as they’ve shown such dignity and fortitude when standing up against unwarranted and excessive abusive. Then again, if it’s under Ashley; what’s the point in dreaming?