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More Blokes

 He's at it again. Yes, Piers Morgan, currently locked in a death battle with Piers Corbyn for the uncoveted title of "UK's most irritating Piers" has been flapping his jowls about the mental fragility or other wise of otherworldly, gravity-defying gymnast, Simone Biles, who, reasonably enough, given one wrong move could break her neck, has decided to sit the bulk of this Olympics out due to her mental state not being of the best. Never having been an elite sportsperson, or been in an Olympic final, I'll confess I feel underqualified to comment on the stress levels that such a situation entails. If only Piers did. He is, however, quieter on the subject of England's all-round behemoth, Ben Stokes, to take an indefinite time out from the game to look after his  mental health, (Unsurprisingly, others who weighed on on the mental health of young female athletes are also being somewhat reticent on the subject of Ben Stokes, probably because there's a very good

Just doing what you can

A pandemic can lead one to think in apocalyptic terms, I concede, but it's hard not to witness the US heatwave of recent weeks, and the unprecedented flooding in Germany, and not get a sense of unease, a tiny conviction that the Earth's had enough and decided to get rid. No? Just me then. Hyperbole aside, you'd have to be particularly cloth-eared and uncomprehending not to have noticed the increasing frequency of extreme weather events. It would seem that anthropogenic climate change is here, and it's not fucking about. And yet, many people don't seem to have noticed, or to have only noticed in the vaguest and most abstract of senses. Because....well, life just goes on. I can understand to a degree, we've all had a lot on our plate recently, but either a lot of people are in denial, or have yet to drawn the link between their own lifestyle and the hatchback that just floated down the High street. Life goes on, the news is full of stories about where we can go on

Keep politics out of sport? Bit late for that.

 To me, a child of the eighties, the last few days have been extraordinary. When I was growing up, sportspeople tended to keep their political opinions to themselves, if they expressed anything, it might have been some vague admiration for Margaret Thatcher, but that was the end of it. Sport and politics were, for the most part, separate, at least as far as the players were concerned. Even the rebel cricketers who went on tours of apartheid South Africa were, as far as they were concerned, only doing it for the money (that it was a political act in and of itself never seemed to enter the discourse). This was helped by having, in Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives, an administration which abhorred football. This was the era of Heysel and Hillsborough, of regular rucks on the terraces and in train stations, the hooligan was king, football was something to be kept at arms length. (When politics did enter sport, it was big, scary Cold War politics, it was the US boycotting the Moscow

It's my England, too

 In my more paranoid moments, I do sometimes wonder if the Universe is largely a joke at my expense. (Yes, I am aware of my privilege, health, status, all the things I need to check before starting with such an absurd line, I know, but I imagine that we all feel like this at times, you know what I mean) The Tuesday before last was just such a moment, one of those moments where the fates conspire and a moment which should have been sublime, was rendered, well, less so. The Universe went ahahaha, don't imagine you can have nice things. I refer, of course, to the sodding football. I am, for my sins, a football fan. Not of the every two years kind, but a card-carrying sad case, wedded to the fortunes of Tottenham Hotspur and, to a lesser extent, the national side. I always affect not to be arsed about England games, but, at every international tournament , the old excitement rises, the proustian rush of memory, of summers long past, and before you know it I'm screaming at the telly

Blokes

 I regret to note that Piers Morgan and the middle aged blokes of Twitter are at it again.* This time criticising the sensation of this year's Wimbledon, the break-out star, 18 year old Emma Raducanu, who came from nowhere** to storm through the first week, before pulling up short, unable to breathe properly. Superannuated personality-bypass John MacEnroe was the first to weigh in, opining that it was because she couldn't handle the pressure and Piers, never shy of an opportunity to criticise a talented young woman (Can't. Imagine. Why.) was soon honking his patented brand of toxic masculinity all over a screen near you, warbling on about resilience and toughness, this from a man so fragile that he flounced off his own show when the weatherman disagreed with him; soon to join in was the notoriously hard-bitten Kevin Pietersen, whose ego was such that he slagged his own team off to the opposition when he felt slighted, and who kept getting out the same way for years. Now, in

The mid-life crisis of Government

It's been quite the week for fans of politics as theatre. Without wishing to recap details of the Hancock saga, which which you are all doubtless more familiar than you wish to be (I,like many others, strongly considered giving up kissing after seeing THAT video, yeech), the story of where Matt puts Little Matty of an evening has been the only game in town the last few days; I suppose I ought to touch on it in brief, so, to summarise: 1) Don't care about his private life, other than it confirms that he's not bright enough to realise the consequences of his actions. 2) Do care about corruption and cronyism, her appointment as an aide is the actual scandal here, in terms of public interest. 3) He should have been sacked for the deaths in care homes / failure of PPE / blatant misuse of public funds in handing out contracts (including to companies owned by the Landlord of his local, and one owned by his sister) / Dido fucking Harding. Seems a shame that this is what got him. Re

No-shows, deposits and trust

Sigh. It's an old story. A fully-booked restaurant, a busy day, and in the middle of it, like a gap in a row of teeth, a table that,for whatever reason, hasn't turned up. Or, in the case of the Father's Day just gone, three tables. I've blogged about this  before , it's a recurring problem that bedevils the hospitality industry. As I observed in the last post, it doesn't bother me so much for the financial hit we take (annoying though that is), the staff will still get paid and I've never known a kitchen that didn't jump at the chance to have a quieter half-hour than they were expecting. I had a good day on Sunday, I took enough money, the few hundred quid I missed off the absent tables was mitigated by a few walk-ins I was able to squeeze in. What's annoying is you remember all the people you knocked back.All the times you said sorry we're fully booked, the people who wanted to come,and couldn't. Some of them were regulars,and any hospitalit

Pissing in the wind.

I'm fairly fond of a lost cause, it's probably something I need to seek help over. Lost causes I have espoused down the years have included: wouldn't it be nice if everyone drove less, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, writing, reading and enjoying poetry, Somerset County Cricket Club, trying to pick litter up faster than it gets dropped, advocating councils mow less because I prefer wildflowers to barren verges (at odds with most angry letter-writers to local newspapers on this one), maybe don't fly for your holiday? wishing people would put dogs on leads near ground-nesting birds and hoping against hope that people don't eat so much bloody junk food. As I've aged I've realised that my tastes are generally fairly divergent from the majority in a number of areas, be it books, music, politics,food, whatever. I'm used to it, and while I wouldn't wish to imply that being wilfully at odds with people is an essential part of my personality(it's certain

Booooooo

Exciting new ground being broken in our seemingly forever culture war this week, as HMG got itself into a bit of a semantic tangle defending the rights of racists  concerned and politically aware citizens who wish to resist the creep of *checks notes* Marxism? Really?  No point recapping the history too much, you are doubtless aware that the England team is continuing to take the knee as an anti-racist protest at the start of games, and you are doubtless also aware that a peculiarly racist   politically engaged section of their support has protested this stance, viewing it as deliberately divisive and in itself racist. They argue that BLM is a marxist movement that seeks to defund the police and alter our very way of living, and, as such, the England football team are making themselves stooges of a far-left cult who... No, sorry, can't keep a straight face. Right. This is a pretty clear-cut situation. If you're booing an anti-racism gesture, you're a fucking racist. There w

In defence of Boris Johnson

 I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm about to go into bat for Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Yes, yes, fair enough, I have to date regarded him as pretty much the fount of most things wrong with politics today, and I stand by that. But there is one thig that I'm not going to criticise him for, and thats's his religion. As you might imagine, I regard mos religion with a mixture of bemusement and contempt. At its best it's something to get you out of the house. At its worst? Genocide, torture, repression, untold misery. As a concept, I'm not pro, on the whole. But inasfar as I have any opinion on which deity or manifestation thereof you wish to have guide your daily decisions, I pretty much put them all on a par. I don't giver a monkeys which iteration of the magical sky fairy you choose to believe in. So the news that Johnson's  recent marriage  to his inamorata has caused something of a constitutional kerfuffle has caused eyes at Coastalblo

Traffic Calming

Round about the start of lock-down one, in dim and distant days of yore, where a Nepal Variant was a take-away option at one of the more adventurous curry-houses and I was about two stone lighter, there appeared on a street near me a row of heavy duty planters which blocked off the traffic. I paid them no mind, regular readers will know that I'm a confirmed pedestrian and cyclist, so they made little difference to me: if I thought of them at all,it was in abstracted, vaguely approving terms. I certainly walked down that street more often, it became a preferred route, as the chances of being mown down by some dick in an Audi became considerably reduced. Then, a couple of days ago, a local councillor made great play of the fact that they were being removed, something to do with the final covid restrictions being lifted (so they're not being removed then ho ho, little bit of biting satire for you there). And lo, upon the local facebook groups there was much rejoicing, a perplexing

Diarising

Solipsism alert. Those of you with little appetite for self-absorbed navel-gazing, look away now. Coastalblog has been many things in its existence. It started because it seemed like a reasonable thing to do, turned into some frankly pretty unpleasant venting of spleen at people who probably didn't deserve quite  the level of opprobrium I was dishing out and down the years has been variously points-scoring, score-settling and inchoate howling with, hopefully, one or two more thoughtful essays sprinkled into the mix. What it has also always been, without my fully realising it, is, in part, a diary. This is handy, as I thought I'd come late to the noble and gentle art of writing a diary, when I realised that my thirties were passing in the blink of an eye (I know this is ground I've covered here before, but it's Sunday morning, and I've got to print the menus out for the pub, there are a few short moments of peace before the family erupt from their various beds and I

Calorie Counting

 As if chefs haven't had enough to deal with of late. The announcement in the Queen's Speech on Monday that bars and restaurants will soon be forced to display the calorie content of each dish felt, in these quarters at least, like a particularly dismal cherry of shit on tope of a cake that, for the last year and a bit, has been mad almost entirely of cack. That a Government panicking at the sight of its lardy populace wheezing their way towards costly health treatment has chosen to pick on restaurants is hardly surprising. The hospitality sector has been a favourite punchbag of health campaigners down the years, it's an easy target. And yes, burgers full of saturated fats, bread that is more sugar than flour, chicken which barely qualifies as food, all these are culpable in the steady fattening of our nation. As, too, is our national habit of throwing booze down our necks at reckless levels. But listing the calories on the menu? Really? In the interests of full disclosure,

Let them buy IKEA

Of all the bloody things, is it going to be a sofa that does for Johnson?* As the cash for curtains scandal engulfs the nation, "Carrie Antoinette" trends and John Lewis takes the opportunity to score a few open goals. The man who is currenntly cosplaying as Prime Minister looks, for the first time in a career full of disgraces, to be visibly rattled. His ranty, spittle-flecked performance at PMQs yesterday,where he gamely attempted to  rebut the charges of being a liar by indulging in some high-speed, rapid-fire lying (presumably in an attempt to disorient the oppo, all's fair in love and wiff-waff),managing in one sentence to say that Labour hadn't voted for the deal that everyone clearly remembers them voting for, that the ESL would have succeeded if it wasn't for Brexit and that it's impossible for the EU to distribute vaccines,he resembled nothing so much as an android in the last spasms of its existence, its memory banks melting and jamming unrelated wor

That was the Super League that wasn't

 Much harrumphing and kerfuffle in the land from Sunday to Tuesday, as the European Super League was announced, deplored and abandoned faster than Boris Johnson impregnating an intern (allegedly). And lo there were many angry Facebook statuses, and verily did twitter work into a froth, and yea did a bunch of rather silly looking Chelsea fans make the front page of the Grauniad. All thoroughly gripping / bemusing / infuriating/ dull, depending on where you stand on football's insistence that it is the single most important thing inn the world ever. I can't take the piss too much, I did my share of deploring and frothing. But I will take the piss a little. What struck me most of all amidst the bile and dottle was that there was very little self-reflection among the decriers. Chief amongst the critics was one Mr G Neville,late of the parish of Manchester United. That's the Manchester Utd that was bought out with its own money in a leveraged deal which has loaded the club with

A new life in the country

Much hilarity and mirth at Coastalblog towers, as I am directed to one of the most  spectacularly dimwitted  articles about "moving to the country" that I have ever seen. You know the ones, the escape rom the city for a simpler life, all yomps with the chocolate labs and beach bonfires in fetching knitwear. But wait! This one's a witty twist on the genre, you see, because, right, instead of being about how amazing moving to the country is, it's about how horrid it is! How clever! Hunter Wellies and G&Ts all round! Oh dear. There is a distressing tendency among the the sort of people who write lifestyle pieces for newspapers to think only in primary colours. It's a disease that they've caught by associating too closely with their close relatives, columnists who write opinion pieces; much as coronavirus hopped from host creature to human. In these pieces, if a thing is not one thing, it must perforce be the other thing. Therefore, if the countryside is not p

Performative Patriotism

I think we've now hit the point where we can safely say that this whole flag business is getting out of hand. Yesterday's brouhaha over the size of Robert Jenrick's flag is merely the latest example of increasingly hysterical cloth-based discourse, it's been rumbling for a while, and I find it all a little baffling. It's caught me  quite off-guard. Growing up in the seventies, eighties and nineties,the flag wasn't something you thought about very much. It was a fact of life,but you didn't wrap yourself in it. Overt patriotism was nothing to be proud of, in fact, it was a touch embarrassing. We used to mock Americans for their loudly proclaimed allegiance to their country, it's just not the sort of thing that's done, dear boy. The only time you saw flags being waved was the last night of the Proms, or news footage of some perfectly pleasant European town being comprehensively smashed up by football hooligans. Even when there was a Britpop led revival,

Hanging out with myself

 Uh-oh. Solipsism alert. This one, I warn you in advance, is likely to be be a trifle disparate, disassociated and rambling.* I'm putting it down in part to lockdown fatigue; as I wrote  recently , when the end's in sight, the tight grip that you've had on yourself can start to loosen, and it seems reasonable to assume that that's a factor here. Also in the mix is the looming re-opening of the pub, at times like this, there's so much to sort out that it can, at times, seem impossible to know where to start. Lists help. Another reason for my head being in bits, without wishing to get too far into it, is my horror at the events of the last week or so: the disappearance and murder of Sarah Everard casting a harsh glare on the inalienable fact of male violence, the aftermath and the Met's crushing response at the vigil. But they are worthy of blogs in themselves, which I'll probably get round to when I can concentrate on anything for more than minutes at a stret

The bell-end equilibrium

 So farewell then, Nigel Farage. With the fishing industry in ruins, the Union at its shakiest in 300 years  and the country an international joke there are no more worlds left to conquer, the golf club bar bore ne plus ultra is, for the eighty-fifth time this century, retiring. No longer for Nige the thrill of talking bollocks to aggrieved old men, instead he'll be concentrating on his side gig, hawking "investment advice" to the sort of people who think that shouting "Gordon Brown sold our gold" is an argument-clincher on Twitter. And, to be completely honest, good luck to him. A spiv who's spent his entire life fleecing the gullible, it's only fitting that that's how he continues. Anyone whose grasp of economics is so shaky that they're prepared to take advice from a man who deliberately tanked an entire economy for the sake of his own enrichment pretty much deserves what's coming to them. His legacy is only really worth covering in passin

The end is nigh

 Without wishing to make myself a hostage to fortune (and, as I write, cases are rising in part of the North West) but it's possible to detect a little optimism in the air.  How much of this is natural sap rising as it always does at this time of year, how much is wishful thinking after the most exhausting year of most of our lives and how much is hard headed, genuine, vaccine-watching practicality it's impossible to say. But I've been wandering around whistling under my brerath a bit this week. Part of it, of course, is the end being in sight of home learning (not home-schooling, that is when you take charge of your child's education entirely. We are merely conduits for the schools). Just one more week to go (three days for me, as Mrs Coastalblog does Monday and Tuesday while I'm off doing things to the pub, and I do Wednesday to Friday while she's off fighting fires at school). There is a lot of garbage discourse surrounding home learning. A lot of shaming, a