Sunday, October 6, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.

And justice for all..

We all hope he burns in hell for eternity and maybe he will, but for the time being his fate is in the hands of the authorities. Need you ask whom I'm talking about? The most reviled man in the country right now, the evil bastard who did unspeakable things to those poor little mites. For most of us his identity is currently unknown, and like it or not that's how it should be. There's a reason why the judicial system works as it does and despite the callous nature of his crimes this man is entitled to his anonymity – at least for now. But someone should try explaining this to the social media guerrillas who, in their infinite wisdom, chose to 'out' him during the week.

I didn't happen to see his name, but if I had what would I have done? Not a whole lot obviously, after all this is twenty-first century and vigilante mobs rarely gather together to mete out justice. But clearly whomever leaked his identity to the world at large had a reason for doing so. Did this person believe that what they were doing would benefit the young victims? Did they believe that by unmasking this monster they were doing us all a favour? There was already scores of people waiting outside the police station where the accused was being questioned, would the revealing of his identity swelled those numbers into the hundreds? And then what? The baying mob screams for justice and maybe if we're lucky, we get to watch a mini-riot or at the very least some fisticuffs.

Aside from the risk in compromising the case against the accused there are many other factors to take into consideration when you decide to provide such a public service. For a start there's the accused's family. It's bad enough discovering your kin is the spawn of Satan without fending off abuse from outraged protesters. And what about the family of those children he abused? They are coming to terms with a living nightmare and the last thing they need to see is his face spread all over the Sunday papers. Ideally the first time they'll see him is in the court where they will look him in the eye while he answers for his crimes. And ultimately they want to see him rot in a jail cell until he breathes his last. There's a reason we have a justice system, it might not always produce the kind of results we want but it's far more effective than taking matters into our own hands.

You're not singing anymore

You may find it hard to believe but attending football matches was, at one time, something only done by working-class males. Groups of lads in their teens and twenties would set off from their local estates and walk to football grounds that were a part of the community's fabric. Once there they would queue at the gate, pay their way in and choose their spot on the terracing. And for the next few hours they immersed themselves in a cultural experience now obsolete in all bar a few countries. Their behaviour may have often crossed the line but some of their antics seem harmless in comparison to the exploits of today's youth. These lads weren't mindless thugs preying on the weak, they were simply young pups finding their way in the world.

Those lads are middle-aged men nowadays old enough to bring their own children to the game. But most don't bother. And why would they? Oh yes it's far safer now and Junior can sip on a Coke and munch on a pie while he watches; but once inside the ground and at his seat, what then? If he's lucky you may have got tickets in one of the more vociferous areas of the ground, with some careful encouragement he might even join in on some of the chants. Oh but what's that? A swear word? Don't tell Mum alright lad? And he won't, 'cos he knows the score. He'll wait until Monday morning, until he's in school, and then he'll repeat what he heard while his mates look on in awe.

Soon those middle-aged men won't have to worry about their offspring reporting back to Mummy dearest. They won't have to explain why when your old man told you to be a city fan you replied “bollocks you're a cunt.” They'll return from the game and it will be like they've just come back from the fairground; popcorn, goodie bags and Coca-cola aplenty. Hell next time Mum might even come with you! This is how football is going: a sanitised form of entertainment akin to a night at the movies. The once seething amphitheatres of European football are gradually turning into amusement parks. And if you were in any doubt then just look at the directive handed down to Tottenham and West Ham fans this weekend.

They can't say the word 'Yid'. And if they do they will be arrested. I'm half-expecting the old bill to bust down my door simply because I've typed it. So what is a Yid? It is “offensive slang, used as a disparaging term for a Jew.” And Tottenham have always had a large number of Jewish supporters, so much so that during away games the visiting supporters were often treated to hissing sounds from a home crowd mimicking World War II's gas chambers. But that's football rivalry at it's very worst, almost as bad as those mocking the Munich Air Disaster or the Hillsborough tragedy. And with true terrace wit the Spurs fans chose not to get offended by these slurs but to adopt them as their own. Rather than be outraged and complain to the stewards they figured that self-deprecation was the best weapon. And so began the chants of “Yid Army” and “Yiddos.” As an opposing fan how do you react to that? With dumbfounded silence I'd imagine.

Tottenham's support should be commended for their actions; how nice it is to see that sardonic humour is alive and well in the football ground's of today. Alas the opposite is happening. Any supporter at Sunday's game, whether they Spur or Hammer, who utters the word Yid will be escorted off the premises; Sky News even got a policeman on to confirm it. This is football in 2013 ladies and gentlemen. A game where you pay your money, buy your refreshments, sit in your seat and do as you're told. If you wish to get behind your team, express an opinion or, perish the thought, have a bit of back-and-forth with the opposition fans then you're in the wrong place. Watch it at home or at the pub because you're not welcome here.

Strong in the force

Finally it's happened, finally they have figured out how to make real-life lightsabers. Well done lads, but where were ye twenty-odd years ago when I was still young enough to become a Jedi?! Everyone knows that you have to be trained as a child or it's pointless! But credit where it's due, physicists at Harvard and MIT say “they have discovered a way to bind photons together in order to form a new molecule which behaves almost exactly like George Lucas's deadly devices.” I don't think I've ever envied those blokes who spend their entire lives in laboratories looking through magnifying glasses but right now I wish I'd listened a bit harder during that ill-fated term in Physics.

One of the boffins goes on to say “It's not an in-apt analogy to compare this to lightsabers. The physics of what's happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies." Physics? Molecules? Who cares man, you just made a lightsaber! All that's left now is to put them on sale to the general public, preferably before Christmas. The price-tag is not an issue I will get the money, somehow. Or better still if you're reading this and wondering what to get me for Santa's birthday (a green one please) well here is your answer. And you may be glad you got on my good side before I learned how to use the fucker properly - that's all I'm saying. 

The secret to ageing gracefully

Another week, another survey, another Scandinavian nation coming out on top. What is it about those blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauties and their freezing cold countries? This time around it's the best place to grow old. So what's the criteria for making the elderly happy? Well according to this study, compiled by the UN population fund, it is income, employment, health provision, education, and environment among others. Residents over the age of sixty were canvassed in 92 countries with the Swedes coming out on top, closely followed by their Nordic neighbours Norway. Ireland? Twelfth, not bad. And last of the 92? Why Afghanistan of course.

The awesomeness of Scandinavia and it's fantastic quality of life has almost become a cliché at this point. Sadly my own knowledge of the area is restricted to surveys like this and watching some of the brilliant drama series created by the Danes et al in recent years. But in those drama series – Forbrydelsen and Borgen if you must know – there is one common theme, no in fact there is two: it's always dark and everyone looks perished. So answer me this; if you presided over a country where it got dark at half-eleven in the morning and the yearly temperature never got above zero do you think you'd do your best to make the people happy? Damn right you would. Everyone is already miserable beyond belief and if you don't provide them with jobs, a thriving economy, brilliant schools and great TV......well it doesn't bear thinking about really. 

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