Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Cold Comfort

There has been comment about why many new graduates at present seem to be stuck in a pay freeze and have little prospect of much improvement; if any.

When I was a student we had a song about this:

Economists are  a blot on the whole human race.
You never see one with a smile on his face.
Here's my definition,
Believe me dear brother,
Supply on the one hand,
Demand on the other.


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Hillsborough Coroner's Jury Verdict

Below is my post from 12 September, 2012 under the title "Bring Me The Balls Of Kelvin MacKenzie".  You will understand why.


At last we have had something like the real story behind the 1989 disaster at Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, at the semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest and the shoddiness of the handling and cover-up of what occurred.

It was during the 1970’s when there were about three or four times when I went to the Sheffield Wednesday Hillsborough ground.  One was the semi-final in 1974 when Newcastle United beat Burnley 2-0 in what was a tight technical game.  Malcolm McDonald got loose a couple of times and that was it.  In the Cup Final at Wembley that year Liverpool made sure he did not get loose and won 3-0.

Like very many soccer grounds it had a lot of unsatisfactory features arising from locations in built up older parts of the cities and occasional extensions that were not planned for comfort, for convenience of admission or leaving or for safety.  It was certainly buyer beware when you paid for your entrance.

Which is why, when I took any of the young ones it was seats that were chosen.  This arose from long experience of many grounds from the early 1940’s onwards.  There were quite a few with standing areas that were a horror and with casual policing.  The Shed at Molyneux was a bad one but typical of too many.

One ground I had been to was the old Burnden Park at Bolton, the Wanderers ground where a disaster had occurred on 9 March 1946 at a cup tie against Stoke City.  The steep bank behind one of the goals was bad at any time with a large crowd, but when the number of fans well exceeded any reasonable limit it took only a minor accident to trigger a major disaster.

There was a report into this, the Moelwyn Hughes Report which recommended that clear crowd limits should be established and adhered to with better policing.  In the next forty years this was honoured far more in the breach than the observance.  Even if a sensible figure for crowd limits was established it was common for a combination of bad management and limited policing to allow more in.

In fact in some cases where the number of those wanting to see the match was far higher than the ground could take the restricted areas outside the ground were just as much of a danger.  In cases of this kind it was not unknown for many to be let in because it was thought safer than leaving them outside with no control.

The Leppings Lane entrance to Hillsborough had always been difficult under pressure either to get in or to get out.  Which was why after a game many fans simply hopped over the low wall to use other exits at the end of a game as was often the case in other places. 

The trouble was that when pitch invasions by hooligan elements became fashionable many grounds put up strong fencing to keep the fans off the pitch at all costs, which meant that it became impossible to get to any less used exits.  Hillsborough was one such ground having had problems with local “skinheads”.

Skipping all the fancy theory of risk and the rest many grounds were big accidents waiting to happen.  The trouble was that neither the football authorities, the clubs nor some local police forces recognised this and in any case did not regard themselves as having much, if any, responsibility for real crowd control.

All this was well known and essentially just part of the football furniture.  It was common at many full grounds for the St. John’s Ambulance men to be busy and for people to be carted off to hospital or passed down to the pitch edge over the heads of fans.  All this was one reason why in maturity I avoided the standing areas.

Also, it was why when I saw the footage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 it was crystal clear to me that it was not the fans that were at fault.  The Leppings Lane end was difficult whenever it was full.  So there had to be a gross failure of control both inside and outside the ground.

But that was the whole point of organising grounds, controlling and managing the areas outside to ensure that the flows and movement of people were satisfactory and inside to ensure limits were kept and the “bunching” that could occur did not.  At Hillsborough none of this happened.

That much of the media at that time, notably the Murdoch press, could neither admit what was a well known and long standing problem nor that very serious questions arose from the whole nature of the disaster was disgusting.  In particular that of the “Sun” was filth journalism at its worst.

Murdoch and MacKenzie went on to many more profitable things and they and their friends ensured that the memory of those lost was smeared and their families robbed of any justice.  They, at the time, were probably those placed to seek and tell the truth and they did not.

So what does this tell us about our media and their friends?


I have nothing to add, or to remove.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Shakespeare In Brief And At Length

The world of William Shakespeare was a different time, but much of what we are told reflects matters of the present and recent past.  There is some of that world that is lost but a lot that is ignored, often because it is difficult to comprehend or explain or may interfere with the accepted narrative.

This is a lady from the mid 20th Century who was very influential in her field of study. Her handling of subject material and analysis were first class and she was held in great respect by all her students and her colleagues.  For those who had thought the Middle Ages were about wars, dynasties, power and theologies she was the voice of another reality.

What she has to do with Shakespeare is far from obvious.  But the England he lived in was one were the Wool Trade was a key, perhaps even the key, economic activity beyond agriculture.  He grew up in a town that was concerned with it and adjacent to The Cotswolds, then a major centre of the trade and the wealth that it created.

A few days ago an item posted was about Leslie Stuart, a major composer, performer and theatrical impresario of his day, but one of the last of his kind.  It is possible to see Shakespeare as one of the first of these who emerged in the 16th Century and to trace a line of connections between the two.

He was a businessman, an impresario, a writer and composer who was part of a highly complex network of his time and close to the leaders of society.  More to the point, he had his work printed and in the following generations it was possible for the families who knew him to keep alive his name and works.

In a post on 25 October 2011, "Shakespeare, Family And Friends", I dealt with this.  It was long, detailed and very complicated, simply because that was the way it was and few academics or others have attempted to delve into and weave their way through all these families, their marriages and their status.

There was a short post on Friday 23 April 2010, "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" which does not add much and on Sunday 15 February 2015. "More On Tudor Times", I picked up on a key aspect relating to the "Wolf Hall" TV series.

All these relate to the networks, but behind this, there are  the economics of the Wool Trade and it's connected trades, activities and crucially the financial systems of the period.

So much has been written about this period, yet we understand so little.

Friday, 22 April 2016

A Plea To Obama

Here is an extract of what David Cameron will sing in welcome to President Obama on his arrival:

"Oh!  Mr. President, what shall I do?
I want to go to Panama, but I'm stuck in an EU!

Take me back to Chelsea because I'm in a jam,
Oh! Mr. President, what a silly boy I am!"

Apologies, and there can't be enough of them, to Marie Lloyd and George and Thomas Le Brunn in borrowing from "Oh, Mr. Porter".

Wikipedia says that the song was alluded to in the book "Ulysses" by James Joyce, I suppose that makes more sense than Cameron.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Question Of The Day

Would you buy a used car from this person?

Making Choices

It is fashionable, apparently, for people to chose their gender.  Some schools think that this should be a first priority for a child in primary education.

Long ago, when at school, we had a lot of problems with the gender business, our teachers in the relevant subject could be quite fanatical about it.

It is explained here in an attempt to make it simple.  Personally, I never quite got the hang of it.

However, seeing myself as only one small part of a complex system, a participle in a way, I had another way of defining my existence as a construction of DNA.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Sing Another Song

The picture above is one that I do not have the answer to.  It is in Liverpool and the date is 1913.  There is a board claiming The Champions of England with two splendid shields.  But champions of what is the question.  

There are two men, one I know, he is the Head of Our Lady's of Mount Carmel School and boys who look as though they might have been useful footballers.  The older man on the right is Hugh Joseph Morgan, the Head, and he was born on 15 October 1865 in Liverpool.  The Laws of Association Football, as we have come to know them, were first laid down in the Freemason's Arms in Long Acre, London on 8 December 1863.

So Hugh grew up with football, all that muscular Christianity was not confined to the Anglican faith, and was prominent in Liverpool schools and football circles.  He had an older sister, Mary Jane Morgan, who married a James Callaghan, and they are said to be great grandparents to the Ian Callaghan, a star of the Liverpool team of the 1960's, when their fans decided that You Will Never Walk Alone.  But there is a twist in the tale.

The mother of Hugh and Mary and their brothers and sisters was Catherine, born Barrett, who was born in the area of Ballina in Co. Mayo, Ireland.  Another Barrett whose family came from that patch was Thomas Augustine Barrett, born 1863 in Southport, in 1871 in Liverpool living in a street adjacent to the Morgan's above.

There were quite a number of Barrett's in Co. Mayo so it is not certain that they were closely related but there are many coincidences.  These arise from those Morgan's and Barrett's being heavily involved in music and the theatre in Liverpool.  One of the Morgan's in fact was resident with Dennis Grannell a leading theatre owner on Merseyside.

Thomas Augustine Barrett is better known as Leslie Stuart, see Wikipedia with the word composer attached.  He became not simply a composer but one of the leading theatrical impresario's of his time with many popular songs and major productions to his credit.

He was Catholic up to a point, let us say that if champagne and the company of chorus girls bought time out of Purgatory he would have gone straight to heaven.  A fellow impresario was George Edwardes, see Wikipedia, whose contribution to the future aristocracy was to introduce The Gaiety Girls to London theatre and Society.

It is a pity that in the search for an anthem in the 1960's that Liverpool were fixated on the pop songs of that period.  Going to the works of Leslie Stuart would have given them a rich and varied choice.

This one might be historically more accurate given that the word "Kop" is short for the original Spion Kop, originating in the location of a major battle during The Boer War of 1899-1902.  This lasts two and a half minutes  However, he wrote other songs any one of which would have served.

Try this one. for example, which gets going after a minute of introduction and also is just a couple of minutes long.  It is a clip from the film "The Way Ahead" about the Desert War in World War Two when his works were still the stuff of sing songs.

My idea though would be to take one of the leading songs from his "Floradora" of 1899 and I ask you to imagine the Liverpool fans taking the part of the men's chorus with the Everton fans, or perhaps Arsenal or Manchester United being the women's.  There are only a couple of clips on Youtube for this.

It begins "Come tell me pretty maiden do, is there anyone at home like you......."

Oh, wouldn't it be lovely?