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starofthenorth

an occasional blog

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet of late. I’ve been working on my other blog Inside Left which now has more posts in one month than this entire blog has had this year. Not bad eh? Well, there’s nothing much to report: life, like the rent, goes on. Sleep, wake, eat, drive, work, drive, eat, sleep, wake. And so on.

Other than that, I am extremely excited (despite the extremely high prices) about going to see this fella in Dublin in July.

Well, my ego has finally won over. I’ve always wanted to be a journo hack of some sort and write about football, so I’ve taken the time off work granted me by lifting a heavy chair in a way that your back generally doesn’t like to create InsideLeft a blog about football (and Scottish football in particular).

It’s early doors yet so it’s not looking too hot, but it’s got promise. Feel free to look around and contribute. Or not. It’s up to you.

It is not often that a film makes me want to cry, but watching ‘Schindlers List’ this evening, I certainly felt the urge to.

There is no word in the English language that can adequately describe the sheer horror of what happened during those awful years. Watching some of the scenes, in particular the sight of small children being driven away to the tune of cheery music while their mothers run screaming behind the trucks was disturbing enough, but what makes it worse (particularly as a parent) is that this was not something that came from the imagination of a screenwriter, or some author: these events and these atrocities actually happened,  all within living memory. 

I’d love to write something poignant to articulate how desperately sad I feel at this moment, but words fail me. Instead, go and look at the Yad Vashem website and search through the names, read the testimonies and let the dead do the talking.

“Publish and be damned”, as the Duke of Wellington once said. How right he was. I posted the article below, the one about the SPL on Sportingo, but didn’t get a chance to correct the error in it (namely that Rangers had three games in hand, and not one) before Sportingo published it. The sheer virtriolic response to that one error, coupled with questions about my knowledge of Scottish football based on my name and my seemingly misguided opinion about the situation as I see it is simply incredible, enough in fact to make me never, ever, ever want to write another article for Sportingo again.

The article may have it’s flaws, and the error should have been caught (if not by me, then at least the Sportingo editors who review everything before publishing it to their site) but if there’s one thing I hate more than badly researched articles, it’s the keyboard heroes who’d rather have a go and insult you instead of engaging you in debate.  Perhaps I am being somewhat sensitive and in fairness Sportingo do warn you that things get, well, heated, but nothing prepared me for that.

I cant remember a time in recent history when the finish to the SPL has been this exciting. With Celtic currently leading their Old Firm rivals by five points, hopes of winning three titles in a row for the first time since the nine back-to-back championship in 1974 must be high in the East End of Glasgow. Rangers though, have three games in hand, but like Celtic face a few difficult games in the coming three weeks.

Usually at this stage of the season, the Old Firm are far ahead of the pack, and the race for third place is generally sewn up as well. But this year, three teams – Motherwell, Dundee United and Hibernian and, as an outside chance, possibly Aberdeen – are within 2 points of each other and need the points to secure that valuable third place and the UEFA Cup spot that comes with it.

Both Celtic and Rangers will be travelling to play these sides over the coming weeks, with every game and every result worth fighting for. Motherwell and Dundee United will not meet again this season, so both teams will have to rely on results elsewhere to give them the advantage.

United’s record against Rangers has not been bad this season: two high scoring draws, a win and a loss. Against Celtic however, the Tannadice club has not fared so well, losing twice and drawing once. In fact, Dundee United have not beaten Celtic since 1999 when goals by Billy Dodds and Craig Easton secured a 2-1 win.

Motherwell have lost two games and drawn one against Rangers this season, and need to look back to the Boxing Day game back in 2002 for their last win. Against Celtic, the Steelmen have recording one victory in this campaign, when a Simon Lapin goal on 33 minutes secured the three points.

Rangers are playing well and have a game in hand, but I cant see Celtic slipping up now. Despite having a trophy-less season so far, the momentum is with the Parkhead side. Rangers will have the added distraction of a tricky away fixture to Fiorentina in the UEFA Cup semi-final this evening and must hope that there are no serious injuries.

With Chelsea reaching the final of the Champions League last night, there is an additional motivator to win the SPL: the possiblity of a 12 million pound payout for the team finishing top in 3 weeks time.

My prediction: Celtic to win the League, Motherwell to finish third as a perfect end to an emotional season for the Fir Park side.

I’m not sure what it is that I find most disturbing about that whole terrible affair in Austria. Is it the fact that he’s committed incest? Or that he raped his own daughter for all those years? Perhaps it was that no one (incuding his own wife for god sake) noticed? Or was it that none of the children ever tried to overpower the auld yin (it was 6 to 1, good odds I’d have thought)? That he clearly spent a lot of money over the years to not only build the bunker, but also to maintain the people he’s got hidden in the basement? That he burned a baby in the oven? I just dont know.

Surely someone must have noticed all that extra food he’s buying, or the high utility bills. His wife, late at night, lying in bed waiting for her husband to come to bed so she can ask him just what he gets up to in the basement and why she’s not allowed down there. And what is it about the three kids that suddenly turned up on her doorstep and which bear a striking resemblance to someone, but who, she just cant place it. And just where did her daughter disappear to all those years ago?

I was watching this thinking “if that was me living in that street, I’d have said something”. But would I really? There was a program on TV yesterday morning where they’d rigged up a car so that it could be driven by remote control. They then put an eight year old behind the wheel, along with a man in the passenger seat who pretended to be the boys father and drove the car up to a school. The boy would then ask passers-by for directions to the motorway. Now, I don’t know how many people they filmed but of the 10 or so people I saw through the hidden camera, not one of them refused to give directions. Each and everyone was happy enough to see an eight year old boy drive a car onto the motorway. And again, in my smug armchair self-righteousness I sat there amazed at the casual ease with which people will ignore the obvious dangers.

How often have you been in a busy street or shopping center and seen a crying, hysterical child and walked on? If you’re reading this and are saying to yourself “me, never!”, then remind yourself of the number of people who saw little Jamie Bulger being dragged and hit and beaten by two older boys, and who didn’t step in to help. Perhaps it’s the same with the Austrian case. Everyone saw, but no one acted, after all it’s easier to do than getting personally involved.

Oh, fucking marvelous. At last, after nearly eight years of the evolutionary challenged prosimian that now runs the most powerful nation in the world, here is a chance to make a fresh start, a chance to reverse years of retarded foreign policy and a chance to turn their back on a pro war neo-conservative mindset that has brought the world to the edge of a modern day crusade. And what does the silly bitch do?

We’re gonna destroy Iran!

Fantastic. If making a complete shite of the situation in Iraq has not provided the lesson that we should all learn from, lets do it all over again.  If Hilary really wants to win some votes and get the world on their side again – and at the risk of sounding like a Gruaniad reader – why doesn’t she speak out against the human rights abuses going on in China or Tibet? Why not obliterate the undemocratic nation of Zimbabwe? Why are they always protecting Israel, when no one else in the Western world seems to give a shit?

 

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