My Latest Squeeze!

A number of years ago now, I was put onto a book that was written by David Conn. The title was “The Beautiful Game: Searching For The Soul Of Football” and it was first published back in 2005. I kept it firmly at the front of my mind for many years and, on my recent trip to England in March this year, I finally picked up a copy on Nottingham. Being one for having a constant back log of books to read (I am always buying the damn things), I’ve managed to get cracking on this one in recent days.

Where has this book been all my life?

It’s an enthralling read that looks into how money has, over the decades, gradually run the game into the ground. A famous quote is included within the second chapter from Martin Edwards (Manchester United chairman from 1980 to 2002) where he states in 1982 that: “The smaller clubs are bleeding the game dry. For the sake of the game, they should be put to sleep!”. The same man went on to make over £100 MILLION from his shares in United. Who’s bleeding the game dry again?

The book also looks into the early history of Arsenal and how Sir Samuel Hill Wood took them through testing waters by using influence and money. Before him, Football Club Director, Henry Norris, a property developer himself who owned Fulham, bought Arsenal for a cheap price and began using the club to pay his way. This all happened nigh on 100 years ago signifying that greed, money and football have gone hand in hand for longer than what we care to think.

I’ve been incredibly lucky with my literature this year. Almost every book I have picked up has become an extraordinarily good read from the get go. Here’s hoping that the second half of 2018 can provide me with further reading material that I won’t want to put down.

Manchester’s National Pride!

Liverpool are off to Bury FC in two weeks from now and I’ve decided to take the missus along for the match which includes a few hours in Manchester and time for a couple of beers and lunch.  It got me thinking as what one can do in Manchester on a sunny (hopefully) summers day in mid July?  Well, being the clever bugger I can be at times, The National Football Museum sprung to mind first and foremost just ahead of Mumma Mia the musical.  There were two sessions of Mumma Mia taking place whilst we are about.  The first at 2:30 which clashes with the footy and the second at 7:30 which meant missing the last train back to Nottingham.  That cancels out Mumma Mia.  Next time maybe?  Besides, I couldn’t think of a more romantic day out with the other half?  Beer, food, footy and a footy museum in no particular order.  Well, the drinking of beer will be a repeated offence methinks.  I’m not a big drinker.  Hardly drink at all these days mind.  However, when in Rome.

The National Football Museum is a magnificent place to visit.  It’s located in the Urbis building smack bang in the heart of Manchester city center and entry is free all year round. Even if you don’t care too much for football, there is still enough on show to keep almost everyone interested, even if just for a quick visit.  I last went there in October 2017 with my good mate Baz and we had a blast.  As part of keeping things fresh, the museum has a revolving door of feature exhibitions and upon my last trip, the greatest player to lace a boot, Pele was the feature.  It was truly magnificent to wander through a maze of Pele memorabilia on show.  He truly was something else so to be able to stand inches away from his match worn shirts evoked some beautiful feelings.  If there is one player above all who I would go back in time to watch, it would be Pele without question.

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The seeds of the museum were laid in 1994 when redevelopment of Preston North End’s Deepdale Stadium was given the go ahead.  The eventual cost came in at £12 MILLION with £7.5 MILLION of that coming from a National Lottery Trust Fund donation.  Preston North End were the original winners of the English first division in 1880 going undefeated whilst also winning the FA Cup without conceding a single goal.  Preston North End were England’s first double winners.  The museum was finally opened on June 21 2001 and won many awards during it’s stay in Preston.  As the years began to roll by, visiter numbers dropped and the the trust was losing upwards of half a million pounds per year.   By April 2010, the National Football Museum had closed it’s doors to the public whilst a move the the Urbis exhibition center in Manchester was developed and funded.  The fruits of the new museum came to light in 2012 with the official opening on July 6 and visitor numbers have soared ever since making The National Football Museum on of England’s largest tourist attractions.

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As you walk into the museum, you are greeted by a warm welcome, information leaflets and the option of storing your bag in a cloak room.  What comes next are four levels of education and memories of the beautiful game.

Level one features stadiums, the world game, supporters and media features that include features on many of England’s clubs to name a few of the many attractions.  Moving up to the second floor, you are graced with a toys and games section showcasing the many unusual items that have delighted fans over the decades, a fantastic area dedicated to the games greatest managers and a discovery zone for under 5’s to play in.  That’s one of the best features of The National Football Museum.  There is lots to keep the kids entertained which allows parents a chance to take a more in depth look at what’s on show.  You would be hard pressed to lose interest on your visit.  There is something for everyone and you can take as little as 30 minutes for a quick walk through visit or spend hours upon hours sifting through the many items and memorabilia on show.

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As you move on wards and upwards to the third level, you are now greeted with one of the many revolving exhibitions that change every few months.  As mentioned before, Pele was the feature back in October and currently, on show are exhibits featuring “Woman behind the football lens” and “The fabric of football”, a wonderful showcase on various match worn World Cup shirts over the years.

Level four is dedicated to interactive educational zones which allow the kids (and some adults) to get hands on with a myriad of adventures relating to the beautiful game.  There really is something for everyone and considering entry is free, the value is sensational.  Naturally, there is a no food or drink rule however, a decent cafe is located at the exit point as to is a wonderful shop which offers a number of singed shirts on offer for reasonable sums and loads of collectibles to pick up including mugs, posters, pencil cases, DVD’s and books.

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The National Football Museum has constantly evolved since opening some 17 years ago now.  What lays inside is a constant reminder of why we love the game and why people from all corners of the globe are drawn into the beauty of football.  If you have a couple of hours to kill before a flight or train, kill some time here.  If you are a family looking for a dedicated day out, then why not take a pack up and head to Manchester to explore what’s on show inside the Museum.  I’ve been around a dozen times now since my first visit over a decade ago at the Preston venue and each time, I discover new and wonderful sights and sounds to take in.  There is also a grassed area to enjoy outside with a plethora of cafes, pubs and restaurants offering great value food and beverage deals.

Bring on the new season and bring on another visit to one of my favorite museums.  Oh, and up the reds!

P Free July Starts Now!

We’ve all been getting pretty fired up in recent times over that nasty “P” word. People have been split all over the shop with differing views. Yep, I’m talking about politics. It’s divided many, ruined friendships and presented us all with a lot of misinformation as we all battle to get our point of view across with some incredibly heated gusto!

Personally, I’m neither to far to the left or the right. My preference is to look at both sides of the coin and, even the edges, before sitting in the middle to make up my own mind on situations. The greatest mistake we make with our political views is sitting one way or the other. With live in a divide and conquer society. You are either pro-vax or anti-vax. Pro-guns or anti-guns. It’s like everything has to be a football match where you pick a team and stick loyal regardless of how your views and feelings may sway. It’s a bit daft isn’t it?

A few years ago now, I volunteered for the Red Cross in Malmo, Sweden for a couple of days. My role was to hand out bottles of water, take down the details of refugees and welcome people. There were some pretty scary stories recited back to me in regards to why families had to leave Syria. Personally, I can’t even begin to imagine what the refugees went through with a daily deluge of bombs and uncertainty making their lives unbearable. On the flip side, within a few hours, I noticed the distinct lack of female volunteers. I asked my supervisor why this was so and he told me too many of the girls had been getting sexually assaulted and threatened. Some had even been followed and raped on their way home by “refugees”. It was a firm reminder that one cannot always remain a bleeding heart because for every genuine refugee seeking refuge, there are others out there looking for a free ride and incapable of respecting the local laws or the people.

I’ve spent time also working in refugee health services and heard many stories of what people have gone through just to get to what they think will be a safe and prosperous society. Again, for all the legitimate refugees, there are those who want to cause harm and enforce their religious views down our throats. I got one simply don’t understand religion. Books of sheer fiction written about God’s and prophets who don’t exist. Daft! Besides, you shouldn’t need a book of fiction and an undying belief in a God who doesn’t exist to be a good person do you now?

To open borders to Europe, America or anywhere for that matter is a huge mistake. There is a reason countries require strict border security and that’s the way, it should stay despite it being a can of worms.

The obsession people have with Donald Trump astounds me on a daily basis. Comparing Trump to Hitler and his detention centres (actually opened by Obama) to concentration camps from Nazi Germany days is a thought of stupidity. Sheer stupidity. People hate Donald Trump because it’s fashionable. The left got it wrong by going with Clinton but instead of building a better campaign with a superior candidate to move forward, the left have continued to kick and scream like children hoping that eventually, they will get their way. Grow up!

Whilst everyone is up in arms over illegal Mexican border crossings, thousands of people continue to die in Dafur, Sudan. The civil war which has left upwards of 300,000 people dead continues to go untouched by the mainstream press, the mentally deranged far right and crazy left because they are side tracked with Trump and sensationalist politics.

Australian’s are not much better. We have a conservative government making life tough for the average Joe, systematically ripping down our tax payer funded health care whilst running the economy into the ground. Oh, and the banks who have been committing serious crimes for a long time yet, despite a royal commission into banking which has exposed major systemic fraud, punishments, if any, have been feeble. And I won’t even start on the nut job red head, Pauline Hanson, who is so far to the right with her deluded views and policies that even her own party members are jumping ship on a regular basis.

To be honest, I’ve grown tired of politics. It’s a corrupt system with very few, if any politicians still interested in serving anyone or anything other than their hip pockets and retirement funds. I’ve also grown tired of the deluded far left and far right sections of our society. They are both destroying any common sense that people care to bring to the table with their hysterical views that are, more often than not, incredibly misguided.

In turn, I’m going on a P free July! No politics! And it starts today. I’m going to leave it all behind and stop giving a flying fuck about Trump, Nazi’s and mentally deranged nut jobs that pass themselves off as politicians. Besides, I’m having a blast watching the World Cup and enjoying spending more time with friends and family. P free July? Let’s do it!

The Bowie Concert Tape Files: Tokyo Dome – Tokyo, Japan – May 16 1990

Tonight, it’s time to take a look at yet another Sound+Vision show.  This recording is the Westwood One Radio Show recorded for FM broadcast during the same year.  Starting off, it’s an exceptional show which doesn’t let up all the way.  The crowd are well up for it with almost 55,000 in for each of the two nights.  This recording is of the second night at the Tokyo Dome.  The shows were sandwiched in between the second leg of the North American section.  One can only gather these shows were thrown in after the bulk of the dates were locked in making this a small interruption into a break period for Bowie, the band and his tour crew.

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One of the major highlights from this show is the inclusion of “Rock’n’Roll Suicide” as the final song of the night.  It’s a shame that it was later dropped from the rest of the tour.  The whole show is actually quite a lengthy one clocking up with 25 numbers.  Almost all the arrangements come over with great delight unlike other shows from the tour where they can sound a little hollow and empty.  There is also a visual recording of the show available and you can see from watching the concert on the screen that Bowie was really enjoying himself throughout.  He was full of banter, constantly smiling and loving every moment of the proceedings.  It’s a real shame this tour failed to make it to other cities in Asia along with New Zealand and Australia, particularly because those countries were always so good to Bowie.  With so many concerts during the tour performed in North America, you have to wonder if Bowie was trying his best to impress the US and Canadian audiences to gather as much as he could from their hip pockets through ticket sales and merchandise?  We do know he made some serious money on this tour and had his back catalogue re-issue program to flog.  This aside, these shows were a good recovery from the critical disaster that was the Glass Spider Tour from three years prior.

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Coupled with the energy, the sound is one of the best from the entire tour.  Whoever was in charge of the recording set up for the night deserves a slap on the back because everything is captured so very well from the outset.  It’s been one of the pleasures from focusing on this tour in recent weeks.  Beautiful sounding concerts from a highly underrated tour.  I know I keep harping on it but “China Girl” again stands out as a serious highlight of the night.  There is a slight extension to the song this time which plays out so beautifully.  The band then rips straight into “Sound And Vision” to deliver one of the best performances of that song from the tour as well.   There is also a fantastic extended outro from “Young Americans” to boot!  The crowd on this night, my friends, we getting their moneys worth in every way.  I’m going to dig up some of those other audience recordings I’ve been promising for a while tomorrow and see what these hold in store.

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SETLIST: Intro/Space Oddity/Changes/TVC 15/Rebel Rebel/Be My Wife/Ashes To Ashes/Starman/Fashion/Life On Mars?/Blue Jean/Let’s Dance/Stay/China Girl/Sound And Vision/Ziggy Stardust/Station To Station/Young Americans/Suffragette City/Fame/”Heroes”/Panic In Detroit/Pretty Pink Rose/Modern Love/The Jean Genie/Rock’n’Roll Suicide

The Next Chapter In Life…

This morning, I woke up with the realisation that today was the beginning of the next chapter in my life. I finished up in my current role/job on Friday with an open road ahead of me. Today however, the road was a little murky as I spent all of it battling a tremendous headache that has only just begun to clear following the help of 2 Nurofen pills. I had great intentions today of starting on some new projects (I’m a project kind of guy) that I have been wanting to start for a while now. Today however, was proof in the pudding that best laid plans go to waste.

What is time? Does it even exist? Is it a figment of our imagination? I know one thing. Time is not your friend. Never has been. Never will be. The older we grow, the faster time runs away from us. At moments like these, I always look back on my time working in an Oncology ward where I would be reminded on a daily basis that life is too short through the eyes of cancer patients. Sometimes, you would be encouraged to see a patient feeling better and looking as though they were going to beat their cancer. A few days later, I would often learn that these incredibly encouraging fighters had succumbed to the battle they fought so hard to defeat.

For this reason alone, I began focusing more on the things I love in life. Travel, fitness, reading, films, spending time with people who meant the most to me and trying my best not to sweat the small stuff. Spending more time with my mum was also a key decision that put me in my current position. She hasn’t been well for some time so I decided to start spending more time with her. Naturally, with a good bit of distance between us and a full time job, it wasn’t always possible to spend as much time as I would like with mum and that time is, in part, on my side. I didn’t want to be one of those people who regretted not spending enough time with their parents as they moved into their later years of life. In the cancer ward, I saw this all too often.

Tomorrow morning when I wake up, I have a plethora of opportunities ahead of me. I can go to the gym, head out for a run, see a movie, read my book, trawl through old travel photos, watch a documentary, write some blogs, plan some travel or head down to the beach for a swim. Many people on this planet don’t have the opportunities that we take for granted each day. Knowing I have this treasured privilege, I’m glad a new chapter in my life has begun. The world is my oyster. And don’t I know it!

The Bowie Concert Tape Files: Santiago, Chile – September 27 1990

The third file on the Sound+Vision Tour of 1990 this week looks at another beautiful FM broadcast from South America. To be more precise, Santiago in Chile.  Yet again, we experience a happy and jovial Bowie as he peddles through his back catalogue of hits (perhaps knowing deep within, he was a step closer to never playing them again) with broad gusto.  Historically speaking, this was Bowie’s second last show (107th) of the tour which had consisted of more than 100 shows in 27 countries, his largest tour to date.

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He opens with Space Oddity as was the norm for the tour, following, he launches into an apology for being so late on stage and promises the waiting fans a very long show. By his later standards where he would often play well over 30 songs, the 21 offered on this night were a reasonable amount.  As with other soundboard and FM shows from this tour, you really do get a gist for just how good the musical arrangement were for particular songs.  During this particular recording, “Ashes To Ashes” stands out head and shoulders above the rest of the opening part of the show.  It’s followed by an impressive “Stay” but then falls away slightly with “Pretty Pink Rose”, a song that either comes off well or sounds just plain average which it sadly did during most shows of this tour.  I do wonder though why Bowie didn’t opt for a few obscure songs to be thrown in with “Panic In Detroit”, “Rock’n’Roll Suicide” and all the major hits.  One would love to know which songs he had contemplated adding in but chose to leave out.

 

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As the show moves along, it picks up a few more notches before closing down with no less than 5 songs in the encore.  Listening back over this broadcast will definitely make you reconsider the negative feedback the Sound+Vision tour received in the years after its completion.  It’s by no means Bowie’s best tour.  Not by a long way but it deserves a little more respect than it garnered back in the 1990’s.  All you have to do is listen to “China Girl” from this tour to get an understanding of just how good the arrangements were.  I’ve spoken about these elements of the tour during previous articles but I just cannot help but go back for more.  Even with his voice sounding a touch scratchy, it’s still far better than most other artists on a good day.

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For the next couple of Sound+Vision tour shows, I’m going to move into the murky waters of audience recordings from the tour.  Namely shows from the first American leg followed by Europe after which, I’ll move onto the beautiful FM recording of Japan from the master tapes which will be a wonderful treat.  As mentioned in previous posts, you can always drop me a line and I can point you in the direction of where to download these shows from if you don’t already know.  There are a lot of amazing Bowie fans who have managed to haul together some real treasures over the past decade and we should always be grateful for the hard work they constantly put into bringing such amazing shows to the public domain.

SETLIST: Space Oddity/Life On Mars?/Rebel Rebel/Ashes To Ashes/Stay/Pretty Pink Rose/Blue Jean/Let’s Dance/Sound And Vision/Ziggy Stardust/China Girl/Panic In Detroit/Young Americans/Suffragette City/Fame/”Heroes”/Changes/White Light, White Heat/The Jean Genie/Fashion/Modern Love

 

 

You Could Be Dead Tomorrow!

Every day for the past couple of weeks, I have been walking past floral tributes outside of work that have been left for a young lady who was hit and killed by a bus whilst crossing the street. She was only in her early 20’s and had the rest of her life ahead of her. It’s been resting on my mind since it happened that it could be anyone in that deadly position.

If anything, it’s yet another confirmation as to why you should live your life to the fullest. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’ll work itself out. Don’t stress and worry about things that have not yet happened. You can’t control the future. If anything, do the things you love. The things that make you happy. The things you enjoy. Embrace every day and thrive on all the little moments that make up each and every day.

You know all that money you have been saving for a rainy day? Go out and book a holiday with it or buy that awesome dress you have had your eye on for the past few weeks. It’s just money and you can’t take it to the grave. You know, when my grandfather passed away in 1992, tens of thousands of dollars were found hidden behind walls, in the ceiling and other strange places. Why was he hoarding so much money? We’ll never know.

What I do know is this. My grandmother always wanted a round the world holiday with him, her husband of over 50 years. They never enjoyed that round the world holiday she desired so much. I think you get where I am going with this. Just get out there and enjoy life. Go and love it. You’ve only got one crack so make every moment count!