Category Archives: General

Diamonds are not Forever, Hopefully

As I said a few posts ago, these are interesting times in the UK just at the moment. We have the Olympics next month and that won’t happen again for another hundred years or so if we’re lucky. And we also have just the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. In well over a millennium only three monarchs have made it to sixty years, and one of them was insane at the time. So 2012 is special in more than one way. We have a chance for a harmless knees-up, based on something that happens less than once a century, and therefore we should take it. Those who take a different view, such as Republic, are seen as joyless party-poopers, and, reading their website, one can see why. Continue reading


A Bit of Excitement on a Thursday

It’s a good thing and a bad thing that in Hereford nothing much ever happens. Usually the big news is something like “Girl breaks leg falling off horse at gymkhana” or “chip-shop sign stolen”. (These are real front-page headlines in Hereford). So in the surrounding villages, one can barely imagine anything happening at all – “battery fails in camera”, for example, is big news.

But today was different. The Olympic flame passed through my village, only about 100 metres from my house, and we were out all there in force to cheer it on.

The level of excitement was maintained, every thirty seconds or so, by police motorcyclists, buses, sponsors’ lorries and council vans – all getting a great cheer. At long last the flame arrived, and just as the carrier came…my camera died.

But I did get a rear view. Better than nothing.

All-in-all, about fifteen minutes. But well worth it. It’s not going to happen here in my lifetime again, and it’ll definitely never be so close. The sense of occasion is certainly building up, and whatever one might think about the individual sports or the behaviour of the IOC, it’s a great time to be a Brit right now.


Getting Through the Summer

I’ve been inundated with requests to keep this blog up to speed. So many, indeed, that it’s distracted me from any further offerings for the last week or so.

Of course, the above isn’t true. Life is just very busy at the moment, and I’m just so dissatisfied with my second attempt to analyse “truth” that I keep changing it round.

And it’s the summer. I always say that the best day of the year is the day the clocks go forward. Give me a light evening and a dark morning any day. I have no idea why we don’t have the same time as Western Europe – makes much more sense. Continue reading


The Tradition of “Tradition”

Normally I’m not one to accept a claim of “we’ve always done it like that” to indicate that that’s the way it should always be done. But as I’m sometimes accused of being religious about sport I can make an exception from time to time.

Take cricket. The problems with cricket in the past were that it took too long and nobody watched it (and after days of play, there might not be even be a winner, but as I’ve said elsewhere, to me this is actually an attraction). To arrest the decline, the cricket authorities introduced a number of innovations, and one-day cricket competitions began in the 1960’s in England. So successful (relatively) were they that nowadays this is by far the most popular form of the game. The length of games has been further reduced, and teams have taken to wearing distinctive brightly-coloured kits with names and numbers. This has culminated in the “Twenty20” competitions which are started and finished within three hours. In parts of the world this has been enormously successful. Cricket is now the second most-watched spectator sport in the world, I’m led to believe. It’s true that this has been led recently from the highly-populous countries of the Indian subcontinent, but interest in cricket, especially this type, has increased even in the UK.

Meanwhile, good old county cricket continues to languish, at least relatively. And I can’t help feeling sad about all this. There’s nothing quite like sitting all day with a warm beer and a sandwich watching Derbyshire County Cricket Club (Not the Derbyshire Falcons or the Derbyshire Phantoms or the Derbyshire Scorpions) get thrashed again at Chesterfield. (I stress that I am not in that picture). Tradition, it seems, has gone to the wall. Continue reading


On a Positive Note…

I see the Catholics in Ireland are in trouble again. Hot on the trail of the “indecent images” farce, the Primate of All-Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, has been implicated in a cover-up of the details of a prolific paedophile priest. Himself a priest at the time, it has been alleged by at least two of the victims that Brady, outside of the presence of parents, police or professional counsellors, swore them to secrecy and thus allowed the paedophile to continue his activities. Brady also was informed of the details of other potential and actual victims and chose not to pass these details on to civil authorities – he did inform his then boss, who kept it all under wraps as well. His defence is not that he was innocent of these accusations, but that no specific policy for dealing with such issues existed at the time, either church or state-sanctioned. Moreover, at the time he was in a more junior position, with no authority to act against the paedophile, albeit that he accepts that the overarching culture of the church at the time was to protect its own interests. Will these people never learn? The suppression of the truth of some incident for the benefit of some interest becomes the issue itself at least as much as that initial incident upon its discovery, and as a result much worse for the culprits. The recently-departed evangelical Christian, Charles Colson, would have said as much.

Incidents like this, amid countless others, make it seem that the Catholic Church has been and continues to be very much a malign influence. For many years my own thoughts have been that I couldn’t think of a single reason to believe that the church benefited humankind at all. However, I might have been unfair here to some extent. Britain’s most senior Catholic, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has recently been critical of the coalition government’s tax policies, in particular their affect on the rich / poor divide. In a week when it has been revealed that the rich in Britain have, on average, been getting richer while the country as a whole has returned to recession, Cardinal O’Brien’s intervention could be seen as welcome. Of course, the government disputes his analysis, but it does seem completely transparent that the super-rich, at least, have little or no need of the tax reduction given to them via the recent budget. While I don’t intend to comment on the efficacy of government tax policy, it is good that a person of influence like O’Brien, is at least seen to be attempting to protect the interests of the less fortunate among us. One could be cynical and explain his action, again, as an attempt to protect or promote the interests of his organisation. However,he could have quite easily remained silent here. Continue reading


An attempt at a short post

In my career as a forum antagonist, I know that I was guilty of, shall I say, going on a bit. I used to have a bit of envy for one poster, called oh_once, who was much better than me at getting a point across succinctly and economically. Also, arguably, the best blogs are the ones that keep it short and sweet. Bruce Gerencser, from Fallen from Grace, is asking for guest contributors, and he says:

…keep your post short. Usually, less than 2,000 words is best. Years ago, I wrote Op-Ed pieces for a local newspaper. The editor told me that it would be best if I kept my articles to about a thousand words. When I objected he told me, Bruce you can make it as long as you want. However, if you want people to READ it, keep it to a thousand words. Years later, I have found this to be good advice.

I didn’t start this with the intention of getting anyone to read it, but as it grows in content I will open it up. And 4600-word posts probably aren’t the best way of doing it.

So I’ll keep this one short.

When a post is published in wordpress they splash a screen telling you how many posts you’ve made, what your next target is and include a quote from some great.

The last one I thought was really good. It was from Blaise Pascal, of fascinating triangle and daft wager fame.

I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.

Sums me up, I suppose.


December Loose Ends

First of all, I’d like to wish a merry Christmas to all my readers – all five of them. I said that when I got to ten posts I’d make this blog searchable and I’m nearly there now so we’ll see what that brings. I still don’t know how these regular bloggers find the time.

It’s now got to the stage where I’m thinking about the best acronym for this place. (HOTG? HBotG? HBG?) I think I’ll settle for HOTG. And what’s the best T-shirt design? Questions, questions. Continue reading


Hitchens

A few short words on Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011.

No doubt Hitchens will chiefly be remembered, fondly and not so fondly, depending on one’s perspective, for his services to atheism. The non-believers will declare him greatly-missed, and those of the opposite persuasion will either bask in his imagined fate or express regret at a life wasted. Indeed, in the FFF my current signature is a quote from him:

To be an unbeliever is not merely to be “open-minded”. It is, rather, a decisive admission of uncertainty that is dialectically connected to the repudiation of the totalitarian principle, in the mind as well as politics.

But these words spell out succinctly what Hitchens should mean to all of us, and why his lack of belief in itself was incidental to a much bigger project.

I recall from days gone by Hitchens regularly appearing on polemical TV shows, as his much less talented brother does these days. I don’t recall too much of his views then, but we’re told that he was out there well on the left. My first real encounter came much later with his book Regime Change, now titled A Long Short War. Considering his left-wing credentials this was a remarkably brave but characteristically honest effort, supporting the invasion of Iraq on the issue of human rights. This was basically my stance, too.

In fact it became pointless trying to pigeon-hole Hitchens within the usual political spectrum. He had no time for those that, as he saw it, perverted humanity for their own purposes. His attacks on Henry Kissinger and Ronald Reagan would please the left while his disdain for Michael Moore, George Galloway and Bill Clinton would gain support from the right. Both sides would be missing the point. Hitchens was a fighter for humanity and its potential and against those who would devalue it, from whence ever they came.

I didn’t agree with everything he wrote, and didn’t even think that he did himself justice all the time. But he had a precision, a power and an eloquence with his language that very few can match. I saw him in person at Hay during a recording for a TV programme and of course he didn’t disappoint. He rarely did.


Welcome (to nobody in particular)

Welcome. I might be saying this to nobody and that won’t be a problem. This blog, at least at the moment, is just for myself, somewhere just to collect my thoughts…

I should introduce myself nonetheless. My real name is not Duncan Ferguson and neither am I a Goodison Legend, much as I’d like to be. I am, however, a lifelong supporter of Everton Football Club and don’t mind admitting that when it comes to EFC rationality takes a back seat – with everything else the truth is paramount. Hopefully the real Duncan won’t get to find out about this or for sure given his fearsome reputation, my days are numbered. I don’t even like pigeons. I can’t say that I was ever Duncan’s biggest fan but I do know many Evertonians who would routinely describe him as a god. This brings into question the nature of gods, and in the context of what follows, gives me an ironic reason for taking Duncan’s name in vain.

Continue reading