Thursday, 29 September 2011

I always feel like somebody's watching me


I'm just an average man
With an average life
I work from 9 to 5
Hey well I pay the price
All I want is to be left alone
In my average home
But why do I always feel
I'm in the twilight zone and...

[lyrics by Rockwell]

DLR

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Saturday, 24 September 2011

mind the expectation gap

Seasoned London commuters think nothing of the Underground network's recorded messages warning passengers to take care when stepping from the station platform to the train door. Small children and out-of-town visitors, however, often seem to find the recording remarkably amusing. So much so that among latter group there exists a market for t-shirts bearing the familiar slogan.

This Sunday, visiting Aston Villa fans using the Central Line to get to White City seem to be especially aware of the gap. The gap, that is, between their expectations for the season ahead and the sudden surge of optimism being expressed by supporters of their opponents on the day.

Since this is my england last bothered to report on a QPR match (their [deliberate?] tumble at the first hurdle of the League Cup), new majority shareholder Tony Fernandes has delighted the Rangers faithful with a wealth of exciting signings. So far, these additions to the squad have combined to good effect.

Almost immediately after a hectic transfer deadline day, the Shepherds Bush outfit dominated visiting Newcastle United, albeit without hitting the back of the net. As the only QPR fan watching the 0-0 stalemate in my local boozer, I found it to be a tense affair, but the R's were very clearly the better side on the night. As reported by the Guardian, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was heard, in his nasal tones, to ask and answer his own rhetorical question thus: "Am I disappointed with a point? No, not when when we didn't deserve any more."

Better was to follow when the West London side travelled up to Molyneaux to face Mick McCarthy's Wolves last Saturday. Neil Warnock's team ran rampant, scoring three goals without reply, hogging possession and gathering praise for a stylish performance.

What of the new recruits?

The midfield upgrade
Well, wasn't it inevitable that the first appearance of much-maligned midfielder Joey Barton would come against the club from which he had just departed in acrimonious circumstances? Against Newcastle, though, Barton simply looked usefully efficient, making his own contribution to QPR's good performance and seeming to bring out the best in established Rangers players. In both of Barton's QPR appearances thus far, his companions in the centre of QPR's midfield are playing like men transformed. The grey-haired veteran Shaun Derry, he of the endless perfectly-timed and crucially important tackling, had already made a successful adjustment to top flight football. Playing alongside Barton, he looks even better. Also improved is Alejandro Faurlin. Already looking comfortable in the Premier League, the Argentinean was described as an "outstanding" contributor to the win over Wolves by the Daily Mail's Alex Kay. Before the season started, it was the temperamental but brilliant Moroccan Adel Taarabt who was being spoken of as the one QPR player likely to be a transfer target for more prominent clubs in England and abroad. Now I wonder if Faurlin will be the one to attract most interest during the next transfer window. His passing and positioning looks excellent.

Solid at the back
Via Twitter, no end of mockery was expressed about the signing of 21 year-old Armand Traore, the French-born left back acquired from Arsenal on deadline day. The young full back had last been seen looking no more effective than the hapless team mates around him on the day the Gunners capitulated miserably to a rampant Manchester United side. So the theme of most mocking tweets seemed to be around QPR having done Arsenal a favour by relieving the north London club of a useless player. I don't think I was alone, however, in paying no heed to these remarks. Other glimpses I'd had of Traore in an Arsenal shirt (and on loan at Portsmouth in 2008-09) had given me cause to believe that the Rangers were signing up a player with great pace, good versatility and the ability to present a much-needed attacking option down the left flank. So it has proved. In a hooped shirt, Traore is now zooming the length of the pitch and whipping in inviting crosses to good effect. Verdict: looks like a top signing. Arsenal, I feel, may come to regret the transaction, too.

Also joining the QPR back line since Tony Fernandes started getting his chequebook out: Anton Ferdinand, formerly of Sunderland and Luke Young, joining from Sunday's opponents. Young,  aged 32 and with a few England caps to his name, brings much-needed top flight experience to the Rangers defence and has ousted Bradley Orr from the right back position. Prior to the season, some QPR fans were worrying about a lack of both pace and proven Premier League credentials at the back, with the two full back positions looking a particular worry. That such concerns were expressed in no way detracts from the appreciation felt for the efforts of Orr on the right and Clint Hill on the left during last season's successful promotion campaign. Doubtless, most supporters will have developed some affection for both players, who came across as solid, dependable and likeable professionals. So, this is my england joins those sending good wishes to Clint Hill as he begins a loan stint with Steve McLaren's Nottingham Forest.

Villa: Why worry?
Both QPR and Sunday's visitors from the Second City have gained seven points from their first five fixtures. While six of QPR's points have come from away wins, Aston Villa have set out their stall as draw specialists, picking up four points from tied matches. The lone win came against a Blackburn side that, recent heroics against Arsenal notwithstanding, must surely count among many pundits' choices for relegation.

Perhaps, then, there is some justification for the wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from some Aston Villa Internet forums and messageboards.

In response to a match prediction piece at the Villa Blog, M5Villa writes "We'll get beat on Sunday, regardless of how well our team plays because our midfield does not have enough steel", adding "I don't think we're any better than Wolves and QPR caned them." Similarly pessimistic, TheBlackPearl opines that "it's a QPR win for me, they have too much quality in the middle of the park and we will likely give them the majority of the possession as per usual."

At Heroes and Villains, meanwhile, contributors are lining up to predict a home win, with some fearing a real drubbing.

I wonder, though, if it's a bit premature to be thinking of the Rangers as genuinely tough opposition. This comes, after all, in the wake of just two performances good enough to attract warm praise. So while it's tempting as a QPR supporter to get carried away by the current mood of excitement, I do still keep in mind that the Tony Fernandes revolution is at a very early stage. I wonder, too, about the effect of opponents sitting up and taking notice in the wake of recent good results,  now not making the mistake of underestimating Neil Warnock's side. I also worry a little about the impact of any unhelpful combination of injuries. QPR, for me, now have a decent Premier League team. But a strong squad? How much top talent is sitting on the bench or playing in the reserves for QPR? Not enough, perhaps.

I also wonder if Villa supporters, though perhaps justifiably disappointed by their club's approach to the transfer market, are making too much of a slow start. While I wouldn't tip Villa to be in the running for a top six or seven finish, I daresay they won't flirt for long with the lowest reaches of the table. My sense is that Sunday's opponents are of mid-table quality. Given that right-thinking QPR fans would surely be delighted with a mid-table finish, perhaps the visitors' followers are paying a newly assembled Rangers side too much respect when predicting a thrashing at the hands of the Londoners.

Whatever happens, I'll doubtless be feeling as nervous as usual unless QPR quickly build a two-goal advantage as in the Wolves match.

U RRRRRRRRRRRRRRsssssssssssss

Friday, 23 September 2011

WTF???

Bloody Blogspot... One day, out of nowhere, their boffins radically improve the look and feel of enlarging pictures on the platform's blog. Then, without so much as a by-your-leave, it's back to the old school, only  days later. Why? For the love of God - WHY!!!????

[mood: devastated]

ALL YOUR COCK SHADOW NEEDS

this is my england today caught sight of a nice idea spoiled only by lacklustre execution.

For a little over three years, starting in January 2007, an unknown curator assembled a collection of photos designed to meet viewers' cock shadow needs.

What a shame that fewer than fifty pictures were presented over such a long period, and what a pity that the last time an item was added was way back in May 2010. Were this gallery still a going concern, this is my england would have submitted a photograph taken in May this year.

Calling all cock shadow noticers! Should this concept be revisited and improved upon?

RIV!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

fruity girls are everywhere

As any fule kno, one unwritten (but important) law of British journalism stipulates that the annual stories about record GCSE and A-Level passes must be accompanied by photographs of what dear old Private Eye always refers to as 'fruity girls' - and it's not just the poisonous 'mid' market gripe-sheets that are at it. Examples abound from both the leftmost and rightmost ends of the narrow spectrum of available opinion, as expressed by our fourth estate.

Hacks at the Daily Mail, naturally, given their rag's famously confused mix of faux moral uprightness and leering prurience, are master exponents of the observance of this rule.  So that when that 'paper writes something designed to invite snorts of derision from oldies outraged by evidence of an alleged 'none shall fail' culture, little blonde honeys are de riguer. Mastery of this form was amply evident when, last summer, Mail reporters Laura Clark and Sophie Freeman combined to cover comments from 'two brains' Willetts about the scramble for university places. This ostensibly quite dull item was livened up no end by a cheerful shot of a few pulchritudinous Geordie lasses.

Guardianistas, too, got a little eye candy of their own when Education Editor Jeevan Vasagar weighed in with his own coverage of the relentless rise of the A-level pass rate. More blondeness. More than a hint of youthful cleavage. Nary a hint of the organ's supposed political correctness when it comes to the picture editor's role.

This well-worn device can be used in contexts besides the reporting of education matters, of course. The context in which it was employed in this morning's Metro, though, was a new one for this is my england. Consider how the commuters' giveaway chose to cover the delayed evictions from illegally occupied plots on the travellers' site at Dale Farm in Essex. Guess what? Even among the widely reviled traveller folk of this island, fruity girls can be found! Blonde ones!

But surely we're all supposed to hate gypo/pikey/diddicoy scum, aren't we? Isn't it positively mainstream to discuss them in terms we'd never dream of using with reference to any other minority? I would have thought, then, that flagging up the existence of teenage totty in their midst is unwise in the extreme. It might stimulate some level of sympathetic feeling for the people of the road.

on the mattress of fate

the vacuum cleaner sucks the day
from a swathe of grey carpet tiles,
and in the narrow slice of daylight
between dark stores of dubious goods,
the damp and spotty bedding
of some body's fate
stands propped
beside the sign
that reads:
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR RUBBISH HERE,
PUT IT ON THE STREET

and I think of a house
eight hundred miles
and fifteen years from here,
where one night I was visited
by the little bittersweet phantom
who had helped me make that first death-crack
in the shiny, woody hardness
of the conker
of my heart;

silent,
we rolled on a flat mattress,

and
I will never know
why her insinuating hand
ghosted, unbidden,
to the hardness
of the hotness
of my prick,

and
I will never know
why her slim fingers'
quiet enquiry
was ended, suddenly,
in a noisy rage of slurs,
and in the dramatic crashing
of the garden gate.

when I had my one chance to ask about it,
a lifetime later
in a hotel bar
and in the here-and-now...
well, I think I saw
that no good could come
from finding out.

Monday, 19 September 2011

TOP TIP

ATTRACTIVE TEENAGE GIRLS. Avoid opportunistic chat-up lines from middle-aged men who share your taste in music. Simply avoid wearing t-shirts bearing the names of indie-punk-alternative-goth-grunge bands whose heyday ended before you were born. Hey presto! No more sleazy approaches that start with anecdotes about having seen the band live at the Brixton Academy.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

chronicles of what?

Over the last few months, sharp-eyed Londoners will have noticed plain black stickers bearing the legend THE CHRONICLES OF CHILBY. These can be seen on things such as the control panels of pelican crossings, the metal boxes from which free newspapers can be taken and, as shown below, on those increasingly redundant and neglected items of street furniture, the city's phone boxes:



What is this all about then? Well, this is my england has failed to learn much - and not for the want of trying. The person or persons producing these stickers have created both a Facebook group and a MySpace page, and can be followed on Twitter. The Facebook group gives little away in response to visitors' questions about the nature of THE CHRONICLES OF CHILBY. Could it, as the name suggests, be a book or a film? Something with a narrative structure is certainly suggested by the use of the word 'chronicles'. Or is this a bit of viral marketing for a consumer brand/product of some kind? Time will tell.

This week, the unknown people behind this unknown thing reached out to their Facebook contacts, inviting the latter to request supplies of the black-and-white stickers.

A set of these arrived at the global HQ of this is my england this morning. Now it must be decided what, if anything, is to be done with them...



DANGER


infinite stack of alternative universes

Well done to the good people at Blogspot for upgrading the way pictures on blogs can be enlarged. Clicking on a picture here used to navigate the visitor forward to a separate location/URL where the pic could be viewed in a larger format - up to full size. Lots of hitting 'back' involved. Now, clicking a photo causes it to pop up, enlarged and photo gallery-stylee, without navigating away from the page. Nice. Preferable. Looks better. Visitor 'experience'-improving, I'd say. Well done. 

Try it out with the screenshot I made to illustrate this:

Then you can make screenshot of the screenshot, and then a screenshot of that screenshot and so on and so on until you become disconnected from reality. Like that thing when you have a mirror behind you and you look into the mirrored door of a bathroom cabinet. Move the door around a bit to be transported into an infinite stack of alternative universes. It's like the start sequence to a very old episode of Doctor Who, or something.

[edit: it gets better... the Blogspot photo viewing upgrade, I mean... if you click on a picture that is one of several included in a single blog entry, you can scroll between that pic and the others via a gallery functionality. Nice, nice. This is good. this is my england opted for Blogspot without really thinking about it and, when seeing fancier features on some other (trendier?) platforms, has then sometimes felt a little wistful about the look-and-feel that might have been. So this is all good, More, more. Yes, yes.]

Thursday, 15 September 2011

creepshow of swamps

Paul Kwiatkowski (Paul K.) takes interesting pictures, not least those that will form the photo essay accompanying his forthcoming novel about coming of age in the creepshow of swamps and strip malls that is South Florida, to be titled AND EVERY DAY WAS OVERCAST. Have a look.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

g'day


Soooooo many visitors from Down Under. Thanks to the good people at Lost at E Minor, I'd say.

national pride

High levels of economic inequality have long been known to pose grave threats to democracy. Because nationalism averts these dangers by discouraging citizens from recognizing inequality and mobilizing against it, democratic states may be expected to respond to greater inequality by generating more nationalism among their citizens.
Frederick Solt, Southern Illinois University 2006

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Saturday, 10 September 2011

GET LOST AT E MINOR

this is my england is featured today on the front page of Lost At E Minor, an online publication of inspiring art, design, music, photography and pop culture which claims to take "low brow sensibilities and mash them up with the grittier elements of high brow culture to shine a discerning light on... exciting expressions of creativity". So it's nice that this is my england is deemed worthy.

The site was founded way back in 2005 by brothers Zolton and Zac Zavos, with Andy Howard joining the team in 2007. There's plenty to look at so do have a look.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

cum faces

This is quite good re: Gideon. Enjoy. Now will someone do one for that gurning gimp Gove?

this is how we role

28 days later
in chalet thirteen
my sugar levels
are up as I'm riding
cream-coloured ponies,
crisp apple strudels
and sweet thighs
whose
sweet sighs
throw out my cares,
so let's fly,
'cos I smell roses
but I hear flies.

"I know, let's
find a bum and kick him
till his dope falls out."

"no. just leave me alone"

"thank god I have nothing."

"when going through hell, just
keep going."

yes, yes
yes, no
yes

Monday, 5 September 2011

cats

if she liked people,
if she liked this life...
well, she never let on,
 that skinny black quickbitch,
anger spitting atcha,
shivering misery,
crying foul
in a rainstorm and
up a tree:
glowering down
like you were the dumb one

well,
I cried my eyes out
when the damn thing dashed
under the wheels
of the postman's van,
and gave up the ninth life

so,
she got replaced:

a smiling-fat, simple-ginger eunuch:
gentle,
still,
beatific, 
blissed out.

unlike my dad:

"that fucking thing!!!
it's shit all over my suit!!!
GET IT OUT OF HERE,
GET IT OUT OF HERE
or I'LL KILL IT,
it's going back to the shelter or
so help me god
I'll wring
its fucking NECK."

Sunday, 4 September 2011

entering the football circle

The Football Circle is a blog carrying articles about British football, with little bits of Europe and the rest of the world thrown in. North America's MLS seems to get fairly regular mentions.

The whole thing is the brainchild of one Andrew Musgrove, to whose appeal for an article on QPR this is my england was delighted to respond. This rounds up the latest twists and turns in the club's fortunes and has a little stab at predicting what the rest of the season may look like for the Superhoops. Have a look - and at all the other stuff at the Football Circle if you're a fan of the game.

there is always a mechanism

I do not see in religion the mystery of the incarnation so much as the mystery of the social order. It introduces into the thought of heaven an idea of equalization, which saves the rich from being massacred by the poor. 

Napoleon Bonaparte
Is it too much to suggest that consumerism has become a kind of alternative faith, a religion of sorts? Religions are characterized by some vision of a good life, by their rituals and by a particular language. Consumerism seems to be developing all three apace.
Anthony B. Robinson

grosvenor road



I SMELL ROSES


anonymous

LIFE IS WORTH EXPLORING

ripping yarns

Regular readers will know all about the rectangular patch of whitewash on the side of Camden's (recently closed down) housing office on the corner of Eversholt Street and Crowndale Road. As discussed here ad nauseum, this pale oblong is the stage on which a certain stickers-and-stencils merchant (by the name of stu bags) plays out his observations on life.

Passing stu's space today, this is my england noted that further amendments and damage have been made to and suffered by his work.
  • someone has added a mobile phone number - if you're interested to see whose number, I guess you could just call it to find out
  • giving vent to some more destructive impulse, an unknown hand has torn away at stu's bench photo printed onto a page of the Necronomicon and adorned with a reference to our very own this is my england
Also destroyed by an unknown hand is the evidence of a little interplay between stu and this is my england. When the former recently headed off for a break on foreign shores, he challenged the latter to unscramble an anagram. The letters concerned, little foam stick-on ones, were arranged over stu's long-standing THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE slogan: H, R, S, T, I, G, S, E, E. Exactly as stu predicted at the time, most of these letter have been picked off. I'd say the 'S' will be gone before too long. It's looking precarious.

Never a dab hand and anagrams, I offered the quick answer 'three gits' - obviously wrong because it uses the 'T' twice.

It turns out that the solution is 'sightseer', reference to stu heading off on his holidays. I should have guessed it from his clue ('think of the opposite', i.e. the opposite of THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE), so perhaps that's an #epicfail on the part of this is my england.

If anyone is wondering about the green squiggle the now follow's stu's riot/looting-related slogan WE HAVE A PROBLEM,  the man himself explains:

"I did make a political statement by FULLSTOPPING the WE HAVE A PROBLEM with the Conservative logo....Im not well versed in Politics but Iv lived long enough in the forest to know when Im being fucked by a fox...."

emptier

Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings - always darker, emptier and simpler.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, 3 September 2011

clamping down on crime

"Those who make the wrong decision, who engage in criminality, must be identified, arrested and punished, and we will make sure that happens."

Home Secretary Theresa May, 11th August
"The United Kingdom further states that the criminal prosecution of bank employees due to participation in tax offences is highly unlikely."

Clause in UK-Swiss tax deal agreed by Chancellor George Osborne, 23rd August
(spotted in Private Eye No. 1296)