Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's precisely 5pm on Christmas Eve. Santa will be starting his round any time now, he'll have to be quick if he's to reach every child in the world before morning breaks.

Let peace reign once more among mankind. A very merry Christmas to one and all.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

It's 2.20am. The fourth day of the third Ashes Test in Perth begins in ten minutes and I figured I should make the effort to watch it, if only because I think it may be the last time England hold the Ashes for some considerable time!

I feel sorry for those thousands of people who will be flying out of the UK for the Melbourne and Sydney Tests, traditionally the two biggest matches of the series. Unless something truly miraculous happens today and tomorrow, the series will be done and dusted and those games will be utterly meaningless. I'd be pretty unhappy if I'd forked out thousands for that.

A few weeks ago on these very pages, I tipped Australia to win handsomely but even I did not realise just how uncompetitive England would be. It's been a throwback to the bad days of the 1990s - Australia have dominated from the start and every time England have had a good couple of sessions and looked like they could get themselves into a really strong position, the Aussies have dug deep and ripped the game from England's grasp.

The turning point was the last day of the second Test at Adelaide. Despite the hammering England received in Brisbane to go 1-0 down, had they managed to draw the second match, they would have gone into this Perth test in good heart, only one down with three to play. As it is, that slow lurch to calamity on the final day at Adelaide ensured that England would lose the apparently unloseable game and finished the series there and then. That dramatic shift in momentum and morale was irreversible.

Questions will be asked about selection although there's no doubt that England were a little unlucky to have to play the entire series without three of their biggest names - Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick and Simon Jones. In addition, Andrew Strauss must have run over umpire Rudi Koertzen's cat in a previous life having received three poor decisions in a row. But England have never given themselves a chance. By selecting a skipper who had not played for months, and given the impression, rightly or wrongly, of an old mate's network, where certain players are selected regardless of fitness or form, they made a rod for their own back - and Australia, burning with desire and hunger after the events of last year, have taken full advantage.

They will look to seal the Ashes today and then humiliate England 5-0. And they might just do it....

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Today's Guardian contains an interview with author DBC Pierre, who wrote my favourite book of recent times, the Booker Prize-winning Vernon God Little. It's interesting how it was something as simple as seeing a picture on his television of a young lad in a hoodie being shoved into a police car in America that encapsulated all the feelings of anger, disillusionment and 'the tapestry of commercial lies and political spin' that passes for contemporary reality, summed up by shows like Jerry Springer and Oprah Winfrey.

Just as interesting is that the creative process was stimulated in 1999 by that picture and it took just five weeks to produce 300 pages of thoughts, but it required a further 18 months of 'learning how to write', to distil Vernon's angst and experiences into what is truly an outstanding book.

Check out the interview -,,1961827,00.html - and definitely check out the book. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Last song on the iPod: James - How Was It For You?