Archive for the ‘Books’ Category


Over the past weekend (7/8/9th July) (( In case you are reading this in the future!)), I have been taking a self-imposed break from the majority of my social interacting. That me be a slight mistruth, as my wife was the protagonist for the ban – but seeing as it was our first wedding anniversary, I dully done the right thing and gave in to her request.

It may well have been required anyway – human interaction and face to face time is something seldom seen as you wander aimlessly through carbon copy cities where everyone is glued to either their smartphones or earphones, or just sometimes glue sniffing (I stuck a black marker pen up my nose when I was around about ten, half-fainted and tripped over my bike – I also ended up with an ink spot under my right nostril that resembled half a Hitler mustache – not a good look!). And recently, not just due to my phone’s inability to undertake the most routine task without having a vibrating fit & turning itself off for a well-earned kip, I have been shamed with my excessive usage of social networks by people I really should have been having a conversation with at the time.

For many couples, at home or out and about, it is not uncommon at all to see both people tweeting, texting and basically just ignoring one another. And now, especially with the rise of the 140 character generation, it is even more ludicrous that this same couple may well be conversing or bonding over something with a complete stranger. But – therein also lies the beauty of the thing – the ability to find someone on the same wavelength, supporting the same team, reading the same book or having just watched the same film or television show and talking about it. The worrying aspect is that many people lose their own identity for a new online persona, which can mean not only be diluting relationships in real life – but you can end up being a droid from one of these metropolitan base units I was talking about earlier.

So what problems can an unhealthy obsession with constantly checking and refreshing your feeds bring about? Well apart from the aforementioned – studies show that social media is a major distraction during working hours and education classes, and trying to keep a constant handle on your online network well have a detrimental effect on your performance. Try telling me that on transfer deadline day though!

Another thing you need to take into consideration is the real life effect something you say, or show online could have on the person at the other side of the computer screen. Psychological effects on youngsters especially caused by the overuse of this social medium, has been shown to increase rates in anxiety and been linked to cases of depression. So next time you are about to tell a fenian/hun/fat person etc, to die or do something equally ridiculous – take a step back and think about what you will gain, and how you will make that other person feel. It might be a throwaway comment in your book, but these thoughts and words have the ability to lodge themselves deep in the psyche.

So coming back to my weekend, I was able to interact personally with family and friends without discussing or mundanely checking in where I was, and I felt better for it. Having a real conversation not just with your wife, but with neighbours, waiters and other forms of customer-based providers takes us back to a time when the art of conversation of banter was king! The monotonous usage of automated tellers, barriers and self-checkouts is further diluting real-time interaction as well, people feel safer and can relate to a situation more if they are faced with human interface – you can already see attitudes and personas becoming more robotic & bereft of any positive emotion.

In conclusion – take a break, read a book (It was actually the basic interaction methods of the late 80’s/early 90’s featured in Paul Larkin’s recent book “Poles ‘N’ Goals and Hesselink” which helped highlight the recent transformation), go for a walk, talk to someone, use the basket queue – however slow the old biddy is taking in front of you to locate her Clubcard! Don’t overdose online, as you may end up abusing the actual splendour and intricacies within & not reap its many benefits.

 

I now look forward to receiving your comments via post, telegram, or in person. Alternatively you can respond below.

Mark

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Starting out last Saturday, as usual I opted for a Goals Rush/Galore and a four team accumulator. This is my offline money, so a tenner spent with five deep on each line. Both Sheffield teams are faring well in League One and seemed good value with the Blades at home to Carlisle and Wednesday impressing at 6/5 away to play-off chasers Tranmere. Southend away to relegation threatened Dagenham & Redbridge seemed to be a no-brainer and I was further vindicated in my selection when @tipstermetro took them as his super single – I finished that line off with West Ham continuing their decent  away form to lowly Coventry  – Three aways in the line up, even teams with decent form, can help increase your odds – on a regular weekend I reckon you would only get a confident away double at best. So around £55 was picked up from Ladbrokes on Saturday evening but then deposited into the wifes purse – her argument, she keeps it as I sent her in to collect it.  Scunthorpe scuppered my five-line goals galore with a pitiful defeat against leaky Hartlepool – at least Jeff was happy!

Geez yer money Laddies!!!

I hedged my bets on Saturday evenings X-Factor, staking a few quid on the first three front-runners for the axe. If you have grown tired of the copycat contestants & same old judge catchphrases, then having a flutter on the death of someone’s karaoke career surely can keep you entertained until Rihanna comes on and keeps Ofcom’s workers in a job. Craig at 13/8 refunded all three of my stakes, but it was almost extremely fruitful with twenty to one shot Amelia only just getting through on the public’s votes and Mischa saving herself with an Oscar-winning tearfest on Saturday nights VT. I’ll stick with Amelia and Mischa for this week whilst going ten deep on Little Pick n Mix or whatever their name is this week for outright winners at 15/8.

Strictly Come Dancing is harder to make any gains on, as the favourite, Harry seems a stick on but not worthwhile at 8/13 – therefore Chelsee at threes seemed a decent alternative – she has arguably been the most consistent on the dancefloor. This week I have taken an outside shot on Robbie Savage getting the heave-ho even though it seems the writing is on the wall for Angie.

In Napoli, one name stands out so far in front of the rest, you can recognise it from Genoa in the North – Edson Cavani. Again at anytime to score rather than first as Manchester City are quite unpredictable in their own attacking prowess but still quite light in defence for the Champions League. I doubled up on Cavani with Balotelli also at any time during this rich vein of form – a wager than even @tipstermetro was impressed by!!

Robin van Persie was up next for First goalscorer at the Emirates  as I was supremely confident if Arsenal did get a goal, the lethal Dutchman would be the one celebrating – there was some doubt in my mind which team might have broken the deadlock and I took a small wager but at greater odds for Dortmund’s Mario Gotze. Thankfully though for my £10 stake RVP at (odds) more than made up for the outgoings on the subbed German star.

An enthralling second 45 in the fixture list last night had me one goal – yes just a solitary strike from a £110 on Betfred’s Wednesday Goals Galore coupon. Shaktar Donetsk being the side that let me down, with Porto grabbing two late goals in Russia to deflate their hosts. Dortmund & Leverkusen found their feet in the second half and at the San Siro the ball got rolling in a sensational opening forty-five. Walsall & Exeter were the last of my five picks – it is quite an amazing bet which can have you down collecting your winnings after the opening half or biting your nails into injury time. Some bookies are getting smart to this though, and are either offering odds per game on scoring dependant on the teams or eliminating them from the coupon altogether!!

The NFL betting has captured my imagination since the Metro Tipster highlighted it in his column last week. The handicaps are set online but a few minutes after scrolling through the leagues and winning streaks, you can tell who to go for and avoid. Green Bay Packers are ripping everyone to shreds and they have come up trumps the two times I have backed them this week. Minus 6 last night away to the Detroit Lions & away to Tampa Bay. Houston, Dallas & Denver are also on hot form and I would take the Texans away to the Jacksonville Jaguars as my big tip to win on Sunday night.

So all in all I am in the black off-line by £55 and just keeping my head above water online at £22.50.

Bets for the Weekend start tonight with FC Koln to win at home to Borussia Monchengladbach at 21/10 and Lukas Podolski to score any time at 7/4.

 


I have chosen two biographies – one you could say had a Celtic connection – Paul McGrath’s autobiography almost signed for Celtic & would have probably went down in Bhoys folklore as he did at Villa and Manchester United . These three books had an amazing impact on my reading, all extremely eye-opening – to the level of destruction in two of them and also the level of obsession and pride in another.

Barca – A People’s Passion

The other being a cultural & historical look at the “Mes Que en club” and Catalan region. The book gives you a real connection to Barcelona -the lifestyle, politics and identity it gives its supporters. Over 100 years of history and political oppression draws similarities between Celtic’s beginnings in Glasgow’s East end and Barcelona’s own war against “the establishment”. Barca regales about 20th century Spanish history, Catalan regionalism, & cultural psychology between the area and the rest of Spain. 

The players themselves, managers and games sometimes play second fiddle to the city and the role its people played in the continuing development of the club and its ongoing struggle with the Los Blancos. Akin to the Bhoys, Barcelona are seen as second-rate citizens in their country and the gladiatorial battles they endured with Franco’s regime give you a sense of “Braveheart” pride and spirit when reading. It is certainly more than a history, it’s like a handbook for what it is like to be Catalan and a Barcelona fan – written before the Guardiola successes of recent years it also predicts how the club can move forward in this century and beyond.

Hilarious but predictably tragic ,The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw – Robin Friday epitomised the enigmatic figure – whenever he “played” he was undoubtedly the best on the park by a country mile – thought at many points throughout a season he was either too intoxicated to make it or lost on a train somewhere trying to make his way to the particular ground for kick off. He played at around the same era as George Best, the original rock n roll footballer, but due to his lower league status his off the field antics were kept at bay – if he had been at Manchester United on the other hand, Georgie boy would have been considered a mere social drinker.

A character who trained at 100mph and had to be dragged off the training field on many occasions due to the injuries he was dishing it – he also lived his social life at a similar pace. Another player who could have been world-class (he played his few days at Reading & Cardiff) had he reined in his lifestyle off the pitch, the Super Furry Animals dedicated a song to him which explained why; ” The Man Don’t Give a F***”.  He also died on my 10th birthday – this does not have any relevance to the book or why you would read it, I just take an odd comfort from it.

Back from the Brink is an amazing tale which leaves you at many points checking back to the front cover to remind you this is the life and autobiography of a footballer, as desperate as it gets at some junctures. The car crash of calamitous feats and let downs his family endured should not be trivialized & I believe that reading this, Paul accepts he was anything but a saint, but he also has a lovable roguish streak akin to Tony Soprano, which had you willing him to get through his life unscathed even with the damage done to those around him.  His upbringing through orphanages in Ireland was tough & unpleasant and as a black kid in Dublin during those days, made it all the more of a struggle.

Demons is a word banded about rather loosely these days but in “ohh ahh Paul McGrath’s” case,  it was a life long tussle through isolation and devastation.  He is extremely honest and  overly critical which again reiterates the feelings of sadness and empathy which gnaw at you whilst reading. The most unbelievable part of this tale though, is that he managed to still play through blind drunkenness and crippling knee problems – you can only imagine what he could have achieved if his upbringing had been more stable.

 

I hope if you have not already, you will have a read of at least one of these. If you wish, I could dig them out the back of the cupboard, dust off the cobwebs and send them on – tweet me @thebhoymcclay to join the book group.