Personal and undiluted views

2415 days ago

Come on You Yellows – Watching Oxford United at the Kassam

Please do not get me wrong. I still support West Ham. It is West Ham till I die. But…I really enjoyed an afternoon at the Kassam yesterday as the mighty Yellows (Oxford United) beat Cambridge United two nil in a League Two encounter. To be honest it could have been 5-2 but Oxford were clearly the better - of two not very good - sides.

It was the first time I’ve seen Oxford play and it was a family day out. The stadium has only three sides so behind one goal is a wall. Occasionally the ball was hoofed over it and a lad was sent out into the car park to chase it. We sat behind the other goal with the loudest section of the 5,900 crowd and it was a great (and cheap) day.

The referee really did not know what he was doing. For once, the chant was spot on. But then nor did quite a few of the players. In the Premier League


2511 days ago

Je Suis Page 3

The Mrs finds page three women offensive and is today celebrating the fact that The Sun has dropped this feature.  Most of its readers wanted it to stay and most of the population did not care but a small group of the liberal elite campaigned hard, applying commercial pressures on News Corp and Page three est mort.  There you go, the liberal left find something offensive and they may be a minority but it must be banned.  Hmmm a cup of Charlie Hebdo anybody?

Page three has allowed a good few Essex girls to get a career outside of Tesco’s and earn decent wonga. It was their choice to get their kit off and they grabbed it. I guess it is back to Tesco’s for the next generation of Melinda’s and Sam’s.

The liberal left do not care about giving opportunity to the poor, to their client state. They care


2622 days ago

The Great Paddington Dilemma – Drunks in London or Sheep Shaggers getting pissed.

As ever, I arrived at Paddington at 10.31 PM. It does not matter what time I leave Real Man in Clerkenwell my taxi always arrives just as the penultimate train of the day pulls out for Bristol Temple Meads. Then there is the dilemma.

I can hang around until 11.30 and catch the last train to Temple Meads. It will be full of English drunks and will stink of fast food. Gradually drunks get off the train but – especially on a Friday – drunks also pile on at Swindon and Bath heading to the bright lights of Bristol to get even more drunk. Does everyone born in Swindon have the intelligence of a 12 year old Orang Utan?  The taxi fare from Temple Meads home is less than a tenner. But Paddington is a ghastly place to spend 45 minutes and the Mrs is not that impressed if I pitch up at 1.45 AM.

And so there is the 10.45 to Bristol Parkway. I get home just before 1 AM, the taxi fare at the other end is c£20 but there is less time to kill at Paddington. The real downside risk is that I fall asleep and this train carries on all the way to Swansea. I have more than once woken up to find myself heading into Newport, a truly dreadful place, and facing a £45 cab ride home. On this train there is also the stench of fast food but most of the drunks are Welsh. As such, while buying a coffee at the bar, I have just listened to three sheep shaggers discussing in a most animated fashion how to say “The toilet is broken” in Welsh.

I guess you learn something new every day.


2762 days ago

England is Beautiful

I shall miss this country when I finally leave. That is something that I am sure that I will do and I think you all know where I shall head. But as I look out of the train window this morning I am struck by the beauty of the English Countryside.

It is 5.15 AM and I am somewhere between Bristol and Swindon. There is a mist rising gently from the fields which are a lush green. It is just at the point where morning has broken but it it is still dark enough for cars on the roads to be shining their lights.

The temptation to stare at the fields and hedgerows, the little villages with a Chruch spire poking up through the mist is almost irresistible. Luckily train manager Caroline demands my ticket, the spell is broken and it is back to work.


2997 days ago

The Drunks on the train

Thanks to Darren I managed to get away early and so avoided the 11.35 drunks express from Paddington. On the 10.15 I thought that I could sleep soundly, manage a new high score on word mole and attend to other matters. What I forgot was that by the time we arrived at Swindon it was 11 PM and that made this the drunks express for those leaving the town that gave us Melinda Messenger.

Hence, at 11, about 15 lads joined our carriage. I say lads, but a couple were older than me and within a few minutes as they shouted loudly in broad West Country accents it was clear that the collective IQ of the 15 was barely into four figures. 

To keep themselves entertained they started playing a game “the gauntlet” which seems to involved 14 of them kneeling on their seats looking backwards while the 15th had to run past them. Those kneeling simply had to either hit the runner as hard as possible or to try to rip his underpants down by sticking their hands down his trousers. At the same time they has to shout abuse at the runner. The three most popular shouts were “you gay cunt”, you “fucking lesbian” or “you Leon Britton.” Or was that “you Leon Brittan.”  Was it a reference to the Swansea midfielder or the former home secretary about whom so many interesting rumours circulate. I did not feel like asking about this cultural metaphor.

However, the irony of a bunch of men shouting homophobic abuse while try to stick their hands down each other’s trousers was not lost on myself or the small group of fellow passengers. 

Occasionally the insults got too much and in our short 45 minutes together we enjoyed two real fights where a couple of the drunks beat the crap out of each other. Apparently this all harked back to a row about a pair of sunglasses lost at Butlins. Whatever. 

My back was turned to this spectacle but – like my fellow passengers – I could not help but watch. I felt rather like a Victorian paying to go and watch lunatics humiliate themselves at the asylum, but – feeling a little guilty – I watched anyway.  The late night trains to Bristol are a true gin alley


3128 days ago

The Early Morning Train with Fred West

I would rather not have arrived at Moreton last Thursday at 11.30 PM. But there is always a thrill in being on a train on a warm but blacked out summers night as it hurtles through the countryside. Let down the window between the carriages and some cooler air rushes in as you speed along. But this morning it is the 4.47 from Bristol, the first train of the day and the only one before 8.30 where you avoid paying the GDP of Guatemala as your fare.

As we speed past Swindon and up towards the capital no-one outside the train seems awake. The sun is just starting to appear but still you cannot see the detail on buildings or on trees – they appear in start silhouette only. The street lamps are still turned on and the, largely empty, train is the only noise in town.

Having a whole bank of four seats and a table to myself is a rare treat. My partner is not so keen on me taking this train as it involves a 3.30 alarm call, something that in deluded lefty world is hard to imagine. I gather that it is a breach of her human rights under some European treaty. But I love this train. The shock of a 3.30 alarm call, a hasty shower and 10 minutes with an opinionated cabbie is not a great start to the day.  But thereafter the space to work, think and stretch your legs is a rare treat on Great First Western. And the English countryside at this time of day, before it is invaded by cars and populated by people is a delightful distraction from my laptop and the acres of train space I currently enjoy.

As we approach Didcot the fields are now clearly green as the Sun emerges from behind a cloud. Less than an hour to the hell hole that is London.

Incidentally the ticket collector bears a remarkable resemblance to the late Fred West. He sounds as if he might be from Gloucestershire. Would it be impolite to ask if they were related by any chance? I suspect that it would be and shall keep that thought to myself.


3178 days ago

Checking out the Birds in Swindon

I found myself changing trains at Swindon yesterday and had about ten minutes to wait and was captivated by the birds. That is not to say a new generation of the Melinda Messenger’s but the swallows.  The skies above the station were dark with a swirling, boiling mass of them flying in seemingly precise formations to create ever changing cloud patterns in the sky. 

Seemingly two “clouds” can crash into each other at great speed but no birds collide and a new cloud pattern forms. The picture below is not the greatest and cannot capture the speed at which the cloud patterns changed, but it was truly captivating. I was almost sorry when my train arrived and I had to stop watching.

PS. Darren says "I've heard that this is a non-water example of fluid dynamics. Each bird is concerned only about itself not crashing into its neighbour, the macro result being waves.". is a spellbinding sight.



3212 days ago

Di Canio quits Swindon – Fat Sam Bookie’s favourite for next Premiership P45

It had to happen sooner or later, Paulo di Canio’s relationship with whichever consortium thinks it is managing Swindon Town these days has broken down irretrievably. It had become a bad marriage and di Canio has quit with immediate effect. Selling a key player behind the manager’s back really is like shagging the wife’s best friend. It was game over at that point.

Di Canio achieved wonders at Swindon and will, I guess kick his heels for a while not wishing to rush into a jon with the sort of club that sacks its manager at this point in the season – i.e. one heading for relegation. But come May the contract of Mr Sam Allardyce expires at West Ham. Even the biggest Fat Sam admirer must now recognise that this season is starting to look like a bit of a painful experience. We are on 30 points – still three wins away from probable safety and for from almost certain safety. I look at the fixture list and, I suppose, hope for 6 points from Reading and Wigan at home but frankly I cannot really plot a clear course to safety.

For all the money spent we will have 2 early cup exits and a league finish of 12th- 18th to show for it. That is why Fat Sam is now at 10/1 the bookies favourite for the next Premiership managerial P45 – although it is probably about time for Chelski to sack someone again.

My reason for wanting di Canio


3214 days ago

Pot smoking on First Great Western Trains

By the time we got past Chippenham on the 9.45 from Paddington last night the carriage was almost empty. The lager louts who had got on at Swindon had left the train, much to my delight, and all was calm. I sat there writing an article and across the aisle a mother and her young son chatted amicable. And then a clear smell wafted its way along from the gap to the next carriage, the very powerful smell of weed. The mother and I nodded at each other – we both recognised what was happening.

A couple of minutes later the smokers wandered along the corridor. A lanky fellow with glasses, greasy hair and wearing a suit lead the way laughing out loud. He looked as if the suit was not his normal gab. What do you call a weed smoking loser in a suit? The defendant. Behind him was a man with little hair, obvious tattoos, wearing a parker and clutching a can of cheap lager. The scowl on his face was an ugly one and he strode menacingly along the aisle. I made temporary eye contact and regretted it as his look said very clearly “what the f*** are you going to do about it?”

The answer, of course, is nothing. As I am reminded ad nauseam, First Great Western operates a strict no smoking policy and the someone like me would simply not consider smoking a Marlboro Light on one of its trains. I am used to the pompous H&S message repeated after every station as I try to sleep or write saying that if you see anything suspicious report it to a First Great Western train manager or a Policeman. But in reality there is no-one on board that train to stop folks not only breaking train bye-laws but the actual law of the land. It is all a pretence.

Law abiding nice people like me put up with all the silly rules. The trash at the bottom of society does not give a damn and do what they like and get away with it.

Perhaps it is time that First Great Western recognised this and changed the oft-repeated announcement to “First Great Western operates a strict no smoking of tobacco policy on all its trains but if you are a tattooed monster who wishes to take drugs (and probably has not even got a ticket) go ahead and do what you like because no-one dares stand up to you.”


3243 days ago

The 11.30 From Paddington – Feeling a Bit Nervous ( snow)

My normal Friday sees me taking a very late train out to the West of England from Paddington. The 11.30 from Paddington sounds like an Agatha Christie but the novel that springs to mind as I contemplate today’s trip is Murder on the Orient express, when the train gets trapped in the snow half way across Yugoslavia.

Of course we will not see 10 foot snowdrifts in Southern England but it only needs a few inches of global warming to fall and Network Rail throws in the towel. I wonder what is the worst case scenario? To be told at Paddington that there are no trains and to be stranded in the capital? That would be bad enough. The trains are quite warm so getting stuck in a snowdrift would be acceptable. I think my real nightmare is the train stopping at either Didcot or Swindon at 1 AM. Neither station is warm and both are grim.

At least Swindon produced the delightful Melinda Messenger (who is now 41, can you believe it?) and (only until May I pray) is home to Paulo di Canio. None the less a night in its station waiting room is not a prospect I’d relish.

Overall today’s travel fills me with dread.


3261 days ago

Why Allardyce should go and Paulo di Canio be appointed in may as West Ham Manager

There will be folks who say that you should back the manager when the club is in trouble. And make no mistake, West Ham is heading for a bottom half finish and if we do not start winning a few games (1 win in eight now) we could still be going down with the Rednapp. And with dismal Reading. My suspicion is that one we get a few players back from injury and with Gold & Sullivan prepared to chuck cash around in the transfer window we will stay up. But it is not a given. And in May West Ham must decide whether to renew the contract of Sam Allardyce. I do not think we should and here is why we should say farewell to Fat Sam and bring Paulo di Canio to Upton Park at once. I start with Sam.


3263 days ago

Reading v West Ham: Match Preview

Will Reading get relegated this season? Is paedophilia a national sport in Belgium? Do sheep get nervous when they cross the border into Wales? Is the Guardian a paper fit only for lighting fires with and using in the cat’s litter tray? Is the Pope a Catholic? Of course Reading (and QPR) are going down.


3302 days ago

Thoughts on West Ham 1 Stoke 1 and on a Big Match at Swindon tonight

On form going into the game West Ham should have been favourites. I had this one down as one where three points should have been taken before Lucian Miers reminded me how badly we do against sides from grim Northern shit holes.

Certain readers who live in the truly grim Northern wastelands insist that Stoke is in fact in the Midlands or the South. I find it hard to believe. Stoke used to have coal mines and apparently 24.2% of the non pensioner population live in households where no-one has a job. They elect a donkey with a red rosette, the biggest employer in the town seems to be the State and its most famous living sons include darts legend Phil Taylor and Robbie Williams as well as Lemmy from Motorhead. I rest my case: Stoke is a grim Northern shit hole.


3305 days ago

Majestic Swindon go Third, P45 for Mark Hughes and December 2nd in Milton Keynes will unite the nation

West Ham are not playing until Monday night and so nothing needs to be said about may favourite team today. Naturally I was delighted to see Spurs routed by Arsenal and the sending off ( entirely justified) of Adebayor is a bonus as he now misses the looming visit of West Ham to White Hart lane as he will be suspended.

At the bottom of the table, not an area which – to my surprise – features West Ham, QPR lost 3-1 at home to Southampton, one place above them at the start of the day. This leaves QPR on 4 points after 12 games and the only team in all four English leagues not to win a game all season. Mark Hughes, QPR’s manager, really must be set to encounter a P45 before long.


3312 days ago

West Ham vs Newcastle, Walsall v Swindon Match Previews

West Ham ( or Vest Hem for my Albanian readers – a fact my father picked up last week while visiting Europe’s second fastest growing economy) travel to Newcastle for a 3PM Sunday kick off at whatever St James’ Park is called these days. We have not won in the league against Newcastle since 31st October 1998 (3-0 at Upton Park, Wright 2, Sinclair) and frankly I cannot see that changing this weekend.

Newcastle has a couple of players out thanks to suspension and Alan Pardew also has a couple of late fitness tests to concern him. But West Ham


3318 days ago

West Ham v Man City Bonus Point, Swindon shocker

Well there is to be no more cup glory for Swindon this year. Dumped out of the FA Cup against non league Macclesfield at home two nil. One red card, three yellow cards and one of the goals was an own goal. One imagines that Paulo di Canio will have had a few words with his players and that they will not have been “cheer up, let’s all concentrate on the league and promotion now.” What a shocker.

As for West Ham a nil nil home draw against Manchester City is a bonus point. From what I have seen either side could have won and West Ham played with pride, skill and organisation. Surely this is a West Ham in a parallel universe or we have all been transported back forty years, it is all rather hard to believe. Anyhow, I am not complaining and feel that I did my bit by staying away, given how my presence seems to ensure defeat.


3319 days ago

West Ham vs Man City – Preview and the tough eight weeks ahead

I am under no illusions here. We can all work out where West Ham will get the 42 points needed to avoid relegation and none of us bank on Man City at home providing three of them. Man City is one of the three top sides in the Premier League and my expectation is that from the six games against them, Man United and Chelski we will do a Eurovision Norway. Nul Points. I would be delighted to be wrong.

The good news


3326 days ago

Wigan 2 West Ham 1 but at least Swindon were glorious

I switched off when West Ham went 2-0 down. Wigan looked the better side and took only a few of their chances. West Ham were piss poor. That is part of being a West Ham supporter. One week you look majestic the next week you give Wigan, hardly a class act, their first home win of the season and make them look (almost) good. What a load of rubbish.

That now makes 3 of the last 4 halves played by West Ham piss poor with only one 45 minutes of glory. Now West Ham face a string of tough matches.


3380 days ago

Paulo di Canio – Just a class act

I realise that my support for Paulo di Canio as the man who should be managing West Ham does not please anyone. There is the win at any cost, we love Fat Sam brigade. And there are those who say that he needs another couple of years of lower league soccer before he can be assessed fairly. Losing 4-1 away at hopeless Preston on Sunday does not help the race for a back on back promotion to the Championship but I still reckon Swindon will go up. And there are those who say that his eccentric political views are unacceptable. So what? Judge the man as a football manager, he is not running for elected office.

The latest chapter in the Paulo tale was his decision to substitute an underperforming goalkeeper just 21 minutes into the game against Preston. The goalie stormed off in a huff. He may even demand to leave Swindon. But Paulo is standing firm demanding that they guy apologises to the whole team for being so useless but more importantly for his reaction to being taken off. Well done di Canio.


3383 days ago

Capital One Cup Draw - Wigan at Home (unexciting) but Swindon dream alive

Not a great tie in the 3rd Round of the Capital One Cup. The League Cup to you and me. Wigan at home. It hardly sets the pulse racing. Neither team is going to win the trophy (well it is a long odds bet). Both are far more concerned about avoiding relegation from the Premiership. Wigan are piss poor and surely this will be the season that they go down. But then we say that every season and they always survive. Fingers crossed that this time they are relegated. They add little to the top flight.

The good news is that West Ham can win and so too can my second team, Paulo’s Swindon.


3384 days ago

Andy Carroll to West Ham – Mixed Feelings

He does not really wish to join the Hammers but bad boy England striker Andy Carroll is to join us on a season loan from Liverpool. If we stay in the Premiership we have the option to buy him. Apparently he will earn £80,000 a week (after tax) which is not a problem – West Ham has just sold Nicky Maynard to Cardiff for £3 million so that will pay the wages until next summer.

So as far as I can see the game plan is now Noble/Nolan lobs it up to try and land it on Carroll’s head to score or Noble/Nolan lobs it to Jarvis on the wing to cross it onto Carroll’s head to score. Great. Really attractive football.

Supporters say that Carroll may have had a shocking time at Liverpool but he had two blinding seasons at Newcastle before that; that he is more than just a tall bloke who can head the ball and that 20 goals from him