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The Speech

Martin Luther King The Speech Book Gary Younge

In today’s Guardian, Owen Jones rightly points out that positive social change which the left fights for is about collective action rather than individuals. But the leaders and spokespeople in the battles for equality and freedom are significant in modern history as flag bearers of the day and an inspiration for the future.

Several have departed the stage recently. The death of Tony Benn yesterday served to remind of his key principles in challenging power without accountability while the more sudden loss of Bob Crow earlier in the week led to the realisation many workers in the UK could do with union representation of their own in a climate where zero-hours contracts, the exploitation of migrant workers and the gradual dismantling of employee rights by the right-wing Tory-Lib Dem coalition government, have largely slipped under the radar.

On an international scale the greatest leader and agent for change yet, Nelson Mandela, passed away this year with a legacy that will inspire generations to come across the World. In a different strand, but still significant, the US’ Pete Seegar also died recently. In his own way he was a torch shining a light in the struggle for good. Arguably the most important figure from the US movement in the sixties though was Martin Luther King, and he is best remembered for his ‘I Have Dream’ speech in Washington DC, 28 August 1963, which Gary Younge’s book, written 50 years on, tells the story of. Continue reading…

House of Cards (US) S1 & 2

House of Cards Season 2 FU Cufflinks picture

It took a while the US remake of Andrew Davies’ original adaptation to get going. It wasn’t until the tenth episode the pace quickened, like an acceleration of a leading pack in a long distance race, but even then the story that was delivered in the British original in four one-hour episodes still didn’t reach the finish line in the first thirteen episodes of Season 1.

The Season 2 opener, Chapter 14, was the finale Season 1 should have been, delivering a punch full of impact that was true to the original drama broadcast on Sunday nights on BBC1 in 1990 (then also topical with the Thatcher blood bath in the Tory party fresh in the nation’s mind), while setting up an excellent second season released in one batch on Netflix, ideal for binge viewing. Continue reading…

Born to End – Stop StubHub

Yesterday, Sky Sports, when previewing Tottenham Hotspur’s trip to Swansea City, spoke about the club making history if they repeated something they had done before, albeit half a centuary ago. As if 50 years ago doesn’t count. But perhaps not surprising from the outlet that perpetuates the notion that football was only formed 20 years ago.

Younger fans must think yesterday’s pundit Greame Souness played in a parrallel universe, like a modern day version of Melchester Rovers when Bob Wilson, Emlyn Hughes and members of Spandua Ballet teamed up with Roy Race. Footage exists of goals Souness scored, but as they weren’t in the top flight Mark II, aka the Premier League, they must seem like a piece of fiction, dramatised in grainy cinematography with a thousands of extras and a voice over from an actor called Brian Moore.

Football history, with packed terraces, such as when Spurs last won five away games, is now only partially recognised. In the mind of Sky Sports, Souness’ League Cup winner in 1984, was really in the Year 8BEPL. Continue reading…

The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Broken Circle Breakdown picture

Made in 2012 but released at film festivals in 2013, the Belgium Oscar Academy nominee for an international language film, The Broken Circle Breakdown, should be up for the main award in its own right; it’s an art-house masterpiece, maximizing the medium of cinema through sight, sounds, brilliant dialogue, symbolism, superb lead performances and great intelligence, bringing to life a story full of impact and big themes.

Continue reading…

Sports Books to Read – 10 Resolutions

Sports Books Review

Mark Perryman suggests Sports Books to read as 10 alternate resolutions list for 2014.

Too much Christmas pud, cake and ale over the seasonal break? Feet up in front of the TV for an indecent chunk of the duration? Sport defined as watching it rather than doing it? The first few weeks of January are often the period to make a personal pledge to get active, lose those bulges and finally dust off those long-forgotten running shoes, a bike, pair of swimming trunks or whatever and put them to the use they were intended for. A month later ending up back at square one, well that’s certainly the case for most of modern, inactive, Britain. Why has sport evolved into a multibillion global industry yet activity plummets, obesity rockets? This New Year resolution reading list might help us to understand why, and vitally do something about it too. Continue reading…

End of Year Book Reviews 2013

Morrissey Book Review

Mark Perryman recommends some late Christmas book buying with politics and culture to the fore with his end of year Book Reviews 2013.

Cheer up, it could be worse? Well, under this hapless government probably not but a bit of seasonal present-giving might at least keep the temptations of miserabilism at bay. 2014 will mark the start of the 1914 centenary hoopla, you know the thing ‘The War to End All Wars’ and all that guff. A superb read therefore over the 12 days would be the poetry collection compiled by Carol Ann Duffy 1914 Poetry Remembers, moving and thought-provoking from the War Poets and today’s verse-writers too. An equally moving recollection is provided by Nicholas Rankin’s Telegram from Guernica. The extraordinary story of war reporter George Steer, and in particular how he smuggled out from Spain in full gruesome detail the horrific impact of the carpet bombing of Guernica. Steer was part of that 1930s generation who across the political spectrum were decisively shaped by the cause of anti-fascism. Idealism and commitment from another era, and continent in Beverley Naidoo’s beautifully written Death of An Idealist. Told in graphic and merciless detail, the tale of the murder by the Apartheid authorities of a young, white, doctor who had dedicated himself to providing medical help in South Africa’s Black townships. Continue reading…

Latest 2013 Book Review: Inspiring Better Days

Difficult Men Book Review

Mark Perryman of Philosophy Football with his latest 2013 book review looks at new writing that inspire better days.

As the almost instantly forgettable party conference season disappears over the horizon the Westminster bubble political landscape would be hard pushed to inspire anybody much at all. For hope of a better, different, tomorrow we must increasingly draw on other traditions from beyond the mainstream, contemporary and out of history, challenging the narrow definition of politics the parliamentary parties depend upon for their sorry version of legitimacy. Continue reading…

Bang and Blame

After another less than fluent performance earlier today by a Tottenham side during his tenure, Head Coach Andre Villas-Boas decided to openly criticise the club’s own fans in his post-match interviews, which brought up the theme of self-entitlement – the self-entitlement of the football industry which allows leaders of businesses to believe they can blame their most loyal customers for their under-performance.

This is an arrogance virtually unique to football, although as slopping shoulders go in public life it follows hot on the heels of the coalition Government’s Energy Secretary, determined to bury his head in the sand regarding unregulated privatised companies, unsubtly suggesting the poor and elderly whose living standards have fallen might want to wear a jumper in order for them to keep escalating bills down.

Villas-Boas’ deliberately directed comments took the shine of an important win against a Hull City side set-up to frustrate and time-waste. His delivery in the interviews with both BBC and Sky suggested it was an excuse he had built up in his mind as it looked Spurs would huff-and-puff but fail to break Hull down, with a lack of guile, despite a wealth of talent and riches at his disposal. Even more worrying, he is giving his players a ready-made excuse for future failure at home. Continue reading…

Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine

Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine starts off as an emotionally detached examination of lives with conflict close to the surface, Mike Leigh style, before a quick glimpse of potential comedy is swept away to concentrate on the mental breakdown of the title character, Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine.

Allen sets the mood instantly of an annoying, overbearing and self-obsessed woman who displays extravagant pretensions, yet is clearly struggling to stay in control of her life, claustrophobic and susceptible to panic attacks. Jasmine is on pills for her nerves, headaches and heartaches, while trying to adapt to a dramatic change in lifestyle and status that leaves her effectively standing alone with only the soundtrack she has adopted to her life, Blue Moon.

It seems a paradox that Allen, who has created many good roles for women since Annie Hall, has two central female characters who allow their lives to be shaped by men, with Jasmine intent on having a certain lifestyle where she is a dormant partner while Ginger, played by an excellent Sally Hawkins, is building a life around a man who rips a phone from the wall when he is angry, as Jasmine noted in one of her greater moments of clarity. Continue reading…

Lost in Secondary Ticketing Market

Last October, The Substantive Football Column wrote about the contempt English Football Clubs seemed to have for their own supporters with unreasonable price rises. Today The Substantive puts its name to the letter below from Tottenham Hotspur fans to the club who embarked on a partnership with secondary ticketing agency StubHub without consultation of fans and which has directly led to an unregulated market with tickets going on sale up to 1000% of face value via links on the official Spurs website.

This Saturday Spurs play Chelsea in a London derby that is a top of the table Premier League match at White Hart Lane; it has been officially sold out for some time yet on StubHub, four days before the game, 276 tickets remain on sale at up to £1265 each. 

The letter below highlights the concerns of Tottenham fans and can be supported by fans of all clubs by signing this Stop Stubhub Petition. Continue reading…



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