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Nick Cave Hammersmith Apollo 2 May 2015

Nick Cave Hammersmith Apollo

Nick Cave, like a real life modern day Don Draper, can turn it on at the drop of a hat, wearing his heart on his smart sleeve while having a room in the palm of his hands with wisdom beautifully told. And he turned it on at the Hammersmith Apollo last night. Like a light bulb; like an atom bomb, to steal Cave’s own words. Continue reading…

Reading Manifesto

In the midst of the 2015 General Election campaign, Mark Perryman produces his own reading manifesto, with a run down of the quarter’s books with a political edge.

Woody Guthrie and the Dustbowl Ballads

The much-missed indie band, well by some of us of a certain age, Sultans of Ping, had a great line in one of their barnstormer numbers “I like your manifesto, put it to the test ’tho.” We are told in all seriousness that this is the most important General Election, ever, yet it will be fought between the three parties of the mainstream with ever-decreasing differences in their politics. Most important? Not in those terms, the importance lies almost entirely in the busting apart of the Westminster cartel, the centre this time really won’t hold.

Veteran rebel, aka 1960s ‘street fighting man’, Tariq Ali proves the durability of a counter-cultural idealism. Tariq’s new book Extreme Centre is a splendid denunciation of the battle for the middle ground and never mind the rest of us. After Neoliberalism? and its companion volume  The Neoliberal Crisis are both framed by a similar 1968-inflected politics to Tariq Ali’s. A shared belief that another politics is not only necessary but possible. As the dull grey reality of #GE2015 threatens to smother any lingering hope these are essential reads. An optimism of the intellect revived by a new wave of writers, thinkers and activists too. Owen Jones is nothing short of a phenomenon, someone from the left who can brighten up the dullest of TV studio debates, a wilful energy to inspire that is founded on good writing. His latest, The Establishment is more than enough to convince anyone of the maxim ‘whoever we vote for the government always gets in.” Continue reading…

Stay Beautiful

Christian Eriksen goal v Sheff Utd

Goals are the big commodity in football. A regular goal-scorer has governing bodies turning a blind-eye to 50% of their vicious stamps, once ethical clubs embrace biters and racists while others try to employ rapists still serving their sentence. The value of goals can turn the beautiful game ugly. But occasionally, as Christian Eriksen proved again last night, some goals can be so wonderful they take the game to a higher level.

It’s not uncommon to hear the cliché from a football pundit that all goals are worth the same – a lucky deflection from a goal-mouth scramble is just as valuable as a flowing team move with great skill; true in the same game, but in a sport that is thankfully not just all about cold facts, the people’s game allows us to subjective discuss and judge great goals, reviving memories of a kind only sport can bring while breathing life into post-match pub conversations or long away trips back home.

The broader understanding of the game takes in much more than numbers. In fact, most stats tweeted about football on a daily basis are meaningless and have little significant context, not accounting for things better assessed with an appreciation on everything happening on a pitch at the time; limited touches on a ball don’t value the positional play off the ball while a percentage of successful final balls don’t appreciate the skill of playing balls into dangerous areas for attacking players who may not always be good enough to being in the right place at the right time.

Another stat that doesn’t always tell the full story is an individual player’s goal tally. A player may begin as a wide player before flourishing centrally under a great manager in England, boosting their scoring charts as a flat-track bully, in between less spectacular spells on the continent, only to later cash in with the MSL and then from a very generous TV broadcaster. Meanwhile, other wide players may have a track record of affecting big games with decisive moments late in matches, yet end up languishing in the reserves due to the dubious judgement of the next man coming through the managerial door.

There is no formula to weighting goals when evaluating their value. But there should be no doubt Christian Eriksen’s second goal for Tottenham Hotspur last night in the dying minutes of the League Cup Semi-Final second leg at Sheffield United was truly great. Continue reading…

The Snowden Files

the-snowden-files-by-luke-harding

In the final week of 2014 North Korea’s internet and 3G mobile network came to a standstill. Before their official news agency released racist outrage against the US President, we can imagine an image of their own leader taking off his khaki cap as he got down to reboot a router before speaking to a call centre handler in another country, suspiciously called Kim, who asked him if he tried turning it off and on again. Eventually the penny must have dropped. To the delight of the rest of the free world, Barack Obama had appeared to deliver on his promise and flexed a muscle against the censorship of satire.

The official US response against the hacking of Sony Pictures came with sanctions but there should be little doubt how much control they have in the world of telecommunications, as every reader of Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files will know. The book will also explain to anyone who in the last week has had a fear that their private emails, online chats, SMS message and calls may suddenly become accessible to the secret services with further surveillance laws to be introduced following the horrific terror attacks in Paris this month, that this already the case, unless they are already encrypting their communications.

It was the realisation of this, between 2009 and 2012, coupled with the fact that workers at these agencies were looking at and circulating private images of ordinary citizens for their own titillation, which spurred the right-leaning Republic libertarian Edward Snowden, an IT contractor who worked for America’s National Security Agency (NSA), to reveal the secrets of the secret services. Continue reading…

Gordon is a Moron

English professional football has a mix of talents in the game. But the consistent talent of Gordon Taylor to undermine both the profession and trade unions at same time is unique. Continue reading…

Books of 2014

From Cooking to American Crime novels, via Cycling, the Revolution and the retelling of ancient Italian stories for children, Mark Perryman recommends his Books of 2014 as contenders for late Christmas presents.

101 Damnations - Books of 2014

NOT A LOT OF PEACE. TOO MUCH ILL WILL. A GOOD SEASONAL READ NEEDED.

Bah! Humbug? Well, not exactly but in a world of not much peace and plenty of ill-will what do you buy for those in your life clinging on to the ideal that the point is to change it? Here’s my top ten, not guaranteed to cheer them up mind. Continue reading…

Sports Books 2014 Q4

Taking Our Ball Back cover

Mark Perryman of Philosophy Football picks out the best final batch of sports books 2014.

I’m sorry but you won’t find here the just-in-time-for Christmas sports autobiography blockbusters. With just enough manufactured controversy to ensure blanket coverage when they are launched. even a skim read will reveal that on the contrary they tell the reader very little they didn’t either know or suspect already.

Instead I would recommend a weighty volume of this sort, A Companion to Sport edited by David Andrews and Ben Carrington. The range of coverage, from Monty Panesar to football’s 2010 World Cup, is matched by the variety of insights, sport as a contested space being the overarching theme. As an academic book scandalously expensive, but any well-stocked library. should have a copy. Continue reading…

Mega Bottle Ride

A Football Column following on from Emmanuel Adebayor’s comments deflecting Tottenham Hotspur’s poor home performances onto the atmosphere at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham’s fourth home defeat from just six Premier League games has been followed by more excuses, with Emmanuel Adebayor claiming that the pressure of playing at home is too much for the players. Once again, as a profession, football is unique when a well remunerated failing performer looks first to blame the paying customer for their own shortcomings. Continue reading…

Nightcrawler

nightcrawler-2014-movie-poster-hd-wallpaper

Juliet Kidd’s first piece for The Substantive looks at the film Nightcrawler.

Director Dan Gilroy has taken all the bits of LA we never see and simply turned the lights off, creating a further sense of disorientation that mimics the personality of Lou Bloom.

Lou is a loner in his late 30s. His appearance is thin, beige and greasy and there’s an odd intensity about his personality. We see him easily inspired by freelance cameraman taking footage of a bloodied car crash and thats where his obsession starts. Continue reading…

Hack Attack

Hack Attack How the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch

Nick Davies’ Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch is one of the most important stories of this century so far. The hardback book is a big tome and the weight of evidence contained with it is compelling. It tells of a six-year long effort which succeeded in exposing the widespread criminal activities taking place in the newsrooms of Britain’s best selling newspaper, despite attempts to scupper the investigation by the public corporation that owned the paper, the police and the official press complaints body.

The News of the World hacked voicemails of the families of dead soldiers, victims of crime and terrorist attacks, dead school children, members of the public who happened to be associated with people in the public eye, politicians who both did and didn’t hold sensitive information to the state, royalty and people who just happened to have be famous due to their profession or the way the media wind blew. They didn’t just pounce on those who didn’t change their voicemail pass codes, their private investigators changed passwords through employees in mobile phone operators. They hacked emails. And they had private investigators listen into phone calls and disrupt police investigations.

And for years they got away with it until this investigation finally broke through numerous walls of denial and obstruction to expose not just the News of the World, but the abuse of power by its owners.

Continue reading…



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