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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…

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…

Sound of the Crowd

Sound of the Crowd 1882 Book Cover

Martin Cloake’s latest book on Tottenham Hotspur, Sound of the Crowd, takes in the sub-culture of the football fan, from fanzines, independent organisation and protest, while giving a first-hand insight into past battles from the late eighties with the club he loves to the parallels of a new Spurs supporter movement.

Continue reading…

Gucci Little Piggy

The lazy journalists, part-time football fans and rolling sports news programmes in England got what they wanted when Jose Mourinho returned in the summer, a character who omits an attitude that suggests he believes he is bigger than the game. He has already given them what they want in under ten days of the new season, disingenuously saying David Moyes was the reason Wayne Rooney wanted to leave Manchester United and revelling in agreeing the transfer of Willian for what looks to be the primary purpose of stopping Spurs having him. He has created talking points from hot air while on the pitch the rest of us see the old traits, from the unspoken influence over refereeing decisions that led to an undeserved win against Aston Villa last week and negative tactics in yesterday evening’s goalless draw at Old Trafford.

Reputation is everything to Mourinho, visible from the pictures he tries to paint in his interviews to his image on the touchline (last night in pullover and jacket despite the seasonal warm climate); but legacy is more than an honours list, it is created in the manner success is achieved. Introduced as “the man himself” in his post-match interview on Monday Night Football, he left both Real Madrid and Chelsea the first-time round with dissatisfaction within at someone who caused internal unrest and tried to kill games and grind out results on the biggest stage despite having a wealth of talent at his disposal in both cases. Continue reading…

Top of the Lake

Top of the Lake

With cottage chemical industries, underground bunkers, broken heroes, lost souls, power, corruption and lies, Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake with an excellent lead performance by Elisabeth Moss was an inspired commission by the BBC.

An outsider coming into a desolate setting and trying to solve a mystery and fight for justice amidst secrets, corruption, crime and unique characters gave Top of the Lake the feel of a modern day merger between Twin Peaks and The Wicker Man. Continue reading…

Sports Books Summer 2013

Red or Dead

Mark Perryman rounds up the Sports Books of summer 2013.

The Lions series victory in Australia, Murray’s triumph at Wimbledon, Froome making it two British Le Tour wins in a row, Mo in Moscow, a home Ashes win as well. Summer sporting success is something the Brits are starting to become accustomed to.

Two new books help us to understand the meaning of sport’s enduring, and huge popularity, as well as how economic and social change impacts on the organisation, consumption and performance of sport. Sport in Capitalist Society by Tony Collins is a highly readable historical account from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day of how capitalism has served to shape sport. Victorian morality, Empire, the Cold War, globalisation and much more are each detailed in terms of how they served to change sport. Add all the insights together and a comprehensive picture of today’s marketisation of sport is provided. Edited by Michael Lavalette Capitalism and Sport has a more activist-based approach to the subject. The range is amazing, including cycling, cricket, rugby league, tennis, football and more. The tone is angry yet never fails to be appreciative of the sports the authors clearly hugely enjoy despite their opposition to the economic structure that frames their fandom and participation. An invaluable guide for sporting summers past, present and future. Continue reading…

Favourite Worst Nightmare

A return for the Football Column with a brief piece to start the 2013-14 domestic season on the opening weekend of top flight football in England and Spain.

Whereas the 2011/12 season had drama to the end with Man City snatching victory from another humiliation and Chelsea’s anti-football playing out like a realistic depressing thriller on the main stage in Munich, the following 2012/13 season was an anti-climax, with only Wigan and Swansea winning the domestic cups in England, Bayern Munich’s dominance of Europe and consistent sensational individual performances by Gareth Bale standing out. Continue reading…

Recess Reading

Undercover by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis

Mark Perryman of Philosophy Football latest book reviews of reading with popular culture including music, travel, food and history, all with a bit of politics thrown in. 

The silly season? For the Westminster bubble it would be hard to identify a month in the year when ‘silly’ isn’t too soft an epithet to describe what most MPs get up to, supposedly on our behalf. But with Parliament in recess the commentariat like to spread the idea that politics is taking a break too. A politics reduced to the Cameron v Miliband knockabout is something plenty of us can’t get to the beach quick enough to escape from. A broader definition of politics, one that engages with the everyday, the popular, the cultural is something that subverts and is the starting point for a political summer books list that would liven up any reading to be done on the beach, or anywhere else for that matter.

One of the sharpest critics of popular culture is surely the inestimable Paul Morley. For those of a certain age we began reading him in the late 1970’s in the then vital weekly fix that was the New Musical Express at the height of punk , and after that post-punk too. In his new book The North Paul returns to his geographical roots, mainly though not exclusively in the North-West, with a sparkling account rich in history and insight to bring light to a region traditionally regarded by those down south as a bit on the grim side. Continue reading…



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