18 April 2009

Charlton 0 Second Division 1

So the inevitable has done what the inevitable does, and Charlton are in the third division next season. Today's game was the whole season in miniature. Charlton were miles better than Blackpool, and should have had the game won by halftime. They definitely should have had the game won after 10 minutes of the second half, when two goals in one minute seemed to have won it.

But they got slack. Blackpool's first goal was started by a poor pass from Zheng Zhi that gave the ball away. And in the third minute of extra time (and you could spend all day searching the match to find where those three minutes came from) Blackpool scored the goal that meant relegation was inevitable, whatever the scores elsewhere were. (And, as it happened, scores elsewhere meant that even if we'd won, we'd still be relegated.)

I found myself thinking why are this lot staying up when they're clearly rubbish? Obviously because they never give up, and they take their chances. If you're going to be rubbish, as Charlton have often been, you have to be rubbish with conviction.

Oh well, as another blog has put it, the rebuilding begins here.

12 April 2009

Charlton 0 Birmingham 0

Another goalless draw, another pointless point. Another really dull first half. Charlton again playing 4-5-1 with the increasingly lacklustre Tresor Kandol supposedly providing a target and Jonjo Shelvey running off him. No surprise there, but it was surprising how uninterested Birmingham seemed in winning the game. They've got a big impressive squad, with lots of recognisable names, but maybe they're all getting on a bit. Lee Bowyer, for example, is a shadow of the player he once was (and in some ways that's a good thing). It's an expensive squad too, and if they don't get promotion, they'll be in trouble.

Second half was much better, lively and open, but as time went on you'd have thought that Charlton were the team going for promotion. Maik Taylor was by far the busier keeper, and right at the end he managed a magical reflex save to deny Charlton the points they - on the whole - deserved. Perhaps we were at last seeing what this team could have done if Zheng Zhi and Therry Racon had been fit all season and if - a bigger if - the managers had not destroyed the team's confidence and coherence with all the loans and the team changes.

Someone apparently was collecting nominations for player of the year. It's hard to think of one. I'm tempted to vote for Yassin Moutaouakil, another player completely destroyed in the course of this awful season.

02 April 2009

But on a positive note

It's easy to snipe at hacks like Wollaston and that Greek sexist - that's why the blogosphere including this blog is full of sniping. Some things are worth celebrating.

Radio 3 It's my spotify, meaning I don't need spotify. I feel sure that if I want to hear some good music, I just need to tune to R3, and the chances are, it'll be there. Of course, I don't like everything. Curiously enough the two composers who do least for me are Brahms and Liszt, but for different reasons. Melodically, Brahms just doesn't connect with me at all: there's no challenge or fun in his melodies (Mendelssohn can be like that too). And Liszt is just vulgar. The other night I heard Dvorak's violin concerto. Apparently it's quite rarely played, and you could understand why, but it was something I'd not otherwise have heard. So, Radio in general is good for the randomness of what it offers. That's why I hate narrowcasting stations: you'll never hear something you don't like. Where's the fun in that?

An Inspector Calls It's more than ten years since I saw the famous RSC production, but I still remember it and the fantastic postwar communal socialism it embodies. Let us never forget that. And on Sunday, after hearing a R3 production of The Government Inspector it struck me how much Priestly's play is based on Gogol's. The Inspector's name is Goole, for gogolness' sake, and the premiere of the play was - I don't know why - staged in Moscow. At present, I'm indulging myself in the fantasy that I'm the first person to notice this, but that can't be true. I'm halfheartedly gogoling for evidence that this is well known, but haven't yet found any.

Oystercard What a brilliant device! My card needed renewal on Sunday. The only downside is that you have to go to an Underground station to reload it after paying online, and in South London, that means a journey. But it just works so brilliantly. I chose Victoria and without any fanfare or palaver presenting my card got it updated. And then the next day every bus in London knew my card was valid. It's quick, it's cheap, it's brilliant.

The positive power of the internet There's a lot of rubbish on the internet (no, really? says the rest of the world). I saw one site today that offers homeopathic remedies in the form of downloadable MP3 files. But it seems to me that increasingly it's providing a support network and knowledge base for sceptical and serious thinking. Blogs like Wonderful Life assert the astonishing beauty of life while imparting a little scientific knowledge. And the kindness between strangers that you find on Twitter (for a huge percentage of the time) is a superb demonstration of the human preference for sociability and chat over hatred and bile. Talking of which ...

The Daily Mail
Blimey, that's a surprise! But recently, the Mail's online columns have introduced judgement buttons on the readers' comments. So, if you think someone's comment is nonsense, you can disrecommend it. The result is that the loonies, although still high in number, are shown to have little support. Even Daily Mail readers think they're loonies. It may be a while, though, before the paper stops pandering to them. And it would pain me too painfully to give a link here to the Mail so you can see this.

And finally, it is spring. Can anyone be sad in spring? Even the beggar in Granada, who used to wear a sign around his neck saying "Help me. I am blind". An advertising executive gave him not money but advice, and his takings went up enormously when he added the words "and it is spring".

Something must be done about Sam Wollaston

Sorry, but I have to invite you to read this: Sam Wollaston's review of last night's Apprentice. To make it less painful, I'll summarise the first two thirds:
That Alan Sugar, eh? He don't talk proper. No, really, you may not have noticed, so I'll repeat the point a few times. Umm, what now, oh yes, he gets his words wrong too. Shit, I'm clever.

But do force yourself to read the last few paragraphs. It's so clear that he's run out of things to say, but keeps typing, checking the word count, typing again, checking again, until he fills the column. 750 words exactly. Phew, I can stop now.

I've seen someone else describe the experience of one of Sam's columns as "like reading a yawn" (incidentally, a better line than anything Sam's come up with). Once upon a time, the Guardian TV review was regularly one of the best pieces of comic writing, written by people who loved or hated TV but at least cared about it, and knew how to amuse. It was something to look forward to. But this, but this ...