Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Super-injunction Follows Rapturous Failure

In Culture, Satire on May 25, 2011 at 4:05 PM

We at TAY can exclusively reveal that a super-injunction has been granted to an unnamed deity by the Universal Crown Court to protect his/her name in mention of his/her broken promises to deliver upon the Rapture, announced for this just gone Saturday; 21st May 2011.

As a result of this, TAY is legally bound to not disclose the deity’s name, nor even its gender. We can reveal, however, that rumours abound on the Twitterverse and other social media that ‘Deity’, as it can be referred to, belongs to one of the most, if not the most popular, successful religion in the world today. Consequently, the speculation regarding Deity’s identity is proving a major test of faith for many religious believers, especially those who believe in a deity which fits at least some of the bill.

So, many adherents of the world’s two biggest religions – Christianity and Islam – are frantically pontificating on Deity’s identify. Jews who stake a claim to the religion still being a ‘big religion’ are also worrying, although not as many Jews are worrying due to the common perception among Gentiles that they are ‘just a small religion with nothing to play for’. Hindus have come to a general consensus that Deity cannot be Brahman because, if it were, Westerners would no doubt be speculating upon deities, as they so often misinterpret Hinduism as polytheistic. Many Sikhs have come to similar conclusion, in addition, exonerating Vãhigurũ on the basis that even many of them believe Sikhism to be a ‘small religion’. Most Buddhists have considered themselves exempt from reckoning due to not believing, at least conventionally, in a detiy or deities.

The confusion is proving a test of faith for many people because, if it hasn’t been already, their respect, even adoration, for their beloved deity would be considerably dimmed if these unsavoury rumours, amounting to broken promises to wronged loved ones, proved true of their deity. Furthermore, some have been left penniless after donating huge sums in support and some, such as this poor fellow must repair now-unsustainable lifestyles, drastically changed due to assuredness of the rapture.

Others, however, believe the rumours to be mere ‘tabloid tittle-tattle’. Some even argue that, even if the rumours were proved true of their deity, their support will remain strong. Some claim this is due to their deity’s long career of great, loyal work and some to a supposed distinction between on the earth actions (such as God creating earthly beauty) and off-the-earth actions such as this universal apocalypse, upon which as mere mortals it is supposedly unfair to judge.

Controversially, a minority even support Deity’s actions (or, rather, inactions) for their playfulness. One such commentator claimed: “well, it shows he’s a bit of a geezer, ennit [sic etc.]…foolin’ us..lettin’ us know tha’ he’s still abbaart. I’s reckons he’s still up having a cheeky laugh right now. Let’s be honest, he was never really gonna miss the Premiership relegation battle, was ‘e?! ” [N.B. In the interests of not getting sued to high Heaven (or Paradise, or Nirvana), TAY must clarify that the above views are solely those of the individual and do not necessarily represent those of TAY. Specifically, Deity may in fact be of either sex.]

It is speculated that the reasons given for Deity pursuing legal action to protect his/her name were that, for one ‘small’ indiscretion, he did not want to cause harm to friends, family and followers who would be hurt and, consequently, possibly stop supporting him/her and his/her religion. Some, however, see it as a more cynical move, instigated to protect his/her image rights.

Be sure to check back with TAY for the latest on this super-injunction saga….

Joel Durston.

I got a right to be wrong…sartorially, at least.

In Opinion on May 12, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Again the inspiration for my writing, browsing Facebook, I saw a friend post a link to an article on BBC News. (I like to pretend that my rather zealous eye on Facebook is concerned with keeping abreast of current affairs. In reality, it is as much if not more to do with pure nosiness more becoming of the stereotypical teenage girl). Anyway, the story was entitled ‘France issues first fine for woman in Islamic veil’. And, no, this is not a story about Lady Gaga, or one of her legion (I presume) of lookalikes, being fined for going one up on even herself by dressing entirely in one particular meat, namely ‘veal’ permitted by Halal food laws.

No, it is the news that at a shopping centre recently, French police issued their first ever penalty for a woman wearing hijab, in line with the law dictating that they should do so introduced on the same day (04/04/11). N.B. Unless otherwise stated, I talk of ‘hijab’ as the state of conservative dress, rather than the particular noun for the headscarf for which it is also often used, but for which I will use ‘niqab’. The 27-year-old woman in question was issued with a ticket which required her to register for citizenship classes within a month or face a fine of 150 Euros (about £133). The reasoning behind this new law which prohibits the wearing of face coverings of all sorts (except in exceptional circumstances such as motorcycle helmets) is that the ‘face-covering veil undermines the basic standards required for living in a shared society and also relegates its wearers to an inferior status incompatible with French notions of equality’. And the little man himself (Sarkozy) pulled no punches in declaring his reasoning for the ban: “we cannot have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting cut off from all social life, deprived of identity. That is not the idea that the French public has of women’s dignity.”

First things first, I do not see the need for dressing in hijab. I understand there are powerful arguments for its use, at least in the wearer’s opinion, such as the empowerment it offers in being judged on merits other than ‘mere hotness’, the powerful outward expression of profoundly held faith and the security felt in avoiding potentially lecherous gazes. However, I just do not think these arguments necessitate its usage in a largely civilized, lawful and, I would argue, moral (or at least ‘not entirely amoral’) 21st century world.

The Qur’an certainly does call for modesty in dress (interestingly though, not the niqab or the burka specifically) and no doubt one is going to take notice of this if one believes The Qur’an to be the word of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, universe-creating deity, Allah. However, the Qur’an was written in a very, very different context to the 21st century World, especially the Western one, chronologically and culturally. A patriarchal time in which polygamy (with the males, in a very Sheen-esque way, winning) was not just accepted but, by most accounts, actively encouraged by both sexes. Also, we hadn’t got to where we are now with science to have discovered contraception, both the ‘unnatural’ and ‘natural’ types. In such a context, it is easy to see the need for women to ‘cover up their beauty’ to all but their husbands so that, to put it bluntly, the other males don’t get any salacious ideas. Lest they be getting knocked up every other time they have intercourse when not pregnant and just to rub salt in the wound, are condemned to spend the eternal afterlife in misery for doing so, all whilst their husband is off gallivanting with other wives. Alas, I generalise…a little.

In our current society (as much of the rest of the developed world), we thankfully have legislation which affords women equal if not greater rights in the fields of marriage, childcare and divorce and a competent judiciary system which enforces this effectively, bar the odd feminist’s shouting. Also, thankfully we have contraception which allows man and woman to go around bonking to their hearts’ content unburdened (about 98% of the time) by fear of the potential repercussions. And I for one see absolutely nothing wrong with this. This applies to men and women. In the end, my opinion of being a ‘free spirit’ will generally be ‘fair play to him/her’ or ‘whatever floats your boat’. Admittedly, this is not true of all and I think it’s fair to say that gender stereotypes are still are not quite concurrent with the equality of the laws themselves (slags versus lads), but considerable progress has been made in the last two centuries.

There is some logical reasoning behind this. If I had to describe my perception of my moral compass in a sentence if would probably be: ‘utilitarianism’ cooked with a sprinkling of ‘relativism’, ideally avoiding traces of ‘offence’, but definitely those of ‘physical harm’ (as a Philosophy and R.S. graduate I have pondered these positions pretentiously, hence the isms). There are few, if any, pleasures greater than sex, so it definitely hits the utilitarian’s bill. Furthermore, with consenting adults, it definitely avoids physical harm and, almost exclusively, avoids offence too. It seems in Britain we have a semi-embarrassed attitude towards sex, possibly as a hangover from our waning Christian roots. As a largely secular society, there’s absolute no reason to consider sex a slightly ‘lower’ pleasure and thus taboo subject. The Ancient Greeks – by all accounts a dynamic, progressive, enlightenment society – had the right idea; apparently, they loved that shit… free love, bi-sexuality and everything.

And I also think if there does happen to be some transcendent fella (lass or asexual whatever) up there, would they not want humanity to use the reasoning and ‘conscience’ which they granted them to come to their own moral decisions, instead of blindly following his own? Indeed, this is a problem I have with Islam. Undoubtedly, it is a force for innumerable good in the world, but also some bad (as is true for all faiths, just think of the crusades etc.). However, what worries me is that in some branches and denominations, I get the impression using reason and asking challenging questions is actively discouraged. Indeed, one needs look no further than the name itself ‘Islam’ which roughly translates as ‘submission’ – the idea that man is infinitely inferior to Allah and thus should more or less obey and not question Him. Take, for example, one loony called Zakir Naik who absolutely believes that both 9/11 and the Theory of Evolution are mere conspiracies. Although I again acknowledge this isn’t endemic to Islam.

Obviously, I could be accused of being biased in this argument because, as you have probably guessed, I am more than a little sceptical of the existence of a deity, not least the existence of one as described by any of the three Abrahamic religions. Even if, however, we assume a deity’s existence for the purposes of this argument, I still arrive at the same viewpoint. Many religious people say contraception isn’t natural, but surely if we made it from materials he put on the Earth it is natural and he’d know that because he’s omniscient- I mean, no-one says giving ‘unnatural’ water purifiers to the third world is bad. Besides, the Euthyphro dilemma clearly shows the inherent contradiction in God’s goodness; if he made things good, then he is merely arbitrarily choosing good, yet if he chose good then he is not absolutely powerful and thus need not be obeyed. So, all in all, I think God, or at least a deity I wouldn’t mind believing in, would want us to fill our proverbial boots.

So, in our Western World I see no need for women to wear hijab as they no longer have the cultural necessity and do have the legal protection, a little bit flesh is nothing to be ashamed of, personal commitment to a religion shouldn’t necessarily need any outward manifestation to validate it and the practical reasons of sometimes being hot and/or uncomfortable.

BUT, if there’s one thing I do believe in, almost whole-heartedly, it is freedom of expression! A concept enshrined in that rightly hallowed touchstone of Western liberalism – The U.N. declaration of Human Rights: Article 17 – ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance’. Article 18 – ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’.

Of course, adherence to this idea can prove very troublesome when people use (‘abuse’?) this privilege to act in ways which conflict with other fundamental human rights such as life, liberty, security of person and equal dignity. I believe a way this can be partially resolved is by declaring that citizens of democratic societies must be prepared to be offended but not physically harmed. So, for example, I was of the opinion that Nick Griffin should have been allowed on Newsnight because he has a right to set up a political party and express his views, however ‘repugnant’, in a considered manner and, though what he said may well have offended many (rightly so, in my opinion), it did not cause any direct physical harm. If his and other such people’s opinions are thought to be ‘racist’, then it is only right in a democracy that this idea is revealed by the wider public’s reaction to such ideas (which I believe it was), not by a small group of politicians and T.V. execs acting on what they believe and what they believe the public believe.

I believe this to be true for hijab too. A piece which really ground my gears in The Telegraph (which, I hasten to add, was not bought but left on the train) was Allison Pearson saying we should ban the burka too, mostly because of the way it painted Muslim women as complete victims with no absolutely no choice in their burka-caused ‘victimhood’. In it she describes the, vicarious I may add, ‘alien(ation) and intimidat(ion) of her poor daughter leaving school and seeing the pupils of a Muslim faith school next to hers as a ‘flack of crows in the sunshine’. Well, cry me a river, Allison, and ponder the fact that the same principle that rightly allowed her to attack a whole culture is the one which allowed the women to wear hijab in the first place. One lives by the sword, one has to be prepared to pretty much proverbially die by it too; not just whine and call for censure every time one gets upset.

As explained, I no longer think there is any need for hijab, even that it can be counter-productive, and believe it is representative of the far inferior legal and societal status of women prevalent in much of Islam/the Muslim world. However, hijab-wearing does not cause any physical harm and indeed I feel, unlike Sarkozy, it is more an effect than a cause of the aforementioned patriarchy. So, we should afford those who wear it some semblance of free-thought and intelligence and not abandon one of if not the main principle upon which this country has grown. After all, if Lady Gaga has the right to dress herself in all manner of ridiculous get ups including veal, who’s to say that people shouldn’t dress themselves in veils.

Joel Durston

Premiership footballer’s weekly salary: £100,000. His new Ferrari: £200,000. Joy in the world: priceless!

In Opinion, Sport on May 10, 2011 at 6:45 PM

‘Vain, illiterate, millionaire, borderline rapists, whose job is it to shepherd a bit of leather into an outdoor cupboard’. Alas, as much I would like to take credit for this quote, I must pay due deference for it to the brilliant comic stylings of Bristolian media-vagabond comic-come-musician Bill Bailey. For me, it encapsulates about 99% of the U.K population’s perception of modern-day professional footballers in England (particularly English), more succinctly than I, and I daresay another 99%, could ever wish to. Of course such a view is supported by rainforest-ravaging amounts of newspapers (particularly those of the red-topped variety), infinite amounts of bytes on the blogosphere and, indeed, that eternal spoilsport for awkward contrarians; reality.

I think it’s fair to say that are some less than admirable characters plying their trade in the upper echelons of British football. And, at least, on the face it, football is ‘just a bit of fun’ so, in this sense, I’m with the zeitgeist. But increasingly, many have come to thinking that the aforementioned unsavouriness of many footballers’ characters and the ‘shallowness’ of the game itself, disentitles the players from the admittedly gigantic salaries that many of them are on the receiving end of. So I am hereby taking up the thankless task of the proverbial fish swimming against the tide, in offering some defence of the wage packet of the archetypal, modern-day, star footballer. And indeed, that that prototype is not inherently a mere verbose euphemism for ‘twat’. Wish me luck….

The standard line of argument from those who think that professional footballers are not entitled to their riches runs that soldiers/firemen/doctors (common examples) work much longer hours, in worse working conditions, risking/saving lives, for far less money. Now, obviously, these facts about these professions are…well, facts and I am going to make no attempt to morally justify them. To say that people who ‘just kick some leather around’ are of more worth than these people who work in what I and the vast majority believe to be, very important, noble professions.

What I will do though is offer some account of the importance of football to me and millions, nay billions, worldwide. Football is our national sport and, to a large extent, part of our national identity too; rightly or wrongly, it just is. Around 7 million people are recorded as playing football in the U.K and that doesn’t even include those who only play kickabouts or watch the game. Admittedly, coming from Wikianswers as it does, that figure is hardly a bastion of reliability, but football’s popularity can’t be reduced to mere dots on a computer screen anyway. It fills the back and front pages. It fills stadia in tens of thousands. It is the vehicle upon which we’re sold innumerable rubbish (I remember buying loads of Mars bars during the last World Cup, fully aware of how easily I’d been duped). It effectively dominates all weekend daytimes from mid-August right through to May (and, bi-annually, June too). It provides a ‘real-life’ daily soap opera of bling, booze, bonking, break-ups and broken friendships. And it even ruins people’s relationships; ‘he (or ‘she’) just wants to spend time with the lads at the football’ is a common complaint of many maligned missus up and down the country, indeed, worldwide. Even football’s virtual form, specifically, the eponymous Football Manager games, has been the primary reason for separation cited in at least three divorce cases and an important factor in many more. If you still don’t believe me in asserting just how big football is, see the rise of increasingly infamous Truelad.

What would we males talk about if it were not for football (or other sports)?! Personally, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Other banter, such as last night’s shenanigans? Granted, yes. But, beyond that, I don’t know. Politics? A little bit, possibly, but then we’d just get confused, bored, depressed or a combination of the above. Our jobs? For a bit yes, but for the majority of us who aren’t tycoons, astronauts or plastic surgeons (premiership footballers are obviously out of the hypothetical anyway) this would often soon get fairly dull and repetitive. Popular culture such as films and T.V? Again, for a bit, yes, but after discerning how funny the show/film is, how much flesh is on show and how many explosions there are, that conversation will have often found its natural end. Ditto music, if you exclude the former qualification and substitute bangin’ riffs/basslines for explosions. Hell, without football, men may even be forced to talk about those peculiar things known as ‘feelings’.

It’s not just Britain though. Throughout much of the third/developing world (it’s hard to keep up with the new vogues in political correctness), the game is just as big, if not bigger, than it is here. In my gap year, I went to Cape Town, South Africa; of course, a colourful host to the most recent World Cup. Not wanting to get all “GAP YAH” on your posteriors (though I am about to…apologies in advance), it was genuinely moving to see how happy most of these kids were despite living with very little material wealth. It could just be wishful thinking, but I sincerely believe that a significant part of this was attributable to their daily attempt at emulating their heroes from the other side of the globe in the Premiership (by far the most watched league as their knowledge of it testified to) on the sorry excuse for a football pitch that Tamboerskloof’s unique combination of sand, dust, grass and mounds was. With all this in mind, the great Bill Shankly was probably only half-joking when he uttered his immortal soundbite: “football’s not a matter of life and death…it’s much more important than that”.

The seemingly unflappable, ever-perfect Mr. Obama demonstrated how powerful a motivator the concept of hope is and football it has it in bucket loads; hope that yours truly (who’s frustratingly mediocre) can once in a while glimpse the greatness of say Rooney’s bicycle kick; hope of a better season; hope of a new manager/centre forward; hope that kids from the tower blocks of East London to the suburbs of Surrey to the dirt pitches of South Africa’s townships to the favelas of Rio can, one day, lift that golden Jules Rimet for their country.

As we grow up and realise the sometimes harsh realities of life, we tend to forget all this in favour of the supposed injustice, jealously bemoaning ‘toiling in humdrum ‘nine-to-fives’, whilst they swan around playing football, fucking page 3 girls and, all the while, earning millions’. This point is illustrated brilliantly by a conversation between George Clooney’s character in the film Up in the Air as he sacks one of the workers. After announcing the sad news, he asks the despairing man: “Do you know why everyone looks up to sports stars?” The worker replies rashly “I don’t know…’cos they screw lingerie models?!” to which Clooney’s character replies “that’s why we adults look up to them…Kids admire them ‘cos they follow their dreams”. Being an American film, this refers primarily to other sports, but it’s a very prescient point that is applicable to premiership footballers too; we adults tend to forget or ignore the latter perspective on them, which is an important one too. There is no doubt the jealously of Prem. footballers is justified and that they often do some very distasteful things, but we’ve all done things we’re not particularly proud of (even if it’s not quite adultery and with a mate’s bird/ex. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great if players are ‘good role models’, but I’m not sure they should be under obligation to be, just as nearly everyone else isn’t. Besides, like the already anodyne interviews and press conferences, doing so might drive out the drama of the almost daily soap opera that is Premiership football.

Now I realise I’m presenting a view only slightly less biased than Fergie’s timekeeping to prove a point, but I’d like to think that I’ve shown that the happiness football should and does bring can be a very positive force for sustaining, changing, reforming, even saving lives. So, should the inspiration for this not be remunerated about as handsomely as many actors and musicians who also proffer such entertainment? God forbid, if, as I write this, I suddenly come down with a life-threatening disease and am presented with the choice of a doctor or a Premiership footballer to treat me, I would obviously plump for the doctor (unless it happened to be Arjun De Zeeuw in which case I’d have both) with his/her several years of training/experience and track record of saving lives. The point I’m trying to make is that, at their best, the professions have different worth and that the professional sports is far more analogous to the entertainment industry, amongst others.

Right about now you’re probably thinking ‘well that’s all lovely ‘n’ that, but he still hasn’t explained why the pay cheques of people in professions of merely ‘different’ worth are so radically different’. Ah, well for that, I’m afraid to say, I think the buck stops with us – the punters. Let me elaborate; for better or for worse, we live in a capitalist society, whereby, so long as it’s not illegal (‘immoral’ is a whole different kettle of fish), ideas/companies/people prosper or falter pretty much depending on need (or supposed need at least); supply and demand. Believe it or not, the general basis capitalism is founded upon is a power-to-the-people idea of ‘what the public want, the public gets’ (N.B. ‘founded upon’ and ‘resulted in’ are not necessarily the same). Football is without doubt a very competitive profession with the players at the top of the tree undoubtedly the very best at their trade (they may very well be lucky to do something they love, but it is ultimately still a profession). So, it could be argued that those at the very top of the pyramid, alike their counterparts in other, especially private sector, professions, deserve their handsome pay because their unique brilliance and, let’s not forget, their market appeal is in high demand and little supply and/or to give those billions at the bottom of the ladder a golden light to aspire to.

So, regardless of whether you agree with that, I think the ‘blame’ for the titanic wages lies not ‘upstairs’ with the ‘fatcat’ owners, the millionaire playboy dilettante star-striker or the agents who make Great Whites look like goldfish, but with us – the punters. Week in, week out, we buy the new FIFAs and PESs, buy the kits, buy the Sky Sports subscriptions, hell, buy the bloody club lampshades, but, most importantly, buy the tickets at, usually expensive, often extortionate, prices. So, my advice to you dear reader, is to either put down footballer’s seemingly black-hole-like pockets down to the unfortunate misfiring of the, personally, generally beneficial, capitalist system and/or watch this really rather wonderful BBC football video covering the whole gamut of human emotion and then try to disagree with me in asserting that football really can be ‘the beautiful game’: . After slight disillusion, I fell back in love with the game after watching it; I dare you not to too….

Joel Durston

Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting

In Culture on May 6, 2011 at 8:33 PM

Antithesis to the get rich quick factory-line production line of puppets from Mr. Cowell’s lucrative stable, Jamie Woon’s full-length debut has certainly spent a long time in the ether. Born to a Malaysian Chinese father and Scottish Celtic folk singer mother (Mae Mckenna, for enthusiasts),  “Woonie”, as he is want to refer to himself, grew up in the leafy environs of South-West London. After school he attended the prestigious BRIT school, graduating the year before Amy Winehouse, whereafter he went to University.

This album has been bubbling ever since really, from the covers gigs in Cheltenham restaurant, to the ‘long lonesome journeys’, to sleeping on mate’s floors, to selling his own CDRs after gigs. Interest was first really piqued with his stunning acoustic version of folk classic Wayfaring Stranger (which, testament to its quality didn’t even make the cut for this album, as several other great songs didn’t too). Popularity then developed in a very Arctic Monkeys people-power kinda way. Matters accelerated after he was voted 4th in the BBC’s coveted ‘Sound of (2011)’ poll (behind, respectively, The Vaccines, tragically,James Blake, reasonably and Jessie J, wrongly, but understandably). This was due in no small part to Night Air – his stunning collaboration with Will ‘Burial’ Bevan, who also provided a remix of the song.

Fittingly, this song is the opening track of Jamie’s long-delayed (at least, to these ears) debut – Mirrorwriting. The track opens with a slightly sinister, almost-beatboxed, electro beat, before being met by a beautiful yet haunting synth refrain. In it, Jamie eulogises about his fascination with the beautiful eeriness of the night air; an atmosphere perfectly evoked by the song.  The haunting yet funky’ feel is epitomised by the image of a cricket dancing in the still, stagnant, spooky ‘night air’ of the suitably amazing video.  It was so unlike anything I’d heard before, I had to sit up and take notice…and obviously the Beeb did too.

The next three songs, StreetLady Luck & Shoulda, further demonstrate his unique brand of Electronic production fused with his silky-smooth, rich falsetto, despite which you can still believe he grew up in Wimbledon and didn’t just steal the voice from an ageing New Orleans native. Not that that’s an aspersion on the likes Amy or Adele (a complement if anything); just an observation. In Middle, Woonie effuses about his love of the middleground in a wonderfully funky little ditty, replete with the man even providing his own harmonies.

Spirits, even more so than the other songs, showcases Jamie and his team superb production skills, comprising as it does a funky drum beat fused with airy synths and his own voice providing the harmonies. Though, as with Lady Luck and reverb-heavy version of the poetic, ballad Gravity on show here, the stripped-down acoustic versions (on YouTube) are probably even better; sounding rawer and, for Gravity, with a fantastic long intro where a guitar-tapping, beat-box builds into the verse. Echoes,  by the album’s own very high standards, is a bit of low point. Jamie’s voice is lovely as ever and the lyrics interesting enough, but the chink of electro beat sounds a little too much like a menu of a Wii game and, with a perfunctory drum beat, is relatively pedestrian. For once, Jamie falls the wrong side of ‘ambient’.

In the woozy, dreamy, piano-inflected soul of Spiral, Jamie sings of his infatuation with some, obviously very lucky, young dame causing him to see ‘spirals (when) moving with you again’. If the XX thought they had the market for soundtracking the make-out sessions of uber-cool, brooding, Twenty-somethings sewn up, then, on the evidence of this track especially, they oughta think again…

TMRW  has a nice little soulful stomp too it and Secondbreath is a pleasant if fleeting short instrumental. Both, though nice, are two of slightly less remarkable points of the album.  Waterfront though is a perfect example of how keeping music simple can pay dividends. The song comprises simply a guitar, a few hand-claps and Jamie’s voice but is beautiful, especially when listened to on a sunny day on Brighton Waterfront – I think, the inspiration for the song.

So, with his self-proclaimed brand of “R&B.. groove-based vocal-led” music, Mr. Woon has moved a step towards reclaiming the phrase ‘R&B’ from the umbrella term for record execs snapping up the next cute, African-American with a decent voice to mime some inane sentiments to thirteen  year girls (generally), to its rightful place as the moniker for heartfelt, progressive (‘real’?) music. And in doing so, he has provided a perfect soundtrack to lazy days in the sun which the current weather is facilitating (nay; necessitating), post-club comedowns and romantic nights in the missus/fella; no mean feat. If this does not win theMercury Music Prize this year, we will either have an absolute belter of an album or a travesty of justice on our hands.  Guinness were obviously right; good things come to those who wait.

Joel Durston

Manchester United vs Schalke ’04 match report

In Sport on May 5, 2011 at 8:33 AM

Manchester United returned home to Old Trafford for the second leg of the semi-final with a justified sense of hope, even inevitability, in the air after their performance in the Veltins-Arena against Schalke ’04. Indeed, such was the quiet confidence, that Old Trafford was a little subdued by its own cacophonous standards. In the first leg, United won 2-0, but it could have been a lot more had it not been for the heroics between the sticks of rising star Manuel Neuer (indeed a performance which caught the eye of his many pursuers).

Surely with half an eye on United’s potentially title-deciding clash with Chelsea on Sunday, Ferguson made eight changes from the team that lost 1-0 at the Emirates on Sunday. They set out in a 4-5-1 with Anderson, Gibson and Scholes in the middle, Nani and Valencia as attacking wingers and Berbatov the lone frontman in place of the rested Rooney.

There were few big chances for either team in the first half of the first half as it seemed both teams were feeling each other out. The first goal came after 25 minutes when a misplaced pass gifted the ball to Nani who squared the ball to Gibson, who played an exquisite through ball to Valencia for him to coolly slide the ball between Neuer’s legs.

From here, United really started to assert their dominance, particularly in midfield with Gibson having a performance that should silence some of his cybernetic detractors (he recently deleted his Twitter account because of the abuse received from ‘fans’). Just five minutes later, United were on the scoresheet again. A typically wonderful Scholes cross-field past led to a throw in, from which Anderson laid off to the run of Valencia. Whether intended to or not, his touch found Gibson who shot from the edge of the box. It was hit with considerable venom but a keeper of Neuer’s standard will be disappointed he let it slip when it was straight at him.

Jurado got one back for Schalke five minutes later with a thumping finish from the edge of the box, but it only ever felt like a consolation for Schalke who were just going through the motions. United continued their stroll in their park in the second half with stand-out performer Anderson doubling his total of United goals by applying the finishing touches to two flowing passing moves late in the game.

Joel Durston