Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

The Enslavement of a Bigoted Mind

In Opinion on March 21, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Recently, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, denounced the Coalition Government’s proposals to introduce same-sex marriages as “madness” and a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. Alas, it gets worse. He also compared the measures to slavery: “Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery, but assured us that ‘No one will be forced to keep a slave’.”

Yes, that’s right. One of the most prominent members of one of the most powerful organisations in the country likened gay marriage – an institution which will harm no one – to slavery – a brutalising, debilitating, oppressive, unjust system which compels thousands to a life of servitude. You couldn’t make this shit up. The two are inherently different. Gay marriage is by definition a personal communion of two willing people; slavery is by definition a system in which most are involved against their will – the legal property of another.

Not only it is the statement idiotically insensitive, it is also hypocritical. In the analogy he clearly employs slavery as a moral absolute with which everyone will agree – attempting to shock them into thinking similarly about gay marriage – which is ostensibly not a bad tactic. The irony is his own organisation, the Catholic Church, has an undeniably shady record on the subject. As Greg Jenner astutely points out in a Huffington Post article in which he claims O’Brien has the ‘philosophical subtlety of a pot plant’, some of the biggest slave owners were churchmen. And both the Anglican and Catholic Church were stoic in their opposition to abolitionist claims, on the basis that since the Bible didn’t prohibit slavery, it was morally acceptable (it doesn’t explicitly condone it either). Using the Bible as a sole arbiter of moral decisions would also lead one to not eat shellfish (Leviticus 11:10), not have women touch anything while menstruating, not wear any polyester (Leviticus 19:19) and not allow any descendant up to ten generations down of an ‘illegitimate person’ in a Church (Deuteronomy 23:3). Damages the credibility of attempts to use the selfsame book to support calls for the prevention of gay marriage, no?

But maybe his reservations based on the tradition of marriage have more sticking power? Nope, they’re all bollocks too. The idea that marriage is a concept inherently linked to the Church is also complete baloney. The ancient Egyptians, Romans and Spartans all had their own versions of marriage well before a load of hitherto Jews started worshipping a supposedly zombie Jew with divine powers and inspiration. Even under Catholic ‘control’, the institution of marriage has undergone massive change. It was only since around the 17th century that marriages were conducted in churches and encompassed even vague religious importance (previously, they had only really taken on political and economic importance). When the institution’s rocky, and often less than utopian, past is considered, extending it to cover those who just happen to express their love (or lust) by merely sticking their bits in different places seems a positively boring progression.

O’Brien’s reasoning is that, since civil partnerships already grant gay couples the same legal rights as marriage, the moves must amount to a direct “attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists”. Yep, you guessed it, he’s wrong again. He’s fallen prey to the classic Catholic fault of assuming that everyone’s – or at least the vast majority’s – moral compass is the same as his. At least Keith’s in the right ballpark for this one. It is true that civil partnership grants the same legal rights as marriage. But the contention of many in the LGBT community is that, while this is a significant step in the right direction, their exclusion from marriage is unjustly incommensurate with a now predominantly secular institution in a (thankfully) egalitarian, secular society.

As for “small minority of activists”, it is true that majority support for civil union (of some sort) is a relatively new thing, and even now by no means comprehensive. The most recent UK survey, conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion in July 2011, shows 43% of Britons support gay marriage. But this figure appears stronger when viewed in conjunction with the 34% who support civil union (and the 8% of votes unaccounted for). Also, a Times survey in 2009 – which had a 61% overall approval rating for gay marriage itself – showed the support to be markedly higher among those aged 25-34 (78% for gay marriage, with 3% unaccounted). Now, I’m not suggesting by any means that the views of the older are invalid, but the figures do suggest that a marked cultural shift is underway. And, of course, the measures are being suggested “passionately” by David Cameron, a Conservative – a far from stereotypical supporter of such an idea (though there has been strong opposition within the party). Cameron, in an admirable stance, said: “I don’t support marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”

What’s for sure is that it’s not a matter of, as O’Brian paints it, a few troublemakers spoiling the party for everyone else, and pushing plans that would “shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world”. I can only speculate, but he may have got his impression because there is only a minority actively campaigning for gay marriage – typically those it directly affects i.e. gay people. But, as the figures show, this does not mean even most of the rest are against; just that they have no direct need to go out of their way to campaign for it. (People can be very self-interested and insular. Watching the Beeb’s brilliant The Tube, a station manager told of how he once saw commuters just stepping over a man who it transpired was dead!)

Now onto O’Brien’s suggestions that “In Article 16 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, marriage is defined as a relationship between men and women” and this a “fundamental”, “universally recognised” human right. The supposed universally recognition can be disproved merely by dint that I (and many, many others) are arguing against him. And the rest isn’t strictly true, either, because, tut tut, he’s manipulating facts for his own ends again. The declaration, a remarkable piece of politics which has become a touchstone for progressive law and democracy, does grant men and women the right to marry, but doesn’t actually state marriage must be between them. It states: ‘Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.” Granted, it does not stipulate ‘without any limitation due to sexuality, but neither does it state ‘with restriction on sexuality’. Given Article 2 entitles all creeds and colours to the rights set forth, it is logical to deduce that gay marriage is acceptable on this count. Article 2 reads: ‘ Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.’ (All emphasis mine.)

Frankly, the Cardinal can think whatever he wants of gay people…privately. Authoritative members of the Church claim the concept of gay marriage – even with no religious association – is an attack on their traditions, which it may be. But consider for a moment the furore there would be if a fiscally/organsitionally similar association – a youth club or singing group, say – actively promoted views seen to be discriminatory on grounds of sexuality (or other). You might protest that it’s a ridiculous comparison but, with the perfectly reasonable step of taking this supposedly existent God fella out of the equation (more on this later), they are really not that different. When this is considered, the Church should perhaps count themselves lucky to even be able to spout some really quite (negatively) discriminatory stuff (though often subtly and between the lines so it’s not much picked up on). I, for one, actually think that if people freely choose to go church, then frankly they should know what they’re letting themselves in for, the good and the bad (Keith O’Brien is letting people know in pretty uncertain terms right now). So this isn’t particularly troublesome.  But given the cultural protection they receive, surely it should not be too much to ask for the church to uphold their end of the bargain by letting those who want gay marriage have it. Albeit away from them…you know, just in case they get infected.

The Church may well get offended by gay marriage, but it is clearly not harmed. If gay marriage is prevented not on general consensus but on a little mere offence caused, then we might as well forget about that great little tag of ‘liberal democracy’ (which for sake of argument we can take as a good thing – by dint of it being desired by nearly everyone). This is the Harm Principle, or the principle of liberty, which underpins all liberalism. Coined by John Stuart Mill in his seminal On Liberty, it holds actions of individuals should only be restricted – by laws – to prevent harm to others (social pressure is appropriate for mere offence). Democracy simply doesn’t work without this neat distinction. Imagine asking for people to be prosecuted every time someone, say, littered, swore in front of a kid, or ate bacon in the presence of a practising Muslim. Madness, t’would be. One’s just got to tolerate offence for the greater good. Logically, there’s no reason this shouldn’t apply to gay marriage.

For homosexuality (male at least), if not offend me, certainly weirds me out. The idea of a bloke sticking his dick up another’s rectum, personally, is very odd. Why one would do so is baffling as even many straight women say the female form is far more appealing than the unseemly male one. BUT, and this is the crucial ‘but’, homosexual relationships and practice have absolutely no immediate bearing on me. And in all likelihood, nor you, dear reader. (Unless of course you are one of the aforesaid homosexuals – in which case, it obviously does, but it is by definition subjectively pleasurable, so all’s good.)

Think of it like music if you will. Many people love, say, Coldplay and many people hate them and can’t understand why anyone likes them. But do the latter camp ask for Coldplay fandom to be outlawed. No, they don’t, because it’s a subjective fucking preference, which causes no harm to anyone.

And now excuse me if you will in pre-empting a criticism: that I shouldn’t be saying this stuff because it is somehow blasphemous. Well, yes, you – if anyone is indeed reading this, and disagrees – are correct; it probably is by current vogue. But in a true democracy, blasphemous really should be a meaningless accusation, especially if the accused has been well-reasoned as I hope I’ve at least somewhat been. We critique institutions every day – educational, political, judicial, philanthropic. Quite how religious institutions and figures should receive special deference just because they – often mutually contradictorily – profess ownership of some nebulous, (officially) unobserved being is beyond me. If anything, this dubious belief should make them more subject to scrutiny, especially when they make ethical commands stemming from their belief in their deit/ies which will impact millions who don’t share their belief in those deity/ies.

The idea that religion is above reproach because of the permanency and popularity of religious ideas and ideals is also nonsensical. Firstly, Christianity’s span of approximately 2,000-year history is nothing compared to the estimated 50,000 years humans have lived (as distinguishable as such – basic primates have lived for around 150,000 years more). And an idea’s popularity is not in direct correlation with its veracity. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite – we used to think, for example, the earth was flat, slavery was morally acceptable, the telephone wouldn’t catch on, appeasement would work and the earth was the centre of the universe. And as for the idea O’Brien’s opponents (hi there) should play fair; well, I think he forfeited that privilege when he asserted all of us were in the grip of “madness”.

With that in mind, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, you’re a tool. As Texan Country singer, Kinky Friedman, said: “I support gay marriage. I believe they have the right to be just as miserable as the rest of us.”

Joel Durston

The Secret Alternative to Graduate Unemployment

In Opinion on March 8, 2012 at 8:28 PM

Recent Office for National Statistics figures show that around a fifth of recent graduates are currently  unemployed.

It is true that unemployment in general – and supposedly substandard employment – has risen sharply over the last five years,  from around 5.2% before the recession to approximately 7.9% when the recession, officially at least, ended in 2009. But the downturn is undeniably being more keenly felt by graduates. Perhaps even more worrying are the figures covering, if you will, that-will-do employment or semi-employment. A third of recent graduates were in jobs described as ‘non-graduate’ by the end of 2011 (calendar year).  This probably means bar work, supermarket work, work with one’s dad’s building firm and such like ‘for the time being’. Also, officially unemployment doesn’t include anything considered education or training such as PGCEs, NCTJs or internships (or part-time work), which although usually very useful, often don’t put food on the table as they are ultimately paid little, nothing, or even paid for. Also, those in temporary/voluntary work whilst travelling abroad on post-uni gap years are presumably classed as ‘employed’, or the respondents are just unavailable for contact.

Can new graduates realistically expect the employment prospects of old?

The figures do show that the typical wage is far greater for graduates than non-graduates – £15 per hour compared to just under £9. However, the relatively rosy picture these statistics paint hides inconvenient truths. The former statistic at least (the most important one in this regard because of its greater historical variability) is based on graduates aged anything between 21 and 64. This includes baby-boomers, such as my dear ‘rents, who went to university in what could accurately be described as a golden era. Universities were, I gather, flourishing in the liberal and liberated intellectual bohemia brought about by the free-loving, intoxicated 60s (or, universities were a place for the arseoisie, if you’re more cynical. Stephen Fry, in The Fry Chronicles, brilliantly describes how his world of Cambridge in the mid-70s could, to an outsider, reasonably seem one of insufferably self-righteous, prententious, layabout tosspottery, before passionately justifying that particular world from his insider view as an aforesaid ‘tosspot’.) This culture remains somewhat, but, for better or for worse, has been largely watered (or, perhaps lagered) down with the vastly increased numbers going to university. As well as, of course, the onslaught of Carnages, social media sites, game consoles and all that fun shit.

Anyway I digress. Which university experience comes out on top – that of yesteryear or today – is debatable. But what isn’t is that university was, for those who went, a far better deal back then. Students didn’t have to pay tuition fees and many even got generous maintenance grants from Local Education Authorities to pay for rent, books and food (and booze). And the graduate job market was better. This is largely because far fewer people went to university. So, to employers, basically everyone was, in theory at least, a bright spark and hard-working almost by definition of being there.

And, not wanting to become overly Daily Mail about this, not only were the degrees worth more, there was far less competition among those who had them. According to my parents and their university friends, a 2.1 was almost a guarantee of any desired job. And it shows with their careers. With mostly humanities degrees from Reading (i.e. a decent but not outstanding university), they have gone into successful, well-paid and fulfilling careers in, among other things, agriculture management, journalism, urban planning, academia, psychotherapy, occupational therapy and teaching (several as heads of department or even schools). My mum is the one in occupational therapy and says that her rather left-field step in moving from a German degree pretty much straight into occupational therapy was not out of the ordinary. So, essentially, the figures are skewed by inclusion of this generation of university graduates. I suspect if surveys took a cross-section of students under 30, the results would be quite different.

And although graduate pay may be higher, the statistics don’t account for the fact that students will have to pay back a lot of debt, and non-graduates will have anything from three to seven years of earning behind them by the time graduates graduate (depending on whether the non-grads did A-level; the grads, gap years or four-year courses etc. etc.)

In short, the graduate job market is pretty shit. With the figures bandied around on the number of applicants for every graduate position ranging between anything from 40-70, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone say differently, not least current or recent students. The question is what – if anything – to do about it.

Liam Byrne, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “This is grim news for Britain’s graduates. We have to stop this becoming a lost generation. The Government needs to change course and create more growth and jobs.” And TUC general secretary Brendan Barber has called for an ‘industrial strategy’ to buck the trend of graduates being forced into low-skilled jobs – that government should focus on boosting high-value industries such as manufacturing. “Otherwise public investment in education and the talents of graduates will continue to be wasted,” he added. On the other side, Employment Minister Chris Grayling blamed the current situation on Labour policy: “As well as paying for the enormous debt left behind, young people are struggling to get into work despite the billions Labour has squandered on schemes such as the New Deal and the Future Jobs Fund,” he said.

They all have reasonable arguments, but I feel nearly everyone is missing the elephant in the room here. Everyone seems to be thinking along the lines of right, we’ve got this situation; how do we deal with it?!(With the current answer being triple students’ fees.) Personally, I feel that not enough are asking if the current situation with universities is just ridiculous.

Labour’s 50% (of young people at university) target was undeniably a well-intentioned, progressive one. In actual fact, it ostensibly hasn’t had much effect. In 2001, when they made the declaration, the percentage of young people going to university was 39.2 and its peak was only 39.8 around seven years later (it stands at around 36% now). Maybe, though, their emphasis on higher education did keep it at that level, rather than it drop off.

It stems from the idea that everyone should have the right to go to university. Again this is admirable, but I think misguided. The classic idea of university is that it is for the elite in particular academic fields. While in the past it has perhaps been too elite, there was at least the job market to support it. This is far less the case now, and largely as a consequence, there is a strong argument that we’ve gone too far the other way.  The word ‘elite’ has very negative connotations nowadays, usually relating to money, but there is nothing necessarily wrong with academic elitism. Certainly, if you apply the same logic to the job market it seems faintly ridiculous; an unsuccessful applicant claiming a company was elitist for not employing him. Now I know this is a ridiculous comparison because it ignores the complex socio-economic factors inherent in UK education, particularly secondary, but it bears thinking about for a point of reference.

The thinking behind the 50% rule is to stop elitism, but ironically I think it can do the opposite. Inherent in the mad rush to get people to university (see for one secondary school tables on people doing so) is the idea that university is almost the singular, golden path to prosperity. Current figures suggest this is far from the case. And, personally at least, this idea renders it somewhat a failure on the part of a person who doesn’t go to university.

A bit strong I hear you say, but take this instance as an example. In my last year at university, I got onto this Student Associates Scheme through Canterbury Christchurch University, which was intended as a little 15-day taster/experience of teaching for students like me looking to go into teacher training the following (academic) year. They paid the university that gave the lectures and did the admin, the placement school and the student (£600, too, for three weeks light work, which was very nice). The ulterior motive was for ‘ambassadors’ like myself to encourage students to go to university, which I thought was piled on far too strongly, and I’m proud to say, in my placement write up, I bit the hand that – thankfully – still fed me. Anyway, in one of the lecture days, the lecturer said: “So, what would you say to Gary who came up to you and said Yehh, I’m going to work in my dad’s plumbing firm and I could be earning £25,000 in two year’s time.” I knew the answer he wanted from people – and indeed got from some sycophants – that you tell Gary about the enriching university experience, the ways to pay back money, the (supposedly) brilliant career benefits bla bla fucking bla. But I turned to my friend next to me and gave my – sincere – answer: “Good for you, Gary. Good luck.”

This is indicative of a lot of thinking on education. Supposedly it is elitist not to encourage people to like this hypothetical ‘Gary’ to go to university, but surely it is more elitist to suggest that plumbing – hischosen career path, no less – is not a worthwhile line of work. It stems from a culture I certainly grew up in, and I know many others did too. It is one whereby reading some books (or just chapters of), dragging oneself out of bed at 12 to discuss Plato, and writing a few essays to get a 2.1 – or to a lesser extent 2.2 – is an end in and of itself. And one where it is taken as a given that if you’re decent at school, you go to university and then work out what you want to do when there. But for many – myself included – drinking and playing football (separately…usually) on weekday afternoons isn’t going to provide a silver-lined epiphany illustrating a perfect – and feasible – career path. It just makes one long to do that shit forever. In fairness, I did get my act together in third year and did some productive stuff that helped land me a PGCE, though more through a sense of obligation than genuine desire. (Turned out I was pretty shit at the teaching lark, so packed it in and now in journalism – kind of.)

N.B. I must point out here the above description of university as fun, semi-useful and pretty easy, in addition to being exaggerated a little for effect, is predominantly shaped by my experience of my Philosophy and Religious Studies degree and by my friends, many of whom also did humanities degrees, Kent being strong for that shizzle. However, I recognise many degrees are very demanding and difficult, so realise my perception doesn’t apply to all. If you don’t think it does to you, it (probably) doesn’t.

I am broadly speaking against the tuition fee hike, because I don’t think people should be placed with such a financial burden for honestly endeavouring to better themselves (and by extension society), which personally is the general outcome – or at least intention – for most students. Also, that this financial burden will probably hit the poorer harder, thus exacerbating the UK’s already poor record on social mobility. However, one good thing to come out of it, even if it is a malign effect, may be that people will start really thinking about the practicalities of going to university, and working and applying for jobs when they get there. Rather than just going there to casually chat some bollocks about Nietzsche, drink and play tennis (in case you haven’t guessed, that’s a harsh but not entirely unfair self-reflection). If this happened, universities would have to be more responsive to and accountable for student needs; more contact hours, more individual supervision, clear, accurate figures on university/course employment upon completion, and useful careers services. Essentially, going to university would become more of a consumer experience.

This culture of UNIVERSITY, UNIVERSITY, UNIVERSITY is evidenced by the (impressed) surprise that greeted the three people who, straight from A-level, did the journalism course I recently completed. Journalism is a profession broadly regarded as one requiring a university education, and accordingly the vast majority were recent university leavers like myself. But there’s nothing to suggest this need be the case. These three were ostensibly at least on the same step of the career ladder as those three or four years older than them and, if anything, having the fortitude and single-mindedness to jump straight into journalism – and for some, move to London – could appear more appealing in a prospective job candidate when compared with a candidate who has arguably bided their time learning soft skills at university. One of three is now a journalist in Westminster.

And the case is similar with a lot of other professions. Granted, teaching, medicine, law and engineering are fields that pretty much, if not completely, require a university degree. But many others that are commonly held so don’t require one. For example, media, business, recruitment, accountancy, design, events management, and the array of creative industries such as fashion, art, acting, music and filmmaking. With employers requiring ever more practical work experience, it may be wise for people wishing to work in these professions to forgo uni and start at the bottom of these professions, working their way up by increasing experience and contacts. After all, many of their contemporaries will start in roughly the same position they did in three or four years later anyway.

All this arguably reduces many degrees to  fun but very costly and only semi-useful rites of passage. In fact, as poncy as it may sound, I really think there are significant advantages to the ‘uni experience’ – living away from home, dealing with bills and dickish housemates; pursuing one’s passion/s in the vast network of student clubs and societies (if not the subject itself); getting a taste of professional life in the running of these; and of course the drinking. It is also great for meeting people. On the practical side – providing you don’t lock yourself in your room – there is basically a ready-made network of contacts which can be called upon in later professional life. And on the social side, many find a new home for the foreseeable future or even life and meet life-long friends or partners.

So, university has its pros and cons. What we need to do is be more scrupulous of them. And this applies to all parties – government, parent, and (prospective) student. Government and parent need to stop pretending a university education is a golden ticket to a dream job and thus pushing children into it against their will (though this applies far more to the Labour government…hell, with the tuition fees the Coalition are arguably more pushing people away). And they need to look into better supporting – financially and/or emotionally – non-graduate career routes such as apprenticeships. And students, in a competitive job market, need to better research prospective universities and courses, and have clearer plans with regard to their career and what they can do at university in aid of their career (or at least be honest if they just want to go university to drink). For, as much as it often seems they don’t, academically able youngsters do have a choice. Whisper it, they can just not go to university…

Joel Durston

The Novice’s Guide to Surviving Football Conversations

In Satire on March 5, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Football is so ubiquitous now that, in certain circles at least, particularly male ones, professing not to take an interest in it is tantamount to saying one doesn’t shower or never gives to charity: an indication that one is somehow deficient, rather than a grown adult making an informed decision. It can leave one feeling very left out. This was certainly the position my ex-housemate found himself in living with three football fans. As a kind of pub-conversation survival guide, I created for him – and now you, dear reader – the ‘football-ionary’.

As general tips, the ‘football virgin’ or ‘football novice’ would be well served to express points in a confident, vociferous, humorous, stereotype-laden and politically incorrect manner, ideally pint in hand. Knowledge of specific facts is actually not terrible important. Good luck and God speed…

50/50 n descriptive of a situation in which both competitors have equal, hence the name, chance of winning possession of the ball.

Armchair fan a fan who is not seen to support the game and his/her team because he does not spend extortionate amounts viewing matches live (also, fair-weather fan).

Blind adj a judgement passed upon a referee’s – supposed – poor decision making (however, officials, by definition, can’t be blind).

Big lad both descriptive of a player’s physical attributes and, typically, his high-strength but relatively low-skill game (see also put on the big lad).

Box the penalty area.

Don’t like it up ‘em colloq a vague term which suggests the opposition particularly does not appreciate, and therefore play well against, aggressive play. It can usually be safely applied by the football virgin testing out the waters of his or her unknown territory, and may often be reinforced by further comments asserting how the team of choice is going to “get stuck in” and “smash them”.

Early doors adj, n early on during the match e.g get stuck in early doors.

Early bath n a sending off, for when players are guilty of a serious foul or ungentlemanly conduct.

FIFA officially the ruling establishment of football – who are typically referred to very negatively – but also a popular football simulation computer game. Be wary: this is a potential banana skin for the football novice.

Footy ManFooty Manager or FM football management simulation computer game that is as important, if not more, for many football fans as the game itself. It is often juxtaposed with the real game e.g “*player* is playing shit at the moment…he’s smacking them in for fun on my Footy Manager game, though!”

Game of two halves n another nebulous, catch-all term which describes the arbitrariness, capricious nature of football.

Gaffer synon manager.

Gloryhunter a fan of a team who is supposed to only support them for their triumphs, not through thick and thin, which is often considered requisite in football contrary to its largely consumerist, capitalist nature.

Heskey n a lovable oaf, and also anyone vaguely resembling him.

Lad common way of referring to those men involved in football.

Lino colloq the linesman – the official responsible for determining throw-ins and offsides.

OG abbr own goal.

On a plate adj (concerning a goal-scoring opportunity) easy.

Pen abbr penalty.

Play the whistle colloq a dictum to continue playing until an official directs otherwise.

Poncy adj descriptive of football which is seen to fail for its over-complication and fanciness. Perhaps the foremost exponents of poncy football are Arsenal. When successful, ‘poncy’ football is referred to as, variously, ‘good football’, ‘champagne football’ and displaying ‘tekkers’.

Poof 1. Any player that reads a broadsheet newspaper (this definition, in football terms, typically extends all the way down to The Daily Mail).

2. Any player that doesn’t recklessly put their body in danger for the benefit of the team.

Prawn sandwich brigade a term coined by infamous hard-man Roy Keane to describe, negatively, the influx of the bourgeoisie thought to be far less fanatically (and unquestioningly) passionate about the game and ‘their’ team than those who favour Pukka pies for nourishment. A tricky one to employ, but will earn the football novice real respect as a ‘proper’ fan if employed properly (see also Pukka pie).

Pukka pie n stodgy, meat-based produce favoured at half time at football grounds, especially lower league. Generally thought to be real, honest football grub.

Put on the big lad colloq a tactic often employed by teams in dire straits, whereby they stick an aforesaid ‘big lad’ in attack and play long balls up to him in the hope he can push some people out of the way and head the ball for a typically more talented player to score a goal. A pretty foolproof piece of tactical advice for the football novice to spout when a team is not winning.

She fel’ over colloq a chant echoed when a player, typically the keeper, falls over. The humour lies in the fact that most competitors of football are male – not in fact female, as the chant ostensibly suggests.

Short corner crap colloq descriptive of poncy play at a corner, passing the ball rather than whipping it into the box.

Sitter an easy goal-scoring opportunity (typically applied upon a miss of said chance).

Stonewall adj (concerning a decision) certain. The football virgin can usually get away with applying this if there is merely a reasonably strong case for a decision (if the football novice is feeling adventurous, he may want to mix this with ‘pen’ e.g. “that was a stonewall pen!”)

Tekkers adj, n exhibitive of good technique. If especially so, is often prefaced by ‘unbelievable’. Etymoleng. Technique.

Thursday nights, Channel 5 colloq the term, deriving from the actual scheduling, used to disparage fans of clubs with the misfortune of playing in the Europa League, Europe’s less prestigious domestic competition.

Wanker synon the referee.

Joel Durston