Monday, 31 October 2011

a thing all rough and longish haired

Right out of nowhere that (currently) turquoise-barneted webmistress Emily (sometimes AKA Isis Vox) of Bearded Eloise fame has approached this is my england asking for permission to reproduce one of this site's numerous POMES. Permission duly granted, it can be seen over at Emily's place right now.

Do have a peek at some of the other stuff there.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

behind enemy lines

this is my england recounts the frustration of hearing about a famous QPR victory from a foreign airport, speculates about the prospect of glory-hunting nouveau fans at Loftus Road and looks forward to watching tomorrow’s away match among the Spurs fans

QPR 1  Chelsea 0 – they don’t like it up ‘em

In the few days ahead of the recent west London derby, a gentleman rejoicing in the name ChelseaMick123 informed me via Twitter that he would be sitting in the Loft pissing himself laughing as his side put five goals past the Rangers. The Loft, for the uninitiated, is the home end of QPR’s compact stadium in Shepherds Bush. Away supporters like ChelseaMick123 are meant to be accommodated in the visitors’ section, known as the School End. 

Mick's prediction about the score turned out to have been just a tad optimistic. So his underwear presumably remained dry, with little amusement on offer to trigger the promised episode of urinary incontinence. It also transpired that Mick's ticket was for the School End, where he ended up sitting among fellow followers of a south-west London side whose discipline deserted them as they failed to come away from Loftus Road with a single point. Funny, that. I'm not sure how he formed the impression his seat was to be at the opposite end of the ground from where he actually ended up watching Chelsea's defeat. After all, he had seemed so sure that he'd be one of hundreds of Pensioners fans seated in the home areas of the ground. A quick and admittedly unscientific survey conducted among the habitués of We Are the Rangers Boys suggests that on this last point Mick was once again wide of the mark. WATRB regulars are adamant that away fans were conspicuous by their absence, other than in the School End. That said, one fellow, who sits (stands?) in the QPR ground's noisy R Block, reports the presence of two apparent away supporters who did not return to their seats after the half-time break.

By that time, of course, Heidar Helguson had been subjected to a clumsy shoulder barge by the hapless David Luiz and had slotted home the resulting penalty kick to register the game's only goal.

Unfortunately, I am not reporting any of this detail first-hand. As referee Chris Foy blew his whistle to end the first period of play, I was standing by a baggage carousel at an airport in the Middle East. 

You wait a decade-and-a-half for your team to meet your most detested rivals in a league fixture only for an unavoidable business trip to crop up, ensuring you don't even get to see it on telly. Buggeration.

As the suitcases made yet another circuit, I fired up the Blackberry and called for news of events at Loftus Road. Word of the Rangers' one-goal lead and of Chelsea's two red cards caused a reaction of disbelief and joy. On the cab ride away from that airport, however, I remained nervous, not daring to be confident of a QPR victory even with the two-man advantage. This apprehension was justified, it seems, with all post-match punditry converging on the idea that numerically handicapped Chelsea looked the more threatening side during the second half of the match.

Another matter on which most pundits seemed to agree was the correctness of Foy's game-changing decisions, namely that penalty and the two Chelsea dismissals. Analysing the game on Match of the Day 2, Lee Dixon felt that the penalty was entirely justified, even if Helguson had been a bit "clever" about the manner in which he drew the foul. Dixon remarked that Foy had "quite a good game" and was in no doubt about the marginally more contentious of the sendings-off. Sulky QPR playmaker Adel Taarabt, doubtless still ticked off about Helguson having taken the penalty instead of him, nutmegged the defensively very suspect David Luiz, thereby releasing the ball to a rampaging Shaun Wright-Phillips. The diminutive wide man was then tugged to the ground by Chelsea fullback José Bosingwa. The Portuguese, judged by the official to be the last man back, received his marching orders for denying Wright-Phillips a goal scoring opportunity. Pensioners skipper John Terry failed to make the case that he had been in a covering position. In the MOTD2 studio, Dixon was adamant that the England captain would never have been able to prevent the QPR winger from shooting so felt sure that the red card was spot on. Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail allowed himself to concede this was "probably right". Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph similarly writes in terms of a "justifiable straight red card" for the Portuguese international.

Of Didier Drogba’s dismissal for a two-footed lunge on Taarabt, there seems to be near-universal agreement that Foy made the right call. Mark Irwin of The Sun described the challenge as "brainless".

Not all match reports spare QPR from the accusations made by Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas, namely that the referee’s decisions lacked consistency. Dominic Fifield of The Guardian, for example, suggested that the penalty award was on the soft side, setting a tone that would have justified similar decisions for an apparent foul by Fitz Hall on Frank Lampard and a Helguson "grapple" with that man David Luiz. That said, Messrs. Dixon and Hansen declined to make anything of either incident on MOTD2. Hansen, always a harsh critic of dodgy defending, instead had much to say about the wayward performance of the man who gave away that crucial first half spot kick.

What next for the Pensioners?

Chelsea supremo André Villas-Boas did not take any of this in good heart. His post-match accusations about the referee must surely draw some form of punishment and it was interesting to see cracks in the young Portuguese manager’s supposedly cool demeanour.

Just as it was with José Mourinho, his predecessor in the Stamford Bridge hot seat, we have been sold the image of a suave, articulate, sophisticated and unflappable continental coach who will offer something superior to the huff and puff of English football. As with Mourinho, it has similarly not taken long for the pressures of the Premier League to pose a real test for the ability of Villas-Boas to maintain that kind of facade. Just nine games into the season, dogged underdogs QPR, assisted by a raucous and hostile home crowd, had the Chelsea manager and his players nicely rattled. Young Villas-Boas lost his cool and his team lost their discipline.

I am inclined to wonder about the wisdom of the Portuguese coach’s appointment. Consider his track record in his native country – a single season steering a relegation-threatened team to mid-table security; then a single season rich with honours at F.C. Porto, who picked up the league title and UEFA Cup. But of these two achievements, how big a deal is the latter? The club from Portugal’s second city have bagged the title in eight of the last ten seasons. So the success on which Chelsea presumably based their choice of manager is a bit like winning the Scottish title with Rangers or Celtic. So, Andre, you won the league at the helm of the perennial champions? The best-resourced and best-run of the clubs in the league? Very nice, but have you ever pulled off anything more difficult? Although there has been talk of Abramovich having finally found a manager who will be around for a long time, I don’t find it hard to imagine Chelsea finishing fourth or fifth in the league, thereby disappointing the Russian oligarch and causing him to look around for yet another team boss.

Other Premier League teams will have watched this match and cannot fail to have noticed that Chelsea can be unsettled if events do not turn in their favour. It is to be hoped that other opponents will be able to capitalise on the Pensioners’ collective suspect temperament. As it stands, one such opposing team has already got the better of Chelsea since last Sunday’s defeat at Loftus Road – today, Arsenal have twice come back from behind to beat the Blues 5-3 at Stamford Bridge. Let’s see whether Villas-Boas manages to maintain his composure this week. 

Regarding the other kerfuffle around last week’s match, I will decline to comment for now. Maybe John Terry did racially abuse QPR defender Anton Ferdinand and maybe he didn’t. The tale seems quite tangled and I have a feeling that clarity will never be found. What is demonstrably true, though, is that Terry, like so many of his teammates, lost his cool during a difficult game. Photographs of him angrily confronting opposition players are numerous and friends who were at the match speak of him looking upset by the persistent and personal  nature of the barracking he received from the home crowd. 

QPR and the global game

At the end of my Middle East trip, I was sitting in the bar of my hotel, my tired brain slowly recovering from three long days of mentally draining work. I stared dully at a TV rerun of the Liverpool-Norwich stalemate. The friendly barman, a Filipino, I believe, informed me that he is now a Spurs supporter, having seemingly chosen his preferred team off the back of one of Tottenham's better performances last season.

When I informed the genial barkeep that I would soon be at White Hart Lane as an away supporter, he told me that he had never heard of QPR before the previous weekend's win over Chelsea. For faraway aficionados of Premier League football, it seems, clubs outside the top division simply don't exist. QPR, then, for so long banished to the English game's lower reaches, now have the opportunity to perform on a truly global stage for the first time. If this opportunity can be sustained for longer than a single season back in the top flight, and if the club continues to be well run by Tony Fernandes and Amit Bhatia, perhaps we will see Queens Park Rangers opening up significant revenue streams from overseas. If so, this is not likely to happen without side effects that old-school QPR supporters may find rather strange.

On a 2008 trip to Old Trafford for a League Cup tie, it was striking to observe how many Asians were among the home crowd. I don't mean Mancunians of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin. I mean citizens of places such as Japan, Korea and Malaysia.

Last weekend's vanquished opponents, too, seem to have picked up a lot of foreign fans since the Abramovich takeover in June 2003. Consider these comments in broken English from a discussion thread at ('One place for all Chelsea FC fans around the globe') - site members were asked to say when they had started following the Blues:

  • "I was catching international football from 03-06 but new nothing about clubs, all the players i liked were in chelsea including cech, so i decided to become a Chelsea Supporter"
  • "fan since the facup 2007 final"
  • "since jose join chelsea it was 2004"
  • "since 2005, still remember the League Cup Liverpool VS Chelsea, 2-3, become ture blue"
  • "i started to support chelsea after i saw the champions league final. Chelsea vs man u. the blues played so great match but they lost. As john terry cryed so am i an fallen in to love with blues. And started hateing man u. It was my 1st live european match as well. Before that i never watch even one live match, at any lavel."
  • "Chelsea supporter from 2007 when we beat real 2:1 at Santiago bernabeu or at bridge dont know for sure that made my day and off course fa Cup against man u same year it made even more sweeter but shame we didn't win the league."
Will a wide variety of foreign fans be saying stuff like this about QPR one day? It's a strange thought. With progress comes change. But will we like all the changes?

Keeping schtum

Courtesy of someone who does a bit of work for Spurs, I will be among the home fans at White Hart Lane tomorrow, hoping for another unexpectedly good result for the R’s but wondering how I’ll manage to keep quiet if things do go our way. To do so would be imperative, not least because of events I observed on my last visit to Tottenham’s ground. 

Trailing behind QPR in distant second place, another football club has a place in my heart - Wisła Kraków was the side I used to watch fairly often during a longish stint working in Poland back in the nineties. Just over three years ago, the Kraków outfit played a UEFA Cup tie at White Hart Lane. I kept quiet when Wisła scored – and I was glad I did. In addition to the noisy Polish contingent belting out Jak Długo Na Wawelu in the away fans’ section, many more Poles were scattered around the north London ground. A small group near me leapt up when the visiting team got their goal. A handful of upset Spurs fans weighed in boots and fists, causing considerable damage to one particular young Pole. Stewards stood by, let it happen and then ejected the little group of Wisła fans, allowing the offending home supporters to get away with some fairly serious acts of violence. 

Forewarned, then, I think I am forearmed with the good sense to stay in stealth mode tomorrow, avoiding the kind of bravado that ChelseaMick123 was promising when he claimed to be heading behind enemy lines. It’ll be hard to take it easy if the Rangers pull off another famous victory, though. But that would be a nice kind of problem to have.


Friday, 28 October 2011



stand up. salute.

best. music. video. ever. FACT.

why there will never be a revolution

You think all this stuff on Wall Street, in Chicago and on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral will ever amount to anything much? Here is why it won't:

the one per cent

I am floating
on a golden parachute,
I'm eating
with a silver spoon,
I'm watching
every one of you citizens,
every one of you voters,
every one of you consumers,
every one of you termites,
every one of you vermin,
every one of you drones,
every one of you losers,
every one of you nobodies,

and I'm not worried,
I'm not worried because
we can always wait you out,
because you will be distracted by your new iPad
because you will be delighted by the rich, glossy tones
of your healthier-looking hair,
because you'll get the london look,
because we're rolling out super-fast fibre-optic broadband,
because IT'S IN THE GAME,
because it's ford super sunday,
because talk-talk brightens your x-factor,
because they're not called quickquid for nothing,
and because
nine out of ten women agree
it fights the seven signs of ageing.

pitch your tents,
bang your drums,
write to your MP,
boycott our products,
take a piss on the steps of st. paul's cathedral:
it doesn't matter.
no one cares:
we own TV,
we own the newspapers,
we own your boss,
we own your boss's boss,
we own hollywood,
we own that silly little black man in the white house,
we mock you openly,
we own the army and we can send you to war,
we own the spies and we can make you disappear,
we own the schools and we can bore your children to death,
we own the police and we can smash your head open.

we are ready,
we've always been ready.

are you ready? really ready?

no, didn't think so,
now run along and get back to work,
get back to the shops,
get back to the internet
get back to your games console,
plug yourself in,
and shut up
before you get hurt.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

living truthfully in imaginary situations

Rounding off a week of both seeking out and stumbling into exhibitions, this is my england ducked inside the compact Minnie Weisz Studio, which sits under one of the redbrick arches opposite the silvery blocks of St. Pancras International Station's twenty-first century rear extension.

Inside, it was enjoyable to spend a little time peering at the collection of sculptures, photos and video installations by Carl Hopgood, who was on hand to discuss his work and make visitors feel very welcome. Living Truthfully in Imaginary Situations references "symbols of popular culture, childhood, and the grit-and-glitz of everyday life", with Hopgood aiming for these works to "play with notions of temporality and pleasure". 

In one of the pieces in the first-floor space, reached by climbing a very steep (ladder-like) set of steps, film of moving, rippling water is projected onto a children's paddling pool, apparently working as a momento mori, reminding Hopgood of a childhood near-drowning experience. Interesting, then, that young this is my england jr., full of beans and hyped up ahead of yet another Science Museum outing, declared Pool Piece to be his favourite work at this small exhibition. The little man definitely appreciated the craft and the mechanics of the multimedia pieces even if, at the tender age of five, he was not inclined to enquire too deeply into their meanings.

Another show providing pause for thought and time to consider very pleasing objects and what they might be meant to mean. 

Saturday, 22 October 2011

from beak to bum

it's a day off from a boring job and I'm striding along kensington high street feeling good. a rustle of wings and one of the bastards briefly touches my head as it divebombs towards a fallen sandwich. I have to go back to the flat and get shampooing. god knows what you can catch from them.

I'm back in kraków. there's a cobbled street in stare miasto named ulica gołębia. well-named. the dirty winged rats scurry about, pecking up the poppy seeds from the obwarzanki munched by scarf-muffled students.

I'm out in the town with my little lad. five years old, he loves chasing them up into the air. my usual thought remains unvoiced this time. "don't crap on me, don't crap on me". 

seagulls are worse, though. much worse:

it's a bright day in backstreets broadstairs and I step into a piratey pub with joel and maja. one of the fuckers shits on maja's straight, perfect blonde hair and it splashes the shoulders of her summery top. she's hysterical. phobic.  she cleans up somehow and spends the rest of the day wearing joel's  t-shirt. he goes bare-chested, laughing.

Friday, 21 October 2011

temporary stillness

Back in July I stumbled into the gallery space known as Collective, located down an alleyway off Camden High Street. I saw a few interesting bits and pieces by London-based Chinese artists. The exhibition was organised by the creators of ArtGap magazine.

"The Rise and Fall of Matter", the exhibition I saw there today, curated by Caroline Soyez-Petithomme and Tom Trevatt, "loosely aggregates the work of five artists on temporary and unstable grounds". This involves converting the exhibition space into a site for experimentation, where each of five artists has produced new work in various forms - paintings, drawings  and found objects.

As with the ArtGap show in the summer, I once again appreciated the opportunity to step away from the hurly-burly of Camden's noisy roadworks and bustling lunchtime crowds and into a cool, quiet place of where a few moments of unhurried contemplation are possible.

Pneumatic drills, people hurrying back to their offices with boxes of sushi: Camden at lunchtime
Tucked away: Collective takes you out of the lunchtime din

The exhibition, open on Thursdays to Sundays from midday to six p.m. until 6th November, is quite sparse. There are just a dozen pieces from the five artists - Jean-Luc Blanc, Gabriele Beveridge, Emmanuelle Lainé, Clement Rodzielski and Adam Thompson. As my footsteps echoed in the high-ceilinged white room and as I peered at the works on display, I was indeed struck by the precariously temporary appearance of some of them. The found objects arranged on the floor, I assume, can never again be assembled in precisely the same manner once disturbed. So I felt as though I was glimpsing a frozen moment - the point at which the artist had somehow decided that's just right, I'll stop creating now. As with the welcome quiet of the place, this arbitrary freezing of objects into stillness served as an interesting counterpoint to the hustle of commerce on the street outside and right at the core of my own busy day.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

they might glare at you

Seen in shop windows already: masks, witches' hats and all that. Pomona. Parentalia. Samhain. It's coming. So get ready for back-to-back horror movies and the neighbours' offspring bothering you for sweets. Here is your Halloween playlist, courtesy of Guru Productions:

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

hey suckers

competition time

That man stu bags, by way of recovering from his blue/white street art screenwipe of oblivion, has only gone and gone all hi-tech on us.

stu's rectangle now sports a QR code. But what does it say? The first this is my england reader to crack the code and post the correct answer in the comments box under this little piece will win a prize.

Up for grabs is a small item of street art picked up at the recent Moniker Art Fair. The competition closes at midnight on Friday 21st October.

How to enter:
  • scan the code in the pictures below with your phone to get the answer
  • if that doesn't work you'll have to get down to the corner of Eversholt Street and Crowndale Road, London NW1 to scan the real thing
  • write your answer in the comment box below

PS: if you look closely at the first pic, you will see evidence of the cold winds of Tory austerity blowing through poor old Camden Town. We're all in it (the shit) together.

Monday, 17 October 2011

ding ding

so I've just left the office and crossed over the road. I'm right in front of the tube station. very busy there. loads of people leaving work, wanting to get home on the underground. people coming out of the station, too. there's a gig on around the corner. lots of people around for that. there are those fellers handing out the free newspapers. the pavement is packed. it's a thursday night but it's like a saturday afternoon. I'm on the phone to my mum as I'm walking along. anyway, I hear this voice. "excuse me, excuse me." very strident. sounds annoyed. so I look up and there's this bloke. middle aged. definitely older than me. shirt and tie. so a white collar job. professional. he's looking pissed off because no one is getting out of his way fast enough. and he's on A FUCKING BICYCLE. on a BUSY PAVEMENT. and the fucking guy is wearing a CRASH HELMET. he's ringing his little bell. ding ding. well, if I hadn't been on the phone I would've been like "ding ding? I'll fucking ding ding you, mate." RIDING A BICYCLE? ON THE PAVEMENT? WHEN IT'S BUSY? A GROWN MAN?  EXCUSE ME? EXCUSE ME? DING FUCKING DING?

pub men


it's curtains

back alleys

Saturday, 15 October 2011

compact and bijou

As promised earlier this week, this is my england popped down to Village Underground in Shoreditch to have a have a look at the Moniker Art Fair going on in there today. A good-sized queue had built up so interest was clearly strong. Not quite as large an exhibition as expected, perhaps, but some very interesting things to have a look at. One more day to go. If street art (and related fine art) is your thing and if you're knocking around the City/East End borders tomorrow, you are definitely urged to pay a visit. 

Art criticism is most definitely not the forte of this is my england, so let's just let a few snaps speak a thousand words each:

Friday, 14 October 2011

Kean to win?

Somewhere, I have a photograph taken on 9th August 1995. The sprightly young fellow in the picture has much the same haircut that I have now, though without the first hints of grey. He is also many pounds lighter than I am now. He wears a wide grin, a QPR sweatshirt and sunglasses with small, dark, rectangular lenses. He is standing outside Ewood Park and he's looking forward to the first game of what would turn out to be a horrible season for his club. That was me, that was.

Earlier that summer, Newcastle United had signed the west London club's reliable goal-getter, Les Ferdinand. A good chunk of the £6 million fee was wasted by manager Ray Wilkins on players who quickly proved to be very poor buys. Simon Osborn joined in July 1995 for £1.1 million and lasted just six months at QPR, making only nine Premier League appearances. The best that can really be said for Osborn, from the point of view of a QPR fan, is that when he was sold on to Wolves, the transfer fee received was only fractionally lower than the one that had been paid to Reading for his services.

Another midfielder who made little impact was Ned Zelic. Signed that summer from the reigning Bundesliga champions, the Australian was described by Wilkins as being "as versatile as an egg". Comparisons with an egg were justified, as it turned it, but only if the word 'fragile' was used instead of 'versatile'. Legend has it that the former Borussia Dortmund man hobbled back to Germany with sore knees, complaining that English pitches were "too hard". In fairness, though, it should be pointed out that Zelic has recently denied this via Twitter.

Of the poor purchases made by Wilkins in 1995, the one who really stands out in my mind, though, is Mark Hateley. Having scored almost a goal every other game during a six-year stint with the other Rangers (the Glasgow variety), Hateley turned up in west London as a 34-year old with creaky joints and thinning hair. Nothing wrong with a club of our stature signing an established player in the closing stages of his career but with much still to offer, of course. After all, that very tactic has at times been right at the core of a successful QPR business model. Hateley, a pal and former A.C. Milan team-mate of Wilkins, though, clearly did not have much left in the tank. His time at Loftus Road was short and undistinguished.

That first game of 1995-96 against uncle Jack Walker's expensively-assembled Blackburn Rovers side did not provide a shock result. The Rangers lost by just a one-goal margin, which seems respectable enough considering that the Lancashire outfit warmed up the home crowd by parading the Premier League trophy they had won the previous season. My dad, however, a much wiser observer of football than I was then, turned to me at the end of the match and confidently (and accurately) predicted QPR's relegation. He was struck by how easily a young forward line (Gallen and Dichio) had been wrapped up by experienced top flight defenders such as the brutally effective Colin Hendry.

"They won't score enough goals," my dad warned. He was right. They didn't, and so began that long, long period away from the bright flights of the top division.

I was reminded of that match of sixteen years ago, of course, because this weekend's visitors to Loftus Road are Blackburn Rovers.

It looks like a good time to play the side from the north-west. Recently-promoted QPR sit in a creditable 11th place in the Premier League, whereas their opponents are languishing in the relegation zone. The season, however, is still at a very early stage. While the two sides are separated by eight places in the table, they are only four points apart. With the Superhoops set to face Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester City in the weeks ahead, it should not be taken for granted that this narrow margin between our side and the lowest positions will be maintained. It is no surprise, then, that many QPR fans are calling this weekend's fixture a 'must-win' game.

Rovers supporters, too, no doubt, are thinking in the same terms, perhaps looking at a QPR side reeling from a 6-0 defeat at Fulham as beatable opponents. Inexperienced manager Steven Kean must also surely be longing for a decent result. Every week, he finds himself on the wrong end of persistent barracking from many in the  Blackburn crowd.

This one looks set to be keenly contested, then.

In this crunch match, perhaps the greatest cause for optimism for QPR fans will be the very unusual way that the visitors have prepared for their London awayday.

Both teams, of course, have had two full weeks to recover from their previous poor results. The international break has provided a valuable opportunity to regroup. But Blackburn have been forced to make a long trip to the subcontinent to meet the family of the club's Indian owners and play a friendly match with Pune F.C. While Kean tried gamely to make the best of this strangely-timed jaunt, it seems an exceptionally tiring exercise ahead of an important away fixture. Kean and his team was surely given no choice in the matter, which speaks volumes about the balance of power between the boardroom and the manager. Perhaps it's excessive to describe being compelled to make the Indian trip as rather humiliating for the Rovers side, but  it's not the first time that the Blackburn team have been required to do something a bit embarrassing for the Venky family:

QPR fans, meanwhile, will be hoping that as well as showing their usual ineptness, the visiting side will be suffering from both jet lag and Delhi belly. Here's hoping. We need the points.


Thursday, 13 October 2011

make your mind up

Almost a month ago, it was observed here that Blogger/Blogspot had quietly upgraded the way pictures were enlarged for viewing. Then, just days later, it was noted with some consternation, that the upgrade had disappeared just as suddenly as it had appeared. Today, once again without so much as a by-your-leave, this improved functionality is back again:

Is that it now? It's cool and everything. But is it back for good?

P.S. the Blogger people of Mountain View, CA have reminded this is my england that the word for this kind of thing is a 'lightbox'. Oh yeah. Anyhow, looks like it is back to stay, some bugs having been fixed. Yay, yay, callooh, callay etc.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

arty underground

Regular visitors will have realised that street art in its various forms is generally viewed sympathetically here at this is my england. On Saturday, this interest will be nourished by a visit to London's second annual Monicker Art Fair, being held at Village Underground, just off Shoreditch High Street. This event kicks off tomorrow and will feature the work of artists including Banksy, Beejoir, Ben Eine, Cash For Your Warhol, D*Face, Herakut, Nate Frizzell, The London Police and Word to Mother. A stellar line-up, if you're into this kind of thing.

Across the four days of the event, as well as just gawping, visitors can enjoy local street art walking tours, printing workshops, live mural painting and talks by artists. Fill yer boots. Might see you there. Report and photos (if allowed?) to follow (probably).

Monday, 10 October 2011

topless tuesday

heaven is a place
where nothing ever happens, and yes
we are less dirty,
but a con man,
caught out by a fish pie,
stop using my body
as an internet
and manipulating me unlawfully
for your state-organised
criminal aspirations, and decides:
everyone seems normal
until you get to know them
in this weird world
of erotic rites,
bizarre rituals,
unspeakable cults,
and false promises, where
haters will hate and say
don't make sense, make dollars

yeah, yeah, whatever, but
will you please do a topless tuesday?

friday on monday

As promised, a friend of this is my england has been happily pimping out this site's poesy wares at her own place. Thanks, thanks, then to Emily, the multi-coloured webimatrix of Beared Eloise for giving space to 'a good friday', a little piece first aired here a while ago.

There's plenty of other stuff to have a look at over there. So do have a look.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

brent cross


Upstairs, my son is letting us know that he refuses to sleep. Then the food comes: two main course Indian ready meals, plus rice plus a side dish. All for eight quid as the imminent second dip into recession even has Waitrose frightened. It is alright, and beer helps. On television, a series of needy people get up to sing, trying to prove they have the X factor. One of the women is a large creature. A big slab of body. A long, masculine face. She belts it out. She has a voice. Lights are flashing and all that. The crowd like it. The judges feed back, all saying good things as she smears a mascara tear across the painted acres of her cheek. She's determined. She really wants it. She's going to work so hard. "I might joke around", she says, "but I'm serious about this competition". Tulisa speaks up. "You're doing it for all the real women out there," she opines. "You're keeping it real. You're representing all the ladies." The audience clap and cheer. The people are moved. All around the country, ten million hefty housewives swell with pride as their champion in fantasyland delivers giant blows from the deadly arsenal of vocal chord, lung and sass. "You're putting it DOWN, momma," encourages Kelly Rowland. I eat more curry, drink more beer, pass wind and climb the stairs to the study. My wife fast-forwards through the adverts.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

in florida

stripes of treasure coast sunlight
beeping your barcodes, you're
driving without satnav
through a census-designated place,
and turning
on the cracked, crunchy dust
of a strip mall's lonely lot,
and in a baleful bathroom at the budget inn,
you're fighting the five signs of shaving irritation
and pacing to where
they have beer
as cold as your girlfriend's heart

Friday, 7 October 2011

yet more bearded lady love

For the third time, a snippet of poesy from this is my england is going to get shared via the arty Bearded Eloise site run by our friend Emily.

In June, Emily accepted 'teenage wanker'. In July she accepted 'she wore:'. I'm now told that 'a good friday' will be appearing on Emily's site on Monday. Have a look at the rest of the stuff over there in the meantime, why dontcha?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

going down by the riverside

When this is my england last turned its attention to the beautiful game and to the twists and turns of this organ's favourite team, the short article, a preview of the away tie at Fulham, concluded by expressing a long-held reluctance to predict the outcome of any Superhoops fixture. Just as well, really. Because, as it turned out, any prediction I might have made would have been wildly off the mark. While an away defeat against a Cottagers side looking for a much-needed first win of the season was always a distinct possibility, such an abject collapse of a previously decent-looking QPR side did not seem likely.

One prediction that was included in Saturday's preview piece was a heavy hint that writing a full match report could be a struggle. The reason given was the likely beffudling effect of sunshine, good fellowship and alcoholic beverages. All of these were indeed in abundant supply. Moreover, I've always found matches harder to follow from a behind-the-goal-and-quite-high-up viewpoint. So that particular prediction has turned out to be accurate.

Behind the goal and high up at Craven Cottage: all hell about to break loose
So the this is my england report on the match itself can be boiled down thus:

  • QPR played very badly
  • Fulham were decent
  • It seems meaningless to rate individual QPR performances - no one had a good game
  • It was nice to see Jamie Mackie back in the side, returning, finally, after last season's bad injury, coming on as a sub in the second half

Another prediction that was on the money concerned the abilities of the two sets of supporters to generate some noise. A thumping win was not enough to rouse the genteel home fans from their seemingly habitual state of quiet contemplation. The Rangers faithful, on the other hand, just seemed to get louder and louder each time Paddy Kenny picked the ball out of the back of the net.

At half time, with the R's down by just the three goals, I wondered if a respectable result might be possible. A draw seemed out of the question. A win seemed beyond the realms of wildest fantasy. But perhaps a goal? Maybe a resolute second-half rearguard action to prevent further scoring by the home side? Giddy thoughts, then, of just a 3-1 defeat, were briefly entertained during the half-time break.

But no. Just before the hour mark, Fulham's Andy Johnson completed his hat-trick. "Four nil down, we don't give a fuck, we're QPR and we're staying up," roared the away supporters. Yet another re-purposing of the old 'Tom Hark' tune. Before too long, the same song was ringing out still louder, with the words 'five', then 'six' substituted for the original 'four'.

That so few of the singers headed for the exits before the final whistle speaks volumes about the defiance and good humour of many of our club's fans. Much, too, was made of that contrast in the ways in which the home and away fans were expressing themselves. The usual taunts, then, from the Rangers faithful - "You're supposed to be a home"; "Six nil and you still won't sing" etc.

Fulham was also accused of being "a ground full of tourists". A trifle harsh, perhaps. That said, for those QPR fans in the Fulham's extraordinary 'neutral' section of the Putney End, the presence of large numbers of silent Asian and European visitors (some wearing bits and pieces of Fulham memorabilia) fuelled the enthusiasm for that particular song.

Another song that got an airing used the ever-popular 'Go west' tune. Call me puerile if you will, but I could not help smiling at the away supporters' off-colour reference to Craven Cottage's nasty Michael Jackson monument

The funny thing is, this was not nearly so bad a day out as you might suppose. The result was horrible. But the response of the home supporters was a world away from what I'd experienced at Elland Road almost seven years ago, on the day that Brian Deane scored four of Leeds United's six goals against a hapless Rangers side. Then, my little party had been repeatedly taunted by junior Yorkshiremen while trudging away from the ground. I experienced literally none of that on the streets of SW6 and in a pub where fans of both sides were mixing after the match.

The weather was much better this weekend, too. Almost too warm, if anything - queuing for a drink on the Fulham Palace Road was sweaty work. The black humour of the defiantly noisy singsong, too, was enjoyable in its own way. As a pal and I walked away from the Cottage, watching a few home fans nipping into smart and pricey houses in nearby streets, we both agreed that, weirdly, the afternoon had somehow been more enjoyable than it might have been had the Rangers suffered a narrower margin of defeat. A case of laughter in the dark, really.

Looking ahead, the next fixture looks crucial. QPR will entertain a struggling Blackburn side at Loftus Road. A decent win and we're back on track, putting the Fulham result behind us and dismissing it as just one of those bad days. But if the Rangers contrive to lose - or even get only a draw - things could look different and the recent mood of optimism may be sorely tested. Because after that seemingly benign home tie against apparently poor opposition comes a much more challenging run of games - Chelsea, Spurs and Man City are up next. Crikey.


Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Apropos of Private Eye No. 1298 (30 September - 13 Oct. 2011), the latest issues contains two particularly good examples of the organ's 'Number Crunching' feature:


On 20th September, this is my england name-checked a favoured organ of this organ, when observing a new application of a device much favoured across the quality spectrum of the great British press - the use of 'fruity girl' pictures to illustrate otherwise potentially dull news items.

The name-checking was of Private Eye, whose scribes never tired of the annual joke of pointing out how the newspapers always illustrate their stories about the relentless upward surge of A-Level and GCSE pass rates with eye-catching pictures of appealing teenage chicks.

this is my england was surprised to notice the same approach to photo selection being taken by the 'papers when reporting the ongoing attempts by Essex County Council to evict the occupants of illegally occupied plots at a travellers' site at Dale Farm near Basildon. Even in this context, readers of some rags were treated to an eyeful of youthful blonde totty

That this was a surprise, felt this is my england, was down to how travelling folk are usually portrayed by our press and many of their readers:
But surely we're all supposed to hate gypo/pikey/diddicoy scum, aren't we? Isn't it positively mainstream to discuss them in terms we'd never dream of using with reference to any other minority? I would have thought, then, that flagging up the existence of teenage totty in their midst is unwise in the extreme. It might stimulate some level of sympathetic feeling for the people of the road.
Imagine the delight experienced here at this is my england global HQ when the September 30th edition of the Eye was purchased and this was found:

Private Eye & this is my england: spot the difference

Sunday, 2 October 2011

it's like yeah she's kuhMURN

So I'm sitting on a train down to London and the only space available puts me among three teenage girls who have boarded somewhere further north. It is impossible not to hear their conversation. One of them, especially, is loud.

As well as peppering every sentence with the word 'like' (often pronounced approximately thus: luhrk), they have developed a peculiar drawl constructed from excessively prominent glottal stops and really strange vowel sounds. Much of what I hear is impossible to transcribe accurately. But here is an attempt to explain how several words sounded. Capital letters indicate an unusually heavy stress on a usually unstressed syllable. Rather than use phonetic symbols with which not every reader will be familiar, an attempt has been made to use common spellings that tend consistently to convey the same sounds in British English (RP variant). The one exception is the use of the symbol ʔ to represent the glottal stop.

Some of what I heard:

kitchen = kiʔCHURN
little bit = liʔurl BUHR
girl = gahrl
marathon = maraTHURN
nothing = nuhFURN
coming = kuhMUHRN

In general, it was striking that the last syllable of any given utterance was unusually extended and over-emphasised. Is this particular element now a feature of youthful, seemingly-confident speech generally? I'm sure I've heard it in the voice-overs of adverts for products aimed at young people.

It wasn't especially hard to tune into (i.e. understand), but it was exceptionally unpleasant to hear. I can only describe the effect created as being to convey the impression that the speaker is displaying a peculiar personality composed of laziness, boredom, arrogance, mockery and apparent over-confidence (but really  excessive self-consciousness). Somewhere along the line, a trend-setter among these youngsters has displayed some of these speech characteristics and then been aped by her friends. Over time, I'd guess, these features become more and more exaggerated as it steadily becomes impossible to fit into the group without sounding like this. But to an outsider, of course, it sounds really odd.

It seemed clear that these kids were the offspring of comfortable middle-class families. So this curious microlect they are constructing is not the supposedly slovenly speech of youngsters that some would deride as 'chavs'. It is to be hoped that they can switch out of this way of speaking when needed. It wouldn't serve them well in the workplace.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

one for the neutrals?

Tomorrow, we jolly QPR boys and girls will be marching down the Fulham Palace Road towards Craven Cottage for the first time in a while. The last competitive fixture between the two sides was more than ten years ago, played out by teams heading in different directions. The Cottagers were surging towards promotion to the top flight, while the Superhoops were looking decidedly non-super on their way down to English football's third tier. The season's top scorer was a perilously skinny young man by the name of Peter Crouch, weighing in with just ten goals and gamely ignoring cries of 'freeeeeeeeeeeeeak' from opposition supporters. Who could have guessed then that the beanpole forward would go on to change hands for millions of pounds over and over and over again? Who could have known that he'd still be deemed worthy of a ten million quid fee at the age of thirty?

Those days seem like a lifetime ago - and for young QPR fans that's almost literally the case. Doubtless, a good number of the Rangers faithful packing out the Putney End tomorrow will be enjoying their first ever season of Premier League football. 

A long, long gap, then, between league fixtures between the Rangers and their near neighbours in SW6 - and an even longer one since the last league tie with that other supposed 'west' London side, the Pensioners of Stamford Bridge. The rivalries between these three teams are fragmented in nature, lacking the momentum built up by guaranteed annual fixtures.  The most common meetings between members of this triumvirate are the clashes between Chelsea and Fulham, which have occurred just 72 times. Compare this with the north London derby, which has taken place over 160 times, and the Merseyside derby, which has been played more than 200 times.

As well as being dampened somewhat by the spasmodic nature of meetings between the sides, rivalries between these teams are decidedly asymmetrical at present. However much it may pain fans of both QPR and Fulham to admit it, Chelsea supporters do not, in the main, seem to consider these teams to be among their principal rivals. Blues fans appear to get a lot more worked up about other clubs altogether. In December 2004, conducted a survey among supporters of the 92 clubs of the Premier League and Football League, asking them to name their most detested rivals. Chelsea fans chose Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester United while both Fulham and QPR supporters ranked Chelsea as their most hated opponents.

Years of relative prosperity and success at Stamford Bridge had, then, relegated their near neighbours to a rather unimportant status in the eyes of Blues fans. Put simply, QPR and Fulham supporters may 'hate' Chelsea more than they 'hate' each other, but Chelsea fans don't properly reciprocate.

Such, then, is the nature of 'west' London football derbies.

But why, you ask, has the word 'west' been wrapped in inverted commas each time it's been used in this context?

Well, this is because, as many QPR fans would contend, there is only one true WEST London team - the men from Shepherds Bush, W12. The other clubs in the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, this line of argument would go, are huddled close to the river in SOUTHWEST London. This is a fairly tedious matter of semantics, but it amuses some of us.

this is my england will be present at tomorrow's match. But it remains to be seen if a decent report on the day's proceedings can be constructed. More warm, sunny weather is predicted and members of the Defector's Weld elite clique are suggesting a long afternoon of booze and good fellowship - conditions not really conducive to perfect recall of every kick of the ball.

For the ninety minutes of the actual match, the this is my england vantage point will be from the so-called 'neutral' section of Fulham's ground. Eh? What is a neutral section? Well you might ask, given that Fulham is the only club in the country to have such a thing.

A chunk of the Putney End, it seems, is made available to supporters of both the home and away teams and to anybody else who might fancy a match down by the Thames. Given the strong interest in tomorrow's fixture among QPR fans, it seems curious that so few tickets were allocated to the visiting side and that so many Rangers supporters will be seated in this 'neutral' section. On various Fulham Internet messageboards there seems to be a bit of dark muttering about the possible threat of naughtiness from the visitors. So one wonders how many Cottagers will feel inclined to sit among the QPR mob. It really is all very novel. According to Fulham's website, "supporters in the neutral section may wear replica shirts or other items of clothing relating to either team". Gee, thanks. It'll certainly be a different experience to skulking in silence and minus colours among the home fans at grounds including Highbury, White Hart Lane and Brammall Lane. Ah... memories...

Perhaps one shouldn't be too surprised at Fulham's ground having such an eccentric feature. It is, after all, home to one of the most tacky examples of statuary to be found in our capital city. It was with regret that this is my england learned that access to this gaudy piece of tat is not possible from the Putney End. The King of Pop/alleged kiddie fiddler (take your pick) would look good with a blue-and-white hooped scarf.

Predictions? Well, this is my england has a long-held superstition about not predicting the outcome of QPR matches. Instead, let's focus on some of the details:

  • Joey Barton vs. Danny Murphy will be an interesting tussle in the centre of the park
  • Shaun Wright-Phillips vs. Jon-Arne Riise will be another match-up to watch
  • QPR's fans will massively out-sing the genteel Fulham followers
  • Fan of each side will vigorously make the suggestion that the opponents' supporters care more about the match than they do
  • That said, it will fucking go off big style in the away/neutral end if the Rangers manage to hit the back of the net
  • Sunny weather and generous quantities of alcohol will make it an afternoon to treasure
Moreover, let's hope for a good spectacle on the pitch with plenty of witty repartee but no actual fisticuffs around and outside the ground.


A pricey day out among 'neutrals'

autumn sunshine

Even the grimmest mission of necessity is made more pleasant by the warm glow of rare autumn warmth. Also, there were cock shadows. Always funny.