Fans look away as Hereford teeter on edge of the abyss as fans organise boycott

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My story about the boycott of Hereford United Football Club has been published by The Independent. It was shepherded to publication by the brilliant and indefatigable Glenn Moore.

The Joker in the Pack: Selected Comments from the “Mail Online”

Trooping the Colour

Selected readers’ comments under the Mail Online story, “The joker in the pack! Prince Harry keeps Kate laughing as Royal Family gather to salute the Queen at Trooping the Colour parade.”

Ron, Munich, Germany, 14/06/14:  “Harry is genuinely good looking. But needs to colour his hair few shades darker.”

thommo, solihull, 14/06/14:  “they’ve got into the dressing up box again…republic please, and soon…”

Tinkerbelle, stuck in the middle with you, United States, 14/06/14:  “Queen Elizabeth looked really lovely. I don’t always like her choice of outfits but this one is really pretty.”

Accountant, Sheffield, 14/06/14: “Why do the royals insist on wearing such ridiculous fancy dress! I hate the American expression ‘turning’ when it’s a birthday.”

paul martin, Beverly Hills, United States, 14/06/14:  “The working class with few exceptions, cheer and shout for the royals as though they were their lord and savior. But the Royal Family care no more for them than if they were so many sheep on their royal estates, for they believe that royal blood, by God’s decree, flows through their veins and that common folk are beneath them. However, the monarchy has always careful never to openly alienate workers although they are part of a ruling class which is engaged in open class war. But be it parliamentary monarchy or a bourgeois republic the State is always the political power at the service of private property. It is always armed force at the service of the privileged class.”

buckbe, cardiff, United Kingdom, 14/06/14:  “can someone enlighten me what are the film awards eddie’s wearing?”

crewza, manchester, United Kingdom, 14/06/14:  “No Fergie?”

Steve, winchester, United Kingdom, 14/06/14:  “Well I don’t care what the liberals, foreigners and immigrants say….trooping the colour fills me with pride. If that lot don’t like it, tough.”

Andrew Rutley, Burnley. 14/06/14:  “There’s no future in England’s dreaming.”

Photograph: Trooping the Colour, June 2012, Wikipedia Commons, Carfax 2.

Balzac’s Interpretation of the Letter “Z”


“One day, Gozlan met him in the Champs Élysées, just as he had left Delphine’s salon. He looked chilly and anxious. The chill he attributed to the unheated drawing-room that he had quitted; but it was due mostly to his condition of mind, then much exercised by something of prime importance to him, the finding of a name for a story which he had written but could not christen, in spite of protracted meditation. It was a man’s name he wanted–a name unusual, striking, suggestive of the extraordinary nature of the person he had created. ‘Why not try the names you see in the street?’ said Gozlan incautiously. ‘The very thing,’ answered Balzac, whose face grew radiant. ‘Come along with me. We will seek it together.’ Realizing too late into what an adventure he had allowed himself to be entangled, Gozlan tried in vain to escape. Protests were of no use. Balzac dragged him off; and, with noses in the air and absorbed gaze, the two men promenaded along the Rue Saint-Honoré a number of other streets, knocking up against the people they met and provoking a good deal of profane language from these latter… At length, Gozlan like Columbus’ sailors, having more than enough of the tramp, refused to play follow-my-leader any longer; and only after a long palaver was he dragged up one last narrow street dubbed variously the Rue du Bouloi, du Coq Héron, and de la Jussienne throughout its course. Here, suddenly, Balzac stopped dead, and pointed to the word Marcas, inscribed over a door. ‘That’s what I’ve been looking for,’ he cried. ‘It exactly suits my man. The person that owns the name ought to be some one out of the common,–an artist, a worker in gold, or something of that kind.’ Inquiry proved that the real Marcus was a modest tailor. However, his name was selected, and the initial Z was tacked on to it for the book, Z being by the novelists’s interpretation a letter of mystic import.”

Balzac, Frederick Lawton, Ballantyne, Hanson & Co., 1919.

Russian-American Food Ration for ISS


Expedition 13 (launched  30 March 2006)

Day 1

1. Chicken w/ Egg, Cottage Cheese/ Nuts, Honey Cake, Coffee w/ Sugar, Vitamins

2. Bream in Tomato Sauce, Noodle Soup w/Meat,Tokana Meat & Vegetables, Borodinskiv Bread, Peach-Black Currant Ice/Pul, Plum-Cherry Dessert

3. Fiesta Chicken, Corn Creamed Spinach, Cherry Blueberry Cobbler, Apple Cider

4. Peanut Butter, Crackers, Grape Drink.

Photo: NASA, Image taken in the Food Tasting lab in building 17: bags of International Space Station food  (cheese spread, crackers, shortbread cookies, candy coated peanuts, beef steak, creamed spinach) and utensils on tray, 2003.

Strike of the Cabs, London, 1853

London 1853“The great event since you have been gone has been the Strike of the Cabs, as on Wednesday morning London awoke to find she was cabless, & the country arrived by the railway to find they must walk to their destination & carry their luggage or sit upon it till porters and donkeys could be discovered. It is expected that the strike will not last long as it is expensive to keep horses doing nothing, & carriages are being hired for the day & doing the work of cabs at the railways, in the meantime however London is all the pleasanter as you can walk about without being in danger of your life. Before the strike took place Fitzroy had agreed to relax the act so far as to allow 1s. a mile beyond 4 miles & to let them charge 6d. for a 4th person in the cab as well as 6d. for the 3rd. They do not mean to give way on any other point so the battle must be fought out between cabs & public.”

Letter from Lord Stanley to his wife, 29 July 1853, from The Stanleys of Alderley, edited by Nancy Mitford

Colonel Steve Rotkoff’s Haikus

Firdos Square statue topple

Colonel Steve Rotkoff was the Deputy Combined Forces Land Component Commander for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He kept a war journal during his time in Kuwait and Iraq, frequently summarizing events in three-line haikus which were published in Bob Woodward’s Bush at War, Part III, State of Denial.

Anthrax + smallpox
Gas masks, J-Lists at all times
Scary being here

Rumsfeld is a dick
Won’t flow the forces we need
We will be too light

Yikes–SCUD exercise
Mask four hours avoiding work
Sweat pours down my face

This is not a drill…
Mask + chem suit on quickly
Try not to panic

Gordon N.Y.Times
Demonstrates Media Ethics
It’s all about him

Saddam Fedhayeen
Where the hell did they come from?
Everyone missed it

Mental bone tired
Hard to stay not wanted
Can’t rest–men will die

Where is WMD?
What a kick if he has none
Sorry about that

We knew how to fight
Not so, building a NATION
We may lose the PEACE

From Bush At War, Part III State of Denial, Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster, 2006

LBJ Replies to Hunter S. Thompson

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June 17, 1964,
The White House, Washington

Mr. Hunter S. Thompson, Owl House, 9400 Bennett Valley Road, Glenn Ellen, California

Dear Mr. Thompson

The President has received your recent letter and asked me to thank you for it.

He has noted your desire for an appointment to the Governorship of American Samoa and you may be sure you will be given every consideration.

Larry O’Brien, Special Assistant to the President

Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967, Hunter S. Thompson, Random House, 1997.

The ‘Forbes’ Thirteen

“The bodies of irrational animals are bent toward the ground, whereas man was made to walk erect with his eyes on heaven, as though to remind him to keep his thoughts on things above.” St. Augustine of Hippo

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Forbes magazine’s annual list of the thirteen top-earning dead celebrities can be compared to the hagiographic works of Late Antiquity. Its publication is greeted with headlines implying that the deceased have actually transcended death. “Michael Jackson Once Again Biggest Earner in Afterlife.”  “Michael Jackson Pips Elvis.” “How Michael Jackson Earned Over $700 Million Since His Death.” 

The Forbes Thirteen have posthumously realized the sine qua non of human existence. In 2008, first-placed Elvis Presley earned $52 million, Forbes gushed, “without so much as lifting a finger.” Their descent to the underworld is distinguished by non-stop industry.

“The reggae star has become a diversified businessman from beyond the grave,” Forbes wrote of 2012’s fifth-placed Bob Marley ($17 million). “There is now a Marley beverage company which sells Marley’s Mellow Mood… Then there’s the House of Marley which sells headphones, speakers and ‘lively up’ bags.”

Like mosaics on the wall of a basilica, the Forbes Thirteen have reverted to their most pliant and beautiful. An ornery, anti-corporate musician in life becomes, “a dead celebrity on the rise… Expect [Kurt] Cobain’s estate to pick up steam in the next few years as companies compete to breath new life into [his] teen spirit.”


The patriarch of Alexandria Athanasius wrote The Life of St. Antony between AD 356 and 362. He recounted the life of the early Christian saint; how he visited Alexandria, and healed and converted many; how he confuted the philosophers by healing certain vexed with demons; how the Emperors wrote to Antony; how, when now 105 years old, he counselled the monks and gave advice concerning burial.

To anoint the Forbes Thirteen, reporters speak with “experts and sources inside their estates,” and calculate their gross earnings before taxes and management fees. Forbes magazine recounted how Michael Jackson confuted Jay Z, Taylor Swift and Kanye West by earning more money than all three combined; how his latest postmortem release Xscape debuted at No. 2 on the charts; how Sony gave him a 10-year, quarter billion dollar record deal, the largest of all time; how, when now 5 years dead, his hologram moonwalked onstage at the Billboard Music Awards.

Evagrius of Antioch’s 374 AD Latin translation of The Life of St. Antony was among the most popular works of Christian literature. It promoted the concept of asceticism in Europe during the Middle Ages. “And the fact that his fame has been blazoned everywhere; that all regard him with wonder, and that those who have never seen him long for him, is clear proof of his virtue and God’s love of his soul.”

The talent agency CMG Worldwide “represents the intellectual property of Celebratory Individuals from then, now, and forever.” CMG’s clients include Bette Davis, Bettie Page, Josephine Baker, James Dean, Peter Sellers, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, Jake Lamotta, Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, and Malcolm X.

Michael Jackson statue“We are on course of imploding as the once great Roman Empire did,” wrote @realDonaldTrump, whose former wife Ivana is one of CMG’s rare living clients. On the second floor of the agency’s corporate headquarters in Indianapolis, a Legends of the 20th Century Museum “features displays that display an overview of our legendary clients… Visitors are encouraged to look deeper into yesteryear, and see what made the entertainment, sports, and music industries so great, as they peer into each display case, wondering about the past.”

In the lobby, a pink dress once owned by Bettie Page and a monogrammed golf bag which once belonged to O.J. Simpson are exhibited in wall mounted display cabinets.  A glass case stands in the middle of the foyer. Inside, a spotlit torso mannequin displays a glittery white shirt once worn by Michael Jackson.

Photo of statue: Sjors Provoost from Utrecht, Netherlands