May 25, 2003

So many things in the

So many things in the news today, I don’t know where to start. For the full story on most all of this, you can go to today’s Sunday Times. Of course if you live outside the UK, you will have to £39.99 per year (at your credit card’s exchange rate into US$, I presume) to read it, so you’ll probably just take my word for it.

First there’s Madonna. You know, the one who is only named for a Virgin. It seems that she has found religion. Not the Christian religion in any shape or form, mind you. She has become a Kabbalist.

I don’t know if Kabbalism teaches tithing, but it has put her in the giving mood. She and husband Guy Ritchie are giving £3.65 million (about $6.2 million) to buy property to house the London Kabbalah Centre in the West End.

While Madonna will have a place for spiritual healing when she is in England, and other music star has been looking for property for another reason.

He'll do (well, almost) anything for love...

For when he is in the UK, Marvin Aday wants to buy a house in Hartlepool. Seems he’s become of a fan of local football club, though he’s apparently not actually been to a match in person. Marvin followed Hartlepool United through its successful promotion this season to the Second Division, even using the club’s monkey mascot.

[A quick aside for those not familiar with the Hartlepool Monkey… During the Napoleonic Wars, a French ship wrecked off of Hartlepool and the sole survivor was a monkey dressed in a military uniform. The fishermen of Hartlepool, unfamiliar with the appearance of Frenchmen, assumed the monkey was a spy. As the simian refused to speak in its defence, it was sentence to be hung. The mast of a fishing boat was used as the gallows. ]

The problem with Marvin’s real estate acquisition is that his advisers and estate agents can’t seem to find a property worth more than £600,000. They are doing better than I am. The most expensive property I could find for sale in Hartlepool has an asking price of £310,000. Not that I would buy it if I had the money. Hartlepool isn’t on my list of places I would ever want to live. If I lived there, I would leave like a bat out of hell.

In case Marvin Aday’s name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s always been known professionally a Meat Loaf.

And speaking of football promotion…

Today Cardiff City won promotion to the First Division, which is not actually the top division, since the top division is the Premier League (which until it broke away from the Football League in 1992 was known as the First Division). The last time Cardiff was in the First Division was in the 1980s (when, as you have probably guessed, it was known as the Second Division).

I don’t know how I feel about Cardiff City AFC. I used to consider myself a supporter. In fact, the only Football League match I’ve ever attended in person was at Cardiff’s Ninian Park, when they hosted Peterborough United in 1998. (I do support Hereford United, a member of the Football Conference, having been relegated out of the League in 1997.) At that time Cardiff were a mid-table team in the Third Division.

But back to my ambivalence about Cardiff City. I want to support Cardiff because it is the capital city of Wales, Mrs. Holford homeland. It is the hometown of my mother-in-law. I have visited Cardiff a lot, because Mrs Holford likes to shop there. I’ve even preached in Cardiff. If you are coming to the UK, I encourage you to visit Cardiff. The only bad thing in Cardiff are the football supporters.

Cardiff City has a notorious following of hooligans. Want trouble at your football ground? Play in the same division as Cardiff. Want to get beaten up at an away game? Follow your team to Ninian Park.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t have time for mindless thugs. But I’ll talk about the Government in a minute. I don’t like football hooligans either.

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste, but it’s too late to help the Education Secretary…

I wish I didn’t have more to say about Charles Clarke. Either he has run amok or he’s being used by the Government to reverse all of its policies, take the blame, and get dropped like a hot potato.

England and Wales have long had two types of state secondary schools, grammar schools and comprehensives. Grammar schools focus only on academics and are selective in admission, based upon exams taken in the final year of primary school by 11-year-olds. Comprehensives take anyone and everyone and have vocational programmes as well as the usual academic subject offerings.

In the House of Commons earlier this year, Tony Blair said that “had no plans to abolish grammar schools.” At present, a grammar school can only become a comprehensive if the parents of pupils attending the feeder primary schools vote to change it. Seems fair enough. After all, these are the parents and children who are directly affected by type of school the children attend (or might not be eligible to attend). This favours those wanting to keep the grammars, because given the chance, parents want the possibility of a grammar school education for their children. This was borne out in the only vote since Labour introduced this scheme the year it came to power, when anti-grammar school campaigners attempted to abolish the grammar school in Ripon, Yorkshire.

Though they may have promised not to abolish them, this Government inherently doesn’t like them. For the masses, of course. On a more practical level, members of the Government and the Labour back benches are perfectly happy to send their own children to grammar schools and posh private schools in order that their kids get the best possible education.

Now Mr Clarke wants to extend the vote to parents who have children in schools that don’t feed the grammar school. This would allow the anti-grammar folks a better chance to impose their social philosophy. By increasing the voter base to encompass a more socialist electorate, they hope the politics of envy will win out.

There’s more news, but it will have to wait until tomorrow…

Posted by david at May 25, 2003 09:45 PM

Hi David,
You obviously know a little about Hartlepool.
The place is getting worse each day with bonehead junkies and cowardly thugs on the increase.
I'd like to move away from the arsehole of England and I'm planning my escape.
Your desription is perfect.
Good luck.
Kind regards.

Posted by: Ian at January 19, 2004 02:02 AM