Row Z edition 48; dateline 29 October 2010

Bricks, straw, British sport; all in the bin
Where do we start on the coalition cuts? Row Z has the advantage of being rushed out when the rest of the magazine is ready to go so we know that Martyn Allison, Steve Grainger and Gail Brown have already had a right old go in these pages, and with far more elegant phrasing than any one here can manage. However, just to focus on an issue dear to Sidey’s heart we have but one thing to say to Michael Gove: “Mate, axing the funding to school sport partnerships but expecting elite sport to thrive beyond the next two Olympic cycles is about as sensible as planning to build a new aircraft carrier without providing funds to put any planes on it and what preternaturally idiotic government would do that?”

Fowl play up north
The Indian conglomerate that has acquired Blackburn Rovers Football Club is thinking of selling off the name of their ground, Ewood Park. The woman who comes in two mornings a week to do the books has suggested it be called Battery Park, not in homage to the Battery Park in New York featured in her favourite show tune, New York New York from On The Town, but in recognition of the fact that Venky’s – or more comprehensively the Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group – are chicken torturers on an industrial scale, which is to say that they farm battery hens. She has also suggested that the club’s supporters stop using their Victorian nickname, the Riversiders, and henceforth just be known as “Bastards”.

Handsome is as Henson does
Sport is said to reveal character not form it but for shining a light into the darkest recesses of a celebrity sportsperson’s mind you will struggle to better the Strictly Come Dancing experience. Under the spotlight this year have been soccer goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who seems a largely affable old soul who took too many number 9s’ size 9s to the old brain box, and perma-tanned, Taffy, rugby-playing narcissist Gavin Henson, whose brittle self-image has been thrown in to stark relief by the unremitting spotlight of performing a few shimmies and some sidesteps in front of the nation’s couch potatoes. The curiously likeable Henson exposes his inner vacuum almost every time he speaks, or mumbles, and never more so when on a recent edition of It Takes Two – which Sidey suggests is a child that effortlessly eclipses its parent – he answered a fatuous viewer’s question. “What do you most miss when you’re away from home, Gav?” came the razor-sharp enquiry.  “My mirror,” he says without a shred of irony before going on to explain, “It’s got special lighting that comes from above and I look great in it.” And is there more? “When I need a boost I go and look in my mirror, I miss it.” You never stood a chance, Charlotte bach.

Coren encore
The verbal gymnastics required by the Liberal Democrats’ hierarchy to justify their continued support of the Tories’ fetishistic budget cuts has been mocked by many commentators but few have done it as well as Victoria Coren in an Observer column in which she pointed out that Vince Cable’s description of city bankers as “spivs and gamblers” was an insult to spivs and gamblers. Daughter of the late, lamented satirist Alan Coren, young Vic then went on to note that Nick Clegg’s speech to his own party’s annual conference had been “vetted” by David Cameron and wondered if “that’s vetted in the traditional sense of vet, ie to have a gloved hand up his backside”.

A junior nation speaks
And so to Oldham where a group of gifted students at a standard state school, no worse nor better than very many others, are asked their views on the brand projected by some famous names. David Beckham? “Past it. Rubbish footballer.” Cheryl no-longer-either-Cole-or-Tweedie? “She cares a lot about people. Very motherly.” David Cameron? “Slimey, slimey slimeball. Eurgh.”  Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, eh?

Claire Rayner RIP
So farewell Claire Rayner agony aunt, outspoken campaigner and the nation’s favourite awkward grandma figure. You chastised David Cameron on your death bed which made everybody laugh. And cry a bit.


At the Arts End

Stone me
One can only imagine that The Culture Show has been acquired by Keith Richards Incorporated or that Keef’s manager has something on interviewer and professional sook* Andrew Graham Dixon as nothing else would explain why a one hour special on Richards and his work would turn into what countless other commentators have already dubbed a hagiography of the Rolling Stones’ guitarist and an extended advertisement for his new book. Sideliner was interested in some of the historical detail, charmed in parts by Richards’ himself and transfixed by some of the images with which the dialogue was punctuated. Cool. As Keef might, and did, say.
[*sook - Scots word meaning toady, brown-noser, suck-up]

Fallow Glasto for 2012
Given the unfortunate name forced on this section of the column it may be tempting providence – and the scatological propensity of the sub-editor – to introduce the subject of the Great Glastonbury Festival Toilet Shortage, but here goes. It seems that such will be the demand for temporary toileting engendered by the London Olympics that Glasto will be temporarily suspended for 2012. After floods, mud, drugs and gatecrashers it seems a little sad that the Eavis family will be dipping out because they can’t find a pot to piss in.

Picture this, a day in September
We are indebted to news hounds at The Journalist who bring to our attention a story from the very beginning of the football season in the third division. Relegated Plymouth Albion were due to play promotion hopefuls Southampton at the latter’s dockside ground and colleagues at doughty local rag the Plymouth Herald prepared to make the journey to St Mary’s only to be told that the Saints had banned snappers from newspapers and agencies in favour of an organisation called Digital South. Rather than give in to pictorial fascism the Herald sent cartoonist Chris Robinson to the game and carried his images alongside their match report. Whether Robinson included a representation of two digits being raised in the direction of the Southampton board room goes unrecorded.

This following piece was researched and written by a new ‘intern’ from the local university (formerly an FE college!) and contains bad language and bad jokes. Sorry. Sidey

Taking the piss – the 8th P in the marketing mix
Westminster city council have got their knickers in a twist following a classic piece of guerrilla marketing from the people trying to sell tickets - and doubtless satellite television subscriptions – for the imminent Ashes tour down under. Cricket Australia, it would seem, projected images of two of their players onto the tower that houses the bell called Big Ben with the rubric "Don’t forget to pack the urn" in a cheeky bit of profile-raising drawing on the traditional rivalry between the teams involved. Town hall panjandrums are considering legal action and believe that "taking a firm stance" will help preclude a plethora of Olympic-related japes along the same lines. Sideliner’s advice to local authority colleagues is put a smile on your face, calculate the going rate for an advertisement that size on a billboard that prominent, add in a fee for the amount of column inches inspired by the project, put 15% worth of FYM (also known as “fuck you money”) on the total and send them the bill.

Drawing a veil

This month we shall passing by on the other side from:

Manchester United extending Wayne Rooney’s contract so that they can sell him for a better price in the summer; the entire Liberal Democrat party, their friends, their family, their pets and anyone who talks to any one of them; England’s third place in the Commonwealth Games medal table; the Commonwealth Games; Peter Shilton’s inept charleston which cost Erin Boag her place in Strictly for another year; Formula 1 going to a new circuit and complaining that it’s new; Formula 1; Portsmouth Football Club still being in business after promising to go bust; Saracens bringing the South African approach to rugby to the Premiership including outlandish arrogance, referee abuse and an altogether more relaxed attitude to things like the salary cap than are normal in these islands.

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