Sunday, August 28, 2005

Convicts Punished as England Win to Lead Ashes

When I started this blog, I planned to use it mainly as an outlet for venting my views on politics and news stories with perhaps an occasional mention of sport and other topics just to make this blog slightly different and more relevant to the average person rather than mimic the multitudes of political blogs out there. However, recently politics has been increasing turning me off and the excitement of the Ashes has meant that I have dedicated a surprisingly large number of posts recently to the game of cricket.

For the third game in succession England outplayed the Aussies, but failed to win in a convincing manner. The People's Republic is not to concerned however - a win is a win whether by ten wickets or three. The Aussie attack was simply not up to scratch and they showed yet again that they are relying too much on Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. Even giving Tait the cap of the convict did not solve the problem in the short term.

The player who has really impressed this series for the England team is Simon Jones. After his injury at the Gabba two-and-a-half years ago, he has changed his whole bowling action realising he will never bowl as fast as he did in his youth. As a result he has become a lot more accurate, and I don't think comparisons with Glenn McGrath are over the top at all.

Unfortunately you can't say the same about his namesake Geraint. His place must surely be under question for the next test after numerous dropped catches and missed stumpings. I like to see a keeper who can catch the ball and whip of the bails before the batsman knows what day it is. The only comparison you can make with him is that with David James. The England selectors must realise that Chris Read must get his chance, and they must not continue to make the same mistake they made when they picked Alec Stewart ahead of Jack Russell.

But the People's Republic will not be holding it's breath.

Update: It appears David James has been dropped from the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Northern Ireland in favour of Chris Kirkland. Maybe there is hope for us after all.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Warks Win to Reach Final

So there I am watching Warks cruise to a win against Lancashire in the C&G trophy in the semi-final when suddenly some kids run past me clutching the match scorecard and a pen in their hands. I turn round to see what the fuss is about and who do I see in the Press Box behind me just having appeared? Only Warwickshire and England heroes Ian Bell and Ashley Giles, relaxing with a can of beer and a glass of wine in their hands (and after last weeks exertions, who would blame them). I overhear Ashley and he seems confident fot the fourth Test against the Convicts. He says all the pitches have been dry this summer and the Trent Bridge wicket will be hard pointing out he took six wickets there last year.

Warwickshire meanwhile didn't need their two England stars strolling to a 99 run win against arguably the favourites for the Trophy. They will face tough competion in the final against Hampshire who have a half-decent attack in Tremlett, Mascarenhas and Bichel. Before then, they must do all they can to get promoted from the Totesport second division, starting with a win in the day-night game against the Sussex Sharks, where the People's Republic hopes to have a presence.

A win will be a nice warm up for Thursday.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Convicts Win Reprieve

You know times have changed when the Aussies start celebrating a draw. Never mind the result - we whooped their ass, and if it wasn't for the Manchester weather, we would have destroyed them.

If we'd won this, not only would it have been more exciting than Edgbaston, but we also would have been only one win away from winning the Ashes. As such, the People's Republic is concerned that Australia will regroup to retain the Ashes at Trent Bridge, with us wining at the Oval to level the series 2-2 - a result we predicted at the beginning.

Given the way this series has gone however, it wouldn't surprise me if it went to the last Test.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Travel West Midlands Slightly Wound-Up

You've got to admire Travel Wind-up Merchants (or Travel West Midlands as they like to be known). After providing a sub-standard service on the 50 route where they face no competition from the railways, they have suddenly introduced a summer special ticket (on the 50 route only) of a £1.10 return after 9.30pm. This comes after re-introducing inspectors on the route in town who as well as checking tickets space the buses so that they don't all come at the same time (sometimes as many as eight previously). Sincee this has been happening, we know longer have queues going halfway down cars lane (which is useful, because the refurbishment of M&S means there isn't much pavement left anyway).

The reason? A new 50 service that started a few months back from the People's express (no relation to the People's Republic) who have fares of 75p one-way and £1 return, halving the cost of a trip to town.

It's amazing what a little competition will do.

Presumably Travel West Midlands will keep this up until they have put the new service out of business, and then revert back to normal. They have already seen off competition on this route twice, first buying out Your Bus, and then using the inspector trick to finish off Pete's Travel. Given the lack of availability of Travelcard agents in Kings Heath (who seem to have the Travelcard machines perpetually out of order) the People's Republic are hopeful that this time, the reverse might happen.

But somehow we doubt it.

Monday, August 08, 2005

What's Chinese for Deja-vu

According to recent reports, floundering Midlands-based firm Marconi are considering a tie-up with a Chinese firm.

Where have we heard that before...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Ashes Level After Thriller at Edgbaston

After a crushing two-run victory over the Convicts, the Ashes is level at 1-1.

Don't let the winning margin fool you, we were just softening them up so we could break their hearts and keep them down for the third test.

As mentioned previously, the People's Republic had a presence on the fourth day, expecting the match to be finished before the traditional visit to the bar when licensing starts at 11am. Despite the close nature of the game, please be assured that the People's Republic was never in doubt over the final result, a result due to a combination of Glenn McGrath's pre-match injury (the ball didn't come from the Eric Hollies stand, honest), a poor decision by Ricky Ponting (humid!? anyone in Birmingham on Thursday knows it was fresh - get your central heating sorted mate), a stunning batting performance on the first day (at over 5 an over - started due to Marcus Trescothick's involvement in the Twenty20 finals day perhaps and carried on by the rest of the lads), a particularly stunning performance with bat and ball form Freddie (the 9th wicket stand with 9 Aussies on the boundary and that over being highlights) and a half decent catch from wicket keeper Geraint Jones at the end (his glove may not have been on the bat, but then Ian Bell was never out). To give the convicts some credit, the two deliveries which dismissed Andrew Strauss were not bad either.

A special mention must go to the crowd for the following morale-boosting tunes:

We don't live in a convict colony
Get those f****** stars of our flag
Where's your misses gone (aknowleged by the target Shane Warne)
You should have batted first
We're gonna win 4-1

The greatest test ever? Probably - after all it was in Birmingham.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Silly Season for Terror Debates

In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on London it is now silly season for those who are supposed to be getting us out of this mess. First of all, Khalid Mahmood the MP for Perry Barr has called on the chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque to resign after he claimed that Al-Qaeda doesn't exist and that there was no proof the London bombings were the work of Muslims. While not necessarily agreeing with these statements (although there is a lot to be said for the first one) it is the position of the People's Republic that those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and as one of the few Muslim MP's in the House of Commons, Khalid Mahmood should have made a better job of opposing the war in Iraq (and therefore actually representing the views of his constituents) instead of playing the dutiful British Muslim servant and backing Blair in this illegal war. Who knows, he may have inspired some disaffected young Muslims to do something more dangerous than becoming suicide bombers: he could have shown them the power of freedom of speech.

Why don't you show him how to do it Khalid?

Of course, we can't talk about useless, ineffective politicians who should resign without mentioning a Conservative or two. A fine example is David Davis, who show his leadership credentials for the Tories by making an "outspoken attack on multiculturalism". Well done old chap - with that kind of original thinking, not only will you have shored up the vote of the blue-rinse brigade, but you have also made sure that ethnic minorities who have deserted the party due to it's movement to the right post-Major will not be returning. If you make leader (and remember it's not guaranteed - there are signs that some Tories are tired of losing), surely you will have a leadership as successful as your predecessors Hague, Dunc-Smith and Howard.

Not to be outdone by this, a backbench Tory MP who I won't dignify by naming (alright I'll admit it - I can't remember his name and don't know who he is - Gerard something I think) has among other things said that if any Muslims don't like the war in Iraq, they should leave the country.

You don't really understand freedom of speech do you mate? Are you sure your ancestors have lived here for 2000 years?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Winners and Losers of Terrorism

Last week saw the arrest on Friday of the three remaining men wanted over the attempted bombings on the 21st of July. Two were picked up in London in an SAS-style raid, while the other was tracked to Italy via his brother's mobile phone. In both cases, you have to admire the efficiency of the police in the operation (particularly how they dealt the difficulties encountered when children emerged as they tried to break into the ground floor flat).

Meanwhile the IRA have announced that they are giving up violence for good, which is great news for everyone concerned. Too many innocent lives have been lost in this conflict over the years, and quite frankly, this was a move that should have been made years ago. Credit where credit is due however, to commit to exclusively peaceful means is a massive step that shouldn't be dismissed as it has been by sections of the Unionist community despite the many crimes over the years, and credit to the Prime Minister for persevering with the peace process. The Unionist community should not forget who should get the praise for this however - David Trimble. If Ian Paisley had his way, the war would still be going on, and there would be no devolved power-sharing Government.

Which is of course exactly what he wanted.

The police have said that they will not have shy away from disproportionately stopping members of certain ethnic groups as they attempt to prevent further attacks on London's transport system (funny that, as when the IRA were bombing this currently I don't remember white people being disproportionately stopped and searched). In fact, the words I think were used were "we are not going to waste time stopping old white women".

As I am not an "old white women" in the fullest sense of the phrase I have come up with some statements that we can use to embarrass the police while they protect the country from the likes of us. After all, if four of us are like that, we must all be like that.

"Thanks for stopping and searching me, you must be one of the good ones; after all, you could have shot me in the head 8 times"

"I don't usually travel on the tube. I usually take the car but have you seen the price of petrol? There must be a war going on."

"Did you know in every young Asian/black male , there is an old white women struggling to get out?"

"Can I have a receipt for that. I've heard that if you get five, you can have a discount on a new rucksack?"

Some people may think these statements are in poor taste, and they are probably right. Just make sure we are stopping and searching based on intelligence rather than base prejudice.