I am a normal working class bloke. I am currently 30 years old (depressing I know), I have a wife, a dog (18 month old labrador callled Django), a mortage, I love playing and watching numerous sports, and I like to write from time to time
The pictures, the videos and the atrocities are too graphic to post or share on here. The ‘Yulin Dog Festival’ is an annual celebration held in Yulin China, usually spanning 10 days during the summer solstice. I am writing this short piece because it started 5 days ago, on June 21st. We are currently half way through the barbarity and the horror.
The Chinese (as they do with a lot of animals) hold some warped belief that dog meat holds great medicinal value. Improving health and sexual performance being two of them. According to local culture stressing and torturing the dogs intensifies the taste and promotes the health of the locals who consume them.
If you have the stomach for it, google or research what they do to thousands of dogs every year and what they are doing to them right now. It is beyond your worst nightmare and it breaks my heart.
Dogs are quite literally the most amazing creatures. They love unconditionally, they don’t judge or betray. What those dogs are made to go through during their last hours, their final moments just proves how evil and how depraved some humans can be.
They can’t fight back, they can’t defend themselves, they are literally at the mercy of the most dangerous animal on earth. The human race. These people aren’t human though, no human with an ounce of decency or soul could do what they do.
My only hope is that one day when their times comes, the people who are committing these atrocities are made to pay. There is no justice for what happens to those poor innocent dogs but there is revenge. I wouldn’t consider myself an evil man, I don’t wish bad things to happen to people but I want bad things to happen to them.
If you have a dog, make sure you hold him a bit closer tonight and remember those poor souls in Yulin. Let’s hope and pray that once they cross the rainbow bridge there is a life of paradise waiting for them, running through fields filled with eternal happiness.
There will be no memorial, news bulletin or public focus for them. They were living, breathing, sentient creatures who so desperately just wanted to be loved by mankind. They deserved so much better.
If you have a spare few pounds, please donate to one of the charities mentioned below, who do amazing volunteer work trying to rescue and re-home some of the dogs in Yulin.
I accept everyone is different. I accept people have their own views and way of thinking. I accept each individual has their own unique perspective on life. What I find hard to accept though, is hypocrisy and deception. What I find hard to accept is how a man driving to Durham during lockdown resulted in far more outrage, anger and contempt from large proportions of the public, than a terrorist murdering 3 innocent people in broad daylight.
The appalling, heartbreaking events on Saturday evening (committed in my hometown of Reading) made headlines news and received social media attention for all of about what, 48 hours. Dominic Cummings made headline news and received social media attention for WEEKS after his trip up to Durham.
Piers Morgan literally set voyage on a personal vendetta against Cummings. EVERY single morning he would tweet and communicate his ‘shock’ ‘anger’ and ‘disgust’ at the ‘arrogant self righteous’ actions of a man in a position of power. A literal tirade of abuse. In fact at some points, I thought he was in genuine danger of self-imploding he was that angry and obsessed with the matter. Many other celebrities and people with a large audience followed the same course. The media and TV channels allocated their undivided attention for weeks on the matter. A barrage of interviews, reports and insights into the dreaded escape to Durham and all that surrounded it. Social media was awash with vile personal attacks, trolls and people clearly resentful at the behaviour of the man in question. For the public wanted him sacked, sentenced and squashed with immediate effect. Banished with shame from society. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?
Let’s for a minute forgo any sort of trial, defence or allowances of circumstances. Let’s assume the absolute worst of the worst and that Cummings was nailed on guilty. In that case what would he be guilty of? Breaking a lockdown rule he helped create. Okay, so how many people out there moaning, heckling and insulting can honestly hand on heart say that during the 3 months of lockdown, they haven’t once broken any sort of rule. Haven’t popped round their friends house for a chat, haven’t travelled somewhere out of enjoyment rather than necessity, haven’t nipped in to see their neighbour or someone alike. HARDLY ANYONE. So we have on one hand, a man POTENTIALLY having disregarded a social distancing rule that lets be honest, 95% of the population have broken at one point or another.
Compare that man to the man on Saturday. A men who left his flat on Saturday evening with the sole intention of murder. A man who, armed with a 5 inch knife walked in to a park in broad daylight before unleashing a violent and deadly attack on complete strangers. An attack which has ultimately led to 3 people losing their life. Three families torn apart. Three sets of parents who now have to bury their own son, three partners who are going to have to read at their loved ones funeral. Three innocent men who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Imagine for a second sitting in a park on sunny weekend evening, perhaps drinking a beer or eating some food, laughing and joking with friends or family, enjoying the simplicity of life. Imagine all of that, when out of nowhere a deranged individual decides to end your life, leaving you bleeding to death on the floor, gasping for air whilst paramedics and police attempt in vain to save you.
That perpetrator was evil, there is no other word for it. A complete disregard for human life, and a complete disregard for civilisation.
Compare that man to say, Dominic Cummings. Now compare the two reactions from large facets of the public, news outlets and social media. I see virtually no comparison. I see a terrorist attack, an act of cold blooded murder, already forgotten outside of the relatively small circles that knew the victims. No longer front page news or trending on social media. No vendetta’s or campaigns. No crusade’s of anger or complaints of injustice. I see nothing.
In a few days, this attack will be erased from people’s memories. Just one of those unfortunate events that happen from time to time, a slight blip in modern life. Why isn’t Piers Morgan setting sail on a new voyage? Demanding to know why a man who was offered asylum from his war torn country, who was given a roof over his head, food and a new way of life, somehow felt the need to commit this atrocity. Why isn’t social media brimming with activity, like it was for Cummings? Why is there so much deception? Why did people have status after status, tweet after tweet, opinion after opinion for a potential lockdown breach, but make barely a sound for cold blooded murder by a man offered refuge from his previous life?
It’s almost as if in this new modern way life, you can only vocalise what promotes your own agenda. Voicing outrage and anger at a terrorist attack is no longer considered ‘edgy’, and no longer gets you followers on social media. Instead lets create a witch hunt for a political figure or someone we know won’t attack us back.
Is my train of thought too simplistic? Maybe in this modern way of life, a terrorist attack is just the norm, and minor discrepancies or minor infringements are what get people’s juices flowing. I somehow doubt it though.
I think it goes way deeper than that. I think modern politics and modern life has become so tribal and so volatile that ANYTHING that happens that doesn’t help promote or extend your own agenda, is simply ignored. How is it that a government official accused of breaking a lockdown rule is verbally assaulted for week after week. Yet a cold blooded murderer is already yesterday’s news? I’ll tell you why, because the potential lockdown breach promotes a feeling a of unrest and destabilisation. It creates a sense of havoc and undermines authority. Unfortunately that is what a lot of people want, and what a lot of people crave.
The continual strive for equality and fairness is no doubt justified. Why shouldn’t everyone be treated fairly? Of course they should. There is also a need for punishment and scrutiny to match the crime though. A man driving to Durham does in no way shape or form deserve the same attention, harassment and privacy invasion that a murdering terrorist does. That is not even up for debate. Yet not only was it the same, it was far, far WORSE.
Inhumane actions should be met with inhumane consequences. Yet this comparison is a prime example of the opposite, and it needs to change.
(I appreciate this particular post is aimed at more of a niche audience, so apologies for that)
The corona virus pandemic has had a drastic effect the world over. People and civilisations forced to change their entire thought process and way of living. Some, rather drastic changes, others a bit more temporary and subtle.
One establishment that doesn’t seem to have been impacted though, is Arsenal Football Club. For those that tuned in Wednesday evening to watch the resumption of the Premier League season it was normal service resumed as Man City brushed us aside with a resounding, yet comfortable 3 nil victory. A victory which after a 3 month lay off, served as a stark reminder to us Arsenal fans of the decline of a once invincible North London club.
To be honest, did anyone expect anything else? Of Arsenal’s 37 away trips over the last two campaigns they have lost 19, drawn 8 and won just 10. It get’s worse, since winning 2-0 away at Man City back in January 2015, the Gunners record in Premier League away games against the top 6 reads: Played 22, Won 0, Drawn 8, Lost 14, Goals For 24, Goals Against 50. Just how many points have Arsenal got in those games, from a possible 66? Eight.
Once again it wasn’t just the defeat, it was the manner of the defeat. Once again, outclassed, outfought and outnumbered by a far superior Man City side that barely got out of second gear. Once again it was Arsenal players suffering from injury after injury. Seven minutes in and our midfield ‘enforcer’ Granit Xhaka gets stretched off after a seemingly innocuous challenge. Barely 10 minutes later and our new ‘powerful’ centre half Pablo Mari had to leave the field of play before being told he will miss the rest of the season after damage to his ankle ligaments. For the first 10/15 minutes we actually looked quite good and lively, but we always do. In fact, the only surprise was that it took until the stroke of half time for another defensive gaff (in an endless line of defensive gaffs) that led to Man City’s opener. Five minutes after half time and David Luiz had not only hauled an opponent down inside the penalty area, but had got himself sent off in the process. 2 nil down and GAME OVER. From then on it was simply a matter of how many. From then on it looked like men vs boys. The thing is, you can accept teams have bad games. Man City are a class outfit and on their day would beat practically any team they are up against.
Problem for me is, I can’t remember the last time we actually held our own against a top flight club, I can’t remember the last time Man City actually didn’t beat us 3 zip. I can’t remember the last time we actually defended like a top European club or ended the final whistle without any season long injuries and that horrible dejected feeling.
Was it Albert Einstein who once described insanity as ”doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results”. How poignant to Arsenal fans, how relevant to the club since leaving fortress Highbury. You see for me, I see little to no difference in practically anything from the last few years of Wengers tenure, to Emery and now Arteta. What has changed? Nothing. We still buy the same sort of players, we still try and play the same style of football, we are still hopeless at the back and we are still nothing short of a joke away from home.
We change nothing yet we expect different results? Maybe we are the fools. Arsenal are the most expensive team to watch in Europe. Back in 2018 an Arsenal game would cost the average fan 74 pounds. More expensive than Real Madrid (55), more expensive than Bayern Munich (54) and more expensive than Man Utd (53). Where are we in the Premier League table right now? NINTH. Sitting amongst teams such as Burnley and Crystal Palace. Top 4 and Champions League is now nothing more than a long forgotten dream and a nostalgic longing for the past. A title challenge? Jheez you’d be put in straight jacket if you started mentioning that phrase around the Emirates stadium these days.
The issues are fairly obvious, yet so readily ignored – ownership and arrogance.
Historically the club was owned by family members of the Bracewell-Smith and Hill-Wood families. Key figures such as David Dein would oversee proceedings at the club. People with a genuine love and appreciation for Arsenal and it’s values. How different compared to nowadays. For in 2007, Arsenal succumbed to the modern way of football and sold their soul to devil, so to speak. Two rival tycoons Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov were allowed to acquire significant share holdings in the club. In 2018 Kroenke bought Usmanov’s share for 550 million and is now the solitary share holder of Arsenal. Another billionaire tycoon buying up another football club. Something that is gradually ruining football in my opinion, but that is a discussion for another day.
Kroenke the American businessman, is estimated to be worth around 10 billion dollars. He also owns NFL team The Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Rapids of Major League soccer, along with many other teams / ventures. To put it simply he does not care about Arsenal, he only cares about them making him money. He is a business man playing with his latest toy. He rarely if ever attends game, and not once in the 13 years since he first bought shares in the club has he put a single penny into the team. Us Arsenal fans now face the prospect of seeing our club privately owned by one man. And it should be of concern not just to those who follow Arsenal but to football fans in general. Once they are bought, assets can be stripped or clubs allowed to fall in to disrepair, with nothing the fans can do to stop it. It’s very much a worst-case scenario, but when it all goes wrong – as it has at Coventry, which is owned by a London-based hedge fund – the impact on a club and a community can be devastating.
How can you expect to be successful if your owner only cares about one thing? Making money for himself. This philosophy, this culture must surely reverberate throughout the club. Decisions are no longer based on success or tradition, but on making net profit. Arsenal fan’s are being played. The most expensive tickets in the whole of Europe and for what? To watch a team languish in mid table, play in the mickey mouse Europa league and line the back pockets of an American billionaire. Sell your soul to the devil and sooner or later he will come knocking.
Secondly and perhaps just as importantly, is a sense of arrogance and entitlement which it seems resounds in and around the club. Since the plethora of trophies under Wenger and the magnificent invincibles season, that hunger, desire and ability to adapt has well and truly dissolved. It’s almost as if Arsenal know their own problems and what needs to change but are too cocky to do anything about it.
Surely a good manager is able to adapt to the personnel he has at his disposal and plans accordingly. It’s all very well trying to play this attractive, possession based, ‘tip tappy’ style of football that the likes of Barcelona play, IF YOU HAVE Barcelona type players. Once upon a time Arsenal did. Well we don’t anymore, far from it.
The spine of Arsenals team during the height of their success (proved by going the entire season without losing a single game) was this: Campbell & Toure centre halfs, Gilberto & Vieira centre mid, Henry & Bergkamp up top. Power, aggression, skill, flair, pace, tenacity and hunger all in an abudance.
Compare that to the one that started the game against Man City: Mustafi & Mari centre halfs, Guendouzi & Xhaka centre mid, Willock Nketiah up top. The comparison between the two teams is so far apart they’re on different postcodes. The difference is truly astonishing, YET the attempted style of play is exactly the same. What do the management team or any of us really expect? Would be a bit like going to war with the best, most destructive artillery and army in the world and then 10 years later going to war with a weaponry not one tenth as powerful as before, yet still adopting exactly the same tactics and expecting to win. You would get annihilated.
Now if I can see that, and everyone else can see it, then it’s obvious that the people making the decisions at the club can see it. Yet why no change in approach? Arrogance or just plain ignorance? Confidence in your own ability is good along with an element of stubbornness, yet surely there comes a time when those ingredients are counter productive.
During the last few years of Wengers reign I saw no difference in approach and style of play, even though the results and performances were gradually getting worse. We went from title challengers to top 4 to top 6. Under Emery and Arteta we have regressed yet further. Currently it looks to be a struggle to make even the Europa League Yet still the style of football and tactical approach remains exactly the same. I simply do not understand.
There must come an enlightening, a crossroads so to speak when you must stop and reassess. If Arsenal want to play this extravagant, eye catching style of football, then invest 300/400 hundred million and actually go out and buy the players to do it. Will that happen? I somehow very much doubt it. The summer transfer window is fast approaching and I’d bet my mortgage on what will happen. We will invest in a dodgy second division centre half from Greece or somewhere alike. A small skinny centre mid with decent technical ability and a delicate touch, but who will effectively get bullied in the physically demanding Premier League. ANOTHER winger and probably a striker on 400 grand a week who doesn’t really want to be here.
Why not adopt a different approach? If you haven’t got the funds or can’t attract the top players then adapt to the players you have got and the players you can attract.
We so so badly lack a leader. Someone who when the chips are down, roles his sleeves up and inspires those around him. I rate Aubemeyang I really do, but he’s not a leader or a captain. Neither is Bellerin or Xhaka. In fact I can’t pick one single leader in that current Arsenal team. Why not go out and actually buy one? A proper captain. A Patrick Veira, a Tony Adams, a Cesc Fabregas. People say we haven’t had the money. That is an urban myth. In the past 5 seasons Arsenal have spent 443 million on transfers. Arsenal are also currently 4th in the Premier League wage bill table, spending an eye watering 223 million each year on wages. You mean to tell me that will all that money and all their resources – scouts, data analysts, negotiators, transfer guru’s etc, that they can’t entice a decent leader to the club? Absolute rubbish. They just don’t want to. They believe their current style and philosophy is the right one and they aren’t willing to budge.
In fact, I think Arsenal have had more than enough money to at least compete. Yet how many times have we been utterly embarrassed in big games? 10-2 on aggregate against Bayern Munich, 8-2 and 6-1 against Man Utd, 6-0 against Chelsea, 5-1 against Liverpool, 4-0 against Southampton and so on and so forth. We were told we needed to leave Highbury and build a new 60 thousand seater stadium to allow us to compete with Europe’s finest. Well, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. We now get swept aside in any big game, haven’t won away from home against a top 6 side for over 5 years and are currently struggling to finish in the top 8.
It’s not that we haven’t had the money it’s that we’ve spent atrociously. Mesut Ozil – 42 million, Danny Welbeck – 18 million, Calum Chambers – 18 million, Granit Xhaka – 40 million, Shkodran Mustafi – 36 million, Lucas Perez – 18 million, Henrickh Mkhitaryan – 30 million, Sokratis – 15 million, Nicolas Pepe 72 million, Kieran Tierney -25 million.
I actually rate Pepe but he cost 72 million and barely plays? A club record transfer fee surely means there’s aspirations of you being the focal point of that team. Pepe can barely break in to the starting 11 let alone be a focal point of it. Kieran Tierney another player I rate but yet another Arsenal player who seems to play 3 games and then spends 23 injured. I don’t know, maybe I am just being harsh..
How long have Arsenal been crying out for a proper centre half. A physical, assured centre half? Years if not decades. Who do we buy? Gabriel, Chambers, Squillaci, Silvestre, Mustafi, Sokratis, Djourou, Mavropanos. We sell out every single week, we have the highest ticket prices in Europe and we resort to buying bargain basement type players that simply aren’t good enough. I think it pretty much summed it up on Wednesday evening when David Luiz came sauntering on to the pitch mid way through the first half. A man far beyond his best years whose contract is due to expire in a matter of weeks. So here we are away to arguably the best side in the Premier League, and who is leading our back line? A player at the back end of his career who the club have admittedly told they don’t plan on keeping past the end of the month. How is that allowed to happen at a club like Arsenal? Beggars belief.
How long have Arsenal been crying out for a proper central midfielder? A midfield general, a dictator and presence that sends shivers through the opposition. Years if not decades. I don’t think we’ve ever really replaced Patrick Vieira. Fast forward 15 years since his departure and who do we have lining up in the centre of the park against the league champions? Guendouzi and Xhaka. Need I say more?
We spent 42 million (which was a club record at the time) on Ozil. Fourty two million pounds yet every manager so far has eventually decided he doesn’t really fit in with their plans. A man on 350 grand a week – nearly double what anyone else is on, yet a man who doesn’t travel to away games because he doesn’t make enough of an impact when on the pitch. Astounding, truly astounding.
Who is sanctioning these buys? I hear Arsenal have a unique way of acting in the transfer market. Apparently they base a lot of their purchases on data and analytics via a methodical strategy they have worked out. Well that is all very well if you’re playing Football Manager or picking The Sun Dream Team, however it’s a bit different in real life. Stat’s and data don’t win you football matches, as so clearly proved by Arsenal in recent times. Stat’s don’t account for what players do when they go one down against Liverpool at Anfield, or Sheffield Utd have got 10 men behind the ball. Stat’s are a small percentage of what makes a football player. Why base your whole transfer strategy on something that dismisses some of the most basic key ingredients of a footballer?
What will it take for someone to stand up at the club and actually admit it needs a complete overhaul? But then again why would they when it is making so much money for those at the very top of the pyramid. I fell out of love with Arsenal a long time ago. I still support them but that intense passion and affection is no longer there. Maybe I was spoilt growing up with players such as Adams, Vieira, Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp etc. Maybe it was too much too soon? I think there’s possibly some truth in that.
I believe strongly however, that football fans enjoy seeing players they can relate to in some way and players they feel connected to. My favourite player growing up was Ashley Cole. He just represented Arsenal to me – fight, determination, skill and a never say die attitude. Same with Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere. I look at the players out there now pulling on the shirt – players like Guendouzi, Bellerin and Mustafi. They just don’t feel like Arsenal players to me. Not the characteristics I used to associate with Arsenal, and fell in love with anyway.
I can see why Arsenal fans get so frustrated and angry, I really can. I don’t agree with some of the abuse they hurl at the players and staff but I do agree with the animosity and rejection they feel. Arsenal fans are played, that’s the truth. Forking out extortionate prices to effectively fund players on 350 grand a week, a team in 9th place and Stan Kroenke’s beloved American sports team’s. Do you know how else Arsenal fans have been played? By Stan Kroenke purchasing Arsenal Football Club using a massive loan from the bank, and using profit generated by Arsenal Football Club to pay that loan back. What a sad state of affairs.
A team who simply cannot compete with the top sides anymore, should not be charging the top ticket prices. It’s immoral and stinks of a club having lost it’s values. Would a second rate theatre show or an average tech company charge sky high prices? No they wouldn’t.
From when I first remember watching Arsenal in about 97, up until they left Highbury I suppose, I knew what that team stood for. Even if they lost or the result didn’t necessarily go their way, you could still see the team’s ethics and values highlighted in everything they did. Fight, determination, passion, skill and a never say die attitude. What does that Arsenal team stand for now? I don’t really know to be honest. If I was being totally honest, they look like a bunch of players who don’t really want to be there mixed with players who know they aren’t good enough.
Not having enough money, not having the best players or needing to ‘give it time’ are excuses that can only be used for so long. Look at Leicester when they won the league, look at Wolves and Sheff Utd now. They are teams with not an ounce of the resources and profile that Arsenal have, yet teams all competing on a much more consistent basis. Put it this way, if someone said they’d give you a grand if Man City failed to with their next game, who would you want it to be against, Arsenal or Sheff Utd?… Says it all, really.
Arsenal so badly need an identity. If it is playing fast free flowing football like some of these other top European sides, then go out and buy the players capable of delivering that style of performance. Stop trying to deliver a Ferrari style performance with a Volkswagen style engine. Either that, or accept your personnel and adapt your style of play to win football games. Who cares if you have 70% possession, if ultimately you end up losing as many games as you win.
Arteta hasn’t been in charge long and ultimately he does need time to sort things out. If the resumption of the Premier League on Wednesday night was anything to go by though, we’ve got a long long way to go…
The latest headlines to hit the news in the UK is that of Marcus Rashford and his inspirational charity work which has raised over 20 million pounds to help provide free school meals for vulnerable people over the summer holidays.
A truly humane effort carried out by a truly generous man. A man who it is clear, has morals and values and seeks to make the world a better place. A man who despite his enormous fame and worth, still makes time for others far less fortunate than himself. An international footballing superstar who remains modest and humble, a quality so forgotten in today’s celebrity world.
However, as seems is the modern trend in this world we live in, with every good deed there are always the people out there chomping at the bit to use it promote their own political views and agenda’s. That use it to help point the finger of blame at someone else. Why is everyone’s default setting to blame someone else? Why is everyone’s default setting to blame the government? Why do people allow themselves to get caught up the media frenzy and and hype that surrounds every single action that takes place in today’s world?
It is tiring and boring and simply needs to end. Not everything in life is someone else’s fault. Not everything in life is the government’s fault. I am not talking about just this current government either, I am talking about any government in power of this country. A government that don’t forget, is elected by a nationwide demographic vote. A vote which best represents the wishes of the people of this country.
The latest criticism, the latest ‘blame game’ is now that of the government and child poverty. That child poverty is the direct result of a lack of empathy and a lack of action from the government. Well I’m sorry but I simply do not agree. Once again people allow the manipulating media and their own anger at the world to cloud their judgement. They allow themselves to be swept up in the powerful world of social media and all the incorrect accusations that come with it.
The facts are this, in England around 1.3 million people from low income backgrounds are eligible for free school meals. A child who qualifies remains eligible until 31 March 2022, whether in primary or secondary education. Children from families who meet certain criteria can also be eligible for free school meals before they start school.
It has now been announced that families claiming free school meals will be issued with either an electronic voucher or gift card – worth £15 per child, per week – to spend at supermarkets, during the school term and throughout the summer holidays.
I simply do not understand people claiming that the government do not care or the government should do more. From what I see this country is far more generous and charitable than most other countries in terms of financial and medical assistance. Where else can you go that provides you with a house purely because you have a child? Where else can you go that provide you with child tax credits purely for having a child? The benefits list in this country is endless – council tax benefits, disability living allowance, housing benefit, incapacity benefit, income support, return to work credit, school uniform allowance – these are just a few of the many types of benefits on offer to people that qualify for them.
I am not for one second saying these people don’t deserve them. Life is all about helping those in a less fortunate situation or those in hardship. I do however, feel that this countries generosity is starting to be taken advantage of, and starting to be seen as a weakness.
The problem with generosity and kindness is eventually people start to exploit and use it for their own selfish gain (the furlough scheme is a PRIME EXAMPLE of this, whereby companies were using it as a money saving exercise rather than a last resort to making people redundant). I find it astounding when people blame child poverty on the government. No-body makes anyone have a child, no-body forces anyone to have a child. Whatever happened to living within your means? I earn an average wage therefore I live an average life in terms of expenditure. I drive an average car, I live in a modest house and I don’t go on endless amounts of holidays. Simply because I can’t afford to. If I could afford to, I probably would.
When me and my wife decided to get a dog we had to sit down and work out whether we could afford to provide for the dog and whether we could devote enough time to him to make it fair. If I wanted to go out and buy a new car tomorrow I would first of all have to sit down with the monthly repayments in mind and calculate if I would be able to afford to make that same payment every single month moving forward. Same principle applies to buying a house or a holiday, and so on and so forth. Why is having a child any different?
Before having a child surely the most important question to ask is – can I (or we) actually afford to pay and provide for this child? Too many people have a child and simply expect the state to provide a life for them. And being the generous, hospitable nation we are, we do provide for them! To have a child and bring them in to this harsh unforgiving world, knowing that you can’t afford to pay for them is simply unfair. Benefits and allowances from the government shouldn’t be a default setting, they should be as backup in case of a dramatic change of circumstances. Of course circumstances do change – people become ill and can no longer work, people lose their job or their mental health, people have accidents or unfortunately become disabled. All unavoidable circumstances, which quite rightly we should support and help with. These are exactly what benefits should be used for.
How is it fair that one person should work 12 hours a day 6 days a week to provide for their family, whilst another person has a family and everything paid for them? Again, I must re-iterate that I am not suggesting people shouldn’t receive benefits, far from it. I am suggesting that benefits, much like the Furlough Scheme, should be offered due to an unfortunate change in circumstances or as an alternative option to going ‘bankrupt’ so to speak. Not as a money saving exercise or a standard option to stay on for the rest of your life.
Just as the furlough scheme was abused, so it the benefits system. Just as people claimed the furlough scheme wasn’t enough, people claim the benefits system isn’t enough. What do people actually expect? Every single day I drive past people living in houses paid for them by the government or by the council, yet 30 grand cars sitting in their driveway. How many people who moan about child poverty still have sky TV, still have the latest iPhone and still wear designer clothes? How many people truly can’t provide for their children or how many just don’t want to give up the expensive aspects of their life to fund for them?
Too many people I feel, believe the grass is always greener. I have travelled to quite a few countries and I have seen first hand, true child poverty. Children and families forced to live on the street, children that can’t afford access to healthcare or education. That simply doesn’t happen over here. Yet, as with any form of kindness or generosity, over time people come to expect it and forget the thoughtful principles that sit behind it.
I’ve had families members who have been diagnosed with cancer and the government / NHS have provided them with first class treatment, no questions asked. Treatment that had they decided to go private or pay for themselves, would have cost upwards of 100 thousand pounds. I’ve known friends who have lost their jobs and the government have helped pay their mortgage or pay their rent until they found another one. I know people with disabled children who receive tremendous help, support and financial assistance from both the NHS and the government. All just examples of the generosity on offer. Yet still people moan and belly ache and demand more. Still people think they are entitled to more.
Unfortunately life isn’t free and anything or anyone you decide to bring in to this world isn’t free either. Whether you decide to bring a dog or a child in to the world they aren’t free. Whether you decide to buy a car or purchase a house, they aren’t free. If you want to have 4 children no-body is stopping you, however surely it is only fair to yourself, the children and the wider community, that you first of all ensure you are able to provide and pay for those children.
It is simply too easy to have a child and forget about them, or to have a child and pass them off as someone else’s problem. Until that child is 18, until that child has a job and until that child is mature, surely the two people that created that child should fund, support and pay for that child.
The government simply cannot afford to pay for everyone and everything, as much as I wish they could. When you bring a life in to this world, you are doing just that, bringing a living breathing being in to this cold, ruthless world. They are your (along with the other parents) responsibility both financially and emotionally. Mishaps or unfortunate circumstances will sometimes occur along the way and that’s what benefits should be for. For me, people need to start taking responsibility for their actions instead of just blaming others. How is it that England, one of the most charitable and hospitable countries is fast gaining a reputation as one of the least?
What Marcus Rashford has done with his charity work is truly magnificent. Children are innocent and vulnerable and of course deserve to be protected and defended at all costs. The real question for me though, is why are these children in this terrible position in the first place. A position whereby they are forced to rely on government handouts simply to eat? Are they in this position because of a terrible or unfortunate set of circumstances their parents found themselves in? Or are they are in this position due to adults not taking responsibility for their actions and thinking before they bring a human life in to this world?
Having a child is a choice. Having cancer isn’t a choice, becoming disabled isn’t a choice, your mental health deteriorating isn’t a choice, losing your job isn’t a choice. As far as my thinking goes, benefits need to be there for the people that didn’t have a choice in life, who find themselves in the position they are in due to circumstances outside of their control. Let me re-iterate one more time, that children who are living in poverty absolutely deserve access to free meals and support. It is not their fault they are in the position they are in.
Marcus has provided a temporary (albeit amazing) solution to a permanent problem. At some point the problem, as with any problem, needs to be addressed at it’s core to stop it from growing and getting worse. I believe this starts with adults taking responsibility and thinking long and hard about the consequences of their actions before bringing a child in to the world. About whether or not they are truly going to be there to provide the required financial and emotional support for that child for the foreseeable future. I don’t believe that is too much to ask, after all…
Someone once described sport as the most ‘magnificent irrelevance’. I can’t remember who said it, or when they said it, but it resonated with me then, and has done ever since. A brief yet clear statement that provided me with an immediate and unquestioned feeling of agreement, without need for further explanation. For sport (at any level) can provide us with amazing highs and painful lows. It can bring joy as well as heartache, it can bring delirium as well as despair. It can lead to elation, euphoria and ecstasy, but just as easily result in grief, misery and woe.
In that moment when you are truly invested , whether it be a 5 side game in the local league or watching your country in the World Cup Final. In that moment nothing else matters. In that moment it is the most important thing on the planet. In that very moment you would sell your soul to the devil for victory, for that feeling of ultimate bliss. Yet, when the adrenaline rush dissipates and you’ve pacified your emotions. When you’ve had a good nights sleep and worked things over in your own mind. When the arena is empty and all is said and done, does it really matter? Not really. In the grand scheme of things does it matter if Man City win the league or Bournemouth get relegated? Does it matter if Jofra Archer stops Martin Guptill getting 2 runs in the World Cup Super Over, or if Owen Farrell scores that penalty kick against the Springboks in the Final? Not really. It might do at the time, in fact it definitely does at the time. But a week or two later, the magnitude of the moment fades and you are left with just the memories and the dreams. For sport is a magnificent irrelevance. At least, that’s one way of describing it.
Or perhaps, sport is more than that. Perhaps it is important. Perhaps it does matter beyond just that moment. Perhaps, it is in fact one of the most underestimated, undervalued foundations of which society can be built.
Sport has been a meaningful facet of civilisation for as long as as there has been written history, and possibly longer. Take the Olympic games for example which are more than 2700 years old. A worldwide event whereby countries must present their case years in advance, to even be considered a potential host. This is just one of the many examples of sport paving the way for society.
Sport brings people, communities and countries together like nothing else I can think of. Sport has the ability to teach us so many of life’s important lessons. I started playing sport when I was around 7/8 years old and my dad took me to one of the local football teams in my area. I still remember it now, being nervous as hell about that first training session. A skinny, shy, unassuming boy venturing out in to the big wide world of sport and all that it entails. Ever since that evening some 22 years ago sport has been, and continues to be one of my greatest teachers, one of my biggest outlets and one of my most loyal friends.
It has taught me the importance of teamwork, of working alongside fellow human beings all trying to achieve the same common goal. The value of working as a unit and how integral that unit is towards achieving success. The importance of never giving up, of battling hard right until the final whistle. Of not letting your team mates down and putting aside your selfish needs for the greater good of the group.
It has taught me how to build friendships, both on the field and off. I have met countless amazing and wonderful people through sport. In fact, I don’t think I would know or have half as many friends as I do now if it wasn’t for sport. The camaraderie and sense of belonging you feel from being in a football changing room is something special. A place where you can be yourself and know that everyone around you has ‘got your back’. A place of comfort and affinity. A place where you belong.
It has taught me to judge someone on who they are as a person, and who they are inside. I have met and made some of my best friends through sport. Friends from all different races and all different rungs on the social ladder. Sport is a direct gateway for meeting such a wide variety of people – rich people, poor people, tall people, small people, black people, white people, happy people sad people. It teaches you that more often that not, deep down people want the same thing in life – to be happy and to be respected. It proves to you that if you offer someone that, more often than not you get it in return.
Sport has certainly hammered home the importance of keeping fit and healthy. Being surrounded by people who value their physical health and well being rubs off on you. I have a played a half decent level of football (semi pro) and there isn’t much room for people that don’t have a decent level of fitness. I’m sure the higher you go up, the more that level of fitness increases. Right up until you get to the Premier League, where every player is in the peak of condition. A bit like a finely tuned engine.
Sport teaches you to relish and live in the moment. Too often in life we are preoccupied with what might (or might not) happen in the future. Too often we get bogged down with the complexities in life and forget to actually enjoy it. Sport demonstrates to us the importance of sometimes just living in the moment. It also proves to us that nothing lasts forever. I have been a part of, or witnessed some fantastic teams / events down the years. Experiences that will last with me for a lifetime. As I sit here now though, all of them have been and gone. I am sure there will be more to come, but for those that have been already, they are now simply memories and recollections.
I think most importantly though, sport provides us with that much needed escape. That release from the complications and hardships that life throws in our way from time time. When you step out on that football pitch, or that cricket pitch (or any sporting pitch). Or when you go for that run, or go and watch your favourite rugby team, all of life’s stresses disappear. For those 90 minutes, or that afternoon, or that period in your life you are free from all the dark thoughts, all the insecurities and all the worries, that let’s face it we all have. All of us, every single one of us, needs an outlet. No matter if we are 17 or 87, if we are male or female, if we are rich or poor, we all need an outlet. Sport for so many, can be that much needed outlet. That process with which to channel our anger and frustration. We are only human after all.
In today’s society, today’s culture, mental health is such a big issue. Unhappiness and discontent seem so rife . Why is that? Well that is a debate for another day. In short though, we have developed in to a society with a jealous undercurrent. Social media has in large, been the catalyst for this. Everyone looks from the outside like they are living the perfect life. Comparisons with others are now just a touch of a button away. Instagram influencers and celebrities on Twitter with their perfect bodies and one holiday a month lifestyles. Sadly this isn’t reality though. For the chosen few it is, for the majority it’s not. Modern culture has sadly become, very money orientated. Success and failure is often based on money, or lack of it. We are all about what we can have right here right now, about what possessions we can boast of to others. Sport at it’s core is none of this. It matters not how big your watch is, or how many followers you have on Instagram. It cares not for wealth or greed. It asks for skill mixed with courage, talent mixed with determination, and in return will provide you with somewhere you belong.
A game of football on a Saturday with your team mates, an hour’s run round the local park, a day spent watching cricket or a solid session at the gym. These are worth 20 times a counselling session or a medication tablet from the doctor. No-body, not one single person has ever got back from a decent session at the gym, or a tough run round the park, and said ‘you know what I really regret doing that’. As Hollywood as it may sound, sport is good for the soul.
Today’s population seem to have so much pent up anger and frustration. There is so much cruelty and injustice out there happening every day of every week Why are we so angry? We all lead such busy lives. The rat race is in full force in the 21st century. Racing to wake up, racing to jobs we don’t really like, racing to meetings we don’t really care about. Stuck in endless traffic jams and endless queues at the shops. It’s no good for us, it creates animosity and ill feeling. Sport is that process by which so many could vent their frustration and anger. An opportunity to let off the proverbial steam, and re-focus.
Sport is one of the few avenues in life, where money or social ranking means little compared to ability and will. Think of Anthony Joshua, Steven Gerrard, Lewis Hamilton, Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling. All sportsman who started off on the bottom rung of the ladder, so to speak. No money, no help and no prospects. Now they are all (or were) at the very top of their chosen sport. Those five, and so many others could quite easily have slipped in to a life of crime or a life not destined for the dizzying heights they find themselves at now. Sport provided them with that chance. That glimmer of hope, that light at the end of the tunnel.
A lot of the problem I feel, is sport isn’t valued and promoted enough at school, and from an early age. To be fair my Primary School headmaster was amazing. He loved sport and helped me and my best friend endless amounts. He is a rare and dying breed though. Once I got to secondary school, sport was barely mentioned. An hour, maybe 2 a week of physical education, and that was it. No sports teams and no coaching. Instead I and everyone else were made to sit through algebra maths classes and science lessons spent dissecting the Periodic Table. How many of us have used those classes to help us moving forward? I bet you can count the true number on one hand, maybe one finger. How many people have used sport to help them moving forward? How much time have you got!
I agree and accept that it’s difficult because you need to try and include everyone, but there are so many sports out there. Football, cricket, golf, running, tennis, gymnastics, athletics, swimming, boxing, bowls etc etc etc, the list is endless. Surely the majority of people can relate or show an interest in at least one kind of sport. Maybe you don’t like football but you love boxing. Maybe you can’t stand cricket but you love going for a run. Maybe it isn’t rugby that grabs your interest but the thought of being able to run the 100 metres quicker than anyone else does.
Sport mirrors society in so many ways. Today’s generation just aren’t interested in sport and what it has to offer. Football has, in recent years seen a catastrophic decline in the number of participants. A 2015 study by the FA revealed that an astonishing 2360 grassroots football teams had folded in a 3 year period between 2012-2015. Alongside this unwelcoming statistic is perhaps an even more depressing one – approximately 180 thousand players aged 16 or over have dropped out the game since 2005 Astonishing. In 2014 the ECB revealed a worrying statistic that the number of recreational cricketers had shrunk from 908 thousand in 2013 to 844 thousand the following year. It was also stated that well over 5 percent of matches had to be cancelled due to teams not being able to field 11 players. Player retention in the 16-to-19-year-old age bracket is one of cricket’s, and sport in general’s, biggest problems. The ECB National Playing Survey in 2013 concluded that 40 per cent of young people who play more than 12 weeks a season were dropping out of cricket by the age of 19.
As i said sport mirrors society and today’s society seem more interested in their phones, Instagram and technology than participating in sport. I suspect the major increase in TV coverage of sport over the last decade or so hasn’t helped either. Any normal given week during the football season and there’s a live Premiership game at midday on a Saturday, then another in the evening. On Sunday you have at least 2, often 3 games on the TV. Monday night football is now another regular fixture, not forgetting the mid week European competitions as well as the plethora of lower league games being shown. I genuinely don’t think this is a good thing. It’s almost being rammed down our throats. It’s too easy for people to not bother playing sport and instead spend all week inside watching it on the TV.
I can think of numerous occasions where having an interest or being involved in sport has helped in some way, or made life more enjoyable. When i was doing my farming work in Australia and we had a ‘Sports Day’ for my birthday, it was possibly the most enjoyable birthday I’ve ever had. Every single backpacker got involved and helped create a more close-knit environment. Think about when you start a new job and get paired up with someone to shadow for the first few days. I don’t know about you but my first go to conversation is nearly always sport. When you meet your father in law or your partners cousin for for the first time, it’s always a bit easier if you can discuss how bad Arsenal’s defence are nowadays, or your thoughts on who will win the next Ryder Cup. Think about how the whole nation gets together when England are playing in the World Cup. Jubilant scenes up and down the country when we knocked Columbia out on penalties or swept Sweden aside 2 nil.
I’ve had some of my best, most satisfying experiences playing and watching sport. My favourite moment still to this day, ever since being an Arsenal fan was when Tony Adams smashed home that half volley with his left foot against Everton at Highbury, before going on to be crowned league champions. Goosebumps just thinking about it! I’ve played in numerous football teams down the years, and even turned my hand to management in recent times. All memories I will treasure for the rest of my life.
I feel like sport is fast becoming an abandoned building block of society though. With all the hate, anger and disruption in the world it is good to have something that offers hope and inspiration. Something with no hidden agendas. We must not forget this. With so much effort and so much money spent on building faster railways, faster cars and faster computers, we seem to have cast sport aside, like an old toy in the bedroom. How do you bring it back from the shadows? I think everyone has a part to play. All the parents, all the teachers, all the TV stations and the government too. How about one less class on algebra and an hour instead on PE. How about one less trip to the game console shop, and one more trip to the park. How about Devaluing love Island and valuing the link between sport and health instead. You can see what I’m getting at.
Where will we be in 20 or 50 years time. Will people growing up still play sport, or will Instagram, Facebook and Social Media rule the world. Will kids at school want to make the football or the athletics team or will kids just want have the most followers on Twitter. No-one truly knows what the future holds, but a society that functions and operates effectively surely needs sport at it’s core.
Picture the scene – several thousand pigs, some of them not more than a few weeks old, forcefully crammed inside a barn on a Iowa Select Farm Facility in the USA. Now imagine that same barn with all the pit fans, all the ventilation fans and all the airways blocked and shut off. Envisage scalding hot steam pumped into that barn from the outside. Steam so hot it creates what is essentially a boiling hot furnace inside. Now consider a process whereby those pigs are fundamentally boiled alive, as they gradually suffocate and amid hours of unbearable pain and torture. A process that, if after several hours they are unfortunate enough to have survived, then involves them then being shot through the forehead with a bolt gun.
What I have just described is a COMMON mass extermination process used throughout the world as a way to avoid the cost of keeping livestock alive. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak those pigs were sadly not profitable anymore and the most cost effective way to execute them all, was to boil and suffocate them alive in a 150 degrees steam filled barn in the middle of nowhere.
Imagine being born with the sole intention of ending up on someone dinner plate. Imagine spending you life locked inside a dark putrid barn, sleeping every night on a concrete floor with not even a window to look out of. Imagine after only a few weeks on this earth being herded into an adjacent room, steamed and boiled alive and then dumped in a large pit somewhere, all because you WEREN’T PROFITABLE.
Iowa Select Farms is Iowa’s largest pork producer and the fourth largest in the country. This means that due to the sheer number of pigs they produce, standard methods of confirming death such as pulse-checking, are not performed. This means some pigs can survive the ventilation shutdown, avoid death by bolt gun and end up being buried or crushed alive.
I now ask you this – what difference is there in what took place in that barn, to what took place in some of those concentration camps during the Holocaust. Hitlar and his Nazi men inflicted unimaginable pain and torment to those people in those camps. I need not to go in to detail about what happened, for we are all too aware. Immoral beyond all comprehension. Hitlar is now widely regarded as one of the most evil men to have ever have set foot on this planet (and rightfully so). Yet a company performing the near exact same actions on large groups of pigs, is simply regarded as every day BUSINESS.
I do not buy in to this belief that one humans life can be more important than another humans. I do not buy in to this belief that one humans life can be more important than another animals. These creatures want to live just as much as we do, I don’t care what anyone says. Do you think if someone was to drop a human and a pig, or a human and a dog in the middle of the ocean, that whilst the human was kicking and thrashing for his/her life, the pig or dog would simply accept his fate? I don’t recall it being mentioned in the Bible or the Quran (or any religious book), about God or Mohammed dismissing the importance of animals, I only recall it highlighting their desire for humans and animals to live together in harmony.
They say a dog’s intelligence is similar to a 2 year old child’s. They say a pig can outperform a 3 year old on cognitive tests. They describe them as highly sociable creatures perfectly capable of experiencing a wide range of human emotions. Emotions such as pain, love, happiness and fear. If we were to treat a 3 year old child the way we treat pigs or most other animals, we’d be locked up for life and so we should. Yet because it’s an animal it’s perfectly acceptable to mistreat, abuse and inflict untold suffering on?
I think we have to ask ourselves why that is?
It is 2020. It’s about time we saw past the enchanting elephant rides in South East Asia. It’s about time we saw past the ‘misunderstood culture’ of the Yulin Dog Festival in China. It’s about time we stood up for the millions of farm animals who are forced to endure live transport from places like mainland UK and Australia to all over the world.
Places such as Thailand get millions of tourists every year. If you’ve ever been or watched programmes on TV, then you’ve no doubt witnessed beautiful majestic elephants on the side of the road performing all sorts of weird and wonderful tricks. Elephants doing ‘keepy ups’ with a football, elephants painting a picture with their trunk, and elephants riding a bicycle. You may have also (like me) paid to go on an elephant ride. A fabulous experience sitting atop a 5 ton mammal whilst taking in the pleasant aromas of a new environment.
I so badly wish i hadn’t. Looking back with what I know I am ashamed at what I contributed to. If you don’t know what I am talking about simply do a google search and type in ‘The Phajaan’. You will be appalled. The Phajaan is a centuries old ritual in Thailand that is designed with the sole intention of breaking an elephants spirit. It’s a ritual that exists in virtually every country in Asia that has domesticated elephants. It is their belief that to control an animal you first of all need to make that animal feel pain and fear. To force that animal in to submission by any means possible. Think of prisoners of war captured and forced to endure untold abuse and torment. The only difference is these elephants didn’t choose to go to war. These elephants are often stolen from their mothers or their families at barely a few months old and forced to undergo a life of captivity and a life in chains. The Phajaan is a process which involves keeping the elephant tied up and immobilised in a small wooden cage nicknamed ‘the training crush’. Once in there they won’t leave for months. Whipped, and beaten, nails stuck in their hands and feet, and humiliated continually throughout the day. The elephant is deprived of sleep and made to go days without a drop of food or water, whilst in searing heat and humidity. It is estimated that around half the elephants do not survive this ‘training programme’. Many go insane, and are as a result executed. In many way’s I would consider those the lucky ones. The alternative – a life spent serving humans who see you as one thing and one thing only, a money making object. This for me highlights just how evil and corrupt the human race is. Did you know that in the wild, elephants hold their own funeral when one of their herd dies. They gently touch the deceased members body with their trunks whilst also covering them in leaves and grass. They will often spend days or weeks standing over the body mourning their lost companion. They feel emotion, they too are complex creatures. Yet we feel is acceptable to steal, torture, abuse and imprison them simply because we can. We feel it acceptable to go on our luxurious holidays and pay to ride them, simply because we can. Well I say we are evil, simply because I can.
I would now like to bring your attention to something that happens routinely on UK shores (and around the world) every single year – live animal exports. A process whereby millions upon millions of farm animals are forced on journeys spanning hundreds, if not thousand of miles across land, air or sea. Only to then be slaughtered on arrival, often in the most inhumane of conditions.
This harrowing experience that pigs, sheep, goats, cattle, horse, and many many more animals are made to go through is depraved. It involves them first of all, being crammed on to different types of vehicles (lorries, boats, trains etc) where there is barely enough room to stand, let alone lay down. Often, the more vulnerable ones (i.e young or very old), are quite frankly not able to cope and end up being trampled or crushed to death. It is not uncommon for these animals to be in transit for several days or weeks, with no access to proper food or drink in absolutely sweltering conditions. Tragically their bodies are not able to cope and they die there and then in that hell hole. Just like humans, animals are sentient beings and highly susceptible to feelings of stress or anxiety. Unfortunately, unlike humans you cannot explain to them why or what is happening. You cannot explain to them why they are packed on a baking hot ship, or a freezing cold train in the pitch dark. Can you imagine the untold stress and apprehension they must go through? Maybe you can’t, maybe you find it difficult to relate to how other species might be feeling, or maybe you just don’t care.
If the animals manage to survive this extended exposure to trampling, severe thirst and starvation, high levels of stress and panic and disease (such as foot & mouth, swine flu and avian influenza) that come as a direct result of animals being forced together. If they manage to swerve the genuine chance that the carrier vehicle might sink or catch fire resulting in every animal aboard being drowned or burnt to death. If they miraculously overcome all these obstacles, they usually end up in non-EU regulated countries. Countries where it is deemed perfectly acceptable to use whatever methods possible, in order to get these animals on a dinner plate.
Did you know that in places like Israel, it is too expensive and time consuming to line all the animals up and put a bolt gun through their head. Therefore, using a razor sharp knife they sneak up behind the animal (often cattle) and slash the back of its lower leg to render it defenceless and virtually unable to move. Then, whilst that animal desperately fends for it’s life, they grab it, drag it violently across the blood soaked floor before hoisting it up by one of its limbs from a fixture in the ceiling and slitting it’s throat, all whilst still completely conscious. Gradually the life drains from that animal, gradually the kindness drains out of manKIND.
Do you know how they kill underweight piglets in Denmark? They pick them up by their hind legs, before throwing / slamming them against the concrete floor as hard as they can. This barbaric method is not only legal in Denmark but also recommended by the Danish Veterinary And Food Administration, because its the most ‘humane’. The theory is that the severe head trauma leads to a quick painless death. What happens in reality is the piglet is left there in agony, dying a slow painful death from its injuries. What is humane about that?
Now I don’t know about you, but I moan and complain if the 30 minute train to work is a bit crowded or a bit warm. I moan if the queue to get in the local supermarket is too long, or if there’s traffic on the motorway. Sat there in my air conditioned car, with a bottle of water and packet of crisps positioned perfectly within reach of my left hand. Music on the radio, my wife next to me, dog in the back and a lovely relaxing few days in Cornwall to look forward to. And still, I have the audacity to moan because of heavy traffic or a standstill. How dare I? Imagine being crammed in that same car with countless other humans all barely able to breathe, in the pitch black with no access to food or drink of any kind. No Cornwall or beach to look forward to after the hellish journey. No sun or sea or sand. Instead, an arrogant aggressive set of men dressed in butchers overalls, ready to slash my back leg before wrapping a rope me, hanging me from the ceiling and slitting my throat. Perhaps then I’d be quite within my rights to moan. Perhaps then, I’d have some idea what those animals go through.
Apple Iphones are made in China, so are Nike trainers and so are Samsung laptops. I’ll tell you something else that was made / invented in China – The Yulin Dog Festival. Sounds quite pleasant does it not? It is without doubt one of the most brutal barbarous ‘festivals’ that exists on planet earth. An annual celebration held in Yulin China during the summer solstice, lasting around 10 days. Ten days during which an estimated 15 thousand dogs are tortured, killed and eaten.
According to folklore, eating dog meat during the summer months brings good luck and health. It supposedly provides defence against disease and heightens men’s sexual performance. According to my estimations, hell must be empty as all its inhabitants are at Yulin instead.
Dogs (and cats), often strays or stolen house pets, are transported inside tiny cages where they are barely able to breathe or move. They are often carried treacherously long distances and arrive in Yulin either severely malnourished or dead. Upon arrival they are taken straight to one of the many unlicensed slaughter houses in the vicinity (sound familiar?).
Still crammed in a tiny cage, they are then one by one aggressively manhandled out into the open, before being bludgeoned over the head with a blunt object. Sometimes (if they are lucky) they are killed there and then, however more often than not they are either knocked unconscious or just dazed. They are then placed inside a large cauldron filled with scalding hot water, which is designed to remove their fur. If this medieval method doesn’t await them, they face the blowtorch, another method used to de-fur the dog, all whilst being very much alive. You see, the locals have this warped belief that adrenaline makes the meat more tender and therefore taste better. It is this exact reason why they DELIBERATELY keep the dog alive for as long as possible whilst blow torching or boiling it in water. Some argue that is the reason. Others argue they do it because they simply do not care.
If you really want your dog meat tasting close to perfection there is another course of action you can take. People descending on Yulin Festival have often travelled considerable distances to get there by motorbike or car. A common practice once having seized hold of the dog you wish to eat, is to tie it to the back of your car/motorbike with a rope. You then drive to the festival with said dog dragging along behind on the road in absolute agony. A process designed to get the adrenaline flowing in the dog. A process surely designed by the devil.
I have seen videos with even more wickedness than that in them. Videos that have made me lay in bed at night crying inside at what we humans put animals through. Videos that belong in purgatory. My only comfort is hoping and praying there is a heaven waiting for them when they die. That God (or whoever is up there), makes up for their hellish time on earth by inviting them to spend the rest of eternity in paradise. They certainly deserve it.
We humans are such fickle creatures. We for instance, portray sharks as these deadly, lethal creatures desperate for blood and human flesh. Someone get’s attacked by a shark and we suddenly throw all our resources into hunting and often killing that shark. We forget that we’ve entered the sharks territory, a decision of free choice. We forget that the sea is the shark’s home, the shark’s sanctuary. How often throughout history have humans been minding their own business in their own house, only for a shark to swim through the front door, attack and kill them. NEVER. Do you know how many humans die from shark attacks each year? Six. Do you know how any sharks die as a result of humans each year? 273 Million.
There are less than 27 thousand rhinos left in the world today. That’s less then the average Premiership football stadium. There are less than 800 mountain gorillas left in the world. That’s less than the average secondary school. Have you seen how human like mountain gorillas are? They are amazing. They don’t cause us any trouble, they live happily in the Virunga mountains or in Uganda National Park. What is far and away the biggest threat to their very survival? – Humans. What is far and away the biggest threat to the rhino’s survival? – Humans.
Can you believe humans actually pay money to hunt these sorts of astonishing creatures. People actually pay to hunt and kill giraffes, lions, elephants, rhinos, and many more. Name an animal, and someone somewhere will be hunting it just for FUN. What kind of psychopath do you have to be to enjoy hunting an animal for fun? Enjoy watching the life drain from it’s eyes. How narcissistic do you have to be to relish knowing you’ve killed another animals mother, another animals child?
Can you believe that a worldwide viral pandemic which was (reportedly) caused by us humans interfering and abusing animals, has now led to us interfering and abusing animals as a way of trying sorting it out and finding a vaccine? Laboratory testing on poor innocent creatures. When will we learn? We won’t because we are far too arrogant.
For a supposedly superior, far more intelligent species don’t we make an absolute wreck of everything. We destroy and abuse one another as well as all the creatures around us. We are slowly but surely destroying this planet, a planet which wasn’t created JUST FOR US. We spend billions of pounds trying to explore outer space, and on all sorts of research and advancements. How about we spend that money on ways and means to live harmoniously with one another, and every living species on this planet. How about we realise that Covid-19 was a warning, was natures way of saying the human race is expendable. That the human way of life is simply not sustainable.
When a human see’s another human behaving in a way they deem to be insufficient or unacceptable, they say to them ‘don’t behave like an animal’. Well behaving like an animal would be an improvement surely, it’s behaving like a human you’d want to avoid.
I don’t expect you to care about animals as much as me, I don’t expect you to love them as much as me. I do ask however, that you open your eyes to the atrocities we humans commit on these sentient beings on a daily basis. That you try is some way to do your small bit to make the world that tiny bit kinder, their existence that tiny bit better. It might not make a blind bit of difference to your life, but to an animal somewhere it could make theirs.
I’ll leave you with this thought – If the human race suddenly became extinct overnight, would the world become a better place? Would lots of different species finally be given the freedom they so desperately deserve and desire? If the answer is yes, then what an appallingly selfish, cursed race we humans have become.
I hope you enjoyed reading.
”Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test, consists of its attitude towards those who are at it’s mercy: animals. And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it” – Milan Kundera.
”The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated” – Mahatma Ghandi
”Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” – Anatole France
I’m a firm believer that you can tell a lot about a person and their character in a time of crisis, or ‘when the chips are down’, so to speak. Who digs in and battles valiantly until the end? Who uses the situation for personal gain? And who turns in to one almighty hypocrite?
Of course there are many variations and alternative responses, however broadly speaking, more often than not a crisis results in 3 types of people.
When I talk about people ‘digging in and battling until the end’ – I am referring to a large percentage of the British public. The ones who just GET ON WITH IT. The ones whose lives have also been effected negatively as a result of this world wide pandemic – whether it be financially, physically, mentally, socially or indeed some way else. Stereotypically speaking these are the NHS workers, the emergency services, the supermarket staff – in short, The Key Workers. However, anyone who has had to deal with the negative effects of this inhumane virus and simply carried on with life as best they can, deserve to be in this category.
Secondly we have the person(s) who have used this global crisis to fuel their selfishness . Those multi million pound companies who’ve decided to cash in on the government’s generous furlough scheme. You know, the scheme that was introduced for companies as an alternative to making their employees redundant. A metaphorical lifeboat offered out to rapidly sinking businesses to help them stay afloat. Unfortunately, as in all walks of life you get the people / companies who can’t help but take advantage. People like Richard Branson, a man SO rich he owns his own island. Most normal people struggle to own their own house, yet this man owns an actual island. A man so affluent you count his worth in billions. A man who having previously sued the NHS for losing out on a contract, and having not paid income tax for the last 14 years, then begged the government for a 500 million pound bailout to help save his precious Virgin Atlantic Airline. An airline which made staff take 8 weeks UNPAID leave. Staff who probably get by month to month. Staff who, without effectively 2 months pay, would no doubt have struggled to feed their family or pay their bills. To a man like Branson and a company like Virgin Atlantic this matters little though. A man who could have paid every single one of those employees out of his own pocket and it would have barely scratched the surface of his net worth.
You also have the Premiership football clubs, the one’s who spend hundreds of millions of pounds every transfer window on a new striker. Who pay their players hundreds of thousands of pounds every week. Who earn billions of pounds from TV rights and ticket sales. These same football clubs couldn’t wait to use the furlough scheme as a money saving exercise, rather than as a last resort it was intended for. Who saw the furlough scheme as a chance to increase their spending power rather than leaving it for those who so desperately NEEDED it. These are just two examples of the many people and companies who have used Covid-19 for selfish gain.
Finally, we come on to the main topic of this post and the unnerving amount of hypocrisy that has been embodied by sections of the general public and media, since the arrival of this virus.
I’m sure it wasn’t so long ago that Caroline Flack tragically took her own life and the press, Piers Morgan and everyone else were pleading for people to be kinder and protect mental health. Fast forward what, a couple of months and these EXACT SAME people now find it acceptable to abuse, harass and bully whoever they like. Odd that.
This country has turned in to a bunch of children gossiping about the latest rumour in the playground. Surely there are far more important matters going on in the world right now than if and why a man drove up to Durham with his family. To be clear I am not saying Cummings did abide by the strict letter of the law and I am not defending him. I am however questioning whether the anger, venom and privacy invasion directed at him by so many, would also be there for people who commit FAR more heinous crimes every single day…I somehow doubt it. Hypocrisy is at an all time high in the UK – journalists gathered round a man accusing him of breaking social distancing laws, whilst they themselves are breaking the exact same law at that very moment. Piers Morgan turning to twitter and his morning TV show to hound and harass a man continually for weeks on end for doing something he considers to be ‘immoral’ and ‘a pack of lies’. The same Piers Morgan who back in 2004 was sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror after it was discovered that photos the paper had published purportedly showing British soldiers torturing an Iraqi were fake. Photos which had the potential to completely undermine the British army and result in thousands of unnecessary deaths. How IMMORAL is that? The same Piers Morgan who was also embroiled in a phone hacking scandal. Again, how IMMORAL is that?
So lets just get this straight. Piers Morgan, a man now continually tormenting and verbally assaulting a man for driving to Durham. A man who continually pesters government officials to come on his TV show, to then talk over, judge and ridicule them like some sort of high and mighty God. Is also a man who was sacked from a previous job for horrific lies and immorality.
It get’s better. Some of you might remember Morgan’s anger and outrage at the ‘lack of testing capability’ by the government and his observation that NHS workers simply weren’t getting access to corona virus tests that they needed. Fast forward what, a matter of weeks and Morgan himself starts feeling a tad unwell. Guess what, guess who has no qualms about using up one of those corona virus tests for his himself. That’s right, MORGAN. A man on a breakfast TV show. Not a man saving people on the font line, not a man working tirelessly to prove food and essentials to people. A man purely hosting a TV show.
So when I talk about hypocrisy and revert you back to my original reference to Caroline Flack, and Morgan desperately jumping on the ‘be kind’ bandwagon. Now you can fathom why it’s not surprising that a man who shouted from the rooftops about a need for society to be kinder and value one another’s mental esteem, is a man who has hounded harassed and actively encouraged people to oppress another human being for driving himself and his autistic son to Durham. The same journalists who printed in their newspaper columns the need for a more compassionate public after Caroline’s death, are the same journalists huddles together outside Mr Cummings house like a pack of wolves waiting for the lamb to appear. Those members of the public who no doubt spouted their views on how Caroline’s death signals a desperate need for change in people’s way of thinking, are the same people outside Mr Cummings family home shouting obscenities at him, whilst he and his family hide inside.
I feel like (and I so badly wish I could) pulling Piers Morgan or one of these abusers aside and asking them how they would feel if they were camped inside their family home with a baying crowd outside wanting blood. How they would feel if they had an autistic son and the actions they would take to try and protect his best interests. How the ‘be kind’ message they so proudly supported, could be so abandoned in only a matter of weeks.
They will not be happy until Cummings has killed himself, which will give them something else to obsess over for the next week or so.
I am NOT defending Cummings. I don’t know the in’s and outs of what happened and quite frankly I don’t really care. I am simply questioning the abuse and harassment levelled at his door. The hypocritical actions of SO many. The need for such focus on someone without knowing the full facts. A crime that even if committed, pales into insignificance when you consider the evil and inhumane acts committed every single day.
The fundamental problem with people such as Piers Morgan and the media, is they make money from selling stories, and being controversial. Good news unfortunately doesn’t gain the traction that bad news does and the need therefore, to create bad news is overwhelming. Why not report on the amount of people recovering from Covid-19? Why not report on the superb furlough scheme and the financial situations it’s rescuing? Why not report on the fact the NHS was able to stand firm and perform resolutely in the face of an incoming tsunami? Why not talk about the fact this country actually values it’s citizens freedom and has tried to adhere to that as much as possible?
Why do members of the public continue to make some of the outrageous and factually incorrect statements that I have listed below:
‘every single death is on this governments head‘ Or ’60 thousand excess deaths are as a direct result of this government’s failings’ – As if they genuinely believe that a different government in power would have somehow resulted in zero deaths, and a global pandemic miraculously missing the UK. A warped belief that a different government would have taken us to some sort of promised land.
‘10 years of austerity and cuts to the NHS have led to us not being able to cope’ – A belief that governments make cuts simply for the hell of it, and to line their own back pockets. A belief that forgets a war in Iraq cost this country billions, or a global financial crisis in 2008 meant Gordon Brown left the country bankrupt and so cuts HAD to be made to claw back some of the deficit.
‘Boris Johnson missed 5 Cobra meetings in the lead up to Corona Virus because he couldn’t be bothered’ – A statement that is almost as ludicrous as it sounds. Another warped belief that Johnson simply wasn’t interested and was instead sat in 10 Downing Street playing computer games or having a nap. A belief that happens to forget the hundred and one other things a government is dealing with at any one time – Brexit, Terrorism, Trade deals, International relationships and concerns etc etc etc. A belief that is based on the odd assumption that discussions from Cobra meetings would not be passed on to the PM of the country if he were not able to attend
‘The government failed to provide the adequate PPE to hospitals and care homes’ – A belief that is simply a media driven lie. Why is everything automatically the governments fault? What about the people responsible for making sure each hospital has the adequate and correct PPE in the first place? What about the fact warehouses around the country were stocked up on ton’s of PPE which had unfortunately gone out of date? – again NOT THE GOVERNMENTS fault. What about the fact nearly all care homes are privately owned and residents pay an absolute fortune to reside in them, along with staff being barely paid minimum wage. Yet, when these establishments so desperately needed PPE the option of dipping in to their own stack of cash simply wasn’t viable. Instead, lets blame the government.
‘Yeah but look at New Zealand they’ve hardly had any deaths’ – A statement that compares the UK (a nation with 68 million people in it) to a country on the other side of the world whose entire population could quite easily fit in to London.
As much as all of these absurd claims annoy me, my biggest gripe is this. The media (in particular Piers Morgan) and members of the public highlighting the fact the UK has the 2nd highest death toll in the world.
Stats and comparisons at this point are pretty much pointless. Each and every country record their deaths differently. The UK for example record deaths in all settings – both in hospitals and outside hospitals. Most other countries do not. The UK records a corona virus death if someone has died WITH the corona virus. Nearly all other countries only record a corona virus death if it’s proven that the person died FROM corona virus. If 2 people sat the same exam and for every correct answer you gave one person 4 points, and the other person only got 1 point, would you then turn round and say that person had performed 4 times better than the other. No you would not. Without an accurate aligned process whereby the recording of stats is carried using the same measures, a global comparison is pointless. Unfortunately however, that still doesn’t stop the thirsty media from scaremongering and attempting to derail the government.
I believe strongly that if you removed all the for-profit media corporations, and egocentric influencers from the equation, a lot of this countries problems would vanish overnight. In a global crisis which has wreaked havoc all over the world, people want real time factual information Not a biased, agenda driven approach designed purely to cause division and animosity.
People seem to have lost sight of what is actually happening and suddenly turned in to global pandemic experts. Every day I hear people questioning and dismissing the guidance or views of EXPERTS in the top of their chosen field. Experts who have dedicated their whole life to science or medical knowledge. Experts who have been working tirelessly under severe amounts of pressure to try and get this country back on its feet. Experts who are chastised and attacked by the general public and media alike, who for some bizarre unknown reason think they know best. How annoying must it be whenever you bring out a new piece of guidance or an update and the media IMMEDIATELY go and find another ‘expert’ who seems to have the exact opposite opinion. A ploy designed deliberately to undermine you.
The hindsight armchair critics who condemn the government at every single turn. I liken it somewhat to criticising and shouting at a professional footballer from the stands for poor performance or not being able to do something that looks so simple from the sideline. Actually getting out there and doing it in under copious amounts of pressure is rather more difficult. Everything always looks so easy and straightforward from the metaphorical stand. Being out in the arena is somewhat different. And when it comes down to it, there’s a reason we are in the stands and the footballers are on the pitch…
To summarise, I am not suggesting the government have made the correct decision at every turn, I am not suggesting they have been faultless. I am however, suggesting they have the best experts in the country advising and helping them at every opportunity. That in a rapidly evolving dangerous environment, which no-one HAS EVER DEALT WITH BEFORE, mistakes will be made. That is life, we are humans and not robots. Are you the sort of person who berates and constantly criticises Premiership footballers as if you could do better. Are you the sort of person that would berate and criticise an experienced plumber, carpenter or car mechanic when you have no experience at all in their line of work? Are you the sort of person who would blame a world wide pandemic on people simply doing their best to get us out of this mess…
I hear SO many people constantly moaning so here’s my thoughts. And just to be clear I didn’t actually vote for Boris Johnson.
I feel like if he’d have locked down sooner people would have moaned saying he panicked and caused a longer lockdown than was necessary.I feel like if he’d locked down later people would have moaned saying he should have locked down sooner.
If he ends the lockdown soon people will moan saying he’s putting people’s lives at risk.If he keeps the lockdown going people will moan saying he’s wrecking the economy, the long term results of which will be worse than that of the virus (for example the vast number of lives lost during the Great Depression).
If he keeps the schools closed people will moan saying children are being denied their right to education and people can’t go back to work until the schools open.If he opens the schools people will moan saying it’s not safe for children and teachers to go back.
They managed to get a furlough scheme going in next to no time – 80% of your wages covered for sitting at home, so that companies didn’t have to get rid of staff. People moan that it’s not enough. Then you get rich companies / people around the world using it as a money saving exercise rather than a last resort to making someone redundant.
People say our lockdown was too draconian and a waste of time and to look at Sweden who didn’t implement a lockdown. Yet people also say our lockdown was too weak and to look at China who were literally spraying the streets with disinfectant and no-one could leave their house.
People demanded an exit plan, so he gives an exit plan. So people moan and say it’s mixed messages and should have been released before the bank holiday. He says he’s following scientific advice, people dismiss the scientific advice saying it’s rubbish.
He says you can now have unlimited exercise as he appreciates how important it is for mental and physical well being, yet people moan saying they can now exercise but can’t see their family.
He’s encouraged outdoor workers (construction, labouring etc) to go back to work as it’s a lot easier to maintain social distancing outside of an office. People moan saying that’s unfair. He’s encouraged people to not use public transport unless they need to. People moan saying that’s unfair.
I feel like if he’d quarantined everyone coming into the country people would have moaned saying it was against their basic human rights. Yet now he’s saying all new arrivals will be made to quarantine, the airlines are moaning saying it will destroy their industry.
I feel like one minute an ‘expert’ is coming out saying the lockdown is a complete waste of time and the next minute another ‘expert’ is coming out saying without a lockdown it would have resulted in five hundred thousand deaths.
I feel like people talk about setting up and supplying PPE, Track & Trace and swab tests for millions, like it’s as quick and easy as a stroll down the shops, without appreciating what a logistical nightmare it must actually be.
I feel like the unions and people will demand a safer environment (and so they should) and refuse to go back to work, but will also moan and cry about taxes going up as a result of the government having had to foot the bill for them being out of work for months.
I feel like people will happily point out we have one of the worst death counts in Europe but will fail to mention we are also one of the most densely populated. That people will happily pin every single death here on the government, as if this new horrific virus hasn’t caused hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide.
I feel like people in this country JUST LOVE TO MOAN. And if Boris Johnson magicked a vaccine out of thin air tonight, people would start moaning about the weather saying that was his fault instead.
I feel like people forget the government are human beings. They are doing the best they can guided by the best scientific advice in this country. Better advice than Piers Morgan or some cheap journalist.I feel like the real villains are the immoral media who are full of lies, deceit and hidden agendas. The multi millionaires and rich companies who use the furlough scheme as a money saving exercise rather than leaving it for the companies that actually NEED IT.
The people that never pay a penny of tax or national insurance yet rinse the state for all it’s worth. Not forgetting the persons responsible for this deadly virus actually getting unleashed on mankind. They are the true villains, yet it’s all too easy to blame the government. I feel like whatever he does he CANNOT WIN.
Before people start replying with stats and ‘how much worse it’s been handled over here’ – let me show you how easy it is to present stats to fit a certain narrative:
USA – tens of millions of people unemployed, no free healthcare, high number of deaths.
Italy – healthcare system completely overwhelmed, doctors forced to choose between who lives and dies. Similar number of deaths to the UK.
Spain – Population 30% smaller than the UK, with a death count 15% higher per million population, yet similar number of deaths.
France – Roughly same size population as the UK, on a landmass nearly 3 times bigger, yet similar number of deaths.
But, if you’re still hell bent on making comparisons then surely it makes sense to make them against countries on a similar footing to our own, not countries on the other side of the world who are operating under completely different circumstances!
With regards the media – how many times has a government adviser announced a new bit of guidance, and how many times do one of the newspapers miraculously find a random ‘expert’ who just so happens to have the complete opposite opinion…And the next time you watch one of the 5pm government briefings, listen closely to the questions the media ask and think to yourself how many of them are actually relevant / good solid questions and how many of them are designed with the sole purpose of tripping up those they are asking…
For me, I’m afraid large parts of the media have become glorified gossip outlets with a plethora of could, if’s and maybe’s, when what we as a nation need during this difficult time is factual real time information.
One final thought (if you’ve made it this far without falling asleep I salute you ):
Every single death is a huge tragedy, and I don’t believe many people will be better off as a result of this virus. Our NHS, our care workers and our emergency services do an unbelievable job, they are hands down one of the best things about this country. Let’s not forget though, that the world is battling to hold this virus at bay, and these problems we face aren’t just happening in the UK, as our media will have you believe.
*******P.S No I am not a ‘bot’ (whatever that means), no I didn’t steal this from elsewhere and no I definitely am not writing on behalf of the conservative government. I have a wife, a dog, a job, I love playing & watching numerous sports, I am just a normal working class 30 yr old man who decided to write down my views
Hi there! So I have decided to break my blogging virginity (the reasons for which I will come to) and enter the world of blogging! I won’t bore you with loads of personal details, as lets be honest apart from your mum and your dog who really cares! However, to introduce myself I am really just a normal run of the mill average guy. I am 30 years old (OLD I know), I have a wife, a dog, a mortgage, I love playing and watching numerous sports and just like a large chunk of the adult population, I have a job.
There are a couple of reasons I’ve decided to actually go for it and start up a blog. First and foremost I genuinely quite enjoy writing. I’ll be the first to admit when I’m absolutely rubbish at something (DIY and concentration being two of them). However writing and getting my thoughts down on paper, has always come rather naturally. I did well in English at school and at A Level and a part of me regrets (if that’s the right word) not continuing this journey – perhaps in the form of a journalism degree or something akin.
Secondly, as time has gone on I’ve realised that some of the views I hold are quite unique, but at the same time views that a lot of people can relate to. I view the world in quite a simplistic way, and am able to explain my viewpoint in such a way that tends to get people thinking, if not always agreeing.
The final reason actually came as somewhat of a surprise. A couple weeks back I made a a fairly detailed, quite emotive Facebook post on the current corona virus situation and the UK government’s response. My views certainly seemed to resonate with a fairly large audience. An audience which has so far shared my status in excess of 35 thousand times, along with numerous comments and likes. I’ve also had quite a substantial amount of personal messages with individuals telling me that they would be keen to hear more of my views etc etc.
So here I am, starting up my own blog. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me but I do hope that some of my views and my way of thinking will be somewhat relatable from time to time.
I live for the simple things – I love spending time with my dog (an energetic 18 month old labrador called Django), I love going down to Cornwall with my wife. I love having banter with my friends and I love letting off some steam on the football pitch. When I’m not doing these sort of things though, I do tend to resort to rather deep thinking. A process which doesn’t always provide a great amount of inner rest or peace, yet a process which can offer from time to time, a rather unique take on this somewhat complex existence we call life.