My 10 Year Addiction

Hello, my name is David. And I’m a Facebook addict!

I guess for me, it all started around early 2007 when I began receiving emails with invitations to Facebook. Of course, MySpace had been the go to “street corner” if you shall coin the phrase. You could chat to online friends about music and books currently on your radar. It was cool and a massive leap forward from what were now becoming out of date “chat rooms”. To be honest though, it took me a good 6 months before I signed up to Facebook because by that time, most of the MySpace crowd had migrated over leaving a cavernous hole.

I still remember the first time I ventured onto Facebook. It was a Saturday afternoon and I had just arrived home from refereeing a game of rugby league when my then girlfriend, Melanie convinced me to follow her over to the dark side. So, like all good boyfriends, I did. And to be fair, it was grand at first. Quite thrilling actually to find old friends, school buddies from almost 15 years ago and even some relatives I had not seen or spoken to in some time. It was all done by desktop and there were no photo filters as such. I guess it seemed ok at first. Like all good addictions.

Within a few weeks, I had some old holiday snaps up and had connected with some friends. That was about it really. You must remember though. This was before the era of smart phones. We all still owned desktops and laptops so things like Facebook were limited in usage because people like me were still more interested in music forums on websites.

Over the years, Facebook grew into a monster and it took many of us with it. Once smart phones hit the market, it was the beginning of the end for life as we knew it. Time spent on Facebook grew because we could take Facebook with us everywhere. By 2010, it had consume my life entirely. It was the first thing I looked at each morning and the last thing I viewed before bed. I found myself slowly spending more time debating the merits of social environments. Getting fired up by an ever increasing number of uneducated (on life) and ignorant fools who used Facebook as an escape from their mundane lives of mortgages, car loans, credit card debts, jobs they hated and small children who drove them up the wall.

With the passing of father time, Facebook has become an alternative life for millions of people. They can spit their vile, ignorant, racist, homophobic and intolerant views out without any repercussions. There are also many positives about Facebook but I found more and more that the good was buried well and truly in my newsfeed. The more time I spent on the social media giant, the more frustrated I grew with the passing of time. Now, some 10 years on, I managed to finally wake up to my Facebook addiction and have spent the best part of 2017 working my way out of the spiderweb that was leaving me frustrated and irritated more than it was satisfied.

More and more, I am growing to like deleting the app off my phone for periods of time. Sometimes a few days and even a couple of weeks. I feel better for it and know there is a long way to go but I am getting there. No more having to see narcissistic selfies taken in bathroom mirrors. Less and less pictures of food and coffee. A diminishing number of articles about white Australian men protesting against Muslims wearing hijabs whilst they themselves cover their faces in balaclavas, Australian flags and hoodies. Can you see the irony in that?

Facebook has gone from being a cracking concept to a tired and sinking ship which no longer serves the purpose it was originally set up for. For me? Well, I’m just going to keep working my way towards using it solely for keeping up with friends holidays snaps and finding more relevant articles to read that are written in a more constructive and thoughtful process. The less time I spend on it, the better. I’m too old these days to keep battling keyboard warriors and the bathroom mirror selfie addicts that clog my newsfeed.

I wish you all the best if you also decide to eradicate Facebook from your life. It won’t be easy.

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Bristol City: A Pleasant Memory Refreshed!

This morning, I had the pleasure of watching Bristol City stun Manchester United with an injury time winner to seal a spot against Manchester City over two legs in the semi finals next month.  With Arsenal and Chelsea also in the draw, Bristol City will become the neutrals favorite from the get go.  And, as I thought about the wonderful result this morning (yes, yes, I know, bitter Liverpool fan rejoicing at United’s loss), my memory went back a visit to Ashton Gate on a cold Friday night in October 2015.

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I’d just arrived in the UK on the morning of the match with my ex-wife and was dead tired so we checked into a hotel for an afternoon kip then jumped in the hire care to drive out to Bristol for the match.  You know, I cannot for the life of me remember where we stayed.  All I know is that it took about an hour in the car to get there.  We arrived in Bristol around mid afternoon so had a sneak in the shops and enjoyed some delicious British food for lunch.  As the evening rolled into focus, I decided it was time we made our way out to the ground.  I have this thing you see.  I need to acquire a program for every match I attend.  Sometimes, they sell out before kick off which makes life tricky to find one in the ground or after the match.  Parking turned into a bit of a nightmare so, with this in mind, we decided to park a little further way from Ashton Gate and walk.  We still had an hour before kick off after all.  Plenty of time to grab my program before kick off.

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As we approached the ground, I noticed that the western side of the ground was missing a grandstand.  All I could see was a sea of scaffolding.  Of course now, there is the beautiful Landsdown Stand that covers the entire western side and holds up to 11,000 punters however, at the time, it was quite surreal to see open spaces for a football match.  Now, what about that match day program you say?  Old muggins here left his cash in the glove compartment of the car.  By now, it was too late to head back so I thought it would be simple enough to grab a program from the club shop before heading in.  Problem was, they were sold out.  Too easy.  I’ll just go to a cash point and get some money that way.  Do you think I could find a cash point?  After asking around, it became apparent that I wasn’t going to get to a cash point down the way and back in time for kick off.  Fuck it I thought.  I’ll just write to the club and ask to pay for one plus postage.  More on that later.

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Inside the ground and with minutes to spare before kick off, the atmosphere was bouncing.  Not a selfie stick or bucket list tourist in sight.  Just a stadium full of footy fans desperate to see their team win.  Our seats were in the South Stand and around 10 rows from the front.  A good spec if you ask me.  The bonus to this was that we were surrounded by the Bristol City supporters who make up the “home end”!  Proper buzzing it was!  A win would get City out of the relegation zone however, a loss would see them cemented to the bottom of the ladder.

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Aaron Wilbraham stunned the Forrest defense striking in the 4th and 11th minutes to set up an early lead for which would remain in place for the remainder of the night untouched.  City were out of the relegation zone and the Forrest fans had a dull trip home ahead of them.  I emailed the club at the ground to asked about getting hold of a program and in true pass the buck fashion, they put me onto the company who produces the programs who in turn failed to respond to my twelve email requests.  I always make sure I have some coins in my pocket these days.  It makes buying a program at the match so much easier.

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Ashton Gate now holds around 25,000 supporters where as the ground record came in 1935 for an FA Cup tie that attracted no less than 43,335 spectators against Preston North End.  If you have not yet visited Ashton Gate for a match then, may I suggest you find the time to head into Bristol for a match and maybe even make a weekend of it.  The people of Bristol are wonderful and there is plenty to do in one of England’s finest cities.   For the record, we made it back to our hotel without falling asleep on the road and enjoyed one of the best nights sleep in some time.  The only let down was not getting a program on the day.  Oh well, onwards and upwards…..

Manchester City – Champions of England!

Cast your minds back to the turn of the new century.  Move forward over the following 18 season of England’s top flight football and you will see why Manchester City are already champions in waiting for 2017/18.  Second placed finished in the premier league have only managed as much as 89 points for the highest total gained by the side finishing second.  And that was in 2011/12 when Manchester United finished equal on top with their noisy neighbors only to lose the title on goal difference.

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Manchester City currently sit on 52 points and still have a further 20 matches to contest between now and May.  In reality, they need at most, 37 points to claim their fourth title.  The first came back in 1936/37 before a further twenty one years for their second.  As you know, the third and fourth titles have come in the era of the Arab money that floods world football.  Only on ten previous occasions since the turn of the century have side finishing second amassed more than 80 points.

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Twice since the turn of the century have the second placed side garnered 86 points with two runners up also finishing on 85, once with 84, three times with 83 and just once with 80.  So you can see that clearly, City may need even less than the projected 37 points to collect their 5th English crown.  Of course, the media will try and paint a different picture however, for a team that is yet to lose this season, it would take a monumental calamity for City to not win the league this season.  Pep Guardiola must know deep down that the job is done as would the players.

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For Manchester United to challenge for the title this season, not only would they require City to fall over but they themselves would be required to amass 48 points from their remaining 20 fixtures and then some.  Essentially, Manchester United would need to win almost all their remaining games and that simply isn’t going to happen.  Even if record signing, Paul Pogba fires on all engines, it still appears impossible for United to catch City. With an easy run of fixtures over the festive season, City should be around 13-16 points clear at the top as we move into 2018.

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Take a look below to see how the second placed side have fared since the turn of the millennium.  Perhaps now you can understand why Manchester City will be crowned champions of England come May next year.

2016/17 Spurs 86

2015/16 Arsenal 71

2014/15 Manchester City 79

2013/14 Liverpool 84

2012/13 Manchester City 78

2011/12 Manchester United 89

2010/11 Chelsea 71

2009/10 Manchester United 85

2008/09 Liverpool 86

2007/08 Chelsea 85

2006/07 Chelsea 83

2005/06 Manchester United 83

2004/05 Arsenal 83

2003/04 Chelsea 79

2002/03 Arsenal 78

2001/02 Liverpool 80

2000/01 Arsenal 70

1999/00 Arsenal 73

 

Proof That We All Have A Chance!

Sometimes in life you just have to take a chance and that’s exactly what Hollywood outsider, Tommy Wiseau did at the start of the millennium when he poured $6 million into The Room. The film has since gained cult status as one of the worst movies of all time and the story behind the film has been put back into the spotlight by James Franco who not only directs “The Disaster Artist” but also stars in the lead role alongside his younger brother, David.

I’ll have to put my hands up here. I only decided to catch “The Disaster Artist” because there was a: nothing better showing at the time, b: I need to edge closer to 100 films for the year and c: I was still half cut from my work Crimbo party this afternoon and thought “fuck it, it’s only $12 I’ll be wasting and it’ll get me out of the afternoon heat!”.

Taking my seat for previews, I began to second guess myself but around twenty minutes into “The Disaster Artist”, I was starting to thank myself lucky that I had been able to catch one of the years most tragic and diabolical depictions to hit cinema screens.

James Franco delivers a wooden and cumbersome version of Tommy Wiseau, so close to the bone that there are points where you actually think you are watching Tommy on screen all over. Bravo James! To be honest, I don’t even want to give away too much more about the film except to say, with a touch of irony, that you will see a lot worse at the cinema this festive season

With a creative cast coupled with a story worth telling, “The Disaster Artist” is most certainly one of the surprise films of 2017. It’s also a reminder that, no matter how bad you may be at making or acting in films, we all have a chance if we just believe.

Why I have Lost Faith In Social Media

To say 2017 has been an interesting year is an understatement.  I for one have had a fantastic year as always but still, I see more and more friends and acquaintances falling under the bus so to speak.  I do hope they find a way to pick themselves up again in the coming twelve months.  Life is always better when you are on the up and up and you are not upsetting the apple cart so to speak.

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The only grievance I could say the year has provided me with is the side effects of my social media output.  At times, I’ve been incredibly vocal on a wide range of issues from basic human rights down to my thoughts on footballers earning too much money for their own good and pretty much everything in between.  Another element I have enjoyed on social media is the countless opportunities to stir the pot and help people think a little outside the square.  To open their minds and perhaps help them see things from a different angle.  After all, it’s so terribly easy to fall into the trappings of popular opinions.  But what about YOUR opinion?  Why do YOU too often take the easy path?

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Remember when it was acceptable to attend public hangings of black men, woman and children?  People would happily pose in front of cameras with looks of sheer pride on their faces.  They just looked so damn well chuffed with themselves didn’t they?  At the time, they didn’t really care what people thought of them because deep down, they genuinely felt that they were in the right.  Thankfully, we have moved on from those times but lynch mobs exist in different ways today.  Predominantly on social media forums.  In the past, I’ve never been too bothered by what other people thought of me.  After all, it’s their choice to see things how they see fit.  I’m only ever encouraging people to look at the world from a far different perspective to that of the mainstream opinion which I feel is often way off the mark.  Why you ask?  Well, it’s the lynch mob mentality you see?  If I tell you every day, three times a day for 15 weeks solid that you are stupid, fat or ugly, by the end of that 15 weeks, you will genuinely believe that opinion regardless of it being false.  It’s a safe bet to follow the pack.  You won’t be picked on and you can cruise through life without much fuss if you play your cards right.  The problem for you is this.  By the time you reach old age or your death bed (whichever comes first), you will be full of regret and disappointments.  It’s important to form your own views and opinions whilst living life the way you see fit.  Just prepare yourself for the tough rode when you don’t find in.

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In recent years, my strong opinions have been met by some pretty telling outbursts.  Not always, but on a regular basis.  Abusive messages, emails and comments have been an all too familiar sight on my phone and for many years, I’ve been able to let it wash off my back life any good little duck would.  But now, I give up.  I’m over it all.  Fed up with the abuse and ready to move into a new world of social media where my travel snaps and hobby interests will take canter stage over humanitarian, social justice and political views.  Will I hold out for long?  Hopefully.  Will it be better for me?  The jury is still out on that one.  Either way, I’m going to find out what it’s like to keep my opinions to myself for a change.

 

It’s Ok To Not Be Perfect!

I’m perched on the train seat to work. It’s Friday. I’m listening to the new U2 album. The final working day of my week starts at 10 am. By 5:30 pm, I will be on my way to visit my ageing parents who are battling their own health demons. As my gaze catches the faces of fellow passengers, I notice many of them look unhappy and/or miserable. Why? What is going on in their lives to make them appear so unhappy with their worlds?

Too many people today seem obsessed with money, possessions and appearances. Enough is now never enough as people chase the perfect body, the perfect car, the perfect career. You know what though? Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to have a bit of a tummy or to live in a house that isn’t the mansion you desire. Sometimes we need to just slow down, take stock and appreciate the simple things in life. Sometimes, it’s ok to finish last in a race. Giving everyone a trophy or ribbon for just competing paints the perception that we should be applauded for doing the basics right in life. It creates a culture of miserable people. Why do you need your partner to go on Facebook and applaud you for taking the rubbish to the bin?

Too many children today seem incapable of exploring their imagination unless they have a device on their hands or a television burning brain cells in front of them. Worse still, we adults are gradually slipping into the same boat as well. Members at my local gym spend more time on their devices than they actually do working out. Some friends I have noticed, are incapable of being at home unless the TV is on. Hell, we can’t even go and watch a football match anymore or take our partners out for dinner without relying on our phones for likes, positive comments and other modes of instant gratification to keep our self esteem up. God forbid anyone saying something that doesn’t make you feel “amazing”. Chances are they will be abused or deleted.

It’s ok if people don’t like you. It’s ok if your muffin top pops out over your jeans. It’s ok if don’t fit in. You just have to be yourself because, as Oscar Wilde once said, everybody else is taken.

When Italians Go Too Far

When you think of Italy, what’s the first thing that springs to mind?  Beautiful woman?  Pizza? Fashion? Culture? Fair enough I say.  Now, what would you be thinking of when you think of Italian football?  Cheating, diving, World Cup victories, Milan, Juventus and maybe even match fixing.  These days, when I think of Italian football, I think of Napoli away in the Europa League way back on October 21 2010.

The previous few days had been fantastic as Ross and I visited Florence and Pisa en route to Italy’s third largest municipality amid plentiful amounts of warm sunshine, beer and pasta.  We were having a European away trip fit for a king on a pauper’s budget.  Yes, it truly was that much fun.  Our train from Pisa to Naples took around 4 hours and landed us in the city by mid-afternoon.  As soon as we stepped off the train, eyes were being fixed on us from every angle.  Little did we know that, the night before, two Liverpool supporters had been stabbed in a city café and many others were attacked on the streets during the night.  More was to come.

Naples is located on the southern coast of Italy.  Those historically minded people reading this will be well aware of the lost city of Pompeii and there are just over four million inhabitants in one of the oldest cities in the world.  My impressions from the day and a half spent there were not so good.  Not just due to the football problems we faced but also the rubbish strike which saw piles of trash building up on the roadsides and out the front of cafes and restaurants. Now, the city centre is the largest in Europe so you can only imagine how much trash was littered here, there and everywhere can’t you?  I’m going to have to go back one day soon as a tourist to get a new perspective on the place.

Now, where was I?  Oh yes, jumping off the train and attracting unwanted attention.

I digress.

Within minutes of arriving, Ross and I were quickly sussed out by three plain clothed Police who quickly made us aware it was not safe to jump the subway to our hostel alone.  We soon found out why.  They advised us it would be best for us to allow them to escort us to our hostel.

Once on the subway train, all eyes were fixed on us for the entire three station ride to our hostel.  Our carriage was proper choca’s with Italian ultra’s who would have loved to have got their hands on us and perhaps even, their knives into us.  Thank Christ the bizzie’s were on hand to escort us or we would have become fodder.

Over the years, I’d heard older reds recount their stories of run ins with Italian football supporters during the 1970’s and 80’s.  Some scary recitals had been thrown my way with one of the most frightful being one supporter’s accounts of Rome in 1984 after the European Cup Final where the local Police had left the Liverpool supporters for dead following the match.  You can kind of understand why there were such hostilities a year later with Juventus supporters in Brussels.  I don’t for one moment excuse what happened but let’s just say English/Italian footballing relationships have indeed been soured for some time and still are to this day.

We found our hostel eventually, dropped our bags off and headed to the waterfront where bus transfers awaited us for a safe and swift transfer to Stadio San Paolo.  It was on this journey that we heard of more stories of stabbings and saw a couple of young fella’s who were bandaged up from attacks earlier in the day.  In Broad daylight!  There was a bit of an ill feeling, an edgy vibe if you like as we were escorted by a dozen Police motorbikes, first, out of the city before being take up to the ground via some dodgy back route to keep us all safe from harm.  I did wonder what was going through the minds of the Police.  The normal journey that would take around 15 minutes, took around 45 for this match.  The same heading back to but that’s another story for later in the blog.

As we approached the ground, Napoli fans greeted our bus with bricks and bottles against the windows.  Shit started to get real so we bunkered down in our seats and put our trust in the riot Police on hand at the stadium to keep at least some semblance to proceedings.  The Italians really don’t like the English when it comes to football matches.  I think at times, the feeling is very much mutual.  Regardless, we arrived into the stadium still in one piece after and very thorough body search by security as we entered into the stadium.  Once inside, you are directed to the upper tier plastic seats in the corner and allowed to sit wherever you see fit.  The game itself was one of few chances and ended in a goalless draw.  Post-match, we were held inside the stadium for nigh on an hour.  Similar to the San Siro in March 2008 when we sent Inter packing from the Champions League at the round of 16 stage.

The Police escorted bus ride back into town was less hostile though we were all dropped off and sent packing into the dark streets with no further Police protection.  As the large groups of reds wandered up into the city centre, we all broke off into smaller groups which was perhaps the worst scenario due to the groups of ultra’s waiting for us behind street corners.  Over the following hours, a number of supporters were attacked, stabbed and threatened by Italian thugs.  Not fun.

The following morning, Ross and I awoke early and a bit startled to the new of more stabbings and assaults.  We decided to stay in our dorm room and wait for check out before heading straight to the train station and our route of the city of Naples.  Once at the station, we met one young fella with swathes of bandages around his head.  He’s been stabbed the night before and received 6 stitches.  His mate had been battered by a thug with a crow bar and was sporting some heavy bruising.  Soon after, another red appeared with bandages, stitches and some horrific stories of what had gone on the night before.  By now I was thinking Ross and I had indeed made the right choice by avoiding the Naples night life in favour of a crusty hostel bed.  It’d been a rough couple of days for many travelling reds.

My fingers are crossed that Liverpool don’t face Napoli in European football any time soon.