Football

I didn’t think I’d feel angry. I’ve never  felt  angry about a group of players trying their best but going out of a tournament. Heartbroken (86,90,96,98), resigned (2002,2010, 2012), privileged to be there (2004).

But last night was the pits. As wretched as it was possible to imagine. It was impossible to find anything remotely resembling an excuse, not least given that it was seven whole days since the previous match, a luxurious gap by this tournament’s standards.

But the clue was in the game against Slovakia. England played an experimental second string XI. They, after all, could afford to. OK, the group hadn’t been won, and Slovakia had already shown that they were not be underestimated. But this was England. Deluded into believing that they were A list, by the money and the hype. Two players emerged with great credit from the Slovakia game. Henderson and Clyne. Both were never to be seen again in the tournament.When England needed a midfield substitution, they turned to Wilshere,  the player who had stunk out the Wales game. To replace Sterling, the player who had stunk out the Wales game. Three players emerge blameless from this debacle. Two are Henderson and Clyne. The third is Marcus Rashford.

Rashford didn’t dazzle against Wales. But he played well. He brought much needed pace and fearlessness to England. But that is not what England are about. England are about sticking obstinately to the status quo until it is too late. Much as Hoddle delayed Owen in 1998, and Sven took off Rooney against France in 04, Hodgson’s reward for Rashford’s excellence in the Wales game, was to ignore him for the next 175 minutes, in favour for tired, jaded and utterly out of form legs.

This is not a vintage squad, but it is a squad more than capable of making it to the quarter finals. It was hopelessly, ineptly managed, and the Slovakia gamble backfired spectacularly. Playing the disappointing Sturridge in his right position, gambling on younger fresher players, playing Rooney in every game so as to familiarise himself with his new role, being reactive about out of form goalkeepers, all of this may have helped. But the truth is one that Sky Sports will never tell you. English football is shit. For all the relentless noise, last night is where we are at. A generation of players who, both mentally and physically, freeze on the big occasion. It is the first time I’ve been angry rather than sympathetic.

Brapocalypse Now.

It hurts. It will always hurt. I wanted my nephew and niece to grow up, unconditionally both British and European. I wanted some kind of blow to the smug triumphalism of the Right. I loathe Bojo, the unprincipled, power hungry opportunist and master of the volte face and despise the values of Farage, the schoolboy Nazi turned populist spiv.

But I am but one person, one life’s experience. And that life is pampered, and steeped in metropolitanism. And I cannot seriously expect an entire nation to share my values.

Left wing journalists, commentators and comedians are often accused of smugly wallowing in their own echo chamber. Well I don’t. For four years I was in a relationship with a guy whose primary political passion was to expose the unwieldy bureaucracy and frequent corruption of the EU. My comedy touring frequently takes me into the heart of Brexitshire, where the common ground taken for granted in London, is not necessarily shared. I am quite the veteran of hosting industry awards, be it the Vending Machine, the Bathroom Supplier, the Electrical wholesaler. Being needy and in search of approval, I often drink into the small hours with these people, hear their opinions and tales.

For quite a long time now I have realised, with sadness, that a lot of very good, hardworking people, with not a racist bone in their body, want out of the EU.

Of course, a lot of pricks wanted out as well. It would take no time at all to list a rollcall of infamy, a catalogue of truly appalling human beings who want out. This is exacerbated by a media and twittersphere wanting to make the appalling people emblematic of a larger whole. How can anyone vote on the same side as Britain First, Marine Le Pen, Katie Hopkins and Donald Trump? I couldn’t in a million years. But I don’t run a small business, or live in a forgotten town, or have a family to run. I am but one person and one life’s experience.

I don’t think intolerance of opinion, or gracelessness in defeat is particularly a left or a right thing. In fact, the proportion of dickheads on twitter who send me graceless tweets, who are also Brexiteers is quite high. But it breaks my heart to see, as I have seen in the last two days,  friends and colleagues dismissing the opinions of “The 52” with arrogance, contempt and the kind of simplistic stereotyping that your average racist would find obtuse. Not least when one the key issues is that Jeremy Corbyn’s complete lack of leadership ability has left a political vacuum on the left, which the right have been only too happy to take advantage of.

I know this blog will not make me popular. Right now, people are hurting and with good reason. A lot of people are saying that they are ashamed to British, ashamed to be English. Well, this country has been amazing to my family and to me. It has allowed an openly gay Asian man to pursue unusual professions. Yes, it has its share of idiots, and liars, and racists and misogynists and homophobes. Every country does. Yes, I believe with a passion that Brexit was wrong-headed and that the consequences may be disastrous. But I am not going to be one of those who insults the Leavers. They had their reasons, however much I disagree. And I am not losing faith in a country just because, on one day in 2016, 52% of them had a different approach to how to deal with a corrupt, unwieldy bureaucracy than I did. Heartbroken, yes, but still standing. x

 

 

Orlando

A man walks into a gay club and goes on a murderous rampage, leaving a trail of the dead, the maimed, the bereaved.

For most people it is an appalling crime, a heinous, sickening strike, a horror of lives cut tragically short.

For a small minority, it is a time for celebration, to abuse the privilege of free speech and the democracy of social media by displaying their psychopathy with glee.

For gay people it is a visceral blow, a chilling reminder that the lives we try and enjoy as fully as we can, are lives which many people would cheerfully bring to an end. This will not be the last time this happens.

For some people, it is a time to parade their ignorance, and question whether a man walking into a gay club and mass murdering is actually homophobia.Nope, perhaps he was just angry at the music policy.

For many people it is a time to soberly reflect, to ponder what on earth the answer is to religious, in this case Islamic, extremism. Those who don’t have the moral certainty of the Trump/EDL end of the spectrum certainly don’t have any clear answers.

For certain politicians it is a time to wallow in their own hypocrisy, expressing hollow sympathy for gay people, a demographic group they have been only too keen to demonise as second class citizens.

And for one group, analyzing the whole thing is a simply hilarious parlour game. “Look at those effete, mincing lefties with their sorrow. Don’t they know this is all their fault?”  And then they play their parlour game and prove that 1=2, cats=dogs, and a gay hating gay murdering man with high level weaponry is all the fault of the lefties. For this narcissistic end of the rightwing press, a group of over privileged, mutually fellating, self-congratulatory, relentlessly dog-whistling dickwads, there is no tragedy too raw, too horrific, not to exploit. For them, mourning is….. a bit gay. Far more fun to use catastrophe as an excuse to contort and distort.

I don’t have any answers to anything. I’m a comedian. Orlando was brutal evidence of just how deadly homophobia can be. Especially nihilistic extreme Islamic homophobia. In simplistic terms, I hope nobody stumbles back into the closet, and people are more determined to live lives of their choosing. One thing I am sure of is that I  would rather react to human tragedy with sadness and anger and uncertainty, than react with the smug, self satisfaction of the Delingpolerati.

 

 

More stuff.

I’m 46 now. Had a great birthday night out in Liverpool, based around three very different drinking venues. The Lisbon, The Liverpool, and McCooleys. All three bars were fantastic hosts. Many thanks.

Audiences are definitely getting older. Not just at my solo shows, I am also finding that at club gigs there has been a steady rise in average age. Are we pricing the younger generation out? A recent gig I did at the Komedia offered big student discounts for the Saturday late show, and the resulting audience certainly had a different flavour.

Saturday morning is one of the red letter mornings of the year for me. It is the World Quizzing Championships, in which questions about Eastenders have been replaced by questions about Azerbhaijani folk music. I have got quite good at it over the years, and finished 17th last year. I do not expect to improve on that, I think a few people underperformed last year. As usual my main aim is not to make stupid errors.

If you would like to catch me telling jokes, that would be great. The History Rvision show continues for the next three Thursdays at 1830 on Radio 4. As for live gigs………….

June 2-4 Comedy Store London

June 7th Cutting Edge, Comedy Store London

June 10th Helmsley. http://www.helmsleyarts.co.uk/whats-on/paul-sinha-postcards-from-the-z-list

June 17th/18th Laughterhouse Liverpool

June 24/25         Comedy Store Manchester

June 26th  Saddleworth  http://www.saddleworthcomedy.co.uk/shows/paul-sinha/    Tickets running out for this one.

July 1st Chorlton http://iwantacomedynight.com/comedy-clubs/comedy-chorlton-irish-club/paul-sinha-postcards-from-the-z-list/

July 2nd   Darwen     http://darwenlibrarytheatre.com/whats-on/comedy/

July 29th   Neath. Yep Neath  https://www.ents24.com/neath-events/neath-little-theatre/paul-sinha/1073790177

And July 31st, South Shields. http://www.customshouse.co.uk/whats-on/Theatre/2369/comedy-festival-paul-sinha-postcards-from-the-z-list

Busy,busy, busy.