What better way to start the New Year than with a big breakfast? The breakfasts and the coffees at Wetherspoons might not be the very best, but they're possibly the very best value. It's interesting that wherever you go, whichever town or city you visit, you'll find the local Wetherspoons full of people from early morning onward, with the place functioning as a kind of community centre - for friends to meet, families to rest and refresh, and single people to sit with newspapers, coffees, books, laptops, phones, beers, breakfasts, etc.
Outside - the local teens pass to and fro, most of them wearing only teeshirts in some kind of macho ritual, as they listlessly wander the cold, grey streets. These are not the hoodie crowd - that's a different tribe altogether.
Can anyone think of a worse way to end one year and begin another than watching Jules Holland's 'Hootenanny'? What's to actually like about a studio full of C List musos plus guest 'celebrities' - all revolving round the ego of the diminutive Mr H?
Isn't this the man who originally played in an appalling band called . . . what the hell were they called? Oh yes - Squeeze. The Squeegies. How did he go from that rubbish to the status he now enjoys as the BBC's favourite presenter of contemporary music? His whole manner is so digustingly fawning and insincere. It's not that he's not knowledgeable about music - he clearly is. So why does he have to sound like the perenial cheeky cheery chappie from Planet Celebrity? He should dress up in a red jacket like a proper circus ringmaster.
I used to think that for all his annoying mannerisms Jules has at least done his musical bit to popularise some great music - rhythm & blues and boogie woogie piano. Now though, I'm not so sure. It's equally possible that most people think - well if that idiot likes this kind of music then I'm out of here. Not interested! (And the terrible truth is that Jules is really NOT a great blues and boogie pianist. He always sounds like a pastiche and a pale imitation of the true greats.)
Admittedly there's been the odd great band and the odd great individual musician and singer on Jules' programmes down the years. Seasick Steve and Manu Chao stand out for me. The majority, however, have been cut-price rubbish like . . . Duffy.
Am I the only one who's noticed that Duffy can't actually sing? It's a horrible weedy noise she makes - like the vast majority of Later's (and Hootenanny's) guests. It's all very well dishing up whatever's current and contemporary, on the basis that we should always support live music and whoever's out there performing - on the basis that something is better than nothing. But Jules likes to pretend that whoever comes on his show is brilliant, superb, wonderful and fabulous. NO they are fucking NOT. Just let them play and sing, and let Jules say thank you for coming. No need to pretend they are anything more than humdrum, at best. Otherwise you just devalue those who are truly something special.
Other annoying idiots
BBC3 has been showing a massive year-end compilation of Most Annoying People of 2010. Very good it is too.
Number 1 on the list is the entire England football squad. Good choice! They were more than annoying in South Africa, in the World Cup finals. They were appalling. They were horrible. They were shocking. They were shameful. They were unspeakable. They were an embarrassment.
The programme rightly called them inept pussies masquerading as English lions.
Theo Walcott was fortunate not to go to South Africa. Joe Harte was fortunate not to get a game.
Wayne Rooney was also high up the Most Annoying list in his own right. He's had an appalling year. He's totally lost it. Today he finally scored a goal for Man U from open play - his first since last Spring. Incredible! His efforts for England these days totally suck. SUCK.
Others high up the Most Annoying list were the usual suspects - Paris Hilton, who had the piss well and truly taken out of her, Tony BP Hayward, Michael Ryanair O'Leary, Sarah and Bristol (Bristol!) Palin, Russell Crowe, Mel Gibson, Jedward, Linsey Li-Lo Lohan, and - ta da! - Tony Blair.
Someone new to me was Janice Dickinson . This is an interesting phenomenon - a woman over the age of 60 whose celebrity seems to stem from the fact that she likes to flash her knickers and her knockers and her arse in public, especially if photographers are around. Maybe her message is a good one - that women who are normally considered beyond sex and sexuality owing to their age CAN in fact still be libidinous and sexually active, if not attractive. Which she isn't. But is this a good way of changing perceptions? Or does she just come over as an extremely sad, mad, bad and possibly dangerous head case?
Someone else I've never heard of was called Daffy (Dappy?). It seems he 'raps' in a group called N-Dubz (?). This guy is certifiable, with his ridiculous voice, his daft speech affectation, his twattish spiel, and his ludicrous hats.
Why was I unsurprised to learn that Ed Balls had chosen 'Daffy' as an anti-bullying 'ambassador'? Or unsurprised that shortly after being chosen, this 'Daffy' was caught out sending death threats by text? Well done, Daffy, and good riddance, Ed. Another very annoying and somewhat ludicrous individual. Another ego on stilts.
Back on the football front, a man I'm starting to really appreciate is WBA's Roberto Di Matteo. This is some guy. He speaks excellent, idiomatic, comprehensible English, and he talks great sense, even after games in which his team has lost, which they unluckily did to Man U today. A good man. Pity you can't say similar things about the majority of the Premiership managers - even the native English speakers. Though I do like the way Harry Rednapp handles himself and his team. Gareth Bale continues to play unbelievably well, and is still scoring brilliant goals. Spurs are now in the top four. Chelsea's slide continues.
It's very surprising that Man U still top the table, given how poorly they, and Rooney, have been playing. Their midfield today was crap - Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson and the truly ugly guy whom Ferguson seems determined to persist with - whatsisname. Obertan! Also, Neville G was diabolical today. And he's the MOST unattractive player in the entire league, and possibly the entire country. Why on earth hasn't he hung up his boots? Neville - you're fired!
Another of the real uggs is Carlos Tevez. Today he missed half a dozen sitters, and EVEN missed a penalty kick - hitting the ball well wide.
I just hope Bale stays at Spurs. He's SUCH an exciting player. Just for once I'd like someone of his calibre to resist offers of huge paypackets at one of the really wealthy clubs and just say - No thanks; I'm already earning ludicrous amounts, and I'd rather stay with my mates at a club where I'm happy and I get to play every week.
It's good to see Arsenal keeping up their run for the title. This year, because of the dips at Man U and Chelsea, and because of the maturation of their own players, I really think they can win it. They, and Wenger, deserve it.