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Month: June 2020

Merry Christmas (VAR is over)

First off, congratulations to Liverpool, the best team in at least Britain this year by a country mile. A great triumph, I’m delighted that it wasn’t the case in 1971.

Just get on with it…

Second, there are more important things around at the moment in the world, but the empty stadiums have somehow managed to magnify and accentuate the dire problems that football governing bodies are creating for themselves right now.

I have always loved football, even when I didn’t know better and had a Man City kit as a small kid because I liked the light blue top. That was when Man City had no money and were rubbish. How times change. My Dad supported QPR, what was I to do? Follow his lead or follow my own path?

Then Charlie George changed my football life.

I have never been to an FA Cup final, but oh boy the 1971 final, Arsenal v Liverpool, would have been the one to cash in a pile of tickets to go and see. Charlie George was majestic that day, imperious, commanding, spraying dangerous passes from midfield, buccaneering forward to let off a few long range rockets.

And then the Snow Angel Moment.

In extra time after he’d lashed home what proved to be the winner. Collapsing on the floor spreadeagled, his unspoken words, Yup, that’s how goood I am. Captivating.

That was the moment. When I became a Gooner.

My love for the club has not diminished over the years, it has kept strong, helped by the merry band of Henry & Co. and despite agonising dips and painful moments (I give you the Champions League final). They have often done stuff the hard way – That Moment in 1989 is one of the best examples. If you’re going to do it at all, please make sure you leave it more or less to the final kick of the game. Nick Hornby, take a bow for capturing the pain and the ecstasy.

My choice was rewarded by the footballing Gods when Charlie was the Legend on my Legends Tour of the Emirates. (Awesome! Like being a kid again.)

So, what’s my problem?

Three nasty little letters. V. A. R.

And two words: Handball and Offside (the main VAR issues).

My cosy little arrangement with Arsenal to scare me to death watching them – often in glorious failure – is being torpedoed by these things.

The equation is straightforward:

Football is a sport played by and refereed by human beings (for now). Human beings make mistakes. What to do about that?

The answer is not to use technology to eliminate EVERY SINGLE MISTAKE ON THE PITCH EVER. Ask Sheffield United about the Hawkeye goal-line technology (I am a fan of that tech which had been faultless until the recent debacle against Villa, but it supports my point: nothing is infallible).

That means the Powers That Be, bless them, need to get a grip before they kill the game as a spectacle.

VAR is purportedly there to get rid of stupid, obvious errors, not to take five or more minutes to pore over a video fifty times to see if one pubic hair of an attacker was in an offside position.

I guarantee that normal fans do not give a damn. Offered a choice of 100% accuracy against a free-flowing game, they would absolutely go for free-flowing. The issue that needs to be grappled with and put into a locked box on the ocean floor is that the game is the important thing, not the micro-millimetres…The argument that the money in the game makes it important to get it faultless is misguided: any cock-ups wash out over time, just get rid of obvious howlers…(If they’re not obvious, it’s not a howler.)

Yes, VAR is fledgling technology, but it is how it is applied that is the disaster area (not how it is said that it is applied).

Give the VAR referee say twenty seconds (and some Prozac: no pressure) to review an incident. If they can’t say it’s a clear and obvious error, then play on.

Until then, I will keep an avuncular eye on My Boys, but at a distance. I’ll keep my Red membership, I’ll watch them but VAR has turned off the excitement:

Gooooooal! Celebrate! Over-rule. Wait to celebrate then. Look over your shoulder after scoring, wait for it, wait for it…Maybe celebrate now? As a fan, that does not work, waiting to be told that it’s OK to yell…It’s all about the immediate adrenalin rush, not being given permission to get excited.

So:

My BT Sport subscription: Cancelling.

My Sky Sports subscription: Cancelling.

Match of the Day when things normalise more: Maybe every now and again to see if the boredom has abated.

Sad but true. I don’t want perfection, unless it’s in the form of a Charlie George screamer, not grey suits sweating not to make a mistake over the odd pixel.

Merry Christmas.

Arsenal Bear football cuddly teddy bear
Difficult to bear…
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Behind The Scenes – Behind The Typewriter

Author Interview

This interview is reprinted from the one that I took part in for Jazzy Book Reviews during last week’s book / blog tour for my new book Lost In Plain Sight:

1.       What would you consider to be your Kryptonite as an author?

Gin (even with tonic)…

2.       If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Just get it down, then stress about it. I still need to yell that sometimes at myself…

3.       What book do you feel is under-appreciated? How about overrated?

Difficult. I have my opinions on books, but we’re all entitled to our opinions, right? I’m not too bothered if I’m in the minority or the majority.

4.       Favorite childhood memory involving books?

Discovering Isaac Asimov, or as an only child trying to re-enact bits of the Lord Of The Rings in the back garden.

5.       If you could dine with any literary character, who would it be and why?

See below about my fictional friend!

6.       What fantastical fictional world would you want to live in (if any) given the chance?

That’s a tough one, but I’ll plump for the absurdities, wonder and awesomeness of the Discworld. But only if I could be head of the City Watch.

7.       Did you want to be an author when you grew up?

Yes. Being a lawyer in the intervening period from not being grown up to being a bit more grown up has allowed me the privilege of having a go at it…

8.       If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Me: creativeirreverentobsessive

My wife when I asked her about me: stubbornannoyingobsessive

All a question of perception, I’d say…

I’m not even going there with my nineteen-year-old twins, but grumpy would no doubt feature as one …

9.       What is your most unusual writing quirk?

Writing while my Burmese cat drapes herself on the right side of my chest and sleeps. That causes problems of course: I need to choose a lot of words on the QWERTY side of the keyboard…

10.   What’s one movie you like recommending to others?

Has to be Die Hard. Yippee-ki-yay!

11.   If you could own any animal as a pet, what would it be?

Drogon from GOT’s looking good. I stopped being afraid of heights a while ago.

12. Have you ever met anyone famous?

Not really.

13.       What is the first book that made you cry?

Black Beauty.

The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett) made me cry with laughter. It was my first exposure to his extraordinary perspective on the world. (Bambi was the first movie that made me cry when I was a kid, and I vividly remember Gallipoli as a teenager…)

14.       How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?

I’ve written two.

The novel, Lost In Plain Sight, took around two years or so to write; the collection of ultra-ultra-short stories much less time. I’m hoping for about twelve months for my next novel (currently in production at Chapter 4 [now 20]…).

15.       How do you select the names of your characters?

They just come, probably from people around me, the media, whatever. It then takes a while to get comfortable with them if they’re major characters. My half-human character, Meyra, in LIPS started as Grace (too serene for what I wanted), then Miranda (too witchy) before settling on Meyra (Other, without being too odd). Sam Franklin came straightaway. And Pagoda? Well, that’s my cat’s name…

16.       What creature do you consider your “spirit animal” to be?

A Giant Panda – they seem pretty chilled.

17.       What are your top 5 favorite movies?

Favourite rather than best, I hasten to add:

Die Hard (see above)

Aliens

Blade Runner

Gattaca

Parasite

18.       If you were the last person on Earth, what would you do?

Find an iconic place to do a Charlton Heston impression and yell something iconic. Not the Statue of Liberty, he’s already done that. Mind you, it might take me a while to get to New York from Surrey.

19.       What fictional character would you want to be friends with in real life?

Sam Vimes (from Discworld). Although, given my answer about where I ‘d want to live, I would want his job, so that might cause friction…

20. What book do you wish you had written?

I like the books I’ve written and am writing, but I love The Old Man And The Sea (Hemingway) for sheer bang for word-buck. The simplicity of the language, the timeless themes, the bleakness and the hope, all wrapped up in such a compact package. Awesome.

21. Tell us 10 fun facts about yourself! 

My Joker wig is in a hat box in my wardrobe, just in case. I keep my other nine fun facts tied up in a purple bow next to it.

22. If you could live in any time period, what would it be and why?

Another wow question. Three immediate thoughts: in the 1920s, but only if I could be Bertie Wooster; mid-nineteenth century if I could invent something to get the industrial revolution going and be allowed to wear a stovepipe hat; as a 15th century explorer when anything was possible and there still might be dragons.

23. What is your favorite genre to read?

I love books that defy pigeon-holing. But if forced to choose, then it’s Fantasy. Or Thrillers (especially Noir). Probably Fantasy-thrillers. I need some humour in that, not just bleak and dark. If any Sci-fi comes along for the ride, then so much the better. And neo-Victorian, I like a bit of that. It’s very difficult. The Maltese Falcon’s Magic Blade Runner That’s Dreaming Of Electric Sheep. There. Perfect.

Check out Jazzy Book Reviews for a bunch of interesting stuff, including a blog and reviews: https://www.jazzybookreviews.com/2020/06/lost-in-plain-sight-by-alan-camrose.html

WEAR A MASK!

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website: www.alancamrose.com

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