Had an ace weekend. Barbie Thursday night at a mate's who lives in a disused rooftop car park (don't ask). Went back Saturday night, ripped my arms to bits (slight exaggeration) pissed out of my head climbing on top of the old lift room at 6 in the morning so I could dance to the sunrise. There was a five storey drop just next to me. What a fucking idiot.
Went to see the Sultan's Elephant in town after work on Friday. Best view - just as I came into Trafalgar Square I looked up the Mall and saw it ambling towards me in the distance, surrounded by crowds. I hadn't expected it to be so huge, and so well made. This was a very, very cool event. Just wish I was a kid, it's the sort of magical thing that stays with you forever.
Conflicting opinions on Sven's moment of madness naming various uncapped teenagers for the England squad. Personally I'm quite happy about it and broadly agree with this.
I think we need something unexpected with Rooney out and Owen still not fit. The choice is between giving an OK performance, or taking a big risk. I'd rather go for taking a risk - it's a game, after all. It's meant to be fun. I'm the eternal optimist though anyway.
Was speaking to an Argentinian bloke I know on Saturday night. I fancy watching the Argentina matches with him, and have come to the bizarre conclusion that if (sorry - when) England drop out I'll probably be following Argentina. Partly just to be awkward, but also because I realise I've always respected them. See poll.
And the first step in Leeds' promotion hopes has gone better than could be expected. Who knows, next year I could actually be watching these games in the pub rather than reading about them in the paper. Given up on the idea of forking out for Sky after the latest round of TV rights bidding, I could barely afford it at present prices.
Read Ice Station Zebra, which was entertaining enough I suppose but essentially shit. Tip for whodunit writers: probably best if you don't make the culprit the only character with any kind of colour, background and discernible features, it tends to give it away.
Much better was Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew by Bernard Hare, a social worker who left his job due to drink and drug problems, meets a group of homeless children who hang around near where he lives in Leeds, in the end rescuing them from pretty miserable lives.
I can't really give this book justice in a few paragraphs it has so much to say. From examining the lives of homeless ten year-old kids in east Leeds and how they support each other, to the exploitation they face (the way the girls prostitute themselves to adults for weed and alcohol is particularly distressing), to the strange fact that these kids are the intelligent ones who've escaped the abusive grind of the care system.
Each chapter is prefaced by a poem one of the kids has written in the comfort and safety of Hare's flat, which he lets them use as a base. These are the real gems in the book - from stuff about abuse to brilliantly weird rhymes about being on solvents, seeing buses turn into dogs and getting chased through car parks by purple giraffes.
The eye opener is the prevalence of child abuse in poor communities, something I've read about before in Dark Heart by Nick Davis and made me look at the Paulsgrove riots in a different light than most. Post-Thatcher there are a lot of kids with no protection whatsoever who are incredibly easy to exploit - and people do.
Couple this with the prevalence of abuse in care homes, and kids learning they can get money and drugs out of it, and it becomes common amongst the very poorest. A lack of trust in the police - who don't care anyway - leads to an almost necessary vigilanteism. Paedophilia is a thread that runs through the entire book, not least because Hare is accused of being a nonce himself - why else would he take on looking after all these feral children?
Anyway, best book I've read so far this year, and not just because it's about Leeds. Highly recommended.
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