The 2018 World Cup – but do I give a fuck?

I’ve never experienced such disinterest on the eve of a World Cup before – and it’s made me wonder why.

I refute that it’s due to Russia hosting it. Yes, there’s good reasons why that should matter; it’s a country riddled with corporate and political corruption, that doesn’t have freedom of the press, the tournament is being cynically used by Putin to stoke nationalism and consolidate his grip on power, has a problem of racist chanting at sporting events (to put it mildly), discriminates against LGBT folk, annexes and invades territories of neighbouring countries and used highly questionable machinations to win the right to stage the tournament. Normally I’d recognise that the English media’s sour grapes were due to their competing bid losing (and recent events in Salisbury have reinvigorated the jingoistic sneering), but then FIFA awarded the 2022 finals to Qatar at the same time. That decision was an epic abortion. Both votes were bent as fuck.

However, for those watching at home, once the matches commence all the recent and ongoing political tensions, and the debate as to whether a country with Russia’s social, political, economic and geopolitical profile should be allowed to host such a prestigious event will fade. In truth most folks aren’t concerned enough about politics, never mind international politics, to take a stand on this, not when they can relax and watch some footie.

My apathy can’t be that Scotland aren’t involved, as we haven’t reached a major tournament finals since 1998 – gulp. It hasn’t anything to do with England’s involvement either. While the ritual of witnessing England’s media and chainmail clad fans rouse themselves into vomit inducing levels of tubthumping delusion, through romanticising ‘66, Agincourt and Normandy, only to fail, often crushingly, allows you to delight in pure schadenfreude, on this occasion most seem to be, to their credit, embracing introspection and bypassing this charade. Clearly the defeat to Iceland two years ago was an epiphany. There’s no talk of winning this or any tournament now. And no wonder, this is the least talented England team of my lifetime. They play a troglodyte, antiquated style of football, a grotesque legacy of the FA pandering to the moronic inverted snobbery of Sunday League marshes and terrace boorishness for decades. As a result most – except the diehard Brexiter, imperialist, royalist, little England middle earthers and bandwagon types – have finally recognised this has resulted in their current place as a footballing irrelevance on the international stage.

For once perception, reason and reality are aligned. It used to be that the World Cup Finals is where you’d witness the greatest concentration of talent. That premise alone gripped you. Because it only happened every four years over a period of six weeks heightened the importance for the players, supporters and the countries participating. It was though a solar eclipse was occurring, and so you didn’t want to miss it. It filled the usual void of a summer sans football. The prospect of a nation’s success, and how the highs and lows of its narrative affected you, was enticing, as it allowed for an outpouring of benign nationalism. There was no reason to feel queasy, or be ashamed at getting pished because your country won a football tournament, or, in Scotland’s case, just won a match.

We know now that international football owed its historical status to archaic club football rules; the European Cup being limited to just the champions of each country, fairer distribution of wealth (and less of it) and a limit on foreign players per team. Now a progressive conflation of lifting the restrictions on the number of foreign players per team (rightfully), added to a boom in television money, the arrival of oligarchs and sovereign wealth funds into club ownership has allowed the biggest clubs to stockpile the world’s best talent.

This and Champions League expansion has rendered many of international football’s previous appeals, mostly based on rarity and exclusivity of quality, as irrelevant or as wholly inferior. Not only has it supplanted its quality, but the narrative flow of the Champions League is ubiquitous, unchecked, running throughout the year, every year.

For international football to compete with the Champions League it must evolve and find ways to become more like it. The proposed expansion to a forty-eight team World Cup in 2026 is not a solution, only a cynical money making enterprise, and further devalues and dilutes international football’s appeal. In this day and age people have choices, waiting every four years for a bloated competition, and in-between be subjected to fragmented, drab and elongated qualifying campaigns and redundant friendlies, doesn’t work.

And so a suggestion – have the World Cup every two years instead four, that means more competitive matches against better opponents. While national teams will always be restricted to picking players from their nation, too often national teams play without synergy or verve that repetition and meaningfulness encourages. Perhaps we’d see World Cup knock-out matches played with more fluency, unburdened by its form of cruelly unique failure: a crushingly catastrophic double whammy of having to wait four years to get another chance (if they get one at all) and letting their country down.

Hopefully my indifference to Russia 2018 will dissipate, and when the knockout stages commence intrigue will have superseded it. But that I feel that way about it is telling – the World Cup finals can no longer live off its name and what we think it promises, it has to deliver on the pitch.

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Song Of The Day – Cruise Control Love by Melatonin Man

From the EP ‘Nous’klaer’ (2018)

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Song Of The Day – The Top by Necronomicon

From the compilation album ‘Sport’ (1982)

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(Belated) Home Improvement

This one’s going to be a rant with crappy pictures and videos. Sorry.

Posting this does have a practical purpose – it encourages me to document the progress of the conversion so far. Not that I think this blog is being mistaken for anything other than an indulgence.

As the title suggests, said improvement is occurring much later than expected. I’ve learned that in the lexicon of building work which requires planning permission, that ‘expected’ is a contentious word.

Obtaining planning permission from Building Control within Glasgow City Council, or, having heard first-hand anecdotes from others and done some research, any council throughout the UK, is a fiasco. When you see a headline such as ‘Government accused of making fracking as easy as building a conservatory’ you’re inclined to think such hyperbole is absolute bollocks. Now, having gone through the process of getting planning permission to convert the attic space in my ex-local authority council house into a living space, I know it is.

To be clear, this isn’t an issue of getting plans passed (provided you submit them through a registered architect who knows all the regulations) it’s the length of time it takes to get things ratified through an underfunded, understaffed, over-regulated process. The application (the drawings done via an architect with a structural engineer’s consultation) for planning permission to convert the unused attic space in my house into two bedrooms and a bathroom was submitted in February 2017. Without going into too much detail (because it’s tedious), the original intention was to knock through a wall in the living room to create the staircase entrance, with two cupboards adjacent to each other (one in the bedroom, one off the hall) becoming the cavity for the stairs (and the stairs could only ascend in one direction due to the roof’s slope). This original mode of access would’ve preserved all the downstairs floor-space.

While everything else about the plans was completely fine, to get full planning they insisted the stairs needed direct access into the downstairs hallway for ‘fire regulations’ (my architect joked that they’d probably ask we re-submit again to comply with wheelchair access rules for commercial properties). This required a stud wall be erected in one of the bedrooms (at a loss of three square metres) to house the now required turn in the staircase. Fair enough, and while I bristled at the extortion of an additional payment of two hundred quid to ratify the resubmitted drawings, it was paid – by this point I just wanted to get on with it. It was now August 2017.

So, you’re thinking this resubmission took a week, or maybe two weeks due to bank holidays or because someone was ill or on holiday, or maybe a month due to excessive Bovine flatulence and roadworks on the M9 causing the earth’s axis to shift? Nope. It took them nine months to ratify the new drawings. Nine. It’s a scandal that you’re left hanging, waiting, without them giving you any indication of when you can expect to hear back.

These delays haven’t cost me any money, just time (it could’ve been done by now) but just imagine said building work was being done as a commercial job for a client. Materials could’ve been purchased in anticipation of work starting and left to rot or spoil. Money could’ve changed hands. Would the builders you originally hired still be available now? It left me curious as to how much planning delays cost the taxpayer, personal and private enterprise every year, answer – this projection seems modest to me. I mean, okay, it probably wouldn’t be, but that billion quid could be used constructively to build stuff that benefits everyone, like schools, roads, and hospitals, man.

Even worse, the above concern – ‘how it affects business’ – is the kind of prioritisation I’d associate with Tories, but if disliking inefficacious bureaucracy makes me a Tory in this instance, so be it. Normally I’m too patient to capitulate into the insufferable narcissistic whining of the bourgeoisie bastards you see on Grand Designs. They’re the sort which laments the hardship of having to spend (euphemism for borrow) an extra hundred grand or two to ‘realise their vision’. Still, even if I dislike that this experience of having to wait a year to get started has allowed me to empathise with these wankers on some level, at least I can console myself that it’s preferable to empathising with Gary Glitter, or something.

You might also be wondering why I bothered? Well, as the world gets more populated and the rooms in new build homes get smaller, who doesn’t want more space? Second, if I ever want to sell the place in the future, to get a full return on my investment (and hopefully then some) it’s essential that I have the planning in writing, as any conversion work can be advertised as living space. Take two houses in the same area built to the same spec, which sounds more enticing to a cunty nuclear family? Four bedrooms? Or two?

Anyway. Enough jabbering on. Time for some pictures and video. CRAP PICTURES AND VIDEOS! BUT PROGRESS! FUCK YEAH!

For comparison, here’s some from before major work started (Autumn of 2017):

A few more after the flooring had been started and most of the roof beams heightened (early 2018):

After the windaes were installed (early May 2018):

Starting the stairway to dungeon heaven (late May 2018):

Partition wall now completely cleared, ready for staircase to be installed (door on left still to be removed):

I’ll supply another update later this summer when it’s (hopefully) finished or very close to it. As you can see before the windaes went in, it looked like an attic torture dungeon sans chains on the walls, and auld-fashioned torture apparatus – say pears of anguish and knee splitters. Now the junkies in the highflats (provided they have binoculars) will have a lovely view of me torturing Romanian gypsy children that I intend to have trafficked in by Serbian Gangsters. But before all the fun begins this is what remains on the to do list; building and putting in the stair case, building a stud wall, finishing the flooring, plastering, buying plasterboard, insulation (it costs a fortune), tidying up the electrics, putting in plumbing, buying and installing a bathroom suite, and in-between deciding if I want it open plan or not. And breathe. One day at a time.

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Song Of The Day – Long Hot Summer (Club Mix) by The Style Council

From the album ‘Introducing The Style Council’ (1983)

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