Archive | March 2012

People should sit less and move more

Castle Hill, Huddersfield

Castle Hill, Huddersfield, on the Stocksmoor to Berry Brow walk

I’m going for a walk tomorrow from Littleborough to Marsden and, to be honest, I don’t expect to see a whole lot of people while I’m out. The weather is forecast to be partly cloudy and 11°C or to put it another way, perfect walking weather. Another walk I took recently from Stocksmoor to Berry Brow was pretty bare. It was more or less the first ‘perfect walking weather’ day of the year and I expected to see more than the five or six people (in only two or three groups) than I did. This has led me to wonder; why don’t people get out any more?

I was just reading a story on the Guardian website about kids being outside and enjoying themselves. It’s increasingly rare to see kids climbing trees, exploring woodland, running around in fields and suchlike. I’m only 30 and I was doing this kind of thing when I was a kid so why has it changed?

Atari 800XL

The Atari 800XL, my first computer

People always point to the rise in computers, the internet, television and other distracting technology. You’ll be lucky to find anyone who uses this kind of tech more than I do, I had a computer from the age of two and Sky TV since before the football was on Sky Sports (in fact, it was the day of the first Simpsons episode to be shown in the U.K., whenever that was). Ok, the internet wasn’t about back then but I still had enough to keep me indoors; Scalextric, darts etc. The difference is that I was almost always out playing football, riding my bike, mucking about with my friends.

I lived around 3 miles from my primary school so at the weekend I used to regularly ride my bike across town to go and see my schoolmates. Once I’d met them, we’d often go to High Elms to ride our bikes around the woods. Mum warned me about ‘dirty old men’, or paedophiles as we now call them(!), but let me get on with it, safe in the knowledge that my gradually built up experience of only being allowed down to the third lamppost on my own, then round the corner at the bottom of the hill, then down to the park, then into the fields next to the park and so on had given me.

This is what makes me think that technology is an excuse adults use for kids not going out. I believe that it’s parents being too wary and not letting kids have their independence. I learnt a lot by riding off five miles from home on my bike at age 10. I learnt a lot climbing the tree half way down the park and jumping off it. Ok, I could’ve been run over while on the ride to Green Street Green or broke an arm jumping off the tree but I didn’t. Even if I did, it’s a lesson learnt!!

The article says that the ‘roaming radius’ of kids had shrunk by 90% in the past 30 years from the 1990’s, when I was out and about – makes you wonder just how far I would’ve gone if I was a child of the 50’s or 60’s! Perhaps I was an exception to the rule but I feel it was good preparation for life, especially how I’ve gone about things, moving away from home and all.

Hackney Marshes

Get these pitches used!!

I despair when I walk or drive past football pitches on a Sunday morning in autumn, winter or spring and they’re not being used. Why aren’t they being used? If you didn’t have a match on a Sunday morning when I was a kid there was no chance you’d find a goal to have a kickabout in, you’d have to wait until the afternoon.

Getting outdoors and closer to nature helps to keep children fit, they can learn about the world around them, and most of all its fun. Building a den, picking flowers, climbing trees – the outdoors is a treasure trove, rich in imagination. It brings huge benefits that we believe every child should have the opportunity to experience. And there are huge costs when they don’t.

Too right. Another good point:

But it’s essential for children to play out and for us to guide them, so that they know the dangers and boundaries. They love the canal, for instance, and it’s good that they should learn about all the wildlife there, but also about the risks of water.

Most of us live too much of a sedentary lifestyle these days, myself included. I’m making changes in my life right now that involve moving more and sitting less. I know I’ll benefit from this in later years and I enjoy it right now so it’s a win-win situation.

My message to everyone reading this is get out more. If you’ve got kids, get them out of the door. Go with them. Even if you don’t want to go with them, send them out anyway. Set rules, of course, and give them a phone or whatever so you can keep track of them (text messages and Google Latitude on a cheapo Android phone will do the job). Everyone will benefit in the short, medium and long-term. It gives kids a respect of the outdoors that will serve them well in later life and keep them fit.

If you want to read what walks I’ve been doing, by the way, I’ve got a new website where I’m keeping track of such things with photos, downloadable routes and maps and other useful features. Check it out at Walking About.

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The Daily Express & Carrier Bags

We all know that the tabloids blatantly lie about things to get a story out of something. What you may not realise is just how often they do it about the same thing.

The fantastic website Tabloid Watch has outlined the Daily Express’ stories about the E.U. and their apparent desire to ban plastic carrier bags. Maybe not such a bad thing as it would help me to stop forgetting my shopper bags every time I go to a supermarket or suchlike.

Here are a few front pages for you:

Daily Express Front Page 11th March 2011

Daily Express Front Page 11th March 2011

Daily Express Banner 19th January 2012

Daily Express Banner 19th January 2012

Daily Express Banner 26th March 2012

Daily Express Banner 26th March 2012

Needless to say, the E.U. aren’t banning plastic bags at the moment. More info about all this and some background is available on this page.

The negativity of block N1406

My view at Old Trafford

I was at Old Trafford last night for the Fulham game, sat in my usual place in the North Stand lower.

The game finished with a 1-0 win to my team, Manchester United, and we went top of the league by three points. Top with just 8 games to go. Cause for celebration? Apparently not.

United scored shortly before half time. We hadn’t played particularly well but we’d dominated possession and Fulham didn’t look remotely like scoring (apart from when De Gea pulled of a lovely save, diving to his left and holding the ball). However, Fulham were excellent in defence and were keeping their shape with discipline. The only time Fulham looked to threaten was when we committed both full-backs forward and they came at us with pace on the counter-attack. Obviously, we needed to heed the threat and ensure that we were equally disciplined.

After a bright start, we tailed off a little but got the goal we needed before half time. Excellent! A win would put us 3 points clear at the top of the league, the measure of who is the best team in English football. This doesn’t appear to be enough.

Once the second half started, people all around me were screaming “get it forward!”, “you’re running the wrong way!”, “get the ball off him!”, “do you want this title or not?!”. I thought I’d missed two Fulham goals or at least made up the United goal in my head. I – seriously – had to stare at the scoreboard just to check that I hadn’t made it up and it was still 0-0. I couldn’t believe it.

When your team is 1-0 up against a resolute and disciplined team like Fulham and are able to keep the ball reasonably comfortably, why try and knock the ball long to strikers who aren’t as strong or tall as their defenders to give them a chance to come back at you with the pace they demonstrated in the first half? We were clearly doing the right thing. OK, the performance wasn’t scintillating, we didn’t kill them off when we had the chances we’d had but those chances had been created by playing patient, passing football. Whenever we hit the ball long there were groans from the same people who were demanding that we get the ball forward more quickly. What the fuck do these people want? The opposition cannot score when they don’t have the ball, especially if it’s hanging around the half way line and into their half, on occasion.

This is the kind of thing that makes me understand two things: why people don’t like Premier League football and why people dislike Manchester United supporters. I believe that a lot of these fans just don’t understand how and why the club has been successful in recent years. We play a far more ‘continental’ style these days with Carrick playing short, simple passes, all players not being afraid to pass the ball backwards in order to retain possession. I admit that I prefer the swashbuckling style of our team from 1994 with direct play, flying wingers, strong frontmen and enforcing midfielders but, let’s not forget, it failed in Europe even before 1996 and is hardly like to be making a comeback to our club.

A lot of United fans do not understand just what we’ve got. We have had a period of success (almost) unprecedented in English football. We have managed this by playing football in the way that the manager has set them up to do. As I said earlier, we were clearly doing the right thing.

To make the point again – 1-0 win, 3 points, top of the league. What’s the problem?

Manchester United 20 times champions t-shirt.

Oh, god.

P.S.: Here’s another reason why people hate Manchester United fans. From pointless negativity to cringeworthy positivity in less than 24 hours. That’s some going.