"I've learnt a million things from the day [I missed a penalty in the Euro 96 against Germany] and the years that have followed it. The biggest thing being that when something goes wrong in your life, it doesn't finish you."
- Gareth Southgate

Someone's pain is someone else's glory. We often find that, especially in competitive sport, and especially if you are the leader. The pain of losing often gives you fire in your belly. I am a testimony of that and so are many of my disabled, LGBTQ, black and brown brothers and sisters because we are at risk of feeling pain every day. We find the hope and ride on that. We feel your glory Gareth and live it daily - revel in it while you can and use it as a tool to inspire others.

Let’s leve the angry male TV presenters in 2021 - Katie Edwards

There’s been plenty of talk of life evaluation during the Covid pandemic. The Great Resignation saw people abandon high-stress careers after re-evaluating their priorities and many of us spent lockdown rethinking major life choices like careers, relationships, and elasticised waistbands … but there’s been far less attention to the evaluation of popular culture, especially TV hosts – the people we invite into our homes on a daily basis.

Piers Morgan stormed off GMB after ‘trashing’ the Duchess of Sussex. This year hasn’t been a great year for those gobby bastions of TV grumpiness.

Has Covid ushered in a notable cultural shift in our preference for TV hosts? Has the angry pundit finally had his day? When once we could warm ourselves on Piers Morgan’s signature interview burns, or sneer along with Jeremy Kyle while he yelled in the faces of his shamed guests, now the prospect of more of the same ranty blokes relentlessly machine-gunning their every opinion from the telly gives many of us the chills.

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but I for one have had my fill of grumpy middle-aged men spouting their objectionable opinions. Especially when they’re vented with the volume and authority of someone who feels not only entitled to an audience but to have those opinions accepted without challenge.

Most women will have experienced the frustration of being shouted down – or loudly talked over – by a mouthy male relative over the sprouts. Some women will have lived in lockdown with confrontational, combative bullies, and it can’t be pleasant to see similar behaviour playing out on TV for entertainment.

But then again, 2021 hasn’t been a great year for those gobby bastions of TV grumpiness, Piers Morgan and Richard Madeley. Morgan’s obsession with Meghan Markle has become tiresome – and all too predictable. His regular anti-Meghan tirades have made him seem less incisive journalist and more one of those sad, bitter, best-avoided men in the pub who keeps shouting insults about his long-gone ex. We look on pityingly, while he howls into his pint about the “Pinocchio Princess” but it’s all got a bit awkward and uncomfortable and it’s time he went home.

Madeley has morphed from the accidentally hilarious half of the affectionately remembered duo Richard and Judy to making mouthy, overly confident misogynistic remarks. It’s a good job he’s usually only filmed from the waist up because otherwise viewers would see that his feet are surrounded by all the balls he has dropped during his stint on GMB.

That other former bulwark of daytime TV, Jeremy Kyle, has resorted to self-cancellation, which turned out to be perfect promotional material for his latest presenting gig. Now he gets to bawl his opinions over the radio waves. Funny how being cancelled seems to have the opposite effect of amplifying voices rather than stifling them. It’s almost as if it’s a disingenuous conceit self-created for publicity. Still, it’s the season of peace and goodwill to all men, so have at it, Kyle. Hopefully, we’ll hear even less of you and your ilk in 2022.

What this gang of overbearing hosts all have in common is the tendency to tantrum when challenged. They’re used to being able to say what they like to anyone they like and attract praise, adulation and a hefty paycheque, but if they’re faced with similar behaviour – or even a relatively low-key challenge – they turn into man-babies, storming off and taking their ball home. Morgan walked out of the GMB studios and into a reported £20m deal with TalkTV. It seems that the model of presenting that’s most valued is domineering and obnoxious. I don’t know about you, but I’m over it.

There was a time when the confrontational host was a refreshing change from the grinning, urbane TV stalwarts we inherited from the eighties, like Anne Diamond, dressed in primary colours and pandering politely to guests. Now, though, The Grumps have taken on the identity of court jesters: standing before us, saying outlandish things in a juvenile attempt to get our attention. At first, it was entertaining. Now it’s tiresome, and all too familiar. A one-trick pony over-ready for retirement.

Raheem Sterling Starts England's Hope and Captain Kane Seals Them

It's finally happened England and if you are an England fan take a look around and drink it in as this is a landmark moment that rarely happens.

Football does that. It unites us.

It is often said that when we are in a period of calm we will find the next storm. We do that. Us humans. We love to find the trouble and solve it. England's men's football team is finding solutions. It may have taken them a generations to find their sweet spots, but they are finding them. This hasn't come overnight, it has come as a consequence of decades of hard work and focus on the right things. Focus on challenging racism, sexism, stereotypes, equality and the future impact of leaving certain groups to not thrive. England's men's football team, the one that determined the win on the 29.6.21 has approximately 50% from the global majority in it and an army of men and women from all backgrounds behind it. ENGLAND XI
Pickford - Walker, Stones, Maguire – Trippier, Phillips, Rice, Shaw – Sterling, Kane (c), Saka.
When you want the best, cognitive diversity and a promise to uphold inclusive practices must prevail and racism and sexism has no spaces to squirm into.

Spirit de Futbal

Gareth Southgate hailed his England players as “immense” after they beat Germany and progressed to the quarter-finals of the European Championship, but also warned they now face a “dangerous moment.”

Goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane secured a famous last-16 victory for England, who will now be favourites to reach the final of the tournament with Belgium and Italy on the other side of the draw.

It was only the second time England have won a knockout game in the European Championships and the success laid to rest some of the ghosts of past defeats to Germany.

“The players were immense,” said England manager Southgate. “Right the way through the team, they were immense.

“The fans were as well. Only 40,000 of them, but it was as good an atmosphere as I can remember at Wembley. We have talked about bringing enjoyment to the nation and afternoons like this are what that is about. The energy was incredible.”

“We’ve got to make sure we recover well and that mentally we’re in the right space. It’s a dangerous moment for us. We’ll have that warmth of success and the feeling around the country will be that we’ve only got to turn up to win the thing, and we know it’s going to be a big challenge from here on. 

Matt Law - The Telegraph 29.6.21

Latrines and Laughter

Why on earth would you take a photo of a set of latrines at a festival?!

Let me Tell You A Story

Picture it around 2003, when Bath used to host a great free party in the Royal Victoria Park as a finale to its famous or infamous Music Festival. Up to 10k people would descend on those hallowed grounds, some to the demise of The Royal Crescent residents as the noise and the litter from the annual concert attempted to destroy their vision of high life personified.

To assure public order was tamed, toilet cubicles, to ease those bursting bladders, were plentiful and strewn across the park’s 57 acres. They were used by both men and women.

The evening rolls on, music tents, marquees, bandstands and even the smallest vacant patches of grass are used as pitches for performances by the eclectic ones. The world and its voices and instruments never disappointed. Nor did the lengths that people used to go to to make the most of the summer’s concert; a right of passage for city and neighbouring dwellers of all ages. Picnic blankets upon which laid candelabras, champagne or wine from the cellar or M&S’s aisle, canapés whipped together, as well as cheeses, pickles and petit fours of every kind. Really, there should have been prizes for the best and most innovative picnic action.

It was often the one time in the year when I would see people that I hadn’t seen in years, sometimes in their festival attire, whether it was a one piece Lycra or a 10-piece creation from outta this world🧞‍♂️, people didn’t disappoint and joined in with the gregariousness that this festival demanded.

The whole evening was such a brilliant event and to top it off the fireworks always afforded a sense of security; light, love and lots of laughter as the spectacle concluded. Then you would find yourself counting down the days to the next time you could say ooh and ahh at those brilliant shooting stars.

But my favourite memory isn’t of the famous artists’ performing or of the picnic food on offer or of the friends I saw or made, it is of a toilet incident.

Brace yourself!

Timing when you go to the toilet at a festival is an art! Too soon and you may miss an artist’s performance, too late - I don’t need to divulge the risks here! So timing it just right is essentially a skill. There I am standing in line queuing for the loo. My friend is just in front of me. Along comes a guy, and let’s face it gentlemen haven’t HAD to learn the art of timing when to pee at a festival in the same way us ladies have, so he runs into the square surrounded by Portaloos and says, with an air of desperation, 'I need to go!' Obliging, the person at the front of the queue waved him on. He ran into the plastic loo and within a minute or two the cubicle fell backwards. How that happened is between God and him!! With our hands clasping our mouths we literally started ‘pissing’ ourselves with laughter. Inside this robust cubicle was a man thrashing about trying to escape. No-one ran to his rescue. We all stood back agog. Our minds whirred as to what we thought would emerge from behind that green locked door of raw sewage meeting man. He did emerge. He clambered out as the  cubicle door lay facing towards the sky. It was too dark to see if he was covered in anything and I wasn’t going to get close to him anytime soon to find out. He even shut the door behind him saying, ‘Well, that’s the most exciting piss I have ever had!

There are no more parties in the park, no more lavish picnics or festival clothing and no more wild toilet stories. The party in the park is now split across venues in the city and it’s usually rubbish and uneventful in comparison! But I will always hold the memory of that man and his most exciting piss!