Archive for September, 2009

Media decides on Conservative government

September 30, 2009

The British media has today decided that a Conservative government is best suited to the needs of British people after the next General Election, which is due to take place in May 2010.

The decision comes after lengthy talks between several senior figures involved in British tabloid newspapers culminated in the unanimous decision to install a Conservative government at the next election.

Columnist Of The Year Tim Minns said the decision was based entirely on the public’s opinion: “With a decision of this magnitude you have to be sure to correctly gauge the opinion of the general public, and, after speaking to several other journalists, we found that in our opinion the current government was out of touch and lacking in direction. In the media, journalists such as myself have a duty to pass on our concerns to our public, who are then able to make an informed choice based the quality of our information.”

Columnist Of The Year Tony Mick agrees about the difficulty of the decision: “The best way for a journalist to gain insight into public opinion is to read their own recent work. Normally this is easy to do, but in this case there were many different media figures, all with slightly varying viewpoints, involved in making the decision – hence why it took a long time. In the end we managed to find a compromise which accommodated everyone’s core values of journalistic integrity and one which maintained a good public profile all round.”

There is now a growing belief throughout the media that Conservative leader David Cameron is a politician of a high calibre who is well equipped to lead the country out of recession. Columnist Of The Year Peter Ian says: “I think we, as journalists, have all had enough of the current government and David has been a welcome breath of fresh air in political circles. He represents the values of the British media perfectly and I think everyone in the business respects his honesty. Honesty is paramount in both politics and journalism and it was this alignment in thinking which led to our decision to make him Britain’s new Prime Minister come the next election.”

Journalists have for many years played a crucial and often unsung role in assisting public thinking and their endorsement of a Conservative government represents a major victory for its leader David Cameron: “This decision is proof that our party is prepared not only to listen to the concerns of the British media – but to also promise to act upon them. I speak to journalists every day and time and time again they tell me the same things – that they want honesty with regard to cuts in public spending, tougher penalties for antisocial behaviour and sustainable economic recovery. This government have suffered because they have lost touch with the media and ignored their concerns for too long. The Conservatives are a party who respect the media and we fully intend to value the views of every British journalist regardless of their background.”

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September 29, 2009

Graham Thorpe

England’s nuggety middle order batsman shares his unbridled expertise in cricketing clichés

The way I see it, England have recently been playing focussed, aggressive cricket – and that’s why they fully deserve a place in the ICC semi-finals, in my opinion. I’m telling you, I reckon those lads have got what it takes to go all the way, make no mistake. They followed the 5 steps on my last column and now they’re reaping the rewards, for sure. That’s what I’m talking about! I’m telling you, if they keep playing this well, they could seriously challenge the best in the world, day in, day out – that’s what I reckon, anyway.

My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that they’ve got to be careful – that’s just my opinion, you can make your own minds up on that one. What I’m saying is they have to watch they don’t go overboard with the confidence levels – that’s what I’m saying, anyway. My view is that England need to consolidate, without a shadow of a doubt – that’s just my view, for what it’s worth. And another thing – they need to maintain their focus and not let the standards slip, that’s for certain. They’ve got to keep up the pressure – that’s what this game’s all about, simple as that. Cricket is a mental game without doubt, and mentally they’ve got to stay on the game – and that’s no lie.

Look at the South Africans – that’s what I’m talking about. Look at how they go about the game. Confident, professional, disciplined – these attributes make them a tough side to beat, home or away, for sure. For sure, they deserve their number 1 status, make no bones about it. No doubt whatsoever. I’m telling you, this is where the game is going, for certain. My view is England could do worse than to model themselves on the South Africans, perhaps by picking more South African players – that’s just my opinion, anyway. At the end of the day, that’s just what I think, as far as I’m concerned anyway.

Listen, right, when it all comes down to it, are England up to the task? Can they beat the best teams in ODI cricket on a regular basis? My money’s on them getting to that level after a few more matches, but they’re certainly moving in the right direction, that’s for sure. The point I’m trying to make is that they need to gel a bit more and find a groove from which they can deliver consistent matchwinning performances – that’s the point I’m trying to get through to you, anyway.

What you’ve got to start getting into your heads is that this is still a relatively inexperienced team, OK? What I’m telling you to understand, right, is that a couple of victories hasn’t suddenly transformed them into Australia or India – am I making sense to you? Are you getting what I’m saying? If you want me to spell it out to you, then what I’m trying to get across is my point that England are still no good, without any doubt whatsoever, OK? They’ve still got some way to go, that’s what you’ve got to remember. You can’t turn round to me and say that they’re the finished article, by any means, because I would be forced to take issue with you on that, no question. You can’t just sit there and turn around and tell me they’re going to win the ICC trophy – you can’t seriously expect me to agree with that, no way. You need a serious reality check if you think that’s got any chance of happening whatsoever, that’s for certain.

Look, I don’t want any trouble, but that Irish guy Eioin…Euoin…Ieuan…Eoghan…Eoin Morgan is the star of England’s batting line-up, make no mistake. What I’m trying to say and what you need to realise is that I’m seriously TELLING you…England have got…England…England, right, I’m telling you… I’m TELLING you… are going… are… going… ah… ahh… uhhhhhh…

ABLLEEEUUUUURRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! AAAGGGHHH!!! ABLOOOORRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!! FTOOF!!! AHURR!! TOOFF!!! BLLLLLEEEEUUUUUGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! AHEH-AHEH… FTOOFFF!!! BLLLEEEEUUURRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! FTOOOFFFF!!!! Oh no… my shirt… aw God!!!… BLLLLEEEEEEUUUUUUURRRRRGGGHHHHH!!!! ACH! ACH! FTOOFFFF!!!! ACH!! ACH!! FTOO!!!! PAAAAARRRRPPPP!!!!! Shit…

Brown set to set conference alight

September 29, 2009

Gordon Brown has sensationally revealed his plan to deliver a mostly ad-libbed keynote speech expected to set the Labour Party conference alight later this afternoon.

The Prime Minister is planning to walk to the lectern with several sheets of paper believed to contain his speech, but in reality will merely be printouts of his last 2 conferences speeches. He will begin his speech after arranging his papers on the lectern before pausing, then dramatically casting them aside with an elaborate swish of his right arm.

Mr. Brown will then wait until every piece of paper has tumbled to the floor before declaring: “We need to pick up the pieces of Broken Britain.”

The audience are expected to slowly rise to their feet and applaud after an initial awkward silence, at which point the Prime Minister will signal for them to be seated.

He will then proceed to pick up the pieces of paper one-by-one in complete silence and assemble them in a rough pile as he declares: “We need to cure Broken Britain from the families from hell.”

The Prime Minister then plans to produce a cigarette lighter from the inner pocket of his jacket, hold it aloft to the crowd and proclaim: “We need to send these families…BACK TO HELL!”

Mr. Brown will then set fire to the pile of papers before retreating back a step to observe solemnly as the flames quickly peter out to leave a flimsy pile of ash. He is then expected to dramatically switch metaphors by declaring: “This fire represents the current Labour government, burning incandescently before quickly diminishing into ashes, which can be blown away like this…PPPHHHHWWWWW!!!!!”

He will then observe silently as the disintegrated ash scatters gently to the ground, before proclaiming the need for Labour to “build its fire from a more sustainable, slower-burning source” in order to “keep the electorate from getting cold feet at the next election.”

The Prime Minister plans to kick his lectern to the ground and smash it into pieces under his feet, before producing “Labour’s fuel” from the side of the stage, dousing the splintered remnants of the lectern and setting them ablaze.

The delegates are then expected to rise to their feet and give a standing ovation for the duration of the fire, which is calculated to last for around 15 minutes. Mr. Brown will point upwards with both hands and bow his head throughout the applause to represent a phoenix rising from the flames. He will slowly rise onto tiptoes during the ovation in order to further emphasise this idea.

He will then finally declare to the crowd that “The building blocks required for change need to be burned in order to keep the flames of government alive!”, before quickly lowering his heels to the floor and waking up with cramp in his calves.

September 28, 2009

Your Money – with Peter Jones

TV’s famous Dragon whores out his name to badly-written Sky Magazine column every month

Phew! Just completed the Dragon’s Den tour which has been fantastic and the public response has been brilliant throughout. I can’t wait for the next one! If you’re missing Dragon’s Den, don’t forget to take a look at the last series on channel Dave, or alternatively, catch series 3 on channel Watch. I’ve been reliving some of the classic moments recently, including the doggy treadmill – what was James Caan thinking? Hilarious! You wouldn’t catch me committing that sort of money to something which is so obviously doomed to failure.

Anyway, those of you who watch the show will remember my acquisition of the Cambridge-based band Hamfatter. I’ve been surveying the recording of their latest album and I’ve got to say, it sounds pretty sick! I think they’ve got what it takes to be successful, and with my money behind them the sky’s the limit. As far as I’m concerned they’re Britain’s answer to The Strokes and are going to be massive. Both of their singles have broken the top 100 already, the first of which almost made the top 50 – and all within just two years. Incredible!

I’m looking forward to Hallowe’en this year, as it’s great fun for all our family. I like to scare the trick-or-treaters who come to our door by putting a bolt through my neck, rolling my eyes back and pretending to be Frankenstein’s monster. You should see how quickly they run the 500 yards back to the front gates! That’ll teach them for begging. You won’t get anywhere in business with that attitude. When I was a youngster I used to do my own version of trick-or-treating where I would dress up as a giant bat and perform my “trick” of washing my neighbours’ cars in return for a cash “treat”. It was good fun for everyone, financially viable and, most importantly, no property was ever vandalised.

My writer is starting to run out of ideas now, so this is a good point to mention some of the incredible businesses I have in my portfolio. Red Letter Days is a fantastic events company that I run along with fellow Dragon Theo Paphitis. If you’re looking for a day out with a difference at a competitive price you could do worse than visit http://www.redletterdays.co.uk.

Moneysupermarket.com is also well worth a look for great savings – you may have seen the television advert featuring yours truly rifling through the aisles on a trolley…WHEEEEEE!!!!

Reggae Reggae Sauce has revolutionised the way people eat barbecued chicken in this country, netting its creator Levi Roots several hundred thousand pounds, and several million for myself. Levi has shrewdly stayed ahead of the game since the Den by diversifying his range of wonderful sauces, which the nation have taken to their hearts. This has led to a healthy and richly deserved profit for both of us.

If you’re looking to buy wine for corporate functions, wines4business.com is well worth checking out. Alcohol is a great fuel which makes time pass that bit quicker, and is particularly useful for withstanding the tedium of corporate events. There is nothing more important to a business than serving the correct wine and this site provides a fantastic way for companies to choose the right wine – every time!

Wow! I’ve managed to make it to the end of this column without having to get someone else to draw up a price comparison list of items loosely linked to the time of year which anyone could find for themselves using kelkoo. Result!

Til next month,

Peter x

Williams’ lack of Guy Chambers nearly killed him

September 25, 2009

Pop star Robbie Williams almost died after a perilous addiction to low-grade electronic music coupled with voice synthesizers almost rendered him completely obscure after the acrimonious departure of his songwriter Guy Chambers.

The Angels hitmaker spent three years battling asphyxiation as he struggled without the oxygen of publicity and is now gradually cutting down his use of the absurd electronic beats which compromised the Robbie Williams brand over a number of years.

“Knowing Robbie as I do,” says journalist Tim Minns, “I know how hard it was for him to cope when Guy left. He struggled without the killer chord sequences and sing-along choruses which Chambers ably provided him with. One evening at my house he confided to me that he was on the verge of quitting music altogether. I told him that he still had a lot to offer and that he shouldn’t rush into making such a big decision. He said he was fed up with being hounded by the press and that it wasn’t worth all the hassle just to make music. He was a bit worse for wear by then so I said he could sleep in the spare room.

“I’d completely forgotten that I had left an old keyboard in there, which was given to me by Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo from Daft Punk in 1996 for my involvement in the promotion of their album Homework. No-one had heard of them until then, but that album went on to break them internationally and I will always have fond memories of working alongside both Guy-Manuel and Thomas, who were both really nice blokes. The reason I mention that keyboard is because Robbie started messing around on it that night and by the next morning he had transformed completely. He said he’d worked out a few sequences which could form the basis of a new album and was genuinely excited about getting back in the studio. It’s amazing to think, looking back now, that most of the tracks on his Rudebox album were written in my spare room and I was pleased that he’d found his passion again, as he’s a really genuine bloke and a good mate.”

Unfortunately, due to his addictive nature, Robbie Williams was unable just to dabble in strange electrical soundscapes and soon became hooked on what he believed at the time to be a newfound musical freedom.

He recalls, “It was damn serious. Robbie Williams does not just go into electronic music if his life gets a bit out of control. I’d lost everything – my chord sequences, my choruses, the hooks. I became addicted to blips, squeaks and pulses – along with the vocoder, which nearly destroyed everything. I knew I’d hit rock bottom one morning last year when I was trying to sample the opening and closing of my bathroom window. I spent hours trying to get that sound right and after a while I really had to step back and ask myself where my life was going. I felt physically sick as the extent of my electronic binge gradually began to dawn on me and I ended up sat on the floor for hours, just staring at the wall.

I started to become paranoid that electricity was out to destroy my soul and steal my personality to the point where I eventually unplugged everything in the house. I sat in darkness for days before calling my manager and pleading with him for a way out. He eventually got me into a programme which was specifically tailored to musicians who had lost their way to the dark arts of electronic music. He said that this place had a good record and had cured the likes of Radiohead and Goldfrapp through a prolonged period of gradual withdrawal, as opposed to going cold turkey. I was willing to try anything by this point, so I went along to a meeting. I’ve never looked back since, and, although I still use electronics in my music I am now in full control of the amount and I can stop using them at any time.”

His former manager Kevin Kinsella explains, “Electronic music came very close to destroying the Robbie we all know and love. He was so out of it. At the height of his experimentation he was layering as many as 10 or 12 different samples in a day. That’s no exaggeration. He was out of control.”

‘Reality Killed The Video Star’ is released on 9th November.

Downing Street denies Obama snub

September 24, 2009

Downing Street has today insisted that US President Barack Obama’s friendship with Gordon Brown remains “as strong as ever”, and that there were “perfectly reasonable” explanations for the 5 occasions on which he failed to meet the Prime Minister during his recent visit to New York.

Number 10 insisted claims that requests for one-to-one talks had been rebuffed were “completely without foundations” and that on each occasion the President was able to offer “a reasonable explanation” for his absence.

A spokesman for Mr. Brown said earlier: “We’re not denying the fact that Mr. Obama met with both the Indian and Chinese leaders during the Prime Minister’s visit. But what you have to bear in mind was that they had visited the US with the specific intention of seeing the President. Mr. Brown just happened to be in the area and was attempting to arrange a meeting between the two on the off-chance that the President was free. It just so happened that on those 5 occasions Mr. Obama was otherwise engaged.

“For instance, on the first occasion Mr. Brown had an hour or two of spare time one afternoon and decided to see if Mr. Obama fancied meeting up for a drink or two to catch up, as it had been several months since they last met. Unfortunately, some friends of the President were away on holiday and he had promised to go round and feed their dog, so he couldn’t meet the Prime Minister that afternoon, but if he tried calling later he’d definitely be up for arranging something sometime.

“So later that evening Mr. Brown tried calling the President as planned, but unfortunately he had gone to dinner with the Vice President and was told that he wouldn’t be back until gone midnight. It appeared that Mr. Obama had forgotten he was going out that evening and that he had inadvertently double-booked, though I must stress that nothing was formally arranged between the two at this point and that the Prime Minister was ringing on the off-chance of an impromptu meeting.”

On the third occasion Mr. Brown succeeded in arranging a meeting with Mr. Obama on another evening, though the President told him that he would be at a party beforehand and any meeting would be dependent on how soon he could get away. He told the Prime Minister it would probably be best if he waited outside in his car. “Mr. Obama said he didn’t really want to go to that party and that he would get out of it as soon as he could,” said the spokesman. “So Mr. Brown waited outside as arranged, but after several hours had passed it became clear that the President was probably tied up and finding it difficult to get away. Just after midnight he went into the house to see if he could find him, though after asking around he was told that Mr. Obama had already gone home as he’d had a fair bit to drink. Although this was slightly upsetting for the Prime Minister, he knew that the President had attended this party out of politeness and that, again, nothing was formally arranged between the two.”

The next time Mr. Brown tried to meet up with the President he was told that Mr. Obama was staying at home as he was expecting a call from an old friend who was due in town that evening. When the Prime Minister enquired whether he could pop over “for an hour or two” he was advised that it “was probably best not to”, due to the fact that Mrs. Obama currently had “a headache” and that she didn’t want “people traipsing in and out”. Mr. Brown was informed that the voices and laughter he could hear in the background were coming from a film which the President was in the middle of watching and that this was the reason Mr. Obama was unable to answer the call in person.

Three days later, just before he was due to catch his flight home, Mr. Brown telephoned the White House for a final time to see if Mr. Obama wished to meet for a “quick coffee” before setting off later that afternoon. He was told that the President would “call him back in a few moments” and that he “would be keen to see you [before you] go”. The Prime Minister waited at the airport until the last possible moment before boarding, but sadly Mr. Obama didn’t manage to return his call as he was busy “making preparations” for a round of golf with French President Nicholas Sarkozy at the time.

“Mr. Brown kept checking his mobile phone as he was concerned about the level of signal he was getting at the airport,” said the spokesman. “The reception was good, even in the departure lounge, and it never went below 3 bars at any time. The Prime Minister reasoned that the fault must have lied with his service provider, because none of his recent text messages seemed to be getting any replies. Just before he boarded the plane he checked his voicemail a final time in case he had lost reception in the tunnel, but unfortunately there were still no messages.”

The Prime Minister is said to have “thoroughly enjoyed” his trip and that it was “a great shame” he was unable to meet with Mr. Obama this time around, although a White House spokesman did assure Mr. Brown that the President would definitely try and arrange something for early next year or at least sometime before next summer, diary-permitting.

Stereophonics’ innovative new album to feature no songs

September 23, 2009

Groundbreaking Welsh rockers Stereophonics have today revealed that although their new LP features recordings of instruments and singing, there will be no actual songs on the album at all.

The band have been trialling the concept over most of their previous albums, but have never before produced an album entirely free of songs. It is thought that this is the first known instance of such an album being produced, and the achievement represents a major milestone in the band’s career to date.

“We’re very excited by this project,” reveals singer Kelly Jones. “It’s something we have striven towards for many years. Producing tracks without writing songs is a difficult art and one which took us many years to fully master. It takes a lot of skill to engineer tracks in this way and the process can often be completely ruined by too many ideas.

“When we first started out we found it quite easy to produce an album with songs on it, no problem whatsoever. But at that time Oasis had just released ‘Be Here Now’, which intrigued us because although it had 12 tracks listed on the back, there were only 2 actual songs in the whole 70 minutes. We couldn’t believe how they’d managed it and we were honestly quite envious as that album had certainly raised the bar. A couple of years later, we decided to start experimenting in the studio a bit and found that, by using similar techniques to those on the Oasis album, we could make an album which had a 40% song content.”

The band were initially pleased with this result, and the method became a revolutionary new way for many guitar groups of the time to make the same financial returns as they did previously without having to produce as many actual songs. Stereophonics decided to explore this avenue even further over the next 10 years, with the hard work eventually bearing fruit in the form of their groundbreaking new release.

“We found that if we produced instrumental sounds and vocals which were similar to the content of the first album, but without too many catchy riffs or choruses, we could make a record which essentially bears the hallmark of the traditional Stereophonics sound, without the need for producing any songs. On our new album, not only are there no songs, there are no hidden songs either – which means the listener can scan through 18 minutes of silence after the last track to find another track after that which is still not a song. Songwriting is an unnecessary task which can swallow up hours of valuable studio time and it has become something of a redundant recording technique in recent years. If you look at most of the bands around today, none of them are writing songs anymore – I’d like to think that we had at least a partial influence in that.” added the vocalist.

‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ is due to be released on November 16th.

September 21, 2009

Tim Minns – columnist of the year

The award-winning columnist who knows things better than anyone

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Having been involved in BBC’s Panorama investigation into employees at Lloyd’s Banking Group advising wealthy clients about how to avoid UK taxes by channelling their money through China, it is now with some relief that I see HM Revenue & Customs are finally pursuing the matter based on the evidence we presented them. I, along with many others, spent months planning this particular documentary, which culminated in our now-legendary undercover sting that took place at the offshore branch of the bank in Jersey.

It was originally planned that I would pose as a customer at the branch with £4million to invest, but due to my extensive involvement in regional television there a few years ago, John Sweeney (who was fronting the documentary) decided to use a businessman called Tony Donnelly instead. Knowing better than anyone how crucial this stage of such an investigation is, I was more than happy to stay off-camera completely, as I was conscious that my level of recognition could ruin months of hard work by many of my respected colleagues.

We actually ended up capturing footage of a branch employee at Lloyd’s TSB Offshore advising our reporter about how income earned on deposits made in Jersey is then paid to clients via Hong Kong in order to “get round” the European Savings Tax Directive – something which I myself know better than anyone due to having lived there a few years ago. These practices were commonplace even back then and I knew of several people (none of whom I am permitted to name in this column) who took advantage of this loophole, so I was in a good position to advise on the overall direction of this part of the documentary from behind the camera.

I also advised John and his team that Northern Rock were doing something similar in Guernsey and that it may be worth expanding the investigation to include them too, seeing as they were now, somewhat ironically, owned by the taxpayer. John was keen to investigate this avenue and we managed to add this to that section of the programme, despite it being done at the last minute.

I’d like to use this opportunity to thank the tireless work and dedication of everyone involved in the documentary, especially John Sweeney who did an incredible job throughout – often under difficult circumstances.

I hope that HMRC appreciate our efforts.

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Congratulations to my friend Simon Cowell on another ratings-busting series of X-Factor. That man knows how to put on a good show and I know better than anyone exactly what X-Factor means to him.

I remember we spoke shortly after the second series of Pop Idol had finished and he said that, although it had been massively successful, he sensed that the public wanted something fresher with a more wide-ranging appeal. I made an off-the-cuff remark about how it might be a good idea to have, say, three categories – over 25s, 16-24s and groups – and that you could retain a judging panel of three industry professionals, each of whom could act as a “mentor” for one of those categories.

I knew better than anyone that the public wanted more variety from these shows, as I had spoken with several other journalists who all said the same. Simon told me he thought it was a good idea and that he would think about a way in which he could make it into a marketable franchise, with a view to replacing Pop Idol. The rest, as they say, is history…

I’m glad Simon’s still doing well and I’m also pleased that he tried out the live audience idea, too. I had a chat with him from the front row on the recent series of Britain’s Got Talent and I told him that the live crowd added an important dimension to the show and that it might be worth trying for X-Factor. Looking at the current audience figures I think we might have been proven right!

I for one will certainly be glued to this incredible show.

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Message to Strictly Come Dancing: You may remember a few months ago how I withdrew from appearing on this current series because I knew better than anyone how the show would suffer from making unnecessary changes to the judging panel. You may wish to take a look at your latest viewing figures for confirmation. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Strauss calls for ‘added value’

September 18, 2009

England captain Andrew Strauss has called for his team to “add value” ahead of the final One Day International on Sunday in order to prevent an unprecedented 7-0 series win for the tourists.

Speaking at yesterday’s post-match press conference, Strauss said: “I’ve arranged for some ‘face time’ with every player before Sunday, just to throw a few ideas around and drill down on exactly what each of them brings to the party in terms of attitude, aggression and character. Each player will be given a score on these attributes and it will be up to them to increase their stock by working to improve on those areas in every game. I’m positive that a 10% improvement is deliverable from every player going forward.”

The captain also went on to reveal some exciting new plans to help increase the team’s overall performance levels in future contests: “The approach we want to take into the one day games going forward is to attack as much as possible but at the same time retain a conservative mindset. We are aware of certain limitations insofar as the restrictions placed on us within the framework of One Day International cricket and we are looking to overcome those by adopting a ‘Positive Negative’ approach – an approach we hope will show that we are equipped for the paradigm shift that has taken place in the overall game within the last few years.

“Our coaching team have recently been facilitating with the players on ‘Ball Awareness’, which is a great tool for getting everyone into the right state of mind to stay ‘on the ball’. The ball is the centre of the game and everything that happens in the game involves it in some way. Our idea is for the whole team to be fully aware of the ball at all times, so they will always be ‘in the business’ within all aspects of the game. Dimitri Mascarenhas benefitted greatly in the last game after working on his ball awareness. He used to maintain good awareness in his batting and bowling ‘zones’, but the ball would often pass him by in his fielding zone. Now that he’s incorporated ball awareness into his fielding zone he has taken his game to the next level.”

When questioned on the string of recent poor performances by the squad, Strauss responded by saying that “poor levels” were to blame: “In each of those games we allowed our levels to drop, thus decreasing our overall intensity. To sustain intensity we have to maintain high levels and we plan to enhance our consistency in this area before Sunday. What also happened was that many of the players were de-focussing too early. De-focussing is a useful technique, especially when fielding, as it allows the player to broaden their periphery and to absorb the overall shape of the game. The problem is that de-focussing too early can be a costly error that erodes a player’s sphere of concentration and thus causes a decline in their performance. We’re hoping to maximise concentration and focus over the next couple of days in training in order to deliver a more targeted and magnified intensity as a more cohesive unit going forward.

“The team is in a transitional phase at present and is currently experiencing what we refer to as a period of ‘deferred success’. If you take a 360-degree view of the current situation you will see that we are moving towards being ‘in a good place’ and that, in the bigger picture, we are actually coping reasonably well with the shifting landscape of the modern game. Looking at our results in context they are actually not bad at all – especially given the current cricketing climate. We are currently in the middle of a period of consolidation which we are confident will place us in a strong overall position going forward.”

The final ODI takes place on Sunday at Chester-le-Street in Durham.

Celebrities to record awareness song

September 17, 2009

Bob Geldof and Duran Duran are among 55 celebrities planning to release a cover version of Midnight Oil’s hit song Beds Are Burning – in a bid to raise levels of public awareness.

Geldof said yesterday: “People need to be aware just how long it’s been since the last time they were made to be fully aware. It’s time for the public to get their heads out of their arses and start facing a few uncomfortable truths. This song is designed to make people feel uneasy and if the fact that it’s difficult to listen to upsets people, then good. I hope people are upset by it. I hope this record is the hardest thing anyone has ever had to endure and that its’ very existence forces the public to look deep within themselves and become more fully aware.”

Other artists who will feature on the recording include Sting, the Dalai Lama, Bono, someone who used to be in the Human League, Martin Fry, Phil Collins, Tony Hadley, Annie Lennox, heavy metal band The Scorpions and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The track is also thought to sample a vocal laid down in the studio by Mother Teresa shortly before her death.

Peter Ian, who worked at the recording studio, echoes Geldof’s sentiment: “This was a really difficult track to produce and everyone dug deep throughout the recording – whenever they could spare the time to, at least. I remember how everyone gathered in the studio fell into stunned silence when we played back the finished song. There was a melancholy air about the place after it finished and several seconds passed before anyone spoke. It was a profound moment of contemplation all round and I think many people who featured on that recording were far more aware at that point than they were at the beginning.”

The track can be downloaded for free when it is released on 1 October and it’s hoped it will put pressure on world leaders to become more aware and to acknowledge the world’s heightened awareness at a UN conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in December – at which point the public’s awareness will slowly subside to more comfortable levels.