Sunday, 20 May 2012

Football and Me: a turbulent relationship

If anyone knows me well, they will know that I'm not a big fan of football. OK, I've seen a few games at Villa Park (my family are massive fans of Aston Villa) and get into the footie spirit come the World Cup/ Euros, but apart from that, I usually skip the football section of the newspaper and ignore the endless tweets during an all-important game.

But recently, my view on football has changed. It hit me when I started my Journalism degree last year that I can't take the negative view I usually have towards sport anymore. Anyone that works in the news industry knows that sport sells. Since the late 19th century and the dawn of 'New Journalism', editors have realised that sport appeals to a big proportion of the public, and therefore, coverage is important to a newspaper's success.

Football, unanimously, leads the sports pages. Plus, the majority of the guys on the course love football. Six of them even produce their own podcast, which is entertaining and engaging (it's certainly taught me a few things about the beautiful game!) This gives me more reasons to get into footie.

So yesterday, when I sat down with the guys, a can in one hand and popcorn in the other, some might have questioned why I would be so interested in watching the UEFA Champions League Final. I haven't seen any of the other games, in fact, I barely know anything about it.

But even if you don't know much about football, last night's final was one of those games which makes you appreciate the game a lot better.

Held at the Allianz Arena in Munich, home side Bayern Munich played English side Chelsea in a nail-biting, penalty-deciding game that had me on tenterhooks throughout the whole game.

Bayern were favourites from the start, and to be honest, dominated Chelsea throughout the game. If you look at the statistics, you'll see just how many more attempts at goal, corners and chances they had compared to Chelsea. They're fast and smooth, pushing the ball forward with ease as they pass the Chelsea defence.

It was not until the 83rd minute that Muller scored in a fantastic goal which looked like it was all over for Chelsea. Petr Cech, despite some excellent saves, missed the ball and Bayern took the lead.

But it wasn't all over. In fact, it had barely began. The thing with Chelsea is that they're lucky. It's usually not until the opposition has scored that they pull rank and fight back. And in true Chelsea fashion, they pulled back within 5 minutes with a fantastic goal by Drogba. 1-1.

But then, disaster strikes. Drogba makes a reckless tackle within the penalty box, receiving a yellow card and giving Bayern their chance to win. A penalty, with only a few minutes to go till full time. This must be it right?

Wrong. Cech, showing his skill and expertise at the game, saves the goal. Extra time! 30 more minutes of chances by Bayern result in nothing, Chelsea fail to make an attempt. Penalties.

This is it now. Decision time. For a boy who doesn't really like football, I have to admit I was overcome by adrenaline. I was sweating, sitting anxiously at the end of the bed. Could this be it for Chelsea? Could the home favourites Bayern win, or could our English side clinch it?

Chelsea got off to a bad start, missing their first penalty. Two/ three more chances, and Bayern were leading 1-0. Then Bayern missed their 4th try. If Chelsea get there 4th in, it's level. Ashley Cole, who played a fantastic game in defence, gets in the back of the net. Level.

Then, disaster strikes Bayern. Schweinsteiger cocks up his run up and makes a poor effort at goal, easily caught by Cech. Chelsea, leaving the best to last, bring in Drogba. This is it. If he gets it in the back of the net, they win.

And he did just that. Chelsea the UEFA Champions League champions! It's all over. Cheers fill our room, closely followed by cries from two of my friends who support Tottenham (Chelsea winning the cup means Tottenham won't be able to make the UEFA next season).

What I thought would be a dull, pointless game turned out to be a fantastic, action-packed evening that has made me change my mind about football. OK, so I'm not going to turn into a die-hard fan overnight, but it's certainly opened up my eyes to the beautiful game.

Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia

The New Zealand Diaries: No.13 - A bit of a flutter

There's a time for everything in life. Your first sip of an alcoholic beverage, your first kiss and so on. Life is full of interesting opportunities which we should take advantage of. Live today like there's no tomorrow, that's the saying right?

Which is why, on my recent trip to New Zealand, I decided to try betting for the first time. And wow, what an experience it was.

Now when I say betting, you immediately think going into a betting shop and placing a bet on a football team. But what I actually mean is I had a flutter on a few horses when I attended the Omokau Races.

Oo, fancy I hear you say!? Well, it was rather cool. Situated right in the middle of nowhere, similar to most of the towns and villages in New Zealand, Omokau Races is a fantastic track which attracts horses from across the country to compete.

But the thing that's very different is that it's not horse racing as we would associate horse racing to be. The popular horse racing in New Zealand is actually harness racing, which involves the jockey in a small cart/ harness, being led by the horse. In the UK, we call this trotting.

It's bizarre to see, as if you've wondered back into the Victorian era. But that's the brilliant thing about New Zealand, it sticks to tradition. So following tradition, my family and I set off for the annual Omokau family fun day on a sweltering summers day.

The event was packed, with plenty of activities for everyone. Besides the racing (there were about 12 races throughout the day), there was the opportunity to take part in a ladies fashion show, jump on the bouncy castle and sample locally produced food.

But the racing was the best part. This is where the Kiwi's get into their own, all lining up by the track to cheer on their favourites. To place a bet, it's pretty simple. You can go for a top three finish, a win or you can place a bet on a collection of horses. It's really up to you.

It's best to place a bet with the mindset that you haven't come to win. Start the day with a few dollars, say $50, and don't rush into betting all at once. I had a few bets and they failed, sat out for a while and then placed two more. On the last two, I had won back all my money and broke even (very rarely happens, I'm told!)

It's a day of fun. A chance to place a bet, bask in the hot sun and enjoy a picnic on the lawn with hundreds of Kiwi's all having a good time. For me, this was one of the best days of my trip, for it really was an alternative day out!

Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia

Follow me on Twitter: @kieranwatkins
Read more from The New Zealand Diaries:
No.12 - A day at the Museum

Men's Fashion: top essentials for a Summer Holiday

If you're going away on holiday this year with the lads, or maybe just a quiet break with family, us men should really think about what you're going to bring with you. Here are just a few items which I would recommend for any holiday (from clothes to sun cream!):

4f5e3e07a07eb<em>Antler Liquis</em> 4W Int'l Cabin <em>Suitcase</em> (Blue)
<em>No7 for Men</em> Gradual Tan Body 200mlShirt and ShortsVilebrequin Moorea Mid-Length Indian-Print Swim ShortsBanksy: The Man Behind the WallSkagboysJoop! Homme Summer Ticket EDT 125mlstamps long kraft notebook

From top to bottom: Clinique sun spray; Antler Liquis luggage; Oakley sunglasses; Boots No7 for Men gradual tanning cream; Primark shirt, shorts and sunglasses; Boots earplugs; Swimming trunks from Mr Porter; Banksy: the man behind the wall & Skagboys, both from Waterstones; Joop! Homme Summer Ticket from Superdrug; Havaianas flip flops; What's App app (available on Android/ Blackberry/ iPhone); Paperchase notebook)

Other fashion posts from the jourknow:

Friday, 18 May 2012

Design plans unveiled for Thames Estuary Airport

Designs for the estimated £50Billion airport in the Thames Estuary have been unveiled.
The plans for what has been dubbed the ‘world’s biggest airport’ show how the project, which plans to serve over 150million passengers a year, will be built on waste land on the Isle of Grain in Kent.

Lord Norman Foster, the architect who created the new Wembley Stadium, is behind the plans for the new airport, which includes four runways, terminal buildings and high-speed rail connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Talking of the benefits of the plans, Lord Foster said that it would “lay the foundations for the future prosperity of Britain.”
Architectural critic Edwin Heathcoate said that the plans would be a “complete re-imagining of the UK’s transport infrastructure.”
“It’s a vision of the kind of integration in transport and utilities that has not been considered since the great age of canals and then of railways.”
The plans for a new airport, first unveiled two years ago by the Thames Estuary Airport Feasibility Review, will serve to overcome the current problems surrounding London’s Aviation industry.
Experts estimate that by 2030, Heathrow – currently the UK’s biggest and busiest airport – will reach maximum capacity, and with other London airports restricted on growth, a sustainable resolution to the problems is needed.
However, critics of the plans, including Medway council and environmental charities including the RSPB – who say the plans will threaten thousands of bird species – are against the plans.
Leader of Medway Council, Rodney Chambers, said the plan were “quite possibly the daftest in a long list of pie-in-the-sky schemes that have been put forward for an airport.”
An RSPB spokesperson said: “We oppose this airport proposal because the massive environmental impact is unjustified.”
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

*a piece from my University of Kent portfolio

Mc Donalds to create 80 jobs in Kent

Fast food restaurant McDonalds has announced plans to create 80 positions in Kent.

The company, which runs over 1,200 outlets in Britain and Ireland, is set to create 2,500 new posts throughout the UK.
30% of the jobs are expected to go to first time workers, with over 50% of positions being created for workers under the age of 25, although it is unknown which areas in Kent will benefit.
Press Officer for Mc Donalds, Kate McGown, said: “We can’t give a projection at this stage. Due to planning regulations, it is unknown where new restaurants will be. We are constantly on the search for new areas and opportunities.”
Stuart Todd, from Job Centre Plus, said: “Increases in any new jobs is a good thing, providing confidence for the wider UK economy.”
The news comes after McDonalds applied to Medway Council for planning permission to extend the Medway Valley Park branch of Mc Donalds, in Gillingham.
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

*article was written as part of my reporting & writing portfolio at the University of Kent

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The end of the press baron

If this whole phone hacking scandal has taught me anything, it's that the end has come for the once prestigious, dangerous and often completely mad press barons.

For centuries, the press and most of the media in our country has been run by a selected few, majority men, from an East London office overlooking the city, or somewhere more exotic.

Or, in Rupert Murdoch's case, running his company, one would presume, from space. Because it transpires that Mr Murdoch - the Australian media magnate, who owns News Corporation, one of the worlds biggest media conglomerates - despite having his fingers in practically every country, fails to know what goes on behind the scenes of one of his companies.

Yes, the story of the year has seen a whole inquiry, international criticism and millions of settlements hit the news, all down to one man. But this one man and his family fail to acknowledge any of it. They, it seems, had no idea it was going on.

The ongoing Leveson inquiry will probably uncover the real truth behind the whole fiasco, but what I wonder is, when did the media barons take a step back from their empires and stop caring?

Way back at the end of the 19th century, the media landscape was controlled by the printed press. Newspaper owners were scary characters, not unfamiliar to those of today, but they played a much bigger role in the newsroom.

Take Lord Northcliffe for example. The proprietor was running the most successful paper of the 19th century, The Times, and later started the Daily Mail. He was notorious for harassing his staff and shaped the entire content of his papers, including the layout.

He even famously told his staff 'to find one murder a day, or else!'

Of course, behaviour like this would not be tolerated in today's society, but it goes to show just how far things have come. Northcliffe was there in the office at 5am, he had the knowledge and expertise to write, produce and print the newspaper.

And he wasn't alone. Other famous proprietors - Lords Beaverbrook, Camrose and Kemsley - were all the same, and at the time, were producing some of the best quality papers of that era.

But sadly, this isn't the case now. Media companies are bigger now, and the media owners, it seems, have less control on their companies then they did in the past.

Maybe Murdoch could learn something from them? Or is it a bit too late now. I mean, he isn't getting any younger, and no way near ready to admit the truth. But it just goes to show, that despite the advancements in the media and the availability of news, we could still learn a thing or two from the forgotten world of the press baron.

Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia

Arriva invests in Medway & Kent

Travel company Arriva has announced a £600,000 improvement to the bus network in Medway.
The improvements, to bus route 116, will see five brand new buses fitted with free Wi-Fi, along with ongoing improvements to the bus network.

At a recent opening ceremony, the Major of Medway – the councillor Ted Baker - and other guests including Medway council members and representatives attended the launch of the new buses at the Universities of Medway campus in Chatham.
The improvements, part of an 8 year project which has seen Arriva spend more than £14million on new buses, includes an investment to provide free Wi-Fi on the buses.
Richard Lewis, regional press manager for Arriva, said: “This is the first kind of service to happen in the area. People who use a laptop or have a smart phone can use the service, which is completely free.”
The investment will provide a brand new look for the buses, which has seen the route renamed as the ‘X-BUS 116’. Eye catching vinyls will provide a fresh new look for the buses, along with more-comfortable seats and environmentally-friendly engines.

Arriva’s Managing Director, Heath Williams, said: “I’m delighted that we have once again been able to make a major investment in new buses for the Medway Towns.”
The 116 route runs between Chatham and Hempstead Valley, serving the universities, Mid Kent College, Gillingham town centre, Medway Maritime Hospital and Rainham on the way.
The free Wi-Fi has also been introduced on the 101 service between Maidstone and Medway, with the company planning to expand the service in the near future.
“We want to see how this goes before we look to expand the service,” Richard Lewis said. “We’re waiting for feedback.”
For full details of the 116 timetable, call 0844 800 4411 or view the timetable online at
Pictures courtesy from Wikipedia

*a piece I submitted as part of my portfolio at the University of Kent

Monday, 14 May 2012

Clinton Cards, with sympathy

The announcement last week that the UK's biggest card retailer Clinton Cards was to file for administration came after quite a year for High Street closures.

With Peacocks, Game Group, Pumpkin Patch and many others, the High Street has been rocked by falling sales due to a lack of consumer confidence, with the public consumption hitting record lows.

Yet Clinton Cards, surely, would be OK? Everyone needs a greetings card, and with very few card shops on the High Street - Card Fair and others have all closed over the years - you'd think Clinton Cards would be safe.

Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Despite employing over 8,000 staff in more than 700 stores across its Clintons and Birthday chains, Clintons has been hit by falling sales and heavy losses.

Yet other card stores have flourished in recent times. Paperchase and Scribbler, more up-market card shops, have reported strong sales in recent months, whereas discount retailer Card Factory has continued to rapidly expand across the country. Both stores offer varying products, and are popular with customers. With Paperchase, you know it's expensive but it's good quality. With Card Factory, it's cheap and does the  job.

Which left Clintons in the middle. And that's where the problems lie; Clintons just doesn't fit in with the demands of today's culture. It's card lines seem to have dwindled in recent years as it favours on other products, such as gifts and wrapping paper. On a recent visit to my local shop, a big High Street Store in Alton, Hampshire, I was surprised to see that the shop floor space has decreased, as had the ranges. Card lines have been reduced, the gift wrap section has expanded yet the party section had disappeared.

And it seems that despite the loss of products, prices have increased. To get a decent card in Clintons, you have to pay around £2.99. £2.99 is a lot for a card which is pretty similar to all their other cards. There's nothing really special about their ranges, they don't grab me as high quality and as a result, you don't bother buying anything there.

Clintons cited supermarkets and online retailers as the reasons for its decline, but in reality, I think it's been a long time coming. It had started to regenerate its business, with a new look, improved layout and extended range. But it's all a little too late.

Although the loss of jobs and shops will be disastrous, there's nothing really surprising here.  I hope that a buyer is sought, but until then, it's 'comiserations' and 'with sympathy' for Clintons.

Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia

Is The Voice on course to flop?

It all started so well for Britain's newest reality TV contest.

With a mass media operation exciting fans and drumming up support from the public, The Voice - the singing contest from Holland - launched to a ratings high of 10 million, the highest launch ever for a reality TV concept in the UK.

The concept is fresh, the judges are legends and the singers are VERY talented. So how come ratings have nearly halved in just a few weeks? Why can't The Voice, ironically, find it's voice with the UK audience?

It seems, to many, that the concept is just a little bit boring. OK, the Blind Auditions were fantastic. Genuinely great singers featured from the onset, and it was great to see the 'coaches' judging purely on The Voice. We saw singers from all age groups and all backgrounds performing and getting through to the Battle Rounds.

But it was the Battle Rounds where things hit a snag. You see, the unique concept of The Voice is the Blind Auditions. Now that they're over - they finished rather quickly, in my opinion - the whole idea of the spinning chairs and just focusing on The Voice is gone. It just turns into another music contest.

I personally liked the Battle Rounds, but sadly a lot of people disagreed. Ratings started to slip as some of the fan favourites, including Jessica Hammond who performed 'Price Tag' to critical acclaim, headed home. The problem was, a lot of the good acts were put against each other, meaning some great singers got through, but quite a few left too. The live shows then brought forward a mix of 'good' singers and some who, well, just don't really cut it.

And it seems the audience agrees with me. The most recent live show saw viewing figures drop to under 6 million, nearly half from the opening weekend. Many people I have spoken to have said it's boring now, the singers are dull and there's no chemistry between the judges.

And they're right. The judges/ coaches (or whatever you call them) do lack chemistry. Will.I.Am is very amusing, but his comments are too nice, the same with Danny and Tom. Tom is too old to know anything about the current music industry, and Danny is too unknown to really excite viewers. Plus, he stands up all the time (just sit down for once, please!) Jessie J on the other hand is an oddball; occasionally, she makes constructive criticism and she's usually right, but a lot of the time she comes across as a spoilt brat who is overshadowed by the three men.

The programme ideally sees itself as the 'nice guy' in the music world, but in reality, this never happens. We need a nasty record producer in there, and dare I say it, the show is missing the buzz and excitement surrounded by someone like Simon Cowell.

Although you'll never hear me admitting to liking the X Factor or Britain's Got Talent (both are terrible shows which exploit their own artists for a few laughs), you have to applaud them for being successful. Sadly, if The Voice can't pick itself up and raise viewing figures, ratings will fall flat. And no one likes a flat voice now do they?!

Pictures Courtesy of Wikipedia

Friday, 11 May 2012

Prince Charles: the next Michael Fish?

Weather reports. A dull five minutes of TV time where they inform you that the weather is likely to get worse. Well, if you live in the UK, that's the general consensus. Drought, high-force winds and rain aplenty, usually in that order.

Which is why I was quite enthusiastic over the latest weather forecast on the BBC, by none other than his Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.

On an official visit to BBC Scotland with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles looked to be thoroughly enjoying his time on camera, presenting a special forecast that was full of  'royal' references.

Known for his rather stiff demeanour, he certainly looked relaxed and competent reporting on the day's weather, and it certainly made me chuckle.

Here is the video link from Digital Spy: enjoy!!

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Review of the Week: Glee live!

After the end of Season 2 and what with all my exams to contend with, I was definitely missing the Glee club, along with Sue and all the others. So what better way to ‘reaffirm’ my love with the hottest American export than see the cast dancing and singing live at the UK’s biggest venue, the 02, London.

An overview for anyone who feels they’re not ‘cool’ enough to watch the show; it's about a group of ‘misfits’ perform songs, a mix of covers and original music, in order to win the coveted ‘Nationals’ trophy. There teacher, Mr Schuster (Matthew Morrison), guides them through each week - despite the best efforts by his arch nemesis, the comedy genius, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch). It’s a show that brings people of all ages together, and has proved a hit across the globe. With numerous singles making their way to the Singles Chart, the actors making a name for themselves and with a film and a new series recently released, the only way really is up for the show. Therefore, it seemed fitting that the cast decided to honour their fans by performing at selected venues across Europe. And what a performance it was!

However, I had my apprehensions. Firstly, I had never been to the 02 before, and was worried none the less that our seats, which were not cheap, might leave me with a strained neck when trying to catch a glimpse of the stars belting out popular tunes. But alas, once we walked through an organised security barrier, we quickly found our seats, glanced through the programme and enjoyed the buzz as the pews surrounding us quickly filled up with more fellow ‘Gleeks’ than I thought possible. If you’re looking to go to the 02 in the evening, a quick tip would be to come a few hours early and have a meal in one of the many restaurants - but leave plenty of time for this, the queue’s were long but worth the wait!

With the atmosphere now hotting up, the support act; a dance troupe who mixed mainstream pop with contemporary dance, helped set the tone for a night to remember. Enter New Directions! The first song, arguably their most famous cover to date, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, was met with wild cheers and clapping from the gleeful audience, most of whom sang along with the stars (including myself!) A fantastic opening, which went from strength to strength with other cover hits such as ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Lucky’ and ‘Valerie’, sung by true musicians (those critics who thought it was all made up in the recording studio were certainly a long way from the truth). All the stars performed, danced and acted as if their life depended on it.

To pick out just a few superstars, Amber Riley (Mercedes) sung her heart out with a rendition of ‘Ain’t No Way’ by Aretha Franklin, which was the only moment throughout the entire show that the audience remained quiet, as her powerful and unpredictable personality and voice touched the hearts of all the fans. In contrast, Chris Colfer (Kurt) provided humour and screams of delight as he performed to Beyonce’s Single Ladies, a routine that undoubtedly Beyonce would find hard to live up to herself! In fact, most of the performances were better than I had anticipated, although a few performers could have performed better. Artie’s voice was particularly weak, despite the actor once being the lead in a rock band. As the many duets, solos and group sing-offs came to an end, my numbing hands and dry throat were an insignificant compromise to the 90 minutes of excitement endured.

Overall, it was a night to remember, and a performance that once ended, I wished could be repeated again and again. The effect of watching and seeing it live was much more than I could ever have imagined. The songs, the dancing, the acting, the audience, even the venue despite the cost, all contributed to a great, unforgettable night that I would recommend to anyone who has the chance to either see the cast again live in concert, or someone else at the O2!

4/5 Stars (reviewed last year)

The New Zealand Diaries: No.12 - A day at the Museum

Whenever you go on holiday or take a trip to a place you haven't been to before, the best way to find out all about the local area, the people and the history behind a town or city is to visit the local museum.

Museums in general, I think, get a bad press from a lot of people. Some claim they're boring, some claim they're too old and outdated. Sadly, this has tarnished the museum culture, but with many families looking for 'free' and 'fun' place to discover, museum's are starting to thrive again.

And the Otago Museum in downtown Dunedin was no different. A fantastic museum with displays, artifacts and exhibits on everything. Whether you wanted to find out more about the Maori tribes that once lived in the area, or more about the extinct wildlife, there is so much to see and do.

With over three floors of exhibitions, we started our way at the top, working our way down. The first few exhibits give you a feel about the industry behind the South Island; beer, mining and fishing. One room had dozens of boat displays on show, complete with the skeleton of a whale - which was truly fantastic.

In other rooms, the Museum offers visitors a glimpse into the South Pacific - the tribes and colonies from places like Samoa. With authentic costumes and instruments used by the tribes, you get a feel for the unique culture of each separate colony.

Moving on, a fantastic stuffed animal collection featuring small mammals to birds and fish, the collection is by far the biggest I have ever seen. Sadly, it was the only chance I got to see a real life Kiwi.

The museum also houses a fantastic interactive section, complete with hands-on science exhibits for children and adults alike. It's not free, but it's certainly worth the money. Here, families can see what the effects of sun stroke and smoking can have on their body with the fantastic 'Your Face Here' interactive exhibition. Elsewhere, the outside butterfly enclosure offers guests the chance to see a colourful collection of butterflies enjoying the sunshine. Be warned, they will land on you!

The museum has so much to offer, and even after a few hours wondering around, I had learnt so much about New Zealand then I thought humanely possible!

Follow me on Twitter: @kieranwatkins
Read more from The New Zealand Diaries:

Monday, 7 May 2012

Is Vince Cable the only honest politician in Cabinet?

I feel rather sorry for Vince Cable. Throughout the recent Leveson inquiry, Mr Cable has remained quiet. A defeated champion of the people, he was one of the first people to criticise the Murdoch's, yet was hastily condemned by ministers and the newspapers over his actions.

It was way back in late 2010 that Cable's honesty got the better of him. Only six months into his role as Business Secretary for the coalition government, the Liberal Democrat was set up by journalists from The Daily Telegraph who posed as his constituents and arranged a meeting with Mr Cable. Undercover, the journalists asked questions which Mr Cable answered openly and honestly.

One of the questions Cable answered regarded the current bid by News Corporation, founded and chaired by Rupert Murdoch, to takeover the satellite broadcaster BSkyB, for which it has a stake in. Mr Cable's role as Business Secretary means that he is in charge of takeover's, including media affairs. Offering an un-bias review into the takeover, the Business Secretary is meant to examine all the evidence for/ against the takeover, with an objective stance.

Which is where Mr Cable's views got in the way, jeopardising his objectivity. Speaking to whom he thought were his constituents, Mr Cable told the undercover journalists that he had "declared war on Mr Murdoch", and that "I think we are going to win."

The resulting furore over his comments resulted in him losing his responsibility for media affairs, with the review into the BSkyB takeover being referred to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. There were even calls for him to be sacked from his position as Business Secretary.

Now fast-forward to April 2012 and it seems similar circumstances are occurring again, this time with Jeremy Hunt. Before the takeover was abandoned following revelations of phone hacking at News International (the owners of titles including The Sun and the now defunct News of the World), it was rumoured that Jeremy Hunt would accept the takeover. The Conservative party have always been firm friends with the Murdoch's, as the Leveson inquiry has revealed, and with Mr Hunt's strong stance against the BBC, it would seem appropriate to accept the takeover. After all, BSkyB is creating billions of pounds for the UK economy, whereas the government are pumping money into the BBC. If it wasn't for the phone hacking allegations and calls from Ofcom for the review to be delayed, he would probably have accepted the takeover.

So the revelations that Jeremy Hunt was said to have an 'improper realtionship' with News Corporation following a series of leaked emails between the Mr Hunt's adviser and a PR adviser for News Corp came at no surprise. This is the man who didn't bother sending the BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission or listen to the calls from Ofcom to abandon the bid. In fact, it wasn't until after the phone hacking scandal came to light that the bid was rejected by the government, despite many years of allegations surrounding phone hacking being public knowledge.

It's fair to say his incompetence and bias in favour of the Murdoch empire has significantly damaged his reputation, and yes calls have been made by the opposition for Mr Hunt to resign. Yet not to the same extent as when calls were made for the resignation of Mr Cable.

Now I don't tend to think that two wrongs make a right, but in this case, wasn't Vince Cable right all along? He was cornered into admitting what he really thought, which in a situation like a constituency meeting, is perfectly acceptable. It's the public's right to hear the truth, and that's exactly what Vince Cable gave them.

In fact, the Press Complaints Commission agreed. They found that the Daily Telegraph had not acted in the public interest. It later emerged that the two undercover journalist's had been links to News International. A coincidence perhaps?

Vince Cable merely told the truth. Maybe it did undermine his objectivity, but I commend him. He had the guts to speak the truth to stand up against Mr Murdoch. Fast forward to 2012, and now all the politicians are doing it.

So following an interview with Sky this weekend, where he said he feels 'vindicated by BSkyB', maybe we should be praising Mr Cable for being an honest politician. He was right all along.

Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia

Men's Fashion: the Man Bag

When it comes to going out, us men are easy. Get washed, shaved and dressed to then walk out the door with a few necessities; wallet, ID and mobile. You don't really need anything else.

Or do you? Because if the latest fashion trends are anything to go by, men are becoming dependent on accessories. And with more accessories, you need something to store them in. Yes, the Man Bag.

The Man Bag has been around for a while, but it's noticeably more popular now than ever before, and it seems like the moods of those who condemned them are changing.

But why do you need one? Well, if you're like me and many other blokes I know, the 21st century man is fashion conscious and needs his appearance to be impeccable 24/7. If I go out for the evening, I tend to just keep to the bare essentials, but when at work/ out for the day, the list of accessories expands. Deodorant, aftershave, gel, umbrella (you never can tell when the British weather is likely to turn), my iPod, a book (occasionally) and so on. Some of you may need a bag for glasses, a drink, food, cigarettes etc.

You get the picture. The man of today needs his own bag, and here are some of the top bags for different occasions.

School/ College bag:
(The canvas rucksack is really in this season, replacing the messenger bag. Block colours are best for school, but if you fancy going for something more daring on the playground, try Aztec patterns or stripes.)
Vintage Surplus Leather Trim Canvas Rucksack   
River Island/ Fred Perry at Debenhams/ Urban Outfitters

Everyday rucksack:
(You can't go wrong with the simple rucksack design. It's practical, because you can fill it up or just use it to carry a few things.)

Eastpak Padded Pak’rYellow Canvas Rucksack

Westpac at Next/ Topman/ H&M

Gym/ short vacation bags:
(The holdall was really popular last year, and is still in fashion with the barrel holdall complimenting last years designs.)
Sand Barrel HoldallNavy and Orange Nylon Bag    Soul Cal Deluxe Barrel Bag
Burton/ Republic/ Next 

Shopping bag:
(This is the ideal bag for a guy that might be out all day shopping but needs a bag to store all those essential items I mentioned above. Plus, you can help the environment by using this to store your new items!)

Image 1 of Will Shopper BagCream Long Live London Shopper

Asos/ Topman/ H&M

Work bag:
(For the man with the top job, you need to look swish. Leather bags are still very popular, and can either be carried or hung from your shoulder.)

Ted Baker Tec Baker Frence Leather Messenger BagTuition Class

River Island/ Clarks/ Ted Baker at Boros

Other fashion posts from the jourknow: