Episode 26: Manchester Vs Merseyside

I mentioned when I started that I do a football podcast now, which in part is the reason I’m so poor at updating this blog. This episode covers the pointlessness of kitchen roll, 90’s legends Trev and Simon, and of course last weekend’s football. Give it a try. I have a nice voice. Like David Baddiel with a blocked nose.

Mid Table Matters

After an unplanned week off, MTM is back to discuss the best team on Merseyside’s win over troubled looking Guardiola’s Man City team and another draw between fierce rivals United and Liverpool.

An Iwobi inspired Arsenal heap more misery on the Swans and Chelsea and West Ham look better without their sulky stars.

There’s all the usual extras; the Millwall Minute, Exeter Second, Poem and quiz, and at the very end, a little treat for all those who remember Saturday morning children’s telly with fondness. So, join in and swing your pants.

Listen here:

Or download from here: https://midtablematters.podbean.com/e/episode-26-manchester-vs-merseyside/

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Lucas, Bartley and Womack: The Future of the Green Party

2 2 4 Politics

Last weekend saw the Green Party of England and Wales’ autumn conference, and the formal announcement of the Green Party’s new leadership team – Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley as joint-leaders, and Amelia Womack as Deputy Leader.

Lucas and Bartley’s victory was not a surprise, but perhaps the size of their victory was (87.7% of the vote, 81% clear of their nearest rival). This is despite some displeasure at the manner of the announcement they’d be standing (an article in the Guardian the day before formal nominations opened). Lucas had previously suggested she may continue with the decision she made in 2012 – to step aside from the leadership so that, among other benefits, more faces could make a name for themselves, and build a national reputation. Deputy Leaders Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali among those suggested as possible candidates, as well as MEP Molly Scott-Cato.

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Mid Table Matters Podcast Episode 1


So. This is a podcast I have the honour of chairing. And this is our first episode. I’m quite enjoying doing it, and hope it fills the gap in the market where Radio 4 lacks a programme like this.

If anyone from Radio 4 is listening, our rates are reasonable..

Episode 1 is here! We review the first round of Euro 2016 games and look ahead to the rest of the tournament.   Listen here: Or download from here:   We’ll be back on Saturday……

Source: Mid Table Matters Podcast Episode 1

Sausage and Leek Meatball Tagliatelle


Happy January. If, like me, you got paid early in December, and are now eagerly anticipating being paid and trying to wring value out of every last penny, then I hope this recipe helps.

It’s a Niger Slater one that does his talent for making superbly comforting food from easily available ingredients, and I’ve got two dinners out of it for about four quid.


A pack of sausages
Two leeks
A 250ml tub of cream
150g tagliatelle
Chilli flakes
Fresh parsley


Slice open the sausages and put the insides in a bowl, discarding the skins. Add a couple of teaspoons of dill and chilli and squodge it all together with your hands.


Fashion this into about 8 largish meatballs. In a large saucepan, heat a generous amount of olive oil. Brown the meatballs win this, then cover and cook for another 10 minutes, shaking occasionally to evenly cook the balls.

Transfer the balls to a bowl. Put a pan of salty water on boil and cook the pasta. Chop the leeks, and put them on a low heat in the pan you cooked the meatballs in, to cook in the juices.


When they are soft and lovely, throw in the cream, some tarragon and chopped parsley, and season. Add the meatballs and drained tagliatelle and let it cook for a few more minutes.

Serve, eat, meditate on the fact your poverty is manageable for 10 minutes.


Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Now That’s What I Call Music 54


Released-  14th April 2003

Music History

S Club 7 split up. Phil Spector doesn’t do gun safety. And Apple launch the iTunes store, the first irritating addition to the hideous bloatware that is iTunes.

Me History

I’m 19. I am generally drunk. Pound a pint night on Mondays and indie disco at the art school on Fridays. Looking over this Now album is giving me weird alcoholic flashbacks to snippets of nights out, like Proust, but with the madeleine biscuit replaced by the stink of ciggies, and with sticky beer on my Stan Smiths.

If I had to save one track from this album, which this time around feels like asking me which of my children I’d want to survive, that track would be…  nearly impossible to pick. Had Nelly, Junior Senior, Punjabi MC, Girls Aloud or Cam’Ron appeared on any other volume with these songs, they’d have won no doubt. But Like I Love You is probably one of the main reasons I stopped being an indie snob. It’s pop perfection.

Track by Track Breakdown

t.A.T.u.All the Things She Said

The passing of time has rendered the whole schoolgirl lesbianism marketing angle a little odious. But the song is still a great dark pop number. Great start.

Justin TimberlakeLike I Love You

The comeback single Michael Jackson should have gone with. Syncopated, sleek and sexy. And possibly the best pop single this side of 2000, even 13 years on. Also, got to love the guest spot for Clipse.

Nelly featuring Kelly RowlandDilemma

Love it! This should close every nightclub ever, in the style of a school disco. Let the uncomfortable slow dancing begin!

Richard X vs Liberty X Being Nobody

Mash up culture meets pop, with this lovely hybrid of Ain’t Nobody and Being Boiled. Clever move Richard X. Clever Move.

Room 5 ft. Oliver Cheatham Make Luv

I’m easily pleased. It sounds disco. I’m on it.

Junior SeniorMove Your Feet

If you put summer, joy and Mentoes in a bottle and shook it up, this is the noise it would make as it explodes. Pure, unalloyed fun.

Girls AloudSound Of The Underground

One of those pop debuts that pretty much decides that this act is going to be round for years. In terms of the time, it sounds like a collaboration between Atomic Kitten, Richard X and Fatboy Slim. Don’t you wish that happened?

BustedYear 3000

It’s stupid. And assumes that we’ll have a lifespan of about 250 years in the very near future. And they’re pretty sniffy about boy bands for a boy band. But I’ll allow it.

Melanie C Here It Comes Again

I sometimes feel a bit sorry for Mel C and Mark Owen. They both wanted to be the ‘serious AOR’ one after their groups split, but both never really managed it. Bless ’em.

Sinéad QuinnI Can’t Break Down

Tries too hard to give it attitude. A pretty wide miss.


Darius remains my favourite reality TV singer of all time. Not that this song is any great shakes.

AppletonDon’t Worry

Half of All Saints. Less than half as good. Amusingly they both married famous Liams. Gallagher of Oasis and Howlett of The Prodigy.

Atomic KittenLove Doesn’t Have to Hurt

It could be about anal sex or domestic abuse, and either would be more enjoyable than this.

BlueU Make Me Wanna

Blue go back to being crap. They keep promising more then letting you down…

Jay-Z featuring Beyoncé Knowles03 Bonnie & Clyde

They’d make a nice couple wouldn’t they? Who’d have thought they’d both be royalty today? It’s a great song, but a great song that they have both far exceeded since.

Jaimeson featuring Angel BluTrue

Garage says goodbye with a whimper.

Zoe BirkettTreat Me Like a Lady

Basic. Disco pop. Instantly forgettable.

S ClubAlive

Sorry guys it’s over. Stop. Give up.

One True VoiceSacred Trust

These were the winners of Popstars:The Rivals over Girls Aloud. Which says all you need to know about Simon Cowell shows.

Kym MarshCry

I’m disgusted with myself for liking it. It’s trite and so 2003 it hurts. But like it I do.

Ainslie Henderson Keep Me a Secret

Nice. Bland. One of those things that has been pitched to appeal to everybody but is loved by nobody.

Daniel BedingfieldIf You’re Not the One

Aww. He’s a right sweetie. Musically meh, but I want to give him a big hug…

David SneddonStop Living the Lie

He wrote it himself. Which should be celebrated. But… He very clearly wrote it himself. And lost the post it note saying ‘Put chorus in later’.

Robbie WilliamsFeel

Trying to sound more clever and meaningful than it is. Catchy chorus though.


Let Liam write one. Four words that spell the end of Oasis. Almost as bad as Mick Jagger telling you Keef’s going to do a couple now.

Turin BrakesPain Killer

Affable niceness on acoustic guitars. I was far too ‘edgy’ (read ‘pretentious’) to enjoy it at the time. Like it now!


So ubiquitous that I know it’s the hold music for at least two utility companies. Does nothing for me.

Lulu & Ronan KeatingWe’ve Got Tonight

I fucking hate Lulu. That is all.


Moody break up ballad. Good on its own, but following Round Round and Freak Like Me it was always going to sound a bit weak.

Beenie ManStreet Life

They keep putting nice Beenie Man songs on here. When all anyone wanted at the time is Who Am I? Who got the keys to my bimma?

Cam’Ron featuring Juelz Santana, Freekey Zeekey and ToyaHey Ma

If you’re making a summer mixtape, and this isn’t on it, it’s not a summer mixtape.

Nelly featuring Justin TimberlakeWork It

Both artists getting a second song on here. And there is no drop in quality. It’s a fantastic sleaze fest of a tune.

Panjabi MC Mundian To Bach Ke

Absolutely immense. The best song to sample the Knightrider theme. Including Busta Rhymes. So that is high praise.


Hmm. I’m getting the suspicion that all Scooter’s songs sound the same. Right down to the fake crowd noise.

DJ Sammy The Boys of Summer

Christ on a ten gear, was the original not horrible enough?

Divine Inspiration The Way (Put Your Hand in My Hand)

If I spent the same amount of time writing this sentence as they spent on this song I wouldn’t have finished it.

Queen + DJ VanguardFlash

Nowhere near as bad as the forthcoming desecration of Freddie Mercury’s grave that’s to come. But frankly, if it doesn’t have Brian Blessed shouting ‘GORDON’S ALIVE!’ it’s not good enough.

ErasureSolsbury Hill

Erasure put their stamp all over the Peter Gabriel classic. It’s Erasure. Of course it sounds bloody great!

The Mock TurtlesCan You Dig It? (Fatboy Slim & Simon Thornton 2003 Remix) (As featured in the Vodafone ad)

Too reverent to the original. Probably the first weak Fatboy Slim remix. More like a remaster. The song’s still a relative classic.

Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton Big Yellow Taxi

Jon Mitchell is a genius, and an easy equal to Bob Dylan. Counting Crows are only liked by the sort of white guy who grows dreadlocks. How do you think this was going to end?

Richard AshcroftScience of Silence

While I can’t put my finger on it, there’s something missing from Richard Ashcroft’s solo singles that the Verve had. All the same parts are there, but it doesn’t stir you.

Massive AttackSpecial Cases

One of those lovely, bleak, sinister Massive Attack songs. Like a wasteland on a winters day. In the best way.

Final Verdict

21 out of 42. Fiddy percent. But when it’s good, it’s some of the best pop ever. So much so it’s making me doubt my methods.

This article is part of a series, chronicling a foolish attempt to chronicle the history of modern pop, through the Now That’s What I Call Music series. All the previous articles, and some other fun stuff, can be found here.

Happy Burns’ Night

I love that the Scots think we English hate them, when every year we allow them to sell us catfood in fancy packaging, and wolf it down in honour of a poet who didn’t even speak very good English and pretend we don’t know they’re playing us!

Just playing, love the stuff! May yer lum be reekin etc.


PS- Sorry I’ve been hibernating. Normal service will resume shortly.

Now That’s What I Call Christmas

Okay… its a repost from last year. But it’s Christmas. And this album doesn’t change much each year. From a quick glance, I think there’s one song I haven’t covered in this article.

Sooo. In the spirit of completeness;

Idina MenzelDo You Want to Build a Snowman

A worthy addition to the Christmas song canon. But Let it Go is clearly better.



This article is part of a series, chronicling a foolish attempt to chronicle the history of modern pop, through the Now That’s What I Call Music series. All the previous articles, and some other fun stuff, can be found here. This, however, is a break from the norm to review an annual offshoot of the series, compiling (in theory) the best Christmas songs of all time onto three fun packed discs.

Released- 3rd November 2014 (Though, let’s face it, there’s one every year)

Music History

2000 years ago, in a manger, Jesus was born. 1950 odd years later, pop music was born. The two work well together.

Me Holiday History

Originally a Roman festival called Saturnalia, and appropriated by Christianity under the Emperor Constantine as the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday. In fairness, Jesus is pretty cool about the whole thing, and doesn’t want presents himself, and is just like, ‘Guys…

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A sort of companion to last week’s turkish delight recipe, except where that was simple, this is hardcore. You can make it simply by shopping online or living in North East London, where ready made filo pastry can be purchased.

Despite having two books on baking, I didn’t have a recipe for filo pastry. Despite being judgemental on the Great British Bake Off, even the sainted Paul Hollywood tells you to just to buy frozen filo! The filo recipe is by Michel Roux, and seems to come out pretty well.

Also, baklava is just crispy, nutty, syrupy heaven, so it’s worth every ounce of effort.



200g flour
170ml warm water (warmed to 50c)
1 tsp salt
15ml olive oil
Cornflour (for dusting)


300g shelled pistachios
125g butter (melted)


300ml water
500g caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp rosewater
Some orange zest


So, are you brave? Are you going to try to make impossible pastry? Good on you. If not I’ve stuck a heading below for you so you can start from there.

Still reading? Okay! In a large bowl, mix together the flour salt and water until they all start to come together. As they do, pour the olive oil in in a thin stream, like you’re making mayonnaise.

Beat for another 5 minutes, and it should be soft and sticky. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and dust it lightly with some cornflour.

Pull the dough into 60g balls, about the size of a small satsuma, and lay on the baking tray. Cover with cling film, and leave somewhere cool for about 2 hours.


After 2 hours, dust your work surface with cornflour and roll each ball out into pieces about the size of your baking tray. You want the pastry so thin you’ll be terrified to move it for fear it will break. At the very most, about 3mm thick. As you finish each piece, lay it on some cling film, then lay more cling film on top for the next piece.

Anything you don’t use will keep well in the freezer, well wrapped in cling film.

Recipe for cowards

Preheat your oven to 180c.

Welcome back! So… If you have a food processor, stick the shelled pistachios in there and blend them up. If not, stick them in a sandwich bag, wrap it in a teatowel, picture the face of someone you hate, then beat it with a rolling pin until they’re reduced to crumbs.


In a suitably sized tin, place a layer of pastry. Brush this with melted butter all over, then add a thin layer of pistachio crumbs. Lay over more pastry, brush again, nuts again, until you have 5 or 6 layers of pastry. Pre-slice these into pieces about 2cm each. Pick whaterlver shape you fancy.

Stick this in the oven for 30 minutes, until puffed up and golden.

While this cooks, put the water and sugar in a pan over a high heat. Bring it to a pretty firm boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the lemon, rose water and orange zest.

Pour half of this over the baklava as soon as it comes out, then the other half at least 10 minutes later.

Eat sparingly. It’s syrupy and will be too rich for a full blown binge. Trust me… I tried.


Now That’s What I Call Music 53


Released-  18th November 2002

Music History

A good year for TV talent shows, which create Girls Aloud and Kelly Clarkson.  Sad day for hip hop, as Jam Master Jay dies. I saw Run DMC at reading the year before. A sad loss.

Me History

I’ve started university. I won’t finish. I live in a shared house on the outskirts of Canterbury, and I am physically incapable of cooking or cleaning. My specialty is a quorn fillet with pesto smeared on it. The sadist in met wants to go back and sniff my house. Just once. And feel shame.

If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest are rightfully burned with all the remaining copies of Now 53, that track would be…  Dy Na Mi Tee by a mile.

Track by Track Breakdown

DJ Sammy & Yanou featuring Do“Heaven”

I get the appeal. I quite like the stripped down version. But with the cheese house backing, this just falls flat.

Las Ketchup –  “Aserejé (The Ketchup Song)”

One of those fantastic European crossover tracks that you can’t help but enjoy. Also, their entry for the 2006 Eurovision song contest, Cubalibre, is an underrated gem too!

Enrique Iglesias –  “Love to See You Cry”

Okay. So after the stalkery Escape, he’s now saying he loves to see you cry. No offense, but he sounds like the most abusive partner ever.

Sugababes –  “Round Round”

Two classic singles in a row! The Soulwax remix is one of life’s great joys too.

Atomic Kitten“The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling)”

Is it better than the original? No. Is it better than the Blonde version? No. But still, it’s pretty much unruinable, so you’ve got away with it.

Blue –  “One Love”

Another enjoyable one of Blue’s ‘pop with attitude’ type singles. Would that they had done more of these and less ballads…


Darius Danesh is still the greatest thing ever to feature on a TV talent show. I’m just leaving this here…

Busted – “What I Go to School For”

Haha. I forgot this silly, childish pop rock song exists. Oh Busted. Hello. Welcome. How cute are you?

Liberty X“Got to Have Your Love”

A welcome Mantronix sample carries a good pop song here. Wow. It’s been about 50 Nows since the original featured!

Romeo featuring Christina Milian – “It’s All Gravy”

He was born into the wrong time. He throws out memeable lines like Drake, but memes aren’t a thing yet! Tumblr would have made you a legend.

Samantha Mumba –  “I’m Right Here”

An almost successful attempt to do what Aaliyah did. Stuttering stop start beats prevent, but she’s not quite got the charisma to pull it off.

ABS – “What You Got”

Did you think you could get away with sampling Uptown Top Ranking ABS from 5ive? It’s one of the best reggae tracks ever. You ever see me, Althea and Donna in our jeans an’ ting, you better run.

Britney Spears“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”

Amusing enough Joan Jett cover. Really… could do better but I’ll take it.

S Club Juniors“Automatic High”

I want to be objective, but this just won’t stop creeping me out. There’s something so wrong about the concept… so very Jonathan King. Shudder.

Kylie Minogue“Come into My World”

After a pretty great run, Kylie has fallen into a bit of a rut, where this could be a bit from any of her other, better singles of the past few years.

Jakatta featuring Seal“My Vision”

Jakatta are no Adamski. In fairness, Seal has such a great emotive voice this couldn’t be bad. But in comparison to his previous dance crossover efforts, this is a little flat.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor“Music Gets the Best of Me”

It’s almost cruel that they always stick her tracks after Kylie doing it better on these albums. Poor lass.

Kelly Llorenna –  “Heart of Gold”

On the cheese scale, this is a camenbert growing blue green fluffy mould. It stinks.

Milk Inc.“Walk on Water”

This is all getting a bit generic here. If it were a person, it would be wearing a vest and an Obey snapback.

Jan Wayne –  “Because the Night”

So much better when it appears to be an 80s power ballad. The euro beat and synths are completely unnecessary and detract from the good bits.


Like so much vocal house, it’s really promising till the vocal kicks in. Ah well.


It’s like the worst MC ever, at a rave where only 3 people turned up. Possibly a little endearing in its underwhelmingness.

Coldplay – “In My Place”

Remember when Coldplay weren’t huge and actually had to write good songs to keep going? I miss it. Everyone should just not buy their new album, get them working like this again.

Oasis –  “Little by Little”

You’re pretty much safe writing off anything Oasis do from now on.

U2“Electrical Storm”

Blander than anything they’ve done before. Like cooked pasta with no seasoning whatsoever.

Chad Kroeger featuring Josey Scott“Hero”

No offense Nickelback, but I still know it’s you from the way it plods along like a dog with three legs.

Richard Ashcroft –   “Check the Meaning”

Like the Verve, but without anyone to tell him the song needs more work. Not bad, but very dull.

Eva Cassidy – “Imagine”

Could this have been the moment that that godawful trend of recording great songs in a twee lullaby style began? Just listen to the original.

Vanessa Carlton –  “A Thousand Miles”

I realise that my masculinity is at threat here… but come on, this is really quite lovely. Overproduced maybe. But still beautiful.

Badly Drawn Boy –  “You Were Right”

Is the intro meant to sound like Digital Love? Because it really does. I like Badly Drawn Boy, but this one feels a bit directionless.

Ronan Keating“I Love It When We Do”

So middle of the road he’s falling over squashed hedgehogs.


Half of All Saints, and about half as good. My old band played on the same bill as them at a university ball! How far they had sunk…

Ms. Dynamite“Dy-Na-Mi-Tee”

Possibly the best British R&B song since Neneh Cherry went for cosy domesticity. Or possibly ever…

Beenie Man featuring Janet“Feel It Boy”

The Neptunes can’t make a bad track at the moment. The fact they’ve managed to blend two seemingly disparate artists is brilliant.

Daniel Bedingfield –  “James Dean (I Wanna Know)”

His good song’s been and gone. And so his sister starts plotting her moves…

Eminem“Without Me”

Come on… Two classic albums and nothing on a Now! album. His first weak (ish) song and they love him. A boat missed here…

Puddle of Mudd –  “She Hates Me”

Everyone does, you fake grunge horror.

Bowling for Soup –  “Girl All the Bad Guys Want”

Is this not just Teenage Dirtbag all over again? Amusing for two minutes, with a few very funny lines… Her CD changer’s full of singers who are mad at their dad… haha.


Their best has now passed, but this 70’s inflected stomper still hits the right notes. Finally a sound to match the sideburns.

Status Quo“Jam Side Down”

Strangely anachronistic, though aided by the preceding 70’s revivalism by Supergrass. Still, does this have any place on a pop compilation in 2002?

Raven Maize“Fascinated”

The best thing I can say about it is that I’ve never come across someone named after birds and grains before.

Who Da Funk featuring Jessica Eve – “Shiny Disco Balls”

Sinister and whispery. Can’t tell if that’s good or bad to be honest.

Oakenfold“Starry Eyed Surprise”

I’m trying to remember the band that this guy came from. They were terrible. Their big song was called Butterfly. Also, when did Paul Oakenfold lose his first name. It actually has quite a nice backing. But some of the most terrible rapping I have ever heard.

Edit- Crazy Town. They were called Crazy Town. They were awful. My little sister loved them.

Final Verdict

19.5 out of 43. 44%. Just terrible. Truly.

This article is part of a series, chronicling a foolish attempt to chronicle the history of modern pop, through the Now That’s What I Call Music series. All the previous articles, and some other fun stuff, can be found here.

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