Saturday, 20 January 2007

From Poll to Poll

From Poll to poll: my week of controversy
by Russell Brand

Given the fact that for six days a week I work for a Big Brother spin-off show it is rather difficult to draw my focus from the international hoopla that's been created by events inside the house. Last Saturday I watched West Ham draw with Fulham. It were a nerve-jangling affair and where Graham Poll produced five minutes of added injury time from is a mystery to me. Perhaps it was from the same orifice from whence he plucked the third yellow card he dealt in the World Cup.

Neither side seemed content with Poll's adjudication that day. The Fulham fans thought he was awful as well. The West Ham fans stayed a further five minutes in addition to the five mystery minutes that he added on to chorus him down the tunnel with jaunty ballads of hate. I've didn't imagine for a moment the words "Graham Poll" and "wanker" could be arranged in such vast and varying configurations.

West Ham have now entered into the transfer market, purchasing Calum Davenport and at the time of writing it looks like Lucas Neill may join in addition to Luis Boa Morte and Nigel Quashie, both of whom played well on Saturday, not to the high standard achieved by Nigel Reo-Coker and the fantastic Yossi Benayoun, but good performances from new players none the less. Eggert Magnusson is not shy in spending his Icelandic biscuit tokens. And it's a good thing because one cannot ignore West Ham's defence when allocating blame for Saturday's defeat though Graham Poll contributed a goal of blunders to Fulham's final tally.

Whilst I've continued to follow Premiership football closely, my head has been swimming in controversy due to events in Big Brother. Of course racism is deplorable and bullying detestable. I wouldn't seek to query that, what I'm finding enormously difficult, as someone who has met Jade Goody on several occasions and can attest to the fact that she's a decent girl who's had a remarkably difficult life, is that she's not a bad person.

I don't know Danielle Lloyd or Jo from S Club 7, but I imagine they too in isolation are decent people. What irks me as much as the persecution of the elegant and beautiful Shilpa Shetty is the national wrath directed at these three women who are really expressing views and attitudes endemic in the culture from which they came. Of course football and racism went hand in hand for many years. There are many more black and Asian supporters at West Ham now than when I came as a child in the early 80s. But I suppose what is difficult about the Big Brother fiasco and surrounding hullabaloo is that it's an indication of unaddressed racism throughout our culture. And to tell you the truth it's a right pain in the ass.

I suppose it will be a slow and thorough process that brings about a huge social change required to address these issues. Currently it's not so prevalent in football but it was not that long ago that John Barnes and Tony Daley were pelted with bananas whenever they played away.

Now the problem seems to have been quelled but perhaps if we were to watch the actions and conversations of football fans for 24 hours a day or indeed football players we would uncover things that were unpalatable - my only hope is that we can find in ourselves the compassion that we demand of those three housemates when it comes judging them.

Guardian column

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