Hillsborough

The Hillsborough Memorial at Anfield
The Hillsborough Memorial at Anfield

Being just 8-years-old at the time, I have very little recollection of the terrible events that took place on 15 April 1989. Vague memories exist of my parents’ shock and dismay at the news reports, but even these are the merest of recollections that I’ve no doubt over-elaborated this week.

My parents have never been ardent football fans which I’m sure made the images they were presented with even harder to bear. Football has always been ‘just a game’ to my mum and, while I’ve taken delight in my attempts to re-educate her on this gross misconception, the 1989 FA Cup semi final between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool confirmed that, as always, she’s right.

My football stadia experience has been almost solely of seated stands and it is easy to forget how significant that seat is as you pull it down and park yourself, safely, onto it. It took 96 lost lives to highlight the potential dangers of terraces and the subsequent inquiry ensured that such an event would never happen again. The stark metal fences separating fans from pitch were torn down, the steep terrace steps replaced with plastic foldaway seats.

It is true that an element of the atmosphere that adorned those terraces in the 70s and 80s has been lost. The new super-stadiums clubs are plunging themselves into the red to develop are devoid of character and as a consequence present modern football as a rather stark white-good sport. But they are undoubtedly safe and we should always remember why they are now built in such a manner.

I’ll be taking time to reflect today and, in particular, how lucky I have been to grow up in this era of the greatest sport on earth. On that afternoon twenty years ago, 96 people excitedly pulled their beloved team’s shirt over their heads, grabbed their tickets and scarves and headed off to a hotly anticipated FA Cup semi final. Fathers with their sons, girlfriends dragged along by their fanatical boyfriends, they descended en masse to support the team and game they lived for. Later that day, they did not return home to either celebrate the joy of success or suffer the pain of losing. They never returned from a football match. These days, that is such a difficult concept to grasp but one that should never, ever be forgotten.

iPhone or Blackberry?

Is the answer out there?  Probably not.
Is the answer out there? Probably not.

Like a jockey tending a football goal, this blog’s web presence is fairly pathetic. Therefore, anyone having arrived here looking for a definitive answer to the question above must have literally trawled through the entire internet. Well, welcome to my take and congratulations on putting up with what must be one of the web’s all time most frustrating searches; every page hit inevitably turns into an entirely inconclusive slanging match between iPhone and Blackberry users. I can’t guarantee this will satisfy you any further, but I’ll try.

I have been in the (perhaps) fortunate position of having run both an iPhone 3G and a Blackberry Bold for the last few months. The latter is used exclusively for my day job, the former an exuberant take on the personal mobile. I say exuberant, as no one on this planet needs an iPhone. I don’t. I am, however, an unashamed member of the brainwashed majority Apple’s marketing leviathan has successfully captured and, via it’s frustratingly alluring e-shot and TV campaign, continued to kick seven bells out of.

So which one is better? Which one should you go out today and buy? Sorry, I’m not sure.

Let’s start with the all important function. Telephony. When all is said and done, these things are phones. They both allow you to make and receive calls and text messages. Sound quality on both is acceptable (why this is ever discussed, I’ll never know – I’ve never come across a phone I can’t hear the other person on and I certainly don’t expect to hear them in DTS Master-encoded 7.1 surround sound). They both store a practically limitless number of contacts with all the information you’ll ever need attached to them. The Blackberry even allows you to store their pager number – do they still exist?

Next: email. Now, any Blackberry aficionado will fall over themselves to tell you how it is the best platform in the universe for mobile email. It’s good, I’ll give them that. But we’re talking emails, here. Strings of text we send people. It’s not hard to get right. The iPhone is a good match for the Blackberry. Both offer integration with Exchange server and both will happily set themselves up with your Gmail or the majority of the other web-based email services. I honestly could use either device for email. Some may favour the Blackberry’s tactile ‘real’ keyboard, but the iPhone’s virtual one is surprisingly easy to get used to. Once again, email is such a simple area and I genuinely do not understand the fuss made over the way each device implements it. People who place significant importance on the ability to file emails, set up multiple redirects, and various other usually desktop-based routines, can’t have much to do while out and about. I receive, send and occasionally forward emails. Both devices meet this need.

Music. Right, we’re getting somewhere interesting now. Whether we like it or not – and I am one of the many who simply does not understand the youth of today’s obsession with playing music out loud from their phone while walking down the street – music is a significant element of mobile phones these days. And you can see why; it’s a great way to reduce the amount of technical paraphernalia you have to carry about with you. The iPhone wins this bout hands down. It’s also an iPod. Granted, iPod’s are only ‘good’ by default, but we’ve learned to live with that fact for years. I haven’t even bothered trying the music functionality of the Blackberry. I just don’t care.

‘Apps’. Yet another Apple-influenced phrase we must all adopt for the traditionally phrased: ‘applications’. As I have written in previous posts, the iPhone’s App Store is at times fascinating and genuinely useful. There is, however, an awful lot of guff you end up downloading and eventually deleting. I find several apps very useful for blogging, Twitter, Facebook and Ebay, but that’s about as far as it stems. Use your shiny iPhone to level up a sawdust-ridden shelf? No thanks.

Blackberry’s ‘App World’ has only recently emerged and I’ve literally had a go with it for about five minutes. Very intuitive from what I saw, and draws heavily on the iPhone equivalent (why wouldn’t it?).

So, in summary (if you’re still reading this, thanks), if you are an Apple addict like myself, want to get rid of the iPod/phone combo and aren’t too fussed about looking a little bit of a dick every time you put your phone to your ear, get the iPhone. If, however, you are put off by the iPhone’s uncanny ability to be mentioned in 95% of all conversations and music is of little interest to you while out and about, get the Blackberry.

So there you have it. Sorry. I can point you in the direction of Google for the next stage of your search for an answer, if you like. Try a different search term. You never know, there may be a blog out there less known than mine with the definitive answer on it.

Another Friday

Fridays are, without doubt, man’s best creation. Nothing quite beats the feeling of finishing work for the day and heading home for two days of work-free bliss. What is slightly more alarming as I nose dive ever closer to the pit of the thirtieth year of my life, is the regularity with which I get ‘that Friday feeling’.

The weeks are flying past. It is genuinely alarming how quickly one weekend blends into the next -where does all that time go?

This blog post can go one of two ways; I could rejoice in how the seemingly rocket-propelled passing of time is going to see us out of the recession quicker than a blink of an eye or, and more predictably, I could delve into the lower reaches of my psyche and wrench out the overwhelming thought of death’s door dragging ever closer.

Sod that, though. It’s Friday. Beer anyone?