Monday, 9 November 2009


We’ll find out tomorrow what the winners of Friday's £90m Euromillions jackpot are going to do with their money. What on earth would you do with £45m? A couple in South Wales and a group of office workers from Liverpool have got that wonderful decision ahead of them. As has been widely reported in the media, £45m is a similar fortune to that of footballer Michael Owen or DJ Chris Evans - both of whom have worked very hard to achieve that wealth. I would feel a little bit guilty if someone handed me a cheque for £45m after I’d bought a £1 ticket and so many others had lost, but I’m sure I wouldn’t mind that much. ‘If you don’t buy a ticket’, as they say...

So would £45m bring me happiness? I might give £5m to Southend United - they need it more than most, despite thankfully avoiding administration today - and probably £5m to my church. Maybe a nice pad in central London and Ferrari will set me back another £5m. I’m dreaming now, but there’s still £30m left. I might give mum and dad a few quid too! But although I would never have to work again, I don’t think I’d want to sit around all day doing nothing. Journalism and the media is where I want to be - whatever happens. And I don’t even play the lottery.

You often hear stories about lottery winners who want to carry on working, and it’s that sense of career fulfilment and a wish to make the most of life that would keep me going. Angela Kelly, who won £35m in August said: “My win has enabled me to bring a great deal of happiness to my friends and family, which has in turn made me very happy.” She’s probably right. By giving your money to other people - and spending a bit on yourself whilst trying to continue your normal life - you will get the most satisfaction from a lottery win. An interesting thought for the day indeed...

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It’s usually the little things that get blown out of proportion which make the headlines in politics. The Sun has recently been a watchdog for the government - even more so since it switched allegiance from Labour to Tory - and today’s revelation that Gordon Brown misspelled the name of a soldier killed in Afghanistan is a good story for the paper. Jamie Janes [pictured, MOD] - not ‘James’ as the PM referred to him both in Parliament last month and in the letter to his mother - was killed in October. His mother, Jacqui, claims the letter was a ‘hastily scrawled insult’, which doesn’t consider that the PM’s eyesight is poor and he writes with a black felt-tip pen to help him see. But he should not be making spelling mistakes - especially on the lad’s name.

The mother has said it was "disrespectful" and an "insult" to her son, but as Business Secretary Lord Mandelson pointed out today, it’s ridiculous to suggest Mr Brown intended to show any disrespect to the boy or his family. It was simply a mistake and I agree with Lord Mandelson. The PM has lots of important things to do with his time, and whilst it’s good that he writes to bereaved families, he does have a country to run too. This should not be blown out of proportion - yes, a soldier has died, and everyone is grateful for the sacrifice he has made for us, but Mr Brown made a few spelling mistakes and suddenly there seems to be a witch-hunt against him. The BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, put it perfectly: “The reason this is a story is because of the widespread sense of doubt about the continued value of British forces fighting and dying in Afghanistan.” It’s nothing to do with Gordon Brown’s spelling and handwriting at all.

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On the subject of war remembrance, I was at Hillsborough on Saturday to watch Sheffield Wednesday v Queens Park Rangers, where a one-minute silence was immaculately observed. It’s quite surreal to be high-up in such a massive stadium when everything falls silent [see Anfield, pictured]. This is why I think we should have silences for all remembrance - whether it be for a former player or club director, or anyone else significant. I have a bit of an issue with ‘a minute’s applause’ because I don’t think it’s as powerful as silence.

Football grounds are noisy places during games at the quietest of times, so it’s much more poignant to absorb a lack of noise before a game. The recent Bobby Robson tributes were comprised of a minute’s applause - and some fans even chanted ‘There’s only one Bobby Robson’. Whilst this was obviously not meant to be disrespectful to the legendary man, I just feel the recent obsession with applause and chanting for one minute is not the right way to remember people. An observed silence is the best tribute.

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What on earth is Nottingham Forest's safety officer Alan Bexon thinking? His idea is that home and away fans can sit together in the family stand at their home game with Doncaster Rovers on November 28 at the City Ground [pictured]. Mr Bexon said: “We sincerely hope the idea will catch on and lead to us eventually getting back to a situation where there is no need to segregate fans. Football has evolved since the days when hooliganism was at a peak and we believe the initiative could be a step in a very positive direction.”

Now it’s certainly true that football has moved on since the troubled days of the 1970s and 1980s, but putting home and away fans in different areas is surely a no-brainer. I love going to away matches with Southend and Newcastle because you get some great banter - as I mentioned on the blog last week - and it’s what helps make football special. The idea that one day we would never have segregation is unbelievable - not because it will never be safe enough, but because fans value being amongst their own. It’s their community and family - and they don’t always like the neighbours.