The title is a quote, fittingly from a food critic turned journalist and documentary maker: Jonathan Meades. Equally fittingly, Meades television output has a distinctly ‘marmite’ flavour: some people will lap up the breadth of source material and viewpoints, while others will blanch at some of the sourer notes or just flinch facing a monstrous feast of syllables. Mangling a culinary metaphor mercilessly, Meades is a man who serves up curate’s eggs by the dozen, some highly nutritious, some possibly addled. Approach iPlayer with caution. But, returning to earth – or, rather, Earth – he actually wasn’t talking about food. He was talking about how different cultures think about and value diversity.

Even if you are a BBC4 watcher with a thesaurus perched next to your remote control, some background might help. Apart from his print and TV work, Meades is also Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and (in the language of its own website) a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association. His work, as blogger Aethelred the Unread describes it by comparison with the documentary-maker Adam Curtis, has a point to make:

Like Curtis, he’s not so much a polemicist for a particular viewpoint as he is a polemicist for the necessity of thinking for oneself. Like Curtis, he’s interested in unorthodox juxtapositions (especially of apparently serious and trivial things), and in approaching weighty topics from unusual angles.”


I know it’s not how we usually think of it, but a football pitch is – at least for those in the football industry (and let’s be adult and admit it’s an industry, not a game) – a workplace. Football might be something that rouses fervent passions, but the people manoeuvring the round thing from one end to the other and back are paid really rather handsomely for their skills. It’s fair to say that even cynics acknowledge as much. Here for example, is Charlie Brooker, commenting on the last World Cup:

A huge number of my fellow citizens tune in and witness a glorious contest of ecstatic highs and heartbreaking lows. I see 22 millionaires ruining a lawn.”

(And yes, I know we quoted this when we talked about football in the context of succession planning, but as quotes that put things in their place go …)

The fact that Wembley Stadium, Stamford Bridge, the Emirates Stadium and Old Trafford are indeed workplaces makes one aspect of the recent hoo-ha about Sepp Blatter’s comments on racism in football all the more extraordinary. While it was heartening to see not only players, but managers and football industry authorities in this country speaking out in shock and dismay at the suggestion that on-field racist abuse should be settled by a handshake, I only heard one commentator pointing out that racist behaviour on the pitch – or, indeed, on the terraces – is illegal.


A line from a song, of course: The Sex Pistol’s “God Save The Queen”, still provocative all these years on. And a line written by John Lydon, although it was hard not to think of it watching the television coverage of the funeral of Malcolm McLaren, his former manager and the human catalyst that brought punk to the streets of London in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year. For most people, that’s probably McLaren’s legacy in a nutshell: ripped t-shirts, Her Majesty with unusual nasal jewellery on a poster, and all the other little visual icons of that summer that you can still, remarkably, buy on postcards in many parts of London. But even at just a level of fashion, he left a bigger mark: describe someone as ‘punky looking’, as most of us have a pretty clear visual picture of what you mean. Not a bad achievement for a man with one little shop at the wrong end of the King’s Road. But there was more to McLaren than that: for good and bad, there are plenty of reasons to spend a few minutes looking back at his life now that it has ended.