EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT TUXEDO HAS GOOD ideas about as often as a hen has teeth. Which is why Tuxedo is on his own this particular night, crouching with his ear to the tumbrils of a small safe behind the counter of the video shop. The snag is that Tuxedo is not built for crouching lower than a pool table. His left foot has cramp and his blue satin boxer shorts are twisted in his crotch causing him aggravation. On top of all this, twiddling the knobs on the safe is getting him nowhere and he is overcome by a craving for sweet potato pie.
Anybody, from the Frontline to the Backline, could tell you that Tuxedo is jinxed. Take one instance. Yesterday Tuxedo buys a second-hand car for three hundred and fifty, cash. This guy gives him all the documents but when he gets home the log book turns out to be an old parking summons and the car is clearly hotter than Tina Turner; if Tuxedo thinks he has just laid his hands on some pure Jamaican sensimilla, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will turn out to be homegrown from Kensal Rise; even the all-night Kentucky Fried Chicken runs out of corn on the cob as soon as Tuxedo steps through the portals. Anybody could tell you that the day Tuxedo gets lucky will be the day it snows ink. Which is why he has this near-permanent frowning glare on his face, a wicked screw that most people mistake for hostility when in fact it’s the anxious stare of one who knows that God has been up most of the night laying traps for him, sometimes in the shape of things, mostly in the shape of people.
Tuxedo glares at the safe:
‘Come on, you bastard,’ he mutters, then adds: ‘It’s all right, God, it’s the safe I’m talking to, not you.’
Of one thing, Tuxedo is certain. God is white. Once, when he was younger, he had listened to his militant cousin explain how white people had tricked the world into believing that Jesus was white when he was really black and so it followed that God was black too, or at least brown, more likely brown seeing that he was from the Middle East. Tuxedo told all this to his mother who gave him several licks for daring to call God ‘a dutty half-breed’. In the end, Tuxedo came to his own conclusion, simple and to the point. If God isn’t white, how come black people have such a hard time?
Anyway, Tuxedo is in this office which is short of space what with the desk and the metal filing cabinets. The light is on because Tuxedo doesn’t much like the dark ever since the school caretaker accidentally locked him in the boiler room where he was hiding because he couldn’t remember the lyrics of the seven-times table. Since then, Tuxedo gets jittery in the dark. So he is tackling his first safe, solo, with the light on in the back of Edwards Electronic and TV Rental shop. As it happens, he has only discovered the safe by chance, stubbing his toe against it while he is in the back of the shop looking for some Vaseline.
The reason Tuxedo is looking for Vaseline is this. He has broken into the shop to get a video recorder for Dolores Burton, his current mainsqueeze. Now all the episodes of Hill Street Blues would lead you to believe that during the commission of these minor felonies, people break out in a nervous sweat. Just when the music gets tense and trembly and the camera goes into close-up, you can see sweat streaming down their faces. Not so Tuxedo. His face goes all dry and cracky, especially the lips, which prompts him to put down the video recorder and look in the back of the shop on the offchance of finding some Vaseline or even a little Johnson’s baby oil to rub in his face. And this is precisely what he is doing when the safe attracts the attention of his big toe.
Outside, the August night is warm. The street is still strewn with litter from the market and the sweet glutinous smell of rotting vegetables hangs in the air. The street lamps cast a bilious glow over the row of shops. Parked outside the video shop is Tuxedo’s getaway car, a powder-blue Vauxhall Chevette, the same one he got yesterday. The choice of this particular model, he considers to be a stroke of genius. Any passing beast would think it belonged to an estate agent or a lady doctor. Not that many lady doctors park their cars outside a video shop at three in the morning with the driver’s door open and the sound cassette pumping out into the night air:
‘Trouble you de trouble mi – no I I woudda jus’ flash me ting.’
The car chants away rhythmically to itself. A few doors down, the burglar alarm in the chemist’s shop shrills monotonous and unattended. Tuxedo twists the knobs on the safe impatiently. Nobody is about.
Nobody is about that is except Frankie Formosa, known to his girlfriends as ‘Mr Too Handsome to Work’ who happens to stroll around the corner on his way back from picking up a ten pound draw from Mr Mighty’s Ace Shebeen. He is draining the last drop from a can of vanilla nutriment so he doesn’t at first spot the car. But just as he throws the empty can into the gutter, he sights up the means of transport that would save him a fifteen-minute walk back to Ladbroke Grove. Besides, there is no one around to admire him walking through the streets in his new Tachini tracksuit and trainers to match. Don’t think that Frankie is in any way unfit enough for such a walk. Frankie is always super-plus fit when he comes out of jail because he spends all his time there in the gym. Although this time he could not get all the exercise he wanted on account of a little squirt called Mouth-Mouth. Mouth-Mouth is Frankie’s sister’s boyfriend and it is sheer bad luck that he turns up in jail at the same time as Frankie because Frankie did not really want it known that he was inside for such a minor offence as driving round the streets without a licence and had put it about that he was in jail for the more prestigious and universally popular offence of assaulting a policeman. Then Mouth-Mouth comes in and spills the beans which meant that it was Mouth-Mouth who got assaulted and Frankie had to continue getting what exercise he could in the restricting confines of the punishment block.
So Frankie pulls to a halt on the opposite side of the road to the Chevette.
‘Yuh free to look but don’ you dare stare,’ chants the car happily. But Frankie is not staring. He is giving quick looks up and down the street checking out whether Fate has actually come up trumps and offered him a deserted street and an unlocked car at one and the same time. He crosses back towards the car. On the pavement are large fragments of glass from the plate glass door. The door itself swings carelessly on its hinges and although there is a light on in the back, nobody seems to be there. This is because Tuxedo is bent double on the floor having about as much luck with the combination on the safe as he did with his seven times table. Frankie waits for a moment or two in the doorway of the Ace Liquor Mart.
‘When something good – we say it Bad. Bubble you de bubble mi – yes I I woudda jus’ dip an’ run een.’
The car has now given up all pretensions of good breeding and is singing in a gruff, suggestive voice to the accompanying sounds of a deep thumping bass and whistling bullets. Frankie peeps out warily from the doorway. Nobody in sight. He slips round the front of the car and slides into the driver’s seat, shutting the door gently behind him. Ten seconds later, Frankie Formosa is heading smoothly towards the block of flats in Notting Hill Gate which the council uses to house, temporarily, people they don’t like.
Tuxedo has cramp. He shifts and stands up. He abandons the attempt to open the safe in the shop and decides to take it home with him along with the video cassette recorder. That will impress Dolores. On the desk is a grubby cream telephone and Tuxedo is sorely tempted to give Dolores a bell just to show how cool his nerve is under pressure. Sensing, however, that time like most things is not on his side, he resists the impulse. Which is just as well because Dolores has long time since taken her tail off to Ozo’s Club where she is sandwiched between two gentlemen both with wet-look hairstyles smothered in Dax pomade and each competing with the other as to who can buy her one of the over-priced drinks at the bar.
Life never deals out a hand of entirely bum cards. Mr George Evans, proprietor and manager of Edwards Electronics is a man for whom the notion of good salesmanship is twinned with the notion of well-greased hair. In the third drawer of the desk, Tuxedo comes across Mr Evans’ king-size jar of Vaseline pure petroleum jelly. And it is while he is rubbing it on his face that he becomes aware of a change of sounds from outside. The raunchy upful beat from his car has been replaced by the disjointed, mechanical, crackling voices that spurt so unexpectedly from the radios policemen wear on their chests. Tuxedo steps cautiously from the lighted office holding up the jar of Vaseline like a candle. In the darkened exterior of the shop he makes out three silhouettes, one of them pushing away broken glass with its foot.
Wappen Bappen – Tuxedo is under arrest.
It takes him five seconds to decide against pleading racial harassment and on his face as he walks sheepishly to the door is the same expression of disgust, disbelief and exasperation as when he misses an easy shot in the snooker hall. This expression changes when he reaches the street. His delicate pale blue ladies’ saloon car has metamorphosed into a big, business-like Rover with jazzy red and blue markings and a revolving blue light on top, for all the world like it is the Metropolitan Police mobile disco.
‘Just a minute. Just a minute,’ says Tuxedo in pure bewilderment before accepting the invitation from two of the police to step in the back of the car. The third one remains behind reasoning seriously with his radio.
The night sky has that purplish haze and Tuxedo catches sight of it between the faded, peeling, white house fronts. He is gazing up in that direction because he is conducting one of his silent conversations with the Almighty as the car cruises along:
‘You bastard. Yes guy, it’s you I’m talkin’ to. Nuff trouble you give me. Spiteful I call it. Fucking spite.’ Tuxedo talks to God in the same way he talks to the police, in his London accent, saving the Jamaican for his mates. Then suddenly he remembers the small packet of herb in his underpants. Casually, he slips his hand into the elasticated waistband of his boxer shorts. The move goes unnoticed. He slips his hand further down and starts fishing imperceptibly for the tiny packet of ganga secreted in his yellow underpants. All the while, he stares morosely out of the car window. One discrete cough and Tuxedo has in his mouth about two square inches of ‘The Voice’ newspaper, umpteen seeds and bits of stick as well as several heads and leaves of ganga.
‘Lock the fucker in the cell if he won’t talk.’ Detective Sergeant Blake sounds weary. Tuxedo’s mother has taught him never to speak with his mouth full. ‘Check with the owner what’s missing from the shop.’ Tuxedo is taken downstairs and put in the fourth cell along the row.
One hour later, Mr Evans of Edwards Electronics has checked and double-checked and confirmed to the remaining policeman that the only item missing from the premises is the pot of Vaseline. Tuxedo is sprawling on a hard bed with the grey blanket wrapped round him and one big smile on his face. He has discovered that he can talk to God Jamaica-style like one black man to another. It makes God feel more like one of the boys:
‘Is wha’ mi a go do? Oonoo help mi nuh? Is jus’ one lickle degi-degi ting me a tek, one lickle pot of cream fi oil mi face. Mi a hear seh yuh work in mysterious ways. Show mi nuh. Don’ gwaan bad about it. Remember Tuxedo don’ business wid voilence.’
The more Tuxedo chats in this confidential manner, the more he realises that things are not nearly as bad as they might be. He could have been caught with the stolen Chevette, the video machine, the office safe and a bunch of weed. As it is, there is only the Vaseline to be reckoned with. A little fine probably. Dolores will no doubt kick up because her favourite tape has gone with the car. Tuxedo thinks of Dolores for a minute, tucked up under the candlewick bedspread, her right hand under her jaw, which is how she sleeps, and wonders if there is any sweet potato pie left in the fridge. Tuxedo wants to get back to Dolores and hug her up for a while. He gets this rush of warmth towards her which spills over and includes God. On the whole, events have not turned out too badly:
‘Yes mi baas,’ says Tuxedo to God. ‘Now me see how it is yuh work dis ting out fi me in the best possible way.’
In the charge room, Detective Sergeant Blake is getting confused as he tries to take down Tuxedo’s statement:
‘So you broke into the TV shop …’
‘To get some Vaseline,’ adds Tuxedo, helpfully.
‘Why didn’t you go into the chemist’s?’
‘The chemist’s was shut,’ says Tuxedo.
Detective Sergeant Blake decides to charge Tuxedo quickly and go home. Tuxedo has much the same idea. Once charged, he asks if it is OK for him to go now and get ready to appear in court in the morning in case the magistrates do not fully appreciate the vision of him appearing before them in his boxer shorts.
‘You’re not going anywhere,’ says Blake tetchily. ‘We haven’t been able to establish that the address you gave is the correct one. So you will stay here and we will take you to court in the morning.’
‘Phone my girlfriend. She’s at home,’ protests Tuxedo.
‘We’ve already tried phoning twice and a constable has called round there. There’s nobody there.’
Mystified, Tuxedo allows himself to be led back to cell number four.
‘What’s the time?’ he asks anxiously, as the policeman is about to bang the door to.
‘Half past four.’
Where is Dolores? Why isn’t she asleep in bed the one night he needs her to be in? Where the hell is Dolores?
Tuxedo is mightily vex. He walks up and down the cell for a bit then looks at the window which is set high up in the wall. The top is curved, the bars are painted cream, the panes are of unbreakable, dingy plastic. Behind them the sun is beginning to rise. He crosses the room and stands on tip-toe to look out.
‘White bastard!’ he yells at the pale, dawn sky.
‘I’M JACKING,’ SAID MCGREGOR.
It was ten o’clock in the morning. The other scaffolder hadn’t turned up. It had taken him half an hour to unload the freezing scaffolding tubes from the lorry, the ringing clang of tube against tube increasingly setting his teeth on edge. That done, he set about emptying the lorry of piles of metal fittings so that the driver could get away. He banged on the side of the cab. The driver raised his thumb and backed the vehicle off the site. McGregor looked up at a sky laden with snow. Then he examined the palms of his hands. They were a shiny, raw pink where the frozen metal had taken off the first layer of skin. They burned him. Flexing his hands, he walked over to the foot of the unfinished, eight-storey building and began to base out the scaffold. On his own, he erected the first level, using the heavy, twenty-one foot tubes as uprights. With deft, experienced twists of the podger on the metal nuts, he fastened the four foot tubes to the uprights, some slantwise and some horizontally so that they reached the wall. One by one, he heaved the wooden planks from the pile at the foot of the wall and laid them out along the structure. Then he decided to quit the job and go drinking.
‘I said I’m jacking,’ shouted McGregor to the site foreman, trying to make himself heard over the grinding roar of the cement-mixer. The foreman motioned to the hod-carrier, showing him where the bricks were to go. Then he turned to McGregor with drooping shoulders:
‘What’s up, Jock?’ Steam issued from his mouth.
‘You can stick your fucking job up your fucking arse.’ McGregor grinned. ‘I’m jacking.’ The foreman looked pained for a minute and then shrugged:
‘Go and tell them at the site office. Tell them to phone head office and send me down two more scaffolders.’
McGregor went over and unhitched his jacket from where it hung on the end of a piece of scaffolding. He undid his belt with a mounting sense of freedom and took off the leather frogs which held his half-inch Whitworth spanner and the seven-sixteenth A.F. He chucked the podger and the spanners into his canvas tool-bag and walked over the icy, rutted ground to the portocabin by the gates. He began to whistle.
Inside the portacabin, the air was fuggy from the calor gas heater. Mr Oates, the site manager, was on the telephone at a desk littered with papers. Pinned to a noticeboard near the door was a letter from a Mrs Kathleen Doherty, written in a loopy scrawl, thanking the men for the collection after her husband’s accident. McGregor read it idly as he waited. Mr Oates put down the telephone. A cigarette with long ash burned between his fingers. White hair with nicotine yellow streaks lay stiffly on either side of his head like bird wings. He looked at McGregor enquiringly.
‘I’m away,’ said McGregor. ‘Just phone the office and tell them to make up me cards and me wage packet. I’m on me way over to get them now.’
‘It’s only ten o’clock. Can’t you finish the morning?’
‘No. I’m away now. Sammy says to tell you to ask for two more scaffolders.’ McGregor turned to leave.
‘What’s your name?’ asked Mr Oates, wearily.
‘Jock the Jacker.’ McGregor gave a wry smile. ‘Mac. McGregor,’ he said as he left. He walked through the site gates. On the street, he took a deep breath and straightened his shoulders. Rows of mean, secretive, terraced houses stretched down the road in front of him. McGregor paused to inspect the contents of his pocket. Forty pence. He set off at a brisk pace to walk the two miles to the main office. Unexpectedly, the day felt full of promise.
‘Mr McGregor, is it?’ The dumpy girl in a brown sweater greeted him from the cashier’s desk in the construction company’s main office.
‘Ay. That’s it.’
She reached in the drawer and pulled out a buff wage packet and his cards:
‘We’ve deducted the twenty pound sub. There’s five weeks’ holiday stamps on your holiday card and you can pick up the week in hand next Thursday. OK?’
The wage register was pushed across the desk and he signed it.
‘Don’t forget I done three hours this morning,’ McGregor reminded her.
‘Well that won’t be due until the Thursday after next. You see today’s Thursday and the work up until today, that’s your week in hand, gets paid next Thursday, but any work you do today doesn’t get paid till the Thursday after that. OK?’
McGregor felt a tightening in the muscles of his neck.
‘Thanks,’ he said. He took the wage packet and went.
At eleven o’clock precisely, the publican unlocked the doors of his Fulham pub and McGregor stepped over the threshold into the quiet, gloomy interior. The low moan of a hoover came from somewhere over his head. Sleepily, the publican made his way behind the bar.
‘Gi’us a double scotch there, please,’ said McGregor.
McGregor’s drinking habit ran to a formula; two whiskies in quick succession while he stood at the bar and then straight out and onto the next pub. By the time he reached the fourth one it was snowing. He was somewhere in the back streets of Chelsea. The whisky had begun to do its work, cutting a warm channel through the centre of his body. For the first time, he relaxed enough to take stock of his surroundings. The pub appeared to be empty. Then he caught sight of an old man seated round the corner, his figure half-eaten up by shadows:
‘Can I get you something there?’ he called across to the old man. The man’s head moved a little:
‘Half a pint, thank you.’ The voice was cracked and thin. McGregor ordered a scotch for himself and a beer for the man. They sat in silence for a while. The pensioner spilled his beer as he sipped it. He had eyes that watered permanently, the colour of faded bluebells:
‘You a soldier?’ he asked.
‘I was once,’ replied McGregor. ‘I was slung out. Retention Undesirable in the Interest of Her Majesty’s Services.’ He delivered the words with a flourish as if they were poetry. And laughed.
‘I was in Spain,’ said the man.
‘Oh yes?’ McGregor seemed interested.
‘I fought with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.’
‘Is that a fact?’ McGregor waited. The old man leaned forward into a shaft of dull light from the window. McGregor saw motes of dust dancing down the light onto the amber liquid in the glass.
‘I was with them in Madrid in 1936. I saw such things. Such terrible things.’ He wiped his chin with his checked scarf. ‘When I came back to England I had to tell everybody what I had seen. For thirty years, every Sunday, I took, a soap-box in Hyde Park Corner and I told what I had seen to anybody who would listen. I never missed a Sunday for thirty years. And then I stopped.’ He leaned back into the shadows. McGregor finished his drink. The old man’s glass was still nearly full.
‘Will I get you another?’ McGregor asked. But the old man had closed up in the darkness like a flower in the night. A restlessness overcame McGregor and he stood up:
‘Good luck, then.’
‘And you, sir,’ came the voice from the invisible man. Flakes of wet snow came to rest on McGregor’s eyelashes as he walked with the urgency of a man not knowing where he is going.
An hour later, poised between conviviality and violence, McGregor stood in a bar crowded with lunchtime drinkers. He was locked in intense conversation with the father of a baby with no future, a pale young man with red hair. The young father’s lack of optimism was depressing him:
‘How old did you say the baby was?’ asked McGregor. The man consulted his watch.
‘Eight and a half hours old,’ he said dejectedly. ‘He’ll never get a home of his own, poor little blighter. Look how many homeless there are.’
McGregor became determined to raise the man’s spirits. It was like pushing an enormous boulder uphill.
‘And there’s no jobs,’ said the man. ‘He’ll never get a job. That’s for sure. No chance.’
McGregor tried harder.
‘Och, I dunno. You’ve got a wee boy. Kids are clever these days. They understand computers. They go to college and all sorts of strange things.’
‘Only if they’ve got money.’
McGregor’s face was flushed. He tried again.
‘They get grants. They can do anything.’
Suspended in a corner of the bar was a television set with the sound turned down, showing images of soliders chasing and firing on people somewhere in the Middle East. McGregor hoped the young man wouldn’t see it.
‘D’you reckon?’ The red-haired man looked faintly hopeful. McGregor began to sweat:
‘Jesus. Kids are magic these days. They speak out. They don’t put up with any shit.’ Somewhere in the back of his brain, McGregor knew that if the man slipped back into despondency, he would be obliged to punch him off his stool.
‘Maybe you’re right,’ said the man, reluctantly.
McGregor’s voice rose above the buzz of conversation around him as he made a final effort:
‘Of course I’m fucking right. Kids have got everything. I wish I was nine hours old. All snuggly and comfy. I wish I was a fucking kid. And another thing. Kids love music. He’ll be a musician. That’s what’s going to happen. He’s going to be a great musician. They all play in bands. They make terrific music.’
McGregor held his breath.
‘Yeah. You’re right, I suppose.’ The man managed a wan grin.
‘Right y’are then,’ said McGregor, triumphantly.
The future of the child assured and the man saved from injury, McGregor made to leave. He drained the remains of his whisky:
‘Slainte Mhath,’ he said in Gaelic.
The high street looked familiar but he did not recognise it. A lighted bus drew up beside him like an invitation and he stepped onto it.
The upper deck of the bus was brightly lit. Stale smoke and a litter of cigarette ends on the floor gave it the bleakly cheerful air of a public bar that had unexpectedly taken to travelling through the dark afternoon. McGregor sat bolt upright in the back seat. The beginnings of a transformation were taking place. His hands gripped the rail in front of him as if he were on the Big Wheel of a funfair. One blazing green eye was wide open, staring ahead with fierce energy, the other was lazily half open like that of a waking child. Faint streaks of mud from the morning’s work still decorated his face. Dried mud stiffened his jeans. Somewhere along the way, his jacket had taken off on a journey of its own. The same fine dusting of sand and cement that covered his navy-blue polo-neck sweater caused his hair to stick up in pointed, uneven spikes. Here and there in the spikes sat spangles of snow. Altogether, he looked like one of those creatures that has lain immobile in mud-flats for the duration of a drought waiting for the rains to come in order to return to life.
The wide-open eye focused with dislike on the passengers ahead of him. Suddenly, his expression changed. A look of intense delight spread over his face. His shoulders moved from side to side and he tapped his feet as he whistled the tune of ‘A Hundred Pipers an a’ an a’’. He sang the words out, savouring each one, on his face an expression of menacing bliss. The passengers remained silent. No one looked at him. McGregor finished the song and looked expectantly round the bus. The look twisted into a sneer:
‘You’re all dead people,’ he shouted.
The man in front of him stared deliberately out of the window. McGregor rose to his feet and held onto the rail to steady himself:
‘What would you say if I said “Let’s all get off the bus and light a big bonfire in the street”?’ he enquired, enthusiastically.
There was no response. Two women at the front of the bus continued to talk, one of them in a voice as clear as a bell in winter.
‘How about setting fire to the bus?’ he suggested. ‘How about giving it a Viking’s funeral?’
No one responded. Attracted by the only sign of life, the conversation at the other end of the bus, McGregor stepped carefully down the centre aisle like a seaman navigating the narrow passageway of a rolling ship. With a jerk, he sat down in the empty front seat next to the two women:
‘Excuse me, lady.’ He spoke in the dangerously polite tones of the extremely drunk. The crippled woman with the shining face pulled her lame leg in towards her. The leg, much shorter than the other one, was fitted with a contraption of metal and leather, terminating in a shiny, black, surgical boot that seemed too solid to contain a foot.
‘Never mind the leg, lady. Legs aren’t important. What happened to your leg, anyway?’
The woman, unruffled by the question, began to give the history of her malformed foot. Her rational explanation and unwavering gaze horrified McGregor. He shut his eyes. When he opened them again, the woman had turned back to her friend and was discussing the essay she had to write on Jane Austen for her evening class.
‘A man’s a man for a’ that,’ he mumbled, attempting to roll himself a cigarette from his tobacco tin as the bus swayed. He lit the cigarette and fished out the brown pay packet from his pocket. He took out the long, thin wage-slip:
‘Forty-eight pounds fucking emergency TAX.’ He bellowed the last word. ‘I’ve been mugged by the government.’ He scrumpled up the paper and flung it down. Annoyed by the lack of impact, he ground the paper serpent into the ridged floor with his foot. Suddenly, his limbs turned to lead and a great weariness took hold of him:
‘Mud. Cold. Shit. Wind. Steel. Rain. Tiredness. That’s all I’ve got to look forward to for the rest of my life. The grants have been granted and I haven’t got one,’ he proclaimed, bitterly. His eyelids drooped shut. To the concern of the two women, who were watching with polite attention, an extraordinary force of gravity seemed to pull McGregor’s features earthwards. He forced his mouth open, baring his teeth in a fixed death’s head grin. His fists were clenched. He remained like that for several moments in an epic struggle against invading tiredness. Then his face relaxed and his eyes shot open:
‘A hundred pipers an a’ an a’,’ he sang, enticingly, with the faintest of threats. The bus rounded a corner and the tobacco tin dropped from his knee to the floor. He regarded it with awe:
‘Isn’t it a wonderful thing,’ he said, ‘that the floor exists to stop things falling through the air?’ He pocketed the tin and staggered to his feet. Eyes shut, he put both hands to his head. The mud in his hair gave it the texture of bark. McGregor enjoyed, for at least a minute, the knowledge that he had turned into a tree. He had the distinct sensation that his feet were putting down roots into the floor of the bus; his head sprouting branches that were about to push their way through the roof, each branch adorned with tingling, green buds. He shook his head and opened his eyes. The passengers sat dully before him. He regarded them with disdain and announced in the grand manner of an actor:
‘I am leaving this travelling hearse!’
He made his way to the head of the stairs and turned once more, with a theatrical flourish, to address his reluctant audience:
‘I hope your legs turn to gristle and chickens eat them!’
They heard his boots clattering, too fast, down the steps. The bus stopped. The word ‘WANKERS’ drifted up to them. Nobody moved. The passengers remained pinned to their seats by this new definition of themselves as the bus drew away.
In the underground station, the driver of the tube train leaned from his window and glared at McGregor with such malevolence, such implacable hatred written on his swarthy features, that McGregor was brought to a halt on the empty platform. The doors shut in McGregor’s face. The driver continued to stare. The train remained stationary. McGregor launched into a sweet, tuneful whistle. Without warning, the driver turned and pressed a button. The doors hissed open. Within minutes of boarding the train, McGregor slept a profound and dreamless sleep, his legs stretched out across the gap between the seats.
In this way, McGregor was borne, deep in the intestinal passages of the earth, across London. Through the black tunnels, under the river, he was carried along, first in one direction and then another. Overhead, the mammoth city, with its millions of citizens in their neon-lit offices, went about its business. And not a solitary soul was aware that far beneath the ground underfoot, McGregor was voyaging.
McGregor opened his eyes. The train had stopped. The doors stood open. He got off without knowing which station he was in. The platform was deserted. The air was warm. A numbness in his feet made him unsure that they were touching the ground and gave him the feeling of floating through the yellow-lit passages and hallways. For all he knew, he had slept for three days and three nights. Under one arch, a black dog that had strayed into the underground blocked his way, bristling and barking. McGregor stopped and whistled at it. The dog lost interest and padded away, sniffing at the grimy, cream-tiled walls.
And then a wondrous sight met McGregor’s eyes.
Where the tunnel opened out onto the flat area below the escalators, a black woman, in her forties, was dancing vigorously on the concourse under the high, domed ceiling. All on her own, she boogied and partied to strains of music that filtered down from the station entrance, a beatific smile on her face. In one hand she held a can of lager, taking swigs from it as her hips swung from side to side. Some other black commuters passed by, giving her a wide berth. McGregor watched, enchanted, as if all his travels had been expressly to bring him to this one point at this particular moment. One side of her coat hung down lower than the other and she’d hitched up her skirt into her belt. She finished the lager and threw down the can. It skittered over the floor with an echoing rattle close to where a uniformed transport guard was sweeping. Then she bebopped over to a pile of carrier-bags, dumped where the curved wall reached the ground and rummaged for some more beer. The side of her shoe was split open by the big-toe joint:
‘Lard,’ she said. ‘Look how me shoe is poppin’ offa me foot.’ She opened the can, took a gulp and jived her way back to the centre of the hall. McGregor looked on appreciatively. Then she spotted him. Her eyes gleamed with pleasure:
‘Come daalin’.’ She addressed him with carefree boldness. ‘Dance wid me, nuh.’
McGregor approached bashfully:
‘Och. I canna dance,’ he said.
‘Everybody can dance,’ she insisted and continued to shimmy round the hall. Suddenly, McGregor joined her, leaping into the air and executing a wild, jerky Highland fling accompanied by a joyous, warlike scream. The woman shook with laughter.
‘You’re beautiful,’ said McGregor.
‘Yuh lie,’ she screeched with laughter again and stopped to catch her breath. ‘It still snowin’ up there?’ she asked.
‘I dunno,’ said McGregor.
‘Lemme tell you sometin’.’ She beckoned him closer. ‘I was up there and a cold wind from Russia came an’ fasten in me back. That damn wind bit me like a snake. So I come down here.’
‘And let me tell you something, lady,’ said McGregor. ‘You are the first person I have seen all day with a big smile on their face. And I love you for it.’
They regarded each other with mutual approval.
‘Yuh sweet, man. Yuh come to carry me way wid you?’ she teased. ‘First yuh must gimme a kiss. Come nuh, man. Yuh gwaan kiss me or what?’ she said boldly.
‘Lady. You are the first real bit of humanity I’ve come across today, the first person with a wee bit of optimism and I’d love to kiss you.’ She was close to him. Her breath smelled sweet and sharp like olives. He glanced round. The station had filled up with black people. He felt a little unsure of himself:
‘Wait a minute. Wait a minute, lady.’ He approached the guard who was still sweeping:
‘Excuse me, sir. Excuse me – er this lady would like me to give her a kiss. Would that cause any bother at all?’
The guard stopped sweeping and surveyed the concourse. Three youths were lounging against the wall opposite. He scratched his head:
‘Well, it just could do. A lot of these youts still hotheaded after the riots, you know. Them could jus’ get hold of the wrong end of the stick, if you know what I mean. Them could jus’ think “Here is another white man who think he own a black woman like all through history”.’ The guard touched McGregor kindly on the arm. ‘I tell you what I suggest. You go on ahead up the stairs and let the lady follow you. Then we don’ have no trouble. You can go for a nice drink together somewhere and see how you get on?’ He winked. ‘Lemme go tell her.’
He walked over to the woman who was fumbling in her plastic bag. He spoke to her for a few moments and then came back:
‘You jus’ go on up de stairs like I said. Don’ even look back. Let she jus’ pick up she bags and follow you.’
McGregor hesitated but the woman was smiling and blowing kisses at him:
‘Right y’are then,’ he said.
‘Go on up. She will follow you. OK man?’ The guard slapped him on the arm amicably.
McGregor did as he was asked. But he was hurt. Some poison had entered him. What the guard had said about history and white men went round in his head. He held onto the rail and the escalator carried him smoothly upwards. Half way up, he turned to check that she was following. Her eyes, blank with disappointment, were fixed on him and she was walking slowly backward away from him through the arched hallway, carrier-bags on each arm like white water-wings. He watched her disappearing as if she were being drawn back into the dark tunnel. Trying to get back down he slipped, cursed, stumbled and clung onto the rail. The escalator bore him steadily up towards the curtain of snow that hung in the station entrance. Something was happening to him that he did not recognise. A hot substance, like lava, crawled slowly down his cheeks.
Later that night, the police arrested a man in Camberwell. He was smashing shop windows, one after the other with a scaffolding spanner. As the glass exploded in each one, he yelled:
‘I want you to know that I never owned a fucking slave in my life. Never.’
submitted by Level01Exchange to u/Level01Exchange [link] [comments]
As millenials go, Tyler is a free spirit. He does cosplay in the day, builds websites at night and handles all his financial transactions via PayPal. “I don’t trust the banks and the financial jargons are confusing”, he says. He’s not alone on this. In a study by Scratch, 71% millennials would rather visit their dentist than listen to the banks. This distrust rose over the years, contributing to a total unbanked population of 2 billion people worldwide.
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|Did you see that ludicrous display last night?||I assume u are talking re Arsenal. yes, yes yes. Not as gut-slamming bad as Saturday's disaster against Blackburn, but no fun for sure.|
|What was the most surprising facet of the story that you discovered?||I was shocked at the Amazonian river of money that sports betting generates... the Interpol chief Ron Noble says several billion euros a year, an ex-FIFA official has said up to $500 billion a year. BILLION...! if you are a criminal mastermind, all you have to do is use some fixed games to deliver a tiny sliver of that and you will be wealthier than you ever imagined. That's about the yearly GNP of Switzerland, no slouch economy.|
|This is the crazy thing to me, how many people are betting on what are ultimately not high level events. I would like to think that high levels of betting on one side of a small matchup could be observed and regulated.||Until lately, no one thought to look for match-fixing in the soccer wilderness. but extremely low level games in Finland, Norway and Canada that were fixed proved that theory wrong. for fixers, best thing is virgin territory not already claimed by other fixers...|
|Which mobs were most involved? Turkish? Russian? Romanian?||Prolly the shorter list would be what mobs DON'T want to get involved with match-fixing... AP talked to Turkish commentators who said fixing allegations have cropped up every year for at least 40 years, and even Turkish prosecutors in court documents noted that mobs had infiltrated Turkish soccer since at least 1980... As for Russia, one illegal Asian betting den that an AP reporter visited wouldn't even touch bets for Russia's 2nd division (or Greece's for that matter). Even illegal sites know when to run! Italy's match-fixing has produced over $2.6 billion for the Camorra and the Mafia. And since the vast majority of sports betting money originates in Asia, Asian crime gangs are said to be intimately involved in fixing games.|
|Where in Asia is the money coming from?||It's coming both from billions of small bettors (betting is a way of life i many Asian countries) and from Asian crime gangs who are recycling dirty money to launder it.|
|How is the research going on the dinamo zagreb - olimpique game, where olimpique scored just enough goals to kick Ajax out of the champions league?||Ah yes, where a zagreb player winked on a YouTube clip. plenty of suspicions, Ajax started howling immediately, no good evidence ever emerged. was about the same time in which Croatian first league (where dinamo played) was riddled with match-fixing (see our story about Croatia Seveste player Mario Cizmek) but dinamo never implicated in those trials.|
|To borrow from Grantland's Brian Phillips, "How #*%!ed is the beautiful game?"||It's more &&#$ than top officials want to publicly admit. There are large areas of the world where football has been not only infiltrated by criminals but is being run by criminals. Last year in China, two ex-chiefs of its FA (football association for American fans) got 10 1/2 years in prison for corruption. In 2011, the national TV channel in China REFUSED to broadcast matches from the Chinese League due to widespread match-fixing. I can't imagine the reax here in London if Sky or the BBC refused to broadcast Premier League games...|
|What is the highest level that you believe some form of match fixing has taken place? European competition? WC qualifying? Where is match fixing most prevalent?||Well, our FIFA correspondent Graham Dunbar says that depends if you include the 1982 World Cup West Germany-Austria game, which appeared to be a deal with the teams. FIFA changed its rules after that so games at the end of rounds start simultaneously. More recently you have the 2010 WC qualifier between Liechtenstein and Finland ... and Latam types will always debate whether the WC 1978 Argentina 6, peru 0 was fixed, sent host Argentina into final...|
|So...Juventus. As a fan, I just have to know. How involved are they in match fixing? They're always surrounding by rumors of it.||Hmmm. where to start? well, going way back, juventus reputedly bough the ref in the 193 European Cup semifinal, according to one of our top football guys... and they were pretty front and center in Italy's 2006 match-fixing scandal, where they were regulated to Serie B (2nd division), got 9 points deducted, got hit by a massive fine, got stripped of their 2006-07 league titles, got tossed out of the Champions League for a year. Their club president at the time was fined and banned from the sport for five years. Their current coach, Antonio Conte, just got back in December from a 4-month FIFA ban for a separate match-fixing allegation. As Premier Mario Monti said, maybe Italian football should just shut down for a few years to get rid of that corruption thing...|
|I have to ask. Have you or anyone in your agency been approached or threatened as a result of your investigations?||Gotta give kudos here to Chris Brummett, our Vietnam bureau chief, who visited a Wild West betting boomtown on the border of Cambodia. Going around illegal Asian betting dens, talking with bettors about fixed matches, looking for hints of Asian triad involvement. Not a place that you could take TV cameras or where bettors would let u take a picture, that's for sure. And when I was filming a TV segment at a Zagreb stadium with a player convicted of match-fixing, all of a sudden we saw that a photog with a long lens was zooming in on us. The guy came over to see what we were doing, I made sure not to speak a word of English and our photographer Darko talked to him. After that, Darko said "it's time to go." When a photog who just got back from Syria says its time to go, u go.|
|Do you think that this type of match fixing also extends into American sports such as Major League Baseball or the National Football League? I think of a game like the Super Bowl with all the money bet on it and I can't help but wonder if games are often fixed or the outcome affected artificially.||Super Bowl betting is big in the US but is tiny in relation to global soccer betting. And the Super Bowl has one big thing that keeps it from being fixed -- very high player salaries. Players in countries like Croatia are match-fixing sometimes for as little as 2500 euros ($3300). Major league baseball salaries and NFL salaries are too high -- and you need to involve too many players to ensure a rock-solid fix. In soccer, the goalie alone has enough influence to fix a game by himself.|
|Where do the criminal gangs get the action on? Betfair?||For a blow-by-blow account of how it all goes down, check out these links: Player who rues getting involved in match-fixing: Link to apne.ws Unwritten rules of match-fixing: Link to apne.ws|
|How exactly does it work? The players just play terribly when instructed? The criminals have money on the over?||In terms of the betting, there's about five-six levels of betting in Asia, which leads from local illegal betting shops that deal in cash to next level, regional betting houses, still in cash, to next level, super betting sites, to online betting sites that take credit cards and are openly operating. Asian betting sites don't know their customers, so its easier to disguise large wagers as many small ones. European betting sites know their customers via credit cards, but criminals can use fake credit cards. anyone who knows about a fixed game can bet on whichever betting site offers the odds|
|Where are most of these criminal organizations based? What country? Are international matches ever fixed(England vs San Marino or something) or just club matches?||Actually 'friendlies' between two nations are a prime target for fixers, because football associations can hire agencies (some of which later turn out to be fronts for fixers) to arrange the games and give a cut of the proceeds (or even bribes) to corrupt FA officials Just imagine, in a friendly you can get world-class talent for free and they can generate gobs of TV revenues. some suspect friendlies in recent times: Nigeria-Argentina 2011, one or more South Africa friendlies right before the World Cup, Bolivia-Latvia 2011, Bulgaria-Estonia 2011, several Latam games involving Venezuela and Bolivia. These are all men's games, so far no whiff of suspicion among women's friendlies.|
|Is there any suspicion of fixing in women's soccer in the past Olympics? It has bothered a lot of people the way the gold medal game finished. It didn't make any sense at all. Edit: I did mean semi final. My bad.||No, so far no reports of match-fixing in any women's games. in fact, some of the bettors AP interviewed in the illegal Cambodian den were at the time betting on live women's U-20 game between New Zealand and Japan just because they felt it was not fixed.|
|Has there been any instances when you had suspicion BEFORE a match? What do you think about the recent EUROPOL expose about the 380 european matches? What does only 1 english match (liverpool v debrecen)(albeit english team not involved) say about how things are done in uk v thing elsewhere.what is it that they are doing right/others doing wrong?||Me and another AP reporter have visited a betting monitoring site that runs 31,000 games thru computer models to see if they may be fixed. Companies like that can often see if games are suspicious up to two days before a match _ ie they know if XXX amount bet on a Italian league game is normal or way off. They also keep tabs on 110,000 players, teams, refs and officials and give them match-fixing credit scores... they have seen where a suspicious player changes teams and infects a previously untouched team with his knowlege of fixing... Only one match in England reflects high premier league salaries that protect the players and the game. But bet monitors do have one person on their top 20 'to watch' match-fixing suspicions list that lives in the UK.|
|What is the best part about your job?||The sheer variety. I mean there are some things we can plan for _ we know when the 2012 London Olympics will start _ but you never know each day what will happen. Will an Icelandic volcano erupt and blow the travel plans of 10 million people to bits? Or maybe a meteor will hit Russia? i am constantly amazed.|
|How has the series been received by soccefootball officials? It seems to expose some dirty laundry and gotten news and TV pickups across the globe.||Yes, we were very happy with the wide range of media that picked up the stories _ everything from papers in Thailand to ESPN and Sports Illustrated to non-sports outlets like Huffpost and Salon.com.|
|Which team do you support and who is your favorite player?||Well, i live and work now in north London, so i would be crucified if I didnt keep up with Arsenal (condolences will be accepted here today). Favorite player, hmm. got two. Fernando Torres because i was living in Zurich during Euro 2008 (he was electric then) and he looks just like my hubby did years ago with his freckles; Robin van Persie now because the man just dances on the field, a joy to watch.|
|Fernando Torres is my favorite too, and believe me he will be electric again! and another question, what is the most memorable match you have ever watched live at a stadium?||At a family level, I brought my ten-year-old daughter and her soccer team to see the American women play at Giants stadium in NJ when the US hosted the Women's World Cup in 1999... Mia Hamm and her buddies really inspired a generation.|
|Do you see any problem/conflict with betting companies (such as Bwin) being significant sponsors of the game?||Betting companies are always going to advertise next to matches, its the smart operating model for their business. but it is interesting how they can be in severe denial about match-fixing. I went to a London betting conference in Nov, and a top representative from Ladbrokes insisted to me that 'maybe 5-6' games were fixed a year. he claimed that some betting monitoring companies have an incentive to say there are hundreds of possibly fixed games a year just so they would get contracts from FIFA, UEFA, national leagues. On the other hand, his own industry has a HUGE interest in not talking about fixed games -- who is going to bet if they think things are fixed? he did me a big favor though - AP reporters could not get into the monitoring sites until we reported his ludicrous comment to them.|
|How does it start? Does someone from the criminal organization approach a player in a shady alley? Do players that fix games do so repeatedly? Do multiple players on a team need to be bought to pull off the fix? And finally, how do the criminal organizations actually make money off fixed games? Presumably by placing the bets they've arranged, but don't the people taking their bets get suspicious?||What i'm going to do is give u some link to our stories that explain all this. ironically, match-fixers often groom players just like pedophiles groom targets, according to a major 2012 study on sports corruption. Players can be seduced into fixing by other coaches or players or agents. Or they can be ordered to fix by their corrupt soccer club bosses. Or they can have no idea a game is fixed because the refs were bought off instead. so many ways to match-fix...!|
|How in the world would FIFA (or possibly another organization) go about fixing this or at least starting to fix it? Is the problem already too deep that anything other than a complete scrub of all teams and parties involved would fail? And could the sport even survive something like that or would it be best for the game if everyone just operated like business as usual?||FIFA's latest anti-match-fixing project is to educate players and refs about the problem. A noble idea, for sure, one that no one can find fault with. but it's kinda like warning your kids not to play with matches when your kitchen is already on fire and that may burn down your whole house. Time to get out the big firehose. Let's not forget how doping has driven sponsors and TV revenues away from cycling or even track. And soccer authorities also have another problem -- their own officials may be the ones driving the fixing. A major sports corruption report last year even gave that a label "chairman-to-chairman" fixing. in turkey last year, 93 people went on trial for match-fixing, and only 14 were players. I think the best model to emulate is germany's, its FA has a omsbudman where players, refs, anyone can call to report fixing worries anonymously.|
|Is it anyway connected to the fixed cricket games and why is this not getting as much coverage considering soccer is a much larger sport? And do you think the Ireland v France world cup 2010 qualifier was fixed, where Thiery Henry blatantly hand-balled to knock Ireland out of the competition?||That was one darn obvious handball but absolutely no suggestion of fixing in that. as we say in our Dirty Game series, referees and players can perform poorly for all sorts of legitimate reasons. Gotta say, American fans could never stomach bad ref calls like that, that's why they love NFL instant replay. the concept that such a bad call could knock a team out... it's why the NFL had to end its referee lockout...|
|It's amazing how deep seeded the corruption is in the sport. Do you know how much money was made globally from the match fixing (an estimate)??||FIFA has estimated between $5 billion and $15 billion a year. not chump change.|
|I think it's more spot-fixing than match-fixing, right? Or at least the higher up the leagues go, the more it deviates towards spot rather than match.||If you got any knowlege of this, let FIFA/UEFA/the national leagues know. AP took a deep dive into fixing in Croatia's first division, (let me tell u google translator is a mess with croatian court transcripts) and found both match and spot fixing in the same games. one sports expert, David Forrest of University of Salford, says that's a great way for gangs to increase revenues, you get to place two-three-four bets on the same fixed game.|
|Do you think that the punishment for participants should be more severe the further up the ladder the investigation goes? That is, should the first-year first-teamer found to have been involved be given less of a penalty than the national team star? Or should a message be sent with uniform penalties for even the least involvement?||Hmm. it's kinda like doping in that you need zero tolerance. That said, its clear that match-fixers target players like lions on the savannah, picking off the young (easy to manipulate) the old (nearing the end of their employment, fearing what's next) and the weak (those with betting problems or financial difficulties. Young players lured into fixing by older players should get lesser sentences if it's found that they were forced or pressured into it. Older players (or refs hitting age limits) should get harsher penalties because they absolutely knew what they were doing. national stars who fix bring shame upon an entire nation but the fixing penalities should be the same no matter what the league.|
|Do you feel like, historically, there has been more corruption in Italian leagues, or is it more a matter of the Italian investigations being more frequent and successful in revealing the corruption and making cases stick?||There's no question that Italy has had repeated, major match-fixing instances at least since 2005. And each case seems to bring new amazing allegations. My all time favorite is the goalie who wanted to fix a game, so he drugs the water bottles of his teammates to play poorly. they stink, lose the game, and one even crashes his car afterward. Since Italy takes drunk driving quite seriously, the driver gets a blood test which shows he is full of sedatives, and the whole fixing operation is unveiled. can't make this up. I give plenty of kudos to Italian prosecutor Roberto Di Martino but the country has had plenty of corruption issues in all walks of life ... , so i dont think we can just credit good prosecutors for us hearing about italian match-fixing|
|At what point do you as an organisation decide that you will look into that matter. How did this all start - or better yet, what event triggered this investigation?||We noticed that AP was doing about a dozen match-fixing spot stories around the world a month... but it was country by country. This trial, that arrest, this investigation. It was time to look at the whole of the sport, something that fits an international news agency better than a local or national paper. I had been interested in match-fixing since i covered FIFA for AP in 2007-2008 and did a story when they first set up their EWS monitoring site. got promoted to London, distracted by volcanos and a wonderful London Olympics, but began interviewing people last june.|
|Glad to oblige blatter? justkidding.||What i should have said yesterday -- this AMA is about match-fixing, not Blatter. Blatter is such a vast topic that he needs a whole 'nuther forum. Maybe ask him to come on himself.|
|How do you stop match fixing?||Whoever figures that out gets a nobel peace prize.|
|Do you have any knowledge of match fixing in Latin America? Specifically Libertadores Cup and Brazilian and Argentinian national leagues?||Bolivia and Venezuela have had several suspicious friendlies, Guatemala had 3 players banned in recent months for fixing.|
|What do you have to say about one of the most outrageous things that happened in the last decade: Lyon 7-1 Zagreb leaving Ajax out of CL? Everyone seems to have forgotten about that thing and no one ever really talked or investigate that game further.||That is certainly the one game that Europeans came away thinking must be fixed. it would be a great subject for a magzine piece. maybe when everyone in that game has retired, more might come out.|
|Which league do you believe to be the most corrupt? Even if it isn't one you've investigated.||Impossible to say. too many candidates.|
|My dad used to bet on soccer matches with his buddies frequently, and pointed out how he would know if a match is fixed or not depending on the players' reactions during a penalty kick. Apparently, whenever a player looks backwards before taking a penalty, he is always looking for a signal as to whether or not he is allowed to make the goal. Is there any merit to this conspiracy theory that my dad and his friends developed?||Wild theory, too bad it's prolly not true -- they must have been drinking pretty heavily! If a game is fixed by players, they know beforehand and they know exactly what marks they need to hit: X-X score at halftime, X-X final result, X goal differential. No need to look over their shoulder, they already know if they should make it or not. If the game is fixed by club officials, they have already told their players what to do. If the game is fixed by referees, often players don't even know. They might think it's a ridiculous penalty call but they are not going to hurt their stats, they are going to try to make the penalty.|
|Who's going to win the European Cup?||Going to leave all game analysis to commentators and Match of the Day boys. I'm just all about corruption.|
|Are there times when two different groups try to fix a match with conflicting goals?||This was a significant problem in Asia, and its a terrible business model when two crime gangs are trying to fix the same game. That propeled at least Asian gangs to seek out more European games, which were considered several years ago to be much cleaner. One monitor told me about a match in which his company's spotters at the game saw thugs from two different crime gangs shouting with the ref at halftime. Only one side won. (think the ref in that case had a death wish or was just blinded by greed)|
|What is the most common betting market on fixed games? A straight win? or something like over 2.5 goals? Or even corners or number of cards? Do you bet on any games?||I don't bet on sports, not after seeing all this...! The most common bets on fixed games are four things: final score, half-time score, total number of scores and score differential. who is taking the corner doesnt bring in enough money...|
|Where does the actual money the gangs win come from? Is straight from the betting agencies pockets?||David Forrest, the UK economist who specializes in sports betting, tells us that fixed sports betting is a fabulous way to launder money. You take cash from drug or trafficking operations, you bet on fixed games, not only do u make a profit but dirty money comes back clean. He says some crime gangs are trying to buy soccer clubs just to launder money through them.|
|Was the Qatar bid for hosting the 2022 world cup involved in bribery of any kind?||Sri, this AMA is on match-fixing. The FIFA decision to give the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively is a whole separate (and vast) discussion.|
|Did your investigation have any overlap with Declan Hill's investigations in the past?||Declan is a pioneer, kudos to him. Suggest everyone interested in this topic read his book "The Fix: Organized Crime and Soccer"|
|a comment: Kudos to you and your team for really doing some real investigative journalism. Too much TMZ-style or reactive news these days so it's refreshing to see some real shit. Second my question: I saw the amount of profit gained from this scheme was a seemingly paltry $11m. In 2012, $94m was bet on the Super Bowl alone. Is the $11m as truly insignificant as it appears? What percentage of the pie is legitimate vs illegitimate?||You maybe are just looking at one Italian match-fixing investigation. Multiply that by investigations in 50 nations last year, add to it all the bribe money that is linked to organizing friendlies that can generate big TV revenue... the point about match-fixing is not illegal or legal betting. It is tainting all betting with a fix. European betting agencies pride themselves on their legality, but anyone can be undermined by a fix. In asia, illegal gambling dens thrive because gambling in an ingrained cultural habit that is going to occur even if govts ban it.|
|Does this only happen with football? are there stories of match fixing happening in the European basketball, volleyball, handball, water polo leagues?||All sports can be vulnerable to match-fixing, especially if there is betting on them. add tennis, cricket, horse racing to that mix.|
|I don't really understand soccer but how and what makes a game suspicious?||Huge amounts of late bets on an obscure game. In-game live betting in which lots of bettors put money on another goal and the referee orders a penalty for an unfathomable reason. Games in which all scoring is due to penalty kicks. Games in which scoring is so high that it looks more like baseball. Games in which many goals are disqualified for offsides. so many options i just cant list them all|
|Does anyone know if Domenico Cricito is still being investigated or if they've finished with him?||Cricito, an Italian defender who plays for the St. Petersburg club Zenit, was cleared, not charged with any match-fixing. He has said that he's trying not to be angry but still is about how he was dropped from the Italian team playing in Euro 2012 due to allegations that turned out to be unproven.|
|How are investigations going in regard to serie a? i know the mafias in Italy have a lot of control over players and referees.||Big break on Thursday (feb 21, day after this AMA). a top suspected fixer was arrested by Italian police, Admir Sulijic. he reportedly has links to singapore money man Dan Tan. --- Big break on Friday, Dan Tan being interviewed by Singapore police!!!|
|Is there a chance Chelsea has been involved with match fixing please say no?||I'm such a cynic that I can't say 'No' about any team. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, that's a 'known unknown' -- we know there are some things we do not know. that applies to all teams, not just Chelsea.|
|Have there been any murders or serious crimes committed in the name of covering up max fixing?||In Bulgaria, over a dozen soccer officials have been slain over the last decade. and the crime gangs there don't even pretend to make it look like an accident, they just gun people down in the street.|
|Due to the nature of your work, do you ever feel in danger?||Our medical writer tells us that sitting at a computer for hours on end is the most deadly thing for reporters. if she's right, we are all doomed.|
|Which top leagues would you say are the least corrupt?||Certainly the premier league, due to the players' huge salaries.|
|Why do FIFA or UEFA never step in to take action on the obviously corrupt English FA, more specifically, Referee's decisions going heavily in the way of a certain Alex Ferguson? There is plenty of evidence, but you just leave them to get away with it. Why?||Gotta say, FIFA and UEFA are clearly not fans of the English FA and are certainly not favoring them in any way re refereeing decisions.|
|I like how this question is dodged.||Glad to oblige.|
|Please tell me the Celtic v Barcelona game wasn't fixed! I have to be sure...||Hey even amazing teams lose sometimes! Plus this doesnt match the typical M.O. of the most successful match-fixers. When great teams lose, it always raises more suspicions among bet monitoring companies than when bad teams lose (our reporters visited some secret betting monitoring sites). A convicted midfielder who talked to us about match-fixing says it's always better to simply have bad teams lose once again -- criminals just pre-determine HOW MUCH that team will lose by and play those odds.|
|Whoever figures that out gets a nobel peace prize.||Sri don't mean to be flippant. You go for zero tolerance, you establish anti-match-fixing officials in every national league, you teach players and refs and soccer officials how to recognize approaches by fixers, you increase criminal penalities for fixing, you don't stop investigating serious allegations just because a referee has retired 'from the football family,' (FIFA) you protect whistleblowers better. Italian defender Simone Farina told police about being approached by a fellow player to fix, and that effectively ended his playing career and made him a pariah in italy...happily months and months later Aston Villa made him a 'community coach'|
|No question, but thanks for doing what you do. This kind of high quality investigative journalism is what the free press is all about.||Very kind to hear. are we related? jk. hope you got a chance to read, watch or hear all the eight Dirty Game stories, three sidebars, online video, broadcast video, radio reports, etc.|
|What's amazing is how ESPN hasn't said a word about this yet. Because they'd rather show more Tim Tebow praying coverage, or Mark Sanchez picking his asshole coverage, or LeBron James changing shampoo types coverage, or Erin Andrews trimming her fingernails coverage.||ESPN online did pick up the AP Dirty Game story... and they did a video piece after Europol cited 680 suspicious games. but on that video piece they got an Italian soccer commentator who thought this was being overblown...|
|Could you please investigate the NBA now pls.||Hmm. I saw an NBA rep at the London conference on sports betting. the major difference, obviously, is the huge number of scores in basketball and low number of scores in soccer. 1-0 wins a soccer game, but you need what, 35-50 scores to win an NBA game? So many more scoring variables in the NBA and such high salaries. I would think college ball (no salaries) would be much much more vulnerable to spread fixing.|
|I am Sheila Norman-Culp, AP’s Assistant Editor for Europe, who led the AP's “Dirty Game” multiformat team that investigated match-fixing in football. FTFY.||Ahh, you say football, i say tomato. Let's call a truce. Otherwise Americans in this chat will start talking about Alabama|
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