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Monday, January 05, 2015 

2015: like 2014 never ended.

Ah, the new year.  A time for renewal, for doing things differently, for approaching your problems from a different angle, for every single fucking thing remaining exactly the fucking same.  Because dates, while obviously not insignificant, are incredibly arbitrary and events are not constrained by the mere fact it's now January rather than December.  Yeah, at heart I really am a true romantic.

We may as well then once again go over well trodden ground, not that this will mean anything to precisely anyone.  If I wasn't such a social disaster area, I'd probably have said at least something along the lines of err, hello first.  Or, alternatively, done the other intelligent thing and just acknowledged them and kept walking.  If I was too blunt, or it came across as rude, or exasperated, as it probably did, it wasn't my intention, although when you say "Is there any point in my trying to talk to you?" as your conversation opener it does rather invite the response I got.  It was my anxiety at work more anything.  Most likely it's all I would have got whatever I'd said.  It's only later, as always, that you think of what you should have said, how you should have responded, but taking no for an answer when it was always likely to be the answer is something, isn't it?  No, I'm not convinced by myself either.

Onto that there politics then, right?  How can anyone not rejoice knowing we have just the nigh on 5 exact months until we get the choice of either chaos or competence?  Stop sniggering at the back, Methuselah.  And please Cassandra, don't slash your wrists in front of the rest of the class.  Didn't you miss the whole one party's spiel being slightly less bullshitty than t'others over the winterval break?  No?  Shame it's all we're going to get for the best part of the year then.  On second thoughts, can you pass your knife to the front of the class please, Cass?

Nor is there any relief from the dominating story of 2014, the seemingly constant flow of sexual assault claims made against those in the public eye, both living and dead, bookended by the Met declaring the allegations made by a man that he witnessed the murder of boys at the hands of VIPs and politicians "credible and true".  Accepting a person's account is not of course the same thing as what they described having occurred, nor is it clear whether anyone is still alive that could be held accountable or brought to trial, which always makes declaring such things a little bit easier.  We can but wait for Theresa May to get round to finally sorting out exactly what kind of overarching inquiry we need, but little things like appearing next to her fellow Tory leadership rivals are clearly more pressing on her.

If there's one thing to say about the allegations made against Prince Andrew, and frankly it wouldn't have surprised me if someone had come along and said he'd caught Andrew frotting his dog, it's whether or not the media will treat them with more scepticism than previously due to the whole, err, royal angle.  Thankfully for them, it also involves a Maxwell, and just like with Savile, the media's lamentable failure to catch a crook while they're alive inevitably results in trying to make up for it afterwards.  That Ghislaine Maxwell has also decamped to America and become a socialite just makes it even better, and so there's no doubt: the bouncing Czech's daughter clearly procured underage girls for the rich and famous.  Palace crisis!  Sex slavery!  Photograph of all three grinning while Andrew has his arm round Jane Doe #3's waist!  It's disgusting, prurient, no one has any idea whether the allegations are true or not, and it sells newspapers like billy-o.

And so, finally, we must sadly move on to Chedwyn Evans.  Not a single thing has altered since Sheffield United decided they couldn't in the face of a furore employ him as though nothing had happened.  I disagreed with that decision, but more than respected those who argued with force it sent a terrible message about how the victims of rape and sexual assault can be treated while the perpetrator can walk back into a high profile role apparently waiting for them.  With the returning to his old club angle gone, it seems to now be more about making an example of this particular person and this particular case rather the merits or demerits of those in the public eye convicted of serious crimes being able to resume their lives once they've served their sentence.

Not that Evans has fully served that sentence, and usually the rule is those convicted of serious offences who continue to maintain their innocence aren't eligible for early release.  David Conn in the Guardian also brings attention to some of the more objectionable parts of the Evans is innocent campaign's website, including CCTV footage of the woman, her face blurred, entering the hotel where she was raped, asking viewers to decide for themselves if she's too drunk to consent or not based wholly on that.  It also in the "Key and Undisputed Facts" section says Evans's fellow accused and acquitted friend Clayton McDonald texted Evans once he was with the victim saying "I am with a girl" or words to that effect.  The appeal court's ruling says this text in fact read "got a bird", which is a fairly major difference.  It also quotes out of any context tweets made by the victim where she talks about "winning big", where it is not in the slightest clear she is referring to, as the site implies, compensation.  The victim, repeatedly identified on social media by supporters of Evans, has moved house and changed her name 5 times in the intervening period.

There is little more to be said about the arguments both for and against Evans.  It seems strange to me the simple act of playing football, not even at Premier League level, hardly to be considered a position of real authority, is enough to make someone a role model and therefore to be celebrated more highly and by the same token judged more harshly and punished more severely if they offend against society.  Such however is the idol we have made of a game, a secular opiate of the people if there ever was one.

Evans' being a footballer doesn't enter into the case itself in any shape or form: he was just a footballer who committed a rape.  If there's any one reason to object to Evans returning to play, it's perhaps down to how there will be no respite for his victim until he retires: the simple act of looking at a paper, news site or watching TV will carry the potential for her to be reminded of the crime.  Should Oldham Athletic choose to sign Evans, the very least he could do, as he can't express remorse while maintaining his innocence, is to get those highly objectionable parts of the campaign website taken down and to issue an appeal to those who have supported him to stop hounding the woman he denies raping.  Considering his rabbit in the headlights past appearance in front of a camera, as little as that is likely to be too much to ask.

2015's shaping up just swell, isn't it?

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