A Funny Thing Didn’t Happen on the Way to the Forum


When the moon hits your eye
Like a big pizza pie
You’re Pissed

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In the background, the massive Mt Vesuvius, an active volcano which erupts, on average, every 50 years. In the foreground the massive Mike Bealing, an inactive 48 year old who’s trousers erupt, on average, every 24 hours, plus a matinee on Saturdays. (Baseball cap courtesy of Small Boy Fashions inc, Sorrento.)

Those few of you who take an interest in these things, and who glean all sorts of delight in the numerous mishaps which befall me every time I rub shoulders with my fellow European Citizens will be amazed, if not a little disappointed, that our Italian Campaign passed without incident. Almost.

But like so many things — Ben Elton’s funny period or a solid stool — it all seems to be a distant memory…

(queue harp)…………

We arrived in Sorrento on a bright, hot September morning. The place was buzzing. An enormous cruise ship had relieved itself of its cargo of fat American pensioners, making it nigh on impossible to purchase any over-priced beer, linen or lemon-based products, try as I might. Rumour has it the Costa Concordia flipped over when a couple from Wisconsin leant over the rails to feed the seagulls. I don’t believe this. I think they were trying to eat the birds. So, taking their lead, we settled down to the first in a series of pizza & ice cream snacks, enjoyed the hot September sun and decided we’d chosen the right spot for our first break in a while.

It’s not what you’d call a beach resort, and my eyes lit up when I discovered there was only one ‘disco’ in town, and that was at the other end of town. I would just have to put up with great food & wine and a lack of boozed-up bastards from Barnsley and Bournemouth wrecking the town every night. That’s not to say that the Brits aren’t catered for. There is a “English Inn” on the main street, right opposite an Oirish Bar (both doing a ‘Full English and Guinness on tap”) which, for the most part The Incumbent and I gleefully avoided. For the most part.

Slow Cooked Water Buffalo enjoying his meal.

A large portion of Water Buffalo enjoying his dinner.

For most of our stay, the sun shone, the booze flowed and the food arrived by the skip load. But we weren’t the only ones enjoying a regular bite. So were the mozzies. If there is one breed of animal that The Incumbent attracts more than Neapolitan handbag salesmen it’s mosquitos.  Every morning we would idle away a couple of hours counting up and applying ointment to the previous evenings mozzie bites. She even got bitten on the verandah, which brought tears to her eyes. After a while, the critters had had their fill of the missus, and started on my extremities.

In an attempt to put off these little bastards, we’d brought from Blighty an industrial-sized tube of Deet insect repellant. I would carry it around in my pocket when we went out for a stroll of an evening — or at least I did until a passing scouser pointed at this long bulge in my pocket and decided to ask his cap-tee’d mates if they could see the size of “that fat bloke’s knob end ?” We continued our promenading activities at pace, diving into the nearest Trattoria for our seventh meal of the day. As the insect repellant was with us (though sadly we were out of scouser repellant) we decided to apply another layer as we waited for the menu. The whiff was overpowering, and I extinguished the table candle as a precaution. She needed me to cover her shoulder blades in the stuff, and I made sure I had some Deet for my Feet (Sugar for my Honey). I wanted the fish, which was something of a speciality around those parts. The waiter arrived and I ordered in my best Engtalian “Carbonara for bonna Signora, and oh, Sole mio”. It was all he could do not to spit at me.

They brought us whisky, and gin and beer… I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks. Though they didn’t get to play with my 4 x 2.

But please don’t get the impression that all we did was sit around and eat. No, no, no. That was only 85% of the time. We went on day trips too. No visit to the area would be complete with a visit to Pompeii. It’s really worth a visit, if only to escape the endless piped Opera music (if you’ve ever been to the West Indies and suffered Bob Marley overdose, you’ll understand when I say I never want to hear Caruso again. Neither him nor his Man Friday).

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Us at the Forum, Pompeii. Proof positive that there is an upper age limit, beyond which it is impossible to take a decent selfie.

But the ruins of the once thriving city, sadly lost to the world in 79AD due to the huge eruption of nearby Vesuvius. Our guide Paula, pronounced PouWla, was a local girl who had clearly grown up on a heady diet of Benny Hill Shows and Bunga Bunga parties. She was a fag paper away from snorting fnarr fnarr as she concentrated and pointed out to us each and every “Three Dee Willee” on the road or on the walls. These protruding pointing penises might, she mused, have indicated the position of a brothel, or historians now think Pompeii residents could have used the phallus images as a protection against evil spirits. (Tonight, try getting your willy out in front of your missus and telling her it’s for her own protection. It doesn’t work — believe me.)

What would have been much more interesting would have been if she had told us about the popularity of cricket in this ancient roman metropolis. I myself saw clear evidence of a thriving cricket culture in existence. Who knows? If it hadn’t been for the devastation of the volcano, Italian cricket might now rival that of Australia, or perhaps even one of the major Test-playing nations ?

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(l) The Author gives his pitch report at the Pompeii Oval (a dusty one which was bound to spin on the 4th day) while recreating a Roman sight screen; (r) The remains of the scorecard to the match which was abandoned by eruption. Reg made 15 in the 1st innings. No record has been found of who was bowling at the time.

My exclusive and World’s-1st discovery of the Pompeii Ageas Oval was, as you can imagine, pretty much the highlight of the tour. There was of course the time in Napoli itself. We travelled there by boat, and on our arrival at Naples docks, two Australians with placards were shouting “Send the Boats Back”. We assumed they were lost. Later we sat outside a cafe in one of the less salubrious parts of the city (as opposed to all the many, many, lovely areas….er…) chugging away on bottles of Peroni and listening to Funiculi, Funicula for the 28th time that day. A grin burst across The Incumbent’s face as she watched and listened to the two rather vocal young women behind me.

I hadn’t realised these girls were of the working variety and that every tourist, workman or delivery boy who walked past were treated to the sight of them pulling down the lurex boob tubes and flashing their gnocchi. The going rate was, apparently, “10”. We didn’t hang around to find out if that was Euros or Lira: I glanced over my shoulder and it was a terrifying sight. It was clear to me that at least one of these birds was once christened as a geezer and those chicken fillets he was waggling at the lads were new additions to her being, (matching nicely with her adams apple which was the size of The Vatican). Any version of Funiculi, Funicula  playing once he/she got a victim back to her/his gaff would be merely to accompany him being mashed, bashed and slammed on the floor. Speaking for myself I’d rather hold it in my hand.

It could truly be a case of see Nipples & Die. (© National Joke museum 1923).

Naples: Bust of "Gaveen" —patron Saint of Big Noses.

Naples: Bust of “Gaveen” — Italian Patron Saint of Big Noses.

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Spofforth, Scorecards and Sticky Wickets,


John Arlott and Ralph Richardson from 1950. A little gem covering everything you wanted to know about The Ashes and cricket. No, much more than that, madam.

17 mins, 20 secs of pure heaven. Enjoy.

World Exclusive: Hotspot Footage Proves Trott Hit the Ball


The Sharp Single can this morning Exclusively reveal to the world that South Af English batsman Jornathorn Trortt was erroneously given out LBW my neutral South African umpire Marais Piper Erasmus.

Jonathan Trott

Trortt, 32, of KwaZulu Natal, East Sussex, immediately asked for a referral of the decision to Mr Piper, who was in his suite busy examining the footage of earlier completely wrong decision by umpire B.Pew (T.Island) to give out Root Minor of the lower Fourth even though he clearly hadn’t hit the ball, (but was too frightened to say so).

England had already fallen foul of the new ICC “Wonder/Blunkett Method” when 12 year old Australian debutante Ashton Kutcher was given not out when stumped by reluctant-appealer Mat Howwozthatonethen Prior when the batter was closer to the non-striker’s end than his own,having amassed just 10 runs. Mr Kutcher went on to score 98, a world record for a number 11 batsmen who should have been given out two hours ago.

England were understandably furious with the officials. In an display of petulance and defiance, the former bowler Steve Finnish, playing in his last Test for England, bowled 17 consecutive overs at his own toes.

The ICC have apologised to England for the pisspoor decisions made during the day, and offered the whole team free tickets to the final of next year’s IPL  (sponsored by Lehman Brothers).

Now The Sharp Single can exclusively bring you the missing Hortsport foortage. If you look very closely, you can just make out the faintest of white marks, as the ball just nicks Hansie Trortt’s bat.  You be the jury.

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Keith Vaz is expected to make a statement at lunchtime today.

 

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AShesNewgrid

Middle and Leg, Please.


Many congratulations to Mr Willie Eckerslike of Staines for the winning entry to the recent caption competition. For his winning effort of “If they go above my head, can they be called wide ?”) Mr Eckerslike wins for himself a pair of Anti-Pervert Hairy stockings (as reported by The Daily Telegraph), Several plastic OBEs, a drip-dry statue of Jane Mansfield and a ticket to Hampstead Fairground.

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And now, as it’s that time of year again when the English, traditionally, exit a major tournament, here are some random cricket images:

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The Australian Touring Party to England 2013. Not sure who the geezer front right is, don’t think he made the trip. The two fellas wearing the pink scarves are currently in the nets, awaiting confirmation of Australian citizenship. ACB hope they’ll be available by the Third Test. (D.A.Warner is out of shot, beating up the co-pilot.)

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M.A.Holding hears that no-one’s switched on the urn in the pavilion.

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England’s crack Formation Ball-Tampering Display Team

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Shane Warne finds a new career

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England’s current World-Class Cricketers. And Stuart Broad.

The One Where Mike Sees Both Sides of the Argument.


It’s difficult sometimes to know who to shout for, isn’t it ? I mean if you were watching a Rugby match and Wales were playing, well, anyone really you know you’ll be cheering for whoever that anybody is. No contest there, no flipping of a coin. A cricket match between Australia and er…. well, you know you’ll vocally support “and er…”, don’t you ? Equally true if you don’t happen to hail from Blighty and England are playing Football/Cricket/Anything against Anyone Else. The Anyone Else XI will be the bookies favourites outside these shores.

But what if one of the most evil and vile of all football teams goes into administration? What if a side disappear which has harboured and promoted sectarianism, (along with the other lot), succoured and supported everything that is nasty and abhorrent in football and in British society ? How do we feel if they go to the wall ? Happy ? Perhaps. Good bloody riddance to them ? Maybe.

But , in truth, they won’t be going anywhere. They will immediately be docked 10 points for going into administration which will take the club from 2nd place in the league down to …er…2nd place in the league. That’s how far the top 2 are ahead of the chasing pack. (if you take 10 points off them right now, they’ll still be 9 points ahead of third place, such is the joke of the pointless Scottish Football set up).

So they won’t win the league this year, but they probably wasn’t going to anyway. That bunch of bigots from the other side of the tracks are 4 points clear anyway and look set fair to win it. Again. Rampant sectarianism and bigotry aside, (and, no it hasn’t or ever will go away from the Auld Firm) can you be forgiven for feeling sorry for Rangers getting themselves into so much trouble ? Spending more than they could justify in the never-ending effort to beat rivals Glasgow Celtic and win at least one match against European oppo each year ? Shouldn’t we say “oh fuck ’em” and be done with it ?

But what about all the little people behind the scenes who make the club tick, who rely on the club for their wages, the income from the fans on a Saturday, the club shop and the local Union Jack supplier ? They can’t all be Unionist Nutters, can they ? Then again, without Rangers, what’s the point of Celtic ? If Alec Salmond gets his way, there’ll be no hopping over the border for a kick about in the English Premier League so the Bhoys will be left with a dull Saturday at ForfarfiveFifefour Academicals, or a wet Wednesday night playing Partick Thistlenil. That’s no existance for anyone.

But doubtless the Gers will return next season, just with cheaper flags and one or two fewer bowler hats. The two teams will spend the next millenia hurling abuse at each other, punctuated only by a football match breaking out occasionally (well, 4 times a year, if you don’t mind, excluding cup matches) because if this isn’t allowed to happen, scottish football will go the same way its rugby went – bereft of fans or supporters, with the authorities having to give away tickets to primary schools to foster the illusion that people actually want to turn up to watch this shite. So we have to hope the industry that is Rangers FC survives. I know, I can’t believe I’m writing it either.

Meanwhile, another bunch of hard-nosed bastards face extinction and extermination. The poor old tabloid journalist is under the cosh and he does not like it. Trevor Kavanagh, Associate editor of The Sun attacked the arrests of his colleagues by police as “heavy handed” and a “witch hunt” and “disproportionate”. And he would know. If there was ever a witch hunt which could be described as heavy handed and disproportionate look no further than the Joanna Yeates murder investigation, when the paper (among others) hounded and publicly hung Christopher Jefferies for the woman’s killing. According to the paper this was an open-and-shut case of a beardy-wierdy attacking and killing a young blonde luvverly. (And thank fuck she was blonde and luvverly or we’d have never read a word of it).

The paper (manfully aided and abetted by the Mirror and the Mail) were judge, jury and executioner on this case, just one of the many, many occasions where a private individual was hounded out of house and home because a hack didn’t like the cut of his jib. Will anybody shed a tear for these reptiles who have made so many lives a misery ? Probably not. I dunno why these blokes are worrying about anyway. If they’d read their own copy over the years they’d realise that prison is like a holiday camp and that it’s better on the inside than it is out.

But Kavanagh does point out that an example seems to being made of the Sun. Well, that’s as may be. It does help, of course, that my former employers over at News International (d’you know ? I miss them more than ever at the moment) seem hell bent on shopping anyone and everyone that’s come within a gnat’s chuff of this story, just as long as Rupe, James and Rebekah are spared the ignominy of a 4 o’clock wakey wakey call. But all this certainly seems to be buying Trinity Mirror and Associated Newspapers enough time to nip down to Staples and order another half dozen shredders before the rozzers arrive. Trevor is right that, at the moment, it seems like the only crooks in town are Sun journos.

But what of the arresting officers ? Have we forgotten that the coppers waking up shagging Sun journos in the early hours are working for the force which is the other half of the same mucky coin. There are far more bent coppers being questioned and suspended on Operation Fuck They’ve Caught Us Out than anyone imagined – an early indication of the Met Police’s  “Buy One Get One Free” policy, available to all good news outlets up until very recently.

So we have bent coppers arresting bent journos. Now it depends on which side of the fence you sit, but corrupt state law enforcers against privately paid operators carrying out the orders of their superiors ? It’s a tough one, innit ? Rangers or Celtic ?

In a final oddity, Sean Penn has come out on the side or Argentina in the Falklands row. Now then, that’s a teaser. If you were judging Sean on Shanghai Surprise I may be shouting GOTCHA! from the rooftops. As it is, his role as Harvey Milk has saved him in my eyes, so Viva Las Malvinas it is. And if settling a major political military crisis by judging a man’s filmography isn’t the way forward, then I don’t know what is.

Other Blogs are Available


You can’t please all of the people all of the time. I’m fully aware that when I rant on about all things political, fair and socialist, many of you retreat to your panic rooms, put the duvet over your head and hope I’ll go away. On the other hand, when I put finger to keyboard and opine on the wonders of organised sport, the crumpet people among you flee to the safety of your pinafores and Strictly Come Dancing. Bless you’re little hearts.

Well, as I think we’ve all had our fill of RBS for one week, the Chris Huhne story has been and gone (I’m Chris Huhne and so is my wife), we have time to catch our breath before the crook David Laws (who Clegg thinks we’ve all forgotten about) is given his job back, and still months before I am arrested by the Thought Police for my views on the London Olympic Games, let’s get a round-up of this weekend’s sport. Sorry girls.

So let us indeed start with the Olympics. It won’t have been lost on you that there was an initial hiccup at the first meeting of Olympic volunteers – sorry Games Makers – when they started their training yesterday. These induction sessions are crucial if the maximum amount of cash is to be gleaned by as many corporate sponsors allowable by using as much free labour as is permitted by international regulations, orchestrated by the biggest corporate carve-up since RBS handed out taxpayers money as bonuses (oops! see what I did there? naughty boy). These poor sods even have to pay their fares there. And most will be stuck in a car park, pointing out the direction to the nearest McDonalds. You’ll see more athletic action if you’re stuck in a basement, cowering for your life in downtown Damascus.

Anyway, not everything went swimmingly for Seb’s Little Helpers. As the BBC put it:

But there were reports of train delays and local traffic congestion and some Games Makers reported they had problems getting to the venue.
Colin Foster, 43, from Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire said it took him two hours to drive the eight miles to the Arena. When he got there he then had to pay £22 to park nearby.
“I think it’s a bit steep when people are volunteering. We’re doing our bit giving up time and energy so to be charged is rather excessive”

Congestion in London ????  Train delays ???? Exorbitant prices ???? Well I never did. Whodathunk it ????  Not that, of course Seb’s mob admitted anything was wrong. The Goebbelesque method of propaganda which Locog (that’s what they call themselves) reacts to reported or forseeable problems with the games has only been surpassed in recent times by the crew of the Costa Concordia telling passengers to relax and go back to their cabins. And the band played on. For the record, Locog said it was surprised to hear of any problems, again according to the BBC.

It certainly came as a real shock to the rest of us too.

Meanwhile, away from snowy Blighty, the English Cricket team are being pummeled into submission by Pakistan. It’s painful to watch, but like rail disruption in the capital, not totally surprising. As reported here many times before, this current bunch of show ponies look overpaid, uncooked, over thier heads, and are under-performing over there. They can’t even blame a betting syndicate cheats on this disaster. What no-one seems to have foreseen was the the Pakistan team would have included several good spin bowlers, one of whom turns the balls both ways.

Wait a minute !!! Isn’t that cheating??  Can’t we imprison Sajeed Ajmal  for being able to bowl better than we can ??  It’s a bloody disgrace, I say.

Closer to home, I feel lucky to have survived the Rugby match between Scotland and England yesterday. Not since the display by the London PR Team at the end of the Beijing Olympics has there been a more inept, toe-curlingly awful display in a major stadium, all captured in stunning HD for the world to watch in stunned silence. The phrase “looking like two drunk bald men fighting over a comb” can never have been used more aptly than to describe this truly awful spectacle. In a match which had already been marred by the sight of 22 child mascots dragged into the frozen wastes of Muyrryfield wearing little more than a pair of shorts, saw 44 huge men run around aimlessly to the strains of a whimpered “Swing Low” here, a choked “Flower of Scotland” there.

No-one-one does parochial pettiness better than the jocks, and if Alex Salmond had marched onto the pitch and demanded to hold a referendum on Scottish devolution there and then, it would have been more interesting than what was taking place on this pitch. After the match, the Scots knew they had missed a golden opportunity to beat a woeful English team. Jock Fly half Dan Parks (who’s about as Scottish as I am) was kicking himself in the changing room, only to miss with two kicks and have a third charged down.

So today we have more rugby when Ireland play Wales, which always promises great things and sees me don my traditional impartial kit of a green shirt and a pint of Guinness. On the world of OnMeEadSon we have Man Utd playing Chelsea. A lot of the gloss has been taken off this one by the fact that, through injury, we are to be denied the spectacle of Rio Ferdinand waking from his usual 40 winks half way through the second half and ploughing into former England Racist John Terry for abousing Rio’s little brother. Sorry that was a typo. Did I say England Racist ?  I meant to say cvnt. And for former read present and big.

Over in the Middle East, Pakistan will doubtless move closer to wrapping up a 3-0 victory over the ever-popular English Cricket team, which will be a relief to all, especially the four blokes and the jack russell terrier who’ve actually paid money to sit in the stand and watch this rubbish.

Across the pond, the weekend ends with what passes for sport in the US – The Super Bowl. The New Improved Recipes play the New Lamps for Old in an encounter that proves to be the first Super Bowl since the last one. There was a time, back in the 80s when I’d have been all excited about this. I even attended a few Super Bowl parties, cheering on the Cowboys vrs the Redskins or the Packers, drinking beer til the early hours until it was time to fall asleep on someone’s floor. Thankfully I’ve grown older, fatter and tireder since then and this old body can barely make it past the Ten O’clock news, let alone keep awake to watch this, surely the most cynical of all advertising opportunities. I’ll watch a selection of the funny ads on Youtube tomorrow, just don’t pretend this is a sporting event. Coupled with the fact that the old cockney Madonna is serenading the crowd at half time makes this the most missable event since Diana Ross took a penalty at the world cup (an event which sums up all you need to know about the US corporate world’s relationship with sport).

Anyway, before I go to practise my rendition of Fields of Athenry I shall leave you with this, another old git ranting on about football, soccer and America. It was sent to me by another sports fan, this time a Jock who was keeping strangely quiet through yesterday’s festivities in Edinburgh. He’s like that when Scotland play. Anything.

 

Behave Yourself, Sir! You’re (supposed to be) an Englishman


Knowing who to cheer for when South Africa play Australia is a bit like, for me anyway, deciding who you’d want to win if The Third Reich played Pinochet’s Chile. However, if there is any enjoyment to glean from such a contest it normally arrives when one side humiliates the other. A fine innings of a duck from former skipper Ricky Ponting helped his side on their way to 47 all-out, having been 21-9 at one stage.

Amazingly, the Bok’s are still favourites to lose this match, their batters doing little better themselves during their first innings effort. Anyway, having sat through the English cricketers pouting, posturing and under-performing in India recently, it’s nice to see someone else squirming in embarrassed agony for once.

Let’s hope the spoilt brats of Jimmy Anderson, Swanny and fellow cry babies can collect their toys, put them back in the pram and learn how to lose as well as win with dignity, then next summer’s test series against South Africa might be worth watching. The English team were were lovely lads, sporting icons, and sweet boys when they were on top against the Aussies last time round.

This side were rightly lauded by all for their humour, camaraderie and good sports when they were sweeping aside all teams put up in front of them. I saw them several times at Lords and The Oval and they were a joy to watch, welcome to marry my sister any time (if I had one) .

Cracks in their genial and generous facade began to appear when they lost to the Windies at the end of the summer. By the end of the disastrous Indian campaign they were positively nasty. If I want to watch such behaviour on a sports field, I’ll go back to watching soccer. Something call a “Jade” and sporting an earring and tattoo combination worthy of Dale Farm should never be eligible to play for England in the first place. If he’s gonna behave like a thug on the pitch he can go back to Jonty, Morne and Herschelle as soon as he likes.

Come on chaps. Play up and play the game, as Plum Warner may have said.

You Know Nothing, Mate


There are things you just know.

During your lifetime you pick up knowledge. Stuff that is just true and there’s no row about it. You know it’s true because, not only did mum and dad tell you, your teachers told you, the tv news told you and even Hollywood told you. Stuff like “all scousers are funny”; “all cockneys are the salt of the earth (they only slaughter their own)”; “all trombone players wear sandals”; and of course “all welshmen can sing and would never ever intend to break your neck on the rugby field because they’re nice blokes and just not like that”.

These are the sort of rules, the kind of guiding principles which allow you to steer your ship of life between the shifting sands of the Bay of Uncertainty and the hard, jagged rocks of  the inlet of Oh Fuck it’s Really Happening. It’s now 47 years since people started telling me stuff. I stopped listening to most of them some years ago. Like Homer, there’s only so much I can fit into my brain before something else gets pushed out. The ravages of age, a stroke, and a life of heavy drinking, along with the distraction of the oncoming steam train of certain Alzheimer’s  severely limits the amount of new information I can take on board. Or as Terry Pratchett might put it, I’m fucked in the ‘ead.

So imagine the confusion it causes one so fragile as me, when stuff you just know is fact turns out to be untrue, at least for the sake of selling a few books at Christmas time.

Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun didn’t take their own lives, shortly after making a few dodgy videos for YouTube. Not according to the  new book Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler they didn’t. No, they fled to Argentina, aided and abetted by the Yanks in exchange for Nazi rocket scientists and the information within. According to a report in this week’s The Daily Mail (and who among us could argue with them ?) Mr& Mrs Hitler legged it through Europe and escaped across the sea to South America, presumably free to go on the piss with their chums Josef Mengele, Adolf Eichmann and countless other Nazis we let get away after 1945. The couple brought up their two kids, at some stage divorced, and Mr Hilter (as he then was) finally threw a seven in 1962 at the grand old age of 73.

The Russians claim they captured what was left of the Hitlers from a bunker in Berlin in 1945. What they apparently have are the charred remains of a early version of a McDonalds Breakfast Wrap (Another Fact: These are horrible. Keep away from them and go for the Double Sausage McMuffin.)

It’s a good job Vincent Van Gogh isn’t alive today. He’d be forced to go to Gateshead (up in the frozen North somewhere) where this year’s The Emperor’s New Clothes Prize has been moved to. Presumably Londoners have finally given up pretending that “Pile of Shite in Aspic” is art, and the organisers have decided to move to the Third World in search of new mugs to jump on the “oh-but-you-dont-understand-what-art-is” bandwagon. Howay.

The aforementioned Vincent is no longer with us, of course, having topped himself in a wheat field in 1890 in northern France.

Wrong again.

The Kirk Douglas look-a-like was shot by a couple of brothers in a dispute over a stolen pistol. We know this from the new book imaginatively entitled Van Gogh: The Life (available at all good bookshops, makes the perfect gift). In their book the two American authors trash the widely-held belief that the absinthe-riddled, ginger paintist, having reached the end of his tether with a lack of sales and Anthony Quinn’s acting, took himself off and fell on his own pallet knife. (Sadly for me they make no mention of the time Gauguin asked Vincent if he’d like another canvas. “No thanks, I’ve got one ear”  Van Gogh replied. As the book doesn’t mention this, I now know it to be true.)

The fact that he was shot by a young boy, and didn’t just succumb to the inner-demons of the mad genius that he was has not only rocked the art world, with the sky-high prices of Van Gogh’s work potentially under threat (nutcases sell for more) but worse, Don McLean is having to rewrite one of his songs.

This morning the descendents of Robert Falcon Scott‘s fateful expedition to the South Pole have joined in the campaign to diss everything I thought I knew about everything. There’s a new exhibition in town showing many images, some not seen before, by the trip’s snapper Herbert Ponting (not to be confused with the Ricky Ponting, the Patron Saint of Lost Causes) which for a century have graphically shown the anguish and despair the Brits felt by narrowingly losing out to the Norwegian group led by Roald Amundsen (who’d already seen off the plucky West Germans in the semi-final). The downhearted and disheartened Limeys finally gave up their attempt to return home and were swallowed up by the icy wilderness. Amundsen and his Scandinavians went home to a heroes welcome and a recording contract.

But wait a minute, according to the British ancestors, Scott’s men were not the least bit disappointed to lose. There was, in fact, no race to the pole. There’s was a purely scientific expedition to gain knowledge of the surrounding area for King and Country, with no-one giving a toss whether Amundsen won or not. Ponting set up the most southerly branch of Pront-a-Print, charging a farthing for a photo of the pole and pony on a tee-shirt; Captain Oates left the tent and was never seen again. He is oft quoted as saying “I am just going outside and may be some time”. The end of his sentence was lost in the chill wind. What he really said was “I am just going outside and may be some time. I’ve got all this bunting and balloons to erect for when we see the Norwegians again”. In truth, Scott should not have been played on screen by John Mills but by Norman Wisdom.

So there you have it. Hitler died in 1962, just missing out missing Ronnie Biggs. Van Gogh covered up his own murder and his relationship with young boys and, just like the retreating soldiers at Dunkirk, Scott of Antarctic had nothing to be sad about. It’s a pity they didn’t make it back because The Titanic was waiting for them just off Antarctica to take them home on her second voyage.

99 years later,  a ship was moored off the coast of Libya, waiting for President Muammar Gaddafi who was due to escape on her . However, the ever-popular Dictator would not make it on board nor never get to feel the warm embrace of his old mate Tony Blair again as he died of the multiple bullet wounds he received to the back of the head while resisting arrest.

Honestly. It’s a fact !!!