Stiffening Up (and other Double Entendres)


It all started when I started fiddling with the girlfriend’s tea-towel holder.

We’d bought a new one, you see, over in France at one of their premiere Old Tut shops. I was attempting to fix it to a kitchen cabinet drawer, bent over a bit too sudden-like and my ribs cramped up (a common occurrence, thanks to an old rugby injury), I then shot bolt upright to try to un-cramp myself when my left calf went into spasm (a common occurrence, thanks to being an old git) and I found myself cramped all the way down my left side. I would take myself off to see the Doc, but he will say my ailments are probably due to the Warfarin (the rat poison the give to recovering stroke patients).

Here’s a few quotes that may interest you:

My GP on my blood-spot-splattered feet:
“That’ll be the Warfarin”

My GP on my irregular and worrying dizzy spells:
“That’ll be the Warfarin”

On the numbness in my face:
“That’ll be the Warfarin”

On the shooting pains down my:
“That’ll be the Warfarin”

My GP on the Eurozone crisis and the war in Afghanistan:
“I’m no expert, but that’ll probably be the Warfarin”.

Well why am I still on it, then ????

So thanks to the producers of Warfarin and the failure of The Incumbent’s Tea towel holder to grip anything effectively (not even my little finger) I’ve been forced to  repair to the sofa, look, listen and learn from the wise sages of T’BBC.

It’s almost certainly an age-thing (or maybe it’s the Warfarin) that I now prefer the sports radio coverage more than I do the television. This may be because Claire Balding isn’t on BBC Radio, but more probably because the broadcasters have to think on their feet to keep the audience entertained, rather than just point a camera at a volleyball player’s arse.

Two exchanges on the wireless demonstrated this perfectly yesterday. One was an interview with Manteo Mitchell who represented the USA in the heats of the 4x400m relay. Half of it he ran with a broken leg, it having snapped down the back straight.

“I felt it break. I heard it. I even put out a little war cry, but the crowd was so loud you couldn’t hear it.” said Mitchell.
I can assure the reader that if my leg broke should I ever again find myself running anywhere, you will be able to hear my ‘little war cry’ in Tanzania. Mitchell completed the remaining 200 meters, unable to create a lead for the second runner in the team. What a lightweight !

I listened, opened mouth to this account, full of shock and awe for this man, knowing full well that I, in the same circumstances, would have used the old Navaho Indian trick of collapsing on the floor and begging for mercy. The piece was marred slightly when the interviewer started raving about the American’s third leg. Which was a bit forward for daytime radio, I thought. There’s a time and a place.

I was wrong.

Not an hour later, another intrepid reporter waxed lyrical to his anchor man (Mark Chapman) about meeting former gold medal-winning diver (the pool) Greg Luganis in the gents urinals. I thought I’d tuned into a police wave band.
“As I stood next to him, I asked him about what was likely to happen later”. Back in the studio, his colleague was incredulous. One could sense a producer’s hand hovering over the ‘off air’ switch.


“You just went up to Greg Luganis in a toilet and struck up a conversation ?” he asked
“no, no, of course not. We’d met before”
(We were not informed where and under what circumstances.)
“I said to him: ‘From what you’ve seen…'”
“You said what ?…” Chapman had clearly fallen off his stool. “You can’t say that to someone while standing at a urinal !”
Honestly, Chappers” retorted the reporter “it’s impossible to have a conversation with you without you inserting double entendres. I was talking about what he’d seen so far in the pool…”
The chat continued with Chapman desperately trying not to interject with too many men-in-urinals gags. One can only hope the conversation in the loo didn’t contain too many questions regarding diving technique. “Greg, how does one get a ripped entry with minimal splash”. Luganis may have fainted.

Switching back to the TV it was time to witness Mo Farrah run to glory to take the 5k/10k double, and what a fantastic race it was. Mo was determined that he wouldn’t be beaten, aided and manfully abetted by a huge crowd, 95% who madly cheered for a man named Mohammed, a refugee from Africa who runs proudly and passionately represents the country which took him in all those years ago. UKIP and the EDF must be apoplectic.

Those of us watching at home, some laid up on the sofa, tragically stuck down with cramp, were privileged to listen to Steve Cram’s commentary, a real appreciation of distance running, which will be one of the most replayed moments of the entire games. Beside Cram in the commentary box was Brendan Foster, who looked like he’d heard they were opening his pub early. ‘Bottle of Newky Brown, please, pet.’

I am now told by T’BBC of an auction where one can buy London 2012 momentos. Bradley Wiggins’ and Jess Ennis’ stuff is the most popular, so they’re bound to be out of my price-range. I’m off to bid for some of Kriss Akabusi’s broadcasting talent. Apparently there’s not much of it.

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If it Wasn’t for the Holympics Inbetween


Cockney singer and comedian, Gus Elen (below) made this little ditty famous at the end of the 19th Century. It’s a bitter-sweet number, lamenting the loss of the beautiful English countryside and the advent of the slums as London sprawled out over the South East in the name of progress and industrialisation.

A little over a century later, the urban streets, factories and gasworks which Elen mocked have been pulled down and swept away, but not to be replaced by the original green fields, but with Millennium Tents, Olympic Towers, Aquatic Centres and Velodromes. It’s hailed by some as progress, by others and the rape and destruction of our heritage. By others again as a fantastic money-making opportunity for a few lucky people at the expense of some of the poorest in society.

When reciting this one, the trick is to hone your cockney accent (and I know many of you have been practicing hard to perfect yours, yearning to be able to speak proper) just like Gus did when he first performed this on stage to East Enders (no, not that lot – the real ones) and sang to them as one of their own.

Once more I am indebted to The Talented Mr Rapley for reminding me of this one.

(This ain’t Gus singing , but it’ll give you an idea of how the tune goes)


http://www.victorianweb.org/mt/musichall/2.html

If it Wasn’t for the Houses Inbetween

If you saw my little backyard, “Wot a pretty spot!” you’d cry,
It’s a picture on a sunny summer day;
Wiv the turnip tops and cabbages wot peoples doesn’t buy
I makes it on a Sunday look all gay.
The neighhours finks I grow ’em and you’d fancy you’re in Kent,
Or at Epsom if you gaze into the mews.
It’s a wonder as the landlord doesn’t want to raise the rent,
Because we’ve got such nobby distant views.

CHORUS:
Oh it really is a wery pretty garden
And Chingford to the eastward could be seen;
Wiv a ladder and some glasses,
You could see to ‘Ackney Marshes,
If it wasn’t for the ‘ouses in between.

We’re as countrified as can be wiv a clothes prop for a tree,
The tub-stool makes a rustic little stile;
Ev’ry time the bloomin’ clock strikes there’s a cuckoo sings to me,
And I’ve painted up “To Leather Lane a mile.”
Wiv tomatoes and wiv radishes wot ‘adn’t any sale,
The backyard looks a puffick mass o’ bloom;
And I’ve made a little beehive wiv some beetles in a pail,
And a pitchfork wiv a handle of a broom.

CHORUS:
Oh it really is a wery pretty garden,
And Rye ‘ouse from the cock-loft could be seen:
Where the chickweed man undresses,
To bathe ‘mong the watercresses,
If it wasn’t for the ‘ouses in between.

There’s the bunny shares ‘is egg box wiv the cross-eyed cock and hen
Though they ‘as got the pip and him the morf;
In a dog’s ‘ouse on the line-post there was pigeons nine or ten,
Till someone took a brick and knocked it orf.
The dustcart though it seldom comes, is just like ‘arvest ‘ome
And we mean to rig a dairy up some’ow;
Put the donkey in the washouse wiv some imitation ‘orns,
For we’re teaching ‘im to moo just like a cah.

Time to Chuck in the Towel


It comes to all of us at the end. Whether it’s because the state tells you that you’re too old for employment, or when your body isn’t able to carry on – even when your mind thinks it can. Some of us are lucky enough to be in a job which allows us to choose the timing of our retirement. For most of us, the decision is out of our hands.

If you’re a journalist or even a photo editor, you can probably work until your eyes or your liver can take it no more. For some of us, the age of 46 is probably as good an age as any at which to retire; others will go on until they snuff it at their desks/the bar/toilet cubicle. Lots of us can’t wait to go, but there are those who wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if not go to work.

If you’re a high court judge you can go on and on until you’re deaf, frail and incontinent. Come to think of it I dunno why I don’t apply. Even politicians seem to go on for as long as they please, though if you stay on too long you risk become a figure of fun as did Michael Foot, Ted Kennedy, or Nicolas Sarkozy.

Boxers are often guilty of staying in the game past their sell-by date. Surrounded by spongers and yes-men, not enough are told not to fight again. Who’d ever tell Mike Tyson “don’t go into the ring again, Champ, or you’ll get a whopping” ? Not me, that’s for sure. Left with cowards and scroungers, Champ decides to have ‘one last fight’ and more often than not suffers the inevitable clobbering.

While we’re on sportsmen, there are those who have the foresight to plan ahead for that time when they no longer compete. Some become successful TV pundits:- John McEnroe, Richie Benaud, Gary Lineker or Michael Johnson spring to mind; Some become fvcking awful ones: Colin Montgomery, Michael Vaughan, Willie Carson. Then there are some who are so desperate to become TV stars they’ll appear on anything, anywhere to further their career: Tessa Sanderson, Matthew Pinsent, Kriss Akabusi but fail even to become children’s entertainers.

Some leave sport altogether and are quite happy to work in the real world, like one of my boyhood heroes, cricketer (and Ashes winner) Chris Old who works in Sainsbury’s supermarket. Not very glamorous but he’s happy.

For some, of course, the end doesn’t come when you want it to. One day, you’re part of office life, getting the tea for everyone and chipping into the Derby sweepstake, the next minute the guvnor calls you in and tells you that the Bell has Tolled for you. Yer outta here. You are surplus to requirements and you are to be replaced with a younger, sleeker (cheaper) version. It’s a horrible and humiliating way to go. And many can’t take it.

Rio Ferdinand is convinced he has still got what it takes to be an international footballer. His boss, or rather, his former boss, or rather the new bloke in the office who doesn’t want to be Rio’s boss disagrees. The new England manager didn’t pick Ferdinand for his squad to compete [sic] in the upcoming European Championship (singular: There is only one Championship being competed for and therefore is spelled Championship. Not Championships. Ok?)

I digress again.

So not only wasn’t he picked for the original squad, but when the bloke who’d replaced him in the team dropped out through injury Rio wasn’t picked then either. In fact it’s probably safe to say that if all 18 original players dropped out, having succumbed to a virulent strain of Green Monkeys Disease, Rio still wouldn’t get selected. He is not wanted. His time has come.

Rio is fuming, He thinks he should play. His agent thinks he should play (shock) and has told the world’s media (well, T’BBCSalford who are the only ones listening) that it’s a disgrace that his man has not been selected. At 34 years of age, Ferdinand knows this will be the last ChampionshiP he had a chance to be selected for. Whether it’s the pulling on of the England shirt again , running out onto the big stage for one last time, or falling asleep half way though the either half (it’d become his party trick), Rio wanted one last chance to show the world what he could do. Sadly, it was never to be.

A combination of his regular attacks of narcolepsy during corner kicks, and the fact that his playing partner is on a charge of racially abusing Rio’s brother means that manager Roy Hodgson was never gonna select both. When a sleepy black bloke is up against a violent, racist, white bloke it seems that whitey will win the day. Thank Allah that John Terry’s court case has been delayed until after the tournament, eh ? What a stroke of luck.

Whatever the reasons behind it, Rio has just got to get on with his young life, and find a new direction in which to channel his…er…talents. Cricketer and legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar has been sworn into the Indian Parliament, making him the first to enter parliament while still playing. Sachin is a humble, personable, brilliant sportsman, regarded as a God in his own country. Rio differs from Tendulkar in just four ways. Though all is not lost for Ferdinand in that respect. If the British Labour party can have Oona King, Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng as MPs, Rio may yet be able to find himself as the least self-serving and most appealing black representative the party has had for many a year.

So having said all that, who was it who couldn’t find it in themselves to gather Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Grace Jones and Shirley Bassey together and say “I’m sorry guys, but you can’t sing any more”? One suspects it should have been to Gary Barlow, but you can’t blame him for crumbling in the face of legends. I speak of, of course, of last night’s Jubilee bash. Possibly one of the most diverse concerts I have ever witnessed, both in content and quality. To hear Alfie Moon (no, neither had I before) and Willi.i.am (ditto) knock out a decent tune, only for the joyous atmosphere to be punctuated by the excruciating wailing of these four (and I’m being very kind to Elton John) aged, has-beens. 12 hours later, my toes have only just started uncurling after McCartney’s performance. One presumes he got the gig purely because Lennon and Harrison are dead, but that is surely no excuse for what he gave us last night. He sounded better at Live Aid – and his microphones failed on that occasion.

If Ringo isn’t busy flashing ‘V’ signs, perhaps he could climb off Barbara for a second and tell his old mate that enough is enough. Obviously the irony of Ringo criticising someone else’s musical talent won’t be lost, even on the purple-haired former unidexter-shagger, but someone’s gotta do it.

As for Cliff, Grace and Shirley: Surely they’re talented enough to realise how bad they have become ? Surely, Shirley. It was woeful. You have all been decent at what you do, but now you’re not. Honest. Cliff sounded like me, pissed in a bar on a mic at about 11.30, dancing on the bar and singing Old Shep. Shirley looked and sounded like me. And the hoola-hooping Grace Jones needs sectioning.

And finally, please don’t think this is age-based criticism. It’s talent-based. You had it once, now you haven’t. Simples. You only have to think back to Englebert last week. THAT’S how bad you lot were last night. Everyone’s different, with different bodies and talents. Tom Jones is very old (he knew Elvis, in case he hasn’t mentioned it) but he can still belt out a number like he could 40 years ago. He even remembered his Welsh accent, which some will find nice. So I’m afraid McCartney has got to be told that it’s all over. Although he might try to make the England squad. He’s got a better chance than Rio.

A British All-Conners Record


The Daily Telegraph writes:

Olympic beer to cost £7.23 a pint


Bars at the official Games venues will charge £4.80 for a small serving of London 2012 red wine. For visitors with an appetite for traditional British fare, a portion of cod and chips will set them back at least £8.

The London 2012 organisers, who published sample menus yesterday, claimed the prices were “more than comparable” to catering costs at other sporting events. An estimated 14 million meals will be served to spectators across 40 locations during the Games.

Paul Deighton, chief executive of London 2012, said the organisers had “gone to great lengths” to find “high quality, tasty food that celebrates the best of Britain”.

A 330ml bottle of Heineken lager at the Games will cost £4.20, making the equivalent price of a pint £7.23. This is more than double the national average price of £3.17 for a pint of beer.

Spectators will pay £2.10 for a toasted teacake, £2.30 for a 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola and £2 for a cup of tea. A family of four should be able to buy food and drinks for under £40, according to London 2012. “

They say this last bit without a hint of irony. That’ll be 40 quid on top of the four £450 tickets to watch 20 minutes of the 1m synchronized ping pong. But who the fuck cares any more? We let these robbers get away with it, as we string up our flags and bunting, wave our Union Jacks and remark “ooh hasn’t that nice Mr Coe got old since he took over the games ?”. Of course he looks old. So would you if you had to lug great wads of cash home every night, under the cover of darkness.

Let’s not worry about it. Let’s light up the barbies, sing God Save the Queen for the Jubilee and give thanks that in these harsh times of mass unemployment, crime and poverty, when more and more are driven to stealing to feed themselves and their families, when the southern half of continental Europe is about to go under, we still have a time and the tact to celebrate and wave at a woman who drives around in a solid gold coach.

Let’s shout “C’mon Ingerlund” as the Ukrainian and Polish Nazi Parties beat the shite out of football fans from ethnic backgrounds (well, anyone who isn’t Ukrainian or Polish really), and all this because Michel Platini and his Uefa mafia turn a blind eye to racism and violence within football culture, just as long as he gets his big bucks (or small Euros at the time of going to press). I do not have the data on the price of Heineken beer in Kiev.

Then when a football match breaks out on the pitch and our team loses we can slaughter Roy Hodgson for picking completely wrong 11 idiots, as there were 11 other idiots waiting at home in bed with their friend’s wives, trying to take their minds off of not being selected.

Lets sit back and enjoy the liars of the world: Blair, Cameron, Murdoch (+1), Hunt, Wade, Coulson and the rest of them squirm their way around the questions which would and should bring down the lot of them. But they won’t. You know they won’t. Come the end of Leveson, and save for a couple of minor-ish victims and sacrifices like Brooks and Coulson, the Murdoch Empire, the Fleet St rags and the British Government will still be in place and will still operate in exactly the same way.

Some people moan about it and sites like the one you are reading make a fuss about all this shit now and then, but it doesn’t really do anything or matter in any way shape or form, does it? If it mattered, more than 32% of the country would get out and vote these crooks, thieves and tramps out of office. If it mattered there would be a day of action against arseholes like Andrew Lansley, Michael Gove and Nick Clegg EVERY WEEK, not just once every winter equinox.

So enjoy the next few months. Don’t trip over the maypole or the bunting this weekend; when the football arrives, cheer and clap and the local police, the UEFA officials and the TV cameras ignore the Zeig Heil chants and the Nazi Salutes; smirk and laugh as one-by-one cabinet minister after cabinet minister lies his way out of court; stand and salute and sympathize with the judge trying to get to the bottom of this really sordid scandal, only to be left with the head of the odd PM spin doctor, or Eton old boy to show for it;

Wash that MacDonald’s Olympic burger down with your pint of Heineken. That’ll be well worth fifteen quid of anyone’s money. But not mine. I shall be spending the odd £2.60 on a pint in The Shovel then nip across the road to the chip shop, or maybe the kebab house where I can pick up a large meal for the price of a 330ml bottle of imported Olympic lager. Then I’ll nip home to see if there’s any cricket on to watch. There’s no telly in The Shovel, so it’ll be cans of Guinness on the sofa, in front of the box for me. So keep your over-priced games, your over-hyped jubilee, and your über-alles Championship.
I’ll keep my kebab and a pint. You have your Red-White-and-Blue season. I’ll be happy with my Doner Summer.

 

Just the Ticket


Because I am a wonderful son to a doting mother and father, a couple of years ago I purchased 2 tickets to the ATP tennis finals, which is held each year at the millennium bivouac. Being in the lower order of the 2nd and last innings of their lives, they are unlikely to make the trip across London to Wimbledon, and The Tent is only up the road I thought I’d buy them the chance to watch Federer, Nadal, Sour Faced Jock and the rest. They’d love it, thought I. My mum was especially looking forward to it. Being a woman she doesn’t follow real sport so it’s good to get her something she does understand and enjoy. The hairdressers and Bluewater were shut.

So I forked out the considerable sum (I told you it was a while ago) one pays for such event and secured two tickets for the opening night. On the menu was a men’s doubles game, the Scotch geezer vrs Soderling, then a mixed doubles match and lastly Rafa Nadal vrs everyone’s favourite cheating Serb, Novak Djokovic. I’d present to them the tickets, and shortly after receiving my “Son of the Year” award, I would drop mum and dad off as close to the Greenwich landmark (I was living but a couple of miles away then) go home, have a meal, watch a movie, maybe even grab a couple of zeds before it’d be time to pick up the parents again.

All went well at first. Yes, they loved the gift, and were thrilled that they were to see both Djoko and Jocko. On the day, I delivered them to as close to the gate as I could, I then drove home, shoes off and mused about what The Incumbent and I were gonna have for dinner. I suppose it would have been around 4pm. At about 6.10 my phone went. It was mum.

“We’re ready to come home now, Mike” she said.
“What ??” says I. “They can’t have finished four matches in two hours ?”
“No, we’ve been thrown out” she replied, as if that would answer all my questions.
“Thrown out ?” I couldn’t believe it. I started wondering who dad had had a row with for them to be ejected. He can be a bolshie bastard at times. Thanks god I take after mother.

Further investigation and interrogation revealed that the tickets I had bought (a snip at £80 each) were for only the first two matches of the day. “The afternoon session”. I felt such a fool. I should have known from the cheap cost of the seats that one couldn’t expect to pay a mere £160 and see a whole day’s play.

I was fuming. I cannot relay to you effectively just how angry I was. Letters and emails were sent (mum likes writing a shitty letter too) and we all vowed there and then never to darken the Dome’s door again. (I have since broken this vow about 6 times, but at the time I meant it.)

I’ve calmed down now. Really I have. I only bring up the whole sordid story as I was sent just now an email by my old pal Philip who is, shall we say a tad miffed about similar money-grabbing schemes of the water in Olympic Park (“never!” I don’t hear you cry). I’ll let Phil tell the story :

“…[there’s] the shocking revelation that we have failed to buy all the tickets made available in the latest release. Apparently we have passed up on 300,000 and are no longer the greatest sports lovers on the planet. The real shock is how they are getting away with chopping up the sporting day into tiny little parcels are thereby selling the same seat 6 or 7 times a day. You can spend £450 to watch an hour and 5 minutes of moistened bints falling from the high board in the Aquatic centre. 

Tuesday
31 July 2012 
15:00-16:05
Diving Women’s Synchronised 10m Platform Final

Women’s Synchronised 10m Platform Victory Ceremony

Session Code: DV003 Aquatics Centre
£450.00 – AA

£295.00 – A
£185.00 – B
£95.00 – C
£50.00 – D
 
Or if you fancy a bit of Robin Hood at Lords you could pay £65 for a team elimination session that starts at 9 finishes at 10.40 in the morning. You’ll be back out on the pavement before the boozers have even opened.  
Saturday
28 July 2012 
09:00-10:40 Archery Men’s Team 1/8 Eliminations

Session Code: AR003 Lord’s Cricket Ground  £65.00 – A

£45.00 – B
£30.00 – C
£20.00 – D
 

Un-fucking believable.  Athletics is even worse – not that there are any tickets to be had for that. But if you did somehow get that Willy Wonka magic ticket you could easily get lost inside the stadium and get to your seat just in time to meet the bloke who had next use of it settling in.”

And you thought it was just me. Thanks Phil. I know somewhere you can buy a great T-shirt to make your feelings known.

In my mum and dad’s case, dad had just returned to his seat carrying two £7.50 sandwiches, where an overall-dressed worker was cleaning up and clearing away the discarded cups and wrappers from the first session.

“You might as well leave that, mate, we’re still sitting there” pater informed the cleaner.
“No, sir, you have to go now”

Oddly, an argument ensued, ending with dad attempting to insert a subway baguette into an o2 official.

I can’t understand why people get so upset.

The 92m Hurdles


David Cameron‘s  austerity measures savings have surely gone too far now ? According to t’BBC this morning, organisers at an Olympic warm-up event clearly decided to cut back on the amount of obstacles an athlete has to negotiate during a race:

Jessica Ennis was denied a personal best in the 100m hurdles at the Great CityGames in Manchester because only nine of the necessary 10 barriers were laid out by the organisers. The Team GB heptathlete clocked 12.75 seconds but her time does not stand.

Ennis said: “I am so annoyed. I still had a good competitive race, but I’ve just not got the result I wanted.”

Dwain Chambers finished second in the 150m, his first race since learning he can compete at London 2012 .
Ennis was delighted with her performance, but said she “can’t believe” the “massive, massive mess-up” with the number of hurdles.” (BBC ont’line)

Now I’m no great fan of Seb Coe (I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that before) but even the most one-eyed London 2012 supporter would agree with me that upsetting the golden girl of Team GB is possibly not the publicity the sport needs. Especially when all the other preparations are going so well and been received so readily and happily by the public. Apart from the ticketing fiascos. And the announcements of travel disruption. And the £1 surcharge on postage during the games. And the £95 fee for a boat trip. And….  oh you know.

So I’m looking forward to other cost-cutting measures and reduced events. I hear we stand pretty decent chances of gold in the 4×35 yards relay, the 1m Catapult, the Uniathlon (centred around the kiddies boating pond in Greenwich Park) and, of course, the 2 Day event.

And when I say Gold medals, they’ll be last year’s left over Christmas tree decorations.

Who Do You think You’re Kidding?


Things are definitely changing around here, and some of them not for the best.

I took off this morning on another one of what my doctor, Mr Lansley, calls “life-extending promenades” this morning. I know he means well but I’m not sure Dr Lansley understands just how far “a half hour’s walk” is. Or, come to that, if he understands anything at all about my health. Anyway, the novelty of the yomp to the post office is wearing off already so today I decide to turn the other way into the village itself. This way is a little more interesting as I pass by or through all the hustle and bustle which country life can offer.

I therefore reach the top of the lane and turn left this time, past the school with its newly installed metal detector and courtesy black maria which the children seem to find very interesting indeed. I stand to watch several of them playing a game of Hopscotch (or HopCaledonian as they are told to call it nowadays) through and around the metal detector. I started to reminisce about my time at the school and all the lovely knife-free years I enjoyed there, before I am awakened from my daydream and shooed away by a man pointing a Taser and wearing a flak jacket in school colours. I am a mixture of embarrassed and annoyed, but in any case shuffle off in the direction of the newsagent’s and the football fields beyond.

I no longer use this newsagent. I spent years gleaning from it all the info about the outside world I could. It was a lovely sight. A lovely big sign outside reading “The Village News” above the window was flanked by smaller ones of a bygone day: The News Of the World, News Shopper and even Horse&Hound were all represented in enamel signs down the sides of the shop. Proudly and efficiently run by old Mr Turnbull and his younger wife Susanna, it was a constant source of news, gossip and entertainment.

Sadly, as in everything nowadays, the shop has had a makeover, renamed itself “T’News of T’Village” and is daubed with posters for the Yorkshire Post, Salford Sentinel, and Whippet Magazine. The shop window has been widened, the counter brought closer to the door, and there’s even a space in the background for customers to enjoy a cappuccino or a flat white, run by the serial liar Mrs Kirkwood. (Amazing they haven’t pensioned her off yet.) The company has brought in a whole new staff to help out old Bill. I went in there one Sunday afternoon and found Jack Duckworth and Seth Armstrong serving. I had not a clue what they were on about and left sharply, never to return.

Mr Turnbull takes to the streets to sell the riveting Tameside Express

For your information I now pop along to Mr Humphrys who runs the paper stand on the corner. He doesn’t carry any of the tabloids or the magazines, and is only interested in the broadsheets, but at least I can understand what he’s talking about. And he and his friend Mr Naughtie (“Naughty Naughtie”, my mum calls him) do have a laugh when one of them accidentally mispronounces Mr Jeremy Hunt‘s name.  The only alternative place to get my news from is Holmes’– the convenience store in the high street. But I fear that if the manager, Eamonn, doesn’t stop tucking into the pasties (“well, no-one else is buying them any more”) they’ll be no room for anyone to get into the shop to buy anything. Fat eejit, so ye are.

As I passed them, Old Bill had young Charlie helping him pile up sandbags outside the door of the shop. They looked very sad. Mrs Kirkwood had her sunglasses on, so I knew it was about to rain. I put up my brolly, upped the pace to a stroll and continued up the path.

The school football pitches lay silent, save for the rustling of Ginsters Dwarf packets being blown about in the goal netting, and old Mr Fry, the omnipresent caretaker re-marking out the lines with his trusty, squeaky wheely machine. I’m sure that’s not what it’s called and that Mr Fry would take the time to tell me, at length, what its real name is, but I intentionally don’t catch his eye. I’m getting bored of him telling me everything about everything. It seems like he’s everywhere I go. And he keeps asking me to follow him. It’s creepy, I reckon. Why he doesn’t find himself a nice wife I’ll never know.

A small boy is told that Mr Moon is unable to play at the village concert.

Much excitement was to be had, apparently, up at these pitches at the weekend as two of the immigrant boys did frightfully well in their respective soccer matches. Young Fernando scored three goals. IN ONE MATCH. Putting to bed the fear had by his new PE master, Signor Baldio, that the boy needed to be fitted with calipers to sort his legs and feet out.

Over on another pitch, little Adolf Suarez also scored three times, even though parents were assured at christmas that he was to be expelled for calling some of the other boys “Schwartzers”.  His coach, Mr Kenneth Gorbals (pronounced Goebbels), sadly now blind in both eyes, did offer something by way of excuse, but no-one understood him. And on Pitch 3 John the School Bully amazed everyone by staying on the pitch for the whole of the match, and without abusing or maiming anyone. He got rather excited when he scored a goal, but his dad rushed on to the field of play and administered some pills, which he’d secreted in a little baggie down his sock. After the match ‘Bully’ was seen talking to the nurse, Mrs Bridge who seemed to be backing in to him. A lot.

It’s sad to think that in a matter of weeks the pitches and the ancient trees that surround them will be dug up and tarmacked over for use as an Olympic car park. Oh well, we all have to do our bit, I suppose. What’s hundreds of years of history and a few old Oaks when compared to ensuring the success of a corporate carve-up sports tournament ?

The Terry family takes on the Suarezes in a friendly kick about on Sunday morning.

The school’s newly-appointed Temporary Chief Coach, Mr W.O.T. Wovers (Cantab) said that he was “wery happy with all the boys he’d seen in twaining” and that he was confident in their ability to do well in the tournament this summer “especially against fwance and the Ukwaine”.

On the far side of the football pitches I could see the SBS training in the village pond. Their activity was only hampered by having to steer their boats around the Astute-class nuclear submarine which the Royal Navy have parked, sorry moored in our pond, much to the annoyance of both the ducks and the local flasher.  Sadly, since the local ARP warden, Mr Johnson, announced that our village was a prime Al Qaeda target this summer, the whole place has been a hive of activity, with varying degrees of success and popularity.

The site for the gun emplacement – originally destined to be on top of the Conservative Club – has been moved (thank the Lord) and will stand proudly, perched on top of the ICU building at the local Hospital. Mr Johnson tells us that, not only will this deter the “Mad Raghead Mullahs” from bombing our NHS hospital, but it will ensure the general security and safety of all those waiting hours in corridors to be seen by the woefully short-handed staff”. I can certainly see that no right-minded burglar would want to break into the hospital now.

A crack team of nurses abandon their posts at the gun emplacement as they
remember they’ve left an elderly patient alone with young Dr Shipman

As I turned for home, I paused for a moment and removed my cap as a funeral cortege passed by. They were burying old Mrs Blears who died suddenly and horribly in a freak razor-wire accident. She was wrapping the aforementioned wire around her chimney in an effort to dissuade the Taliban from mounting an attack on her home, when she slipped and fell through the wire to the ground. Only the wire catching her across the neck and in her mop of lovely ginger hair saved her fall. Sadly she died from the injuries sustained. Had she been rescued in time she may have lived. Apparently she hung there for four weeks before anyone noticed she’d gone. One neighbour said “I’m so relieved she’s dead: I thought I’d gone deaf”. Another was quoted as saying “Let’s just remember what she did for us and for herself and enjoy the peace and silence now she’s gone”.

I buy my paper from Mr Humphry’s I see that they’ve decided to allow drug users to represent the village in the summer sports day. That’s good. It’ll give School Bully something to do in the closed season. I did see his dad and Mr Chambers having a good old chin-wag earlier (which is strange, given Mr Chambers’ colour), but I’m sure whatever was said could be easily taken out of context.

Ok, gotta go now. Have to buy one of Mr Coe’s lottery tickets for a place in the Air Raid shelter. S’funny, I always thought there’d be a place for all of us in the shelter when the time finally came, given all the taxes we’ve paid over the years and how long we’ve lived here. Not to mention that many of us had to move out of home to allow Mr Coe to build that big bunker of his. But apparently some seats have to be reserved for special friends of Mr Coe, and their friends and their families. Which is only right, I suppose.

Cry ‘God for Appy Arry, England, and Saint George!’


Ah! April 23rd, Shakespeare’s Birthday and the day when all us English are supposed to celebrate the mighty knight, Saint George, slaying that nasty old dragon. Over the past few years there’s been a push (mainly by beer companies) for the English to get off their apathetic arses and celebrate their national day in the same, irritating manner that the Irish do for theirs on Paddy’s Day, the Jocks get out their lucky fivers on St Andy’s Day and the Yanks do on July 4th. And Christ, don’t we all get to hear about it.

You can sense the gradual crescendo of a slow, dull rumbling of a bandwagon every year with this year being earmarked as a particular one for celebration, it being both Olympic Year and the year of the Royal Jubilee .

Woo Hoo, as I’m told they say.

As I glance through the stained glass window of the potting shed, I can see on the barn opposite, two flags of St George hanging limply in the breeze, placed on poles by the local squire’s wife in a vain effort to rouse the rabble into another verse or two of Land of Hope & Glory or even Jerusalem. You’ll have read previous posts such as The Official Weedkiller of the England Football Team and taken on board my thoughts regarding our flag, so you can imagine how many I have hung out over the shed this morning.

However, each to his own, and I don’t need to go intruding on anyone’s merriment and celebrations, just because I have no interest in them at all. Yes I think the country would be a better place without the monarchy, but not to the extent I want to start burning down The Reichstag…. sorry, I mean Buckingham Palace. If people want to celebrate them, let them do so. I have much more and bigger fish to fry before I start getting het up over all that.

You will have noticed that I’m not a particular fan of Seb Coe‘s and Boris Johnson’s corporate carve-up taking place in London this summer. Whoop de-Do. I love my sport, I just can’t stand how Seb and his cronies have made such a bollock-up of the whole thing, while making sure every single penny is squeezed out of yer average sports fan and, while they’re at it, London resident. Sure, go ahead, knock yourself out with excitement as the runners, the jumpers the cyclists and the drug-takers come to town. Just include me out. I always cheer for the English team, whatever the sport. And my support will still be with Team GB this time. I just won’t run my life by what or how Seb and his PR firm, the BBC, tell me to this summer.

The Occupy London mob want to “reclaim the streets” during the Olympic Games. Really? Why would you wanna do that, then ? By all means shout your protests in a democratic manner from the top of a building, plaster the walls with banners, wear particularly clever and high quality tee shirts designed to illustrate your displeasure at the disruption to your city this year (and available at a very competitive rate right here – while stocks last). But causing disruption to the events, staging sit down protests in the stadium is one way to lose all public support for any legitimate beef you might have (see that arsehole Trenton Oldfield at the Boat Race) as well as risking a javelin in the goolies.

So I might take a mate up to The Shovel in a minute and no-doubt, Hilda the landlady will have festooned the place with pics of the Royals, the St George’s Cross and Union Jacks. The resident UKIP Nazis who are permanent fixtures at the bar will be waxing lyrical about how the country would be better without the “muslims, wogs and Ken Livingstone.” (I’ve heard it all before.)

Enjoy your local pub tonight, it’ll be fun. Enjoy too the gits in red-and-white plastic bowler hats singing Rule Britannia to you outside the chipshop as you make your way home, and that girl in the Abercrombie & Fitch shirt, hitch up her miniskirt to take a leak in the charity shop doorway. It’ll make you proud to be English. In mine, the knuckle-draggers will be on to “how the fuck can Arry be England manager when Tottenham are a bag o shite ?” (another perennial.) And like the Royal Jubilee or London 2012, I shall ignore all that, sup gently on my pint and wait for it all to be over. Bring on the Ryder Cup.

In Chambers, Balding Out, Bernie In.


Qualifying Session: Trouble with the fuel pump in the McLaren Pit

This’ll shock you: I’m not an expert on Bahrain Politics. Every morning for the past week the BBC has been reporting on the protests in the Bahrain capital of Manama ahead of this weekend’s F1 Grand Prix. The Beeb, who coincidentally last season lost it’s right to exclusively cover F1, has devoted extensive coverage (or as extensive a coverage as the Bahrain govt will allow) of the protests against the shocking human rights violations, and against the Formula 1 juggernaut staging a show at this time.

Amazingly, and what really amazed me, the Crown Prince of Bahrain thinks the race should go ahead. As does Bernie Ecclestone. The BBC actually bothered to broadcast that interview. Hold that front page. Bernie, sounding more and more like Porky Pig as he’s asked to justify racing during the start of a revolution may as well have said “Erbederbederbederbe th th th that’s all folks”. This race means a lot of cash for Bernie and F1 and he wasn’t about to start giving coherent answers to pertinent questions just to satisfy news outlets.

Mountains to climb: Bernie Ecclestone (bottom left hand corner)

Instead he went down the “never mix sport with politics” line. A line he conveniently forgot a few years ago when he was bunging Tony Blair a million quid. It’ll be tough for Bernie to regain and rebuild his reputation after this one (what am I saying ?? WHAT reputation ?) especially after the F1 road show moves on in the next few weeks to the Burmese, North Korean and the ever-popular 1930s Germany Grand Prix(s). [subs: please fill in here the plural of Prix]

True to form, the British Government have been Chocolate Teapotting this one. Not a word has come from Cameron or the Tory govt (I think we can forget the Con-Dems now, as they’re even lagging behind UKIP in the polls) about not traveling to Bahrain, or propping up an evil society (and how could they, indeed? ). So the Democracy movement in Manama is left to fend for itself. Protestors on the streets of the capital, petrol bombs thrown at tanks and armoured cars. I woke this morning to hear on the radio to reports of columns of tanks forming on the city streets, which at first I mis-heard as “the re-formation of Manama Armour ” Thanks god I was mistaken. No-one needs to hear their version of Venus again.

Manama Armour: Terrifying

It fills me with nostalgia seeing wave after wave of F1 drivers lined up in front of the cameras  to trot out lines such as “sport is the most important thing” (Felipe Massa) . Similar stuff was script-written for the rebel cricket tours of South Africa in the 1980s and 90s when the cream of English cricket disgustingly ignored the plight of black and coloured South Africans under the apartheid regime and took part in a series of matches which many saw as an endorsement of the racist system and administration. The players were exiled from the sport thereafter, but many (or even most) have been reinstated to some of the highest positions the game can offer. It’s not something the sport should be proud of.

"This has nothing to do with the huge wads of cash on offer". Mike Gatting, future English Head of Selectors David Graveney and John Embury before the 1990 Rebel Tour to Suth Africa.

I don’t expect for one minute they will down-tools and come out on the side of the trodden masses. I suspect the Bernie’s hierarchy (or lowerarchy in his case) has the morals and conscience of the Dwayne Chambers Fan Club. Chambers looks like he’s going to win his case against the British Olympic Committee‘s by-law ruling that the drug-taking sprinter should be barred from competing at the Stratford Sports Day this summer. He and the other cheat (that we know of), cyclist David Millar look likely to be allowed to race alongside others who took the rather naive route of hard work, good diet and hard training to achieve their goals. Well Done the Olympic Movement !! Do you have anything else up your sleeve which may make these games less attractive to watch ?

In completely unrelated news, Caster Semenya has qualified to represent South Africa by two balls to none (Duckworth-Lewis method).

Now the good news: Claire Balding is to leave the BBC, probably to go a work for the Channel 4 Racing team, where her anticipated teaming up with John McCririck seems likely to be the first X-Rated horse racing coverage on British TV. I’m having nightmares about it already. Balding will leave after the BBC (yes, I am having a go at them again) shed their responsibility of covering the Grand National and therefore just about their entire racing coverage. No great shakes, you might think. But for me it means La Balding won’t be popping her fat head and chin up during coverage of any of the remaining sport which the state broadcaster clings on to.

Balding (left) the new female to McCririck ?

Rapidly fashioning herself as a poor man’s Steve Ryder, Claire will now doubtless be employed to take the piss out the teeth of competitors at the Paralympics, which only Channel 4 have the rights to. Imagine ie: Balding, McCririck and Hopeless Deley. What a missed opportunity.

Finally, the cheering yet astounding news that Fabrice Muamba may play soccer again. In an interview to be published in tomorrow’s Sun on Sunday (let me know how it reads, will you ?)  describes how, even though they are baffled by what happened to him and his heart, doctors have not ruled out the possibility of the 24 year old Bolton FC footballer playing the game again. The popular midfielder “died” on the pitch for 78 minutes last month (please, no Charlton jokes here) yet the chances are he will play again. Truly amazing and inspiring.

My doctor told me this week that there’s no chance of playing cricket all the time I’m still taking Warfarin.  The chances of nicking myself and spurting blood all over my short and square legs is too much of a risk to take. So that rules out another season for me. He did, however reckon I’ll be able to play golf, “no problem at all”. Which will be a first for me.

Now back to Ted Kravitz in the Pit Lane.

Polls Apart


Don’t you hate it when you’re told what to think ? Tune into the 6 o’clock or 10 o’clock news and get bombarded with stories stoking up the ‘excitement’ in anticipation of the Olympic Games and the patriotic revelry over HMQs 60th Jubilee. Everyone’s excited, everyone’s throwing a street party/volunteering to help/ buying a ticket/wearing a funny hat cos THE WHOLE OF THE COUNTRY LOVES IT !!!!!. Really ? Come down my street, mate and test the waters. You could cut the atmosphere with a block of  lard. But there is no doubt that all of us are behind both Brenda and Seb when it comes to this year’s celebrations – well, not according to the force-fed stories the Beeb are putting out. There’s nothing like objective journalism, and this is nothing like it.

If you’ve been watching the BBC’s coverage of the London Mayoral election, you could be forgiven for thinking there were only two candidates – Bonkers Boris Johnson and Honest Ken Livingstone (and by the way, Manchester, Brimingham, Glasgow et all, you ARE interested in all this:cos the BBC TELLS you that you are, that’s why). Admittedly, between them they do make a riveting contest, albeit in the way that watching two grandmothers argue over who’s gonna look after the grandkids is riveting. Mind you, I’ve yet to hear any nan in my family call the other a “fucking liar” as Boris did to Ken after their LBC bust up this week.

With a month or so still to go, I’m sure someone will dig something up on the other one which will tip the balance at the polls, but my bet is both will distance themselves from their party leaders over in Westminster – two of the most loathed men in the kingdom. Ken and Boris are bright enough to employ that bargepole when Dave and Milibean come to town, and who can blame them ?

But there are others involved in this contest. The other coalition candidate is Pc McGarry Number 452. Brian Paddick is gay, a former policeman and Liberal Democrat. (yes I know, Monty Python’s sketch when a quiz contestants hobbies are “golf, masturbation and strangling animals” springs to mind). Paddick came out and admitted his sexuality as a way to divert attention that he was a Liberal Democrat.

As a copper, Brian was and is one of the very few not to currently be under investigation for racial abuse, or arrested for his dealings with News International. So a Copper and a LibDem. The rush of the electorate scrambling to vote for him will be deafening. Nice bum, though.

The BNP triumphantly announced that their candidate was to be  their press officer Carlos Cortiglia. The more alert of you will notice a less than British ring to his name. Carlos was born in Uruguay to parents of Italian and Spanish ancestry then moved to England in 1989, presumably on his never-ending quest to find a someone who doesn’t feel the urge to slap that face. The Nazis see his appointment as proof that the BNP are no racists. As their website puts it “So much for ‘xenophobic’!” British National Party chooses Italian for London mayor“. It certainly has already proved to be a little taxing for the knuckle-draggers in my local pub l as the regulars debate on the merits of choosing between “a bender, a wop and a commie” (I am unsure which one of these descriptions was aimed at Boris ).

UKIP seem like they’ve finally decided to call it a day and not put up a candidate for the post. At least it looks like that when you see the list of candidates. But on further investigation into Lawrence Webb reveals that, although he is standing on the ticket of “Fresh Choice for London”, he is in fact he UKIP candidate. Perhaps they thought having UKIP, BNP and LibDem on the polling card would split the Complete Cvnt vote ? (there’s also a bit of a visual clue to who he represents in some of the photos of him they’re touting about.

Then there’s the token genuinely independent candidate, Siobhan Benita, who is the daughter of an Anglo-Indian mum and Cornish dad (more issues which I’m sure Carlos and Lawrence would dearly love to chat to her about as she’s deported).

Benita has several obvious advantages over her rivals: 1) she’s a woman; 2) she’s not Ken; 3) or Boris; 4) she doesn’t look like a complete bonkeroonee crook (note I said she doesn’t look like one – I stand to be corrected) . She has been accused of playing the ‘babe’ card, but let’s be honest if you look like she does and stand next to any of the above, how can the fact that you don’t make people feel physically ill not be worth promoting.

Which brings me nicely to our final contestant, Jenny Jones, representing the Hosepipe Ban party. Somewhere in East Sussex, there’s a room full of hessian-wearing 70s throwbacks who thought picking a bona fide loony would be a good idea. Jenny wants us all to return to wearing Wode and get our water from droplets left on rose petals. It’s difficult to vote for a political party who’s policies to bring us out of recession start and end at forcing the army to wear British-made organically-grown wicker helmets. She also looks like an explosion in a Scary Spice factory, but that would be too cruel to point out.

Don’t forget to register to vote.  Oooh! me minge.

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