What Would Mr Yeatman Do ?


Church of England in crisis talks over resignations at St Paul’s Cathedral.

BREAKING NEWS:

Mr Yeatman has come out in favour of taxing bank transactions.

Advertisements

This Happy Breed


Happiness. It’s good to be happy, innit? With the country on the Fritz, the economy in freefall, your trusty black dog scratching at your bedroom door to persuade you to get up and face the world, and with no obvious light at the end of the tunnel (apart from the light of that oncoming train) it’s amazing what small Murphys we thank heaven for, what little ray of sunshine peaks through the clouds and lifts our hearts to cheer up our miserable fucking lives.

Take the recent romp and pomp up in Westminster Abbey. Now I like a wedding as much as the next bloke, though I’d much rather be an innocent bystander than active participant, of course. I can’t imagine flying across the world, or even hopping on a train for 40 minutes to go and celebrate the wedding of a couple whom I’d never met, nor ever likely to meet. But that’s what a million or so folk did last Friday. Unbelievable. I haven’t seen that many happy people in London since Robert Maxwell went for a dip off the back of his boat


Oops! Sorry, wrong one.


Tented villages appeared along the pavements in The Mall and Whitehall as people camped out overnight, overnight mark you, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the happy couple. Union flags (or is it Jacks?) were waved by small children and large Americans in front of the mass ranks of cameras as the world’s tv crews went in search of the happiest/daftest/fattest fans of the soon-to-be Duke and Duchess of Neasden South, or wherever it is.

So many smiling faces. So much glee. So much joy. The BBC’s Welsh anchor (subs please check) Huw Ewards (fablaas) led us through the streets of London like a fat Ralph McTell pointing out the who’s who and the where’s where of the unfolding events. He never did quite manage to explain who and why a bunch of guests were crammed into minibuses, or indeed who was in charge of the beer and sandwiches therein. Nor did he quite explain fully what an avenue of trees  was doing inside the Abbey but suggested it was “Catherine’s idea”. It was unclear whether Huw offered this as an explanation or an excuse. No matter, nothing could dim the crowd’s enthusiasm for anything and everything on this, the most British of Days.

Inside the Abbey, the mood was a little more reserved, but none-the-less joyous. Not that you’d know it from the faces of Charlie, Liz and Phil.T.Greek. They don’t do unbridled rapture, that lot, so you had to look for clues elsewhere. The cameras cut and panned from guest to guest, accompanied by Huw’s less-than-Dimbleby-esque commentary. The Incumbent and I settled down agog (or is it twogog) in front of the tv set to see who was wearing what and why. Ah there’s the Queen Mother and at least she looks like she’s enjoying herself.  There’s even a little tear in her eye, though I’m suprised she was allowed to bring a corgi with her….hang on…wait a minute.. that’s not the Queen Mum at all. She’s dead for starters. No, no, no…that’s Elton John. And that corgi’s her husband!

Souvenir Royal plate by Vic Reeves and Alan Parris. http://www.aylesfordpottery.co.uk/

Mrs Cameron looked like she had just popped out for a bottle of milk. The Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice pulled off the coup of out-uglying both the Duchess of Ming (she must never be queen) and Tara Palmer Tompkinson combined (there must surely be a by-law that prevents them being let out in public?).

Outside the hordes of happy little people waved and cheered and waved some more as if it was the happiest day of their lives and they didn’t want it to ever end. My feelings were different in just two ways. For me it was nearly over almost as soon as it begun. No sooner had the welsh commentator introduced the welsh Archbishop of Canterbury, the organist wound up the opening bars of Guide Me Oh thou Great Redeemer and the BBC quickly cut back to an interview with a welsh harpist, I found myself uncontrollably feeling for the off-switch. But I was headed off at the pass by The Incumbent who was finding the whole proceedings hilarious. Apart from wondering why they hadn’t gone the whole hog and held the wedding at Cardiff Arms Park, I had to agree. There was much mirth to be had, if you looked in the right places.

I may not have been smiling for any of the reasons that those bedecked in red white and blue were smiling, but the whole day had for a moment distracted me from unemployment, poverty and my general chien noir malaise. If you can’t titter at a guardsman saluting mid-air as the Queen gets out of the car via the wrong door then you are dead from the neck up.

Talking of which, at time of writing we’re still yet to see the photos of Osama Bin Laden‘s corpse. Many people out there still refuse to believe that the US military finally caught up with the Al Qaeda Laeda and are demanding proof. For others, the news of his death proved too much for them and their happiness was all-too-apparent as they jumped up and down in the streets of Washington and New York, waving the Stars and Stripes (or is it strips?), merrily singing USA! USA! USA! (words & music by George and Ira Gershwin).

Wave after wave of baseball cap-wearing college student chanted and waved for any poor cameraman unlucky enough to have been given the assignment to go film them. The waving of flags (and indeed the burning of them) seems to be a pastime especially made for the cameras. Over the years the amount of US, British, Danish, Israeli, Hamas and Iraqi flags which have been waved and/or burned for the benefit of “news” organisations is really quite staggering. If the camera hadn’t been invented the flag-and-cigarette-lighter industry would be in grave peril of collapsing altogether. As it is, there were no shortage of gleeful Americans who were happy to party like it was 1994 for the benefit of CBS, FOX or the BBC. They’ll be the same ones who will shout insults and hurl abuse at the Muslims doing similar after the inevitable Al Qaeda retaliation. Ho hum. Pass me that tin hat will you, dear?

The CIA and the Whitehouse are discussing whether the pics of Bin Laden’s mashed-up body are too gruesome for public viewing. Having seen the Royal Family in their full glory last week, I doubt if the Americans have anything to frighten us.

Be Happy.

Ashes to Ashes


freephoto.com

Dearly Beloved…

Ever go to a funeral (at a crematorium) when the vicar’s opening gambit was “Christ that’s cold outside, much warmer in here” ?  I did yesterday.

Ever been to one where a whole row of the congregation spontaneously burst into laughter when the organist opened up with “The Lord’s My Shepherd” ?  Don’t ask me why but that’s what happened at the service where I was.

At any of the funerals which you’ve attended in the past, did any of the mourners talk loudly about last night’s television throughout the vicar’s opening address, completely drowning out what he had to say about the deceased ? Or did any think wearing white puffer jackets was de rigueur ? Again, some of those gathered yesterday did.

I’ve watched comedy shows or movies where a hapless hero rushes in late to a funeral service, makes a kerfuffle coming through the door, prompts the back row of the mourners shuffle along the pews, and plonks himself down to listen to the service. Three minutes later he still hasn’t seen anyone or heard anything vaguely relevant to the deceased and it dawns on him that he’s at the wrong service. He leaps to his feet and exits (noisily) back out of the door from whence he came to find the correct chapel of rest. Classic Richard Curtis-type stuff and as hackneyed a sit-com scene as they come. Except this is exactly what happened at this very same funeral yesterday, I kid you not. I looked at The Incumbent, but she dared not catch my eye for fear of giggling. I scanned the room for hidden cameras.

Things started to calm down a bit so I could stop biting my lip. The vicar delivered a lovely service, eulogy, whatever before he read the Committal. As he made his speech of send-off, the curtains gradually drew closed on the coffin and he committed the poor soul’s body to the ground. This is a particularly painful and emotional moment at any funeral service. Certainly was yesterday as he got the deceased’s name completely and utterly wrong. Presumably he was reading from the day before’s notes. I gripped tightly onto The Incumbent’s hand, my eyes snapped shut.  An audible gasp swept through the congregation.

Outside in the rose garden afterwards it was as if nothing had happened. Old ladies thanked the vic for a “luvverly service”, people commented on how wonderful it was that so many had come “to see the old girl off” (though no mention was made of mystery late arrival who didn’t appear to still be here). The missus and I suggested that it had been a service fit for Dick Emery. That fell on deaf ears.

But that’s the thing about funerals: as miserable as you are (or as one supposes you are) there are rarely few repercussions or altercations following what went on during the service. Tell a dodgy joke at a wedding, or get the bride’s name wrong and there’s a massive punch-up in the car park. But at a funeral, wear something more appropriate for a snowboarding weekend than for burying your nan, or commit the body of Violet Hodgson to the ground, when body is that of Elsie Thwaites then you’re all invited back to the house “for a nice cup of tea”.

“Now let us stand and sing our last hymn : “Down Down, Deeper and Down



Preferred Lies


About this time a two years ago I was in Kentucky trying to find a decent pint. A bunch of selected chums and I had gone over there to lay to rest the myth that the colony had thrown away the recipe for beer when they threw all that tea into the water in Boston a few years ago.

We were also there, of course, to witness one of the world’s great sporting events: The Ryder Cup. A couple of us had been to one before, in Spain 1997, and it was an experience we wanted to repeat. The build-up the matches was electric. Louisville had been invaded by thousands of European fans, including seemingly half of Ireland, and the locals couldn’t have been nicer about it (especially after they realised how much Guinness they were gonna sell that week).

The US fans were passionate about a victory which had eluded them for several years and they did their very best to cheer their team on as American captain Paul Azinger‘s 12 men visited the bars and restaurants down the main drag the night before the match. Every steakhouse and every bourbon house rang to the sound of the American chant:

USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! “USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!”

It was impressive stuff. American fists were pumping, the US flags were waving and, having failed to find a decent local brew, we sank endless pints of Irish stout, soaking up both the alcohol and the atmosphere. One woman tapped me on my shoulder.
“Please tell your friends that we’re not all like that” she said, motioning towards a crowd of jumping, star spangled piss-heads in full rabble-rousing flow.
“Don’t be daft” says I “there’s nothing wrong in cheering for your team. We’re loving it”. It was true, too. I’d never seen this sort of patriotic fervour up close and whatever side you were rooting for, it was pretty impressive.
“We just wish you’d get yourself a better song” I added.”

Our team warm up. That shirt still doesn't fit me.

The whole week’s experience was truly sensational. The golf was mesmerising, especially by US team, and the fans were nothing if not generous, friendly and fair. We’d arrived with the slight worry that they wouldn’t respect either spirit of the competition or the etiquette of a golf crowd. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Yes they were loud, yes they where one-eyed, but they were shouting for the home team, and no-one could have denied them that.

“USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! “USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!”

We tried to join in, but couldn’t remember the words.

One damper on the whole proceedings was when the bars were shut on the Sunday morning (they play God Squad rules over there), but we managed to survive on coke and muffins until the allotted opening time. As we sat there on that final day, perched above the 9th green and witnessed the gradual collapse of the Europeans, our new american friends were truly kind and sympathetic to our plight. They neither gushed nor gloated. I like to think we were magnanimous in defeat.

As we shook hands and said our goodbyes one elderly woman said to us “See you in Wales in two years”
“Sod that!” said our Gary “We’ll see you in Chicago in four”
“You guys not going to Newport?” asked her husband incredulously
“Nah” squarked our Gavin, “It’s a khazi and it’ll be underwater in October”.

I don’t think she knew what “khazi” meant. She gave signs of understanding “underwater”.

I didn’t sleep much last night. So excited about this weekend. Genuinely nervous. I’m spending the whole three days lying on the couch, not intending to miss a shot. Went downstairs at 6 am to make a cup of tea and prepare. Put the fire on warm and curl up on the couch. I can get a decent pint from my fridge when I need one (it won’t be long).

It’s been pissing down on the course all night. The course is sodden. Underwater. They’re playing preferred lies. The rain in Wales in October is torrential. Now who could have predicted that?

A Foreign Visitor


Fears that his arrival would be greeted with apathy were allayed last night when literally some people turned out in London to greet His Holiness Trevor the Last on his In-a-State visit to Britain. His huge mass was celebrated as crowds waited for him to turn several bottles of wine into water. Prayers were said for the tragic loss of his dress sense. Later today the Plastered Parisian Pontiff is expected to make a public apology for years of liver-abuse.

Fast Food


I’ve come to a decision. I don’t think I’ll become a muslim.

It’s not that I have anything against Islam, certainly no more (or less) than I have against any religion. Everyone has to believe in something, whether it’s God, Allah, Charlton winning the league or a lottery win. Personally I don’t think going to church is the way forward, but I maybe wrong. If you took away religion, money, Owen Wilson, guns, George Osborne and Carlsberg Special Brew I reckon we could pretty much eradicate violence in society once and for all, but that’s just one man’s opinion.

If I did become a muslim I’m bound to forget to pray 5 times a day, unless I organised myself to get out the prayer mat every third time I took a book to the loo, but I fear people would get bored of stepping over me, down on my knees as I bowed my head to Allah, the only God, in the toilets down at my local pub. Anyway, I think Mecca is in the direction of those machines on the wall, which would look very odd indeed if I was caught praying to them.

One upside would be I wouldn’t have to shave, letting the old salt ‘n’ pepper whiskers go all Cat Stevens on me, and I also quite fancy myself in a dishdasha – one of those full-length garments which middle eastern guys wear. I’d be able to strut around like Peter O’Toole and the loose fitting robe would cover up my ever-growing midriff – these trousers are cutting me in half.

But the reason I know I could never convert to Islam is that I get hungry. And thirsty. All the time. This of course wouldn’t be a problem for most of the year, but during Ramadan I’d struggle. Through a normal working day (more of that later) I’ll happily graze constantly on whatever comes to mouth, stuffing my little fat chops with sweeties, crisps, sandwiches, biscuits etc, punctuated by cups of tea, coffee, premium lager – that sort of thing.

But if I took up the Islamic faith I’d have to deal with fasting. Every ninth month of their calender I’d have to abstain from eating, drinking and sexual relations from dawn until sunset. Now obviously there are some things you don’t mind giving up for a good cause but eating and drinking aren’t two of them. If I was to sit at home all day (as has been my wont recently) not being able to eat or drink, never mind not have sexual relations (does that include with oneself ? hope not) I’d not only feel faint, but I’d go a funny shape. A day at work, with all the distractions of coffee bars, canteens, Pret A Mangers and suchlike, would be unbearable if a nil-by-mouth regime was to be followed.

You don’t burn (or at least I don’t burn) many calories while sitting at a desk or using a computer, but it’d take a monumental effort to survive all day without so much as a Dunkin Donut to keep my strength up. Imagine what it would be like working on a building site or a fireman or some other profession which required physical labour, some exertion from which a sweat was raised.

Take the Pakistan cricket team, for example. They’re playing England at the moment in a Test Series which involves them batting, running, throwing and catching (sometimes) for up to seven hours a day for five straight days presumably without so much as a sip of Lucozade Sport to keep their strength up. In these modern times of professional sport there is always a get-out, of course. The Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed said. “”A player’s decision to fast is between himself and God. We don’t get involved in this matter. We don’t mix sport and religion. It is up to the individual concerned.” Given how devout the faithful can be, there would doubtless be a lot of soul-searching in the dressing room before the opening bowler allows himself to tuck into a Big Mac and Coke to keep up his blood sugar levels.

But at least their management seem to be taking the sensible position. You can’t have a player keeling over at short square leg at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, just because he hasn’t had anything since that bowl of Cheerios at 5.30 this morning. I know I’d be having dizzy spells by 11am if I observed the fast. And that’s another thing I wouldn’t be if I did: Fast. Old ladies would be able to bowl faster than me if I couldn’t eat constantly throughout the day.

In Soccerland a couple of weeks ago Ali Karimi, an Iranian footballer known as the “Maradona of Asia”, was fired by his club for failing to fast. On it’s website Tehran-based Steel Azin FC claims Karimi, once the Asian Player of the Year, “insulted officials of the [Iranian] football federation and the Tehran team’s supervisor who confronted him on the issue”. Well I’ve never been named Asian Player of the Year, or even Ageing Player of the Year (though as a schoolboy goalie I used to be known as “The Gary Sprake of Barnehurst”), but I suspect poor old Karimi would have to take lesson’s from my delivery of an insult should anyone in my dressing room attempt to deprive me of my isotonic pork pie at half time.

I managed to pick up 4 days work this week at The It Is Are You On Sunday and jolly good it was too, especially as there were numerous tvs dotted around the office on which to enjoy the cricket during the very rare occasion I found myself with nothing to do. As I trawled my way through both the very decent workload and the myriad of eating establishments dotted along High Street Kensington I watched my current sporting heroes make Keema out of the Pakistan bowling attack I allowed myself to dream of making a lot of runs and taking a karahi full of wickets this weekend. Little did I know that at that very moment the opposition were crying off, having lost several players to the start of the soccer season and to Bank Holiday domestic duties.

The crossover end of the season is always a bugger, as rugby and soccer-playing cricketers feel the need to pack away their bats and boxes, strap on the shinpads or insert the gumshields. It’s a bugger but at least it’ll give my achilles ankle and my achilles knee further time to recover from the last match, and next time I’m called upon to perform I shall be injury free, a spring in my step and a Ginsters cornish pasty in my pocket. Insha’Allah.

Bless You My Child


My 15 yr old daughter doesn’t have a blog. Though judging by this, her latest homework essay, it won’t be very long before she does. (The views, opinions, or positions expressed by the following author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of The Sharp Single. Though they might.)

Satirical Writing: Paedophilia in the Catholic Church

Over the last few years, the Catholic Church has come under heavy fire for several paedophilia charges that have been put upon both high and low ranking priests, and also for claims that the Church protected these priests from criminal charges. Obviously, this may outrage some people who have a problem with paedophilia, but personally, I don’t see it as that much of a deal. Priests are forbidden by the church to marry, due to their devotion to God, so it would be pointless for them to chase after adult females, when there’s already a fresh supply of pre-pubescent choir boys right in front of them.
On the same point, there are a relatively high proportion of children to paedophile catholic priests, so I’m sure a few wouldn’t be missed.

The Bible, believe it or not, doesn’t actually condemn paedophilia anywhere, so I guess that’s okay. Maybe that’s the reason why these priests have become so confused about who they are allowed to form “special” relationships with, because God didn’t specifically tell them that children are off limits to adults. Because as we all know, we have to be spoon-fed and told exactly what to do by a book written around 2000 years ago by some beardy guys in a desert.

And I know, most normal, non-sickeningly perverted people would probably tell you that touching kids is wrong without having to turn to any sort of religion for guidance, just by using their conscience. It appears some priests just don’t have a conscience, or if they do, they don’t have the ability to consult it correctly, but I don’t think they should be held responsible for this. And after all if they were told that paedophilia was acceptable by their consciences, shouldn’t God be to blame? I mean, your conscience is the voice of God speaking to you directly isn’t it?

And it’s not only this. Of the people who say that paedophilia is wrong in some way, some have claimed that powerful Christian figures all the way up to the Pope himself have helped hide reports and accusations of child abuse within the Catholic Church from the media or indeed any form of the outside world, and who can blame them really. A mess like that getting out could seriously harm their careers and slightly annoy several parents of abused children. On top of this some have even had the audacity to claim that hiding and protecting paedophiles, essentially endorsing their behaviour and ensuring that it can continue, is as bad as actually being a paedophile yourself.

Some may argue that if you build your Church on claims of moral authority, like Christianity does, with threats of eternal Hell to impose it on others in society, like Christianity does, then you should probably stick to it and see it through. I disagree. Just because someone you are meant to trust preaches endlessly in a Sunday morning sermon about being kind, good and moral, all the while with a friendly reminder of fiery pits and torture, doesn’t mean that they can’t go home and do whatever they want, including sexually abuse children if that’s what they are into. I mean, it’s just a day job. Right?

She gets it from her mother.