Farewell to TungstenTossers


You didn’t have to be a darts fan to appreciate TV commentator Sid Waddell. You merely had to be a lover of the English language, the forced metaphor and the crow-barred simile, and most importantly, possess a love of the ridiculous.

Waddell who died today aged 72 was a star of the BBC’s  and then Sky’s Darts Coverage for 35 years, and almost single-handedly brought the game into the homes of millions, and out of the drab public bars of the British boozer.

Everyone who knows anything about the man has their own favourite Waddell quote, from “There’s only one word for that: Magic Darts” to his legendary summation of Eric Bristow‘s world championship win: ” When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer…Bristow’s only 27″

Waddell could be described as a combination of the baseball legend and ultimate quote machine Peter ‘Yogi” Berra and Homer Simpson. But his simplistic and bizarre analogies belied the the fact that Sid was a Cambridge History graduate. Waddell was nobody’s fool, even if he pretended to be.

So sit back and relive some of Sid’s greatest hysterical and historical thinkings and his great wit. The world of Darts and TV commentary has lost another magician.

That was like throwing three pickled onions into a thimble!

He’s playing out of his pie crust.

They won’t just have to play outta their skin to beat Phil Taylor. They’ll
have to play outta their essence!

Darts players are probably a lot fitter than most footballers in overall
body strength.

There’s no one quicker than these two tungsten tossers…

He’s about as predictable as a Wasp on speed

The atmosphere is so tense, if Elvis walked in, with a portion of chips…
you could hear the vinegar sizzle on them

There hasn’t been this much excitement since the Romans fed the Christians to the Lions.

Keith Deller‘s not just an underdog, he’s an underpuppy!

Even Hypotenuse would have trouble working out these angles

Steve Beaton – The adonis of darts, what poise, what elegance – a true
roman gladiator with plenty of hair wax.

If you’re round your auntie’s tonight, tell her to stop making the
cookie’s and come thru to the living room and watch these two amazing
athletes beat the proverbial house out of each other

Big Cliff Lazarenko‘s idea of exercise is sitting in a room with the
windows open taking the lid off something cool and fizzy.

Well as giraffes say, you don’t get no leaves unless you stick your neck out

His eyes are bulging like the belly of a hungry chaffinch

That’s the greatest comeback since Lazarus.

It’s the nearest thing to public execution this side of Saudi Arabia.

His physiognomy is that of a weeping Madonna.

There’s only one word for that – magic darts!

When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were
no more worlds to conquer….. Bristow’s only 27.

Eat your heart out Harold Pinter, we’ve got drama with a capital D in
Essex.

If we’d had Phil Taylor at Hastings against the Normans, they’d have gone
home.

He’s like D’Artagnan at the scissor factory.

Trying to read Reyes’s mind is like trying to read the mind of Jabba the
Hutt

These guys look calm but inside they are as nervous as a vampire who knows
there’s a sale at the wooden stake shop in the morning.

He’s going like the Loch Ness Monster with a following wind!

Keith Deller is like Long John Silver – he’s badly in need of another leg.

On Bobby George – “He’s like a Sherman tank on roller skates coming down a mountain!”

He may practice 12 hours a day, but he’s not shy of the burger van!

He’s like Jack The Ripper on a Friday night.

He’s got one foot in the frying pan and one on thin ice.

Rod now looking like Kevin Costner when told the final cost of
Waterworld.

Tarantino re-writing Gunfight at the OK Corral couldn’t have done any
better than this.

It’s just like taking a sausage from a boy in a wheelchair.

.

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A Reet Petite Jock


This is Jackie Wilson. 60s singing sensation, the man who brought us the classics Reet Petiite, I get the Sweetest Feeling and (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher amongst others. Known as Mr Showman, Wilson has oddly never received the credit for his influence on popular music, being one of the great pioneers of what was to become soul music, but remains one of the great acts of one of the most exciting times in music history.

This is John Thomas WIlson, known as ‘Jocky’. He was two-time World Professional Darts Champion in the 1980s and was notable for his ability to drink heavily and play darts at the same time. He too was as great showman and his battles with his great rivals at the time, Eric “Crafty Cockney” and John Lowe” kept a nation enthralled and glued to their television sets, at a time when there were only 3 channels to watch and long before the BBC decided to turn its back on any sports event that didn’t involve John Bishop or David Walliams.

Jocky was a constant sweet-eater and refused to brush his teeth – “my Gran told me the English poison the water” – he had lost his last tooth by the age of 28. After his 1982 World title win, he paid £1,200 for dentures, but never got on with them. They made him belch when drinking, he complained

Unlike Jackie Wilson, Jocky’s music career was short-lived. In 1989 he released a record Jocky on the Oche but it failed to spark the public imagination and is reputed to have sold just 850 copies.

Sadly for the darts lovers of the world, Jocky died overnight and will be sorely missed by his family, colleague and all those who enjoy a character with our sport. When Jackie WIlson died in 1984 he was inexplicably originally buried in an unmarked grave until 1987 a fundraising campaign collected enough money to correct the mistake.

When in 1982 Dexy’s Midnight Runners performed on Top of the Pops their current hit single Jackie Wilson Said (a cover of a Van Morrison hit)  few could have predicted that somewhere in the BBC was a picture researcher who knew little of Van Morrison or Jackie Wilson and his music, let alone what he looked like. Or perhaps lead singer Kevin Rowland singing in a Birmingham accent was enough to convince the production team that The Runners were praising the World Darts Champ and not celebrating the career of a great R&B singer.

Whatever the reason, this was the final result.

The Slaughtered Lamb


Fancy a pint ? Yes ? Come on then, I’ll take you down to a little pub I know. It’s just down the road.

Two weeks into my self-imposed exile, we decided last night to take a stroll round the leafy lanes, avenues and alleyways and see what Dartford on a Friday night had to offer. Our route was not a particularly ambitious one. A short couple of miles which would take us by (or rather to) 5 boozers, all of which I’d visited before down the years, some more frequently than others, and being the five closest inns from the Potting Shed each of them stood a decent chance of becoming my new local.

First up: the former local. I’d spent most of my formative years getting ever-so-slightly elephants in a particular pub on the top of the hill, just outside town. Ernie’s had been scientifically chosen, it being the closest one to the school gates and you get still get served wearing your uniform. Many of my happiest memories are from those 15 short years from the age of 16 onwards getting smashed out of my face in one of the less-trendy nightspots in Dartford (and that’s going some). Birthdays, weddings (not mine), funerals (ditto), births, divorces and Ryder Cup triumphs were all celebrated within those walls overseen by the hilariously miserable Mancunian eponymous landlord who scared off as many customers as he attracted with his sledgehammer wit and pungent bodily functions.He’s long-gone now, gone off to live in Spain with his pockets bulging with my hard-earned cash, so I was intrigued to see how the old place was, fifteen years after I’d last set thirsty foot in it.

Within 12 yards of the door my worst fears were realised. Through the several plate-glass windows I saw a pub transformed from the traditional boozer it once was. Where once a horseshoe bar wound its way round the room, manned permanently by assorted punters, postmen and pissheads, there seemed to be a selection of coffee tables and banquettes. Low-slung chaise-longues occupied by even lower-slung shell-suits sat there in deathly silence. I counted eight people in there. And none of them were having fun. The bar had been rebuilt and stood in all its magnificent gloss-white glory along one side of the room. Two of the uglier members from the cast of Glee stood silently behind it, re-arranging the bottles of WKD. The strains of Tiny Talent could be heard emanating from the music system.

“Nope” I announced to The Incumbent who, if the speed by which she changed direction was anything to go by, had already made up her mind that it looked like a shit hole. Fortunately, there’s a pub right opposite Ernie’s so we headed across the road and, without stopping to check it out, ploughed through the door.

Imagine walking one of those shack-cum-bars in Mississippi or Alabama. Where the KKK‘s U19 Soccer team have just held their AGM. And all the bright ones have gone home for their tea. And it’s been free beer for six hours. And the town has just elected a black mayor. And he’s gay. Got that image in your brain ? Well that’s the kind of scene we encountered there in that pub.

Two or three of the knuckle-draggers who still had control of their movements looked up looked us up and down, suspecting that we were either coppers or neurosurgeons. Being neither, but not wanting to have to prove it, I decided on the only course of action open to us.

“Nope” I exclaimed again and we beat a hasty retreat out of the Berchtesgaden Arms back to the now strangely enticing Ernie’s. In the 14 seconds we’d been across the road, three of the customers I’d seen through the window had left, leaving three young asian blokes, slumped at half-mast on their leatherette armchairs, staring wistfully and listlessly at two imaginatively-clad girls sat near the toilets, knocking a decent-sized hole in a bottle of Rose. These were very odd fellows indeed. I ordered myself a pint and a gin for the missus, partly for old times’ sake and partly cos I never like not having a drink in two pubs in a row.

Our drinks didn’t touch the sides. We left. Depressed.

No matter, onwards and upwards. Next up, the previously mentioned Goat and Masturbator which, as the glass bottle flies round here, is the closest to the Potting Shed. It would have been some time during the mid 1980’s when I was last here and it wasn’t that brilliant then.  Now it’s a Harvester. One of those eateries with all the atmosphere of a Hosni Mubarak cabinet meeting. A few groups of half-drunk, fully-fed  20-somethings were placed carefully between plates of rotten and rotting food. The smell of barbeque ribs and Red Bull was quite overpowering.

“Nope!” yelled The Incumbent over the din of an iTunes playlist. We left smartly, missing the chance to indulge in a baked potato with the topping of our choice, washed down with one of two Australian lagers on tap.

Pub number four just had to be better. And, in truth it was. The Liniment and Poultice had never been a favourite of mine back when I had hair, but da word on da street recently was that it’s been taken over, was full of old gits and had gone all boring. Perfect. Well almost. A medium-sized establishment, the first thing you notice that it has both a pool table and a dartboard (both of which are sadly lacking in Blackheath boozers). There were twenty-or-so people drinking inside, most over 30 years old, some over 50, all of them huddled along the bar leaving wide open spaces of emptiness in the lounge. You could have played a game of football on the carpeted area and not bothered anyone, but try to get near the bar and you encountered a sea of elbows, builder’s bums and handbags.Nevertheless, all seemed quite friendly, and the guv’nor poured a decent pint of Stella, and a perfect gin.

Now I know on such announcements economies can boom or bust,  so I have to tell you now that there is goodly supply of both limes and lemons in Dartford. Not only that but on the evidence of last night the bottle of tonic is placed on the bar un-decanted beside the glass of gin, and it is left to you, yourself, to administer the correct measure of mixer. You should have seen my little face light up.

And that would have been that. I would have happily settled on The Liniment to serve as my local for the duration of my stay here in NW Kent, however long that may be. But we still had one more pub to visit on our way home. Which, after a few more pints in The Poultice is exactly what we did.

If you didn’t know The Shovel was there you’d easily pass it in your rush to get to Dartford town centre. (In truth you still don’t know its there, or its real name but, like a Danish cartoonist, The Shovel’s exact and whereabouts need to be kept a closely guarded secret.) This is a teeny tiny little pub. Barely bigger than your average terraced house. When we entered there were 12 people in the bar, all middle-aged (or older) men, one barmaid behind the jump. It was busy. If a half-laden Ford Galaxy emptied it’s passengers into the pub it’d be standing room only. And some of these old blokes couldn’t stand for long.

From the door we took three steps and arrived at the bar. There were three hand-pumps, none of them marked. One Guinness pump, one Fosters and one serving Dark Mild. I’ll type that again: one serving Dark Mild.

“What’s in the hand pumps, love?”  I asked the barmaid, going all Richard Keys on her.
“Courage Best” she smiled.
“What, in all of em?” I asked
“Yep, all of them”

I looked around to see who was having what elsewhere in the pub. Two blokes had pints of stout in their hands. Always worth checking.
“I’ll have a Guinness then, please.” says I, “Oh and a gin and tonic as well please” remembering my manners.

As I waited for my stout to settle I looked around the pub. Behind the bar, beneath the optics, were unrefrigerated shelves of bottled beer: Stouts, Brown Ales, Light Ales, Barley Wines and the like of which you just don’t see anymore. Mainly because no-one drinks them, but all the same… And unrefrigerated. Warm beer. You could ask for a Light & Bitter and not only would it arrive at room temperature but, by the look of the barmaid she’d know exactly how to pour it.

Up above, where the line of optics ended was a calendar. The photo was of a naked girl standing under a palm tree on a beach, sporting an enormous bush. She had big hair on her head too and a lovely big grin. She smiled out at us barflies as she and girls like her used to smile out at us from The Big D peanut cards back in the 70s and 80s, before pictures of naked women in pubs and garages were Andy Grayed into touch. This was the 2011 and she looked completely out-of-place. Pleasant, but out-of-place.

At least I thought it was 2011 but I kept spotting things which told me otherwise. To the right of my naked new friend was a small wooden cabinet containing three piles of assorted 10-packs of cigarettes, a couple of half-ounces of Golden Virginia and a dozen boxes of matches. No cigarette machine here, just a wooden box behind the bar. Come to think of it, there was no jukebox or fruit machine either. The punters entertained themselves by talking to each other (everyone truly knew everyone else and everyone was within ear-trumpet range of each other) or, for the more adventurous, a game of crib was in full-flow. It nearly kicked off when one bloke had 16 in his box and pegged-out, almost literally.

I took stock of the situation:  A quiet friendly pub, with no herberts or wankers; no jukebox or one-armed bandit; a pleasant knowledgeable barmaid; light ale; photos of naked girls; a crib board and Dark Mild.

Admittedly the Guinness was fucking awful, but such was my euphoria at finding such a wonderful little time-capsule that I forgot to complain. Even after my fourth pint.

I was home.

So what do you reckon ? Fancy a stroll down there ? You’re a bitter man, right ? I hope you like Courage Best.  And you don’t mind if I blindfold you, do you ? Can’t have everyone knowing where it is. There’s very little room at this Inn.

A 10-Point Plan for Real Reform


Now that Gideon Osborne has apparently ended the recession (the jury is still out, of course) , here’s my cunning plan which would really make life worth living in this country. This is no death-bed conversion, this is a manifesto years in the planning, months in the consultation, hours in its plagiarism and minutes in the typing. I give you:

A SPORTING CHANCE

1. Association Football

Can I suggest what all us egg-chuckers have been pleading for for some time now?: A yellow card means being sent to the Sin-Bin. Let’s see how long Jose or Arsene and their like will put up with playing with 8 men for 10 minutes. It’d take two weeks before all that swearing at the ref, formation falling-over and waving pretend cards at the ref ends in a melee of teacups at half-time. Bring back the orange ball and all games to be played at 3pm on Saturdays.

2. Golf

I propose two innovations to the PGA and European tours:
a) Dickouts:Any player not making the ladies tee with his drive, or more realistically in professional golf, driving the ball out-of-bounds from the tee should play the rest of that hold with his willy out.
b)Gotchas: Each player will have two Gotchas per round (one on the front nine and one on the back.) This allows anyone to shout “Gotcha” at the top of his playing partner’s backswing, in an attempt to put that player off his stroke. (The reader will note that a Gotcha often results in a Dickout). Tiger Woods will be exempt from Dickouts as it’s felt he’s been playing that game for far too long for his own good.

3. F1 Motor Racing

Before each and every Grand Prix, water tankers on corners 1, 5 and 7 should be emptied onto the track every 10th lap, thus ensuring some form of mild entertainment in the form of, dare I say, overtaking, would occur, thus eliminating the boring processions witnessed in Dubai, Barcelona and probably Monaco. In times of drought, the water could be replaced by oil sourced from the gulf of Florida. BP could do with a hand with getting rid of some anyway. Also only one pit open at any time. If you mis-time when you come off for new tyres or fuel, queue like the rest of us poor sods have to.

4. Athletics: 100 Meters

Let’s stop worrying about drugs. Come one, come all. Stick into your veins or up your nose whatever you like before you compete. Can’t wait to see your head pop off after 75 meters. It’ll give Sue Barker something else to talk about and Brendan might even sober up.

5. Rugby Football (League)

Northern rugger chaps: Let’s get of rid of your pointless, lame scrums.How about a nice hand of rummy instead ? Or maybe Rock/Paper/Scissors ? It’d more competitive. Oh, and play rugby during the winter months.

6. Rugby Football (Union).

Banned: Yellow cards, red cards, lifting in lineouts. Reinstated: Wheeling in lineouts, lifiting in scrums, 16-man punch-ups, touch-judges in blazers. Let’s get back to when you got a slap for cheating, not a yellow card. Second Row: if you don’t want to jump in the lineouts, ask for a ladder. Opposition props would then be allowed to shake it at the base to put you off your catch. Hookers: Our jumpers are in the same colour shirts as the one you’re wearing.

7. Snooker/Pool

Bring back heavy smoking and drinking for that real pub atmosphere. Encourage drunks in the crowd to shout “How much fucking longer are you two gonna be, mate ?” TV Adverts only allowed when it’s one of the players turn to go to the bar to buy a round for him and his opponent. If he hasn’t been served by the time the ad break is over, have another ad break. Also, one side of the table must be no further than 1 meter away from the wall. A half-length or child’s cue will be in a rack (underneath the dartboard) for when the cue-ball is near the cushion.

8. Tennis

Exile all TV coverage to UK Living. It’s not proper sport.

9. Darts

See 7.

10. Cricket.

Get rid of the dancing girls, helmets and pyjamas and wear white flannelled trousers. All games to last a minimum of three days. Uncover the pitches, give the bowlers a chance again. Give all cricket coverage back to the BBC and Channel 4. Also, compulsory South African lineage for all England cricketers. If you’re not called Pietersen, Kietvanwesser or Van der Kochderschmidt, fuck off: we don’t need you any more.

So there you have it. A sensible manifesto for a sensible country. A grand coalition of ideas.

VOTE BEALING, VOTE OFTEN