Cannon to the Left of them (Jokers to the Right)


As a bloke once said to me:

Half a league, half a league,
  Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death,
  Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

01_1936 Charge of the Light Brigade LC

My regular reader, George in Cheltenham, will tell you that I’m no fan of war. Like Woody Allen in the event of war I’d be recruited as a hostage (that’s where the comparison between us ends). The army wouldn’t want me. I’m hopeless. I faint at the sight of blood, mine especially. Khaki is not my colour. I once soiled myself during a game of Paintball.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldiers knew
  Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
  Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
  Rode the six hundred.

So let’s all hope it doesn’t come to this again. You can be sure of a few things: If and when The Crimea War II bursts into action, there will be a few more than 600 involved, and the Russians won’t be just to the right of them and to the left of them and in front of them , they’ll be over the top of them and not just lobbing shells at them. Me?  I’ll be digging a hole in my back garden, wearing my tin hat, inside a Chieftain Tank. I shall be singing selections from Running Songs and Surrendering Ballads by the Queen’s Own Cowards, and crying a lot.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
  All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

1936 : The Chargeof the Light Brigade.  Errol Flynn flashes not only his Sabre but also his avocado collection.

1936 : The Charge of the Light Brigade. Future (alleged) Nazi Spy Errol Flynn flashes not only his ‘sabre bare’ but also other, favoured weapon. Like the murderer, Ruth Ellis, Flynn was famously well hung.

You see, there are a couple of things that worry me. Ok,ok, President Obama has said that there will be ‘Costs’ if Russia invades Ukraine (bit late on that one, methinks, O). But he also warned Syria’s Assad that he risked crossing a “red line” if he engaged in chemical attacks on his own people. That seems to have gone well, doesn’t it ? Shouldn’t someone tell POTUS that when warning someone not to do something, it’s always best to do it BEFORE they’ve done something, or it may come across as a bit of an empty threat.

 Not that I am against empty threats, you understand. Some of my largest threats have been absolutely bereft of any substance whatsoever. Only last week I threatened The Incumbent that if I didn’t start selling enough T-shirts to sustain us soon, then I would go and find some work back in journalism. Absolute bollocks. Never meant a word of it.  And she knew it. It was seventeenth-such threat since 2011.

No, I’m happy with Obama pretending he’s gonna do something about the pesky Russians, when really he knows (and they know. And what’s more they know he knows. And they know he knows that they kno…) that he’s gonna do no such thing. And I’m all in favour of that. We’ve had enough of mad wars for the time being, haven’t we? Yes, yes, I know the Crimea is very strategically important and all that; and “you can’t just let the bullies get away with it” argument; and that Putin is illegally invading a sovereign state (full of Nazi sympathisers, I might point out— if I hadn’t pointed that out before). But do we really want to go back down the David Hemmings’ route again ?

1968. David Hemmings tries to make a better stab of it than Errol Flynn. He failed too.

1968. David Hemmings tries to make a better stab of it than Errol Flynn had back in 1936. He failed miserably too.

If Obama goes to war, Cameron won’t be able to resist sending what’s left of the British Army (if Gideon hasn’t sacked them all by then). There’ll be months of slaughter, then we’ll pull out and let the inevitable civil war kick off. Then we’ll get weeks of graphic photographs in the papers, and footage on the news, up until the editors/public get bored and they concentrate on the new series of  X-Factor or Strictly.

Then Hollywood spots an opportunity for a remake or three. I don’t think the world needs another epic, sprawling, bloody awful movie about the Battle of Balaclava, Sevastopol or Crimean War, do you ? Haven’t we already had enough wars to write and make movies about without starting a new one ? It won’t be David Hemmings this time, it’ll be Brad Pitt. Cate Blanchett will play Florence Nightingale, Oprah Winfrey as Queen Victoria, and Matthew McConaughey in the old Trevor Howard role as Lord Cardigan.

Could McConnaughey possibly drink enough on set to do the role justice ?

Could McConaughey possibly drink enough on set to do the role justice ?

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
  All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
 Noble six hundred!

It’ll just be a matter of time before EA Games gets involved and produces Medal of Hono(u)r CRIMEA edition— when a team of crack Hussars (hussar !!) will slaughter thousands of commies (humour them) to knock out the guns at Sevastopol/Navarone/Moscow (pronounced Moscouw)* (delete where applicable). There will be bigger body count than in an average Hospital in Stafford. Don’t believe me ? There’s already been an attempt at it. Good old Atari back in 1991.

Charge_of_the_Light_Brigade_-_1991_-_Impressions_Games

“From the producers of Rorke’s Drift” ????? Do they mean that other crap Atari game or the actual battle? Perhaps Obama could bill the Presidency as : “POTUS : From The Producers of Operation Iraqi Freedom(ish); The Directors of Shock, Awe & We’ll Leave You to Clear Up all the Mess  After We’ve Left; and the writers of Somalian Disaster.”?

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

1854
.

So please, Mr President, enough with the threats. We don’t want no war, we don’t want no movies about war, we don’t want no games about movies about war. You blokes in charge of things sort it out between you without sending us lot over the top again. Please.

This post was bought to you by the makers of “I Told You So” and “I’ll Sign up for the Military Right After Politicians Send Their Sons to War.” and by the letters F and O.

Advertisements

The Cross-Eyed Conspirator


It’s been a long time coming, but thanks to a couple of decent orders, I have managed to gather enough cash together to take the Incumbent and myself away for a while. Very soon the beaches of southern Italy will be awash with bits of me. It’s been a few years and several stone since I Swarfega‘d my way into a pair of swimming trunks. It’s the kind of thing that could bring down the EU.

soco ad

So with just a day to go before we jet off, and thanks to the guvnor, most of our stuff has been packed away and we’re busy clearing the fridge of perishables. Today I anticipate having three fried egg sandwiches and two omelets as someone seems to have over-ordered on the egg front. With all of our nicer clothes and accessories neatly put away in suitcases, we’re wandering around the house in old or inappropriate garb. Yesterday, for example, I spent the day in a dinner jacket (which was handy because I was hungry). The Incumbent wore a morning suit so she could have the afternoon off.

Last night, while the other half took herself down to Bluewater, I took the opportunity to steal myself away down to the local for a last pint before I was pushed on to an aircraft. For the occasion I dug out from the bottom of the chest of drawers a pair of rather ill-fitting shorts (for brevity’s sake, let’s just agree that all my clothes are ill-fitting) and an early example of my ever-popular JFK T-shirt. (50 years On — available at all good stockists).

Taking a seat on a bar stool, I ordered from Glenda the usual pint of sludge and began the usual banter with the assembled old boys propping up the jump.

“Aye , Aye”, “Evening All” etc

“Working on one for you, John” I hollered at one of the gathered drinkers. He was sat on the next stool to me but I needed to shout as he was a tad mutton. John had asked if I could make a Laurel & Hardy tee for him and I was on the case. The 70 year old plasterer is rapidly becoming one of my more regular customers, him having a penchant for often wearing one my shirts while both plastering and getting plastered. I think he’s ordered four to date. And he’s paid for all of them, something of a record round here.

“Is it you that makes the T-shirts, then?” asked Colin, sat beside the aforementioned John.

“Yes, that’s me” quoth I.

Colin took a long squint at what I was wearing. JFK stared back at him through the folds in my shirt and the creases underneath my moobs. You can always tell how long Colin’s ben in the the pub by the degree at which his eyes are pointing at each other. Colin is the Ben Turpin of Dartford — especially after half a dozen pints.

Ben-Turpin-01

“Oooh I like that one” he continued. “that one of yours ?”

“Yup. In all of the colours, in all of the sizes !” I chanted happily. But answer came there none. And this was scarcely odd because it was Colin and he was on a roll.

“That’s the….the…the American President fella, aint it ?”. I’d forgotten to mention that Colin was a bit of a political animal.

“Yes, John Kennedy”, I concurred. “It’s fifty years this year that he died. You can have it in…”

I’d failed to notice that Colin hadn’t finished.

“You ought to do one with him on it, and Martin Luther King here, John Lennon here…” he was pointing to various part of his torso “…and Lady Diana there…” which apparently was somewhere around his navel.

“Diana ..?” I repeated, but it was still Colin’s turn.

“Then write ‘Assassinated’ above ’em” he announced, scrawling the imaginary headline across the top of his chest. “I’d buy one of them

“Diana..?” I repeated.

“Yeah, well, everyone knows she was killed by them.” Behind him, I noticed John roll his eyes, snort and bury is face into his pint.

“Them..?” I asked — desperately trying not to give the impression I was doubting him (a sale is, after all, a sale).

“The Government ! She slagged off the Tories on TV and I says to me mum ‘she’ll be dead in a fortnight’ and the following weekend me mum rings me up and says ‘she’s dead’ and I says ‘who’s dead’ and she says ‘Diana’s dead’ and I says ‘well fuck me I was right all along’ “.

Colin was no David Frost, but he knew a good yarn when he told one. I was loath to point out that Tony Blair was in government when Diana died was murdered.

“That’s a good point” I replied.(I’ll say anything to sell a shirt.) “I’ll have a good go at that when I get back from my holiday” I lied.

As if to confirm it to himself, Colin repeated his design to himself (and to me) several times, occasionally adding “you can put their dates below each face” and suggesting colours for the shirt.

And then he started free-forming.

“You know who they’ll get next, don’t you ?” he bellowed.

“Er….”  I dreaded to think who was next in line for Colin’s assassin’s bullet.

“Jamie Oliver !”

Two jets of Light & Bitter shot out of John’s nostrils. I bit a lump out of my tongue. In the nick of time The Incumbent arrived to rescue me. She picked me up off the floor and we made ready to leave. Colin was still in full flight, detailing what Jamie had done to incite the wrath of MI5, though my head was spinning and I couldn’t hear what his reasoning was. I should have asked why Jamie was for the chop, not Delia Smith, but we’d gone before I’d thought of it.

As we left Glenda was administering the last rights to John who had laughed himself to within an inch of an early death.

It seems I’ll have no need to finish that Stan & Ollie shirt.

jamie-oliver_2658123b

Vote for Jack


It’s sad to hear of the death of Jack Duckworth. Bill Tarmy, the actor who played Jack in the soap opera Coronation Street, was 71 when he was found dead at his holiday home in Tenerife. I haven’t watched the program since Eddie Yeats shared a bed with Stan Ogden. But I do remember the character of Jack – an oafish bore of a man, who had a love of odd turns of phrase and often an abstract use of the English language, who inexplicably thought he was a hit with the ladies, but who often found out he was nothing of the sort.

The Two Jacks: Duckworth and Prescott

The Two Jacks: Duckworth and Prescott

And for some strange reason, I always used to get him confused with the former Deputy leader of New Labour, John (now Baron, or is it Barren ?) Prescott. Apart from the obvious physical similarities, here too is a Nellie Pledge of a character who brought all the wit and charm of a Panzer Division to the corridors of Westminster, not to mention the odd malapropism or 8. There’s nothing wrong with being unable to speak (or indeed write!) in pure, plain English, but when you’re standing-in for the Prime Minister of GB and NI it helps to be able to construct a coherent ….erm….

So imagine my confusion when I learn on the same day that one of them has passed on, and the other is standing for election as Police and Crime Commissioner in his local constituency of  Humberingside, as he may have put it. The man once known as “Two Jags” for his penchant for destroying the ozonery layer, will presumably be putting in for an extra set of bicyclation clips to join the Northern Constabularianry on the beat as old Punchy Prescott becomes crime fighter.

And just in case you don’t think his heart is really in it, and that this may just be a knee-jerk reaction after his triumphantful appearance at the Levesonian Inquisisation, guess who he roped in to back his campaign ? Yep, the old War Criminal himself (not to mention Jack’s, sorry John’s ex-boss and croquet partner) Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, formerly of this parish. Prescott could have slashed the UK there and then if he’d made an arrest and delivered the ex PM to the Hague, it’s only just across the water, after all. And as ,before he started distributing semen to and into friendly women, John used to be a Seaman could have steered the prison ship himself.

"I Arrestigate You  in the Name of the Legals"

“I Arrestigate You in the Name of the Legals”

Total Recall


For those who missed it, we bring you exclusive and unadulterated transcript from David Cameron‘s appearance at the Leveson Inquiry today:

Mr Robert Jay QC (the Inquiry’s lead counsel). “Good morning, Mr Cameron, we thank you for taking the time to appear here this morning, and for submitting your evidence beforehand. It must have taken you some considerable time to put together”

Mr Cameron (Prime Minister of Great Britain & NI and [referendum pending] The Falkland Islands) “I’m sorry I don’t recall how long it took me”

RJ: “No matter, Mr Cameron, it is not important, but thank you anyway.”

DC: “Can I just point out that I have also been thanked by the editors of the Telegraph, Mail, Mirror and the Independent, not just the Sun and News of the World”

RJ: “And now me…”

DC: “Yes, I just wanted to make that point”

RJ: “But not the Guardian”

DC:”I don’t recall the exact details, but no. They never thanked me. Bolshie bastards.”

RJ:. “…… Quite.  Now before we start, Mr Cameron would you like a glass of water ?”

DC: “I can’t recall. I do know, that if I did ever want a glass of water Rebekah Brooks would always offer me a glass of water, as she would any thirsty person. There’s nothing sinister in that

RJ: “Did she ever off you a glass of water ?”

DC: “I don’t recall. But I do recall perfectly her telling me that she had once offered Gordon Brown a glass of water. And Tony Blair. And Lloyd George. ”

RJ: “……………………….!!”

RJ: “Do you remember on the 18th of the 9th, at the Stupid Arse’s Club, Piccadilly, taking water, and indeed lunch with Mrs Brooks, Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, Andy Colson, Joeseph Goebbels, Jeremy Hunt, General Pinochet, Matthew Freud and Frederick West where, over seven-and-a-half-hours you discussed the BBC licence fee, phone hacking, the planned assassination of Tony Blair, global domination, the BSkyB bid and pasty tax ? You dined on goat curry, ackee and jerk truffles, served by young black men and women dressed in Tongan Marines Outfits”

DC: “hmmmm…..  that’s all a bit vague, I’d have to check my notes in my diary…”

RJ: “ok, Mr Cam…”

DC: “…but I do clearly remember Gordon Brown saying that he had enjoyed many cosy suppers at the Ginger Jock’s Shellfish Bar on the Penge bypass, with John Prescott and all of the above mentioned people, except, of course, Jeremy Hunt. Who was away at that time. With me. Honest.”

RJ: “Now, Mr Cameron you are, are you not, friends and neighbours  with Mr and Mrs Brooks?”

DC: “I can’t recall”

RJ: “You don’t remember going round to their nearby house on several occasions for breakfast, dinner and supper ?”

DC: “No”

RJ:”No ? You’ve never gone round to their nearby house on several occasions for breakfast, dinner and supper ??”

DC: “No, I mean I don’t recall if I don’t remember if I ever went to their nearby house on several occasions for breakfast, dinner and supper ? There’s nothing sinister in that. I do know that Gordon Brown went round. I specifically remember that. And that Blair bloke. I remember saying to my wife at the time (her name escapes me) that that was very sinister. Very sinister indeed

RJ: “So just to sum up before the break, Mr Cameron, you don’t recall any of the 723 dinner engagements you took with the Brooks’ and the Murdochs? or the 19 occasions when Mr Hunt walked around the Cabinet Office handing out Sky Subscription vouchers and News of the World-emblazoned Flags of St George ? Or the 17 week holiday in 2010 which you and your wife, who’s name escapes you, spent on board Rupert Murdoch’s Yacht the Wendi Boat Comes In, moored off the Turks and Caicos Islands ? Even though in his evidence, Mr Hunt states that he acted as cabin boy for you and whassername for that vacation ? You do, however, remember catching a glimpse or Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in 1998 passing brown envelopes, full of cash, to Rupert Murdoch and his son, round the back of the drive-in MacDonald’s, Wapping Highway ?”

DC: “Correct. Especially the last bit.”

Lord Justice Leveson: ” I think it’s time for a short break now, Mr Jay.  Thank you Mr Cameron, we shall resume at 1 o’clock, if that is ok with you ?”

DC: “I can’t recall, sir.”

RJ: “Oh just fuck off”.

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.

 

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.

Shred the Fred


There is a real danger, I am told, that if what the Institute of Directors is calling “anti business hysteria” continues in this country then it is more than likely that the City’s best and highest-regarded executives will leave the UK for other markets.  Former CBI Chief Digby Jones (you’ll remember him from the movie “Digby, the World’s Biggest Cvnt”) told the BBC that there was a “faint whiff of the lynch mob on the village green” about the decision to strip Fred Goodwin of his Knighthood. He too lamented and warned of the possible situation of the UK no longer being attractive to the best and brightest in the financial world.

What ? You mean we won’t be able to call on the services of fuckers like Goodwin, who almost single-handedly brought down the UK economy, got found out then fucked off to retirement with a pension bigger than the Greek national debt ? (coinciding nicely with the rest of the country’s pensions going down the Swanny.) Oh dear. Oh fuck me. No, no, you’re right. He will be a loss. Him and his ilk. Can’t we give him another knighthood ?
Sir Sir Fred has a lovely ring about it.

How’s your pension, by the way ? Alright, is it? Good. Listen, don’t feel too bad about Fred losing his Sirship. He still receives a taxpayer-funded pension of £342,500 a year for life from RBS. That’s nice of them innit? I have written to Her Maj The Queen on the occasion of the anniversary of her 60 years as our figurehead requesting she sticks her Knighthood up her arse, just as long as I can get a pension like that from the same taxpayers who unwittingly bailed out my shite company in the first place. Whether The Sharp Single will ever be state owned, I have no idea, but it certainly won’t be responsible for bringing the country to the verge of financial oozalumness. (yes, it’s a word!) And if it does, I shall certainly expect you lot to stump up cos I’m an incompetent/crooked*** bastard. (delete where applicable).

There is something quite comforting that Goodwin will forever be linked with Robert Mugabe, Anthony Blunt, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Benito Mussolini as someone who’s had his knighthood revoked. I am past caring whether this is fair or a just comparison. If I was a former RBS worker I would find it hilarious. Come to think of it, I’m not but it still is. I’d keep away from low-flying lamp posts if I were Fred.

Then there’s Stephen Hester, the next on the long, never-ending conveyor belt of this lot. The current chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, has taken home more than £11m in shares and cash since being parachuted in to run the bailed-out bank in October 2008. (All that money, all those brains but not a decent barber shop to be seen ?)

He was forced at gunpoint to return his bonus, just short of a million quid, such was the outcry from the media and politicians.  I am told, by people inside the city that this sum was “peanuts for what he did”, and that it was a “joke” that he had to give it back, when he handles huge sums of money for RBS, picking up pieces from the wreckage of the company left by (who els?) Sir Sir Fred. This is partly true.

Hester does handle huge figures. Like the 20,600 redundancies made by RBS, after it announced profits of £1.1bn profits last year. Huge figures indeed. In a country based on the old Latin motto, “Fuck You, Jack, I’m Alright” we shouldn’t be surprised at this sort of behaviour.

It was, after all, this attitude which saw Lord Snooty and his mate Gideon rise to power in the first place (and their mentor Tony Bliar was little better). But even Osborne and Cameron looked flushed in the face when they were asked about the morals of a public servant (albeit a very very well paid one) dispensing of 20,000 people due to financial meltdown caused by the stupifying errors that he and his cronies made, then taking home a million quid bung while those 20,000 people and millions like them struggle to find work in this world fucked by the banking industry which made them redundant in the first place. Even George Osborne,  EVEN GEORGE GIDEON OLIVER OSBORNE looked (I said looked, didn’t say was) too embarrassed to justify this ultimate act of arrogance.

Scare away this lot from the country ? Good. Fuck off the lot of you.

Read this BBC story this morning ?

Australia bus boss gives staff $16m sale share

Australian Ken Grenda may have sold his bus company, but his staff of almost 2,000 are smiling. Mr Grenda gave cash bonuses totalling A$15m ($16m, £10m) from proceeds of the sale to employees of his 66-year-old Melbourne-based company.

The bonuses, averaging A$8,500, were based on the length of service. Some workers received A$30,000 to A$100,000 each, Australian media reported. The company was sold to Ventura, another transport company, for A$400m. “You know we’ve got employees that stretch over 40 years, so it is a pretty nice thing to do,” Mr Grenda’s son, Scott, told ABC News.

Mr Grenda, who is also the managing director of the company, said his father was sad about selling the business and wanted to show his gratitude to the staff for their service.
A business is only as good as its people and our people are fantastic,” said the senior Mr Grenda, who has been dubbed the ”best” and ”most generous” boss in Australia.

Well that’s his RBS job application fucked for starters. What the hell is he thinking of ?

I have to go now. There’s an angry mob outside (as opposed to that happy and content mob you hear so much about). Hold my torch for me, will you ? I need to sharpen my stake.

Buy, Buy, Bye, Bye.


I think I must have put them all in a box which is now in the loft. I remember separating them, dividing them by type, each having their own little baggie. When we moved all my stuff out of Railway Cuttings down to The Potting Shed I’m pretty sure that they were in a box which ended up in the loft. Or the garage. Or under the stairs. Wherever it is, I want to find that box because I’m gonna need it. With the Euro’s future likely to be confined to Pathe News, episodes of QI or International Baccalaureate history exams, I’m gonna need something to spend on my next trip.

There was a bag containing Marks, one which had about thirty quid worth of Francs therein, and another with a collection of Pesetas, Drachmas, Italian lira and and Dutch Guilder. In total I reckon there’s at least 60 quid’s worth of old foreign currency,nearly enough to buy me a cup of coffee on Rue de Rivoli. How glad am I that at the time I couldn’t be bothered to hand over all my loose European change to those charities who, back in 2002, were asking for the coins “we wouldn’t need again”? At last my inertia and apathy towards helping others is paying off. Well that’s my guess anyway.

Now I know I’m only guessing, and my glass is typically half empty, but guesswork is all I’m left with as I’m no economist. No, really I’m not. I know I’m a world authority on cricket, lemons, modern art and movies, but I fall just short when it comes to economic nouse.

Not that the supposed experts know what’s gonna happen either: Tony Blair said that the collapse of the Euro would be “catastrophic” for the UK and urged all of us to get behind it. I don’t actually know how to get behind a euro, but on the other hand Tony once told me that I had 45 minutes to put on my tin hat and get to the air raid shelter before the nasty beardy-wierdies attacked. Well, as Tony’s mate George Bush once said “Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me … You can’t get fooled again.” So I think it’s fair to say I won’t be heeding what Blair says. Let’s look farther afield for help:

Chancellor Merkel has indicated that Germany either receives Britain’s support for invading Belg…sorry, for economic treaty changes or Germany will go it alone, drawing a new map of Europe with Germany at it’s fore. Where does she get her ideas from ? The German Chancellor can’t stand the French President Sarkozy, which doesn’t make her a member of a particularly exclusive club, but both countries hate Britain more, and this antagonistic feeling is only second to their disgust at Greece for dropping us all in the mire, so they have common enemies: David Cameron and this week’s Greek PM, [subs: please fill in name here].

Events in Italy seem to have muddied the waters even further. Berlusconi’s finally gone, just not that very far. He’s made it clear he still intends to make a comeback (this man has the Blair-like gift of being unshakeable and unshameable), and anyway, Super Mario Monti looks like he’s in Silvio’s pocket. No measures or acts will get through the Italian Parliament without the former Milanese Media Mogul’s nod. He’s still the leader of the biggest political party in the chamber, and we have learned from past events, he’s never out of the limelight for long. Once he gets a firm grip on either power or a woman’s gusset, he’s a bugger to shake off.

If you believe (and why the hell would you?) the analysts queuing up to talk to reporters, France looks like the next in line to go tits-up. The Euro economy domino theory goes thus: If Greece goes, Italy goes. If Italy goes, France goes. If France , Britain goes, (always bearing in mind that love grows where my Rosemary goes, and nobody knows like me).

No wonder Sarkozy, David Cameron and his attack-poodle George Osborne are looking nervous and sounding unusually vicious, even by their standards. Every one is blaming everyone else for the big pile of doo-doo we find ourselves in. But of course, still no-one is attacking the banks. Small businesses being refused bank loans, poor people being given huge mortgages which they could never have afforded to repay; mass redundancies and huge unemployment causing the collapse of the highs street: all these factors seem to have been forgotten.

The Brit govt blames the public sector workforce for striking in an attempt to save their pensions and pay.; the French blame Greek bin men and schoolteachers for not paying tax; the media blame the Italian citizen for voting for Berlusconi in the first place. UK finance minister Osborne has been blaming the referendum on Scottish devolution for the state of finances north of the border. Sarkozy accused Uraguay of being a tax-haven. Rare indeed for a French politician to consider tax havens as a bad thing. They’ll be coming out against extra-marital affairs next. Merkel, of course, is blaming everyone within spitting distance.

The shites are coming out, all over Europe.

Just when I thought I was out..


So, how are you feeling today ? Ok ? Good. I’ve had a pretty shitty couple of weeks, to be honest, since you ask. The medication still doesn’t seem to be doing everything the docs want it to do. Still suffering from dizzy spells, the bouts of sickness are still around. All this prevents me from attending The Shovel or any of its sister boozers. It’s rather annoying, although getting annoyed is a no-no for me at the moment. As my blood pressure is higher than a astronaut’s arse the GP is concerned I’m a strong candidate for Stroke II: The Ramipril Strikes Back, so I’m under orders to take it easy and chillax, as young persons say.

I was under a shrink, to whom I was sent in a bid to calm me down and reduce the chances of my head popping off. But this shrink started to annoy me so I’ve stopped going.


It certainly wasn’t  the thought of being analyzed that phased me. A life-long Woody Allen fan, it’s always been a dream of mine to go see a headshrinker (and to play clarinet with him at Michael’s on a Monday). I fancied myself as a bit of Tony Soprano, sitting there in my triple-breasted suit, the tassles on my loafers gleaming and my hair greased back over my ever-expanding pate. But it didn’t do it for me and it didn’t last. My quack was no Lorraine Bracco. He was a bloke for a start. No, you gotta feel comfortable in front of these guys, I reckon, and I just wasn’t. Probably a personality clash. Closing my eyes and chanting OM while listening to a tape of a whale’s sphincter was enough for me, so I left.

So, without the aid of a safety pint, and without Sigmund Freud‘s help I’m supposed to let go all the things that at some stage along the line would have made me, shall we say, a tad tetchy.

I may be no Tony Soprano, but try telling that to my girth. Not walking to the station in the morning, being barred from virtually all physical exercise, and the supreme boredom of having no work coming in has led me to nibble on anything within my chubby arms reach and to me becoming rather portly. My armpits have started to chafe and the soap isn’t going as far as it used to, even though I can no longer reach half of me in the shower. The kids are gonna by me Jacamo vouchers for Christmas and The Incumbent seems keen to rotate the mattress more often than usual.

The fledgeling business seems like it desperately wants to get back into it’s shell. Hours spent tickling-up the website and mailing clubs and associations have brought very little response. Well, that’s not true. I have had plenty of responses, just very little work. I’ve had several “Where did you get my email address from ??” replies. A few “Nothing I cannot do myself” answers, and lots of “Please strike me from your mailing list, we do not associate ourselves with tradesmen” emails. You’d have thought I was selling them anthrax.

In days gone by I may well have reeled off an abusive note telling them to to fvck themselves and wishing them good luck in the recession. But the now the new me simply thanks them for their time, apologises for disrupting their mailbox and promises to delete them from any further mailouts I may or may not do.

There was one bloke, the Chairman or Chief Poohbar of the Lions of Warrington or Wilmington or Wigan or somewhere who wrote to me in such an insulting and supercilious manner, complaining that I had actually used his public email address to try to earn a couple of quid via his club members that I did indeed tell him to go fvck himself and enjoy the recession. But that was a one-off example. Honest.

Having told him, in between expletives, what and why I was doing what I was doing and that there was nothing either coorperate nor sinister about it, and that I was just an ailing old man striving to put food on the table for Tiny Tim and his frail mother, the man backtracked and wondered if, when my business got on it’s feet I might consider joining his association. I suspect this was a genuine re-assessment of the situation on his part, feeling embarrassed at his original high-handedness with me.

I told him to go fvck himself again. So maybe we should call it a two-off example. I don’t know why I haven’t tried a life in Sales before.

MOVEMBERADVERT

What I Like to Do he Dousin


So they haven’t found him yet, then ? You know the one – old mop-heap – as Jeremy Bowen likes to call him. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, as everyone else calls him, in a brilliantly conceived plan, and showing superb foresight, has “had eet on ees toes”, as they’re saying in downtown Bani Walid nowadays.

How this man, a buffoon by all accounts, made his getaway in a convoy of limos, with barely four months head-start is beyond me. Clearly, too, beyond that lot in the Foreign Offices and Security Services. Daffy’s whereabouts is, at present, unknown. Anyone starting to see a pattern here ?? We couldn’t find our own arse with both hands.


Before they left for a bit of winter sun in Burkina Faso, by way of the Nigerien town of Agadez (as in “Push Pineapple, Shake the Tree” fame) Muammar’s men made sure they left behind a couple of good reads (no space in their suitcases, one supposes). The weighty tomes apparently tell the tale of how MI6 was complicit in the illegal abduction and torture of terrorist suspects – crimes for which, until now, Carlton of the F.O. has laid the blame firmly at the doorstep of Uncle Sam.

Even Tony Blair, who up til now has never been thought as of have been a liar  (subs please check this-MB) said that our boys had nothing to do with what’s known as Extraordinary Rendition and that is was purely an American affair. And I for one believed him. If, after all, one can’t believe the godfather to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter, who can one believe ? I must start buying Vogue – they get all the best stories, you know.

These men (some of whom actually did turn out to be terrorists, honest) were whisked away by the Brits and the Yanks, off to some black hole in Libya where they were subjected to waterboarding, sleep deprivation and were bombarded with hours and hours of non-stop, excruciating noise. One can only believe that somehow the CIA and MI6 had got hold of preview copies of Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film, now being screened on Channel 4. This promises to be 15-and-a-half hours of pain and deep misery, comparable only perhaps to a night at a Morrissey concert, an hour stuck in the lift with Michael McIntyre or maybe the pain suffered when your dentist forgets his root-canal kit and opts for using a desert spoon and a mallet.

But to be fair to Mr Cousins (and I’m never anything but fair) we can use analogies from his own world: His whining tone is that of the noise Harry Palmer was forced to listen to in The Ipcress File when he found himself strapped into an east-European brain-washing machine; After barely an hour I was screaming for Reservoir Dogs’ Mr Blonde to hack off my ears; The Incumbent wanted to shoot him with that gun made from a bicycle pump from the scene in Munich.

Being pretty much housebound, couchbound and eggbound for the last six weeks, how I was looking forward to the definitive documentary on my favourite art form. I imagined it to be the movies equivalent of the Olivier-narrated The World at War, or to do for the US what Ken Burns did with Civil War, instead I got an Extraordinary Rendition of my own, with all the appeal of Jude Law trying to act the Yellow Pages.

Mark Cousins: Pretentious, Moi ?

I can only assume Mr Cousins’ voice is as grating to his native Northern Irish homies as it is to me down here in the soft South East. I can’t believe his pretentious bollox is given much shrift in the bars of Belfast. It’s surely doubtful that when the great Fergal Sharkey penned My Perfect Cousin (perhaps in those very same bars) he was not thinking of this bloke. The far-from-perfect Mr Cousins may think I like listening to him and agreeing with all he says. I Dousin.

I suppose I should have known what was coming. I should have known that something was rotten in Channel 4 when they rolled-out their fledgling coverage of Athletics with the opening scenes of the World’s Athletics Championships from Daegu (apparently we looked for Gaddafi while we were there but found no-one). The Incumbent will tell you that if there isn’t a movie showing on our TV there will doubtless be some sporting event or other. As a lover of all things track ‘n’ field (apologies for the ‘n’) I settled down to soak-up a week’s worth of international running ‘n’ jumping, and not a Boris or Seb in sight. What could possibly go wrong ??

A paid-up BBC-phile, I set aside my prejudices (yes I do have some) that Auntie wasn’t showing the event as usual and sat glued, hoping to see a professional, seamless broadcast, mirroring the talent on the track.

Well one can hope. Remember that young US sports presenter in the Boom Goes the Dynamite clip ? (see Sports..er…News… earlier post). Well forget him. This is real talent:

In what I now know to be a pre-Cousins assault, and in one of the few Channel 4 programs not include an autopsy, the station unveiled the wonderfully hapless and hopeless Ortis Deley.  I have to put out a warning to all those who haven’t seen this man before. You thought Carol Kirkwood was useless? Still under the impression that Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood at that awards show were the worst things ever to appear on TV ? Wait just til you watch Hopeless Deley. He delivers here a quite wonderful British and Commonwealth all-comers record for nervous lunacy in front of a camera.

I never thought I’d ever see Michael Johnson look nostalgic for the gin-soaked BBC studio, where the only real task is keeping Brendan Foster upright in his seat during commentary. This left me fleeing for Eurosport- a first for me and not half as truly awful as I thought. It’s a bit like standing outside a TV rental shop and having a poor-man’s Tony Gubba shout the commentary in your ear, as if he’s really there at the event. So not half as bad as I feared.

But soon I was hurtling back for more of the hilarity that was Channel 4’s coverage. Then the rotten sods pulled him from the anchor slot – bloody spoilsports. We were left with the charming and, let’s be honest, near-professional Rick Edwards. Spoilt the whole show.

So here is your chance to catchup. My personal best is 1min 37.5 secs, during his first Oscar Pistorius quote. I nearly wet myself. Take it away, Hopeless.

There would have been more of the above but those radical fun-loving sheisters at Channel 4 have decided that we mustn’t watch their presenter fuck-up for 20 minutes. We have to thank a rival broadcaster for what’s left.

Jessica Ennis. Goodnight.