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.

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Didier Fookin’ Drogbah !


Why do we bother watching football ? Who out there hasn’t felt like this  on more than several occasions about their own team ?

Very sweary Geordie gets himself in a lather about the Toon. (Works perfectly too if you substitute the word Newcastle for Charlton). Things clearly ain’t going well for the Magpies from the Land of My Fathers (well, mothers to be precise). Made me smile on more than once, which is more than Charlton do.

 

Thanks Shola, but fook off !

Champion !

Ou Est le Papier ?


I was never the type to be cursed with too much street cred. Never been known as hard. By anyone at all. But that’s fine, as the late, white MIchael Jackson would say, “I’m a lover, not a fighter” (and there my similarity with Bubbles’ owner ends).  However, I did like to try to carry with me a kinda Jim Rockford—loveable rogue—bon viveur—lad-about-town—rough diamond sort of image, which was invented to say “Hey look, I don’t have to swing punches to handle myself. DON”T mess with me mate.”  Fortunately, thanks to my ability to foresee punch-ups and my penchant for the exit stage left school of acting, I never had to put up my dukes too often.

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Small Boy Gatecrashes Adults Only Rugby Photo. NB: Another winning season under my leadership. Just.

But the little aura of invincibility I possessed buggered off completely one Saturday afternoon in Bromley, South London (not Kent) about a year before the above snap was taken. I was playing inside centre for my school team against a touring French Club side. Dunno why we were playing a drunk touring club side, we just were. Pissed-up and Punchy they were, just like I wanted to be later on in life. But for now I was a schoolboy playing against men. Albeit youngish men, and not very good ones at that. They were called something like Chateaneuf Rugby Club, which was quickly translated into Soixante Neuf (by our coach, Buster), which kept us amused all the while up to kick-off.

But here’s a surprise for you: The oppo’s open side flanker was a cheating thug. Imagine that ! A Flanker: cheating; A Frenchman: niggly. A FRENCH OPEN SIDE FLANKER: Niggly and Cheating . I know, it’s hard to believe. So, as was bound to happen (and this may be the point of this piece —you knew there’d be one somewhere, didn’t you ?) I ended up having a scuffle with this fella. It wasn’t really a fight — he punched me on the nose and I swung (swang?? swinged ??) a huge Dick Barton punch in his direction and caught him hard, smack on the shoulder blade.

skinner

An artist’s impression of what happened in Bromley that day. The artist has since been dismissed.

And then it happened: Estimates vary between 5 yards and 25 yards as to how far my father had run on to the pitch in an attempt to break up this set-to before he came to a sudden halt, blushed, shouted “Oh, sorry”, spun round on his heels and took himself off again. I didn’t see any of this, of course as I was far too busy being punched in the face. But everyone else did. The frenchman and I curtailed out pugalistic activities as the sound of me yelping was being drowned out by the laughter of those around us. It was clear to all present: I needed my dad to save me from a fight on a rugby field. Told you I was hard.

But this is how the french play their rugby: HARD. I’ve been present at many a dust-up on the field in France (present, you understand, not active). I’ve watched from the safety of behind the posts as the team from the French Town we were visiting punched and kicked the living daylights out of us (well, I say us, I mean my mates). I’ve seen legions of my colleagues in maroon and gold shirts become victims of assaults on the pitch by opposition players, cheered on by the ref shouting “Allez, Allez” and waving his arms around in that gallic “what the fuck are you complaining/bleeding about?” sort or way. I once even asked the opposing hooker, (a huge, beared bear of a man) in my very best Franglais,  if he could ask his team-mates to go easy on us; that we’d been on the piss for three days and “really weren’t up for a fight today, just a laugh”.
“Don’t esk me mate”, came the reply in fluent New Zealandish “I jist got ‘ere from Aucklund”.  He was a recent purchase of the club from down under. Apparently New Zealand Senior League front row play wasn’t violent enough for him. We were losing by 40 points after 33 minutes when I called for “Three Cheers” for the opposition and we left the field. It was what Field Marshall Haig would have called a tactical retreat. We capitulated faster than any French Army could ever had done. Almost.

So anyway, the mouth-watering prospect of France vrs England today should herald the start of a particularly enjoyable 6 Nations season. The French were appalling last year, so will be excellent this year (probably); the English will be overpowered up front, and the few who did tour with the Lions will be too fatigued to mount a challenge for the title this year (probably); the Ref and assorted officials will merely be part of an Anglo-Saxon conspiracy, hell-bent on cheating the French out of the match (probably) and there will be niggle, aggro, punches, boots, set-tos and stand-offs a-plenty (WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT).

England v France - RBS Six Nations No-one hates the English more than the French — apart from the Welsh and the Scots. The Irish, Australia, New Zealand, The Belgian Congo, Dutch East Indies and parts of the Miliband family (©Mail Newspapers). And anyone else who knows me — so you can bet the smaller of your testicles that a little bit of, ow u say ? Fisticuffs will be in evidence this afternoon. It’s part of the game. This game may well have been shorn of competitive line-outs, wheeling in the scrum and proper sideburns, but unlike the Super 73 (or whatever it’s called this year),the northern hemisphere version of Rugby Football still retains some semblance of a contact sport. With contact sports you get physical contact, which occasionally escalates into physical confrontations. Especially if you hate that bastard over there. So who will win today ? I haven’t the foggiest. England have faith in Stuart Lancaster and his big plan for Team England (not to be confused with Andy Flower and his big plan for Team England), so let’s see how they go. For me, it’ll be Wales for the Championship, they seem to have just enough strength on the bench that you need nowadays. Or the French. Or England as an outside bet. I’m sure of it.

But I won’t fight you over it.

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6nationgridadvert

Wotcha Dave


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Boycie, Trigger and Del Boy in the Nags Head.

Only Fools & Horses’ Trigger, RIP, and some of his best lines:

Discussing the name of Del and Raquel’s unborn child:
Trigger: “If it’s a girl they’re calling her Sigourney after an actress, and if it’s a boy they’re naming him Rodney after Dave.”

In the Nag’s Head pub:
Mike: “I’ve had certificates for my beer.”
Trigger: “Yeah, I’ve had a few days off work with it as well.”

Trigg, the road-sweeper discussing his trusty broom:
Trigger: “And that’s what I’ve done. Maintained it for 20 years. This old broom’s had 17 new heads and 14 new handles in its time.”
Sid: “How the hell can it be the same bloody broom then?”
Trigger: “There’s the picture. What more proof do you need?”

At a school reunion:
Del Boy: “We had Denzil in goal, we had Monkey Harris at left-back, we had… camaraderie.”
Trigger: “Was that the Italian boy?”

After Rodney warns against eating beef:
Trigger: “I don’t know what you’re worried about. I’ve been eating British beef all my life.”

About his father:
Trigger: “He died a couple of years before I was born.”

Arriving at the council tip to find it closed:
Del Boy: “You said it was open 24 hours a day.”
Trigger: “Yeah, but not at night.”

As collated by BBC Online today

It’s the old 26-1-26-2 Formation


Last night’s Season Finale of I’m Scared of Fast Bowling, Get me Out of Here brought to a predictable close another in a long line of less than heroic sporting disasters. I’ve been going to The Valley, SE7 to gawp at Charlton Athletic FC ‘play’ football since 1977 (see elsewhere in these pages) and the sight of one side running rings around another, like adults versus kids, is not an unusual one for me.

So as you sit back and watch the following clip, try to picture CAFC vrs Tottenham, or even one of the big sides like Stoke. This is how it is for us every week.

(And for those of you watching in black and white, Charlton Athletic are in the red.)

Enough with the Soccer Already


They say that every time an accountant is born, an angel dies. Or something like that. Well I’d like to add to and improve that well-worn phrase. How about “Every time the Football Season starts before the end of the cricket season or most people have taken their summer holidays, a puppy loses its ears”? Ok, it may be not quite as sweet or catchy as the original, but you get my meaning.

The People's Game returns

Ahhhh….The People’s Game returns

Yes, unbelievably (although someone writes this every year) the cries of “onmeeadsun” and “backdoorbackdoor” could be heard throughout the land this weekend, and not just from the open windows at Catholic Church Boys homes. The minor English divisions took to the field/pitch, whatever they call it on Planet Sky TV this season, and play was resumed as usual. Charlton Athletic lost, as usual, and youngsters in English streets had a kickabout inbetween cars and fell over for no apparent reason, imitating their heroes.  Lads in Scotland, who were fortunate enough not to be in the charge of the local priest, played fitba in the park in the style of their own local heroes: ran around in front of three bored (yet aggressive) bigoted onlookers, had no proper goalies and all went into administration afterwards.

And yet up in the Third World, the Manchester Third Test is still grinding to a halt, as is cricket’s wont. There are still two huge matches to come in this current cricket season. There are still 11 days of Aussie whingeing, England cheating and Deaf Dumb & Blind umpiring (Jimmy: Sure Bowls a Mean Short Ball) but you’d get good odds on Roman Abramovich sacking this week’s manager down at Chelski before Alastair Cook has taken his pads off for the winter.

Reculver - Twinned with Syria's Homs

Reculver – Twinned with Syria’s Homs

The Incumbent and I have yet to take ourself away on our our annual family summer trip to Reculver, and yet the pies and bovril are being re-heated at football grounds all over the country and I’ve yet to oil myself up and squeeze my slight frame into the newly-purchased 38″ Union Jack speedos (Matalan, 3 pairs for a fiver!).

I know it’s a plea that will fall on deaf eyes, a request which, like my application to be the new Dr Who, will remain ignored until Gallifrey freezes over, but is there any way that fitba, football, or even soccer can remain a winter pastime, so the rest of us can enjoy uninterrupted coverage of the Test Match series, the Croquet Season and our buckets & spades, at least until late September ?

No, I thought there wasn’t.

The Cricket Umpire, By R.L.Stevenson (wkt)


From the vaults of The Sharp Single we bring you a long-forgotten passage and the original plate from a first edition of Treasure Island where the author describes a cricket match taking place outside the Admiral Benbow Inn.

(This chapter was removed from subsequent editions.)

pugh2

“He was plainly blind for he tapped before him with a stick, and wore a great green shade over his eyes and nose; and he was hunched, as if with age or weakness, and wore a huge old tattered sea-cloak with a hood, which made him appear positively deformed.

No-one knew his real name, most referring to him simply as ‘Blind Hill’. The reason for his disability had been lost in the mists of time. Some say he copped a short one to the temple on a green-top at Hove, while representing Minor Counties East. Others that a New South Wales seamer poked his eyes out during a Sheffield Shield game when, as the standing umpire, he turned down a plumb LBW.

Nowadays he trudged between the wicket and square leg, refusing to raise his finger, preferring to issue the Black Spot to any poor, unfortunate soul unlucky enough to nick off to the keeper.

Once he received the Black Spot a batsman had a mere 15 seconds to plead for his life. Clemency was infrequently shown”