Don’t Ask Why, it Just Is.


Bradman in Canada, Toronto. The Australian players photographed with the cast of The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) including Boris Karloff (as Fu Manchu, back row), Myrna Loy (middle front row) and director Charles Brabin (far right, back row). Bradman is seated 2nd front row, far right. Image courtesy of The Sir Donald Bradman Scrapbook Collection at The State Library of South Australia

The greatest ever batsman, Donald Bradman in Canada, Toronto. The Australian players photographed with the cast of The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) including Boris Karloff (as Fu Manchu, back row), Myrna Loy (middle front row) and director Charles Brabin (far right, back row). Bradman is seated 2nd front row, far right. Image courtesy of The Sir Donald Bradman Scrapbook Collection at The State Library of South Australia

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Batters Battered


Does your team have a useless top order ? Do you suffer from repeated batting collapses ? Is the local Umpire suffering from RSI ? Your problems are solved ! Kit out the local Ump in one of my T-shirts, then he need only flash his chest to the feckless batter standing 22yrds away. Available in a range of colours and terminal slogans.

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Captain Cooking


Hobart, Day 1: England 318-0 vrs Australia A (pronounced “Us-tral-ya Eh?”).
Cook & Carberry set the record for the “Highest 1st wicket Partnership by an England Pair against a Bowling attack Consisting entirely of Chuckers”.

Support your team. Loads of colours, sizes & designs on tees, polos and rugbys at www.genericlogocompany.co.uk

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Misty Water-Coloured Memories of the Way We Was


If you ever need proof that there was, indeed, a God, you need look no further than the fascinating news story that they have unearthed a couple of very early episodes of Dr Who, which up to now had been presumed lost. Wiped. Erased. They had ceased to be. Bereft of life, they rested in peace. After transmission, the intelligentsia at the BBC decided (and, let’s face it, who could argue with them in this instance) that all traces of performances by Fraser Hinds — he of Emmerdale Farm fame— should be deleted, destroyed and copied over with episodes of Pogles’ Wood. They needed the space and this sort of tosh should make way for future, quality programing — say, Michael Bentine‘s Potty Time (it meant something different then than it does now).

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Clue: Front row, brown patterned socks, open crotch.

Sadly, copies of the offending articles were unearthed in Guinea-Bissau, or somesuch place. So the geeks and the gits of the Dr Who Brethren can sit there, cup-a-soup cradled in hand, and relive 1960s shite telly. 14 minutes of badly-restored cardboard theatre and wooden actors, but which nevertheless get us ready for the next series of BBC World’s Syndication Sensation, adverts and all. Having turned 34-and-bit yesterday, I am old enough to remember when Dr Who, Blake Seven and The Brothers were all we had to watch if we didn’t want to go and play with weird uncle Colin and his ‘finger puppets’ in the garden. No Sky TV or ITV8 for us, but at least the BBC was commercial-free and still employed professional entertainers and real journalists. (Come Dancing and David Icke apart).

(As an aside there is a house down my road which the inhabitants have hilariously named “Gallifrey” — I kid you not— complete with name plaque. I got a wee bit tiddly last night and The Incumbent had to pull me away as we walked past, lest I piddled in the garden and over the sign).

Isn’t it uncanny (if not astounding), that every time there is a new Dr Who Series in the offing, someone in Ulaanbaatar unearths an episode starring Patrick Troughton or Jon Pertwee or the like (odd that that they always leave the shows starring Sylvester McCoy buried in the attic)? Just when your mind wanders off the subject, the BBC ‘news’ announced someone’s found Tom Baker’s “original” scarf, or Paul McGann’s  long lost “talent”.  If you’ve ever watched The BBC DailyMailBreakfast Show, you’ll know what I mean: New Series Advert Masquerades as News Item. Every single sodding morning. We sit there and take it all in, like The Emperors New Clothes or the new Petshop Boys Single. I predict a riot. Some day.

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Rare image depicting The 1978 Dartford Hair Parting Famine. U13s Purdey Appreciation XV. Clue: Front row, early signs of obesity, small boy at side, open crotch

When I had a proper job, (they used to pay me to look at snaps, pix, photographs— ART , darling!) every 4.6 months someone would offer me snaps “never before seen” of Marilyn Monroe; Every 5 weeks I’d be shown a “new and exciting” set of pics of 1950 cars, still being used as Taxis in Havana, Cuba. But to be fair (and I’m nothing but fair) these monkeys  sorry, photographers, were only trying to earn a living. They were not to know they were the 73rd to offer the exact same thing. I’ve been offered a black & white set of images of an empty supermarket, shot in the name of “art” (I didn’t buy it), and worse was even asked once by a supposed journalist (I do hope to God she no longer exists in this space/time continuum) for “all the great photos of Diana that have never been published”. Honest, that’s what she asked me to find.  I have witnesses. She had a million ideas like this. The same person asked for a photo of “a woman breathing”. Oh ! and of a woman/model “who looks older than she actually is”. Think about that one for a while. She outlasted me at the paper.

I won’t say her name, cos it would embarrass her. Or maybe it wouldn’t. So thank, you Corinna Honan for years of chuckles over those, and all your other hilarious requests [subs- can someone edit this name out before it goes to print please. thanks] . I’ve just Googled her. She works for The Daily Mail !  Ha !  You couldn’t write this stuff. Even though I just have.

So in the spirit of not having anything to say, anything to advertise or promote (although, I do know of a sensational shop which has a thousand of ideas for Christmas gifts for all the family. More on that, here, after 9 o’clock. Now here’s Carol with an awfully bad guess at the weather) I thought I’d show you, as my 34th Birthday gift to you, from me, these two completely irrelevant photos, recently unearthed by experts in Dartford, Kent, and published today by me in Dartford…er…Kent. No angle, nothing to promote. I just found em.

Just thought I’d show them to you. Let this be a warning to younger readers. Say no to Guinness and Ginsters Pasties (whether they are made by Dwarfs, or otherwise). Resist the temptations of Tesco’s Trifle and Scrumpy Jack. Look how gorgeous I was and how I’ve ended up.

The end.

Now here’s an advert.

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A Funny Thing Didn’t Happen on the Way to the Forum


When the moon hits your eye
Like a big pizza pie
You’re Pissed

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In the background, the massive Mt Vesuvius, an active volcano which erupts, on average, every 50 years. In the foreground the massive Mike Bealing, an inactive 48 year old who’s trousers erupt, on average, every 24 hours, plus a matinee on Saturdays. (Baseball cap courtesy of Small Boy Fashions inc, Sorrento.)

Those few of you who take an interest in these things, and who glean all sorts of delight in the numerous mishaps which befall me every time I rub shoulders with my fellow European Citizens will be amazed, if not a little disappointed, that our Italian Campaign passed without incident. Almost.

But like so many things — Ben Elton’s funny period or a solid stool — it all seems to be a distant memory…

(queue harp)…………

We arrived in Sorrento on a bright, hot September morning. The place was buzzing. An enormous cruise ship had relieved itself of its cargo of fat American pensioners, making it nigh on impossible to purchase any over-priced beer, linen or lemon-based products, try as I might. Rumour has it the Costa Concordia flipped over when a couple from Wisconsin leant over the rails to feed the seagulls. I don’t believe this. I think they were trying to eat the birds. So, taking their lead, we settled down to the first in a series of pizza & ice cream snacks, enjoyed the hot September sun and decided we’d chosen the right spot for our first break in a while.

It’s not what you’d call a beach resort, and my eyes lit up when I discovered there was only one ‘disco’ in town, and that was at the other end of town. I would just have to put up with great food & wine and a lack of boozed-up bastards from Barnsley and Bournemouth wrecking the town every night. That’s not to say that the Brits aren’t catered for. There is a “English Inn” on the main street, right opposite an Oirish Bar (both doing a ‘Full English and Guinness on tap”) which, for the most part The Incumbent and I gleefully avoided. For the most part.

Slow Cooked Water Buffalo enjoying his meal.

A large portion of Water Buffalo enjoying his dinner.

For most of our stay, the sun shone, the booze flowed and the food arrived by the skip load. But we weren’t the only ones enjoying a regular bite. So were the mozzies. If there is one breed of animal that The Incumbent attracts more than Neapolitan handbag salesmen it’s mosquitos.  Every morning we would idle away a couple of hours counting up and applying ointment to the previous evenings mozzie bites. She even got bitten on the verandah, which brought tears to her eyes. After a while, the critters had had their fill of the missus, and started on my extremities.

In an attempt to put off these little bastards, we’d brought from Blighty an industrial-sized tube of Deet insect repellant. I would carry it around in my pocket when we went out for a stroll of an evening — or at least I did until a passing scouser pointed at this long bulge in my pocket and decided to ask his cap-tee’d mates if they could see the size of “that fat bloke’s knob end ?” We continued our promenading activities at pace, diving into the nearest Trattoria for our seventh meal of the day. As the insect repellant was with us (though sadly we were out of scouser repellant) we decided to apply another layer as we waited for the menu. The whiff was overpowering, and I extinguished the table candle as a precaution. She needed me to cover her shoulder blades in the stuff, and I made sure I had some Deet for my Feet (Sugar for my Honey). I wanted the fish, which was something of a speciality around those parts. The waiter arrived and I ordered in my best Engtalian “Carbonara for bonna Signora, and oh, Sole mio”. It was all he could do not to spit at me.

They brought us whisky, and gin and beer… I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks. Though they didn’t get to play with my 4 x 2.

But please don’t get the impression that all we did was sit around and eat. No, no, no. That was only 85% of the time. We went on day trips too. No visit to the area would be complete with a visit to Pompeii. It’s really worth a visit, if only to escape the endless piped Opera music (if you’ve ever been to the West Indies and suffered Bob Marley overdose, you’ll understand when I say I never want to hear Caruso again. Neither him nor his Man Friday).

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Us at the Forum, Pompeii. Proof positive that there is an upper age limit, beyond which it is impossible to take a decent selfie.

But the ruins of the once thriving city, sadly lost to the world in 79AD due to the huge eruption of nearby Vesuvius. Our guide Paula, pronounced PouWla, was a local girl who had clearly grown up on a heady diet of Benny Hill Shows and Bunga Bunga parties. She was a fag paper away from snorting fnarr fnarr as she concentrated and pointed out to us each and every “Three Dee Willee” on the road or on the walls. These protruding pointing penises might, she mused, have indicated the position of a brothel, or historians now think Pompeii residents could have used the phallus images as a protection against evil spirits. (Tonight, try getting your willy out in front of your missus and telling her it’s for her own protection. It doesn’t work — believe me.)

What would have been much more interesting would have been if she had told us about the popularity of cricket in this ancient roman metropolis. I myself saw clear evidence of a thriving cricket culture in existence. Who knows? If it hadn’t been for the devastation of the volcano, Italian cricket might now rival that of Australia, or perhaps even one of the major Test-playing nations ?

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(l) The Author gives his pitch report at the Pompeii Oval (a dusty one which was bound to spin on the 4th day) while recreating a Roman sight screen; (r) The remains of the scorecard to the match which was abandoned by eruption. Reg made 15 in the 1st innings. No record has been found of who was bowling at the time.

My exclusive and World’s-1st discovery of the Pompeii Ageas Oval was, as you can imagine, pretty much the highlight of the tour. There was of course the time in Napoli itself. We travelled there by boat, and on our arrival at Naples docks, two Australians with placards were shouting “Send the Boats Back”. We assumed they were lost. Later we sat outside a cafe in one of the less salubrious parts of the city (as opposed to all the many, many, lovely areas….er…) chugging away on bottles of Peroni and listening to Funiculi, Funicula for the 28th time that day. A grin burst across The Incumbent’s face as she watched and listened to the two rather vocal young women behind me.

I hadn’t realised these girls were of the working variety and that every tourist, workman or delivery boy who walked past were treated to the sight of them pulling down the lurex boob tubes and flashing their gnocchi. The going rate was, apparently, “10”. We didn’t hang around to find out if that was Euros or Lira: I glanced over my shoulder and it was a terrifying sight. It was clear to me that at least one of these birds was once christened as a geezer and those chicken fillets he was waggling at the lads were new additions to her being, (matching nicely with her adams apple which was the size of The Vatican). Any version of Funiculi, Funicula  playing once he/she got a victim back to her/his gaff would be merely to accompany him being mashed, bashed and slammed on the floor. Speaking for myself I’d rather hold it in my hand.

It could truly be a case of see Nipples & Die. (© National Joke museum 1923).

Naples: Bust of "Gaveen" —patron Saint of Big Noses.

Naples: Bust of “Gaveen” — Italian Patron Saint of Big Noses.

English Try not to Lose Match. Questions in the House.


Australia scored a huge moral victory today when the world’s media decided, as one, that the England Cricket Team were batting too slowly. In a test match. Newspapers and media commentators from both ends of the globe were united in their damning of English tactics in the Fifth and final Test at The Oval.

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Down under, Ockers in bars across the colony— from Wagga all the way to Wagga—could be heard to whine in celebratory unison at the attack on the English decision (on the season’s slowest pitch) not to lose the match and consolidate their 3-0 lead. The Aussie team, led by skipper Michael ‘Bloody’ Clarke, and in lieu of bowling the opposition out, opted for calling Pietersen nasty names and bowling the ball to 2nd slip (presumably as some sort or Homage d’Harmison). This enormous vote of disapproval at the speed of the English batsmen means the scoreline in the series has now changed to …er…3-0 to England.

Not since a girl called Mary was followed about everywhere she went by her companion with a fleece as white as snow has there been such constant bleating for so long. Much has been made about the plummeting of Australia down the Test Match Rankings, but the ACB will be proud of the fact that their fans have reached the top of the Whinging Fans Table, removing French Rugby Supporters from the top of the “Whole World’s Against Us Championship” (Sponsored by Brains Beer).

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But this is no fluke, no flash in the pan. It has been worked on all summer, ever since the Aussie Tourists lost to Roedean Girls School by an innings and 74 runs on a slow turner in May. While the Strines‘ Upper, Upper Middle and Lower Middle batting order practised batting collapses, the fans were drawing up a war chest of moans, complaints and whines to be gradually introduced to and shot at the English public throughout the season.

And how they’ve fired them off:

The Umpires are too foreign; DRS is too unreliable; The grounds are too small (they can’t get tickets to the matches so they can moan about the English); The pitches are too dry; it only rains when we’re winning ; Stuart Broad is a Cheat; Root provoked the Punch (and he’s a cheat); they’re batting too slow; the commentators are too posh/biased/insulting/use long words; The grass is too green (ok, I made that last one up—but only that one) . etc etc etc.

The ICC are investigating claims by the BCCI, the ruling body of Indian Cricket, that they have the monopoly on Sore Losing, and that the Aussies are in danger or breaching their copyright on it.

The MCC have made a formal apology to Australia and indeed the whole of the Commonwealth and given an undertaking that they won’t try to save a cricket match again, or ensure that they don’t give the opposition a sniff.  Rather they will play dashing, exciting cricket, giving no heed to throwing away the contest. It is believed the have contacted Mickey Arthur with a view to a possible advisory role.

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In a totally unrelated incident, Police have discovered a small heard of sheep in a bar in Brisbane. The animals have remained undetected in the Inn for six weeks, mingling with the local sports fans. They were only given away when one of their member got into a fight with a group of cricket fans when he asked them to keep the bleating down.

Malcolm Conn is 108

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.)

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“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”

Everything Stops for Tea


Old style: players are served tea at Headingley 1938 © Joe Darling, Australia's flinty captain, suggested a tea-break when he led the 1899 team to England, and it was taken up after a fashion - refreshments were brought out to the players on the field. In 1902 the same system applied, and it wasn't till 1905, with Darling still in charge, that the players officially left the field.

Old style: players are served tea at Headingley 1938 © Joe Darling, Australia’s flinty captain, suggested a tea-break when he led the 1899 team to England, and it was taken up after a fashion – refreshments were brought out to the players on the field. In 1902 the same system applied, and it wasn’t till 1905, with Darling still in charge, that the players officially left the field.

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