…And the Nominations Are…


Let’s have a quick round-up of the nominees for this year’s award for
Best Picture with a (Non) Sporting Theme:

cranium

Starring Alan Pardew and David Meyler. Dir: Alan Pardew.
(Also nominated for “We Need to talk about Alan”).

.

coma

Starring Harald Schumacher and the body of Patrick Battiston.

.
crouching

Star: Eric Cantona. Prod: Eric Cantona. Dir:Eric Cantona. From an original screenplay by Eric Cantona. Half time oranges by Eric Cantona. And some fishermen.

.

french

Star: Zinedine ‘Popeye’ Zidane.

.

hairspray

Prod: Andrew Lloyd Webber & Michael Ball. Exec Prods: Frank Rijkaard & Rudi Voller.

.

kungfu

 Star: Nigel de Jong. Prod: Michel Platini & Stepp Ladder.

.

platoonStar: Maradona. Music. Lyrics & Choreography: Madonna.

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.

6701565257_28209b7151_b

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.

301301_10150346812134461_351433659460_8001563_1264586319_n

6nationgridadvert

Bonjour, Bonjour, Bonjour


Now here’s a bloke who’s apparently world famous in France. He appears to be hell-bent on upsetting the rozzers. He must be black & blue from the beatings he takes, all in the name of been rather funny.

Je suis non parlez le Francis very good, but it seems to be this is an advert for an upcoming movie or tv show. If I knew anyone who lived across the Channel who could actually speak the language, I’d ask him.

Til then, enjoy Remi Gaillard and his never-ending quest to annoy coppers. Shame on him !

I caught by the fuzz once, but that’s another story.

Farewell to the real Charlotte Grey


From the BBC today:

Australia WWII agent Nancy Wake’s ashes scattered

702450-nancy-wake
The ashes of Australia’s most decorated World War II servicewoman, former saboteur and spy Nancy Wake, have been scattered at a ceremony in France. The service took place in a forest near the village of Verneix, whose mayor attended the ceremony, as did an Australian military representative.

Mrs Wake died in 2011 at the age of 98. It had been her wish that her ashes be scattered in the area, where she played a key role in the resistance movement against German occupation. Australia was represented at the ceremony by military attache Brig Bill Sowry.

“We are here today to pass on our respects, to give her the respect she deserves,” Brig Sowry said. It’s great the people of Verneix have done so much to recognise her and make this little part of France part of Australia as well.”

Mrs Wake was partial to an early morning gin-and-tonic and after her ashes were scattered, there was – as she had apparently asked for – a drinks reception at the local mayor’s office.

 

Mrs Wake was one of the most highly decorated Allied secret agents of World War II. Born in New Zealand but raised in Australia, she is credited with helping hundreds of Allied personnel escape from occupied France.

The German Gestapo named her the “White Mouse” because she was so elusive.

The ceremony took place in the grounds of a chateau in central France

After studying journalism in London, Mrs Wake became a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune in Paris and reported on the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany. After visiting Vienna in 1933, she vowed to fight against the persecution of Jews.

nancy-wake2

After the fall of France in 1940, Mrs Wake became a French Resistance courier and later a saboteur and spy – setting up escape routes and sabotaging German installations, saving hundreds of Allied lives.

She worked for British Special Operations and was parachuted into France in April 1944 before D-Day to deliver weapons to French Resistance fighters.

At one point, she was top of the Gestapo’s most wanted list.

“Freedom is the only thing worth living for. While I was doing that work, I used to think it didn’t matter if I died, because without freedom there was no point in living,” she once said of her wartime exploits.

It was only after the liberation of France that she learned her husband, French businessman Henri Fiocca, had been tortured and killed by the Gestapo for refusing to give her up.

She returned to Australia in 1949, where she failed several times to win a seat in parliament.

In 1957 she went back to England, where she married RAF fighter pilot John Forward.

Her story inspired Sebastian Faulks’ 1999 novel Charlotte Gray. A film based on the book, with the lead role played by Australian actress Cate Blanchett, was released in 2001.

…And the Winner Is


 Best Performance in a Leading Roll (in a Foreign Comedy)

frederick Michelak

In a tightly contested race, the award of biggest comedian on show yesterday went to the French No.10 Frédéric Michalak for his near perfect portrayal of an explosion in an idiot factory during an amateur production of Les Miserables in Paris last night. Michelak, although easily carrying off the award (while trying not to drop it), had to fight off some pretty strong competition, notably from the likes of The Stade de France groundsman, Monsieur Herbe du Somme; Scotland’s own Jim Hamilton for Sunday Morning Lummox —his harrowing portrayal of a 1974 ExB Lock Forward with a forearm smash addiction; and Luciano Orquera, the Italian Outside-Half for his reprise of the Daniel Day Lewis‘s role from My Left Foot.

But in the end the award rightly went to Michelak for possibly the most embarrassing display by an old man on a sports field since Muhammed Ali ‘fought’ Trevor Berbick or Henry Leconte stopped his ‘zany’ antics on the ATP veterans tour. Michelak, of course, even in his prime could never be accused of having been an Ali, but yesterday many french rugby fans were heard to dub him “Leconte”. Or something like that.

The 30 year of from the south of France (born To Lose Toulouse 1982) is also in the running for Worst Director of 14 Other Men, and The Academys honorary Do Us All a Favour and Hang Up Your Boots Award (colloquially known as The Warnie), but has been withdrawn from circulation until further notice, having been found to contain at least 90% donkey.

No Closer: The Topless Photos they Dare not Publish.


There are times when you try to get away from it all. If, like me, you live in the public eye those times are rapidly becoming few and far between.

I am like everyone else in that I do like to have time to myself. While I fully appreciate that it is you, the fan and the reader who have made me into what I am, I do expect the press and media to respect the difference between my public life and my private one.

The editors at French magazine Closer saw sense and decided not to publish topless photos of me, on the grounds of good taste and for the public good. No-one wants to see that over their cornflakes.

One can only hope the British press – following the unfortunate incident with the Prince Harry photos earlier this month – decide to heed Lord Leveson’s directions and leave these snaps where they should be left : in the back of a camera, in the bottom of a forgotten drawer.

Just like “Waity” Katy, my body betrays my eating habits (I’m more “Weighty” than waity, and it may not be a sight to everyone’s taste. In the past, this seems to hold no sway with the picture editors of Fleet Street. But please, I beg of you, think of the children and say “Non” to paparazzi pics.

Thank You.

And now, some music.

(Picture below taken with a very short, wide lens)