Frostbite or Verbals…


Sad to see that Bob Hoskins has left us today. Always seemed to me like a decent bloke, and a very convincing actor. There’s that famous yarn about him getting his first break in acting when he accompanied a mate along to a theatre and fell into an audition himself. He landed the part and the rest, as they say…

Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins: Mona Lisa

Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins: Mona Lisa 1984

Bob never knew it, (and even if he did I doubt if he’d have cared) that he got me through English A-Level. In a moment of weakness I’d neglected to read the set Shakespeare work —Othello that year (1982/3)— but, as luck would have it, the blessed BBC decided to show their production of the play staring Anthony Hopkins as the Mad Taff Moor, and Hoskins as Iago. Both were brilliant in their roles, Hoskins especially. It’s a hell of a lot easier remembering quotes and plot lines when you have a strong image of a Cock-er-ney Geezer delivering each line like he was asking for a pint and a pie down the Old Kent Road. So thanks Bob for getting me my one decent qualification. Yours is the performance by which I judge all others — which rather puts Kenny Brnnnnnnaaaaaagh at a disadvantage.

Hoskins was Roger who fell for Jessica Rabbit, could play anything from Capt Hook’s Smee, a jobsworth plumber in Brazil and a gangster in The Cotton Club. But he’ll doubtless be best remembered for his brilliant and brutal portrayal of Harold Shand in The Long Good Friday. The only thing more fascinating than the 1980 London backdrop is his peerless performance.

British cinema rightly boasts of Dickie Attenborough as Pinky Brown in Brighton Rock;  Michael Cain’s Jack Carter in the superb Get Carter, whose direct descendent is Don Logan in Sexy Beast. Standing shoulder to shoulder with these three is Harold Shand. A great British Gangster.  The Mafia ?  I’ve shit ’em

Some quotes from one of THE most quotable of all movies:

Harold: (announcing his big plans) I’m setting up the biggest deal in Europe with the hardest organization since Hitler stuck as swastika on his jockstrap.

bob-hoskins-the-long-good-friday-poster-557890661-2

Pool Attendant: (informing Harold of his mate Colin’s death). They kept it all incognito. They’re gonna collect the body in an ice cream van.
Harold: There’s a lot of dignity in that, isn’t there? Going out like a raspberry ripple.

Harold: Alan found him dying. He’d been nailed to the floor.
Jeff: When was this, then?
Harold: Well, it must’ve been just after you saw him and just before Alan saw him. Otherwise, you’d have noticed, wouldn’t you? I mean, a geezer nailed to the floor. A man of your education would definitely have spotted that, wouldn’t he?

Casino Manager: It was a good night. Nothing unusual.
Harold: “Nothing unusual,” he says! Eric’s been blown to smithereens, Colin’s been carved up, and I’ve got a bomb in me casino, and you say nothing unusual?

THE-LONG-GOOD-FRIDAY

Harold: (holding a gun in his pocket) Move to the car, Billy, or I’ll blow your spine off.
Billy: That’s not a shooter, is it, Harold?
Harold: Oh don’t be silly, Billy. Would I come hunting for you with me fingers?

Harold(on learning that the Yanks have pulled out of the deal)  I’m glad I found out in time just what a partnership with a pair of wankers like you would’ve been. A sleeping partner’s one thing, but you’re in a fucking coma! No wonder you got an energy crisis your side of the water!

Harold: The Mafia? I’ve shit ’em.

Harold: (bidding The Americans a fond farewell) What I’m looking for is someone who can contribute to what England has given to the world: culture, sophistication, genius. A little bit more than an ‘ot dog, know what I mean?

Harold: (to the captured mobsters, trussed up in a deep freeze). Right… it’s up to you. Frostbite or verbals…

thelonggoodfriday05

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Right Wing Over from the Reichstag End


There a million quips to be had from this story: N.F.Farage opening for the Gentlemen etc but I shall desist. So instead of reporting this to you in my own words, and not being able to do it justice, here’s the full story from todays Beeb website.  As a regular (every morning about 6:30) cricket tourist, I am not sure I’d have made myself available for this one. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating read. Great stuff.

The English cricket team that toured Nazi Germany

Vintage cricket bat and ball

The visits of sports teams to Nazi Germany in the 1930s still generate controversy today, from the Berlin Olympics’ anti-Semitism to the England football team’s Nazi salute in 1938. But a new book tells the story of a cricket team from Worcestershire that found itself at the centre of a now-forgotten furore.

In August 1937 the Gentlemen of Worcestershire cricket club arrived in Berlin to compete in three games organised by members of the Nazi hierarchy who had developed an interest in the sport.

The Nazi Reichsportsfuhrer Hans von Tschammer und Osten had visited England to watch the Davis Cup tennis semi-final between Germany and USA at Wimbledon. He was also invited to Lord’s as part of a tour of the summer’s sporting events, where he watched Middlesex beat Worcestershire.

The MCC recorded the visit, and it’s likely that von Tschammer met Maj Maurice Jewell, a former Worcestershire player and stalwart of the Gentlemen of Worcestershire, and asked him to bring a cricket team to Berlin. The Gents, as they are still known, are one of the oldest surviving cricket teams in the world, having played their first match in 1848. Known as a wandering or nomadic club, with no home ground, the team has always been made up of a group of cricket enthusiasts and predated Worcestershire County Cricket Club.

German newspaper of the time advertising the tour by the "gentlemen von Worcestershire"A German newspaper reports the tour of “die Gentlemen von Worcestershire”

After the Nazi minister’s request, Jewell was able to rustle up a team of wealthy gentlemen, five of whom had played first class cricket for Worcestershire, as well public schoolboys who could travel within a few weeks to Berlin.

Peter Robinson, a 16-year-old schoolboy, “was taken on the tour to make up the numbers”, says Dan Waddell, author of Field of Shadows, which tells the story of the 1937 tour. But Robinson ended up playing every match after a regular was taken ill with pneumonia. In a letter sent home on 4 August 1937, Robinson describes drinking on the morning they arrived: “It is about 9.15 am. The beer here is much nicer than in England.”

The Gentlemen were too good for the Germans and won all three games comfortably.

But what went on off the pitch was more remarkable. The team arrived in Berlin as the city was celebrating its 700th anniversary in an event manufactured by Nazi propagandists as another excuse to show off military might in a series of parades.

Berlin August 1937Berlin, August 1937: The cricket tour arrived during Nazi celebrations of the city’s 700th birthday

The Gents were asked to give the Nazi salute before their first match. As dutiful guests, they obliged.

“I think they were just being polite” says Waddell, who tracked down diaries and scrapbooks handed down by the players to their relatives. “They would have hated to have been seen to be impolite, or snubbing their hosts.”

German newspaper photo of English touring cricketers

Richard Williams bats for the Gents during the tour

The salute occurred just after the team had arrived, but by the time they left Berlin, their attitudes had changed. “If they’d been asked to do that for the final match they wouldn’t have,” says Waddell. “They refused to have their picture taken with the Reichsportsfuhrer because their unease had grown to such an extent.”

Richard Williams, one of the players, later recalled their departure. “We were lucky and glad to get to the station.” As well as detecting the sinister atmosphere, some players were annoyed by gamesmanship from the Germans. Robinson complained: “I was run out in the match to-day by the bowler. He never bowled the ball and ran me out as I backed up. He never warned me.”

The team had been closely watched during their visit. Although able to enjoy the delights of Berlin’s famous nightlife at first, the close scrutiny under which they were kept had left them increasingly unhappy.

The relations between the two teams were generally good, Waddell says, though they disliked the Berlin captain Gerhard Thamer, “who had a penchant for punching fielders who dropped catches off his bowling”.

The atmosphere of intrigue around the tour led to speculation that one of the English players might have been a spy. Robin Whetherley was a good cricketer, but had no connection at all to Worcestershire or the Gents cricket club. He even travelled separately.

Waddell’s theory is that the English cricket authorities informed the Foreign Office of the tour, and that Whetherley, who spoke German fluently, was asked to join the team and gather information. “There was a very good chance he was sent along by London to keep a very close eye on what everyone was up to, and perhaps when he came back, travel to Whitehall and have a chat to somebody,” says Waddell.

Whetherley was killed in the Balkans during the war, while serving with British special forces.

All of the players served King and country in the ensuing war, and perhaps because of embarrassment rarely spoke about the cricket tour. One of the players later described Germany as a “strange place” and said they could hear the sounds of gunfire in the background when they played some matches.

The players witnessed a torchlit procession along the Unter Den Linden which was described as “alarming and eerie”.

Worcestershire County cricket groundWorcestershire County cricket ground

A small number of Germans – including enthusiast Felix Menzel – kept the game alive. In 1945, along with a few equally bedraggled friends, he emerged from the rubble to challenge a group of extremely surprised British troops to a game of cricket. They played and the British team won, narrowly.

But Menzel is now an obscure figure and even the world of English cricket has long forgotten the 1937 tour.

©BBC

Lost & Found


The end of another traumatic week, one way or another. Thankfully this week wasn’t all about me or the member of staff in a pub I’d abused in some way (though it’s early yet). No, this week was certainly all about The Incumbent Mrs B — the long-suffering female who’s been so lucky over the past few years to have the pleasure of living with me. If you stick your head out of the window you may be able to hear another chunk of Crimean cannon ball being filed down as they make her Victoria Cross. Nobody said it was gonna be easy, kid. And they were right. I’d like to take this opportunity here and now to apologise to The Incumbent for all the pain and sorry she has gone through on my behalf over the years, and state categorically that it won’t happen again. Not unless I get drunk tonight.

Proving that there should be an age-limit to prevent old people attempting selfies. That's Mt Vesuvius in the middle, no idea who the two people in the foreground are.

Proving that there should be an age-limit to prevent old people attempting selfies. That’s Mt Vesuvius in the background , no idea who the two people in the foreground are.

So, first some good news: the hunt for the Incumbent’s family continues. Those of you in the know will understand this house has recently become a poor man’s version of Who Do You Think You Are ?  (I’m appearing next year on BBC3’s highly successful “Why Do You Think You Are ?” where, if you can’t justify your existence, you are made to sit down and watch a whole episode of The Call Centre —a show worse than anything Jack Whitehall has come up with.**)

Our version doesn’t have a film crew, a producer or mood music; we haven’t had to fly Mrs B around the globe (I had to drive her to Feltham once); and there’s not even a visit to the British Museum or a Holocaust Memorial in sight, but I’m hoping the Beeb or even 5 might pick us up sooner or later. I won’t go into too many details here — as The Incumbent will want to tell you her story in her own words, and probably with more accuracy and clarity, but suffice to say that she’s  suddenly become the rather shocked relation of a slew of new full-sisters, half-sisters, short dogs and tall nephews and heaven knows how many other assorted family members.  Good news indeed after such a long search. However, having traced her lineage, if Nigel Farage (rhymes with garage) ever comes to power my Missus will be one of the first he’ll send back home to the continent. I do hope so anyway — as if Farage (as in marriage) and his mob get in I’m going to need somewhere to stay as I shall be packing my bags and will be on the boat right behind her. Like Kaiser Wilhelm II before me, I fancy my own place in the sun.

Mid-week she lost her favourite pen. It was a nice one, a present bought by a dear friend, and it was her favourite shopping list-writing tool. We have had the house turned upside down but cannot find it anywhere. It could have been lost anywhere between Canterbury in Kent and Feltham in Middx.:  Approx 88 miles, according to Google Maps. The pen is fitted with a tracking device, but you have to clip it to your top pocket before you can actually hear the signal it sends out. The battery on the tracker last up to 4 minutes. Some have said this is a design fault. I have poo-poohed such suggestions. Me and a chinese mate attached a microphone to a broomstick and went and sat in his rubber dinghy just off Erith Marshes, dangling the mic in the water. Oddly, nothing has turned up yet, but I’ll let you know.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 08.46.57

 

Anyway, the point of this tribute to my very own Leader of the Opposition is to wish her a very happy birthday. Sad to say, m’lady, you will never be as old as me, and don’t you enjoy telling me so ? One of us has a very significant, important and depressing birthday this year but unfortunately it’s not you. So enjoy it while you can, and as is traditional on these occasions: it’s your round. xx

 

Woman with Cake

Woman with Cake

** correct at time of going to press.

Taking My Business Elswhere


We’ve come full circle.

From being asked, albeit politely, to leave a Harvester ‘pub’ last weekend, to barring myself from my once very favourite pub last night.

Both were completely justified.

The first incident occurred when, after and because I was on the outside of two or three bottles of house shiraz. I then decided, for better or worse, that I needed another bottle (and one for yourself). But in my excitement, haste and eagerness to replenish my glass and that of my accomplices on this Leo Sayer of Leo Sayers, I may have forgotten myself as I chivvied along the barmaid, who may or may not have been one of the worst you’ve ever seen.

Leo Sayer — All Dayer

Leo Sayer — All Dayer

I don’t like Harvester, never have done. It is a chain of foody ‘pubs’ over here and throughout good ol’ Blighty which is the very embodiment of everything I hate about modern drinking. Acres of dining tables, and occasionally tended drinking areas, or “bars” as they like to call them. They are restaurants with a beer counter attached. They are the Nigel Farage (rhymes with garage) of Holsteries. The Paul McCartney of pubs, the Mike Bushell of Boozers in which to enjoy a Sunday afternoon quaff.

” I say” quoth you “shall we go to the Bill Turnbull, the Sally Nugent or the Charlie Stayt for a pint ?” “Nah” comes the reply “let’s go to the Mike Bushell. It’s not a real pub, but it’ll do, don’t cha think ?”.  (You may find this odd, but that’s how the “shall we go for a pint in the Harvester” conversation  sounds in my head. I bet it does in yours too)

And I’m just like you. To save a row, you go along. After all, this time it’s definitely not all about YOU, is it ? This is not your day and you go with the flow. That’s what makes you a civilised human being, isn’t it ? Someone who people like and admire, someone who considers other people’s opinions and feelings. Even if you hate the pub you’re walking into.

In truth, I’ve always hated that pub, even when it tried to be a proper pub. Back in black&white it used to go by the name of The Rising Sun, and it was always last on our young drinkers list of places to go for an evening’s entertainment. It was huge and uninteresting, more like an pub in Essex, not one in The Garden of England, (or even in the bit I live— The Allotment of England). Huge, overrated and uninteresting, in that David-Walliams-sort-of-way. Now, apparently it still goes the name of the Rising Sun, but known to all as “The Harvey”. Or sometimes “The Bushell” (though probably only by me.)

Harvester Logo_salad-grill

But none of this by any means excuses me for what I apparently said to this person serving — or otherwise— me that afternoon. Early into that next bottle I was asked by the manager of the pub if I had a minute, was taken to a quiet corner of the bar, and was kindly asked to leave the pub as I had been rude — “in the extreme”— to the young lady behind the bar. First hand accounts are scarce and differ slightly about what happened and who said what to who(m). What seems to be clear is that, to paraphrase Sesame Street, this conversation was brought to by the letters U, T, N & C and by the words  SLOW, USELESS and YOU.

I was asked to leave on the grounds that I was “rude and tipsy”.  It was, apparently, a fair cop, guv. That was a week ago, and it took some getting over. Angst and shame. Using inappropriate language; not being able to remember saying that rude word, or indeed anything, to the barmaid; being barred from a pub, however awful, and thus having to curtail my assault on the Dartford Shiraz surplus. I have, however, gradually been able to come to terms with my actions by way of convincing myself that a) she may well have (or probably) made it all up; b) she was indeed slow and useless (though not necessarily a utnc); c) I never liked the pub anyway. If, indeed, a pub it be.

I moved on.

Mid week, I found myself in The People’s Republic of Luton having beer & sandwiches with a couple of the locals.

13532997045_cac797b6e2_b

Strange lot. It appears they grow up with either too much hair, or none at all. However, they do know how to run a boozer, as the chaps in The Castle pub, castle street — next to the castle (how do they come up with these names ?) illustrates. Good beer, proper, quick and attentive bar staff, no food, original decor (well, underneath the old folk music flyers there was original decor.) It restored my faith in pubs and the people therein. It was clean, well stocked, reasonable priced and catered for the beer-and-wine-drinking community as a whole.  Hairies and baldies alike.

 

Marianne Faithfull, The Salisbury Pub, London by Gered Mankowitz

Marianne Faithfull, The Salisbury Pub, London. Photo by Gered Mankowitz

Cut to yesterday afternoon when I strolled manfully through London’s Covent Garden, leading The Incumbent and two friends to my very favourite watering hole the capital has to offer. Anyone who has ever met me for a drink in London over the past 30 years will have been asked by me if “we could go to The Sailisbury, St Martin’s Lane”. In the heart of London’s Theatre Land, this is what a pub should be. Great beer, friendly staff (apart from that time one of them charged me over four quid for a pint of Peroni, but then I wasn’t very friendly either), beautiful, original features like cut glass partitions, red velvet seats and a sticky paisley carpet. Even though they serve hot food to punters, it is just my favourite pub in town, almost the world.

Or rather it was.

Since 1892 The Salisbury (or whichever name the pub went by before) has been serving beer, wine and Mars Bars to theatre-goers, revellers, drunks and Marianne Faithfull in these plush, welcoming surroundings. Yesterday, thanks to the marketing men, interior designers, painters, atmosphere-removers and parquet floor-fitters they reduced one of their punters to tears.

Me.

Ok, ok. I had already enjoyed a marvellous lunch up the road, and may have had a beer or eight before I walked into the place, but when I did I cried like a Dartford Barmaid who’s just been call a utnc. It may have been an over-reaction, and you may well look at the snap below and say “ooh that looks nice”, and you may or may not be correct. But truth is they still serve italian lager at over £4-a-pint, they still serve hot food which rids the place of its happy hoppy smell and replaces it with one of gravy & onions and it still attracts far to many backpacking half a shandy brigade. None of this mattered to me before, but now it does. Who gave who(m) the right to go against history and change what drinkers have been enjoying for 120 years ? WHO ?? If I wanted to drink in a Slug & Piano or an Airport Departure Lounge Bar/Wetherspoons* (delete where applicable) I WOULD HAVE GONE TO ONE. Instead I chose to introduce friends to my favourite hostelry. Now they think I like laminate flooring.

13533307484_dd1123ff88_b

The Incumbent, top right, puts on a brave face as The Author shoots photos through the tears, the sorrow and the pain.

So apart from crying in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of a packed pub in the middle of the West End of London, I thought I maintained my composure pretty well. I only posted my complaints on Facebook, Twitter & Beerintheevening.com and alerted the bar staff to my deep concerns— after having dried my eyes, of course — and without using the ‘U’ word once. I used words such as “Awful” “shameful” and “goodbye forever” and meant all of them. Apart from the last two as I still had a gallon of Guinness to cry into.

I now brace myself for those-in-the-know to reply to my various protests, pointing out that The Salisbury “has been altered 17 times over the last 30 years but you’ve just always been too drunk to notice”, which may or may not be accurate and true. However, I’m similar to many people: Although I don’t like Conservatives, I am very conservative. Like a lot of blokes I know, I’d go to the same pub every night of my life and drink the same pint for the rest of my days, as long as no-one changed anything. ANYTHING. I can moan about any and every aspect of the pub, from the price of a pint, to the speed of the barman/maid, the state of the loos to the state of the pickled eggs, pork scratchings and carpet. But I pay enough for a pint and drink enough of them to have an opinion, and it’s MY pub! Not yours — you fly-by-night manager who’ll be off in a couple of years to run that little B&B near Droitwich at the drop of a hat. I’ll be here, come rain-or-shine, moaning, laughing and crying at my regular spot in the corner until I decide I’ve had enough, or you decide to decorate. Or I’m politely asked to leave.

God, I bet they’ll miss me.

 

 

…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.

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.

The Brilliant Harold Ramis


Dr. Egon Spengler: There’s something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don’t cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, “bad”?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

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Another one bites the dust. RIP Harold Ramis.

Hot. Drunk. Smelly.


These are momentous times:

1.GB win more medals at an Olympic Games than any Submerged Country since Atlantis won a Team Silver and two individual Bronzes in Synchronized Drowning at the Carthage Olympics of 204 BC.

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2. Meanwhile. just up the road (about 1400K) in Kiev, Government forces clash with Nationalist protestors as skirmishes and street battles turn very nasty indeed. The last time we heard of the Ukrainian Nationalist movement they were helping the Nazis butcher our Russian allies during WWII, which was good of them. I know half of Eastern Europe and the Baltics sided with Hitler, but at least most of them nowadays have the good grace to apologise for it (even if they don’t mean it). Not this mob. They’re proud of their history. Europe seem to be eager to help out and welcome in these Nazi collaborators — or the Ukraine Independence Party, as we might call them. Seems to work quite nicely.

The Ukrainian Biathlon Team unveil their New kit for Sochi 2014.

The Ukrainian Biathlon Team unveil their New kit for Sochi 2014.

3. I won £25 on the Lotto last night. (Chicken Dansak me up !)

4. Charlton beat QPR yesterday and are still in the FA Cup, at time of writing. (Yes I know this should have got top billing, but there are a couple of subscribers out there who, for reasons best known to themselves, care little for the Addicks. I know, go figure.)

Elsewhere, the Incumbent and I traveled to the newly-opened West London Everglades to visit a recently discovered branch of the family. For years now, my Leader of the Opposition has known deep down that there was someone out there, somewhere, who shared a common interest in alcohol and 80s music, and was as soppy as she was. After a long search of hostels and hospices of the English speaking world, we finally met up with Jack and Daniel, two warm-hearted, foul-mouthed, bourbon-swilling party animals, Owners & DJs at RadioFvckOffUCvnt, and now a little sister and a dirty great brother for my other half.

Not quite Torvill & Dean. The Ed takes to the Ice (and lemon) with Jack (Daniel's upside down under the optic, just out of shot).

Not quite Torvill & Dean. The Ed takes to the Ice (and lemon) with Jack (Daniel is upside down under the optic with The Incumbent,  just out of shot. And focus).

We DJ’d, ate, sang, danced and drank the days and nights away, all weekend long. I’d been dong my very best since Christmas to shed the odd metric ton and it had been going swimmingly well up to that point. I still couldn’t get into my original Speedo Salopettes which had brought me so much success at Sarajevo ’84, but I have dropped a trouser size or two and can even button my socks up. It all went wrong last weekend. The Environment Agency called round to complain about the increased water displacement since I’d devoured that 2nd litre of gin and that extra helping of Sweet&Sour Chicken Balls.

One afternoon (I forget which) Daniel drove me to a local hostelry which was full of sad drunks, scruffy women and barmaids which ignored us. It was like being home again. We must have made for a strange couple. The Tall one (Daniel stands over 7ft 3″) ordered and drank half a diet coke (he doesn’t do beer and a litre of Bourbon was out of the question as he was my driver for the afternoon). As for the Short One, I hadn’t touched a beer this year (honest—too many carbs) and decided this was a good time to correct matters. 3 pints of Stella and 17 minutes later we were ready to go home to renew our assault on the European Chinese Takeaway Mountain, as well as assuming our position on the starting line of the the Olympic Freestyle Gin Swigging event.

It all seemed a good idea at the time.

The only thing that  could have possibly gone wrong is for more people to arrive and turn it into a party. Which, by an odd coincidence is exactly what happened. At my tender age of 49 and and 4 months, I am ill-equipped to handle a head-to-head 48 hour binge, let alone compete in a mass Gordons-and-Tonic-Fest with two of the Great Bon Viveurs of the civilised world which, as my luck would have it, was exactly who turned up to give us a hand getting drunk. More dancing, singing etc, until I ran the white flag up the pole and retired to someone’s bedroom. I still don’t know whose.

The Ed wakes up next to Daniel after 48 hours of carnage.

The Ed wakes up next to Daniel after 48 hours of carnage. HOT,SWEATY,FARTY.

As a twenty-something, then a thirty-something, I spent many a Sunday morning waking up in a strange bedroom/lounge/wardrobe, in some part of Kent or London. Everyone else having made it to their homes the previous night, but me stubbornly refusing to leave the party until the last bottle of Cizano Bianco had been finished. Now, being nearly a fifty-something, it was clear it hurt very much indeed. I woke between a big bloke and a very hot radiator. Or was it a big radiator and a very hot bloke, I am not sure. I do know I had 3rd degree burns down one side of my face from the radiator, giving me a look uncannily like Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters. And I ached a lot. And I smelled. I didn’t remember drinking Gin though my eyes, but that’s what it felt like I had done.

Having delayed our departure until most of the poison had left my body, and having said our goodbyes we crept off down the M3, heading for the M25 at the speed of a 2-Man Bob which had lost it’s skii-raily-slidey things underneath (you didn’t know I was such an expert, did you?). The Incumbent, presumably acting as break man, remained in the crouched position all journey. Driving like Mr Magoo on Mogadon, I had no intention of needing her to slam on the anchors. It was an eery feeling. I don’t know if you’ve ever driven at 31 miles an hour on the M3 but you get to see so much more, if you can open your eyes. At the moment you’d get to see Sir Ben Ainslie practise for the next Americas Cup on a new lake where London used to be. I cannot have had enough to drink the night before as I still felt thirsty that morning, and all that flood water wasn’t helping.

Home at last, snuggled up warm in front of a roaring curry , we settled down for the rest of the week to watch (why???) every bit of Sochi coverage we possibly could (at least that’s how I saw it). I thought it may have been my hangover, but even now, even though I have a clear head, I still can’t work out what the Games Slogan “HOT COOL YOURS” means. Truth is there have been lots of things which have puzzled me about these Games. For starters, what are we, as a GB team, gonna do in Pyeongchang 2018 when Scotland have nicked all of our best curlers ? The world will come to an end if and when the Scotch bugger off with all our medallists, leaving us a couple of 12 yr old snowboarders and a tea-tray pusher. NO ! I will not have it. They can have the Pound, they can have the Oil, they can even have the Nuclear Submarines, but THEY’RE NOT KEEPING THE CURLERS !!.

Hang on…. what’s that….? They got stuffed in the final by the Canadians ? Oh fvck em then, let ’em go.

A Member of the English Pyeongchang Olympics  2018 Curling Team waits patiently at the West London Training rink for someone to turn the fridge on.

A Member of the English Pyeongchang Olympics 2018 Curling Team waits patiently at the West London Training rink for someone to turn on the fridge.

Also, how do you get to be an Ice Meister ? Isn’t that just the coolest job description ? “What d’you want to be when you leave school, Bealing ?”
“An Ice Meister, Sir.  Or a T-shirt printer”. (both characters exit stage left, followed by whacking and crying sound effects).

When a figure skater makes a Horlicks of his Triple Salko, or Armenia 3 decide to come down the 4-Man Bob Track (?) downside-up, the Ice Meister is sent for to assess the damage to the …er….ice. Here he comes, armed with a half-filled watering can and one of those scrapers you get a the petrol station. So when I was a kid and Dad gave me a slap for pouring kettles and kettles ful of water onto the icy pavement outside our house, in order to make a slide, I could have simply said I was a trainer Ice Meister. Another missed opportunity. When I start my Rap career (won’t be long now) The Ice Meister may well be my stage name. Or it may be my porn name. Not sure yet.

Finally, who could not have felt sympathy with the brave Japanese Speed skater who crashed/span out of the 1-Legged, 70,000 meters Blindfolded Short Track Semi Final, denying him the chance to make either the Big or the Small Final. It’s not that I feel any more sympathy for him than for anyone else who falls foul of an opponents elbow or a team-mate’s skate in this, the most exciting and random of all the sports on show. Anyone can win, anyone can lose, that’s why it’s such a fun thing to watch. No, it’s having heard the commentators shout out his name several times, especially as he concertina’d into the advertising boards, that I thought to myself that I knew exactly how he felt. Haven’t we all felt like a Sakashita at some time in our lives ? I know I did last weekend.  I suggest he has a hair-of-the-dog to make himself feel better.

Sakashita of Japan crashes out in a men's 500m short track speedskating quarterfinal at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo)

Sakashita of Japan crashes out in a men’s 500m short track speedskating quarterfinal at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo)