A Tale of One Summer

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. as some bloke once said.

Well let’s see.

It was going to be the Best of summers – the summer of summers: The Queen’s Jubilee and all that went with it, was greeted by and staged in the Worst of weathers: the wettest summer for 100 years, but you can’t do anything about the weather, I suppose. We do live in Britain, after all. So the biggest and Best birthday party was arranged, and the nation really started getting to grips with this street-party thing. And everyone turned up outside Bucking Palace to wish ma’am all the very best, but some of the very Worst vocals arrived in the shape of a purple headed unidexter-fancier. He even mimed out of tune, which some would say was nigh impossible – but Sir Paul somehow managed it.

And he wasn’t alone. Dame Elton John and friends did their best to promote euthanasia, but the OAPs’ faces were saved by Sir Tom – a Welshman, no less – who proves that you don’t have to give up singing just because you get old. It’s just that if you find you can no longer sing, then shut the buggery up and live off your many, many royalties. Logan’s Run had it’s good points.

Meanwhile, over the other side of the park, England, the Best cricket team in the world were showing us how it was done : by beating the woeful West Indians into submission, and thus reaffirming our dominance over the rest of the world in this, the most noble of all games. We were The Best, and don’t you lot forget it.

Except we did, when the real Best arrived in the shape of the South Africans. They played some of the Best sport we’ve seen this summer, while the hosts (many of whom weren’t good enough to qualify to play for South Africa) played as bad as they had for many a year. Some ex-South Africans showed the Worst kind of bad form by  suggesting to the current South Africans how to bowl out the English Captain (or they should have already known how to, as he used to be one of them anyway). So the numbers 2 in the Word are now, quite rightly, The No1s and the former Best in the World played like a pile of No2s. We wept, but not for long – cos we’d seen it all before. Before we knew it we’d lost both ex-Bokkes. One had been sacked, the other retired altogether.

But hang on, we’ve gotten away from ourselves.

Earlier on that summer, over the other side of town, Seb’s Olympic extravaganza was taking place and, as luck would have it, we did awfully well. The Opening Ceremony was sensational, only again marred by the Purple Beedle, flashing a V-for Victory sign while mis-timing (again) his run into the pre-recording audio. I have to admit flashing the odd V-sign myself. Had they not learned from the Palace Party ? Is there anyone they could have picked to sing who would have been Worse than him ? (Sit down Ringo !).

The threatened strikes (whether by London Transport or Al Qaeda) failed to materialise, no-one minded working from home and the games belonged to the wonderful volunteers – which is handy cos think of all the profits made by McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Heineken, Visa and the rest which would have gone to waste if they had offered their services for free.

But no matter. What is a few million quid wrenched/embezzled out of the hands of a country in recession when there are Olympic Medals to be handed out ? If religion is the opium of the people, then sport must be the upturned spoon (and this reporter is an addict).

As luck would have it TeamGB (for it is they again) were The Best – well nearly the best, certainly The Best of The Rest and thus the whole games were deemed a success, and there’s no denying that it was sensational to watch. Lottery money and proper sports funding certainly seems to have done the trick, a point not lost on Gideon Osborne who was seen crying into his morning suit when he heard the pitter-patter of another U-turn looming.

With the country glued to its sofas, and the Union Jack industry going into overdrive, no-one cared about the weather of the economy. All we cared about is that a refugee called Mohammed got round the track first, and we were prepared to stand up, do a silly thing with our hands on our head to prove it. Honestly, we did. This black bloke even appeared on the front page of the Daily Mail. And not for stealing stuff or scrounging off the state. Wouldn’t you have loved to have been in morning conference to discuss that one with them ? It was a fantastic time for one and all, though I did talk to a woman who had her misgivings, saying that it’d be nice if “one of our own could have done it”. I kid you not. I’ve chosen to ignore this as I’m really hoping we may just have turned a corner. I’m starting to think the best of people. It’s a strange feeling, I have to say.

So for two weeks after that we had to go back to reality : The Government were handing out goodies (or this time, railway contracts) to their mates; Barclays were getting fined for something else and yet still no-one in Britain has been nicked; Gideon has admitted that he was wrong about how much shit he said we were in . AGAIN.

The English lost again to the South Africans on the cricket field and, Worst of all, the fvcking soccer season has already started and it’s only the middle of August. We have lots more cricket left to play, the Ryder Cup is still a month away and the back-door-back-door-on-me-‘ead-john mob have started already.

But wait. Last night saw the opening ceremony of what promises to be the Best Paralympic Games in History. The omens were certainly good. The stadium was sold out; there were many more athletes on parade than ever before; and someone had finally twigged and replaced Paul McCartney with the much-more in-tune Professor Stephen Hawking. Hoorah ! At least he came in at the right time. Heather Mills must be kicking herself.

But just when I thought this will surely be the Best TV watching of the summer, Channel 4 dropped the Big One:  Claire Sodding Balding has jumped channels (which, I believe is now the only thing she can jump) from the Beeb.
Could it get any Worse, I wondered ?

I had a chat with someone today who refused to watch the Paralympic games because, as his argument goes, the teams are “full” of ex-servicemen. That the ceremony and competitions glorify and justify this “and Blair’s” governments’ decision to send men and women to war, and that this country would, at the drop of a hat, send many more back to be killed and maimed. He was not going to sanction this action by supporting these games. I pointed out that not all the athletes were ex-servicemen. “I bet about 95% are, though” he said. I left. He would not budge.

I didn’t care if they were or were not Army vets, but when I got home I looked it up anyway – just to enlighten me, and perhaps bolster my argument. According to yesterday’s Guardian the figure of ex-military in the GB team is 2%, By Rio in 2016 they hope to get it up to 5%. I couldn’t bring myself to ring my friend. I shall tell him face-to-face when we next meet.

This morning I watched a bloke win a swimming race: 100 metres backstroke. He did this even though he was a double amputee. He had no arms and beat men who had both. By a long way. It was the most amazing performance I’ve ever seen. The Very Best. And we’ve only just finished Day 1. Please ignore everything you’ve read previously.


Wow !!!!

Wonderful. Just superb. I sit here as your humble servant and reporter for those who were not present to see it to tell you that THIS was a great show. Yes it was very British, yes it was odd and Archery/Coronation Streety in the middle, but Roddy Doyle/Frankie Boyle/Danny Boyle, as he was variously called in my house this evening, did a fantastic job. Just brilliant.

I opened the windows during the celebration of the Jarrow marchers and the NHS to listen to the monocles popping out all over north Kent. Ha !! Just brilliant. I hope Andrew Lansley recorded it. Only a buffoon ( there’s a box you can sign at the end of this piece) will have missed the director’s direct stab at the hand that feeds h1m – this administration’s final act of slaughter and murder of the NHS, the one the one thing which this country can boast about since the end of the seond world war. Sadly for the ruling classes, they employed a working class boy to tell Britain’s history. If you listen carefully between the drummers, you could hear the squeaking of chief assassin David Cameron’s chair as he shifted his buttocks from side to side while he witnessed the nurses and dancers celebrate our once proud gift to the world (some of us are still using it).

Anyway, apart from that I can sit here without any fear of contradiction or criticism and say this was the best opening ceremony I have ever EVER seen (and I’ve sat through a couple.). Whatever I may have said about the games, Mr Boyle is exempt from criticism. My GOD , that CAULDRON, and the FIREWORKS at the end. SENSATIONAL !!!!!!!!!  BEST EVER

And then McCartney came on.

Fuck me.




Flat and shite. Flat at Jubilee.  Worse tonight.

Just Awful.



Time to Chuck in the Towel

It comes to all of us at the end. Whether it’s because the state tells you that you’re too old for employment, or when your body isn’t able to carry on – even when your mind thinks it can. Some of us are lucky enough to be in a job which allows us to choose the timing of our retirement. For most of us, the decision is out of our hands.

If you’re a journalist or even a photo editor, you can probably work until your eyes or your liver can take it no more. For some of us, the age of 46 is probably as good an age as any at which to retire; others will go on until they snuff it at their desks/the bar/toilet cubicle. Lots of us can’t wait to go, but there are those who wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if not go to work.

If you’re a high court judge you can go on and on until you’re deaf, frail and incontinent. Come to think of it I dunno why I don’t apply. Even politicians seem to go on for as long as they please, though if you stay on too long you risk become a figure of fun as did Michael Foot, Ted Kennedy, or Nicolas Sarkozy.

Boxers are often guilty of staying in the game past their sell-by date. Surrounded by spongers and yes-men, not enough are told not to fight again. Who’d ever tell Mike Tyson “don’t go into the ring again, Champ, or you’ll get a whopping” ? Not me, that’s for sure. Left with cowards and scroungers, Champ decides to have ‘one last fight’ and more often than not suffers the inevitable clobbering.

While we’re on sportsmen, there are those who have the foresight to plan ahead for that time when they no longer compete. Some become successful TV pundits:- John McEnroe, Richie Benaud, Gary Lineker or Michael Johnson spring to mind; Some become fvcking awful ones: Colin Montgomery, Michael Vaughan, Willie Carson. Then there are some who are so desperate to become TV stars they’ll appear on anything, anywhere to further their career: Tessa Sanderson, Matthew Pinsent, Kriss Akabusi but fail even to become children’s entertainers.

Some leave sport altogether and are quite happy to work in the real world, like one of my boyhood heroes, cricketer (and Ashes winner) Chris Old who works in Sainsbury’s supermarket. Not very glamorous but he’s happy.

For some, of course, the end doesn’t come when you want it to. One day, you’re part of office life, getting the tea for everyone and chipping into the Derby sweepstake, the next minute the guvnor calls you in and tells you that the Bell has Tolled for you. Yer outta here. You are surplus to requirements and you are to be replaced with a younger, sleeker (cheaper) version. It’s a horrible and humiliating way to go. And many can’t take it.

Rio Ferdinand is convinced he has still got what it takes to be an international footballer. His boss, or rather, his former boss, or rather the new bloke in the office who doesn’t want to be Rio’s boss disagrees. The new England manager didn’t pick Ferdinand for his squad to compete [sic] in the upcoming European Championship (singular: There is only one Championship being competed for and therefore is spelled Championship. Not Championships. Ok?)

I digress again.

So not only wasn’t he picked for the original squad, but when the bloke who’d replaced him in the team dropped out through injury Rio wasn’t picked then either. In fact it’s probably safe to say that if all 18 original players dropped out, having succumbed to a virulent strain of Green Monkeys Disease, Rio still wouldn’t get selected. He is not wanted. His time has come.

Rio is fuming, He thinks he should play. His agent thinks he should play (shock) and has told the world’s media (well, T’BBCSalford who are the only ones listening) that it’s a disgrace that his man has not been selected. At 34 years of age, Ferdinand knows this will be the last ChampionshiP he had a chance to be selected for. Whether it’s the pulling on of the England shirt again , running out onto the big stage for one last time, or falling asleep half way though the either half (it’d become his party trick), Rio wanted one last chance to show the world what he could do. Sadly, it was never to be.

A combination of his regular attacks of narcolepsy during corner kicks, and the fact that his playing partner is on a charge of racially abusing Rio’s brother means that manager Roy Hodgson was never gonna select both. When a sleepy black bloke is up against a violent, racist, white bloke it seems that whitey will win the day. Thank Allah that John Terry’s court case has been delayed until after the tournament, eh ? What a stroke of luck.

Whatever the reasons behind it, Rio has just got to get on with his young life, and find a new direction in which to channel his…er…talents. Cricketer and legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar has been sworn into the Indian Parliament, making him the first to enter parliament while still playing. Sachin is a humble, personable, brilliant sportsman, regarded as a God in his own country. Rio differs from Tendulkar in just four ways. Though all is not lost for Ferdinand in that respect. If the British Labour party can have Oona King, Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng as MPs, Rio may yet be able to find himself as the least self-serving and most appealing black representative the party has had for many a year.

So having said all that, who was it who couldn’t find it in themselves to gather Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Grace Jones and Shirley Bassey together and say “I’m sorry guys, but you can’t sing any more”? One suspects it should have been to Gary Barlow, but you can’t blame him for crumbling in the face of legends. I speak of, of course, of last night’s Jubilee bash. Possibly one of the most diverse concerts I have ever witnessed, both in content and quality. To hear Alfie Moon (no, neither had I before) and Willi.i.am (ditto) knock out a decent tune, only for the joyous atmosphere to be punctuated by the excruciating wailing of these four (and I’m being very kind to Elton John) aged, has-beens. 12 hours later, my toes have only just started uncurling after McCartney’s performance. One presumes he got the gig purely because Lennon and Harrison are dead, but that is surely no excuse for what he gave us last night. He sounded better at Live Aid – and his microphones failed on that occasion.

If Ringo isn’t busy flashing ‘V’ signs, perhaps he could climb off Barbara for a second and tell his old mate that enough is enough. Obviously the irony of Ringo criticising someone else’s musical talent won’t be lost, even on the purple-haired former unidexter-shagger, but someone’s gotta do it.

As for Cliff, Grace and Shirley: Surely they’re talented enough to realise how bad they have become ? Surely, Shirley. It was woeful. You have all been decent at what you do, but now you’re not. Honest. Cliff sounded like me, pissed in a bar on a mic at about 11.30, dancing on the bar and singing Old Shep. Shirley looked and sounded like me. And the hoola-hooping Grace Jones needs sectioning.

And finally, please don’t think this is age-based criticism. It’s talent-based. You had it once, now you haven’t. Simples. You only have to think back to Englebert last week. THAT’S how bad you lot were last night. Everyone’s different, with different bodies and talents. Tom Jones is very old (he knew Elvis, in case he hasn’t mentioned it) but he can still belt out a number like he could 40 years ago. He even remembered his Welsh accent, which some will find nice. So I’m afraid McCartney has got to be told that it’s all over. Although he might try to make the England squad. He’s got a better chance than Rio.