Behave Yourself, Sir! You’re (supposed to be) an Englishman


Knowing who to cheer for when South Africa play Australia is a bit like, for me anyway, deciding who you’d want to win if The Third Reich played Pinochet’s Chile. However, if there is any enjoyment to glean from such a contest it normally arrives when one side humiliates the other. A fine innings of a duck from former skipper Ricky Ponting helped his side on their way to 47 all-out, having been 21-9 at one stage.

Amazingly, the Bok’s are still favourites to lose this match, their batters doing little better themselves during their first innings effort. Anyway, having sat through the English cricketers pouting, posturing and under-performing in India recently, it’s nice to see someone else squirming in embarrassed agony for once.

Let’s hope the spoilt brats of Jimmy Anderson, Swanny and fellow cry babies can collect their toys, put them back in the pram and learn how to lose as well as win with dignity, then next summer’s test series against South Africa might be worth watching. The English team were were lovely lads, sporting icons, and sweet boys when they were on top against the Aussies last time round.

This side were rightly lauded by all for their humour, camaraderie and good sports when they were sweeping aside all teams put up in front of them. I saw them several times at Lords and The Oval and they were a joy to watch, welcome to marry my sister any time (if I had one) .

Cracks in their genial and generous facade began to appear when they lost to the Windies at the end of the summer. By the end of the disastrous Indian campaign they were positively nasty. If I want to watch such behaviour on a sports field, I’ll go back to watching soccer. Something call a “Jade” and sporting an earring and tattoo combination worthy of Dale Farm should never be eligible to play for England in the first place. If he’s gonna behave like a thug on the pitch he can go back to Jonty, Morne and Herschelle as soon as he likes.

Come on chaps. Play up and play the game, as Plum Warner may have said.

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You Know Nothing, Mate


There are things you just know.

During your lifetime you pick up knowledge. Stuff that is just true and there’s no row about it. You know it’s true because, not only did mum and dad tell you, your teachers told you, the tv news told you and even Hollywood told you. Stuff like “all scousers are funny”; “all cockneys are the salt of the earth (they only slaughter their own)”; “all trombone players wear sandals”; and of course “all welshmen can sing and would never ever intend to break your neck on the rugby field because they’re nice blokes and just not like that”.

These are the sort of rules, the kind of guiding principles which allow you to steer your ship of life between the shifting sands of the Bay of Uncertainty and the hard, jagged rocks of  the inlet of Oh Fuck it’s Really Happening. It’s now 47 years since people started telling me stuff. I stopped listening to most of them some years ago. Like Homer, there’s only so much I can fit into my brain before something else gets pushed out. The ravages of age, a stroke, and a life of heavy drinking, along with the distraction of the oncoming steam train of certain Alzheimer’s  severely limits the amount of new information I can take on board. Or as Terry Pratchett might put it, I’m fucked in the ‘ead.

So imagine the confusion it causes one so fragile as me, when stuff you just know is fact turns out to be untrue, at least for the sake of selling a few books at Christmas time.

Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun didn’t take their own lives, shortly after making a few dodgy videos for YouTube. Not according to the  new book Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler they didn’t. No, they fled to Argentina, aided and abetted by the Yanks in exchange for Nazi rocket scientists and the information within. According to a report in this week’s The Daily Mail (and who among us could argue with them ?) Mr& Mrs Hitler legged it through Europe and escaped across the sea to South America, presumably free to go on the piss with their chums Josef Mengele, Adolf Eichmann and countless other Nazis we let get away after 1945. The couple brought up their two kids, at some stage divorced, and Mr Hilter (as he then was) finally threw a seven in 1962 at the grand old age of 73.

The Russians claim they captured what was left of the Hitlers from a bunker in Berlin in 1945. What they apparently have are the charred remains of a early version of a McDonalds Breakfast Wrap (Another Fact: These are horrible. Keep away from them and go for the Double Sausage McMuffin.)

It’s a good job Vincent Van Gogh isn’t alive today. He’d be forced to go to Gateshead (up in the frozen North somewhere) where this year’s The Emperor’s New Clothes Prize has been moved to. Presumably Londoners have finally given up pretending that “Pile of Shite in Aspic” is art, and the organisers have decided to move to the Third World in search of new mugs to jump on the “oh-but-you-dont-understand-what-art-is” bandwagon. Howay.

The aforementioned Vincent is no longer with us, of course, having topped himself in a wheat field in 1890 in northern France.

Wrong again.

The Kirk Douglas look-a-like was shot by a couple of brothers in a dispute over a stolen pistol. We know this from the new book imaginatively entitled Van Gogh: The Life (available at all good bookshops, makes the perfect gift). In their book the two American authors trash the widely-held belief that the absinthe-riddled, ginger paintist, having reached the end of his tether with a lack of sales and Anthony Quinn’s acting, took himself off and fell on his own pallet knife. (Sadly for me they make no mention of the time Gauguin asked Vincent if he’d like another canvas. “No thanks, I’ve got one ear”  Van Gogh replied. As the book doesn’t mention this, I now know it to be true.)

The fact that he was shot by a young boy, and didn’t just succumb to the inner-demons of the mad genius that he was has not only rocked the art world, with the sky-high prices of Van Gogh’s work potentially under threat (nutcases sell for more) but worse, Don McLean is having to rewrite one of his songs.

This morning the descendents of Robert Falcon Scott‘s fateful expedition to the South Pole have joined in the campaign to diss everything I thought I knew about everything. There’s a new exhibition in town showing many images, some not seen before, by the trip’s snapper Herbert Ponting (not to be confused with the Ricky Ponting, the Patron Saint of Lost Causes) which for a century have graphically shown the anguish and despair the Brits felt by narrowingly losing out to the Norwegian group led by Roald Amundsen (who’d already seen off the plucky West Germans in the semi-final). The downhearted and disheartened Limeys finally gave up their attempt to return home and were swallowed up by the icy wilderness. Amundsen and his Scandinavians went home to a heroes welcome and a recording contract.

But wait a minute, according to the British ancestors, Scott’s men were not the least bit disappointed to lose. There was, in fact, no race to the pole. There’s was a purely scientific expedition to gain knowledge of the surrounding area for King and Country, with no-one giving a toss whether Amundsen won or not. Ponting set up the most southerly branch of Pront-a-Print, charging a farthing for a photo of the pole and pony on a tee-shirt; Captain Oates left the tent and was never seen again. He is oft quoted as saying “I am just going outside and may be some time”. The end of his sentence was lost in the chill wind. What he really said was “I am just going outside and may be some time. I’ve got all this bunting and balloons to erect for when we see the Norwegians again”. In truth, Scott should not have been played on screen by John Mills but by Norman Wisdom.

So there you have it. Hitler died in 1962, just missing out missing Ronnie Biggs. Van Gogh covered up his own murder and his relationship with young boys and, just like the retreating soldiers at Dunkirk, Scott of Antarctic had nothing to be sad about. It’s a pity they didn’t make it back because The Titanic was waiting for them just off Antarctica to take them home on her second voyage.

99 years later,  a ship was moored off the coast of Libya, waiting for President Muammar Gaddafi who was due to escape on her . However, the ever-popular Dictator would not make it on board nor never get to feel the warm embrace of his old mate Tony Blair again as he died of the multiple bullet wounds he received to the back of the head while resisting arrest.

Honestly. It’s a fact !!!

Retreat Australia Fair


Bloody Christmas. It’ll be the death of me. Even allowing for the size of me in the run-up, following a week of a pretty-much non-stop eating and drinking fest I am – if I do say so myself- a big unit. It’s not that I’ve been painting the town red – or any other colour come to think of it.  I’ve been confined to barracks for the duration, with only occasional trips to Sainsbury’s to break up the monotony of yet another tin of Roses washed down with a nice peppery Shiraz.

A Christmas at home can in certain circumstances, I am almost sure, be fun. But the lurgy put paid to most of our plans, with several members of my nearest and dearest (including my most dearest: me) coming down with the latest bout of cold/flu which has been doing the rounds. The Incumbent and I have had to introduce a strict latrine rota, lest we bump into each other in the smallest room in the house, both of my daughters were laid low for the majority of the festivities and the rest of us have been giving everyone who is a potential carrier a wide berth.

None of this, of course has affected my appetite. I find shite tv schedules the perfect solution to a rumbly in my tumbly. Pringles, peanuts, After Eights, pickled eggs, mince pies, christmas cake, Quality Street and more peanuts have been shoved down my gullet as I gorge myself on re-runs, repeats and rank tv shows in the the name of Happy Birthday Jesus.

Moving is becoming a problem. Thank god for the elasticated waistband on my new pyjamas. My ankles still haven’t healed from last season and it takes a good ten minutes for me to loosen up before I can waddle around the house in comfort. As the days pass, getting up the stairs is becoming more and more exhausting, to such an extent that I may have to consider using the sink in emergencies.

Thankfully I don’t have to get myself fit for next cricket season. I fear it would be a pointless task. In the state I’m in I’d struggle to put on my jockstrap, let alone bowl anything like a straight ball in the vague direction of a batsman. On the other hand, watching the shocking display by the Aussie bowlers in Melbourne gives me pause to think that maybe, just maybe, my chance of an international career is not quite over. Dare I consider applying for Oz Citizenship ? Surely I’m better that Mitchell Johnson ? – even in my shape !

Lucky for the Australian cricketers few of their countrymen witnessed how bloody awful they really were. Aussie fans tend to bugger off home if there’s the slightest chance of their team not winning. I never thought I’d feel sorry for Ricky Ponting, but it must be tough playing on your home turf, against stronger opposition, when your own personal form is shot to pieces and your home supporters won’t even hang around to shout for you. What a bunch of wankers.

The Barmy Army may be full of fat, annoying, boring, neanderthal racists (it is, believe me) but at least they stick behind the team through thick and thin. This bunch of fair-weather Ozzie ‘fans’ head for the beaches or the barbies the minute their opening pair are back in the hutch (or after the opening 12 balls, if that makes it simpler for you). And this from the country that brought the world the phrase “whingeing poms”. WHINGEING ?!?! How would we ever know if you lot are whinging? You’ve all fucked off !

Of course, you all stayed put when we took our eyes off the prize and you won in Perth. OF COURSE YOU DID. WATCHING A WINNING TEAM IS GREAT. But a few days later and your batsmen couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo or your bowlers couldn’t hit 12 stumps and you lot are no-where to be seen after the opening exchanges. Why not stick around and cheer on your team in the hour of their greatest need ? No ? Only sing when you’re winning ? Sports fans my big fat 46 year old arse. Enjoying winning and enduring losing (in our case a LOT of losing) are all part of being a fan. Some of us are fans of both English Cricket AND Charlton Athletic Football Club. We know a little bit about losing.

If you can’t take losing, don’t buy a ticket to the raffle. But having watched first your rugby union side and now your cricket team under-perform this winter can I suggest that you’d better start getting used to watching your sides take a drubbing?  It won’t hurt you, we’ve been doing it for years, and after this little blip this winter we’ll doubtless be doing it for years to come too.

You could do worse than read Peter Lalor, below, in The Australian. He’s wittier and immeasurably less one-eyed then his boss, Malcom Conn, and he might just teach you how to take losing with a tad more humour and a shed-load more dignity.

Peter Lalor in The Australian (27.12.10)

HOW many of the new toys of Christmas morn lie motionless and broken within 24 hours? Their shiny promise a forlorn memory recorded only in the improbable picture on the package?

A wheel gone here, a switch broken there, a light that flashed for a moment and dimmed, a leg detached or a circuit shortened. Australia’s performance in Perth was the cheap Chinese gift that never made it to Boxing Day. A glittering, but poorly engineered work that shone for a moment.

The minute the Christmas paper was off the MCG pitch things began to fall apart. There were tears by lunch (4-58) and despair by tea (10-98). You can fish around all sorts of ways to paint the picture.
The scorer announced they had lost 6-40 from 18.2 overs, somebody else pointed out they had lost 9-61 after Shane Watson departed and so on and so forth….

…If you were out Christmas night in Melbourne, you could have been forgiven for thinking you were somewhere in the UK. Those pubs and takeaway places that were open in the otherwise deserted streets were lousy with English accents and song.

While the locals were at home trying to piece together broken toys, the visitors – and there are thousands upon thousands of them – were out in force. At 2.37pm yesterday, as the centre wicket began to take the appearance of a mass grave, a song rose from the Southern Stand.

It was as loud and as rousing an anthem as you have ever heard at this proud sporting stadium.
It was the Barmy Army singing “God save your gracious Queen”.


Ponting, Punches and Pudsey


Free beer for all’ if Aussies win Ashes

An Australian brewer offered a free beer to every adult in the country if Australia beat England in the upcoming Ashes cricket Tests.  VB on Tuesday pledged to “shout the nation” if Australia win back the coveted trophy in the five-Test series, starting November 25.

“This summer, when the final wicket falls and the Aussies lift the urn triumphantly, Australia’s best cold beer pledges to ‘shout the nation’,” the company said.”That’s one ice-cold VB for every eligible person of drinking age, and one huge celebration of the rightful return of the Ashes.” AFP

Yes, we’ve reached the silly season as the long-awaited Ashes series is nearly upon us. I’m sure you’re as excited as I am, counting the days til the first ball is bowled in Brisbane next Friday. Forget your F1 finales, your World Series or your European Championship footy, this is proper, real important sport and things have begun to get weird. A few weeks ago Londoners were treated to the sight of the mug of Aussie captain Ricky Ponting projected onto the Big Ben clock tower at Westminster in London, though it wasn’t clear to many what message that was supposed to send. Was Ricky trying to defect ? If so he could have saved himself the effort: we’ve already got one under-performing show-pony from the southern hemisphere masquerading in English colours and we don’t need another, thanks all the same.

Then yesterday the Australian Cricket Board announced its ‘team’ to face the Poms in the first match. Where traditionally you’d expect 12 or maybe 13 names on the sheet from which the final 11 would be selected, the ACB decided that 17 men were still in with a chance of representing their country. This uncertainty by the board may be the first example of  group of Australians with no convictions. I haven’t seen (or had the time to read) the full list of Waynes, Shanes, Quades, Sharleens or Marlenes on the list, but I hear Russell Crowe was in with an outside chance and Rolf Harris is a decent opening bat, though not as quick as he used to be between the wickets. Jason Donovan has not been selected due to his inability to disguise his wrong-un.

It’s not just the Strines who are showing the signs of nerves. Former England Captain Michael Vaughan looks like he’s also feeling the pressure of the build-up.

The interviewer had apparently started asking rude and nasty questions. He was stroppy as he’s one of the few Aussies not selected for the squad. He’d also stayed up all night to watch the Audley Harrison vrs David Haye fight earlier and didn’t expect any Englishman to throw a punch at any time in the near future. One can only presume that had Vaughan got into the ring with Audrey the fight would have been over 6 minutes earlier.

Sadly, rumour has it the video may well be either an advert by the Yorkshire Tourist Board or even worse a stunt dreampt up by those wags at the BBC for the upcoming Children in Need. There are many emotions which coarse though my veins when I watch a telethon and I have to admit that punching the nearest person is one of them. Watching 17 hours of half-baked skits and show-tunes performed by D-Listers is enough to turn anyone to violence. I’d willingly pledge the entire contents of my wallet (currently £7.46) if I didn’t have to watch the cast of Eastenders perform Yentl.  AGAIN!  The BBC Newsroom with doubtless be wheeled out yet again to embarrass themselves and others as they mince their way through Porgy and Bess or High School Musical.

They have a whole year to put this tosh together, surely they could come up with something better than JLS sing Meatloaf or whatever rubbish we’re gonna be subjected to? On the other hand, as the cricket will broadcast live through the night, I may just use Children in Need to help me change my sleep patterns. A quick flash of my credit card and I can tuck myself up in bed, dreaming of sunny Brisbane to the soundtrack of tumbling Australian wickets.

I dunno who these two blokes are but I could watch them all night. (Advanced warning: Two old codgers chat about Aussie cricket. Heaven)


Who’s Been Naughty, and Who’s Been Nice?


So, in the immortal words of my old Night News Editor, as we progress “out of one shitty year, into another shitty year”, what have we learned ?

Well, we know that a 3-iron is as good at getting you at out of the rough as it is at getting your old man out of his Mercedes. Being 106 years old doesn’t preclude you from competing in international sport- as Tom Watson, Ryan Giggs and Kevin Poole have taught us (look him up!). Google Street View hasn’t become the burglars favourite tool, and they STILL haven’t been down my road.

All MP’s are wankers. Most are theives and crooks. I will never make a 50 in a competitive game of cricket. Or an uncompetitive one for that matter. Newcastle Utd and Man City are still big clubs. Apparently. I don’t want to go to work any more. There is far too much conversation in men’s toilets. It’s nearly time for me to win the Lottery (I’ll see you alright, don’t worry). Fat unattractive women can sing rather well. Rage Against the Machine can’t.

Michael Jackson didn’t die a natural death. Remember to hold that front page. We still haven’t a clue where Bin Laden is, but they’ve found the rest of his family. In general, I don’t like people. Policemen don’t like being photographed when they’re hitting people, but they do like kettles.Obama has been a bit of a disappointment, to be honest, but my poster I bought of him on ebay is not coming down. Life is better with Malcolm Tucker and without Hazel Blears

. Jade Goody will soon be beatified. Clare Balding should be. I’m not as fit as I should be, but about as fit as I thought I was. Ricky Ponting can’t win the Ashes in England., but he’ll manage it in Australia. F1 is still an interesting sport all the way up to the start of the race. Renault drivers are naughty boys. Blackheath still doesn’t have a decent boozer, but I’d like to think I contributed to the recent glut of lemons. Gordon Brown is still the PM of Great Britain (I can always Tipex that out if something happens before I go to press).

I’ve had a cold for 8 weeks in the last 52, and no matter how many channels you have to watch, there’s never anything decent on between car insurance adverts. IPL will ruin cricket as we know it. Football is already a shambles. It’s not the Chinese or the Indians, the carbon footprints or the motor cars: It’s the bankers who have fucked up the world. We want our money back.

It doesn’t matter how loathesome the BNP are, how ridiculous Nick Griffen was made to look on TV, there will STILL be stupid and nasty people who will vote for him at the polls next year. Andy Murray is a miserable bastard, but one day he’s gonna win something big. Apparently. When entering a Nepalese restaurant, plump for the mismas.

And the war won’t be over by Christmas. Or even next Christmas. Turns out they lied to us. But we knew that already, didn’t we?

May all your Christmas’s be white, and all your doughnuts turn out like fannies.

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