Johnny Be Good, 10 Years On


November 22nd 2003. The Rugby World Cup Final, England vrs Australia.  A date tattooed on the brain of all Englishmen, not to mention a few Strines and Welshmen, I shouldn’t wonder.

This movie even gives due credit to Old Dartfordians’ part in Johnny Wilkinson’s finest hour, if the movie poster is to be believed. And about time too, I say ! The bloke playing me looks a bit on the heavy side, but I guess that’s for comic effect.

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Happy Families


Just after the war, 1947 I think it was, my father was arrested trying to place a bet for his then future father-in-law. Clutching a filthy little tanner in his filthy little hands (cos he was one of the boys), Jerry (for that is my dad’s name)walked smack bang into a police raid on an illegal betting shop above a grocers in Erith, Kent. Dad spent 4 hours in a cell before being let off to get a bollocking from his mum. Bill, the father-in-law saw neither his half-crown nor a betting slip. Dad’s always been a kind of hero to me for that. I bet he shit himself at the time. Even moreso when my nan got hold of him.

Jerry Bealing Enjoying his Freedom

But dads sure can be an embarrassment. Snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan‘s old man, for example. Ronnie Senior spent 17 years in jail for the racist attack and murder of a bloke in a club in the King’s Road, Chelsea. Cor!, eh ? How embarrassing ! I’m sure his son’s nice, though.

Then there was the case of the father of England soccer captain John Terry who was filmed by a former newspaper dealing cocaine. Dear old Edward Terry passed three wraps of cocaine to a News of the World (remember that?) reporter in a bar in exchange for £120 per wrap, presumably to pay for his wife’s (John’s mum – do keep up) shoplifting habit. What a lovely family they make ? Christmas  lunch must be a real treat around their house with Edward free-basing, Mrs Terry in her oversize coat , and  John with somebody else’s wife, all sitting down for a festive lunch.. Merry Christmas, one and all – I know John loves a good Dickens. Who doesn’t ?

Now we read of dear old Wayne Rooney‘s pater. Wayne Senior (not to be confused with Ronnie Senior) was arrested along with 8 other men (including his brother Richie) regarding suspicious betting patterns during a Motherwell vrs Hearts match. Apparently the police’s suspicions were aroused when they were alerted that 9 people were actually watching a Scottish football match in the first place. Never in the history of Scotch sport have 9 people offered money on the match outcome. They must have stood out like the Archbishop of Golders Green.

Wayne, Wayne and Wayne on Holiday.

I don’t know if this sort of behaviour is confined to the parents of famous sporting stars, or whether all our mums and dads have the potential to make us hang our heads in shame. My mate Mark was a fantastically gifted rugby and cricket player, though strictly amateur. When he died at an uncommonly early age his dad ran off with all the money Mark had bequeathed to his nephews. Go figure. Must be the pressure of being a dad. Or perhaps he’s just a thieving cvnt.

I regularly try to, and often succeed in embarrassing my kids. They think I dress like an old bloke (check), am fat like an old bloke (yup) and tell all the same jokes all the time, that weren’t funny in the first place (got me again). My stroke has slowed me down a bit, emphasising just really old I am, in their eyes at least. My youngest has already made it known that she expects the lion’s share of whatever is in my will (what will?). You can hear her totting up the cash every time I have a slight relapse.

But it’s all in good fun (he hopes). Dad’s main function is to embarrass the kids. If I partake in a spot of old-man dancing, listen to too much Status Quo or emit nauseous gases every so often when standing up, or sitting down… or just sitting still, come to think of it, then that is part of dad’s prerogative. I haven’t killed anyone in a racist frenzy with a six-inch knife, like Mr O’Sullivan (senior), or contributed to the drug cartels’ coffers like Mr Terry (senior, of course) or even fucked off to Ramsgate with the family money like my mate Mark’s dad.

On me ‘ead, Ted. Or up me nose, I suppose.

Wayne senior’s crimes seem small-fry compared to these, and he will doubtless blame his abberation on the embarrassment he feels when watching his son arse about on the football field like he did last night against Mesopotamia. Wayne may still blame Wayne, of course (in any order you like) for the headlines regarding the hair transplant/manky old prostitute/betting shop anomaly  (delete where or if applicable).

So let’s leave Wayne’s dad alone. It must take some doing, living under the enormous shadow of his son, Shrek, and the circus that follows him and his frightful missus around. I’d be prone to rash decision and dubious actions, just like the ‘Motherwell 9’ if I were in that position. If my kids ever find out I actually bet a fiver on England winning the Rugby World Cup they’d disown me for life. Like the England Rugby team, the whole Rooney family is an embarrassment to each other. At least they bloody well should be. Dad Wayne should be left merely to receive a bollocking from his mum and a cash award from the SPL for bringing Scottish Football to the attention of the world for the first time since Archie Gemmill danced his way through the Dutch defence (as easy as a Bosnian Serb strolling past a Dutch roadblock).

Vive la France.

Coming for to Carry Me Home. Please.


A mere 17 months after the Rugby World Cup commenced and we have already arrived at the Quarter Final Stage. Well we will do soon anyway. I’ve had marriages which didn’t last as long as this tournament.  The competition, like World War I and my nuptials, will all be over by Christmas.

So the minnows of Namibia, America and Scotland have returned home, leaving the heavyweights of world rugby to slug it out over the next 76 weeks (plus extra time) to see who are the kings of the joint 14th most popular sport in the world. The usual suspects are still in the mix, the usual favourites are ready and waiting, just a flankers jockstrap away from choking again and going home themselves. Whatever happens the final will be contested by one team from the northern hemisphere and one from the south. That’s just how the draw worked out. Honest.

Next Saturday, sometime around when the sparrows are emitting gas over your lawn, England will play France in a match-up that has all the appeal of a maggot-infested sore on your nan’s back. France, the headless cockerels of world rugby, have exceeded themselves in their ineptitude this year. Just when you think they have hit rock-bottom, Les Bleus produce a performance of such sparkling awfulness that only one team left in the competition could hope to match it. Step forward the English.

England are playing as if they’ve all been out on the piss the night before, kissing dwarfs and abusing young women as they go about their nocturnal beano. But, of course, no professional outfit would behave like that, especially when the team are playing like Avon Rugby Club 5th team, not the only team from the north to win the bloody trophy. This match promises very little indeed. Never will the phrase “like two bald drunk men fighting over a comb” be more aptly applied.

To complete the Keystone Cops feel of this particular England squad, we have the all-singing and all-dancing Matt Stevens, star of the X-Factor, but fuck all else, and Matt Banahan – a huge Sunday-morning-lummox-of-a-man who apparently plays on the wing. Retired props from all over the kingdom are lining up to pit their arthritic knees and prolapsed backs against Stevens, a prop picked for his speed and work ethic around the park. Pity the selectors didn’t choose a prop who could actually…er…prop. As for Banahan, this tattooed titan who stands solid like a particularly immobile wind-break, I have no idea why he was picked. Perhaps he hold Stevens’ mic during gigs. Maybe Matt S. and Matt B. could swap positions ? It couldn’t get any worse.

If both teams could lose and both go home it would do the tournament and the fans a big, big favour. Although, of course if England were to make the final it would mean legendary Wayne Barnes (being English too) would not be permitted to referee the game. Most rugby fans would be happy with that. Barnes, the North’s answer to the shocking Steve Walsh (or Bryce Lawrence, depending where in the world you’re reading this) is the only bloke in the competition who thinks Matt Stevens is playing well. He has missed forward passes, punches and offsides galore. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s missed a few scrums too – he looks in the wrong direction so often. If only he’d miss a half-dozen games of so over the next month-or-so.

So if England go home, Barnes stays. Which would you prefer ?

Barnes awards 3 leg byes to Canada

A couple of hours before the Franglais débâcle (see what I did there?) the Irish meet Wales in the battle of the only two European sides who have demonstrated an understanding of both the rules and purpose of the sport of Rugby Union. The lads in green run around frenetically, in the way that all Irish sides play rugby, football, chess and guerilla actions against an occupying force. There always seem to be more of them than you and, after they’ve practised a bit of fenian footwork all the way up the back of your head, there usually are.

The Welsh haven’t had a team like this one since we went decimal. Not since JJ, JPR or Mervyn has the Principality produced a XV which didn’t make you wanna curl up and giggle your sphincter off. For years my mate in Paris (forget his name) has been losing his shirt on every game these European Shoulder Chip-Wearing Champions have played. Now this year we may finally see a side from the west Offa’s Dyke get close to winning the Cup, and my mate (…nope, still can’t remember it) will be able to, not only recoup his Francs but also to wear that red Welsh replica shirt in the cafes and bars of some arrondissement or other without looking a complete berk. He’ll be safe in the knowledge that for the first time in living memory Frenchmen will walk past him without pointing and giggling. Well, not about him being Welsh anyway.

But my money’s on the Irish to see them off. It has to be. I am not well enough for Wales to win anything, and one funny turn-per-year is enough for me.  I’m nearly out of blood-pressure pills as it is, and fearing the Taffs will prevail may well send me reaching for the super-strength Ramipril.

In the other (Southern) half of the draw, I can’t see past the Boks to make the final. The Kiwis, as we know, are prone to choking on their own smugness-cake if they get within a maori vuvuzela of a final appearance. Their talisman, the perennial show-pony Dan Carter has exited, stage left, and the AB’s are already drawing up a list of excuses to call upon when they succumb to the inevitable. (the English have knicked our shirts being the more laughable) and, just in case that doesn’t work this year, they have started thinking about the 2015 competition.  They should be good enough to trounce the Argies (if they don’t it’ll really kickoff down there in 1957land) but I suspect the SAffers will be too strong for them, having dealt with the non-tackling, non-scrummaging, smarm-fest that is the Wallaby XV. The loss of the siege-gun kicker Frans Steyn to injury will not stop the Bokke Juggernaut rolling on (funny how there are not endless stories and whines on how boring the Steyn sisters’ kicks are? They are clearly much more exciting than Johnny Wilkinson’s boring kicking tactics.)

So I look forward to an Ireland vrs S.Africa final, with NZ running circles around a hapless and helpless English team in the 3rd place play-off.  I won’t predict the score of the Final ’til I see who’s refereeing. It’ll apparently be either Bryce Lawrence or a traffic cone, depending on who is judged to know more of the rules. The Jury’s still out.

Lions, Tigers and Beers


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So what’s it gonna be? The Lions first test? The British Grand Prix? The US Open golf? or the 20/20 World Cup final? If none of them tickle your ivories then maybe you’ll wait until Monday to soak up the action from the All England Club when Wimbledon kicks off? Whatever is your cup of assam, you’ll be hard-pressed not to run into a magnificent sporting event this weekend. Unless you’re me, of course. Saturday sees me donning white flannels for my second full cricket match of the summer. Not quite a crowd-puller of the same magnitude as the above events, but important none-the-less. My reader will be well aware of the damage the last match did to my body, so let’s just hope I’m better prepared for this one—three weeks between matches and doing nothing but drink beer is the proper preparation, right?

So anyhow, I shan’t be plonked in front of the telly to watch the Lions take a mauling, and doubtless I’ll be in a curry house on Saturday night rather than seeing if Tiger’s leg holds up during the third round of the open (though by the sounds of it he’ll be swapping his sand wedge for a rubber ring if the predicted deluge hits New York).

Come Sunday I have nothing on the cards so I should be ready to soak up the weekend’s remaining action. SHOULD be. If only I hadn’t told my satellite company to stick their digi-box up their arse last year. I used to pay around 40 quid each month for their service and a jolly good one it was too. All the sport and movies you could wave an enormous remote control at. But each time there was a fault in the picture (about twice-a-year), or my box refused to record (once a week) it was a painful drawn-out process to get the tv company to attempt to fix it.

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I even once bought a “new” box from ebay in an attempt to get a decent picture, but that worked for 3 months before it too collapsed. The tv company’s usual method would be to send a signal down the line to clear the fault. Here’s a tip: it never ever works. They tried that three times with my last box. Didn’t work. So I asked if they could stop sodding about and send a man round.
“Do you have insurance, Mr Bealing?” asked the girl on the optimistically-named ‘Help Desk’
“I have no idea” I replied.
“Well it will cost you £75 to get an engineer round if you didn’t take out insurance” she informed me, helpfully.
Mildly peeved, I said “I really have no idea if I took out insurance. It was a long time ago when I signed up, but YOU will know if I have it, as you’re looking at my details on your screen, aren’t you?”
“I’m afraid I can’t access that information, but if I book a call-out to you we will charge your account £75 if you haven’t taken out insurance” she read from her card, rather labouring the point.
“No, I tell you what, just disconnect me, I’ve had enough of you lot” I’d now lost my world-renowned patience.
“Well don’t be like that, Mr Bealing, I’m merely informing you that it’ll cost…”
“Look, darling, I know you’re only doing your job, but I really couldn’t give a monkeys any more, just cancel my subscription”

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After an elongated telephone rally she finally put me through to the Taking-calls-from-pissed-off-customers Department where we continued to knock it back-and-forward.
“Mr Bealing” the lad on the other end announced, as if it was his name, not mine “I understand you wish to cancel your subscription?”
“Correct”
“Could you tell me why you would want to do that?”
“It’s not what I want to do, it’s what I’m doing. I’ve had enough.” I smashed the answer back at him.
“Which football team do you follow ?” That one came right out of the blue and momentarily caught me off-guard, like a wonderfully disguised pass down the tramlines. I regained my composure and realised where this was going: how was I going to watch my team play on tv without receiving satellite tv?
Lovely back-hand coming up: “Charlton Athletic“. It was the first time I’d ever said those words without sounding apologetic.
“Charlton?” he choked. It had worked. Clearly no-one had ever said that to him before. The chances of them broadcasting a Charlton match were about as likely as them showing a funny Owen Wilson movie. He was beaten by the pace, direction and guile of my answer. Point won.
“Well what if I give you one month’s subscription free?” he offered meekly, the strength sapping from his legs.
“That’s 40 quid! I pay you 40 quid-a-month for your service and when YOUR box breaks down you’re gonna charge me 75 quid to repair it. YOUR BOX. The one I rent. FROM YOU.” Advantage me.
Last effort: “Mr Bealing, what could I say to you to persuade you not to leave us?” he grunted (clearly trying to put me off)
It was a limp effort, a soft dolly of a lob, right above my head. “Well,” I wound myself up “you could say Mr Bealing, we will send an engineer round immediately, at no charge, and while we’re at it we’ll throw in a couple of free porn channels for nothing and my sister to watch them with you”. Game Set and Match to Mr Bealing 6-4, 6-0, 7-5.

We shook hands over the telephonic net and he went off to contemplate his defeat, while I took the plaudits from myself. I waved to the crowd (me in the lounge mirror), I felt empowered emboldened and lots of other words starting with em, most of which made no sense at all. Ever since that day, whenever I hear satellite or cable tv mentioned in conversation I’m compelled to say “fuckem” under my breath. If I wanna see sport I now have to go up the pub to watch it. Which is a real shame, as you can imagine. And yes, I know the Grand Prix’s on terrestial, so I use that as an excuse to go to a pub without a telly. And, as tennis isn’t a real sport either, I expect to do the same for the next 2 weeks.

Grunt.

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