TV Times

T’BBC Salford having finished, I just now switched over to the BBC News Channel to settle down for a bit of Mandela Rememberance Action (well, you can never get enough, can you ? and the Beeb have hardly mentioned it.) Commentator Jon Sopel was going through the guest list ” Bono will be here, as will Richard Branson….”. Didn’t hear any more. Switched over again.  I’m watching Frasier now.


The BBC’s planned 4 hour news feature on the life and death of Nelson Mandela has been rescheduled for a later date, to be replaced by a 5 hour news feature entitled ‘Nelson Nearly Visited Our Pub Once’. A look back at the very many British notables who were once in the same postcode and nearly saw the back of the head of the late world leader.

Diane Abbott (arrow in head), having walked 17 miles to purely coincidentally bump into Madiba,  tries to accidentally get into the same frame as the Great Statesman. Outside Tooting Village Hall, 1994
Diane Abbott MP (arrow in head), having walked 17 miles to, purely coincidentally, bump into Madiba, tries to accidentally get into the same frame as the Great Statesman. Outside Tooting Village Hall, 1994

Lionel Blair, Joe Swish, international Jazz/Pop Combo sensations JLS —interrupting their sell-out Retirement Tour (tickets at all prices)— Lord Vaz of East Leicester, Dame Christopher Biggins and many many less explain what it was like to be photographed just 7 people away from the great man, during his memorable visit to East Penge Chutney Market, and on his many other visits to this country. (Other Bandwagons are available).

(Live uninterrupted coverage of the Demise of English Cricket continues on Radio 5 Dead)

Mandela Carries Bat as Assad makes Most of Easy-Paced Pitch.

Another record of sporting History from the vaults of the Sharp Single. Those who witnessed it say it was probably the greatest match ever played in Dartford Park, and that had the park keeper not told them all to “bugger off  home” at 6 o’clock, it would have gone down in history as the best game never played. (click to enlarge)


A Good Week to Bury a Bad King

Richard III Olivier

Man is attacked by plasticine while playing Richard III, Peckham Town Hall

Apparently, when the great and the good the boffins and the geeks, the beardies and the weirdies assembled the press to great fanfare and pomp to announce the results of a recent dig, they decided to do so in a long and drawn-out manner— the idea being to keep the world and its media on the edge of their seats and build the suspense to a Hitchcockian level. Unfortunately for them, by the time their little show had come to a climax and they were to actually, finally reveal their findings into whether or not the body underneath a car park in Leicester was indeed that of the much-maligned King Richard III of England (2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485) news events elsewhere had taken precedent and, by the wonders of modern electronic communication, the reporters and photographers, the news hounds and correspondents, the hacks and the monkeys had been ordered by their newsrooms to clear out and go cover the news that a prominent British politician had persuaded his wife to take the blame for a traffic misdemeanour, and to accept the penalty points for speeding. The news agenda had overtaken the professors in Leicester and they were rudely reminded that they, rather like this paragraph, had taken far too long to get to their point. When they were finally ready to reveal all, they had lost the attention of everyone save the man from Leicester Car Park Weekly and the reporter from Cockney Rhyming Slang Gazette. You might say they had Leicester talk to. Then again you might not.

You gotta feel sorry for them though. I’ve since heard many say that they should have front-loaded the announcement, should have got the important and relevant info up front to satisfy newspapers and The Daily Express alike. But what were the chances of their declaration of national importance being usurped by another in a long line of dodgy Liberal Democrat gaffes ? They felt they were safe with the only story in town to risk a long, drawn-out build-up.


There are some days when I watch the tv news at 5.00 am (I’ve told you about my sleep patterns, right ?) only to switch on the bulletin again at 10 o’clock that night and sit through exactly the same bulletin as I’d seen some 17 hours previously. The lead story on both would be a new Michael Gove initiative for schools, Scotland experiencing a cold snap, or something equally as riveting.

But this week is somehow different.

There are, very occasionally, times when I miss working in the news industry. Not often, just every now and then. This week would have to be one of those times. How much fun must it be to be in a newsroom at the moment ? Take this lunchtime’s T’BBC news broadcast, for example:

ITEM 1. Children in Lancashire (it’s in the north somewhere. Near the BBC, oddly) have been served up with horse meat in their cottage pies (a menu item which, for the foreign readers’ benefit, is a rite of passage for UK children of the lower classes.). This is one of those stories (like hospital killer bugs, foxes/dingos stole/ate my baby, or GangNam Style dancing by celebrities or sportsmen) that keep on giving and keep papers going to the real silly season starts (usually just after Easter Monday).


Imagine if there was horse meat served (gedditt?) at Wimbledon or Ascot Ladies’ Day how much hilarity would ensure ?  [“News” editors are normally seconded from the Features Dept or the Fashion desk during  Ladies’ Day when “Woman Wears Frock” suddenly becomes a news item. Real news men would be incapable of recognising great stories like that. Thank Buddah I was one of those men.]

ITEM 2. Oscar Pistorius weeps in court having been charged with murdering his model girlfriend (run VT of bikini shots), and confronted with the phrase “premeditated murder”. When this one broke in the early hours of the previous morning, the scuttlebutt was that dear, dear old Oscar mistook the missus for an intruder and, as is de rigueur in the “Rainbow” Nation, shot the shit of of him/her, preferring to ask questions later.  However we are now told that Oscar and Reeva had a bit of previous on the domestic dust-up department, and therefore he’s been hauled up in front of the beak for planning the whole thing.

This is a huge story. Huge. Obviously not as huge as meat being found in a school meal, but large, nevertheless. I put it to you, more people in the world know of The Blade Runner than knew of OJ Simpson before he definitely didn’t kill his missus. Pistorius wins track races without legs. The world knows this and he is the face of Paralympic sport. OJ was a footballer. Or a Basketball player. We outside the States knew he was famous for something over there and went along with the furore and spectacle of CNN’s first live news story that didn’t involve watching huge cannon fire things into a desert, beautifully commentated on by Christianne Amanpour though it may have been.

The enduring image of the OJ Trial was of the guilty party innocent man claiming proving for the cameras that some gardening gloves didn’t fit him. It’s gonna be a bit tougher for Oscar if he tries that defence with his lower limbs. (As a side note, I was told a good few years back by a sports journo that Pistorious was the most obnoxious, self-centred, arrogant man he’d ever met. That certainly doesn’t make him a murderer but may explain why he’s loved and admired all over South Africa.)


Back to the news.

ITEM 3. Coronation Street Star accused of 19 (count ’em) NINETEEN sex offences including raping a child, indecently assaulting a child and sexual activity with a child. A man who has starred on our screens, apparently, for 30 years is arrested for multiple sex offences comes in a poor third in the running order behind a Palamino Pasty and an accused without, frankly, a leg to stand on. We have become very blasé about sex offenders in this country. The Jimmy Savile and Gary Glitter cases seem to have dulled our senses to any more kiddy-fiddling stories (more of which later), and as famous as this latest bloke surely is in his native third world of Mancunia, he ain’t no Stuart Hall, allegedly. Or maybe he is. So third place he stays, behind the Paralympian and just ahead of:

ITEM 4: 950 injured as meteors crash to earth.  I’m sorry, I’ll re-type that : 950 injured as meteors crash to earth. Yes, you read that right:  Nine Hundred and Fifty. Injured by Meteors. METEORS. This isn’t a FOURTH story of the day. This is the stuff of Hollywood. This is some cock-awful dreadful movie starring Bruce Willis and Nick Cage (with, perchance, a cameo by Jude Law as a lump of moon rock) and Tom Wilkinson playing the retired Astronaut. I can see it now. Or rather I can’t. I couldn’t possibly. But you know what I mean. It’s made for filming. And whatever happens, it couldn’t possibly be a worse movie than Armadeddon (1988) Dir Michael Bay . Could it ? Really.  But instead, like journalists in a Leicester car park we have to wade through all frippery of mass poisonings, celebrity murders and serial rapists before we get to the , ahem, meat of the matter which is THE WORLD IS BEING DESTROYED BY ASTEROIDS. Or something. A clue as to why this story was so far down the running order is to be found when you see that it all happened in the Urals. Fucking Russians. Fuck ’em. If it had happened in Bangladesh they would have hidden it between “Local Man Bitten By Local Dog, Locally” and “Mayor of London wins Rear of the Year”

So there you have it. Time your news conferences and special events carefully. In a busy week, you never know which story will hog all the coverage. What you think is earth-shattering news will be overtaken by events and quickly be forgotten. Just ask the scientists, still there talking in a Leicester car park. Or that ex-Hitler Youth, Peadophile Apologist who retired this week— he’s hardly had a look-in since.
See: You’ve forgotten him already !

pope benedict with children


Yes, it was Richard III. Please tell the world (unless you’ve already buggered off).

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.


A Corner of an English Field that is Forever Foreign

Following the complete disaster of England’s first test vrs South Africa, (info correct at the time of going to press) it’s become apparent to the English selectors that they don’t have enough foreign – born players in their ranks. When English cricket has found itself in trouble (and that’s happened more than once down the years) the law books have been scrutinised and harsh critics may say altered to fit our needs.

Many a colonial has found not just a home in England’s green and spinning land, but a decent and lucrative career in playing for our national side before they bugger off to Kerry Packer/Beaches of Durban/The Indian Premiere League (delete where applicable).

A quick glance down the list of the jewels of the Empire which the MCC have gleaned over the years give you some idea why players from Deepest and Darkest are so attractive to them:

Basil D’Oliveira (1966)
Tony Greig (1972)
Allan Lamb (1982)
Ian Greig (1982)
Chris Smith (1983)
Neal Radford (1986)
Robin Smith (1988)
Andrew Strauss (2004)
Kevin Pietersen (2005)
Matt Prior (2007)
Jonathan Trott (2009)

And so keep your eyes peeled for the next in line. A right-handed bat, who bowls occasional off-spin with an occasional wrong ‘un, he averages 48 with the bat and a little over 19 with the bow&arrow.  Mustard in the covers and his running between the wickets is legendary, though his calling needs work, apparently.

From this picture alone, he impresses me more than Ravi Bopara.

The Wrong ‘Un


The South Africans may have Graeme Smith to knock our boys all over The Oval (which, by the way, is neither Kia, nor Brtivic, by the way, just The Oval), but we have Paul Smith to make things of beauty such as below. For just over a hundred quid at your local Harvey Nichols (I tire of popping into mine) you can pick up one of these little beauties to throw at a batsman near you. You may not be able to bowl any better, faster or straighter but armed with balls like these, I’m assured you’ll be able to swing both ways.

Howzat for a couple of bouncers ?

By the way:- I’m running a book on how many piss-poor innings it will take for Ravi Bopara to lose that unbelievably mis-placed swagger of confidence. I grew up when another bloke, I.V.A. Richards used to come to the crease, chewing gum, nonchalantly swinging his bat, swaying his hips and sporting the smuggest of grins. Then he’d set about the attack, (sans helmet or chest guard) with all the aplomb and timing which great batsmen bring to the game. Bopara has perfected the walk and the gum chewing.

There the similarity ends. Viv he certainly ain’t. More reminiscent of Derek Pringle.

Here endeth old git rant #796