Jobs for the Boys and Girls.


I’ve had a few decent jobs. I’ve had a couple of bloody awful ones too. I spent a good deal of my working life at The Telegraph; then a decent amount of time in London at TIME Magazine. I spent only a few months in the employ of Rupert Murdoch, but I don’t think he misses me. He’s probably got plenty on his plate to worry about at the moment anyway. Mr Dacre doesn’t lay awake at night wondering why I only did a couple of weeks freelancing on his Daily Mail. At least I assume he doesn’t. How much time Alexander Lebedev spends wishing I was still at The Independent, only he knows. When he gets too depressed about it, he goes off and punches someone, I hear. Robert Maxwell fell off his boat before I got the chance of working for him. Pity.

So you’d think that the constant moaning and whingeing from her father might have put a young Bealing off of journalism, wouldn’t you ? Well apparently not.

If you click on the picture above you’ll see an interview with former Tory politician Ann Widdecombe, the first raft of questions being asked by my eldest daughter Lucy (bottom right hand corner of this photo) . The more observant of you will notice Lucy keeps here questions to Ann’s role in Strictly Come Dancing rather than tackle her on political issues. It’s probably for the best: Her dad, whereas he would have struggled to come up with anything coherent or relevant to ask about Strictly, would have ended up on an assault charge should he ever have had to ask Widdecombe about her “struggle against Socialism”. Probably why her dad ended up as a picture editor, rather than an interviewer. You’ll also note that Lu speaks the Queen’s English unlike her father. Another advantage she has over me.

So that’s my eldest sorted out for the future, but the job market is a precarious one. My current job of “Watching Columbo and Printing T-Shirts” is one of my favourite jobs I’ve had, it just doesn’t pay anything like I thought it might. Almost the opposite in fact. On the other hand, I’m working at a place I like (home) with people I like (my mate Rob) and the hours are pretty good.

It could be worse, I could be Andrew Strauss who’s looking particularly precarious in his job as England cricket captain, his team having lost its fourth test match in a row. There’s no disgrace losing in Sri Lanka. The conditions are brutally hot and the pitches are so different from those in England that you’d need to be a particular talent to pull off a win, especially in Galle which has the reputation of being a graveyard for English players, and in particular English bowlers.

Bealing leads off The Fleet St Exiles having taken 6-22, taking them to a
3 wickets victory against the Sri Lankan Airways XI, Galle, Sri Lanka 2005

Then again some people are luckier than others. My good mate Dave has finally ended his long wait for a permanent job by landing a plumb one on a magazine. It’s been a long wait for him and I was thrilled when he called to tell me he’s landed it. Well done, Wavey ! Then there’s rugby’s Stuart Lancaster who has just been given the job which everyone in the country (57 Old Farts aside) thought he should have been given weeks ago. The new English Rugby Coach has fought off seemingly nearly every other coach in the world for the job before the old Twats of Twickenham finally run out of South Africans to turn them down. The RFU were forced to give the job to Lancaster, something they should have done when it was clear he a) knew how to coach a rugby team and b) had no time for show ponies. Celebrity coach he ain’t. And thank fuck for that.

Andy Robinson keeps his job. Yes, really. The Scotland coach had presided over a team which last won a match in black&white but somehow managed to convice the SRFU that he’s the one for the post. Can there be another man in the country (and yes, we can still count Scotland in that) who’s luckier to be still employed ? No, not if you don’t count Francis Maude there isn’t.

The Idiot Saville Row Tory Cabinet Office Minister Maude emplored drivers to fill up their Jerrycans with petrol and prepare for fuel shortages due to the tanker driver’s strike and that “there are lives at stake”. Once people had Googled what a Jerrycan was (apparently not everyone’s obsessed by WWII like me), checked that there is no strike (and won’t be one for at least a fortnight, and even then, probably not) and that the tanker drivers weren’t using Mad Max II technology to threaten people’s lives and protect the remaining gasoline, everyone assumed Maude would be taken round the back by Dave and Gideon and pummeled to death with his own Jerrycan. Sadly not.

“Half a tank of unleaded and 3 lucky dips for tonight’s lottery, please mate.” – a scene from Mad Maude II: The Road Warrior

For starters, Dave was too busy telling us how much he loved Pasties, and about the hilarious incident when he recently bought a pasty on Leeds railway station from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. MMMMmmmmmmm….Yum Yum. Trouble is all the poor sods at the Leeds station branch of the West London Pasty Company lost their jobs in 2007. So all that justification by Dave, all that gettin dahn wiv da prols an da kidz was, ow u say,  a load of old bollocks.

Still, Dave’ll soon have some proper opposition in Parliament to point out all his mistakes, scandals, lies and wrong-doings. George Galloway is back in a job. Sadly, it’s true. The Big Brother Cat Impersonator is back in his job as an MP, this time by winning a by-election in Bradford West, a once Labour stronghold. George won by a landslide by campaigning on one issue: An anti-Afghan War campaign in the predominantly-muslim neighbourhoods of Bradford West. He even intimated earlier in the campaign he actually was a musilm (he isn’t really).

Just fancy that: A tv celebrity, however micro and annoying to you and me, campaigns in a Muslim area against a war seen by many to be anti-muslim, securing a 10,000 majority and WINNING a by-election in a previously Labour heartland. Now who could have predicted that ? Should anyone in Labour be brought to account for this humliation? Should Mr Millipede still be in his job ?

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Magherafelt’s Got Talent


Of course, Simon Cowell didn’t invent it ….

This is one of those videos you’re sent and think “ooh! 9 mins 10. That’s gonna be far too long to bother with.” Fear not , my friends, time will just fly as you watch this one.

It leaves you with so many questions, and here are just a few which occurred to me:

Was this filmed by the world’s shortest cameraman ? Why didn’t Emperor Roscoe (and his performing genitalia) appear on TV more often ? What, apart from a huge wig and some superglue,  did contestant #1, John Henry, ask for on his 27th birthday (and if he’s 26 I’m a bad disco dancer) ? Where can I buy an Atmosphere Extractor for my house like the one used by this Discotheque ? And why don’t more people dance like Cossacks , as demonstrated by number 10 (H.Moore) and his enormous performing trousers ? And why is he “dancing” to the theme from Crimewatch ?

I’m sure you’ll have your own questions. Meanwhile :

Download Part II yourself to see who won, if indeed anybody actually did.

SHARPSINGLEPIEAD

Other Blogs are Available


You can’t please all of the people all of the time. I’m fully aware that when I rant on about all things political, fair and socialist, many of you retreat to your panic rooms, put the duvet over your head and hope I’ll go away. On the other hand, when I put finger to keyboard and opine on the wonders of organised sport, the crumpet people among you flee to the safety of your pinafores and Strictly Come Dancing. Bless you’re little hearts.

Well, as I think we’ve all had our fill of RBS for one week, the Chris Huhne story has been and gone (I’m Chris Huhne and so is my wife), we have time to catch our breath before the crook David Laws (who Clegg thinks we’ve all forgotten about) is given his job back, and still months before I am arrested by the Thought Police for my views on the London Olympic Games, let’s get a round-up of this weekend’s sport. Sorry girls.

So let us indeed start with the Olympics. It won’t have been lost on you that there was an initial hiccup at the first meeting of Olympic volunteers – sorry Games Makers – when they started their training yesterday. These induction sessions are crucial if the maximum amount of cash is to be gleaned by as many corporate sponsors allowable by using as much free labour as is permitted by international regulations, orchestrated by the biggest corporate carve-up since RBS handed out taxpayers money as bonuses (oops! see what I did there? naughty boy). These poor sods even have to pay their fares there. And most will be stuck in a car park, pointing out the direction to the nearest McDonalds. You’ll see more athletic action if you’re stuck in a basement, cowering for your life in downtown Damascus.

Anyway, not everything went swimmingly for Seb’s Little Helpers. As the BBC put it:

But there were reports of train delays and local traffic congestion and some Games Makers reported they had problems getting to the venue.
Colin Foster, 43, from Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire said it took him two hours to drive the eight miles to the Arena. When he got there he then had to pay £22 to park nearby.
“I think it’s a bit steep when people are volunteering. We’re doing our bit giving up time and energy so to be charged is rather excessive”

Congestion in London ????  Train delays ???? Exorbitant prices ???? Well I never did. Whodathunk it ????  Not that, of course Seb’s mob admitted anything was wrong. The Goebbelesque method of propaganda which Locog (that’s what they call themselves) reacts to reported or forseeable problems with the games has only been surpassed in recent times by the crew of the Costa Concordia telling passengers to relax and go back to their cabins. And the band played on. For the record, Locog said it was surprised to hear of any problems, again according to the BBC.

It certainly came as a real shock to the rest of us too.

Meanwhile, away from snowy Blighty, the English Cricket team are being pummeled into submission by Pakistan. It’s painful to watch, but like rail disruption in the capital, not totally surprising. As reported here many times before, this current bunch of show ponies look overpaid, uncooked, over thier heads, and are under-performing over there. They can’t even blame a betting syndicate cheats on this disaster. What no-one seems to have foreseen was the the Pakistan team would have included several good spin bowlers, one of whom turns the balls both ways.

Wait a minute !!! Isn’t that cheating??  Can’t we imprison Sajeed Ajmal  for being able to bowl better than we can ??  It’s a bloody disgrace, I say.

Closer to home, I feel lucky to have survived the Rugby match between Scotland and England yesterday. Not since the display by the London PR Team at the end of the Beijing Olympics has there been a more inept, toe-curlingly awful display in a major stadium, all captured in stunning HD for the world to watch in stunned silence. The phrase “looking like two drunk bald men fighting over a comb” can never have been used more aptly than to describe this truly awful spectacle. In a match which had already been marred by the sight of 22 child mascots dragged into the frozen wastes of Muyrryfield wearing little more than a pair of shorts, saw 44 huge men run around aimlessly to the strains of a whimpered “Swing Low” here, a choked “Flower of Scotland” there.

No-one-one does parochial pettiness better than the jocks, and if Alex Salmond had marched onto the pitch and demanded to hold a referendum on Scottish devolution there and then, it would have been more interesting than what was taking place on this pitch. After the match, the Scots knew they had missed a golden opportunity to beat a woeful English team. Jock Fly half Dan Parks (who’s about as Scottish as I am) was kicking himself in the changing room, only to miss with two kicks and have a third charged down.

So today we have more rugby when Ireland play Wales, which always promises great things and sees me don my traditional impartial kit of a green shirt and a pint of Guinness. On the world of OnMeEadSon we have Man Utd playing Chelsea. A lot of the gloss has been taken off this one by the fact that, through injury, we are to be denied the spectacle of Rio Ferdinand waking from his usual 40 winks half way through the second half and ploughing into former England Racist John Terry for abousing Rio’s little brother. Sorry that was a typo. Did I say England Racist ?  I meant to say cvnt. And for former read present and big.

Over in the Middle East, Pakistan will doubtless move closer to wrapping up a 3-0 victory over the ever-popular English Cricket team, which will be a relief to all, especially the four blokes and the jack russell terrier who’ve actually paid money to sit in the stand and watch this rubbish.

Across the pond, the weekend ends with what passes for sport in the US – The Super Bowl. The New Improved Recipes play the New Lamps for Old in an encounter that proves to be the first Super Bowl since the last one. There was a time, back in the 80s when I’d have been all excited about this. I even attended a few Super Bowl parties, cheering on the Cowboys vrs the Redskins or the Packers, drinking beer til the early hours until it was time to fall asleep on someone’s floor. Thankfully I’ve grown older, fatter and tireder since then and this old body can barely make it past the Ten O’clock news, let alone keep awake to watch this, surely the most cynical of all advertising opportunities. I’ll watch a selection of the funny ads on Youtube tomorrow, just don’t pretend this is a sporting event. Coupled with the fact that the old cockney Madonna is serenading the crowd at half time makes this the most missable event since Diana Ross took a penalty at the world cup (an event which sums up all you need to know about the US corporate world’s relationship with sport).

Anyway, before I go to practise my rendition of Fields of Athenry I shall leave you with this, another old git ranting on about football, soccer and America. It was sent to me by another sports fan, this time a Jock who was keeping strangely quiet through yesterday’s festivities in Edinburgh. He’s like that when Scotland play. Anything.

 

The Birds and the Wasps


This weekend found us visiting friends in the Leicestershire countryside. I’d been to Leicester only once before, as a schoolboy to play rugby, and found myself ruminating on just what I knew of the area. I knew it was another one of those odd English words which foreigners struggled to pronounce (for any of my overseas readers it’s Ly-cester-shyre). No not really. But it turns out I knew very little else, it being one of those little bits of England that attracts scant attention or publicity, a bit like Wiltshire, Stephen Fry or Scotland.

My cricketing hero David Gower used to play for Leicestershire, and who could forget Leicester City‘s Keith Weller ? (oh, you have). Rugby legend Martin Johnson was, of course, for a long-time at Leicester Tigers, then there’s red leicester cheese, the deaf midget tax-fiddling horse jockey Leicester Piglet, Leicester Square and the Leicester Shuffle (if you throw two playing cards onto the floor you get less ta shuffle). Clearly I was clutching at straws.

So it came to pass that on Saturday morning I was zipping around mile after mile of beautiful rolling hills and lanes, past box hedges, magnificent oaks and dinky thatched stone cottages. Past signposts which could have been lifted from the script of American Werewolf. Signs for Tugby and Queniborough sped by, for Houghton on the Hill and Skeffington, even Ratcliffe on the Wreake (which sounds to me like Harry Potter on a vodka binge). I looked for signs to North Londonshire but could see none.

It was beautiful. The trees cascaded with Autumnal colour, the pale November sun washed over the copse and ploughed fields and everywhere was teeming with wildlife. Not just sheep and cows, horses in fields and chickens in coops, but pheasants and eagles, buzzards soaring and hawks hunting. Even the roadkill was exotic – badgers and deer where, at home, I’d see foxes and hedgehogs clogging-up the roadside gutters. Ah! the countryside is great. I’ve always been a committed townie, always preferring the smell of exhaust fumes, the sound of a police sirens or a bus’s airbreaks to the smell of dung, the twittering of the birdies or the clip clop, clip clop of farmers throwing horse shoes at boisterous cockerels.

But wandering around this area I could see the appeal, and it became clear to me why at some point in many lives, city dwellers up-stumps and seek out and claim for themselves that little bit of an English field that shall be forever foreign. And smelly. Yes this was it, I thought. I let my mind wander, daydreaming of buying a labrador, wax jacket and wellies, and perchance an Austin Healey. Of doing nothing more strenuous than grow a beard or taking myself for a spin from village to village, working up a thirst before I parked myself on a bar stool down at the local pub, supping endless pints of Thruxton’s Old Dirigible through my grey whiskers, brushing off the pickled egg debris from my corduroys.

Our friends, Julia and Stuart, had moved up from town a couple years ago and I could see in their eyes that this was the sort of lifestyle they were shaping up to enjoy, if they weren’t doing so already. They’d thought ahead and brought their labrador, Oscar, up with them from the smoke of the South East. I liked Oscar. An old boy, he didn’t so much bark as cough. When you entered the room he approached you making the sort of flegmy noises that my old pipe-smoking landlord used to make as I walked into his pub (though Oscar wagged his tail slightly more and scratched himself slightly less than old Jack did). I wanted an Oscar when I moved up here.

No sooner had we arrived at their home than we were whisked off by Julia and Stuart to a nearby pub for the proverbial lunchtime pie and a pint. What perfect hosts. It was a charming, warm country affair with a fine selections of ales and spirits and a decent wine list. They even had lemons. Their daughter worked behind the bar and we were served immediately. It was wonderful ! We supped, we nibbled and we supped again. This was lovely. I could have stayed there all day. Happy days. As we’d come in I’d noticed there was a twee little white cottage next door which had a For Sale board outside. I started dreaming again. Hmmm…….

And then a bell rang and woke me up. “Time gentlemen please” bellowed the landlady.

Eh…? what…? Wassappening ???? I looked at my watch. It was 3pm. OF COURSE. Bloody country hours. Strangers to these shores may be unaware that up until ten years-or-so ago, pubs in England would close every day at 3pm (2pm on Sundays) and not re-open until 6pm (7 o’clock on Sundays). Legend has it that this haitus in available alcohol purchasing time was introduced during WWI to encourage the factory workers back to the production lines. As 20-somethings we didn’t give a monkeys about the history, all we knew was that our formative years of beer-swilling were punctuated by daily and very annoying periods during each afternoon when landlords would throw us out of perfectly good drinking holes. Pah.

Thankfully, the lawmakers of this country came to their senses and the laws were changed to allow beer to be served pretty much all day. Reason had prevailed and one could happily go missing in action in a saloon bar for a goodly amount of time. But, of course, we lived in London, where every opportunity to screw a few more pence out of the spending public was seized upon. Everything was open at every hour, every day. Pubs, restaurants and shops seemed never to close (though, perversely, police stations and hospitals and nursery schools started to close or operate restricted hours- go figure). Folk out in the sticks, however, liked things as they’d always been and the half-day closing practices continued.

So now, here in the middle of the English countryside and for the first time in yonks, I was being asked to leave a pub before 11pm for reasons other than foul language. And I tell you something: It felt perfectly fine. A sudden bout of nostalgia overcame me. I was transported back to those long, beerless afternoons of the 1980s, when I and legions of other thirsty herberts traipsed the streets trying to come up with something, anything to do while the pub was shut.

A smile passed my lips, this was a good thing. It was civilised, I could handle this. I was too long in the tooth to still feel the need to spend every waking hour in a hostelry. This is how adults behaved: you had a couple of quiet pints at lunchtime then made your way home to your loved ones. Spiffing. Adulthood, that which I vowed never to have anything to do with – like the Liberal Democrats, Strictly Come Dancing or anal tucks – had barged its way into my life and I felt comfortable letting it in.

We strolled back to the car. “That was great” I offered as convincingly as I might. “Very civilised indeed. Haven’t done that for years”.
“Yeah, it’s like the old days back in London, isn’t it?” agreed Stuart. We all nodded and manoeuvred our sensible middle-aged frames back into the car. I almost felt smug with myself. Stuart started the car then added,
“And on Mondays the pubs don’t open at all !”

!?!?

“Beg your pardon ?” I felt a cold chill run down my back. “Not open on Mondays. AT ALL???” I was a tad quieter on the drive back to the house.

The rest of the weekend was spent chomping a quaffing our way through Julia and Stuart’s wine cellar and food cupboards. Bloody fine it was too. Great company, smashing grub and a very fine selection of vin rouge kept us very happy indeed. We ventured out again on Sunday afternoon for a short tour of the area, stopping off at another pub for a pit stop. I wasn’t entirely convinced it was going to be open at all, given the shocking revelation of the day before. Thankfully I needn’t have fretted.

Just before we got our things together for our return trip home, a winter wasp (presumably another quirk of the countryside) flew up my trouser leg and stung me, thankfully only on the shin. Little bastard.

So we retraced our route back to the motorway en route to London, through the same lanes as the day before, now covered in jet blackness. Every so often we’d see a pair of unkown creature’s eyes illuminated in the headlights, or the flap of an owls wings as it swooped across the road in front of us.

It was all very different and all very lovely, but I decided that, as it turned out, I no longer wanted to live in the country. I’d gladly trade the smell of horses for the smell of a kebab house (often a strangely similar smell), I certainly could do without November wasps and I’ve never been all that keen on long country walks.

Back home now in Railway Cuttings, the rain is pouring down the window on a miserable, cold, November Monday afternoon. I’m looking out at bluetits on my nuts and squirrels burying theirs, not Owls hooting or badgers badgering. When I get bored of watching my more mundane urban wildlife I may just take myself off up to the village where there are five or six pubs with varying levels of charm. Some offer less-than-mediocre service, nearly all possess truly shocking toilets. In some the pipes won’t have been cleaned and there will be more barflies than customers (though I’ve yet to be bitten on the shin by a barfly). Being a Monday someone will have forgotten to order the lemons or re-stock the ice bucket.

But whatever the state of our local boozers down here in our little part of London they will be open. And that’s the way I like em.

Green Army!!


Not a single TV company bothered to bid the rights to cover the match, or if they did, they offered a pittance. The papers have dubbed it a national disgrace. It’s a bloody long way to go to a miserable, bleak corner of the world to watch 90 minutes of football, and few will fork out and endure such a long journey. However, I’m gonna go, and I have a plan so we can all watch it:

I’m taking my camera.

It’s got a pretty decent lens and a video mode, and I have 2 batteries which I reckon should last long enough to cover the whole match, barring long injuries. I’ll post it here just as soon as I get back, if you play it smart and avoid news broadcasts you could watch it as live. Get a few tinnies in, arrange the furniture accordingly, invite a few mates round and sit back and watch Gravesend U13 Girls vrs Dartford U13 Girls, live from Dogshit Park, Gravesham. (Kent Girls/Ladies Football League, U13 Div.2)

Why? Which match did you think I was talking about? England ??? Pah!

Apart from the fact that England have already qualified for next year’s World Cup, did anyone really expect the BBC or ITV to show live coverage of their match vrs Ukraine at the time when, traditionally, the nation sits down in front of Strictly Come Dancing or The X Factor?? Do you honestly expect them to replace Calzaghe for Capello, swap the obvious talents of Cheryl Cole for the unobvious ones of her ex Ashley? Have you not worked out that this country has gone to hell in a handcart? that our collective national taste is shot to pieces??? THAT THE WORLD HAS GONE BLEEDIN MAD!!!!???????? I had a dream the other night that I thought I was playing football with Wayne Rooney, but was really on Strictly with one of the male professional dancers. It all went horribly wrong when I shouted “backdoor, backdoor”.)

Often Beaten Around the Ring. And Joe Calzaghe

Often Beaten Around the Ring. And Joe Calzaghe

Last Sunday 3.2 million people (I shall repeat that THREE POINT TWO MILLION PEOPLE) tuned in to watch a show called Hole in the Wall (“Bring on The Wall”). On this 6 celebrities are pushed into a pool of “ice-cold” water if they fail to take the correct shape or a …er…hole in a wall (the rules are too complicated to go into). Now I say celebrities, but you be the judge: Kelly Dalglish, Lil’Chris, Gemma Bissix, Matthew Chambers, Joe Swash and Austin Healey.

3.2 million people watching a wall, a hole, a pool.

So stuff all that, next weekend you’ll have the chance to sit down and watch a real competition, real sport with a real, meaningful outcome. Dartford have had a great start to their season thus far having beaten Woodpeckers twice (once in the league, once in the cup – and on both occcasions Dartford had ten men…er…players) and smashed home 10 goals in the process. Now the team, led by their stunningly beautiful captain, centre back Kate “Katie” Bealing, (great touch for a tall girl) meet top-or-the-table Gravesend in what the Dartford Times isn’t already calling a ‘six-pointer’. And as a loyal reader to this column, you won’t miss any of the action, well not much anyway.

Bealing (centre) chases hard. The ref doesn't

Bealing (centre) chases hard. The ref doesn't

Go “oooh” as the shots rain in from the Dartford attackers peppering the Gravesend goalie. Go “Aaaah” as the game is held up for three minutes for a dad to wipe away the tears of his daughter who copped a ball straight in the face. Go “shuddup you prat” as you hear an aggressive dad on the touchline scream abuse at the girls on the pitch. Go “to the toilet” as my battery runs out and I have to change for a fresh one to carry on recording.

Yes, there will only be one camera, but as I expect none of the 20 outfield players to be any more than ten feet away from the ball at any time, you won’t miss a thing.

And watch it all in glorious, mono lo-res!

All this and much, much less for 3 easy payments of 2.50* (plus p&p). Please send your payments in unmarked, non-consecutive bills (no cheques) to:

The Bald Bloke in the Suit in the Corner
c/o The Manager
O’Neill’s Public House
Tranquil Vale
Blackheath SE3

…and if you’re not watching low quality video of a high quality local girls soccer match very soon, I’d be most surprised.

(*offer subject to conditions, and whether I can be arsed)

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