A 10-Point Plan for Real Reform


Now that Gideon Osborne has apparently ended the recession (the jury is still out, of course) , here’s my cunning plan which would really make life worth living in this country. This is no death-bed conversion, this is a manifesto years in the planning, months in the consultation, hours in its plagiarism and minutes in the typing. I give you:

A SPORTING CHANCE

1. Association Football

Can I suggest what all us egg-chuckers have been pleading for for some time now?: A yellow card means being sent to the Sin-Bin. Let’s see how long Jose or Arsene and their like will put up with playing with 8 men for 10 minutes. It’d take two weeks before all that swearing at the ref, formation falling-over and waving pretend cards at the ref ends in a melee of teacups at half-time. Bring back the orange ball and all games to be played at 3pm on Saturdays.

2. Golf

I propose two innovations to the PGA and European tours:
a) Dickouts:Any player not making the ladies tee with his drive, or more realistically in professional golf, driving the ball out-of-bounds from the tee should play the rest of that hold with his willy out.
b)Gotchas: Each player will have two Gotchas per round (one on the front nine and one on the back.) This allows anyone to shout “Gotcha” at the top of his playing partner’s backswing, in an attempt to put that player off his stroke. (The reader will note that a Gotcha often results in a Dickout). Tiger Woods will be exempt from Dickouts as it’s felt he’s been playing that game for far too long for his own good.

3. F1 Motor Racing

Before each and every Grand Prix, water tankers on corners 1, 5 and 7 should be emptied onto the track every 10th lap, thus ensuring some form of mild entertainment in the form of, dare I say, overtaking, would occur, thus eliminating the boring processions witnessed in Dubai, Barcelona and probably Monaco. In times of drought, the water could be replaced by oil sourced from the gulf of Florida. BP could do with a hand with getting rid of some anyway. Also only one pit open at any time. If you mis-time when you come off for new tyres or fuel, queue like the rest of us poor sods have to.

4. Athletics: 100 Meters

Let’s stop worrying about drugs. Come one, come all. Stick into your veins or up your nose whatever you like before you compete. Can’t wait to see your head pop off after 75 meters. It’ll give Sue Barker something else to talk about and Brendan might even sober up.

5. Rugby Football (League)

Northern rugger chaps: Let’s get of rid of your pointless, lame scrums.How about a nice hand of rummy instead ? Or maybe Rock/Paper/Scissors ? It’d more competitive. Oh, and play rugby during the winter months.

6. Rugby Football (Union).

Banned: Yellow cards, red cards, lifting in lineouts. Reinstated: Wheeling in lineouts, lifiting in scrums, 16-man punch-ups, touch-judges in blazers. Let’s get back to when you got a slap for cheating, not a yellow card. Second Row: if you don’t want to jump in the lineouts, ask for a ladder. Opposition props would then be allowed to shake it at the base to put you off your catch. Hookers: Our jumpers are in the same colour shirts as the one you’re wearing.

7. Snooker/Pool

Bring back heavy smoking and drinking for that real pub atmosphere. Encourage drunks in the crowd to shout “How much fucking longer are you two gonna be, mate ?” TV Adverts only allowed when it’s one of the players turn to go to the bar to buy a round for him and his opponent. If he hasn’t been served by the time the ad break is over, have another ad break. Also, one side of the table must be no further than 1 meter away from the wall. A half-length or child’s cue will be in a rack (underneath the dartboard) for when the cue-ball is near the cushion.

8. Tennis

Exile all TV coverage to UK Living. It’s not proper sport.

9. Darts

See 7.

10. Cricket.

Get rid of the dancing girls, helmets and pyjamas and wear white flannelled trousers. All games to last a minimum of three days. Uncover the pitches, give the bowlers a chance again. Give all cricket coverage back to the BBC and Channel 4. Also, compulsory South African lineage for all England cricketers. If you’re not called Pietersen, Kietvanwesser or Van der Kochderschmidt, fuck off: we don’t need you any more.

So there you have it. A sensible manifesto for a sensible country. A grand coalition of ideas.

VOTE BEALING, VOTE OFTEN

Advertisements

The State of Play


Finally, there’s something to smile about, something to feel good about, something to look forward to. As the vinegar-strokes of Spring burst forth and the new season sprays its seeds over the flora and fauna of my garden and along all the lanes and byways of the sleepy little borough of Lewis Ham the sun, which has been in winter training south of the equator, make’s an early attempt to be over the yardarm before a mid-day thirst engulfs me.

As the sun’s rays stream through the patio doors, shedding shafts of dusty light over last night’s discarded lottery tickets I hear unmistakable sound of my faithful chien noir pawing at the door in a bid for freedom. He tries this every now and then and the chances are he’ll return pronto, but who am I to keep him forever at my side? I open the door to let my four-legged friend out and, as they say in the song, let the sunshine, let the sunshine, the sun shine in.

I stand at the threshold, inhale lung-fulls of chill, spring air, let the pale,weak solar beams wash over my ever-growing face then realise I should have put some clothes on before exposing my ample frame and dwindling genitalia to the neighbours in the surrounding houses and gardens. I quickly pull the curtains, leaving the rays to illuminate the beaks of the blue tits feeding on my nuts, and to dry out the cat shit on the lawn

My mood has been improving gradually over the past couple of weeks, as it tends to do this time of year. The first indicator that winter is over is the clocks going forward, then Boat Race, then the following weekend by The Grand National (that’s a horse race) and the US Masters (a rather important golf tournament) . The National and The Masters, two events separated by the Atlantic Ocean and 20 degrees Celcius, but almost inseparable by their postitions in the league table of sensational sporting events. Both have huge fields of brightly dressed runners, many carrying too much weight for their own good, most immaculately shod and watched by thousands of animated, vocal and knowledgeable fans. Though admittedly there are rather fewer pissed scousers at Augusta than turn up at Aintree (John Daly’s not from Liverpool, is he?).

Over the years both Grand National and Masters have cost me a fair few quid as I pour goodly amounts of my hard earned cash into the open wallets of the bookies while trying to predict who will win. Most part-time punters remember their few National winners, it being such a lottery and successes come so rarely. My love of the race started in 1975 when I had 50p each-way (probably paid for by my mum) on l’Escgargot which romped home at 13/2. This is easy, thought I and embarked on a, thus far, 35 year quest to repeat my success and adorn myself with the riches of the Indus. I waited 30 years for my next win when, somehow, I bet on the 2005 winners, Hedgehunter which won as 7/1 favourite. Hardly odds on which to retire.

Of course, I was nowhere near last year’s 100-1 Mon Mome, not even in the office sweep. No, I was on State of Play which finished fourth, so I just about got my money back. No-one would ever (or shouldn’t ever) bet ‘to win’ on this race, as a field of 40 horses jumping over 30 sodding great fences over 4 1/2 miles is anyone’s race, so my little ‘each-way’ wagers each year have just about kept my head above water.

So it was with curiously mis-placed optimism that I sat down to watch yesterday’s race. I’d spent long hours studying the form, listening to professional pundits and looking for funny names, but eventually I went with State of Play again, (which this time came in 3rd), while my mate Rob (who has absolutely no interest in the Sport of Kings) had a last-minute, completely uninformed and lucky fiver-each way on the winner, Don’t Push It (10-1) and thus went home with a smile on his face and a bulge in his wallet. Oh goody! How I laughed.

Meanwhile, across the pond in Augusta Georgia, The US Masters has for years had a similar grip on both my interest and wages and, up until Tiger showed up, was as unpredictable as the gee-gee race over in Blighty. Any one of the 90-odd players in the field were capable of winning and picking the winner was very much a game of chance. Once Woods came onto the scene, things became a little more predictable, but by no means a sure thing. Nevertheless, in 20 years of handing over my crisp notes to the good bookmakers, I have yet to collect anything back off them by way of winnings. Again, each-way bets would seem to be the key to all this, not that I’ve even gotten a 4th place.

When Tiger zipped up his trousers and decided to make his comeback at this year’s event, I resisted the temptation to put the house (or even a shilling on the side, just to make it interesting) on him. I was banking on the past 6 months of chaos and media frenzy that has followed young Eldrick Tont Woods around would have put him off his stroke (on the golf course, at least). No, I plumped for the plump Lee Westwood of Ing-er-land as this year’s conduit of delivering my money into the safe clutches of turf accountants of the world.

Lo and behold, my man Lee is having a stormer!! After two rounds he was leading the field with his fellow Brit Ian Poulter, and at one stage during the third round he was 7 shots ahead of Tiger, Phil Mickelson or anyone else. SEVEN SHOTS!!! It was in the bag. Lee would have to drop about a dozen shots to drop down to fifth place, to where my each-way bet wouldn’t bring me any money back. But chances were that he was gonna romp it. In my head I began counting my winnings: £10 at 25/1 is…er..£250, plus my stake back, that £260. That’s 86.6667 pints of Guinness in O’Neills (81.25 in The Crown). Even if Westwood stumbled a little and came in, say, 3rd I’d still get a percentage of the odds, enough for a pint and a curry in Khans.

Hang on a minute.

I logged onto to my online bookies, just to make sure I hadn’t put 50 quid on him (I had had a little drinky when I placed the bet) and thus about to become a very rich man indeed.

Sadly I hadn’t bet 50 pounds each-way, or even 10 pounds each way. I had, for reasons best known to God and Arthur Guinness, placed ten pounds on Lee Westwood to win. TO WIN! No-one bets to win on anyone but Tiger. No-one except bad, drunk, amateur gamblers, that is. As I looked up from my computer screen, Lee’s lead had been cut to three shots. The one shot. Then he was level. Then he was one shot behind. Bollocks. By the end of play Westwood was again top of the leaderboard, but by one shot from Mickelson, with Tiger looming ominously only a couple of shots back.

So that’s that, then. My one chance in 20 years to clean up at The Masters gone, duck-hooked out-of-bounds, sliced into the long grass. Unless it isn’t and Westwood holds strong and wins. In which case I shall celebrate by drinking just enough to put on a well-judged wager. Lib Dems at 200-1 one look tempting. On the nose, of course.