Friday, July 31, 2009


This doesn't bother me:

Tiresomely arrogant squillionaire German with face that just makes you want to hit it for no other reason than it's attached to a body to drive fast car round and round in circles again.

But I feel no shame in admitting that this tribute made me blub like a baby. Try as I might, I can find nothing ill to say of him:

Bobby Robson 1993 - 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

I am confused

I really don't have a lot to say at the moment. I get up, do some stuff, eat some stuff, listen to the wireless and go to bed. Occasionally I speak to some people. On Sunday evenings between 9 and 11pm you will invariably find me attempting to read a book in a quiet corner of The Gaffer's Row. This is my weekly treat. I'm easily pleased.

But I do like to observe. Occasionally I see things that make me laugh. More often than not I witness the crass and boorish ignorance of the great British public that makes us so loved around the world. Yesterday, while sitting at one of the library terminals, I was becoming seriously annoyed with the loud and aggravating noise leaking from the earbuds of the young man sitting next to me. He's a regular user and to be honest, he scares me. He's the kind of person who you're pretty certain, just from watching his body language, exists permenently on a hair trigger, ready to go "off on one" for no apparent reason. After a while, the guy sitting on the far side of him, who happened to be a member of staff, very politely asked him to turn his music down as it was annoying other library users. Not 4 feet away is a giant poster, covering half a wall, that exhorts users to be considerate.

"Could you please turn your music down, it's very loud and is annoying other users."
"Who says?"
"I do." And points to his staff badge.
"Tsk. It's not loud. "
"It is."
"You're having a laugh. I have to have it loud because...(and here a completely illogical justification takes place based on the fact that the music is loud in the first place)."
"Well can you please turn it down then"
"Who's going to make me?"
"There's no need to be so aggressive."
"I wasn't being aggressive"
" I just asked you politely to turn your music down. You replied aggressively."
"You don't know what it means. I wasn't being aggressive. I'll show you aggressive."

At this point I am sitting behind him shaking my head and mouthing "wanker" at him. His surliness, complete disregard for others and plain ignorance is really starting to annoy me and my lower middle class hackles are starting to rise. I'm poised, like a coiled spring, to leap into action. I could take him out, I think, with a swing of my golf umbrella handle to the base of the spine, else I could easily snap his neck with a couple of quick moves like you see done at the pictures. Or I could run out the door in a gratifying display of rank cowardice.

A mobile phone rings, loudly, 3 times. The owner gets up and politely walks out.

"You going to tell him to turn it off?"

I want to point out the obvious. Luckily, my time is up, my screen clears and I make my escape.

Elsewhere: I hear on the news that apparently soldiers are dying in Afghanistan. Regardless of the legitimacy of the conflict, that they are doing so in far fewer numbers than any previous heavily armed conflict seems to have escaped most commentators. That they are also soldiers and this is what they signed up to do is also lost on everyone bar the families of the men who trot out the familiar lines about about duty and protecting us (it's working. There are very few Taliban in Crewe now. 6 months ago you couldn't get a decent sausage anywhere but the stonings in Town Square really brought the crowds in). Apparently the cause of these deaths is a dearth of helicopters. I scream at the wireless in a Milligan-esque fashion "You twats. It's the other side. We sent our soldiers out there only to find that some shit had the temerity to sell the other lot guns. WTF did you think they were going to do with them, train their sweet peas up the barrels?"

A couple of hours ago, in the petrol station, the headline in the Daily Express catches my eye. Children are now being blamed for the spread of Swine Flu. I look up to the sky, the clouds have turned dark and there's a flash of lightning...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yabba dabba don't

A Statement from Sir Frederick Flintstone:

"After a brief chat with my agent great deal of consideration, I've decided to call it a day as long as five day piss-ups are test match cricket is concerned and shall be retiring from the England Test Team immediately after the Ashes seriesor on Thursday morning if I don't pass the fitness test for Lord's because that's me buggered for the rest of the series. It's well documented that my body's been rebelling against the rigours of five day cricket but I would like to think that I still have a lot to offer the England set-up and I hope to be available for the one-day series and 20/20 games as long as I am fitwhere the money's far better and I don't piss everyone about if I crock myself on the morning of the game. Thanks for all your support etc...etc..."

Statistically, it's no great loss. Since 2005 England have performed far better without Andrew Flintoff in the side than when he's been fit but it's signal of a malaise that goes far deeper than statistics and I sincerely hope the morons running the EWCB (and the other morons running world cricket, especially in India but not, surprisingly, in Australia) realise what they've done.

Flintoff is a proper cricketer. Obvious? No. He's not a cricketer because he wears white clothes and goes out and hits a ball with a flat stick, it's because he has a peculiar talent that anyone who's watched cricket for a long time will recognise: presence. He's a good batsman with a decent technique and a properly aggressive and genuinely fast strike bowler but it's that quality you can't see that 99% of the journeymen currently toiling the world's greenswards don't possess that is the reason why idiots like me love the game so much. Watch a match with him in it and you never know what's going to happen. A moment of sublime genius, an application of skill and technique way beyond the capacity of mortals, is always just about to happen - the unplayable ball that cuts a batsman in half off a length; an effortless pick up of a good length ball into the second tier or the catch out of nothing. In my lifetime I've been lucky enough to watch at first hand players of the quality of Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Alan Knott, David Gower, Clive Lloyd, Shane Warne, Derek Underwood, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Barry Richards and Mike Proctor, all of whom could, in the space of 15 minutes of astounding ability or outrageous invention, turn a game through 180 degrees and make you tingle with anticipation. There's a few missing I know but there are also precious few from the modern game. Why?

The reason is the same one Flintoff is crocked and won't risk himself over 5 days. Money. Greed. They (sponsors, not the players although some are just as guilty) all wanted their pound of flesh and the EWCB were happy to cave in. There's no conditioning on the county grind when you're under contract to a dodgy banker or a Bollywood poptart. There's precious little reward for average cricketers in the county game but if you want 11 cavemen with 3lb clubs bludgeoning everything in sight into floodlight pylons and spinners bowling negatively into the rough as your adrenaline fix because you're so conditioned to having everything you do served up in handy easily digestible bite-sized portions, go to America, have your brain removed and watch baseball or buy a Sky dish and settle down to watch 20/20 for half an hour of synthesised mush. But don't for the life of me ever tell me you're watching cricket otherwise I shall be forced to kill you. Slowly. If you want to see a cricket match, take a couple of days off work and watch a county game. It might be a bit boring in places but that's the game. You can only play chess with 32 pieces and 64 squares. Stay with it, pump your money into that and invest it in proper talent instead of paying off Murdoch's sleaze fines for him. For my money, I would rather see someone who could mimic an effortless David Gower extra-cover drive (without a helmet on) than any ten-a-penny pinch-hitter. The wonderful thing about a 6 was that it was a rarity and a surprise, not an expectation. I mean, they even pull the boundaries in to make sixes easier to hit! When I used to watch cricket at the Oval, once one of the biggest grounds in the world, it took supreme timing or strength to clear the ropes, now I reckon even I could do it. Having said that, most 20/20 games appear to be the cricket equivalent of tip and run or touch-rugby where quick singles are the order of the day. What on earth is exciting about two teams getting 140 and nobody able to build a century? I really don't get it.

I'm old, aren't I.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Going Postal. Again.

I went to the Post Office to post something earlier. "First class inland" I said to the clerk.

"Is it of any value and do you want guaranteed delivery tomorrow?" she ventured enquiringly.

"No" I said, "It's not of any particular value except for the fact that I wish to send it to someone otherwise I'd jump up and down on it for the sheer hell of it. And look at the address. Hertfordshire. It's 150 miles away from here on the motorway. I can do it in three hours at a steady throb in my ancient Rover. If it's not there by tomorrow morning, that nobjockey boss of yours, Crozier, will be hearing from me. First Class used to be guaranteed next day delivery to all but the most distant and inaccessible islands of this vast realm until that useless tosser took over. Post offices used to display a map of guaranteed delivery times, it would be hard bloody work trying to find the miniscule speck on it that would have to wait an extra 24 hours for their Private Eyes to be delivered. So how much?"*

"I'm only doing my job. We're told to say that. £1.24 Standard, £5.48 Guaranteed delivery."

"Like those patronising twats in Morrisons who, when you approach with a pot of yoghurt, ask if you need any help with your packing you mean?"**


"So, really what you're saying is that by saying it's not guaranteed, you're hoping I'm going to get all twitchy and worried that my precious little letter isn't going to get there in time and that I'm going to stump up another £4 for the pleasure. I'd like to point out to you that we're in the age of high tech postal sorting machines, highly trained operatives, speedy and efficient distribution networks and highly paid and motivated staff yet you still can't guarantee that my small parcel can't get to the outskirts of Watford from Crewe within 24 hours, something that has been guaranteed almost since Sir Rowland Hill proposed the Uniform Penny Post over 170 bloody years ago? Christ woman, the poor sod would be turning in his grave. I could have had a conversation quicker than texting across London in 1850 using the postal system yet you can't guarantee me delivery to a town that's an hour and a bit down the same bloody railway line?***


Adam Crozier and Peter Mandelson should be thrown into a dark room full of bitey spiders. Between them they have managed to completely ruin a public service purely in the name of greed. Of course it's inefficient, it's being run by a complete arse.

*I might not have said all of this. I didn't call Crozier a nobjockey.

** I did say this.

*** I should have said this but there was a queue. I said it to myself as I walked out and sounded like my medication was overdue.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Today is the official first day of summer, according to Wisden. As is well known, I do not have one of those electric picture wireless things but even if I did own one I would never be a subscriber to that cock Murdoch's evil empire of greed so until the ECB sees sense and I can afford it, I will have to rely on the good offices of the BBC Test Match Special team (which is only really interesting when Geoffrey Boycott or Phil Tufnell - much better than one would think - are on).
Unfortunately, my strictly held principles mean I was denied the spectacle of Katherine Jenkins opening the proceedings with a couple of lethal looking bouncers.
Boom and indeed, boom.
(Any comments about sending one down the corridor of uncertainty will be heavily censored)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Great Unanswered Questions etc...

Isaac Newton wrote an infrequently quoted coda to his third law of motion, known only to the public carriage office that can be paraphrased thus: "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Except in this cab where the laws that govern the universe don't apply, pal."

If I need to use my car for a short journey of say, a mile, like to the council tip with a bootfull of garden rubbish, which requires me to get in the vehicle one end of the trip and exit same the other for a very short time, I am legally obliged to wear a seatbelt for the duration of the entire journey. This is a good thing, most accidents occur within a short distance of home on familiar roads when we are at our least alert and observant. Can somebody therefore please explain to me why a taxi driver, a specie of professional driver for whom egress from the cab is required only for the purposes of refreshment, refuelling or relief ("sling it in the boot mate. 's'open") and very rarely for the benefit of the person paying his or her livelihood, is not required to belt up at all regardless of the length of journey? Why NASA spends billions on fuel to send the shuttle into orbit when in reality all that's needed is 1998 Skoda Octavia 1.9 TDi with 350,000 miles on the clock and a full tank of diesel is anyone's guess.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Beat it.

I generally take little notice of the crap that passes for news on the front page of the redtops but one caught my eye this morning as I walked through Asda's cooling lobby. It was on the front page of several so I won't bother quoting a specific, suffice to say that the gist of it was that the well-known late popstar isn't the father of his own children, whom I believe to called Princess Anne, Prince Michael of Kent II and Bedbug.

I didn't stop to read any of the articles but I am surprised it has taken the newspapers this long to arrive at this conclusion. The Peter Pan of Pop, a man who has at times had trouble breathing the same air as the rest of the planet, disappearing into a room with a galley pot, a copy of Fiesta and a nervous smile is surely one of the most unlikely and, indeed, inconceivable of scenarios.

Catch up.