Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ode To The Better

Shall I compare thee to a Toyota?
Thou art as wild and as unstoppable.
The pedal of thy love is stuck down fast
To the eternal floor mat of my heart.
I love thy form that never leaves my side.
(So I can’t buy a Valentine’s Day card
Nay, not even when we stop for petrol.)
Methinks our love shall never be recalled,
For when thy parts and warranty have run
There shall be no trade in, no part exchange.
Thou repairs me, thou sorts out all my rust
And will, until I crumble into dust.

So long as wheels can turn, or this downloads,
So long I hope to see you on the roads.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Morlock Tugging

During the run up to my wedding the reception hotel rang to inform that Everton FC had booked out all the remaining non wedding guest rooms.

The thought of sharing one’s nuptials with a squad of premiership footballers did raise the eyebrow of apprehension. But, as it turned out, they were less of a disturbance than a narcolepsy convention. Filing off the team bus, they were chaperoned to their rooms by the trainers and never heard from again. Unlike said trainers who, once their wards were safely tucked up, charmingly joined in the revelries with the rest of the adults until the wee hours.

As we departed the next day, we found the team had tied a pair of Bride and Groom boxing gloves to our car. Bless. And, in view of the week’s hottest story, how apt.

They are a strange breed, footballers. Taken from the herd while young, their God given talent see them apprenticed to a club where a Mother Manager Superior rules any postulants and novices without question. Living such cloistered lives it is hardly surprising they gain the same reputation as ex convent girls when finally let off the leash to get married.

I met one once. I was trapped in a location hotel by snow; the hotel was also the home of that city’s most recent signing. He remains the most desperately bored person I have ever met outside of the cast of ‘The Mousetrap’

Their huge salaries mean they do not have the same worries as the rest of us hunter-gatherers and can fill their free hours with pleasure alone, so it is not particularly newsworthy that one has been caught with his pants down… it would be news if they could find one with them up.

As the pants down mentality seems to be endemic, why Mr. Terry’s suitability as a role model has been called into question is beyond me. The saucy 2009 Dad of the Year would appear to be perfectly suited to the job. He’s meant to score, isn’t he? And why should there be such a furore over team-mates sharing? After all, they are happy to share a bath.

The reports of the ex captain’s financial dealings have also seen squawking over the honesty of the game. If they wanted to be honest why not exchange panties instead of pennants before kick off, and tattoo barcodes instead of loved ones, it would be so much easier when selling themselves to the highest bidder.

But what is to be done? Bromide in the Lucozade? Reverse engineered ‘gay cure therapy’? Ah.. perhaps not. They wouldn’t be caught dead in the away kit. No, that’s as daft as saying ‘don’t pay them so much.’

Then there is the question of why?

‘Why did he do it?’ - Obvious really.

‘Why did she do it?’ - Probably obvious, but I expect to hear reports that she is, in fact, in the pay of world cup rivals who are using new tactics to unman the national side.

‘Why has it been reported so avidly?’ - Well it’s a World Cup year. So that means digging out as many early excuses as possible for when our 110%ers come home defeated after the traditional penalty shoot out. Besides, Wag reporting was very much in vogue at the last shindig, it sells, so it is only to be expected that journalists should seek to plough such a well-sowed furrow.

And finally ‘Why should we care?’ It is just a game about kicking a bag of wind – and so is football.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Normal Service Resumed

Ahh… The Holidays are now but a faded memory; they melted with the snow – the only proof they were here the continuing presence of presents I haven’t found a home for yet.

I am back working on Harry’s biography. Spending any free hours trawling through memories and press cuttings. Which explains my absence from the blog and why I’m back. One of the cuttings made me pause for thought…

In 1965 the fourth series of Steptoe went to the top of the TV ratings. Milton Shulman, the Evening Standard’s drama critic, wrote:

‘The unbelievable had happened. Monday’s episode of Coronation Street had not only been dislodged from its position as one of the most popular programmes of the week, but it was nowhere to be found in the Top Twenty…Could this mean that the TV soap opera, with its continuing characters forever blowing bubbles of petty, domestic strife has finally exhausted the patience and tolerance of its followers. One can only fervently hope so. Of course the giant killers who have brought about this much needed revelation of what the British public actually prefers in TV – as opposed to what they watch out of sheer inertia – are those unique rag-and-bone men, Steptoe and Son…. Just why the erratic doings of a dirty old man and his uneducated son should make the nation catch its breath with laughter is something that will long be argued about by analysts of humour. Almost devoid of the conventional gags and slapstick situations that dominate most TV comedy, these scripts by Galton and Simpson derive their appeal out of a meticulously observed and naturally plotted observation of character. Since the parent – child relationship is one that we all suffer or enjoy by turns, we can get some vicarious delight watching the alternating spasms of love-hate that grip 38-year-old Harold Steptoe as he tries to assert his independence of his wheedling, possessive, cunning crocodile of a father….It is indeed this endearing reflection of life – true enough to make us sigh as well as laugh – that, I believe, accounts for Steptoe’s phenomenal hold on the affection of the nation. And of course, the warm, sure, uninhibited, outrageous comic performances of Harry H. Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell.’

It made me wonder what Milt would have made of today’s inertia offerings. If he was already cracking under the strain of Corrie in ’65, in his later years I expect his family kept him well away from Big Brother – it could have hastened his end.

And although, in his time, Harry tackled every aspect of show business from Shakespeare to summer season (ok, he wouldn’t have done Holiday on Ice or water ballet), he would have drawn the line at Celebrity/reality shows.

That is not to say he couldn’t have lasted the course. During the war he jumped ship in Australia and worked in the red light district before handing himself in to serve his time in clink, all excellent training for dealing with any cage fighter or closure seeking pneumatic model.

But as Harry repeatedly turned down the genteel ‘This is Your Life’ for fear of intrusion into his privacy, I can’t see him wilfully taking part in the reality genre. I can see him running for the hills in the opposite direction.

Mind you I’m in no place to comment on current reality television, I would have to actually watch it to earn that right. Visiting memory lane means that I rarely have time to watch any television and BB would not be at the top of the list.

Last weekend I did surface long enough to see Murray, the paranoid android, crack a smile in his defeat to Federer at the Australian Open; see enough of the premiership football to notice that Sky was showing matches in 3D (which makes me fear the return of the Long Ball will be encouraged as it would prove a better spectacle for the medium) and catch Ski Sunday’s highlights from Schladming. (Not long now before we see Chemmy Alcott going in the Olympics – though thanks to the British Ski and Snowboard Federation being on the skids, the collection box strapped to her ski poles may slow her down a bit.)

Ah…All that gives the erroneous impression that for me, as for so many others, sport is a religion. I have to say that only the tennis was my choice. The better half chose the football - the skiing was mutual.

Besides, most of the time the telly is tuned to the kids channels. Funnily enough sport is the one thing the sprogs will happily tolerate in lieu of Mickey Mouse, maybe because it is the ultimate in reality television.

Hmmm… Now if one could combine reality TV, sports and religion into one programme you could have a winner. Throw in some well built girls and it could go top of the ratings.

We present “Big Sister” –

Follow rugby playing nuns, The Sisters of Perpetual Conversion, as they take a break from ministering to fallen Hookers to compete for a professional contract with top Premiership team the Saints.

To vote for Sister Agnes call 0870 000 001
For Sister Derrick call……

You wait; it’ll be TV gold.