Land of the acronym

So here I am another year older. I am now officially as old as God’s dog. Bloody hell, who’d have thought it? There are, of course, people older than me who would scoff and call me a spring chicken. And they would be quite justified in that. But just let me have a little reminisce before the ageing process goes too far and I end up in some depressing institution dribbling into my soup.

Yesterday – the day of the sixty second anniversary of my birth – I was lucky enough to spend at COTA. Yes, I’m in the good old U,S of A, land of the acronym ruled over by POTUS and FLOTUS. From listening to some over here the former could stand for President Orange, Totally Useless Shit. Others may have it as, Prosperity Over Trumps Utopian States. Just depends who you listen to. It’s a bit like Brexit without other countries being involved.

Anyway – COTA – Circuit Of The Americas, for those who don’t know about such things. Yes, I treated myself to the American Formula One Grand Prix. I’m over here visiting family, so it would be rude not to really, wouldn’t it. So resplendent in Red Bull team shirt and cowboy hat I ventured forth. In the rain! Now I should explain that when it rains here it does actually rain. It comes down all at once in galvanised buckets. Before you know it you’re up to your wheel trims in water. Pardon? No of course we don’t walk anywhere, that’s just not the American way. 


As luck would have it once we reached the circuit, God’s dog must have been looking down. The skies cleared, the sun shone and apart from Max Verstappen being cruelly robbed at the end I thoroughly enjoyed my treat.

Which led me to thinking. Over the years, who stand out in the memory as sportsmen I have seen in the flesh. No, not naked madam, I’m not some sort of changing room voyeur. It’s a bit like those lists you get on Facebook. I’m sure you have your own. These are mine.

Top of the list has to be The Holy Trinity. Yes, Best, Law and Charlton all on the pitch at the same time. I have to say that most of my footballing experiences were down at West Bromwich Albion’s ground. Back in the day that was hard enough to get to, let alone what must surely have been a three day trek to Old Trafford. Strangely they drew two apiece. United were losing in the first half two – nil. At half time Matt Busby must have said give the ball to George. They did, and someone sprinkled magic football dust on the ground. Bestie swayed and shimmied as only he could. Law headed in and Bobby Charlton struck a ball (not the flimsy plastic things of today) from twenty yards out which hit the back of the net like a thunderbolt.

At the same ground I saw that other trinity, albeit individually, Hurst, Moore and Peters. In another two all draw I witnessed first hand why Martin Peters was called ‘The Ghost.’ Across came the ball, no one was there until I swear that a trap door opened in the ground, out popped our man and headed home.

Cricket. Ah yes. On Saturday mornings Dad went to work. In doing so he had to pass Edgbaston, home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club. He’d throw me out on the way and pick me up coming back. I saw the legend which was Godfrey Evans playing for the Cavaliers in the swan song of his wicket keeping career. Other great names from the past, the two Fred’s, Trueman and Titmus, Bob Willis, Dennis Amis, Farouk Engineer, Gary Sobers. So many, but the one that stood out for me was the great West Indies player, Clive Lloyd. I always loved watching him, such a charismatic figure and I even played my own part in a test match, England v West Indies. The match, on Saturday as usual, was underway. All was going well until play was suddenly stopped. The crowd began to boo and jeer. I could make out cries of ‘sit down!’ through the din. Clive Lloyd was waving his arms, seemingly in my direction. Some idiot, it appeared, had wandered in front of the sight screen – a huge white board which shielded the ball from the crowd so that the batsman could see it coming. ‘How was the match?’ asked Dad when he picked me up. ‘Great.’ I replied, wondering if I blushed as much then as I had when I sat down with indecent haste that sunny afternoon.

At Cosford in 1981, Sebastian Coe broke the world indoor 800m record. I was there with my Dad and brother. Dad had been a racing cyclist in his youth. Both of them ran marathons for ‘fun.’ That gene thankfully missed me!

And so, back to the Grand Prix, at Zandvoort in the era of Mansell and Senna but perhaps more memorably my first at Brands Hatch, not perhaps for the race but for getting there. My Morris 1000 broke down on the way, but after a quick pit stop (and hastily joining the AA) I arrived in time to see Emerson Fittipaldi beat Jackie Stewart. The next year at Silverstone nearly half the field were taken out when Jody Scheckter crashed at the end of the first lap. What names though! Some still here but most long gone in pursuit of their sport. Hill, Peterson, Lauda, Hulme , Amon, Reutemann, Revson, Oliver, Ickx, Cevert and the never to be forgotten Jean-Pierre Beltois if only for the fact that I got his autograph even though I had no idea who he was, except that he must be a driver because he wore overalls.

So – thanks for the birthday wishes and allowing a sad old git to reminisce for a bit. 

I wonder what I’ll do next?

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I hate to mention it, but there’s another vote coming up…

Hello again.
Nice to see you.
Oh sorry – I really didn’t mean to do that in a Bruce Forsyth voice.
I’m not good at impressions.
What?
You’d noticed.
Thanks.
Anyway, how are things with you?
Really?
Oh dear.
They’re protruding by how much!?
Surely you can get some cream for that?
I should ask the chemist.
Pardon?
How am I?
Well funny you should ask.

It’s like this, remember the…

What did you say?
Look, I know you were only asking out of politeness and didn’t really want an answer, but I thought that seeing as you brought it up…

Remember the play wot I wrote…

No, now you mention it, I know I can’t ‘do‘ Ernie Wise either, but this play thing…

Not the one I did for the radio, no. It turns out that the BBC don’t posterknow a good thing when it’s staring them in the face – bastards!

I was talking about pm. com, the one that I wrote for the stage.
Yes, it was a few years ago, I’m glad you remember.
Well I only got someone to go and do it!

Yeah!
How about that then?
Honestly – I’ve never seen anyone so underwhelmed.
I thought you might be pleased.

Sorry, you thought what?
That it would just be,’something else for me to keep banging on about.

There’s no need!

But let me finish telling you, ‘cos you’ll never guess what.
I’m in it!
Cool or what?
In a purely am-dramish sort of way.
So I’m line learning.

I knew you’d say that!
Just because I wrote it doesn’t mean that I know it off by heart, no.
I have to practice my art.
Now I’m a thespian.
Getting used to the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd.
Of course I couldn’t compare myself to Burton or Gielud, well not yet anyway.

Arise Sir Dave, I can picture it now.
Me and Madge.
Her with a sword in her hand.
What do you mean, ‘you wish you had a sword right now‘?
I’ll take that to mean that you don’t want a ticket then.

They’re only three pounds.
I know – cheap as chips!
I’ve got friends on Facebook see.
Surprising as that sounds, yes I have.
And I was thinking that if any of them, in say Oz or Trumpton, fancied popping across for the evening that the low price of entry may be of benefit.
Help out with the air fare.
And the airport taxes.
See how thoughtful I am?

Now there was no call for name calling, ‘one act short of a scene!
Honestly, some people.

Afraid that we can’t put them up though.
My mate Nige is coming over from Ludlow and he’s already claimed the couch. Perhaps you could help by…

Oh! I see. They can **** right off to where?

Isn’t that the chain Lenny Henry advertises?

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Anyway, it’s a political drama – of a sort.
About the ‘Countrywide Reform Alliance Party.
Well in these days of uncertainty and surprise after Brexit, Trump and Leicester City, I thought it best to concentrate on the issues that concern us all.
The cost of beer and football admission prices for example – that sort of thing. Hard hitting and factual.

Pardon?

It spells what!

Perhaps I’d better have a rethink then, eh?

Crying over spilt lait…

So.

Where are we now then?

In a bit of a state, I’d say.

Not the great big federalist state we were in before admittedly, but a state nonetheless.

And can you believe that there are people wondering how the hell it happened?

Calling for a second referendum because, ‘it was a bit close, wasn’t it? After all there was only just over one million votes in it.

Well I guess you could say that, but the last time I looked one million was perceived to be quite a large number. If you gave me that amount in one pence pieces I would be a bit chuffed to be honest.

But, that aside and ignoring the nasty name calling that’s going on I do feel that we have to ask ourselves the question, ‘what did we expect?

No, seriously, I mean it. Because in elections held previously we managed to elect to the European Parliament as our major party of choice a bunch of MEP’s whose sole raison d’etre was to get us out of the place as soon as possible.

There has been an episode of ‘Yes, Minister?‘ doing the rounds on Facebook where Sir Humphrey explains to the hapless Jim Hacker why we should be in Europe so that we can screw it up better from the inside. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up!

I have stated in a previous blog that we wouldn’t scrape UKIP off our shoes with a pointy stick over here, but found it perfectly acceptable for Farage’s mates to represent our interests in Brussels and the farce which was Strasbourg. What did we think they were doing? Did we somehow assume that they were working diligently with our European partners trying to make France and Germany – sorry I mean Europe – a better place?

Surely we weren’t that naive!

But then again, apparently we were. Perhaps those who are a bit narked and calling for a re-run now were a bit slow getting off their arses in 2014 to vote in our preferred Euro M.P.’s then. Just saying!

Let’s face it, whatever we’re whinging and blaming each other about now, we have never been too happy with Johnny Foreigner have we? Even De Gaulle didn’t want us to join as he reckoned we would only screw it up.

And as it turns out he may have been right. From Heath, through to Thatcher and not forgetting Dave we always tried to get our own way didn’t we? Invariably we got screwed and what we were told by our glorious leaders that what was a supposedly good deal turned out to be not exactly biased in our favour.

We were always seeking a veto, weren’t we?

Remember Maastricht? (Incidentally, the French ratified that with a majority of only 51% / 49%)

Remember the ERM?

Remember the French being so concerned about our little spat in the South Atlantic that they supplied Exocet missiles to the Argentinians? Good neighbours, huh! By the way, before we get too animated about our soon to be independent status, just remember that our hopefully new ‘bestest buddies‘ across the pond didn’t want to help us out with that one either!

And our leaders wanted us to believe them on Turkey?

Still it could have been worse – we could have ended up with the euro!

So what next?

Well I don’t pretend to have the answers but I would suggest that now we have voted ‘Nein,‘ we should skidaddle a.s.a.p.

By the way Cameron has bottled that one hasn’t he? Not going to tell our neighbours that we intend to leave as Article 50 demands.

No, he’ll pass that poison chalice to poor old Boris. Oh, don’t panic – it’ll be a bit like Sir Alex passing the mantle to David Moyes at Man U, you just know at the outset his time in the seat of power is already numbered. The poor sod won’t last two minutes. By the way ‘Call Me Dave,‘ I hate to break the bad news but I think our old Euro mates know the score already! They may have caught wind of the fact that we’re trying to sneak out of the back door.

And don’t expect Jessa’s mob to sort it out either. The poor chap does seem to get confused by long words anyway and now has the look of a very startled rabbit in the glare of some enormous headlights as his cabinet disintegrates before his eyes quicker than a self assembly sink unit from B & Q.

UKIP won’t help us. There is now nothing for it to be independent of (except the rest of Great Britain) and the noise you can hear is only the death rattle in Nigel’s throat. The body may twitch for a couple of years but it is now a busted flush.

Get out quick is my advice. And why do I say that? Well I foresee all manner of tabs run up by the profligate state will become due for payment if we do take the generally accepted two years to pack our bags. Yes, once the neighbours we have been propping up the bar with realise that we are about to stagger off home, taking our wallet with us and that they shall have to pay their own round for once, I predict that all hell will break loose. How will Europe fare once the cash cow it has been milking for so long wanders off into its own field?

And as for the Scots!

Well actually I mean the Scots and the Northern Irish, but listening to various commentaries on this situation it has struck me that the Irish situation has somehow been ignored and that the Scots have all our attention. But I digress.

Sturgeon has been rushing about trying to get all her little caviar eggs in one basket.

She wants out.

Paint her face blue and cry, ‘Freedom!’

Can’t knock her for that, she always has and always will – the thing with democracy is that you have to respect the other persons stance.

But I just hope that you north of the border have a lot of loose change rattling around in your sporrans.

The Greeks will no doubt need another bail out of their leaky ship. The Italian and the Irish economy are shaky to say the least. That’s going to add up to a lot of oil. Let’s hope the pump price goes up so you can pay for it.

Although I wouldn’t stress too much about that, Jimmy. The exclusive club you so dearly want to join may yet implode spectacularly.

It is all sadly a bit of a mess.

Better get our act together and sort it out then. We had that chance after the Second World War, but we dithered and fannyed about so much – even at one stage suggesting some sort of a European Alliance – that we left it to the French and Germans to come up with a plan.

That didn’t work out so well, we now find out.

On the other hand we may follow the example of our soon to be ex P.M. and bottle it too, but I doubt the rest of the club would let us.

I think they’re a little bit miffed, don’t you!?

EU – the Hokey Cokey

EU – the Hokey Cokey

You knew there would be another blog along soon, didn’t you? Thought I’d give old WordPress another try out, so I’ll rehash this old thing as a trial foray into the blogosphere – you just know it’s bound to fail, don’t you?
Yes, normal service has been resumed as we consider one of the most important topics of our time, so sit up straight and pay attention.

The EU.

Just to show my impartiality on the subject (yeah, right!) we’re flying the Black Country flag at the top of the page, just in case you wondered what that was. Neutral see.

Anyway, let me repeat – The EU.

In?

Or out?

The answer my friend is blowing, not so much in the wind, but more through the tiny spaces between the ears of our elected representatives. Yes that’s what that strange whistling noise has been, it’s not interference on your t.v. madam!

It’s certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons hasn’t it?

There’s some of them on the left agreeing with some of them on the right to stay in.
On the other hand them on the right who want to opt out are cosying up to the lefties to whom they wouldn’t normally give the time of day.
So the rest of us might as well do the Hokey Cokey and turn around for all the good it will do.

‘They’re lying,’ scream the ‘ins’ about their opposite number, ‘It’ll cost a fortune to come out!’
Meanwhile the ‘outs’ are whinging, ‘It’ll cost a fortune to stay in, don’t listen to those nasty rotten fibbers,’ to anyone who’ll listen.
The trouble is the only ones listening are the idiots in the other camp and for them to hear the opposite point of view expressed with quite so much vitriol gets them a bit hot under the collar. Inevitably the game of comedy name calling spirals inexorably out of control, whilst the rest of us wonder how the hell we ever got into this mess in the first place.

In essence it boiled down to a vague idea by our own beloved Mr Churchill. Unable to quite believe that we’d actually won the war and probably deeply certain that we wouldn’t be able to pull off the same trick again he suggested that it might be a jolly idea if we all sang ‘Ging, Gang, Gooley,’ together around the camp fire the way that spiffing chaps do after a bout of the old Queensberry rules. (After all, we did seem to owe the guys across the pond an awful lot of money for all the nylons and candy they’d supplied since 1941 – so it might be handy to have a bit of a whip round with our new European chums).
Worryingly though, apart from a lot of gesticulating with two fingers poor Winny didn’t have much of a clue how to go about it.
Neither did the men from the ministry. The clubs that they used were old, set in their ways and full of overstuffed, careworn, leather wing-backed chairs. They didn’t have much of a stomach for any sort of new arrangement and so they left it to Johnny Foreigner to draw up the rules.

And so a few years later up trotted a European superstate, broadly based on the federalist goals of the very bounders that we’d beaten into submission only a few short years before. And lo and behold our old chum Mr De Gaulle wasn’t about to let us join in the fun. Having taken cover over at our house while we did the fighting on his behalf he suddenly forgot his manners.
It certainly wasn’t cricket, but it damn well was our ball and they couldn’t play unless they let us bat first.

So they did.

Out for a duck!

Bugger!

Essentially what happened next was that the ‘outs’ used to be the ‘ins’ and the ‘ins’ used to be the outs. There you are, European politics summed up in a nutshell. What had occurred as usual, was that our leader’s perceived view of public opinion appeared to swing against them and so they simply swapped coats. Nothing to do with the good of the country, more a question of maintaining their place at the top of the dung heap. Remember the old adage, ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’ – in the case of the Euro-gravy train there happens to be quite a lot of brass, courtesy of us poor citizens.

Politicians know Jack. That’s the lesson the rest of us learnt a long, long time ago.
Around the time of Simon de Montfort in fact.
And yes, I do know that many of you will say that our member (appropriately enough) of parliament works very hard on our behalf and perhaps that is true, But collectively? As much as they say they do know, the more it becomes apparent that their ambition is a good deal greater than their IQ. Listen to the weekly debacle PMQ’s if you doubt the truth of what I’m saying. You’d get more sense from your local nursery school.

Will we be better off out? No one knows and anyone who tells you otherwise is an idiot.
Will we be better off in? No one knows and anyone who tells you otherwise is an idiot.

Should we shake it all about? Probably, it’ll be so much more fun!

Next time I may discuss the geopolitical map – put on your tin hat for that one!

By the way, does anyone remember the words to ‘Ging, Gang, Goolie?’