Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Grokle Mania I

Radio (and Rodeo) Norfolk Presenter, Royston (Mr Norwich City Apologist) Waller:

Today our outside broadcast is coming from Wroxham in the heart of the Norfolk Broads as we get live reports on the progress the very first Grokle Mania event. Our first report comes live from Wroxham Bridge where Nobby Dinkling brings us up to date with the Grockle Bridge Ducking Event. Nobby?

Nobby Dinkling:

Yes, Roy the excitement here is really building up as we wait for the first competitor to reach the bridge and attempt to pass through unscathyed. Just coming into sight now is our first bridge ducker, piloting the aptly named Scouse Sea-Shifter, Little Stevie Scousegit, accompanied by his lovely wife Sally Scousegit. As they approach the bridge, a crowd of locals are gathering on the Wroxham Millenium footbridge to see if Little Stevie can (or indeed will) safely negotiate the first hurdle in what should prove a strength-sapping contest. I think by hanging the microphone over the bridge we may be able to get a word with the Scousegit. Stevie, can we have your thoughts as you approach this first event:

Stevie Scousegit:

'Ow am ay supposed ter get this boat under dat bridge.?


Well, it looks like Stevie isn't feeling too confident, but let's see how he gets on. Uh oh, looks like the Scouser has made the most elementary of mistakes. He's only gone and left his TV aerial up. Look out, Stevie! Too late. It's gone and the crowd of locals on the bridge are killing themselves laughing!


Bloody 'ell! Oo put dat thuz?


That's all we have from Wroxham Bridge – back to Roy in the studio.


Well, who'd a thought it. Scousegit scuppered at the first hurdle. That's almost as unexpected as Norwich City signing a new player. Next we join our reporter, Sally Chinzoid, in the aisles at Roys Supermarket for the Grokle Mania shopping-stopping competition. Sally?

Sally Chinzoid:

Thanks Roy. We're here at Roys to see if our competitors can negotiate this tricky course and make it to the check-out. First to try will be Barry Ilkley Moor Bar T'at and his lovely wife Shelia, accompanied by their delightful children Little Bazzer and Stacy. First a word with Barry. Looking forward to this event, Barry?


Waz tha' ewe say? EE were lookin at the Cheerios. Oi, look Shelia, they sell Cheerios in Norfolk, just like at home!


Get awa' wi' ya!


Ere gill, sling ur trolley next to mine and clog up th' aisle so's Eye ken get a better look t'other side.


Yep these Yorkshire folk will be hard to beat. They've already got the real local shoppers blocked out while they look stupidly at the tin goods and drool a bit down their chins. Nice touch that. Back to you in the studio, Roy.


Thanks, Sally. Finally, for our last event we go straight to Roys car park for the Grockle Car Dodging. Our reporter there is local celeb, Wurzel Gumboots. Wurzle?


Ooh ar!! Dis shud be gud!! Grokles hv t'back inta parkin space – wi'ut hittin eneeee ting!!

Furst oop – Wee Jockie McDum.


Aye, yer camp as a row o' tents mann! Aye can't be arsed!! Ya nancy sassenach! Naff off!!


End o' story here Royston!


Thank God. Fancy a look at my nude photo of Delia?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ball Tampering?

As a cricketer and responsible blogger, I am obliged to comment on the ball tampering allegations against Pakistan during the Oval Test match.

I was fortunate enough to have tickets for the match on Saturday and enjoyed a good day out in south London. There were some rain delays, but the crowd were treated to a bit of an English fightback with Pakistani wickets falling at regular intervals and some fine batting by Cook and Strauss at the end of the day. All this is now, of course, mostly irrelevant.

My well-documented view that cricket can be a force for good and help to improve our understanding of different cultures is now completely justified in the worst possible circumstances. On Saturday, the crowd was entertained and appreciative of the efforts of both teams. There was no hint of what was to come. The only trouble was outside the ground; and it may have a surprising bearing on the outcome of the cricket problems, so I will explain what happened.

I was an early arrival at the Oval (despite the fact that the vaunted One train was delayed for 20 minutes out of Norwich), so I wandered down to the newsagents just outside the Oval tube station. I bought my paper – more about this later! As I was paying, I became aware of an altercation near the exit from the tube station. One of the tickets touts was in the process of being arrested. And, he was not happy. I had seen these “laddos” when I left the tube station for the ground. Touts are almost part of the game. At the Oval, of course, they are all apprentice “Del Boys” or, perhaps Peckham Pouncers. I paid little attention to them as I exited the station, but now I had to - for there was an almighty row erupting right in front of me. The Toutster was being arrested and he was not happy. Lots of shouting and screaming let everyone know that he was not going quietly. Two officers struggled to get the cuffs on him but eventually succeeded. He was not a happy bunny. Still, it must be an occupational hazard if your chosen career is touting. Hundreds of people were standing around watching.

Things were all fairly uniform and predictable when yer man decided to call one of the arresting officers a Paki b******. The officer wasn't amused and pushed tout-ie into the wall, fairly forcefully. Now a simple arrest for ticket touting became a racial incident. No doubt it will appear on some statistical analysis of racial incidents in London in 2006. Fortunately, the crowd, despite the touts protestations of police brutality, were firmly behind the police and ignored his pleas for the mob to come to his aid. By this time I was just about even with the exit from the Underground and saw one of the London Underground employees watching what was going on. I asked him how this all happened and he explained that the touts were gathered outside the station and were hampering the crowd exiting the station. He told them to move on; but they wouldn't, so he called the police. All fairly normal stuff, no doubt, for London. What particularly struck me was the crowd's reaction. They were very supportive of the police and not very impressed with the local wide boys. Walking back to the Oval I passed the rest of the touts sitting on a wall 20 metres from the tube station and looking quite sheepish. Made me laugh, I can tell you.

Now, dear reader, I hear you ask, what has this got to do with allegations of ball tampering by the Pakistani cricket team? You asked, so I'll tell you.

There is a very unpleasant undercurrent of racism in the reaction of some of the commentators and officials of the Pakistan team. Some seem to be accusing umpire Hair of being prejudiced against the Pakistanis or Asians in general. These are more serious charges than tampering with cricket balls.

The facts: both umpires at the match agreed that the ball had been tampered with. Otherwise, no action could have taken place. Nothing could be done on the instigation of umpire Hair without the support of his colleague, Billy Doctrobe. Fact number one. Both umpires concluded that the ball had been tampered with – under the laws of the game they do not have to identify the culprit or culprits – nor do they have to have video evidence as some commentators are calling for. Fact number two. After they have applied the law regarding to ball tampering – everything followed a sorrily predicable course. The Pakistan team were upset – did not come out to play and forfeited the match. These are the facts.

What has concerned many commentators, including some ex-Test players, is the (seemingly) lack of sensitivity of the umpires in applying the laws. Here the critics are probably right. Unfortunately, the umpires are not obliged to be sensitive. They are obliged to apply the laws of the game. This they did. They are, apparently, receiving the support of the cricket authorities. Most likely we have not heard the last of this. If the authorities support the umpires and suspend or fine the Pakistan captain, we may have a real crisis on our hands.

Cricket is the loser.

After sitting on my paper all day at the Oval, left it outside Macdonalds at Liverpool Street. Not a great day in the end.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Let's Do the Time Warp Again!

I like going to Aldborough. They have the most interesting antique cricket ground in Norfolk. It is literally on the village green – surrounded by homes and shops. A big hit brings the village gardens into play. It is altogether an interesting place to play. Actually it's an altogether interesting place – full stop.

For those who get lost leaving their front door, Aldborough is between Alysham and Cromer but a bit closer to Cromer. It's off the main A140 by a solid two miles. Even in rural Norfolk Aldborough is a bit out of the way which makes it all the more remarkable because it has the most remarkable facilities. Visiting Aldborough is like visiting the set of a 1940's British film or a clone of the TV series, Heartbeat.

In addition to one of the most picturesque cricket grounds around, Aldborough has: a post office cum general store; a Spar shop (built as an extension to someone's home – how they ever got planning permission for this is truly a wonder – it's only a stone's throw from the existing post office/general store); two pubs (one, like it's more well-know namesake on Aylsham marketplace, is called the Black Boys, the other is the more prosaically and ubiquitously named Red Lion - more about Black Boys later); an antique shop; a village butcher's shop and the headquarters of the Norfolk Cricket League sponsors, Knight's Sporting Memorabilia. Not bad for a village you can throw a cricket ball from one side to the other. I'm sure in the 40's there was many a Norfolk village in the same state – but, since then 99% of the “excess” pubs, butchers and village stores have disappeared – mostly courtesy of Tesco, Sainsbury's and Somerfields. Somehow Aldborough has been left in a time warp.

Whilst chatting to one of the fielders who happened to play for the home side, I reminded him that when I first played at Aldborough (say 20 years ago) we got changed in the pub, the aforementioned Black Boys. Nowadays changing and drinking is in the Red Lion. After confirming that my memory was indeed correct he dealt a hammer blow to the “outsiders” (from London – these particular ones) who had taken over the Black Boys a few years ago and prompted the mass emigration of cricketers to the Red Lion. Fascinating stuff. Apparently these East End refugees had no idea how to run a pub – certainly not in Aldborough in any event. Inevitably, they sank without a trace and the pub changed hands, but the cricketers stayed loyal to the Red Lion, so there we repaired for the after-match drinks. Oddly, the barman (perhaps landlord as well?) was rather nattily dressed in a splendid waistcoat (among other items of apparel, of course) and cut a real dash among the local drinkers. Could be this is fairly normal for Aldborough? Could be.

I learned of all these interesting developments in the history of Aldborough whilst standing at square-leg chatting to one of the “local” fielders. All afternoon folks arrived at the Spar shop, went inside and, after a few minutes, came out and drove off. I thought it was odd that so many “locals” were driving to the shop? And, why was it open on Sunday afternoon until 6 p.m. ? Could Aldborough be the centre of a white slaving ring? HQ Cocaine? Illegal Bookies R Us?

I say there is something odd in Aldborough. Get up there and check it out some Sunday. It's a pleasant drive and plenty of pubs to choose from – for its size!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

ave Europa nostra vera Patria

August is right smack in the middle of the “silly season”. This is the time of year when there is, by tradition, no real news – so papers have to find some – or manufacture some at least. I particularly like the story about farmer David Lucas who had a lucrative sideline in making and exporting gallows. “Had” is the operative word here as the EU has stepped in to stop him in his tracks by passing a law that makes importing or exporting equipment that could be used for capital punishment illegal. Praise be the EU!

For a harsh moment there it looked like the continent was about to be overrun with gallows masquerading as tourist attractions. The EU has saved us from that fate by banning the rather splendid woodworking sideline of farmer Mr Lucas and killed a thriving export commodity – all in one smooth movement. Hallelujah!!

Or, is this just an EDP silly season report? There are some clues in the article. Mr Lucas' business partner has come forward to explain that it's all a bit of a joke. Mr Lucas didn't really sell gallows at all. He was just your average fan of capital punishment and liked to talk it up. According to his business partner that is? Take your pick.

I suppose the real give away here is the photo of Lucas next to the article. We see a rather splendid gallows (just like the one children draw when they play hangman) complete with rope and hangman's noose with Mr Lucas neatly poised underneath. How to describe Mr Lucas? Charitably, if possible. He is a tall gent with a shock of grey-ish hair that stands up as if he facing into a gale. His patriarchal beard is flecked with grey as well, and he gazes into the distance as if straining to see the approach of the next miscreant to be hanged. He is wearing trousers and jacket of a nondescript colour and fabric- best described as muddy green, or perhaps slime green might be more accurate. They appear to be held up with a bit of thick string which doubles as braces. His shirt was once white and features contrasting buttons in the ubiquitous muddy colour. His open collar reveals an undergarment that (hopefully) is supposed to be grey and not just filthy! In the appropriate attire he could be an Old Testament prophet or a double for Charlton Heston in Moses. The photo is by far the most entertaining feature of this article.

The news that Mr Lucas intends to start a new political party is reported. For The People Party is the name of this new political initiative but no policies are announced, as yet. Mr Lucas' has always been interested in capital punishment according to his business partner.

Amnesty International do not see the funny side of this story. The are outraged that such activities have been going on in the UK and welcome the news that the EU are to outlaw the export of execution equipment. It makes one wonder where you would have to go in order to buy illegitimate equipment. Will the EU drive the gallows makers of Britain underground? Will Amnesty International need extra investigators to track down these depraved manufacturers? Or, is the whole thing too silly for words? I know where my money is. The Michael has been well and truly extracted.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Clarkson's Beetroot

Jeremy Clarkson is not everyone's cup of tea. Fair to say that many regard him as a ponce who defends the gas-guzzling Chelesa tractor brigade against the common-sense view of responsible environmentalists. He does, however, write entertaining articles in the Sunday Times – often on subjects that have nothing to do with motoring.

Last Sunday he bravely wrote about how he found blood in the toilet and spent many enjoyable hours in a Heath Robinsonesque self examination of his rectal passage. It was quite funny, and he had the good sense to point out what a serious health risk bowel cancer is. The punch line came as he entered the kitchen to be told by his wife that their recent consumption of beet root had made a red mess in the toilet. Clarkson breathes a great sigh of relief. It really is quite funny.

This reminded me of when I lost my wallet at a cricket match last week. Have patience dear reader, there is a connection – believe me. Leaving the match – we got stuffed by the way – for the pub, I began to look about the car for my wallet and couldn't find it. Went to the pub anyway. Got out of the car and began to look carefully for the missing wallet. Found my glasses where they had fallen behind the passenger seat. No wallet. Took all the kit bags out. No wallet. Went in the pub and got a beer and did a re-think. Still no wallet.

On the odd chance that I had left the wallet home I rang “she who must be obeyed” at home. Asked her to look for the wallet and ring me back. Enlisted support from one of my team and we searched the car again. No wallet. Also, no phone call. Rang her back. “I thought you were going to have a look for the wallet and ring me back!”

“I'm upstairs looking under the bed right now!”

“I only wanted you to look in the usual places – is it in the dining room?”


Went back inside the pub, finished my pint and apologised to all – explaining that I had to go home now to report all my credit cards missing. Drove home in about an hour and started to ring all the credit card companies and banks to cancel the cards. This takes quite some time as most of the call centres are either in Glasgow or Poona. Eventually finished in about two hours and sat down for a well-deserved late supper and a glass of red wine. Of course with the new chip and pin system my money was (theoretically) quite safe – but, nevertheless it is quite a worry. I deserved the glass of red.

Went back into the computer room and started to rev up the digital highway. Noticed my wallet siting on the top of the computer table.


Clarkson's beet root may well be more humorous – but my “missing” wallet is streets ahead in the exasperation stakes.