Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
as brigadier ritchie-hook used to say, "biff the enemy"
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Breathless thoughts provoked by the excitement of an impending trip to Madrid and my dream of introducing a new dimension of transcendant spirituality in to the great game ... the magic sponge might become a relic ... the thrice-blessed universally-revered holy sponge, permanently floating in a silver bucket suspended over a holy well, to be carried in procession on match days by a team of hand-picked virgins ( or tv weather girls ? ) wearing translucent classical robes, chanting every step of the way from the bishop's chapel to the stadium, to the accompaniment of thumping drums and wailing flutes ... the water would, of course, be genuine certified holy water, not yer ordinary bottled stuff, and might be paid for by the donations of pious widows and spinsters of the parish ... in fact i see no reason why the sponge shouldn't be administered as a kind of unction by a priest, and/or by the mother superior of the nearest holy order, with the blessed hem of her robe rolled up and tucked into her formal suspender belt as she kneels to give succour to the distressed combatant, whilst singing nuns and choirboys encircle the injured player to protect his privacy and to soothe away his pain with a medieval psalm, or an uplifting medley from rogers and hammerstein’s sound of music ... we could even send on a military brass band to escort the bucket & lend further ceremonial dignity at this difficult moment ... and then, once the magic has taken effect, the star player could leap on to an ornate mobile pulpit, drawn to the centre of the pitch by a team of prancing white horses, grabbing the microphone to give up a suitable prayer of thanks for his deliverance, followed by a vote of gratitude to almost everyone present, and to the various sponsors, for their kindness and consideration ... except for the stone-faced blue-chinned piratically-cynical back four of the visiting team, of course ... i'm not sure if i want to raise the crowd to lord leighton's lofty ideal of elegant and fashionable piety ...
... or if we should give preferential sponge unction in the purely emotional sphere hinted at so eloquently in the hyper-spiritual imaginings of el greco
my mum loved the art of edward ardizzone, an illustrator who somehow understated his skills with a his loose penmanship, but never failed to fill his pictures with appropriately theatrical lighting and atmosphere, old-world romance, and vigourous body-language
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
an idea that might improve the sublime spectacle that is professional soccer ... given david beckham's poor disciplinary record in the spanish league this season, and his imminent move to play in america, the question would inevitably recur ... "should football introduce sin-bins ?" ... the answer is clearly "yes & no" ... instead of a boring old bench where a vexed player might sit for a few minutes, we need a coin-operated touch-line X-box confessional booth ... linked to giant screens ... with virtual priests for ordinary league matches ... virtual bishops for the european cup ... virtual archbishops for the world cup ... players may only return to the fray when they have been thoroughly absolved ... the element of suspense as the sidelined players grapple with their conscience will lift the game to new levels of stress
it seems to me now that i'd forgotten the element of penance ... not being a church-goer myself ... and that after the errant player ( honest ref, i never meant to cripple him ) has come to terms with the true nature of his offence, and has given the crowd the pleasure of hearing him in urgent discussion with a virtual bishop, then further amusement might be derived from the fixing of an appropriate penance before he ( or she ) is permitted to return to the fray
a sliding scale of penances involving larger than average communion wafers and tankards of wine might be appropriate
one giant biscuit and one tankard of wine for a professional foul
two of each for foul and abusive language
three of each for repeated offences
four of each for excessive violence
perhaps elements of the sung liturgy might be adapted for chanting from the terraces
and perhaps some theologians amongst you could spare the time to offer me some helpful advice
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Whilst driving, I once told a car full of colleagues that it would be an easy matter to fill and publish a book with accounts of two or even three hundred things I’d said and done of which I was still deeply ashamed.
A voice from the back seat said, “I wouldn’t go there, Tris; that way lies madness.”
2. FALLING INTO GRAIN
I was climbing to repair a ladder bolted to the inside of an industrial grain silo in Scotland when it became detached from the wall and tilted sharply away. Unable to adjust my grip on the sharp metal, I let go and dropped feet first from a height of about thirty feet, expecting to break both legs, if not worse.
The augur mechanism that emptied the silo from the bottom had been broken and there was still about twelve inches of grain laying in the inverted conical concrete base. My heels sank in to it and I found myself sitting upright in a cloud of brown dust, shocked but un-bruised, and laughing.
3. THE FEAR OF QUICKSANDS
Lurid moments in a Lassie film, in an Egyptian Mummy film, and in a Tarzan film, gave me an early terror of quick-sands that kept me away from marshy places for many years. Aged sixteen and bored, I hitch-hiked to the south coast one wintry Easter and walked along the sands at West Wittering as darkness fell.
The tide was far out and the land had faded in to the evening mist and I followed the water's edge for some time before doubts set in, and eventually a tiny sign on a post loomed out of the mist ... i could only read it when my nose was almost touching it ... it warned me to beware of quicksands.
4. THE THREE-POINT TURN
In Spain, I was enchanted by mountains, having grown up in the south of England where nothing rises above a thousand feet. I once tried to drive across the Sierra Nevada to the Alpujarras in late September but the old road had been blocked by early snow.
Instead, I tried to drive the old Ford Transit up the long ramp to the Astronomical Observatory, but halfway up the back wheels began to wander sideways in the slush. It became necessary to make a three point-turn on the narrow track and I became fearful of the edge which gives way to hundreds of feet of loose barren scree. My fearless companion stood in the snow in her summer dress yelling “Back a bit more !” but I was shouting hysterically, “I daren’t go back another inch !”
5. RUNNING ON MY TOES
I miss sprinting from the bottoms to the tops of the various stone stairways in my childhood home town of Malmesbury, and running on the hard wet sand at Studland when the tide is out.
6. THE MOON OVER ICELAND
Flying north-west over Iceland in early March, so nearly on the snowy top of the world, I looked down on a conical volcano with a clouded top, and then beyond it towards the northern horizon where a pale full moon loomed in the mid-day sky.
7. FAILING TO RECOGNIZE MY ONLY CHILD
After another journey to Spain, I put on a suit to visit my daughter on her birthday and travelled by train from Brighton to Bath. Outside the station, we failed to recognize one another, she so pale and gaunt, myself so brown and plump.