Sunday, 17 June 2012

Good Stuff, Bad Stuff, Inbetween Stuff, In Fact Just Stuff

You're English - piss off
Alain Rolland and Steve Walsh - I've berated both these chaps before and here I go again. But before I bore you with it once more, please let me make it entirely clear, I do not in any way contend that South Africa deserved anything less than their victory over England in Johannesburg yesterday. There is nothing remotely so compelling as a Springbok team in full-on smash-mouth mode at the beginning of a test match.

However, however, however, Rolland and Walsh both officiate with a supercilious veneer of infallibility and when you do that you should get it right bloody nearly all of the time. To fail to do so risks looking a twat. Walsh crossed this line aeons ago, Rolland more recently, probably at the precise moment when he decided he should be the decisive influence in a world Cup semi-final.

Je suis plus important que vous
Yesterday? Exhibit A: a scrum on the English line, Rolland stood on the English loosehead side, Walsh touch-judging close at hand on the other. Ball in (fed of course and if Roland had chosen to penalise that infringement none of this would need to be said) - ball out again without passing behind the foot of any front-row forward - ball picked up by SA flanker - the infallible duo look at each other, exchange knowing nods - try given. Bollocks, wrong, wrong, wrong, indisputably wrong. Out of such things are persecution complexes born.  But then again it's only a game.

Hey ho. The Olympics - it was more volunteer training for me on Friday. The day started badly with a sub-amateur prologue of PC earnestness but your correspondent is delighted to report that underlying enthusiasm and optimism overcame the encumbrance of the soul-destroying mumbo jumbo in which any great public venture has now to be encased. I'm looking forward to being a part of it and, done well, I think it can be of importance to a national revival. This is an unusually (one might think unfittingly) innocent attitude for the Overgraduate but pray allow me these occasional childish moments.

Now I shall revert to type. A mere week ago the stock markets rallied as a 'solution' to the Spanish banking crisis was announced. Then markets (the denizens of which do not read this blog) had dawn upon them the realisation that this solution was no less (and admittedly no more) a bag of shite than earlier sticking plasters applied to the Euro farrago. Then for reasons beyond any sensible analysis we had another dead cat bounce. As all of this went on the most intriguing piece of politico-economic commentary came from my Turkish waiter in a Hackney cafe. To him I had entrusted the manufacture of the best sandwich he could come up with - this trust he discharged with distinction and thus we engaged in casual conversation provoked by the feature on the Greek election issuing forth from the ubiquitous Sky News feed. Having first checked that I would not mind his saying so (this is a most peculiar figure of speech because one is expected to assent to the mouthing of an utterance whose character you have no means of prejudging) he opined that the trouble with the Greeks is that in his experience 'they've always been a bunch of lazy bastards.'

Now some praise. The subtler skills of golf are often missing from its modern professional incarnation where the run of the ball has almost been outlawed. The USGA have brought it back to intriguing effect at the Olympic Golf Club in San Francisco this week. Nice job lads. There has also been the treat of watching Tiger Woods yesterday fighting poor form to stay in contention. A treat not because of any animus against Woods but because he is so thoroughly effortful in such circumstances. The rage for perfection is what marks the truly great.

We welcome Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to readership of The Overgraduate, this being the only plausible explanation for Maggie Alphonsi having been recognised in the birthday honours list. My positing of Alphonsi as the world's best rugby player has obviously resonated in the corridors of power. I am however a little bemused that Gary Street has not yet been knighted - what Has Kenneth  Branagh done that Street has not? My point being that Gary could probably play Hamlet but I doubt Branagh could play scrum-half, kick goals, juggle with traffic cones and perform magic.

If I could write like this
do you seriously think I'd be
talking to you lot
Finally, a happy televisual accident last night. We saw again the finest flower of Channel 4's early days, Jack Rosenthal's P'tang Yang Kipper Bang. If you have never seen this film (broadcast as I recall on the second ever night of 4's transmission) you must do so and ponder how the same organisation might also have given us Big Brother. I'm just saying, that's all.  


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Changing One's Mind

Sometimes one does. Change one's mind that is. But not so very often. However I will confess to a particular youthful indiscretion. Many political ages ago I was engaged in a rugby club conversation about exchange rate policy. This says rather a lot about the rugby club of which I am a member - we will talk about anything and everything and just because it is coarse to say that the single currency is a bag of toss does not of course make it wrong. I digress. The conversation to which I refer predated the euro's creation and was about its precursor the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM or the 'money snake' as I seem to recall it being called). The question was whether Britain should join the snake. My reponse was one of youthful ignorance - yes we should. Poor deluded child I had no idea that when the day came for a right regal pissing contest George Soros could not only urinate further up the wall than our sovereign state but right over the top of the whole bloody building. Nice work George - now see that camel over there, well get it through this needle for me will you.

So here's the thing. I was wrong then. Monetary union, no matter how loose, can only work with political and fiscal union. And the people who tell you otherwise are often mendacious technocrats who think you're stupid and that their intended end justifies this means.

On the subject of people who change their minds, another tale from my youth, this one a piece of the landscape of my teens. Being a somewhat obnoxious youth I was talking politics with a rather stupid adult who admiringly commented that the only contemporary politician who never changed his mind was Enoch Powell. It was at this stage that the penny dropped that maybe a change of mind was other than a sign of weakness, especially when wrong.

Mention of Powell does put me in mind of the rather splendid joke in Jonathan Coe's The Rotters' Club wherein a character posits Powell and Tolkien as two major racist thinkers. The nice in-joke is that Powell and Tolkien both attended King Edward's School Birmingham, as did the extravagantly gifted Coe. I'm firmly of the school that approves of in-jokes so long as I get them. Anything else is self-indulgent.

Egeus. Father of Hermia. A man who believes that his daughter should be put to death if she will not marry the suitor of his choice. Maybe I haven't mentioned this but I will shortly be giving my Egeus in open air Shakespeare. You didn't know? Apologies if I haven't mentioned this. Playbill attached. Anyway the point I'm building up to is this: under some directorial encouragement I am adopting Enoch Powell as my model for Egeus because nothing will make my Egeus change his mind. That is unless the director tells me otherwise of course. I'm not stupid.    

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

It's A Miracle

In the last three days I have been for a run (very short, very windswept, waves crashing over the Benllech sea wall, mega) and I have been out on the dream machine (20k decentish time, no mechanical failure) and , here's the important bit, I haven't injured myself. This, despite my attention grabbing headline, is not a miracle. There is a scientific explanation - and here it is - I've been wearing my new go-faster Ironman sunglasses. Very swish. I don't look at all like a stupid tit with these on. I look hard and cool at the same time. Which is altogether terrific when you consider I bought them in Sainsbury's.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

... Are Brilliant Mark IX

a culinary revolution
The Golden Fry, The Square, Benllech, Anglesey. There are two chip shops in Benllech, but this is the one for the connoisseur. It has the less auspicious  position but this is where you should go. In a tradition defying departure it serves its chips in boxes (I know, who would have thought) which not only helps prevent chip adhesion (sorry but if you don't know what I mean you obviously don't eat badly regularly enough) but also allows compartmentalisation of your chosen fish - I think one will agree that haddock is the gourmet choice but cod will do.

The National Slate Museum at Llanberis. It's free - an edict of the National Assembly, rather like free prescriptions it's one of those boons of devolution about which an Englishman shouldn't think too long. It's really interesting. And if there's one of the slate splitting demonstrations on, you must go because if you get the chap we got , he's a shameless and very effective comedian.

William Selwyn, a North Wales artist. 

Glaslyn Ale. My taste for real ale has been reawakened over the past couple of years, an unexpected benefit from amateur dramatics and the habit of its participants of going for a post rehearsal bevy. An honourable mention here does have to go to the oft derided Witherspoons pubs because they maintain a selection of reasonably priced cask ales.

A Midsummer Night's Dream. Another piece of Shakespeare I had underestimated - how do I keep making this mistake? On close acquaintance with this play (currently rehearsing Egeus - another grumpy old bastard - why do  I always get these parts?) I realise it is, and here as ever I bow to Jonathan Bate, 'one of his [Shakespeare's] truly essential works because nowhere else is his double vision more apparent'. Production details at Shakespeare in the Park Lichfield