Tuesday, 31 July 2012

It's A Small World But I Wouldn't Want To Paint It

So there I was just having gone on duty at the Excel to shepherd the masses towards the sport when this family of six cycle up to the bike racks and disembark. That fellow looks familiar thinks I and bugger me if it wasn't the tribe of young Will Meere. It shames me to say I haven't seen Will since his father's funeral (Overgraduate December 2010) and he was his usual charming self. He photographed me with the children in my comedy uniform and by the time I phoned him at lunch time Richard Meere had already seen the picture. Such is fame in the global village. But I mean what a ridiculous bloody coincidence. It makes the serendipity at the heart of A Dance To The Music Of Time seem completely plausible. Which grants me licence to reproduce one of the so brilliant Boxer cover illustrations.

As for the work today, again fun and with a livelier team than yesterday. Hats off to young Lauren from Dudley our team leader who did that leadershio trick it's so hard to learn - looking like you're not trying. An even earlier start tomorrow before a day of rest on Thursday. Sitting here in the lounge of the leisure club and wondering whether this tired old body is up to yet another swim. Oh sod it, I might as well. You're only old once.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Olympic Debut

I can do that, giz a job
It's official. Not only do I have the tee shirt, but I am now an active Olympic volunteer. I spent today directing crowds from West Silvertown DLR station to Excel. So good was I at this that I was entrusted with the cherished foam finger, direction for the pointing of. But there is more dear reader. So very, very good was I at the art (and it is an art) of pointing that when our supervisor took his break it was to the Boy Roberts that the radio was entrusted. Sadly I had no cause to radio in an incident so my call signal ('Silver 1') went unused. However the Games are young yet. My modesty was such that I even turned down the offer to use that other toy of crowd control, the megaphone. I can after all only handle so much excitement in one day at my dangerous age.

Early reflections - it's not perfect but then nothing is and you only get one go at running the Olympics. We'll get better. What is really impressive is the general good cheer of the volunteers and the equal cheeriness of most spectators and of the much put-upon Londoners. I'm knackered (just to make sure I really sleep well I have been swimming again) and I've got another early start tomorrow. Perhaps it will be the day of the megaphone.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

It's Raining Hard But ...

... it doesn't matter because I've just got out of the pool and not only did I not drown I actually swam one half of one of your English miles. Now this is not much for a proper swimmer but for me who hasn't been in the water since last November this is really rather pleasing. I am glowing with portly athleticism and supping on some chilled water. I'm hoping that it will soon stop pisssing down because I came over to the leisure centre without my coat and I don't want both body and mood dampened when I trudge back to the tent to have my prawn salad and packet of crisps - it's not all glamour you know. It will be an early night tonight because I have to be up around 5.00 to make the journey into the Excel. I am practising my customer service face already. It hurts, these are not muscles I have ever had to use professionally.

It's stopped raining.

Live Action Plus Tee Shirt Shopping

I can now say that I have seen live Olympic action. I am not on duty at Excel until tomorrow (early shift) so I have been on a reconnaissance of the shady cloisters of Twickenham and Richmond this morning, which exercise put me in the way of the women's cycling road race as it blasted through Richmond. The atmosphere was lovely, streets lined with people, motorcycle outriders waving cheerily at the children as they cleared the way for the peloton. Then whoosh and they were gone and the flag waving children were taken away for ice cream as parents assured them that yes that was it and no the ladies on the bikes were not coming back. 

Nobody was available to buy me a consolatory ice cream so I continued into Richmond centre to buy some toiletries (I did the usual gash job of packing yesterday) and to do some essential tee shirt shopping. I have an unfeasibly large collection of tee shirts, pictorial and otherwise but you can never actually have enough. I had in mind the the surprisingly tasteful Team GB shirt but there are a lot of those on the mean streets I tread so my eye turned to the 'Olympic Museum' collection and the retro Moscva 80 design. How appropriate for a notorious fellow traveller such as The Overgraduate you will doubtless think. You can't beat a bit of gulag chic.

As I have been writing (and re-buffering in the corner of the health club cafe) the said cycle road race has finished and GB has its first medal - Lizzie Armistead splashing up the rain-soaked Mall (yes it's back) to a thrilling silver. Just at the moment cycling is my favourite sport to watch, fresh from the gourmet feast that was the Tour de France.

One amusing moment in Richmond High Street today. I was matching steps with a couple of youthful police officers when a festive balloon in a shop doorway went pop. The rozzers turned round just briefly terrified/thrilled (who knows) that this was the real thing and that they might have to spring into action. Glad to report no one was shot nor anyone arrested not even for careless use of a balloon.

Iron Dave now heading for the pool to do some synchronised drowning.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Let The Games Begin

The Overgraduate aka the Boy Roberts aka Iron Dave, has arrived at the Games. He is safely ensconced in his tent, he has hired a locker for his valuables, he has joined the local leisure centre (Nuffield - nice people, £40 all in for two weeks including use of the pool), he has reminded himself already what a poor swimmer he is and now he is announcing to his public that London is en fete, that spirits are high and that with his arrival nothing but nothing can go wrong with these games. He is making friends with other Games Makers and he has just impressed them (not) by taking a call from the coach of England Ladies rugby with whom he is going to hook up during the week. He is in a mood of excitable optimism and will keep you all posted as the Games progress.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

So Much To Say

And so little time in which to say it. Well that sounds a tad melodramatic but what I mean is I do seem to be very busy lately both at work and play and what with my minor Olympic adventure approaching I keep finding reasons not to indulge the emotional incontinence that is blogging.

Work? What of it? Curse of the drinking classes. Been taking me to that London a fair old bit recently, which I quite enjoy. As my old marxist mate John Marshall used to say, business is a fascinating dynamic but I do see rather too much of its irrational and irritating side at the minute. I could say a lot about the perils of socialised medicine from my now more intimate exposure to its seemingly untameable daftness but detailed comment would offend professional standards so you'll just have to wait. In the meantime the sisyphean labour of making do and mending must continue. As the old Irish joke so aptly illustrates: Q: how do I get to Dublin? A: well I wouldn't start from here.

"But all I did was call him
a c***"
John Terry has been worrying me. I don't mean he's kneed me in the back or slept with my wife or any of those other things he does. No, I'm very perplexed as to why anyone thought it other than a complete waste of money to take the unpleasant yobbo to court to find him not guilty of a racially motivated crime. Would any of us capable of vaguely rational contemplation think the worse (or indeed the better) of the gobshite had he been found guilty? Of course not. On most available evidence he's not a very nice chap but a damned good footballer. Rio Ferdinand appears rather a nicer cove but the genial waving off of complaint about his endorsing the 'choc ice' joke aimed at poor old Ashley Cole (who by all accounts loses out to John Terry in deportment contests) does highlight a double standard. And I'm sorry, I love Simon Barnes in The Times, but his distinction between the two circumstances just doesn't hold water. In fact it's positively Kiplingesque in its racism - take up the white man's burden indeed. For those who don't get it yet - I think the legal reaction (ie. none at all) to the Ferdinand jape is the right one. All the Terry farrago has done is to give his 'innocence' an imprimatur of official sanction and created a martyr for the rabid right. Damn it I even felt sorry for the guy and thereby admired his tenacity in Euro 2012. For another exercise in difficult thinking, take a look at this and see what you make of it - wigger day. I tend to casting a plague on both their houses but had to smile at the lawyer quoted as saying 'This could have been a teachable moment.' I really want to say, only in America but, my friends, that ship sailed yonks ago.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Journey Of The Working Class Heroes

I don't know about you but it seems to me that most people who see themselves as working class heroes are nothing of the sort - they tend to be middle class wannebees. Circumstance used to force me to associate with one such. Utter cock. The only redemption was that I felt ashamed by the association even if it took me the devil's own time to act upon my shame.

Which wasn't what I was going to blog about but it came out and on balance I think I should leave it there.

No, what I was aiming at was a glib joke about Mr and Mrs Roberts' invitation to attend a private view at the Royal Academy last week. It is a weak joke because although I am patently not a WCH Mrs R most definitely is, not that she makes anything of it, far too classy for that.

So, Royal Academy - nice gaff. Summer Exhibition - nice idea, though I am a little late on the scene in passing this judgement since the annual event has been going since 1768. But I know you don't tune in to Radio Free Overgraduate for tired facts, oh no what you want are the fearless opinions, so here goes. Exhibit 1272 in Gallery VIII, Feather Child I, by Lucy Glendinning is seriously disturbing, which I assume is the objective. Arresting but I wouldn't want it in my house. Exhibit 745, The Long View Reflected, Chris Orr - we both liked this. Best in exhibition and winner of the utterly valueless and unregarded Overgraduate Prize is 593 in Gallery II, Safety Last, by Catherine Yass. If I had a suitably deep wall I would buy this series of eight etchings. I don't.

These shades are nearly as cool as mine
Been out on the bike three times in the last week following another sodding leg strain brought on by running (I know I said I'd stop doing it but you know how these things work) - cycling is brilliant, an opinion given even greater weight by the ever stunning Tour de France, presently in progress and probably to be won by a Briton. If this transpires, hold all polls, ignore the Olympics, this is the sportsman of the year. Already a triple Olympic champion and about to conquer his sport's awesome peak. Bradley Wiggins, Big Fat Pig aka The Overgraduate salutes you.   

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Key West Intermezzo

Not enough people know this song. It's really rather good and I know this must be true because my mate Big Will Macfarlane agreed when I played it to him and Willy does know music - he also knows food and beer and golf. Here's to you Willy Mac.

Oh and in case I didn't say, it's John Mellencamp. There's a good double album Best Of cheaply available.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

... Are Brilliant Mark X

This entry combines the factors which made the weekend before last in that London so terrifically terrific.

Henry V at the Globe. Cracking play, matchless venue. Have raved about the Globe before and will do so again. Some right gormless knobs in the audience mind. I gave them my famous Paddington Bear glare. Usually does the trick.

Abigail's Party at Wyndham's Theatre. Good play, lovely old theatre, half bottles of champagne available. Audience a little subdued but no glaring knobs.

Barolo. Shit man that stuff is good. Polished off the best part of a bottle (I let Helen help me a bit) with my lobster at Isolabella in that Holborn. Good restaurant. Unpretentious. Multo affordable. Popular. Book at Isolabella Restaurant.

The Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park. 55573 members of Bomber Command gave their lives in the Second World War. My grandfather was a comrade. He survived for which I am ever grateful. A picture of him in his dress uniform sits on my desk. When he died a natural death in 1985 it was the first time I had known a friend die. He did no impression of a perfect man but he, like so many of his generation, was forced to be a great one. He would have done no more than turn away from the pious right-on views of Jonathan Jones in the Guardian (The Grauniad Speaks) but I am from an emotionally incontinent generation so I will say this - what a knob van.

Not all is bad in the Guardian however. Most of it is (two words: Polly Toynbee) but Simon Jenkins speaks for most of us when he skewers the prize shits who populate our banks - Banking keeps getting away with it. And I'm sorry, I really don't care whether Bob Diamond knew what was going on (though one has to ask what he was doing if he didn't sodding well know) - on your watch matey boy the bank (in which I and various other foolish innocents are shareholders) was fined £295 million (that's 295000000 - it helps to set the noughts out in full) for its misfeasance so it seems to me you ought to be compelled to give back some of the spondulicks you've conned out of my pension. And thank your lucky stars you're not in prison.

And last but never least, Sharon Roberts, whose significant birthday we were celebrating in that London. Sharon,
 " whose beauty claims
    No worse a husband than the best of men;"

and who like poor old Octavia didn't quite get what she deserved in marriage, but at least I won't be shacking up with an Egyptian. She could have done so much better but every day I'm glad she didn't.

The Bicameral Legislature

The Great Leader
Her Majesty's Government has this afternoon bowed to the inevitable and 'postponed' the vote to curtail parliamentary debate on its vaunted House of Lords reform. See House of Lords Vote Postponed. The truncated legislative process has been derailed by a satisfyingly bogus alliance of Conservative nutters and Labour reactionaries. This one really is a win/win for this jaundiced amateur political observer because I get to laugh at these unlikely allies and also to smirk at Nick Clegg's righteous indignation as his Baldrickian plan for a dictatorship of the mediocrities of the middle ground is thwarted. There is though an unlovely irony to all this political hot air being generated while our sovereignty seeps daily away to the gorgon that is Le Grand Projet. Meanwhile the Boy Cameron (is he dyeing his hair in homage to Berlusconi?) fiddles while the Treaty of Rome churns. Did you see what I did there?