Friday, 27 March 2015

The Power Of Brands

Gets you pissed - elegantly
I'm staying in a Premier Inn - comfortable, reliable and does what it says on the tin, as they memorably say in respect of another unrelated brand.

I had a KFC Boneless Banquet for my tea. Does exactly what it says on the tin - food, fast.

I am drinking Russian Jack Pinot Noir. 'This soft, ripe, velvety wine has flavours of wild strawberry, red cherry and herb.' Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Just sometimes certainty of outcome is a comfort. But tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

An Inglorious Conclusion

All political careers end in failure
And so today was the last day of the current Parliament and thereby the end of William Hague's legislative career. A man of obvious talent and one suspects underlying niceness he bowed out by trying to steer through the House a vindictive piece of procedural flummery whose aim would appear to have been to punish John Bercow for being, well, John Bercow. Now I'm all in favour of Bercow being penalised for being Bercow (and I should remind readers that yes I have met the man) but not by this clumsily chosen method.

Thus Hague's career ends rather fittingly on at best a misfortune, perhaps more accurately a misjudgement. Pity.

I have dream wherein Bercow and Alex Salmond are washed up on a desert island and in a sort of Lord of the Flies/Titus Andronicus mash-up manage to exterminate each other.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Busy, Busy, Busy

Oh darling, we were simply wonderful. From the stamina-sapping self-indulgence of Cheltenham to the, well,  stamina-sapping self-indulgence of amateur dramatics. The Boy Roberts gave the world his Rafe Crompton last week. Four performances of variable quality with a prelude of a truly awful dress rehearsal on the Monday. The play was Bill Naughton's Spring and Port Wine - if you do come across a production of it I suggest you give it a chance because this is a seriously good little play. My best line (I was by way of a change a stern patriarch) - "I'll thank you not to dip your nib where there's no ink."

Friday night was the by now traditional cast and crew curry at Shaban - I'm a sucker for their Butter Chicken. Shaban

Quite the most extraordinary culmination to the Six Nations - bucket loads of tries and excitement. Let's just get it clear that England did not lose the championship last Saturday but rather the previous week when they butchered so many scoring chances against Scotland. Such profligacy is unprofessional I'm afraid. Full credit however to the well-honed skills of the triumphant Irish.

Here's something you haven't heard in these pages before - whatever happened to the quality of parliamentary draftsmanship? If you are at a loose end and want to check out how the art has ben lost please consider the  Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) Regulations 2015. I did this afternoon and I'm telling you they're shocking. But it all makes work for the working man to do.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Great Expectations Fulfilled

Some thoughts on the Cheltenham festival just past. Fabulous, ultimately bloody fabulous.

I was there for the first three days, which taxes a man's stamina. How anyone does all four is beyond me - well actually it's not of course but I do admire their adhesion.

Day 1 - the Mullins/Ricci/Walsh show knocked temporarily from its orbit by the theatrical fall of Annie Powers. Thankfully both man and mare emerged unscathed but it was the purest sporting drama. The understandably excitable punter next to me had already embarked on his badly choreographed victory dance to mark the last leg of his accumulator - I had to tap him on the shoulder to outline the denouement. He took it well. For my part I had backed the ultimate second whose loss in a photo-finish separated me from profitability.

Sport's power to surprise
Day 2 - deemed (rather against my prejudices) as Ladies Day, this means acres of goose flesh in ill-advised outfits which ignore the reality that national hunt racing is a winter sport. Another day without a big winner for the Boy Roberts, what might loosely be described as my betting plan being derailed by the defection of Champagne Fever from the Champion Chase.

The Albion Social Club
Day 3 - never before in my ill-starred career as a punter can I recall an entire day without even the smallest consolatory each-way pick-up. This was it. There was however the compensation of witnessing the remarkable A.P. McCoy ride his last Cheltenham winner. Pernicious losing can, and nobody should deny this, take you to the hinterland of misery but the atmosphere of the Festival pulls you back. Most specifically I was pulled back by the creature comforts of the Albion Social Club (£2 membership, cheap food and beer) and a comical taxi ride home. There were four of us, in various degrees of intoxication. The youngest and drunkest did the decent thing and fell asleep after a modicum of slurred conversation, leaving two of us to roam over the excellence of Derek Statham, Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis and for him to try to persuade me to join a greyhound-owning syndicate. I resisted.

Carrying the burden of
the OG's money
So what do you do when you've backed a hatful of losers. Well if you're like me you take your medicine and then get back on a horse. Just one horse in this case - a solitary betting shop punt on the Gold Cup on Friday. Coneygree. A great story, an antidote to the Mullins/Ricci axis - not that I begrudge them their success, it is just that their efforts threaten to swamp the endearing humanity of the jumps. 8/1 winner. The beast is back!

Worst thing about Cheltenham, and this is a personal thing I know - the proliferation of skinny suits and round collars. Come back the double-breasted all is forgiven.

Hubris: A Definition

Chelsea 2, Paris Saint-Germain 2

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A Glaring Omission

How very remiss of me - I've been so busy proudly telling everybody about it that I forgot to announce to the blogosphere that Daughter Number 1 made it to the top of Kilimanjaro last month. Brilliant. The only person injured in the whole process was your correspondent when he fell over descending Snowdon on a training jaunt. Prat. Or is that pratt? I think either is acceptable these days.

That's Our Hellie waving
Another week gone in the Six Nations and evidence, as if it were needed, that Ireland are a hyper-competent, beautifully coached team. Their mastery of the kicking game undid England thoroughly. Very impressive but England need not despair provided they learn from defeat, not least: 1- that in any serious game of rugby you take penalty points when they are on offer; 2 - that you must be precise in line-out calling and action; 3 - that kick-offs are a crucial source of possession whether you are kicking or receiving.

As for the other weekend action, Wales didn't have to bring out Plan B against a dreadfully disappointing France - which is just as well because the Overgraduate has been firm in his opinion that no such plan exists. A couple of years ago I posited that Saint Andre would bring intellectual ballast to the French operation. I would seem to have been wrong - well go figure. France will sooner or later demolish someone but have no notion how they did it. Their situation is hopeless but not serious. Which puts them in a better place than poor old Scotland who contrived to lose to spirited but limited Italy. Mind you if God is auditioning for an understudy, Sergio Parisse must be in the frame. Some player.