I said what?

Every so often, we make a decision that reaches out and grabs all sorts of unexpected things by the ankles, and drags them kicking and screaming into our living room. Naturally, we have no idea what these things actually are until they recover from the shock of being accosted, shake their legs free and unfold to their full height. They look around the room for the offending ankle-grabber, but the decision is long gone. It just invited a whole tribe of beasties round for tea before scuttling off into the past. Via the back door. It’s only you left. And the beasties are big and wildly pissed off. Continue reading

In memoriam

They say that one ought not speak ill of the dead, but with some people, it truly is an unnecessary proscription. If Simon had any faults, it was that he was too generous, too open-hearted, too damn agreeable. These are faults to which we all might aspire.

Simon was a living, breathing model of how life ought to be lived. Mortuary assistant, pig farmer, shoe cleaner, B&B proprietor, writer: his career path sounds almost mundane until you realise he established pig farms in Vietnam for a charity, ran Streetshine, a charity for the homeless and built his own tourist eco-lodge in Abene, Senegal. In between-times, he wrote two books, Squirting Milk at Chameleons and Chasing Hornbills, and numerous pieces on Africa. He wasn’t one to sit on his haunches. Apart from when sitting on one’s haunches was exactly the thing to do. It’s no surprise he ended up in Africa. Continue reading

The influence of anxiety

Many years ago, in a land far, far away (Nottingham), a young man sat with a guitar on his lap, his hands poised to play a new (and fiendishly difficult) composition. Luckily he was exceptionally able. When the red light screamed ‘recording’, however, his hands failed him. Time and time again he tried, but he simply couldn’t play it. Several bottles of beer later, and with the lights switched off, he flew through it perfectly. He just needed to realign his head. Continue reading

The Scarlet Letter

Many have commented on the crass, arrogant and patronising attitude of the HuffPo’s UK editor to those who provide much of his content (and thus pay his wages):

“…I’m proud to say that what we do is that we have 13,000 contributors in the UK, bloggers…we don’t pay them, but you know if I was paying someone to write something because I wanted it to get advertising pay, that’s not a real authentic way of presenting copy. So when somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real. We know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of.
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One for sorrow

There are occasions that bring the keenness of the razor’s edge of luck we all ride into sharp relief, never more so than when an untimely death is sprayed across a beautiful day in spring, that season which stands for everything antithetical to a sudden, brutal end. As I drove to my first game of the season, top down, sun shining, nothing but good things to look forward to, my day took on a manichaean hue. Continue reading

Small beer

As Oscar Wilde never said, if there’s one thing that is almost as good as playing cricket, it’s talking about playing cricket. Indeed, it could be argued that we play better in our narratives than in the game itself. This, of course, would be a wild and unjustified accusation. It is true, however, that one of the great joys of cricket is the post-mortem, carried out, according to tradition, in a nearby hostelry or at the clubhouse. Continue reading

No, Sir, after you …

It’s a cliche universally acknowledged that two Englishmen in close proximity is a queue in want of a purpose. The way by which one may distinguish a true Englishman (and I use man in the widest sense, inasmuch as it includes any and everybody) from those others who merely wish they were English is simple: place a random selection of people in a room and the ones who form a queue (even if the queue is to escape the room) are truly English. I wonder if UKIP use this fact in their campaigns, targeting the queues that form for no reason other than the laws of gravity (English, remember)? You certainly never hear them talk about immigrants waiting to enter the country, while Cameron, in his turn, seems intent on starting the naturalisation process early, by making ‘them’ wait before they may claim benefits. It’s a wonder he hasn’t said that ‘they’ must ‘wait in line like the rest of us’. Continue reading