At the End of the Day

Did it ever occur to you that…

It’s going to be one of my occasional streams tonight: urgent events on the continent have left many other more important things unsaid, so they’re all being tossed ino the following stew. Pour yourselves a glass of suitable wine and dig in.

We’ve just had that time of year when a lot of Brits stay up late and pretend they like American football. It is the sporting version of Mornington Crescent in my opinion, in that nobody understands it, and that’s probably the idea. Some bloke shouts a lot of numbers, zaps the ball backwards, and – as a tall black bloke behind him gets ready to throw the pill two miles forward – twenty blokes try to create a car-wreck without the cars.

I don’t get it, but then they don’t get rugger either. I don’t a lot of the time, and it’s obvious there too that a lot of rugger pro’s don’t know why the whistle’s been blown. The giveaway is that they nearly always ask the ref why he’s blown, and the official then takes several minutes to explain the astro-calculus involved. They should add on time for explanations at the end.

The problem with American football and Rugby Union is that there are far too many ‘dead ball’ situations and huddles involved. Soccer – or as we true aficianados call it, football – has hardly any, and thus the unpredictability factor is multiplied by ten. This is why watching British footie is exciting, whereas viewing American Football is like reading an instruction manual online.

I wonder how many Sloggers remember when, in another bygone age, Americans used words like ‘swell’ and ‘phony’? I think phony has dropped out of use now because almost everyone in the world is a phony, but ‘swell’ always had a wonderful innocence for me – and a degree of sophistication at the same time. ‘Swell’ was what people like Frank Sinatra said. Or more usually, sang. The other good thing about swell was you knew what it meant. I had not a clue what pickup, levee, bayou, hooker, and nickelodeon meant. But when a 1950’s American said “That’s just swell” or “He’s a swell guy”, he meant it. If you like, it wasn’t phony. It wasn’t ‘phonograph’ either – another word whose meaning eluded me for years.

The end of using phony heralded the end of the Age of Real. Now everything is ‘leveraged’ to be more than it is, and it’s this dysfunctional way of thinking that has caused the current financial and fiscal mess in which we find ourselves in the West. No doubt soon, the Super Bowl final will become the Hyper Bole final. The World Series will become the Intergalactic Saga. And so on.

What we also entered about 25 years ago was the Age of Un. Students of Orwell’s novel 1984 will know that political deviants airbrushed out of history were referred to as Unpersons. All the more ironic in many ways that Joe McCarthy chose to call his Star Chamber The House Committee on Unamerican Activities. Today we have politically incorrect; it’s the same control freak-bogey man bollocks.

But Un is everywhere. Between them, the Troika members have created an overall situation in Greece with unreal timelines, unachievable economic goals, unpopular politicians, and unstable democracy…all because the IMF was underfunded at the critical time, and the ECB allowed uncontrolled borrowing to take hold. This happened because the EU was and is one gigantically leveraged pile of hyperbolic junk that nobody wants except for the free money it offers them. Discuss.

I thought it a great shame that Frank Carson caught a Lew Grade virus – ie, he died. We used him once for a radio commercial and the bloke couldn’t stop telling jokes. His sister was his agent as well, and she told us that, basically, Frank had OCD when it came to gags. That must be a nightmare to live with for all concerned, but his delivery was unique. His jokes were simple, old-fashioned constructs that nearly always began “So there’s this bloke…” He told one about a bloke walking into a pub with a crocodile and asking the barman, “Do you serve Catholics in here?” The barman says yes we do, so the guy says, “Fine, I’ll have a pint of Guinness, and a Catholic for the crocodile”. The pinched goblins would not allow that sort of gag these days, but when Northern Ireland was tearing itself apart, Frank Carson’s infectious humour was a welcome relief for everyone there. As he said so modestly at the time, “It’s the way I tell ’em”.

The way the Guardian tells ’em also never varies, but the paper is about as engaging and enjoyable as gangrene these days. For this reason among many others – chiefly, I’d suggest, its altered reality – the Grauniad is losing readers bigtime….and it never had that many to lose in the first place: its 2011 circulation fell 16.3% year on year to 226,473. In old money, that’s 1 in 6 readers drifting away in a single year. All of which had my satire nose twitching in the classic Private Eye method of superimposing one news story over another. Thus the Greek default’s inevitability becomes the Guardian default.

I don’t know if the Scott Trust (which owns Little G) can afford to bailout The Guardian yet again, but I quite like the idea of editor Evangelos Rusbridopolous insisting that all he needs is just 10% readership growth for the next forty years in order to achieve the targets set by the Troika of lenders – the Socialist International Fund, the Trade Unions, and the recently reunited Labour Bundesbank under the doveish leadership of Eddie Trilliband and his more hawkish Finance Minister, Ed Schauballs. Herr Schauballs insists that his hair is short enough already thank you very much, and Trades Union firebrand Lens Weidluskey says he’ll put up no more money until Trilliband leverages something – indeed, anything. So it’s not looking good for the plucky Guardianistas, and Kremlin-watchers everywhere are wondering what the hard Left clique around Rusbridopolous, Trotskolopoly, will do next. But lurking in the background is the mysterious figure of Pollytine Latoynbee, doyenne of the Ethereal School of commercial journalism. Anything could happen next; and if it does, you can be sure that LaToynbee will home in with clinical accuracy on the wrong interpretation.

I’m exhausted now, and so off to bed. We’ve had a chum’s Labradoodle, Ruby, staying with us today – a breed of dog roughly thirty times the size of our three combined. It was all going very well until Tiggy liberated Ruby’s favourite toy and, bang on cue, the postman arrived. For a few minutes we were given a taste of what life in the Homs district must be like right now. A lovely dog Ruby, but very big indeed. Very strong, and thus (I’d imagine) a great addition to any tug-of-war team. I’ve never tried being the rope in a tug-of-war before. It was character forming.

Until tomorrow, then.