This one is dedicated to Michael Connelly:
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), The FBI, and the CIA are all trying to prove that they are the best at apprehending criminals. The President decides to give them a test. He releases a rabbit into a forest and each of them has to catch it.
The CIA goes in.
They place animal informants throughout the forest.
They question all plant and mineral witnesses.
After three months of extensive investigations they conclude that rabbits do not exist.
The FBI goes in.
After two weeks with no leads they burn the forest, killing everything in it, including the rabbit, and they make no apologies.
The rabbit had it coming.
The LAPD goes in.
They come out two hours later with a badly beaten bear.
The bear is yelling: “Okay! Okay! I’m a rabbit! I’m a rabbit!”
For those golf fans among you who have ever pondered the matter, as have I, Bubba Watson’s given forename is not in fact ‘Bubba’ but Gerry. Most pro golfers like to have a URP (Unique Recognition Point). The late lamented Payne Stewart always wore the colours of the NFL franchise closest to where each week’s tournament was played, and plus two trousers to aid the colour blind. Gary Player always wore black. Jesper Parnevik wore a baseball cap with the brim wrong way round. Jack Nicklaus, in his youth, was a fat blond kid with a crew cut who wore awful sweaters that made him look even fatter. Arnold Palmer had an aura the size of America. Seve had charisma to match that of Muhammad Ali. Lee Trevino never stopped wise-cracking to the crowd regardless of the effect it had on his playing partners. Gerry Watson, it seems, relies on a questionable nickname. I wonder why, as he can be identified easily, as the guy who has furthest to walk to reach his tee shot.
Sometimes the good guys win. Nothing against French football managers or German golfers, but what odds would you have got five days ago against a treble of Motherwell clattering Celtic 2 — 0, Birmingham winning the Carling Cup, and Luke Donald winning the Accenture Matchplay Championship. I couldn’t be happier for Stuart McCall and Alex McLeish, who can finally be forgiven for leaving the Fir Park job to lead Hibs to relegation that same season, and most of all for LD who took on the best golfers on the planet, played six matches in five days, and remarkably was never behind in any of them.
Quiet day yesterday, reflecting on an excellent Saturday evening as guests of Sue and David, Them Next Door. Nice one, Shirl.
A story I’ve been sent from Queensland. True? You tell me.
Recently a routine Police patrol car parked outside a local neighbourhood pub late in the evening. The officer noticed a man leaving the bar so intoxicated that he could barely walk.
The man stumbled around the car park for a few minutes, with the officer quietly observing. After what seemed an eternity and trying his keys on five vehicles. The man managed to find his car, which he fell into. He was there for a few minutes as a number of other patrons left the bar and drove off. Finally he started the car, switched the wipers on and off (it was a fine dry night). Then flicked the indicators on, then off, tooted the horn and then switched on the lights.
He moved the vehicle forward a few metres, reversed a little and then remained stationary for a few more minutes as some more vehicles left. At last he pulled out of the car park and started to drive slowly down the road. The Police officer, having patiently waited all this time, now started up the patrol car, put on the flashing lights, promptly pulled the man over and carried out a random breathalyser test.
To his amazement the breathalyser indicated no evidence of the man’s intoxication.
The Police officer said “I’ll have to ask you to accompany me to the Police station – this breathalyser equipment must be broken.”
“I doubt it,” said the man, “tonight I’m the designated decoy”.
With old Colonel Gaddafi unravelling before our eyes over the last few days, his son Saif has been grabbing most of the air time. Clearly he is seen as the acceptable public face of the regime. I wonder how many people share my view that with every public utterance he sounds more and more like Saddam’s hugely entertaining information minister, Comical Ali. However, Saif is not to be under-rated. He has three degrees, the most recent being a PhD awarded by the London School of Economics. Understanding the title of his thesis, ‘The Role of civil society in the democratisation of global governance institutions: from ‘soft power’ to collective decision-making?’ is worthy of a doctorate in its own right. Shortly after it was awarded, Saif pledged £1.5 million to support the work of an LSE project. Saif’s claims to respectability can only have credence when he is set alongside his brothers. Mutassim, who was exiled in Egypt for some time, was recently seen shaking the hand of Hillary Clinton and is the head of the National Security Council, dad’s field operative, you might say, Saadi is a failed (very) professional footballer who now runs the Libyan Football Federation, and there’s one called Hannibal who has a track record of bad behaviour across Europe and who seems to be personally responsible for the state of near-hostilities that exists between Libya and Switzerland. This would all be risible, but for one disturbing fact: these guys hold the power of life and death over thousand of people and are currently exercising it. Saif has three plans, A, B and C, all is the same: ‘To live and die in Libya’. Their fulfilment may come sooner than he and his siblings realise.
My viewing for this week has included the World Matchplay Golf Championship. My enthusiasm for it has diminished, though, since my son pointed out that they have devalued the tournament by downgrading the final to 18 holes rather than the customary 36. That is akin to playing the FIFA World Cup as a five-a-side event, or the World Snooker Championships as best of nine frames. The one bright spot is that increases the chances of the venerable Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, who can still knock spots off the field over the sprint distance, at age 47, but would have been struggling if he had to play four rounds on the last two days, as the old format dictated. At this stage, it’s a bit of a gunfight, but if he makes it through to the semis on Sunday morning, he may be the man to watch. I hope so, because the celebration will be epic, if he wins . . . although not here in Spain, sadly, where golf is still a minority sport, and where the great majority of his compadres have never heard of him.
I few years ago, at a book signing in Canada, I was approached by an elderly gentleman who leaned over me and asked conspiratorially, ‘Which are you, Rangers or the ‘tic?’ Had we been in Scotland, he would have asked me the same question in a different way, as in, ‘What school did you go to?’ or, slightly more subtle, ‘Did you play for the Boys’ Brigade?’
Some might say I would have been justified in telling him politely, that it was none of his ******* business, but I didn’t. Instead, I replied . . . politely . . . ‘Actually, I’m neither.’ He raised an eyebrow, said, ‘I don’t believe you,’ and walked away. Well, sir, if you’re still around, and you’re out there, it was true then and it still is.
That said, it does not prevent me from recognising and enjoying the achievements of Scottish clubs when they play in Europe, regardless of the colour of their shirt and the off-colour lyrics of their songs. When I channel-hopped from C5 to ESPN last night and caught Maurice Edu sliding in the last-gasp, Europa League tie-deciding goal, in the strange absence of the Sporting defence which seemed to be having a team meeting in the furthest corner of the penalty box, I was just as pleased as any of the fully fuelled guys in the stands in Lisbon. Given the venue for this year’s tournament final, it will be true for my wife and I if I borrow the following line from a well-known anthem: ‘If they go to Dublin we will follow on.’ Walter vs Kenny in the final in the Aviva Stadium? Difficult but doable.
. . . to all mis amigos who offered advice on how to sort out that annoying little bastard of a head cold and throat-tickling cough that’s been troubling me for the last few days. Remarkably every one of those cures involved whisky. I do not drink whisky, and haven’t for the last 35 years, but it did make me think. So I took the cures minus the cratur, (they also involved lemon and honey) but did not drink any other form of alcohol either. Bingo! I had my first full night’s sleep of the week. I’ve still got the cold, but I can handle that. Main thing is it’s reminded me of something I knew but had ignored of late. While alcohol makes me sleep for a while, at my age it does not let me sleep well, and if I have any at all, I do not wake refreshed. So, it’s back on the Vichy Catalan for a while .
Eileen and I have fallen into a routine. Every evening around six:thirty we go down to the bar in the Club Nautic and watch the sunset. We call it ‘going for our tea’, a phrase beloved of a late and much missed friend, used in his honour and memory. She has a glass of cava, and I have three beers, one, two three. (She sips, I drink.) ‘Siempre tres?’ the barman asked me a couple of evenings ago. ‘Si, siempre tres.’ These are not large beers, understand, and they are not what I would normally drink, but they don’t stock Saaz.
I should know by now, but does anyone have any ideas on how to shift a really annoying head cold, apart from paracetamol and Strepsils?
There’s a debate I have with myself every so often, about the best band ever to come out of Scotland . . . apart from Jimmy Shand and Louis Freeman. Some days it’s Texas, others Alex Harvey, occasionally Deacon Blue, and absolutely never, the Bay City ******* Rollers. Other times, I recall Travis, or Franz Ferdinand. But when I really think about it there’s only one winner. I say this having just spent an hour of my work break listening to the best of Del Amitri on my clever wee iPod. Different class. We’re lost a couple of great Scottish musicians lately, in John Martyn and most recently Gerry Rafferty. Happily Justin Currie is still working away quietly, more or less completely overlooked as those two were in later life. He has a new album scheduled for release in May; it’s in my basket already. Oh that people like him, who stay and work in Scotland, received more recognition, ideally at the expense of a bearded sage who bailed out of his home city 25 years ago, and is now globally famous on the back of nothing much more than his own garrulousness. (You know who I mean.)
My friends in L’Escala, and in particular those who have the good fortune to be Welsh, make an assumption about me, namely that on five out of six winter Saturdays I will be found in front of a television set glued to the Six Nations Rugby Union championship. There was a time when I would have been, if I wasn’t actually at a match, but somewhere along the way, something happened. Or maybe several things; the start of the professional era when everything had to be staged, with pre-match entertainment and pyrotechnics that bore no relation to what was about to happen; the constant tinkering with the rules that seem to make the game confusing even to the referees, let alone the players; the prevalence in both codes, League also of on-field coaching, with characters not-very-cunningly disguised as water-carriers allowed pretty much free access to the field at every breakdown. Whatever, it’s a hell of a long way from the game played by K J F Scotland, Barry John, Andy Hancock, Mike Gibson, etc, and it’s one with which I no longer feel connected. (The fact that we now struggle to beat Italy doesn’t help either.) Remind me, who are we playing on Saturday?
Heard this morning from a friend in Auckland, New Zealand. It’s a small country and interconnected, so I’d been worrying about her and hers. Thankfully she and her family are all safe, but a close colleague of hers, a lady I may have met myself, was trapped in the CTV building, where rescue operations have now been suspended. On the plus side, by the wonders of Facebook I’ve just heard that another young friend is unscathed.
This should remind us all that no matter how great we may seem individually, none is greater than the planet to which we are all clinging, and which occasionally does its best to throw us off. It makes it all the sadder that the deaths of good people in Christchurch are reported along side the stories of the mad and bad Gaddafi, vowing to shed every last drop of other people’s blood to cling to power in Libya. A form of justice might be for him and his family, and all those like them, to be forcibly removed to Christchurch and made to help in the rescue operations, to show them that its better to be a fully paid up member of the human race than a parasitic growth upon it.
Just found this on the BBC website.
WTF? I await the comments of my friends in Oz.
I also note this,attributed to the Defence Minister … a plan had been developed to try to ensure such incidents could not be repeated.
It had better be a very cunning plan.
I note that Bill Aitken has resigned as chair of the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee in the wake of some ill-considered remarks about a rape victim. Mr Aitken has been around for a long time, and should have known better than to let his mouth run ahead of his brain, but now he’s even being criticised for the nature of his departure by the man whose parliamentary motion prompted it, one Patrick Harvie, of the Green Party. I’ve never been one of Bill’s biggest fans, and I’m surprised he was ever given the chair of that committee, given that his political views tend to be well away from the left of centre blanket that could be thrown over most Holyrood MSPs. However I have a lot more time for him than for those of Harvie’s ilk, who can’t resist taking one last kick at a wounded man as he tries to leave the scene with some of his dignity intact.
Woke up this morning to more terrible scenes in Christchurch; lightning may not strike twice, but it’s in the nature of earthquakes that they do. I’ve been there, loved the genteel beauty of the place, and enjoyed every minute of my trip, so when I saw those pictures I felt the tragedy even more keenly. Right now, all I can do is hope that by some miracle, the death toll rises no higher.
Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across the country. Here are last year’s “winners”.
1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature beef.
5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.
8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.
9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
13. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
14. They lived in a typical suburban neighbourhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.
15. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
16. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.
17. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
18. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
19. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
20. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
21. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
22. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
23. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
24. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
My thanks to Angela Stone for the following, sent as a comment to a recent post. It’s well worthy of a wider audience, and so . . .
‘As I nicked your joke to send to my brother I thought I would send you one.
Proposed cuts to the National Health Service.
The British Medical Association has weighed in on the new Prime Minister David Cameron’s health care proposals.
The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.
The Gastroenterologists had a sort of a gut feeling about it, but the neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.
The Obstetricians felt they were all labouring under a misconception.
Ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted.
Pathologists yelled, “Over my dead body!” while the Paediatricians said, “Oh, Grow up!”
The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it.
The Surgeons were fed up with the cuts and decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.
The ENT specialists didn’t swallow it, and just wouldn’t hear of it.
The Pharmacologists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, “This puts a whole new face on the matter….”
The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea.
The Anaesthetists thought the whole idea was a gas, but the Cardiologists didn’t have the heart to say no.
In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the arseholes in London .’