Thursday 30 April 2009

The problem with football



Fuck off:

Believe It Or Not! - PS

In some parts of the West Country, they still are - Eds.

Believe It Or Not!

Ships in bottles, rather than simply acting as paperweights or corporate retirement presents (or both), were once considered exotic and wondrous items on account of their technical 'impossibility'.

[Thanks to Scarlett Thomas, author of The End of Mr. Y]


As the WHO embark on their Pandemic (World) Tour, The Amnesiac Review asks, 'Which bright spark appointed an Oriental spokeswoman to address the cameras on the question of "flu preparedness"?'

Hiring and firing

Laid-off RV worker, on last night's Newsnight:

"I had 32 clean years here: 27 of perfect attendance."
Someone tell 'im.

Question of the week so far

"Is Sir Alex Ferguson bumming every referee in the world, or what?"
As asked by the Gooner standing next to me in the pub in Shoreditch last night.

Damn nature, you scary!

(Thanks to Whop Corn)

The ethics and aesthetics of shopping

If you insist on going for labels, do remember that all these clothes, regardless of label, are made in the same sweatshop, by the same underage kids who are kept on a diet of bread and water till they have completed their quota of a thousand dozen pieces. (And please don’t give me all that guff about ethical clothes, and shopping with a conscience: if you stop buying, all you’ll do is deprive the kid of even that bread and water; and quite possibly a family of twelve who all depend on his job. Remember that you, dear shopper, have access to clothes from any part of the world. He only has access to that one job.)

If you must wear labels, at least have the decency to wear the fake ones. Or better still, the ones that get the spelling wrong.
- Ashok Ferrey, voice of reason, in Montage magazine.

"But they soon realised: They just fucked with the wrong Mexican."

(Thanks to Snez Bo, whose taste in movies is second to none)

Wednesday 29 April 2009

Tuesday 28 April 2009

The importance of commas

From Wikipedia:

Harkhuf was a governor of Upper Egypt in the 23rd century BC. He travelled extensively over time.

Which way is up?!

From a NIB in today's Times:

A study of 280 healthy children showed that those whose average sleep was less than 7.7 hours a night scored higher in tests for attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

Franzy that

"Truth is a great flirt."
- Liszt

Feel the Wrath

From the website of the Cape Wrath Challenges (2008):

"We apologise to Margaret Turnbull and Frances Arrowsmith. Due to an admin error Margaret's age was listed incorrectly and Frances was awarded the over 40's ladies prize. Frances was the one to notice this and the prize was given to Margaret. We apologise to both ladies."
Fans of Hot Fuzz may get an extra chuckle out of this.

For those of you who don't know

It's my birthday some time later this year.

[End of hint.]

Monday 27 April 2009

Newsroom South-East

Four men were jailed today for "robbing convenience stores of cigarettes and alcohol to the tune of over a hundred-thousand pounds."

And to think it could have been the other way around.


Swine flu. In Israel.

After Dido, le deluge

in which the author is forced to admit it is possible to be unnecessarily clever.

Call me Jimmy

Interview with Osmond minimus.

Financial statement

You've gotta spend money to make money, people say.

But just try asking them for a loan.

Thought for the day

Rock stars have groupies.

Writers have editors.

Thursday 23 April 2009

Thought for the day

“To try to write love is to confront the muck of language"
- Roland Barthes

Why girls read more than boys

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Sentence of the day so far

From the Wikipedia entry on Dashiell Hammett:
Hammett turned to drinking, advertising, and eventually, writing.

How, by making me read your book?

Friday 17 April 2009

The definition of pressure

"The last time he took a penalty kick he missed and his mother was taken to hospital after collapsing."

Thursday 16 April 2009


That's what I'm talking about!

(Thanks to RN)

The wisdom of Aircraftman Shaw

"A man can do whatever he wants... but he can't want what he wants."
- Lawrence of Arabia

In The Loop

Review of Armando Iannucci's new dodgy-dossier comedy.

Gits and Saps

Interview with Tom Hollander, from The Oxford Times.


Death and The King's Horseman, at the National.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Another thought for the day

There are way too many writers in this country:
Third of men 'live with parents' (BBC)

Thought for the day

The old maid's waitin' for leap year to come
The crooner's just waitin' to sing
The old cow's standin' by the Bull Durham sign
Just a-waitin' for the grass to turn green.

The bar-fly's waitin' for an easy mark
'N' the hitch-hiker's waitin' for a ride
The life-termer's waitin' for a prison break
The beachcomber's waitin' for the tide.

Farmer's daughter's waitin' for the salesman
To take her into town
The city slicker's waitin' for the country boy
To lay all his money down.

You know ev'rything comes to a standstill
Nothin' seems to make a turn
Worm must be waitin' for the early bird
I guess the early bird's waitin' for the worm.

Nobody wants to do nothin'
Just waitin' to get a finger in the pie
Waitin' for a call from a big quiz show
Or hopin' and a-waitin' for some rich uncle to die.

Katie, she's waitin' at the garden gate
The moonshiner's waitin' at the still
'N' the gambler's still waitin' for that Ace in the hole
'N' I guess Jack's still waitin' for Jill.

Ev'rybody's waitin' for som'thin'
Nothing seems to turn out right
'Cause the night shift's waitin' for mornin'
And the burglar just waitin' for night.

The congregation's waitin' for the preacher
Preacher just waitin' for the groom
'N' the groom's just waitin' for the June bride
And the bride's Just waitin' for June.

Sunflow'rs waitin' for the sunshine
Violets just waitin' for dew
Bees just waitin' for honey
And, honey, I'm just waitin' for you.
- Hank Williams, Just Waitin'

Titles gone begging - 3

A Matter of Schmatte

[I must confess I have no idea when I would ever get around to this one. But if you know someone in the rag-trade who fancies a ghost-writer for his memoirs...]

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Harry Kalas

As a metre-long rule, I usually hate these conspicuous, self-promoting "R.I.P." blubfests. But I simply have to say something about the death of Phillies announcer Harry Kalas yesterday.

The trouble is: what exactly? I've been thinking about it for the past twenty-four hours, but what can I say that won't turn this post into the very conspicuous, self-promoting "R.I.P." blubfest that I just said I hate. I've never really had much patience for people who lose control over the loss of public figures, who say they felt as if they "knew them" and that they've "lost a friend".

But I can't really think of anything non-clichéd to say about Harry Kalas. In fact, I've been trying to think of another public figure whose death would have a similar effect on me, and (I'm not sure what this says about me) I'm not sure I can think of one. I guess this is how people felt when Johnners died.

It doesn't matter that there's a hole in my life, I know that. But all the same there is a hole. So just in case anyone is reading this blog and thinking that the death of the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies is hardly going to impact on anyone in Britain, this is proof that it has, that Harry had international appeal, and that I adored listening to him as much in London and in Hertfordshire as I did when I lived in Philly.

I don't think it's a knee-jerk stretch to say that Harry Kalas was a big part of my ever-growing love of baseball. When I lived in Philly I listened to him virtually every night, often just in the background. Back here in England, I would tune in to Phillies games sometimes just to hear his voice (probably the best way to watch the Phillies...). And what with the time difference, with Harry gone, it feels like the guy who reads me my bedtime stories is no longer at my bedside. I know how hokey, how corny that sounds, but it really does feel like that. I'm pretty crap at admitting when I am upset and shocked, but on this occassion I can't be bothered to be crap.

Harry Kalas was the sound of baseball for me, a game which heightens all the senses, which (like only a handful of other things in life) you can feel creating memories in real time, as you watch. Harry had a voice from heaven, no doubt about that. He elongated every word, squeezed out every last syllable, rounded every vowel like he was drinking a perfect glass of beer on the perfect summer's evening.

See? Look what I'm doing. Apologies. But ever since the moment I heard that Harry had collapsed in the commentary booth at Nationals Park before the Phillies game against the Nats, I have had tears in my eyes. Next thing you know I'll be laying wreaths at Kensington Palace. In the shape of the Phanatic's nose.

Let's hope not. I read this on a forum somewhere last night:
Funny the effect that baseball has on our lives even though most describe football as our national past time now. There's a rythem [sic] to the game...sort of like background noise to our lives for 6 months a year, year after year after year.....
That's as true for me nowadays as it is for any American. "Never forget" has become one of the most meaningless promises in the English lexicon. But in this case, I am sure it stands. I plan to continue annoying strangers with overly emotional tales about Harry Kalas. He has brought nothing but goodstuff into my life, and even though I kind of hate myself for blogging this post (not to mention for writing the words "blogging this post" - sheesh!), for whatever reason, I would hate myself more if I didn't admit, somewhere, that like any baseball fan, I am in mourning, and I miss Harry Kalas now as much as I know I will miss him in the years to come.

Sunday 12 April 2009

Saturday 11 April 2009

Why? Why? And why?

Woman gobbles 51 of world's hottest chillies - and rubs 25 in her eyes while Gordon Ramsay watches in horror


"When combined in the figure of a philosopher such as Diogenes, drunkenness and sleep point to the highest levels of human achievement, a moment of divine rapture."
- Maria Ruvoldt*, The Italian Renaissance Imagery of Inspiration: Metaphors of Sex, Sleep, and Dreams


Friday 10 April 2009

Dubious duos

This comment about Ian Bell:
"Bell had a reputation as the best nets batsman in the England set-up."
Reminds me of this great line from Bull Durham:
"Two hundred and forty-seven homers in the minor leagues would be a kind of dubious honour."

Another day, another Salinger quote

“The worst thing that being an artist could do to you would be that it would make you slightly unhappy constantly.”

Are wood pigeons red devils?

At 7am this morning, I was lying under my Arsenal sheets, listening to the incessant coos of a pair of wood pigeons that reside in the tree outside my window.

As I listened, I couldn't help noticing that their coos sounded exactly like that moronic chant you hear at Old Trafford: "U-ni-ted. U-ni-ted."

So, does this mean that all wood pigeons are Man Utd fans? Let's put it this way: They're certainly dim enough.

Thursday 9 April 2009

Augustan thought for the day

"Golf is the only opportunity that middle-aged Wasps have to dress up like a pimp."
- Kinky Friedman

Best & Worst Lyrics (All Time) II


Now I wanna sniff some glue
Now I wanna have somethin' to do
All the kids wanna sniff some glue
All the kids want somethin' to do*

- The Ramones, Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
*In case you haven't heard it before (shame on you), this is the entire song.

Spam du jour


How to be Irresistibble to Women
# 1 Learn to spell.

The Dailey grind

And how to get away from it.

Interview with Charlie Dailey - pretty adventuress - in The Oxford Times.

Titles gone begging - 2

Down and Out in Tooting and Balham

(Massively self-indulgent) Thought for the day

“I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.”
- J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

Wednesday 8 April 2009


No it isn't.

Quote of the day so far

Courtesy of my old man:
"Oh, that's nice, isn't it? The Pope says he's sharing people's pain. That's what I like about popes."

Thought for the day

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
- Paul Simon, I Am A Rock

You learn something annoying every day

And today, I learnt that 'ungamely' is not a word.

I'm using it anyway.

Says who?

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Tip for the day

Get it. As my sister promises: "It will change your life." (I think she means for the better.)

I, for example, have just spent the morning listening to The Skatalites, Lou Reed, Steve Reich, Salif Keita and Death in Vegas.* Good times.

*Actually, this is not quite true. When I woke up this morning, after pulling an all-nighter for the fourth night in a row (thanks on this occassion to Opening Day - go O's!) the first thing I did was spin my new Dent May vinyl. I met Dent for the first time on Friday night. He was playing at the Betsy Trotwood in Camden. My sister once crashed in his yard in Mississippi, which strikes me as spiritually meaningful in some way. I just hope he loved the curry on Brick Lane that we went for after the show as much as I loved his songs. For the record, there are few finer ways to hatch than by emptying a pot of Jamaican coffee down your throat (and spooning the perfect boiled egg) to the strains of songs like At The Academic Conference, God Loves You, Michael Chang, and I'm An Alcoholic.

Dent May

Quote of the day so far

"This show will be dedicated to all of our drummers who have passed on, either to their reward or to middle management at Sainsbury's."
- David St. Hubbins

The English laugh

You just don't hear that sound in any other country.

The worst excuse for environmental destruction I've ever heard

Courtesy of my parents' batty new neighbour.
My parents: "Why have you torn out all the hedges and rose bushes from your once delightful garden [you utter fruitcake]?"

Batty new neighbour: "It's to stop people hiding behind them and jumping out at you."


Gary Player announces his retirement from the Masters:
"I'm hitting the ball so short now, I can hear it land."

Cut your cloth according to your Sado-Masochistic tendencies

As seen in Charles Tyrwhitt.

I have reason to believe that my brother buys his shirts here.

In The Loop

The Amnesiac Review hereby unreservedly recommends this movie.

Likewise the blog of same.

Funny, isn't it...

how 'acting yourself' and 'behaving yourself' are more or less mutually exclusive?

Titles gone begging - 1

The Time I Invited my Editor Out for a Pint and then Put His Face through the Pub Quiz Machine.

Thanks to the movies (I found my true love)

Received today, via my mate Will's film review site, Cinema Salon. Verbatim:

Please, I am a girl , I come across this Internet dating
site and found your profile very interesting to me. That we may find
our selves being in love together as life partner.
My name is Carolin,
if you will like to know more about me or see my picture send me email
on my Email address so that i will reply you with my picture and tell
you more about me ( is my email address
Thanks and remain bless.
Anyone inclined to e-mail Miss Jabna, please be my guest. (You might like to start by telling her that I do not, in fact, look like this


['Thanks' to WJRCB]

Monday 6 April 2009

Easter question*

If St Peter had a thing for Jesus - and maybe denied it three times - would that make him a Passion fruit?

* (much funnier in the original Aramaic)

The stupidity of wisdom (and vice versa)

My father used to tell me that there is no such thing as a stupid question.

The army, I subsequently discovered, preaches the same truism. Or at least they did until, recently, a fellow recruit asked how one is supposed to distinguish between a nuclear explosion and a regular one.

To those who still set their store by the wisdom of dumb questions, I prescribe this.

[Thanks to JB]

Where There's A Will

... there's a wag.

Tony Gardner, starring in Feydeau's farce.

Sunday 5 April 2009

Thought for the (Opening) Day

"Baseball's hard, guys. I mean, it really is. You can love it, but believe me, it don't always love you back. It's kind of like dating a German chick."
- Morris Buttermaker, Bad News Bears

Square dancing

"I've got a doctorate and I don't understand this shit."
- John Murphy (DPhil Oxon.) queens out of the ceilidh.

Saturday 4 April 2009


If you disband the band, is it a dis?

Friday 3 April 2009

Beyond irony

On the web-page for The New Yorker's international subscriptions the default destination is... Afghanistan.

Samuel Beckett

The author of Waiting for Godot:

1) worked for the French Resistance during WWII;

2) would rather have been a pilot ("I do not feel like spending the rest of my life writing books that no one will read. It is not as though I wanted to write them.);

3) was once stabbed by a French pimp... called Prudent;

4) and had his mother foot the bill for his psychotherapy (perhaps he had more of a sense of humour than one imagines).

[Thanks to The New Yorker]

Sumerian saying

"A scribe whose hand moves as fast as his mouth, that's a scribe for you."
Ah, if only...

Still, there's a pleasing irony in the fact that this 'saying' is only known to us because it was written down.

Thursday 2 April 2009

The wonders of nature

Apparently, my friend's dog suffers from vertigo.

Please don't ask me how this was diagnosed... or how a Scottish Terrier develops a fear of heights.

What I have to deal with

Flipping through my notes, I just found these quotes (verbatim) from my fellow amnesiac, delivered in a Whitehall pub on Monday as we sunk a brace of Guinness following a failed attempt to get our pictures taken with pictures of Amis and Hitchens:
"I was put in a CS gas chamber on Saturday. (And it turned my boogers black.)"

"Masturbatory self-reference is all very well, but you should stop short of getting it in your own eye."
I bet I just nodded, too, as if these were perfectly normal things to say.

Hope for us all

Chris 'Jesus' Wilkinson finished his PhD aged 36, and lived with his parents until he was 43.

He is the world poker champion, and a very rich man.

Thought for the day

"The first six weeks of writing a novel for me are like hell. I'm very unhappy and very frustrated and actually very miserable."
- Joyce Carol Oates


Do one-trick ponies come from one-horse towns?

(And can you teach an old pony new tricks, place of residence notwithstanding?)

May you live in Financial Times

All the spoof news that's printed to fit.

(Perhaps it'll cheer up all those privately-educated Maoist revolutionaries out throwing things at the RBS building.)

"Everyone's a critic...

... but only some of us get paid."

Wednesday 1 April 2009

The Revolution in Military Affairs

(or Why Only A Chop Takes A Chopper To His Chopper)

Did You Know?

During one of the many clashes between the peoples of Israel and Canaan, one of Jacob's daughters was raped. The Israelites told the Canaanites that they'd overlook the whole business (after all, the offending party was keen to marry the girl, and his tribe were offering good trade incentives) so long as the Canaanites circumcised themselves, in the Hebrew manner.

The Canaanites, recognising a good dea when they saw one, did as they were told. Whereupon, "on the third day, when they were sore", the Israelites promptly ambushed the Canaanite town and killed the lot of 'em.

[Thanks to James C. Davis]


"David Cameron did get to share a joke with Barack Obama..."
Does that mean he only got half of it?

More City stories

Paul's assessment of the whole G20 whiney vegan business:

"Personally I think it’s a load of hype about something that will lead to nothing… although I secretly would quite like to see a repeat of the May Day Liffe trading floor riots (when the story goes that 15/16 of the great unwashed tried to storm the trading floor and “take some people down” not realising that the Liffe floor housed rather a large number of East End wide boys with somewhat dodgy criminal connections and serious fighting experience, fuelled by adrenalin and a vast amount of drugs.

As the “rioters” ascended the escalator to gain access to the trading floor, fuelled with tofu and lentils - and probably a handful of pamphlets - they were met by what has been described to me as “big f*cking dave” who wasted no time in knocking each one out in turn and placing them back on the down escalator.

Cue a small pileup of “rioters” at the bottom of the escalator who didn’t even manage to step a single foot onto the actual floor)*.

* This story was originally told to me by “Gambit” – a one armed broker from the Liffe trading floor who was apparently there at the time (the nickname was given to him by his fellow brokers… nice people that they are)."

Top 25 'Merchant Bankers'

This from Bloomberg (home of news for grown-ups):

My mate Paul says this list is defo real: he knows number 4. Also: "Personally I like number 24 as it took me a second to work it out."

Personally, I don't see how you can beat 'Christopher Fister'. But each to his own.

[Thanks to PC]

InDefinition - 4

deprecation, n. What Hollywood types do to their eyebrows whenever a foreigner asks them to laugh at themselves.

Billy Wilder on writing

Interviewer: "What is your working procedure?"

Billy Wilder: "To quote Mr. Churchill, it's blood, sweat and tears, believe me. It is a drag. It is hard work. And it's not one of those kind of things people imagine that muses come kiss your brow, and there you are the poet in the clouds. Nothing like it.
From here, including a great scene on collaboration.

"Yeah, but can he do this?"

I dedicate this clip to my sister, Whop Corn. This was one of our favourite scenes when we were trying to grow up. I can't say it helped.

Quote of the day

"It was a loooot of fun!

"I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful."
Miss Universe on Guantanamo Bay.