Archive for February 2015

Numbers great and small, good and bad

February 26, 2015

The number is always 769.

It’s nice to visit relations and as a nicety I visited my sister recently. Naturally, I commandeered her television. And her television remote control. I zapped through the channels until I found something interesting to watch. Banged Up Abroad, that will do nicely. I adjusted the volume bar to suit my hearing skills and as I relaxed, imagining myself in an orange jump suit, from out of the blue my sister went berserk. My first thought was she’s going stir crazy until she let fly with “You can’t leave the volume on an odd number”. And I could see where she was coming from.

I, too, suffer from the odd number syndrome, though in my case it’s when I’m reading a book. I never stop reading on odd-numbered pages as bad omens can abound. They’re not known as odd for nothing. odd numbers are abominations. My bookmarks are always installed on an even keel. If a chapter ends in an odd I will read the first page of the next one to keep the good karma of the book. My paranoia about the oddities is getting worse. I have contemplated not reading the odd numbered pages or in an act of total destruction, ripping these monstrosities from the spine of the book. Rip, shred, tear. Rip it out.

The pages will be thrown on the pyre. A modern day Bonfire of the Vanities. My Savonarola even pages won’t burn. Only the pure in heart will find the Golden Grail. They will all be divisible by two.

Let’s leave the inquisition and go to superstitions. Unfounded fears can be taken to extremes by certain individuals. Me, I’ve always walked under a ladder without suffering any consequences but, and it’s back to TV volumes again, I have a little phobia about the sound numbers on my remote (it runs in the family).

I will never leave the volume of the television at 13. It’s because this unlucky number brings a new slant to the Goldilocks story. You see the trouble is that on my set 14 is too loud (daddy bear) and 12 is too low (baby bear). 13 is just right. Nice. You couldn’t put money on it. Mummy bear is the ideal volume. It makes me want to run into the forest and never return again.

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Not in Wisden #11: Two Tribes

February 21, 2015

For the time being we will give a bye to the stories (real and fictional) from the nostalgic world of the Glasgow and District County Cricket Championship (GDCCC) and focus on the small matter of the cricket World Cup that is currently in progress.

A popular type of post in the blogosphere is the one that contains lists. You will have read many of these. The title of an article grabs your attention and your curiosity makes you click the link. You are another visitor that has been sucked in by the effectiveness of this advertising technique. The internet seductress that is the published list is right up there with the flounce in garnering stats. Who could not fail to be entranced by headliners like-

Top 10 celebrity wig-wearers.
Fifty thousand best mother-in-law jokes.
The nine best CSI quips before the opening theme tune.
Two best books by Harper Lee.
Nineteen different ways to crack your fingers.
Seven reasons why floorboards creak
The number one business blog in cyberspace (refresh this page for the answer)

Any fan of cricket will tell you they admire good play no matter who it is from (except Australia). Nonetheless, while admiring all good batters and bowlers and fielders I have a top six favourite teams that grace this glorious game. When they play I am rooting and tooting and mitcham for them. Here is the list. Go for it, umpire. Let’s Play.

1. England
2. Lancashire
3. West Indies
4. Blackpool
5. Cambridge University (it’s a boat race thing)
6. Jamaica

Fate threw a googly (the wrong ‘un not to be confused with the confounded wrong one google). England, Land of Hope and Glory, are to play Scotland in a World Cup fixture this Sunday evening. In any other sport I would be lion rampant roaring my home nation on but this is cricket. I have supported the three unrampant- to be fair, We did have some Ashes glory along the way- lions England for twenty years. Something has to give. Am I to let Scotland do a Frankie Goes To Hollywood with their 45″ single, Relax, and jump straight to number one? Or do I stick?

This is too much for me as my two favourite countries on Earth prepare to do battle. I have to quote Rex the scaredy-cat dinosaur from Toy Story. “I don’t like confrontations”.

3.2 The Birthday Present

February 13, 2015

“That’s what friends are for, Ralph”

Ralph gives his friend, Jeff, a warm handshake. Man hugs in this rough public bar would result in beer and blood being spilled so the simple shake would suffice. Although the pledged present was that good Ralph would have gone the whole frog and kissed Jeff’s cheeks, French style.

“So this can happen anytime?” asked Ralph.

“On the day. Anytime.”

“It is amazing what these entrepreneurs think of. This will be the most exciting birthday present I will ever have had. I can’t wait to do some amatuer dramatics and suspend my reality.”

“I knew you’d like it. Have a good one. Right, we going home now.”

The two men leave the inn and head to Ralph’s car as it was his turn not to drink tonight, though Ralph is drunk with anticipation of his birthday tomorrow and the special gift. Just as he beeps his car doors open a stranger emerges from the dark with a gun in his hand and shouts.

“Open the trunk or I’ll shoot.”

Jeff is terrified while Ralph suppresses a smile and lifts open the boot.

“Gimme the keys then both of you get in the trunk.” Demands the gun-toting maniac.

“Wait a minute,” says Ralph “He’s not supposed to come along.” He points at Jeff. “I’m the one you’re after.”

“Shut up and get in.” For good measure the carjacker hits Jeff on the head with the side of his gun. Car Blimey, this guy is really good, thinks Ralph, Jeff’s head is cut. Nice to see him take a hit and just for me.

The two hostages are bundled into the boot arguing with one another about the lack of space. After much jostling the pair of them twist into the confined area. The robber slams the lid shut leaving Ralph and Jeff in darkness, cramped and literally cheek to cheek.

“This is the works, isn’t it?” Says Ralph

“What are you talking about?”

“My birthday present. I have always wanted to be in the boot of a car driven by a gangster. I see it so many times in films. You said that Fantasy Dreams are a compnay that provides actors that cater for all your needs. I’m telling you that robber is one nasty piece of work. What an actor! Thank you Fantasy Dreams I’ve enjoyed the interaction. And thanks, Jeff. I can mark this one off the Bucket List.”

“You fool. Your birthday is not until tomorrow.”

“What, you mean…”

“Yes. We have been mugged. For real.”

Just then with a screech of the tyres the car shoots off and the two passengers are jolted back and forth as the car at breakneck speed hurtles over the potholed ground. Bruised and battered the two prisoners have no wriggle room in their tightly-packed cocoon. Ralph is first to complain.

“This is all your fault, Jeff.”

“And how do you work that one out?”

“It was your idea to drink at the Scarface Arms. You know what the clientele is like in there.”

Jeff protests “I wanted to get you in the mood for your hijacking tomorrow so I brought you to a rough area. Uhh, your present. Do you still want it or should I cancel the booking?”

Before Ralph can answer there is the unmistakeable blaring sound of alarms and loudspeakers. The police are obviously on the scene. Undetterred, the car thief speeds on his way. Then gun shots are heard as an almighty shoot out is in earnest. A bullet hits the boot of the car narrowly missing Ralph. Jeff has no sympathy for him. As the firefight rages on, he says.

“Why didn’t you just ask for a cardigan as usual.”

Greatness treads this Earth with giant steps

February 11, 2015

The word genius is overused and commentators affix this term to individuals that are plainly not geniui. There’s no argument that Da Vinci, Newton, Goethe and Nastase were blessed with genius genes. You could even make a case for Galileo Figaro Magnifico to be included in the list but generally there’s an overload of lesser mortals that are promoted beyond their abilities. I discovered an anonymous genius in the most unknowlegdeable of surroundings: the library.

While browsing the shelves of paperbook nirvana a title caught and captivated my eye. I eased the tome from its squashed tomb. I’ve always checked out how many pages in a book before reading it while, of course, trying not to see the ending. It was here that I saw genius at work. The second last page of the 403 page book had its corner turned in which signifies that the reader had bookmarked it. Two pages from the end. Genius.

Ordinarily I abhor the lazy folding of pages but this was sublime. This unknown vandaliser had taken this horrible art form and transformed it into a thing of beauty. There were so many variables that my head was drowning in questions. Why did the reader stop so near the end?
Was it time to get off the bus?
Did the phone ring?
Was he too tired and just drop off to sleep?
Did he want to eke out the denouement?
And, most geniusly, did he actually finish the book?

This was right off the spectrum of ingenuity and approaching God status. How many times have you began a book and not made it to the end? You tried your best but halfway in or less the novel was used as a frisbee. This lacks the panache of giving up with one page to go. That is worth boasting about. “Yeah I was on page 401 and suddenly I got bored. I don’t care how it ends”. All genius is twinned with madness.

Warning the next paragraph will be the last. If you’ve got the gist of this post you will know what to do. Geniuses may stop reading now and apply a bookmark.

You couldn’t stop yourself now, could you? You had to see it through to the end. The End. Cue Looney Tunes tune. Di, di-di, di-di, di dit dit dit dit, dit dit dit di-diiiii.