||The Way We Were
was listening to the radio as I drove into work the other morning. They
were interviewing a guy who they said “was a former senior executive
with Marks & Spencers”. This really grated and typified the misuse
of the word “former” amongst broadcasters. Once you are a former
something-or-other you continue being one (unless you go back to being an
actual one, of course) What they should have said is that “he is a
former senior executive” or that “he was a senior executive”
(actually I prefer the second as it is simpler but that’s a matter of
taste, not accuracy). Instead they just mixed the two out of ignorance.
worst people for this are sports commentators, especially when describing
those who used to be champions. One phrase which is creeping in is “the
former Olympic gold medallist”. Surely someone who wins an Olympic gold
medal (and I for one am in awe of such people) remains an Olympic gold
medallist. They don’t have to hand the medal back for the next Olympics.
There’s nothing “former” about it. So cut it out; it’s just
I can accept is that there is only one Olympic champion in a particular
event at any time. That is the reigning champion and everyone else is a
former champion. What I can’t accept is that someone is a “twice
former champion”, a term which is also entering commentator-speak.
It’s mixing up terms again; it should be “twice champion” or
suppose that you could argue that at the end of each reign they become the
former champion, thus justifying the term "twice former
champion". But there are three things wrong with this argument:
works if someone else became the champion between the person’s
two successes; if the two successes were consecutive, (s)he only
ceased to be champion once and therefore only became the former
when the person regains the
championship, (s)he would be both the reigning champion and the
former champion at the same time. This is not a logical
To see the
silliness of the argument apply it to Steve Redgrave; he won
gold in the coxless fours in 1984 and 2000. By the argument he
is the twice former champion in this event. However he also won
gold at the coxless pairs in 1988, 1992 and 1996 and so (despite
winning the competition more often) he is only singly the former
champion at that.
the argument simpler doesn't wash. These commentators don't know whet they
are talking about. It's a Room 101 job.
I also dislike the
sports commentators' term "fellow countryman". Isn't it
sufficient to describe someone as your "countryman"; doesn't
this get over the fact that you both come from the same place?
to the subject of reigning and former Olympic champions, it does beg an
interesting question about the last winner of a lapsed event; is that a
reigning or a former champion? There’s a classic quiz question: who are
the reigning Olympic rugby champions? The answer is the United States who
won the last Olympic rugby tournament in Paris in (I think) 1924. They won
because the rugby playing nations didn’t send their full national sides.
Here is the classic picture. The 4x4
powering its way across a hostile environment.
The typical 4x4 owner is a suburbanite
who owns the vehicle not in response to needs but much more to overcome
his own feelings of innermost inadequacy. Most of them would welcome a drive over harsh terrain about as
much as they'd welcome a piranha in their bidet!!
They just sit there, perched on high, looking down on the rest of humanity.
A bunch of smug gits with egos the size of the planet!! And as for those stupid cow-catchers!!
Ban the damned things. Or at least make
the owners pay substantially more road tax. There is only one thing worse
than a 4x4 and that is one towing a caravan.
And don't talk to me about off-roading.
It's just a quick way to gunge up the countryside and spoil it for us poor
Drop them in Room 101 pdq, preferably
with a couple of mountain bikes on each one.
Police Speed Cameras
OK. I've been done a couple of times for
speeding so I am biased on this subject but consider the facts.
I was on my way to walks so I reckon
that I'm allowed to drive 10 mph quicker just for that
They occurred at 7:30 am on a
Saturday and 8:30 am on a Sunday so there was nobody about
One was on a 50mph restriction on
the M6. But there were 3 lanes open and there were no workmen about so
why on earth had the limit been reduced so much
Besides all these speed cameras are a
safety hazard. We have ridiculously low speed limits ( a number of which
were designed to reduce petrol consumption rather than improve safety) and
you spend all your time watching out for the cameras rather than watching the
road. Why not just drive slower? Because modern cars are designed to go
quicker and have better brakes in compensation.
What we could really do with are high
tech speed limits signs which can be varied according to road conditions.
And another thing. Have you noticed how
many tractors there are on the roads nowadays, with some rustic airhead on top doing about
12mph. They are clearly part of the Police campaign to
remove traffic from the roads. They're probably even getting an EU subsidy
for doing it; I reckon it's about £50 per mile on A roads and smaller amounts for lesser
No; it's not Ann Robinson or the Weakest
When AR appeared on Room 101, she
caused great controversy and allegations of racism by suggesting the Welsh
should go there (although no-one cared at all Des Lynam wanted the French
to go in). She reckoned they frightened her as a child in Liverpool.
Well, I approve of all this xenophobia. I
have a lot of sympathy with wanting to get rid of the French and the Welsh
(especially their rugby commentators!!) but there is one lot that irritate me far more. I'd get rid of all the Scousers.
They reckon they are so great, loveable rogues, the scallies. But basically
they are unlovable rogues, the first to winge when they are found out or
they come to harm as a consequence of their roguery.
I recently caught one of these TV
holiday programme. They had sent a family of Scousers to Benidorm, whence
Beryl and I had just returned. I was delighted to find that we hadn't done
any of the things that they had.
I found this article
which said that Liverpool is the favourite place for opening call centres
because "a Liverpool voice is now seen to be straight, understanding
and friendly". "Gobsmacking" isn't strong enough to
describe some people's gullibility. Perhaps scousers are good in call
centres because of their talent for faking sincerity, for being so
convincing in their terminological inexactitudes. Anyway, aren't call
centres a good candidate for Room 101 in themselves; "if you want our
dwoyle-flonking division, press 2" (ugh!!)
No pack the Scousers all off to Room 101, say I
PS I know someone who has been on
the Weakest Link. AR has breaks in the filming whilst aides give her the put-downs.
They also edit out all the times when a
contestant puts one over on her.
Beryl is a singer and a
pianist and I get taken a long to all sorts of music that I hadn't really
experienced previously. Handel's Messiah (which her choir does every year)
leaves me cold but I do enjoy going to Symphony Hall in Birmingham. It's a
wonderful place to hear music (although my favourite concert there was
desperately musical (to say nothing of being tone deaf), it's difficult to
appreciate the proficiency of the instrumentalists. I can see fingers moving quickly on
instruments but that's about it. I'm riveted by the percussionists; you
get a much clearer sense of what they are up. All the same I do wonder what sort of job Fourth Percussionist is for a grown
man - he gets to hit a triangle about four times in an evening.
what I truly can't stand are the conductors.
It's all the pomp and affectation that gets to me. They way in which they
sweep in last expecting all the applause before they do anything.
at old Sakari Oramo here. Study the pained expression; he looks as if he's
going for a weightlifting record. Wonderful histrionics but what does it
The typical orchestra consists of thoroughly competent musicians,
often with equally capable singers. Can't they be trusted to get it right. I know that they need
coaching through the rehearsal and someone to pick the team, its formation
and the general tactics but why do they need them on the night? Messrs
Ferguson and Wenger don't need to go on the pitch with their teams. Peter
Hall and Trevor Nunn can sit in the audience when one of their plays is
being performed (or not even go as the play gets into its run).
No. Conductors are a set of useless posers. It's Room 101 for them.
offering to lend you money
this is a fairly topical one. There are two things that bug me.
first is the rain forest that gets felled each month by people sending me
unsolicited mail offering to lend me money or a better deal on a credit
Now I've been with Barclays
since 1967 (those hazy days when England were the world champions at
soccer) and with Barclaycard for only a slightly shorter period. They're
not perfect but for the most part they get things right. Even when they
made one monumental gaff, I wrote them a long letter which started
"Pardon me while I vent my spleen" and a nice man called Mr Wass
sorted it all out. Anyway I've got no great desire to move from them or to
borrow money from them.
used to get all these offers when I was hard up. Now when I'm reasonably
well off I'm bombarded with them. Is this just proof of the old adage that
a banker is a person who is willing to lend money to someone who doesn't
However there is
something that annoys me even more. It's all the adverts for loans that
you get on TV. Do they think we are stupid or what? There's the scene
where the husband gets in from work and the wife says "We can have
that holiday we always wanted. I've arranged a loan; it was so easy".
You want to scream out "You dozy cow! Don't you realise you'll have
to pay it back?"
the other advert that says "Why have the inconvenience of lots of
small loans. Consolidate it into one simple loan with us".
Consolidate? It makes it sound as though you'll owe less rather than just
owing to one person. And why do they have lots of loans in the first
place? Because hitherto people have realised that they can't afford all
the debt and won't lend it all to them.
ad also claims it will reduce your monthly repayments. Probably; but for
how much longer will you be paying it.
punchline to this advert is a lulu. "You can have up to half a million
pounds". What colour is the sky on their planet?
Sharks? You might chose to say that but I couldn't possibly comment.
compel anyone tempted by these adverts to read "Faust"
ITV Rugby highlights
I was tempted to include Sky Sports for
removing so much quality sport from our screens. However this is a bit
obvious for Room 101 and there have been some beneficial side events. One
is the increased amount of live football on TV. Another is the sight of
Sue Barker or Steve Ryder trying to get enthusiastic about the British
shovehalfpenny championships or the husky racing from Alaska that Grandstand
is reduced to covering.
But the real loss is the England rugby
internationals. I do detest Sky for this (and the RFU for selling out to
them) but my candidate for Room 101 is the ITV rugby highlights programme.
It's just pathetic; it's about as interesting as the soccer highlights
(despite the fact that England actually have an exciting rugby team).
There is so little coverage that all you get are the actual scores, which
of necessity spend a lot of time on Jonny Wilkinson preparing to kick.
There is none of the ebb and flow of a game. You don't see the players
pouring their hearts into the unglamorous tasks. You can't see who is
really up for a Lions place.
Even the ITV rugby coverage spares you
one thing; whining Welsh commentators. Yes I know that they've got John
Taylor but he comes over as being about as Welsh as Brett Sinkinson. Eddie
Butler and Jonathon Davies are pretty awful but the worst by far are JJ
Williams and the nasal chap with him. They come from the school of
Welshman that believes their team has only two results; victories and
moral victories. The outcome of the second is usually down to the
incompetence of an English referee.
Still just to show that I can be
fair, ITV do have a decent rugby web site.
|Football Away Strips
Now you're probably thinking that I'm
going to have a moan about the hideous colour combinations found in
football team's away strips. They are certainly loathsome; they look as
though they've been co-designed by Hieronymous Bosch and Salvador Dali.
However it's not that which makes me want to ban them.
I'm a great believer in the traditional
colours used by football clubs. I reckon that they should be used wherever
possible. However the rules on colour clashes seem designed to bring about
the opposite effect. Why can't both teams wear white shorts for example,
provided that the tops are sufficiently different? I know that footballers
are supposed to be simple-minded but I can't believe that they'll find it
in the least confusing. But no, the rules say that the away team must use
shorts of an un-white colour.
Let me give some examples of the
foolishness of it all
in the picture is Andy Cole in the
Manchester Utd away strip (2001 vintage). OK so United will play
against teams with red shirts and do need to change. This picture was
taken in their match against Sunderland (who play in red/white
stripes) Pardon me; why does the United red shirt constitute a colour clash and
the white one doesn't?
when Spurs (white shirts, blue
shorts) played QPR (blue/white hooped shirts, white shorts) in the FA
Cup Final, they said that this was a colour clash and made both teams
change. Now if ever there is an occasion on which teams ought to be
allowed to play in their proper club colours it's the Cup Final.
Interestingly a week later in the Rugby League Cup Final, Widnes
(white shirts, black shorts) played Hull (black/white hoops, white
shorts) ie the same scenario. Both teams played in their normal
colours without a problem
the 1994 World Cup held in the US.
In every match one team had to play in white shirts (usually with
shorts in their normal colours) Why was this necessary? Because that's
what happens in American football; the away team always plays in
white. Another mindless concession to the delusion that the US will
one day join in the world game.
Actually I think the main culprits in
all this are the kit manufacturers who are trying to persuade the
long-suffering fans to buy two lots of gear. They are of course aided and
abetted by the money-men at the clubs who want to sell the gear at prices
far outstripping the production costs.
Whilst we are getting rid of these Away
Strips, can we also do away with Adidas stripes. They were bad enough when
they were down the arms but now they are hugging the shoulders.
Look at the new British Lions (forget
this British-and-Irish Lions drivel) shirts; an utter abomination.
Even a real man's man like Martin
Johnson looks distinctly wimpish in it. The reason is those totally
I've gone into great detail elsewhere
to explain why I object to these swines.