Monday, September 13, 2010

The Liberation Of Punishment

Readers who can be bothered to scroll down the page will find an entry from June telling of my heroic endeavours to defend football referees via a letter to The Washington Post. Back in March, I also wrote about the trials of referees like myself dealing with loud-mouthed parents and coaches who love to combine a borderline unhinged psychosis with an ignorance of the game’s laws. You may notice that I never criticised players in all this. That’s because I still step out on to the field to play at weekends, equipped with fading fantasies about the extent of my visibly diminishing footballing capacities. And because, in this role, I can still have the odd problem with a poor referee.

Like yesterday, for example, when I received my first red card in 36 years of playing. I reckon I’ve taken part in maybe 700-800 games without being ordered off the field. I’m overwhelmingly level-headed – if I’m the captain I tend to rush over to a hotspot to calm things down. If I’m not the captain, I’ll stand back with an air of detached superiority, perhaps shaking my head in the manner of one who knows so, so much better.

Friday, September 10, 2010

More Ways To Spend It

The last time I wrote about the How To Spend It supplement in Mrs. Pop’s Financial Times, I made a predictable assault on the easy target of high-end luxury goods. Clearly the editors read this blog, as they seem to have stopped aiming the glossy sheet merely at multi-millionaires, and have factored in the ridiculously rich as well. Several items featured in today’s edition will cost you less than four figures (the Gentlemen’s Tonic Mayfair Shaving Set is just £150, for example), and the cost of telling the time is down too – while last December’s featured timepieces showcased a £1.6 million wristwatch from Jaeger-LeCoultre, this month’s Bell & Ross rose gold Power Reserve Watch (on an alligator strap – this watch was hunted) is almost given away at £14,300.

Help for those burdened by cash
But what the September issue lacks in preposterously lavish material goods, it more than makes up for with unblushing pretension. First up is a Q&A interview under the moniker The Aesthete, with literary and talent agent Caroline Michel, whose “clients include Jeanette Winterson and Simon Schama”. Impressed? I was, once I’d googled the latter and found out who he was. You don’t know? He’s a university professor of art history and history, you moron.

What was the last thing that Ms Michel bought and loved? “A pair of early-19th-century French naïve flower paintings, after being driven mad by the desire to own a Van Gogh when I was at the recent exhibition at the Royal Academy.” One does get driven mad by the desire to own a Van Gogh, doesn’t one? Drives one absolutely fucking crazy.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Reality Python

Where John Cleese answers the phone
Mrs. Pop phoned our favourite Tex-Mex restaurant the other night, Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande, to ask for a table. They don’t take reservations, but you can phone before you set out and put your name down to avoid waiting around outside on the pavement.

It was seven o, clock, and she asked if we could get a table at 7.45. No, she was told, you have to phone half an hour before you want your table. We’re about to set out on our bikes, she said. Could you please just put us down for 7.45? It’s not easy to use a cell phone on a bike. No, it has to be half an hour before. She should call back in 15 minutes.

What about 7.40, asked Mrs. Pop, always keen to compromise (except in the odd domestic matter)? No, it has to be 30 minutes. Okay, she said, if it has to be 30 minutes we’ll go for 7.30 and pedal really hard.

Sorry, said the girl, there are no tables free for 7.30. The earliest I can get you a table is 7.45.

Yes, that will do nicely, thanks.