Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Funny Because It's True

From today's Daily Mash

Philip to say 'Mick' no more than eight times

PRINCE Philip will be allowed into Ireland today on condition he calls them all 'Micks' no more than eight times during the four day visit.

'Gosh, you're all surprisingly tall'
The historic trip was only agreed after intense negotiations between London and Dublin, with the Foreign Office stressing that he was going to say it and there was nothing that anyone could do about it.

Prince Philip will say 'Mick' for the first time when he meets President Mary Macalese at her official residence in Phoenix Park. He is expected to say that he 'did not know Mick houses had roofs'.

He will then use an average of two Micks a day culminating with a visit to the Tyndall Institute in Cork on Friday when he will say 'Christ almighty, not more fucking Micks'.

It will be the first time Prince Philip has met an Irish person since 1984 when he told Eurovision song contest winner, Dana: "You're not so bad. The worst is the half-Irish, half-Chinese. I met one once. He was called Declan Wu and he stole my horse."

The visit is the first by a British sovereign in a century and the Queen is understood to be very excited about meeting hundreds of people who, according the British Constitution, are not good enough to be married to her.

The Royal Household has acknowledged the sensitivity of the visit and made key changes to protocol, including replacing the Queen's Official Royal Question of 'What do you do?' with 'Are you going to kill me?'.

During the trip the the Queen will view the Book of Kells and say it is 'very nice' as well as visiting the Irish National Stud in Kildare where she will attempt to drug key rivals in advance of next month's Epsom Derby. And sources say the Queen is also keen to try out her Irish accent and has been rehearsing phrases including 'a very top of the good morning to you' and 'one is being sure, one is being sure'.

Meanwhile, in addition to his eight Micks, Prince Philip has also been given an allowance of three 'bogtrotters', two 'fenians' and a completely unacceptable joke about Bobby Sands.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Between The Sheets...

...or what I've been reading recently.

Mother Tongue - Bill Bryson

Entertaining look at the English language, how it was formed and how it compares with other languages. A tad drier than Bryson's other work, including the superior Made In America that looked at the history of American English, and not even in the same league as his travel writing, but well worth a read for those interested in how the world's dominant tongue rose to its current position.

The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson

The second instalment of Larsson's wildly popular Millennium trilogy. I didn't find it quite as absorbing as its prequel, but the continuing saga of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomqvist is certainly more entertaining and pacy than almost every other work of modern fiction I've read recently.

Mort - Terry Pratchett

My fourth venture into the Discworld, and the quality continues to be evident. A well-crafted story that, like all of the Discworld novels I've read so far starts very strongly, loses its way for a short while in the middle before resolving itself in comedic style.

Rangers Cult Heroes - Paul Smith

This was my Secret Santa gift at the work Xmas party last year. It was good to read the stories of some bona fide Rangers legends, including several from the nine-in-a-row years that I watched as a boy. But there were two faults: firstly, the choice of players covered. To describe John Greig, Ally McCoist, Jim Baxter or Brian Laudrup as cult heroes seems to me to disregard the notion of what makes a cult hero. I've already picked my alternative 10. Secondly, the book seems to have been rushed out in the latter half of 2010, and could have done with a more thorough sub-editing to remove typos and factual errors. Nonetheless an enjoyable read for those of a blue persuasion.

The Business - Iain Banks

Picked up for 20p in an Aberdeen second-hand bookshop when I ran out of things to read on the train, this was a most unexpectedly good book I'd read in a while. A tale of a Scottish girl made good in a shadowy multinational corporation, the humour and fast-paced plot were a delight.

Kingdom of Fear - Hunter S Thompson

Dispatches from Thompson's meandering mind in his twilight years, Kingdom of Fear lacked the punch of his earlier works, but was nonetheless a rollicking ride from one of literature's great heroes of the 20th century.

As In Eden - RM Lamming

I'm a strange hypocrite in that I don't believe any of the stories in the Bible, don't believe in any religions, but I find fiction based on those stories being true to be fascinating. I suppose it stems from a childhood love of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. But I digress. As In Eden retold a number of the Bible's more famous tales from the viewpoint of women mentioned, occasionally only in passing, in the original tales. Interesting, but still not enough to make me a believer....

Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals - Andrew Jennings

Exposing the sordid world of life inside football's governing body, this book is enough to provoke rage in anyone who first became enchanted by football as a sport, not as a jolly and a means of stuffing pockets with wads of cash.

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

Entirely predictable fare from Brown, who must write his books to a generic template. Fast-paced and entertaining enough, but for those of us who have read the rest of his books, the conspiracy theories are starting to wear a little thin.

Fatherhood: The Truth - Marcus Berkmann

A birthday present from Mrs Wife, this is a hilarious guide to the first few years after the birth of the first baby. Actually had me laughing out loud on the train. While simultaneously giving me a little bit of dread at how unprepared I am for the biggest life-changing event of all.

Neuromancer - William Gibson

Supposedly a cyberpunk classic, Gibson's most famous work left me a bit cold, with a plot that was overly complicated and characters that inspired little in the way of feeling. Not recommended.

The Bloke's Guide To Babies - Jon Smith

A second baby "how to" book, along a similar vein to the Berkmann book, if written from a younger man's point of view. Inspiring of further laughs and further dread.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year Award

As Montrose have now finished their season, it's time for the award no-one's waiting for, The Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year Award.

In the supporters' club official awards, I voted for Stephen McNally, the club captain having looked a figure of calm in a team occasionally capable of some pretty football but more often capable of spectacular mediocrity.

But the Groanin' Jock award is based on the number of times the players have been awarded my man of the match award.

So we're talking about the best players from 20 competitive Montrose matches this season (actually, it's only 18 because I forgot to pick a MotM from two matches....)

The results are:

Martin Boyle: 3
Ross McCord: 3
Chris Hegarty: 2 (one of those was for getting sent off against Arbroath in the New Year shellacking)
Terry Masson: 2
Daryl Nicol: 2
Paul Tosh: 2
Sean Crighton: 1
Hugh Davidson: 1
Stephen McNally: 1
Fraser Milligan: 1

Which means that for the 2010/2011 season, Martin Boyle and Ross McCord officially share the inaugural Groanin' Jock Montrose FC Player of the Year award.

If I was forced to pick between them, I'd go for Boyle.

"Tosher and Boyler, Tosher and Boyler...."

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 21: Queen's Park v Montrose

It may be over.

Barring an unforeseen (and unforeseeable) venture to a match over the next couple of weeks, today was probably the last match I'll attend this season.

It may even be the last Montrose away match I'll attend for a long while, given that my first-born - Laudrup McCoist Hateley Durrant Gascoigne Rae - is mere weeks from arrival and is likely to monopolise my free time for a long, long time.

(That name is only a working title - I may still go with Hegarty McNally Gonzalez Crighton McCord Tosh Boyle Rae. Or Lennon if it's a boy [after John, not Neil or Danny].)

Anyway, today was my first time on a Montrose supporters' bus, my first time in the Queen's Park social club and my first time at Hampden when the stadium hasn't been in use for a cup semi-final, cup final, Scotland match or concert.

It's a strange experience being in a sub-1000 crowd in a stadium designed to hold 52,000 (a text from Montrose's own Argentine-obsessed roving reporter asking me to "save her a seat" raised a smile).

Montrose had nothing to play for today, having already secured(?) eighth place in Division Three. But Queen's Park (we're amateurs, honest - we don't pay our players, just give them £100 expenses a week) were looking to guarantee a promotion play-off place.

Some of Montrose's early movement looked vaguely decent, but once Queen's took the lead in the 27th minute, there was never going to be any doubt of the result.

Jamie Longforth ultimately scored a hat-trick and Ian Watt also got on the scoresheet as Queen's put four past The Incredible Flying Gonzo, playing what was probably his last game for Montrose. His larger-than-life personality will be missed around the club, but his abilities as a goalkeeper have been called into question too often since he arrived earlier this year.

Today marked the end of the Montrose careers of a few of the players, most notably Hugh Davidson, who skippered the team for the last time before retiring. His final match ended in near-heartbreaking fashion, limping off after just 20 minutes.

He was replaced by Chris Hegarty, another player likely to be on the way out of Links Park. Along with Gonzalez, Hegs had the good grace to come across to the noisy travelling support at the end of the match and give away his shirt. Gonzo went one better, also handing across his shorts (after ensuring that the roving reporter had received the goalkeeper's jersey and a kiss).

Montrose's only real high point came with Terry Masson's goal, the midfielder picking the ball up far from goal, striding in towards goal and lashing an unstoppable shot into the net.

Aside from that, my personal highlight was hearing a small girl shout, out of nowhere: "Heggy's gonnae get you" - a chant that sounds infinitely more chilling when uttered by an innocent child than by a bunch of blokes old enough to know better.

And so it ends here. Next year's team will look vastly different to this year's incarnation, and will hopefully carry some of the better recent form into the new campaign. From tenth to eighth this season - hopefully from eighth to sixth next year....

Man of the Match: No outstanding candidates - it can't be any of the back five in a match when we conceded four. Masson's superb strike and general work rate make him my final man of the match of the season.