Monday, 28 January 2008

Honest Aussie Sets Good Example

Australia wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist has revealed his dropped catch off India's VVS Laxman convinced him to retire from international cricket.

Gilchrist, 36, missed the chance in the final Test of Australia's series win and said: "I knew somewhere between the ball hitting my gloves and the ground.

"That catch - I watched a replay and I just moved really slow.

"I realised I didn't have the absolute desperation that you need to continue to maintain your standards

Unaccustomed as I am to offering praise to an Australian sportsman, I make an exception for Gilchrist. Not only was he a demonstrably honest man, who 'walked' when he nicked one (never caught on with his team mates, Yes - that's YOU, Symonds!), he was the most entertaining batsman of his generation, which is saying something when Lara and the Indian middle order have been around these last ten years. Good on yer, Gilly!

Read his reason for going, admire his honesty and compare him to the incompetents we come across in all sorts of positions in life who just don't know when to quit, even when honour and responsibility suggests that they clear their desks immediately.

"I knew [it was time to quit] somewhere between Northern Rock/the Armed Forces/the new Wembley Stadium hitting my gloves and the ground" - insert your own disastrous event - and it is a sentence that one simply cannot imagine being uttered by a public servant in this country.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

The Leaving Present

Rick, from Zimbabwe, had checked out of the halls of residence at Cirencester Agricultural College, and taken a room with a mate of Idle's, who had opted for mature student status at the college after leaving the army. The Idle mate had a wife and a mortgage and might even have had a child by that stage. Crucially, he had a spare bedroom, a fully-stocked larder, a big kitchen, TV and video, and laundry facilities. Having been raised on a farm in Kenya, he was sympathetic to an impoverished Zim 20 year-old.

Rick didn't pay his rent often, let alone a contribution to the Waitrose and Threshers' bills. It was put on the slate, in the expectation that the tobacco crop would come in at some stage and Rick's father would stump up the readies.

This went on, needless to say, until graduation. In the fog of celebrations, a drunken and morose Rick approached Idle's mate, fessed up that he didn't have a bean, and could he pay sometime in the future? Idle's mate, generous man that he was, said he'd call it quits if Rick could secure him a certain commodity available only in Africa. It was a deal.

Months later, the Idle mates were skiing. They returned to Cirencester after a fortnight and were approached by the shy old spinster from next door, who told them she had signed for a parcel for them during their absence, but "had to put it in the garage, because it was making a dreadful smell".

A soiled package was produced, opened at arms' length with clothes pegs on noses. There, untouched since the day it was sliced from the beast, was a Cape Buffalo scrotum.

"He might have cured it, at least" said Idle's mate. "Jesus!" said the wife "what the bloody hell are you going to do with THAT?"

"Turn it into a sporran", said our man. "It'll be the only one of it's type in the world."

And he did, and it is. A fine and splendid thing it is. My friend particularly likes being approached by aged Scots ladies at highland events who have an interest in this sort of thing. "Excuse me" they say, "but I couldn't help but notice your unusual sporran". To which he replies "How observant of you. I suppose you have already worked out that it is the scrotum of a Cape buffalo". They tend to scurry off after that.

Here it is: