Monday, 30 July 2012

Monday, 16 July 2012

Le Tour d'Idle

Famille Idle has decamped to la France Profonde. In the Gers, since you ask, on a trout stream. Surrounded by rolling Armagnac hills, far from the madding crowd. Having said that, we have formed our own Club 16-50, though it is difficult to tell the youths from the adults when it comes to tobacco and alcohol consumption. Sport is vital, and we have boules, water polo, touch rugby, badminton. Trout fishing as well. We don't have bicycles, but instead, sampled the real thing today.

Serendipitously, the Tour de France was scheduled in such a way this year as to pass between Samatan and Pau this very day. That's 45 minutes south of here. So 7 of us hurried our lunch, piled into the station wagon, set a course for Vic Fezensac and onwards to L´Isle-de-Noé, and got there with twenty minutes to spare before the field arrived. Preceded, it must be said, by a caravanserai of outriders, sponsors, emergency services, hangers on and gatecrashers of every type. We practiced our "Wiggo-o" cries, and Idle was forced to put on a pair of muttonchops in homage to the current wearer of the yellow jersey - and, we fervently hope, the winner of the event on Sunday afternoon, which would be historique for les rosbifs. We watched the event beside a corner which had been taken over by the local fire brigade. Les pompiers had a right laugh at the motley crew of England's finest public school products, graduate and undergraduate. I told them, of course, that Bradley Wiggins was my younger brother and that I taught him everything he knows. It was not clear from their rustic french expressions whether they were buying that one or not.

Then the cyclists hoved into view. Sacre bleu! They were on a slight decline towards the bend, which was a sharp left hander, but zut alors, they were going like the clappers. Thank heavens for the maillot jaune - we could spot London's finest pair of sideburns a hundred metres off, and we Wiggo-o-ed like the schoolboys some of us were. The elder idle daughter pointed her instamatic, pressed the tit, and unbelievably caught the speeding Wiggo in mid-frame. And Mark Cavendish, world champion, in his maillot rainbow. The evidence is here upon this very post, as is the picture of your scribe looking suitably Bradleian.

They say that this event has the biggest live audience of any sporting competition, and one can see why. For the mere 60 seconds or so that it took them to pass, you ask? Yes indeed; we had 48 hours of fevered anticipation, and the brief event did not disappoint. The burghers of L'Isle de Noé were rampant with glee and participation, having planned their street party since the tour schedule was announced. It is a great institution, by far and away the pinnacle of the sport. Drugged up to the eyeballs, you might say - look at Tom Simpson, the great British hill climber, who killed himself in the final stages of a brutal Alpine ascent in the late 60s. Or Lance Armstrong : It's Not About the Bike, he wrote. Well, no, Lance, looks like it was more about the dope. Can we be sure that they have eradicated the drugs menace from the sport? Dunno, but I'm willing to bet that Wiggo and his team are clean, so rigourously are they tested.

Go, Wiggo! Win the Tour de France for Britain and Her Majesty. Idle wishes to say that HE WAS THERE.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Diamond Quote

I liked this from LibDem rentaquote Lord Oakeshott, on the resignation of the chairman (but not the CEO) of Barclays:

"The board's so hopeless they've just shot the head of the firing squad and missed the prisoner."