Friday, 31 August 2012

Poetry Corner

It happened, yesterday, that a friend and I took to swapping poetic ditties, such was the slow pace of the banking and commercial worlds, it still being August and the terrors not yet back at their prep and public schools.

I started with a paraphrasing of Belloc's wonderful Lord Lundy:

The grandees of the Party bore
The shame till they could bear no more.
They rallied their collective powers,
Summoned Dave to Millbank Tower,
And bitterly addressed him thus—
“Sir! you have disappointed us!
We had imagined you to be
Prime Ministerial pedigree.
The stocks have crashed; the Press turned sceptic,
The Middle Class is apoplectic
So there it is! . . . Our language fails!
Go and run the Royal Mint in Wales!”

My correspondent, who I will call Felipe, responded thus:    

There was a boy whose name was Davy,
His cheek was pink, his hair was wavy,
And unlike all the other boys,
He didn’t much care for games and toys,
But dwelt all day on his ambition,
To be a famous politician.

To Eton and Oxford, up he went,
The perfect launch for his ascent,
To the upper reaches of our polity,
And the friendship of the quality,
So with a little help from friends and dad,
He quickly made himself a SPAD.

But he must get a job, and it must take in
Experience in the art of spin
So for seven long years of toil unseen
He spun the web for Michael Green,
Which was somewhat infra dig, in truth
For a patrician and a gilded youth.

At length, at last, his climb resumed
When, as his friends had all assumed,
He was given a seat and duly sent
To sit in Her Majesty’s parliament.
‘Now to be leader’ he said and turned his eyes
To the summit, the peak, the glittering prize.

The battle was joined, his weapon was spin,
He used it to do his opponents in;
The fools had relied on the unvarnished truth
Dave on his tongue and his charm and his youth.
The blue rinses loved him as he told them he’d win,
And the elders themselves succumbed to his spin.

But at the election the House was hung,
Had Dave’s ambition missed the last rung?
No, never, he had one more trick:
A big open offer to someone called Nick.
They carved up the jobs and then, and then,
Dave could walk straight into old number ten.

He had the top job, now what would he do?
As it turned out he hadn’t a clue
I’ve got there he thought, what more do I know?
If I had some ideas you’d have heard them by now.
I know that I’m happily married to Sam
But I’ve never really known who I am.

I think this should now be an open competition. Do your best, idle readers, try to get that old muse working and amuse yourselves and the rest of us with poetic reflections of the state we're in. The prize, as usual, will be won by Nick Drew.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Leaving Strauss

I would suggest that international cricket captaincy is more difficult in this modern celebriddy age than ever before. Big salaries, enormous endorsement contracts, endless distractions, be they within cricket (Indian Premier League, most obviously) and outside (Big Come Dancing Twitter Brother Out of Here on Ice, etc etc). We are talking Egos, with a capital E; just consider the wretch Pietersen, who surely will follow Strauss into international retirement, unless they sack Andy Flower as coach, pigs take to the air, and hell freezes over.

Andrew Strauss was one of the best captains in modern cricket. He inherited a shambles, led from the front, never took individual glory, was undeniably successful and was a good sport. He is clearly intelligent and had a great partnership with Flower, the coach. In the field, he was a bit cautious for my taste, but his record was overwhelmingly a winning one, most importantly against the Australians.

So let's hear it for a natural leader from a public school! We're hardly going to go hoarse cheering Cameron, so three cheers for Strauss! They say he has a career in politics in mind (Guido even has him down for Corby), but I say give him time. As long as he promises not to wear his wedding ring on a necklace any more, but keep it firmly on his finger. It would help if his voice broke a bit, and if he avoided estuarial sporting cliches. But these are quibbles; he has a 2.1 in economics from Durham and is not ashamed to be a Conservative.

Sign him up!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Harry...... Remember George

Harry on the lash reminds me of the most famous story about George Best: the 5* hotel waiter, entering George's suite, and seeing George, the reigning Miss World and thousands of pounds of casino winnings, all tastefully arranged on a huge bed, simply asked: "George, where did it all go wrong?"

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Idle at the Games

Crikey that was exciting. In the presence of greatness, from the stands (Bolt and Blake; that incredible Masai 800m runner, David Rudisha), and shaking hands face to face (Sir Christopher Hoy, no less). In an Olympic Park which, though teeming with people of all nationalities, speaking in tongues and thronging, felt open and airy and well designed, with the best landscape gardening you'll ever see at a major stadium complex. It was wonderful, and if I might have been pouring a bit of cold water on the event in the lead-up years, I take it all back. Coe played a blinder and deserves his barony now, though he didn't before.

It helps if you are well quartered for these events; this is no time to be dossing down in the St Pancras YMCA or a single-star fleapit in Paddington. Our clubhouse for the event was a decent enough hotel on Trafalgar Square, made delightful by a brilliant rooftop bar, where (thank you, the meteorological fates), we drank to the early hours whilst being able to smoke like chimneys, in shirtsleeves and with a happy and well-lubricated group of clients. Corporate entertainment can be a frightful bore, but this was terrific. Lady Idle's  happy snaps follow:

Meeting the great man.....

.... smiling to Lady Idle's camera

The great cauldron

View from the hotel bar

The Admiral in his party hat

Wild flowers beside the Olympic Park walkways

Gloriana, berthed in the Olympic Park

Idle, too fat for competition, but comfortable for spectatating

Inside the bowl

The Bolt, seconds after another sprint gold