Monday, June 30, 2008
Kitty O'Neill Collins
Answers in a comment, please, if you know.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
III. Judging Distances
Not only how far away, but the way that you say it
Is very important. Perhaps you may never get
The knack of judging a distance, but at least you know
How to report on a landscape: the central sector,
The right of the arc and that, which we had last Tuesday,
And at least you know,
That maps are of time, not place, so far as the army
Happens to be concerned - the reason being,
Is one which need not delay us. Again, you know
There are three kinds of tree, three only, the fir and the poplar,
And those which have bushy tops to; and lastly,
That things only seem to be things.
A barn is not called a barn, to put it more plainly,
Or a field in the distance, where sheep may be safely grazing.
You must never be over-sure. You must say, when reporting:
At five o'clock in the central sector is a dozen
Of what appear to be animals; whatever you do,
Don't call the bleeders sheep.
I am sure that's quite clear; and suppose, for the sake of example,
The one at the end, asleep, endeavours to tell us
What he sees over there to the west, and how far away,
After first having come to attention. There to the west,
In the fields of the summer sun the shadows bestow
Vestments of purple and gold.
The white dwellings are like a mirage in the heat,
And under the swaying elms a man and a woman
Lie gently together. Which is, perhaps, only to say
That there is a row of houses to the left of the arc,
And that under some poplars a pair of what appear to be humans
Appear to be loving.
Well that, for an answer, is what we rightly call
Moderately satisfactory only, the reason being,
Is that two things have been omitted, and those are very important.
The human beings, now: in what direction are they,
And how far away, would you say? And do not forget
There may be dead ground in between.
There may be dead ground in between; and I may not have got
The knack of judging a distance; I will only venture
A guess that perhaps between me and the apparent lovers
(Who, incidentally, appear by now to have finished),
At seven o'clock from the houses, is roughly a distance
Of about one year and a half.
Henry Reed (1914-1986)
And NO, you may not film it.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
This, I think, is the best collection of highlights I could find (although this one - with mostly similar footage, but mostly rather less good picture quality - does seem to have more of his divine dribbling).
Yes, there is a cheeky cartoon of a coked-up Maradona at the end of it. It's rather unfortunate how many of the comment-threads on these YouTube football compilations degenerate into ugly name-calling between supporters of Maradona and Pelé (though it is, I rather think, quite telling that the ugliest of it seems to come from the Maradona camp). For me, there's just no comparison. There's no denying that Maradona was a prodigiously talented player, but.... well, I think Pelé could do everything that Maradona could do, and a bit more besides (a better header of the ball, a more powerful shot, and, crucially, a much more even temperament). However you might rate their record of achievement on the pitch, there's no question that Pelé's wider influence on the game has been far more. Not just his ability, but the spirit in which he played the game have been an inspiration to millions all around the world. 99% of the time, he played with a smile on his face; whereas Diego always wore a scowl, or a sulky pout. And if we do look at the record on the pitch, well, the statistics of Pelé's career are just flabbergasting, unparalleled. He played competitive football from the time he was 11 or 12 until just shy of his 37th birthday; he averaged over 50 games a year throughout that period (injuries notwithstanding); he averaged very nearly a goal a game (at both international and club level). A goal every game! Astonishing! That record will stand for all time: no-one is ever going to come close to it.
Yet, what I love most about Pelé is that he is celebrated as much for the goals he didn't score as for those he did - particularly some of those magical moments from his international swan-song in the 1970 World Cup: against Czechoslovakia, attempting to lob the goalkeeper from 5 yards inside his own half, and getting the length absolutely perfect but having the shot drift just inches wide of the post; against Chile, putting a shot against the foot of the post, but being alert enough - and cool enough - to track the rebound right across the face of the goal, catch up with it on the far side, and calmly back-heel to a team-mate to slot home the finish; against England, making a huge leap to power a perfect header toward the foot of the far post, only for Gordon Banks bring off an unbelievable reaction save; and then, in the semi-final, improvising that sublime dummy around the Uruguayan keeper, but then shooting from a difficult angle and seeing the ball scrape off the outside of the far post. All this and more (including all the goals from the fantastic final against the Italians) in this tribute to the 1970 Brazil side below.
Pelé spent the tail-end of his career promoting the game in the USA, with a three-year stint at the all-star New York Cosmos team in the mid-70s. There is one goal in particular that I recall from that period (shown on the Saturday afternoon worldwide sports roundup on the BBC's Grandstand show): Pelé picked the ball up near the half-way line and cantered forward, almost unopposed; he played a slick one-two (with Beckenbauer, I think - Pelé and Beckenbauer in the same team! Fantasy football indeed!), and then chipped the keeper from the edge of the box - on the run, with the outside of his right foot. Just exquisite. He made everything look so easy. I'm afraid I couldn't find that goal on YouTube, but here's a selection of other great moments from his time with the Cosmos.
I think Pelé was the first black man I was ever aware of - and I absolutely adored him. (The second was Louis Armstrong. And the third was Muhammad Ali. I grew up convinced of the innate superiority of coloured people!)
Don't forget - my EURO 2004 comment-thread is still open for business.
I briefly fantasised about catching this cigarette-end on my shoe, juggling it from foot to foot for a moment, and then volleying it crisply back into his face. "Oh, sorry, mate. Didn't see you there!" (The Chinese, we note, don't even apologise. And the irony would be lost on them.)
But....... again and again I find the Chinese to be almost solipsistic in their lack of awareness of or concern for anybody else around them. I find this very, very depressing. I think I'd find it depressing even if I weren't so damned depressed already.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Neither sleeping nor waking,
The city at dawn.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Interviewer: So, why are you studying English?
Candidate: I want to be a cunt.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Of course, I'm peeved that I wasn't invited to be a keynote speaker......
Monday, June 23, 2008
To whom can I cry over this disaster,
The President calls out to me and the Prime Minister cares for me,
The voices of the Party's love and the nation's compassion spread into the debris.
To have one billion people crying together for me,
Even becoming a ghost is lucky enough.
The tanks are like silver eagles saving the children,
On the left are the army uncles, and on the right are the police aunties.
Love from the whole nation, to have it is worth dying.
My only wish is to have a TV screen in front of my grave,
To watch the Olympics and to cheer with the others.
Roger C. Anderson
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Rather as with my earlier (marionette!) crush, Penny Creighton-Ward, Mrs Peel was an unlikely superspy: highly intelligent, independent, and resourceful, adept with firearms and in unarmed combat, cool under pressure - and a stylish dresser (oh my god, those catsuits!). Ah yes, and the casual hauteur, that 'unattainability' thing - a dangerous quality for a boy to get addicted to!
Friday, June 20, 2008
Beware, Chinese leaders - fictional supervillains always seek to alter the weather; and it always ends badly for them.
Choking air stifles the soul:
Thursday, June 19, 2008
This week The Chairman and I are being visited by one of our erstwhile colleagues (one of those who endured the horrors of the Evil Bastard Employers with us in our first year, and is thus forever bonded with us through a kind of brothers-in-arms combat camaraderie) - sometime artist, formidable (if erratic) pool player, and irrepressible Manc git, "Mad Mike".
Mike and his mate James have recently made their contribution to the Sopranos tribute oeuvre, shot around Liverpool and Birkenhead where they now live ('New Jersey on the Mersey'). Check it out.
Also well worth checking is this Mad TV parody, showing what The Sopranos would be like if it were shown on network television (witha terrific James Gandolfini impression from Will Sasso).
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I make as many allowances as I can. Some people are just very BAD at responding to text messages. Sometimes (not often, I think - not nearly so often as a few years ago) text messages here simply get lost in transmission, dropped from an overburdened network. But it is particularly dispiriting when 4 separate people - most of whom I'd attempted to contact about this more than once - all completely ignore you.
What is wrong with people these days? This kind of behaviour seems to be becoming more and more common. It's crass, it's unnecessary, it's DUMB. It's self-centred, it's inconsiderate, it's RUDE.
Monday, June 16, 2008
And I'm still waiting for my t-shirt, MR.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
[This could also be a short-term (though higher rent!) holiday let, I suppose, for anyone wanting to come here for the Olympics - although I'd rather concentrate on letting my own place for that first!]
II. Unarmed Combat
In due course, of course you will all be issued with
Your proper issue; but until tomorrow,
You can hardly be said to need it; and until that time,
We shall have unarmed combat. I shall teach you
The various holds and rolls and throws and breakfalls
Which you may sometimes meet.
And the various holds and rolls and throws and breakfalls
Do not depend on any sort of weapon,
But only on what I might coin a phrase and call
The ever-important question of human balance,
And the ever-important need to be in a strong
Position at the start.
There are many kinds of weakness about the body,
Where you would least expect, like the ball of the foot.
But the various holds and rolls and throws and breakfalls
Will always come in useful. And never be frightened
To tackle from behind: it may not be clean to do so,
But this is global war.
So give them all you have, and always give them
As good as you get; it will always get you somewhere.
(You may not know it, but you can tie a Jerry
Up without rope; it is one of the things I shall teach.)
Nothing will matter if only you are ready for him.
The readiness is all.
The readiness is all. How can I help but feel
I have been here before? But somehow then,
I was the tied-up one. How to get out
Was always then my problem. And even if I had
A piece of rope I was always the sort of person
Who threw rope aside.
And in my time I had given them all I had,
Which was never as good as I got, and it got me nowhere.
And the various holds and rolls and throws and breakfalls
Somehow or other I always seemed to put
In the wrong place. And, as for war, my wars
Were global from the start.
Perhaps I was never in a strong position.
Or the ball of my foot got hurt, or I had some weakness
Where I had least expected. But I think I see your point.
While awaiting a proper issue, we must learn the lesson
Of the ever-important question of human balance.
It is courage that counts.
Things may be the same again; and we must fight
Not in the hope of winning but rather of keeping
Something alive: so that when we meet our end,
It may be said that we tackled wherever we could,
That battle-fit we lived, and though defeated,
Not without glory fought.
Henry Reed (1914-1986)
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
But more imagination:
The beautiful game!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Animation - The Lady & The Tramp
Fantasy - Brazil
Science Fiction - BladeRunner
Gangster - The Godfather
Western - Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid
Sports - Sea Biscuit (a tough category, this; I recently saw a basketball film called Glory Road which would also be a strong contender)
Romantic Comedy - Ninotchka
Courtroom Drama - Inherit The Wind
Mystery - Strangers On A Train (although I'd probably take the original Dutch version of The Vanishing in preference even to this, if we weren't confined to 'American' choices)
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Favourite Posts, January-March 2008
4) Chinese people LOVE me! (14) - January 11th
5) Rich and strange - 16th January
6) Belly rumbles, belly laughs - 18th January
7) Wanderlust - 20th January
8) I WANT this book! - 21st January
9) Chinese people LOVE me! (15) - 24th January
10) A bon mot double whammy - 28th January
12) It's a funny old world - 29th January
13) An 'It's that time of year again' haiku - 1st February
14) Self-destructive tendencies - 8th February
15) The wonder of YouTube - 10th February
16) More 'meme' madness - 12th February
17) 10,000 Maniacs - 13th February
18) A romantic(?) haiku - 15th February
19) Mao The Mischievous - 15th February
20) Another double bon mot - 18th February
21) More Chinglish highlights (illustrated!) - 23rd February
22) In search of El Dorado - 25th February
23) Doing The Lantern Festival right - 28th February
24) A bon mot on 'art' - 3rd March
25) Roll call - 8th March
26) Because it doesn't get you anywhere... (Why I don't learn Chinese ) - 12th March
27) Top overseas consultant to the Beijing Olympics - revealed! - 12th March
28) My Fantasy Girlfriend - Elizabeth Russell - 15th March
29) Inverted commas - the Chinese propaganda machine's deadliest weapon - 17th March
30) Don't sling mud - 20th March
31) Un-banned! - 24th March
32) I just wish they'd make their f***ing minds up! - 30th March