Wednesday 8 June 2011

The wrong trousers

In answer to a question I raised a few months ago about the accountability of the press, I note that new rules have now been imposed in France on that subject which may affect me personally. For instance, I am no longer allowed to say ‘follow me’ on Facebook or Twitter, as this would be seen to be advertising. Also if you do follow me on Facebook (andy frazier) or Twitter (andy_the_author) I may just have to be responsible for the accuracy of my rantings, particularly if they were insulting in any way (which they are not, of course!). For those older readers, this means I may be imposed with a “super-injunction” were I to mention on the internet, say, that I happen to think that Princess Eugene’s wedding-hat was just an attention-seeking stunt or that Graham Norton is an annoying little twerp (which I wont, of course, despite both these statements being true.) On receipt of this super-injunction, I would then be able to appeal and leak contents of my insults to the press in order to gain free publicity for my latest novel while hiding in a sort of Salman Rushdie fashion on the tabloid front pages. My point here is that all this nonsense about idiots like Ryan Giggs are surely just a publicity stunt and it is as certain as a homing pigeon that both he and whatever bimbo he has been sleeping with will soon release a new book each by the time this column goes to press. It will then catapult to the top of the best-seller list and they will waltz away with a bucket load of cash, grinning from ear to ear. Do they really think we are that stupid? Well, yes they do because many of us are.
Wendy and I have been on our travels again last month, taking in the capital cities for various reasons. A visit to Cardiff found it full of Irish rugby supporters and some great craic, prior to a superb European cup final. We then progressed to Dublin to rub shoulders with the most powerful man in the world. No, not Simon Cowell, I am talking about none other than President Barack Obama. We were completely taken by surprise when Air Force One just happened to land about 10 minutes after us and we managed to escape from the airport before it was ringed in a security fence as the world’s first black president set foot on Irish soil. After claiming his roots in some small but highly publicised village nearby, he then drank the statutory pint of Guinness for the cameras before parading around the town kissing babies. I have to say it was all most inconvenient as roads were closed and public transport brought into chaos while we tried to reach our own destination, a mere Pink Floyd concert at the O2 arena. But the biggest insult of all was that a pair of talentless twits by the name of ‘Jedward’ were, for some reason, invited to ‘perform’ at a free concert in front of the Obama’s. Whatever must they have thought as these two numpties jumped around and mimed to songs, with their stupid hair, in the name of entertainment. The presidential visit may well have done some good for US-Irish relations but these two morons will have surely set Ireland’s (and Dublin’s in particular) musical reputation back 50 years. They have to be the worst thing to come out of Ireland since Gilbert O’Sullavan, or possibly the Guilford Four?
Our travels continued into Scotland, this time to Glasgow. A fine city and, despite it being colder than our fridge, we enjoyed a social gathering in the first of a series of fiftieth birthday parties that we are due to attend this year, (my own among them). Whilst visiting a local corner shop on Sauchiehall Street, one of those ridiculous situations arose that could only be scripted by the Two Ronnies. On ordering a bacon roll, the Pakistani shopkeeper asked me a question which, after three times of me requesting her to repeat, I still failed to understand as her Indian accent was so strong. Eventually, a local builder behind me in the queue translated it into Glaswegian for me but I failed to understand him either. He then repeated it to Wendy who translated it into English. Did I want red or brown sauce? Le rouge s’il vous plait, Madame, I replied in French!
            Hands up if you have tickets for the 2012 Olympics? Really? It seems that nearly half the applicants have failed as there were not enough tickets to go round. Well here is my take on that? Cheapest ticket, £190 to watch one of the early rounds of the show jumping? From £450 up to £1450 to watch the athletics finals? From a seat so far up in the stands that you wouldn’t be able to distinguish Asafa Powell from Enoch Powell? Do people really pay these prices? You would be far better watching it on TV and spending your money on a ticket to see Princess Kate’s wedding dress for a mere £17.50 per sniff!
I am not sure why but I never seem to manage to wear the right clothing at the right time. Anyone who knows me will concur that I am not exactly a fashion guru but I am not referring to style here, more to practicality. I often step off the plane in Birmingham to 50mph crosswinds without a coat, or into 26 degrees wearing two. I turned up at Hay book festival last week wearing a jacket and shoes to sweltering heat which required my panama hat, which I had left in France. So this week when I arrived back at Bergerac airport I was, for once, relieved that I had done it again; worn a thin t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, only to be greeted with rain coming down in stair-rods. Regular readers of this column will recall that here in South West France we have been officially in a drought for months and hopefully this recent rain will bring it to an end. It may be too late for some crops as many of the sunflowers failed to germinate and maize crops are stunted. My farming brother in Rock tells me that the UK price of wheat has risen by £8 per ton due to the failed wheat harvest here in France, but at least the place is becoming green again. So now I must go and mow the lawn.

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