Three completely unrelated things

Wooden thing

It has become apparent today that a team composed nominally of Englishmen are statistically better than every other geographically-bounded popular ball sport team on the planet. And there was much rejoicing. Actually I’ve bloody enjoyed every second of the Indian test series, in part due to the exciting on-field action but largely due to the eager sense that Geoff Boycott is going to say something a little bit racist. It’s the verbal equivalent of Formula 1; 99% of the audience are only tuning in because they know there’s going to be a serious crash. Except obviously replace the twisted metal with jingoistic opinions delivered angrily in a frothing Yorkshire burr…

As an Englishman and longtime follower of all things English and crickety I can’t help feeling a wave of trepidation at this new-found and now official success. I grew up when Andrew Caddick was our most feared bowler and the mere mention of Glenn McGrath had most of us in cold sweats. So ingrained was I in English sporting failure that when a tree came down in a storm outside the house one night I heard the splintering timber and instinctively got up, tucked my pillow under my arm and made solemnly for the wardrobe.

Seeing the current crop slouching around the outfield and battering every opponent  standing is great, but it’s just not how it should be. Where’s the fun in watching English sporting teams if you can’t watch them to this music?

Fighty thing

It has become apparent today that people have become notionally interested in Libya once more, now that the chaotic groundwar has reached the gates of moose-faced ‘leader’ Muammar Gaddafi. The general consensus is that this is undoubtedly a positive thing, and whilst a leprous rabbit would be a preferable leader to the outgoing head of state the important question almost nobody is asking right now is “Who the hell is taking over?”

Colonel Gaddafi is thought to be hiding in an old Simpsons episode

“Jeff, weren’t you supposed to be doing the background checks on these people?…Where? V?…Look Jeff, I don’t care how inspiring Rihanna was, you’re still fired.”

Or something like that. There has been a sum total of one commentator on one news channel saying anything on the lines of “Just a sec…”, but it’s ok because if you look on Wikipedia it says that the rebels are “composed primarily of civilians, such as teachers, students, lawyers, and oil workers, and a contingent of professional soldiers that defected from the Libyan Army and joined the rebels.”

Which sounds a bit unrealistic if you ask me. Either that or they include some serious combat training at law school these days.

It’ll all be fine. Probably.

Burny thing

It has become apparent today that Richard Branson’s house has notionally burnt down. Correction, one of his houses has burnt down. Totally. As well as the obvious sympathy that you can’t help but feel, the incident leaves me with two overriding thoughts. First, celebrity fires are much cooler than normal house fires. No chip pan fire in a council flat here. No, no, this house was set on fire by lightning. From a hurricane. And no family of four making there way from the burning building; this time there were 20 people. One of them was 90, and another one was Kate Winslet. This will be a film by the end of the year, mark my words.

Second, it has become apparent today that Richard Branson may notionally be a bit of a knob. For one thing, the house which burnt down was called the Great House. Without any irony or anything. And when questioned about the unfortunate occurrence, Branson said “It’s very much the Dunkirk Spirit here. We want to rebuild the house as soon as we can.”

I’m sure the people who risked life and limb to save thousands of lives in terrible danger and against unfathomable odds would be glad that you share their noble dedication as you rebuild your luxury mansion on your massive private tropical island, Richard.

Arse.

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“Power to the people! Ah, crap…

…I forgot, that leads to the bad things.”

And so it came to pass, that on a typical English summer day (there’s a genuine monsoon going on outside) the leaders of the people decreed that they, the elected dictatorship, would take heed of the voice of the people on any issue it deigned important.

The people were overjoyed, and they replied in a loud, clear voice: “BRING BACK HANGING.”

And the government didst ponder said request and declared: “Bollocks.”

“Whose idea was this? Jeff, was this your work again? I think you and I need to talk about your progress.”

People power. Not always a good thing.

On paper this type of idea isn’t bad; if a petition gets 100,000 signatures online then it gets a chance of being debated in the Commons. Simple. 100,000 people can’t be wrong, right? Well not exactly. For a start, 100,000 is a really, really low number as a percentage of the voting population. My A-level maths suggests that of ~45,000,000 eligible voters in the UK, 100,000 people represent roughly 0.2%, or 1 in 500 people.

1 in 500 isn’t a lot of people. Most of us probably wouldn’t claim to know 500 people, but most of us would claim to know more than one person who falls into one or more of the following categories: 1) Batshit crazy 2) Wildly ill-informed 3) Easily misled 4) Just a bit of a twat.

I fall into at least two of these categories.

So we’re going to get some seriously questionable stuff debated and possibly brought into law if this takes off. Indeed, the petition to ‘Restore Capital Punishment’ has garnered some 850 votes at time of writing, even with the site being overwhelmed and offering the ominous message: “There is currently a much higher level of demand than we expected.”

“Jeff! I’m going to hang you when this shit gets voted back in.”

Thankfully, the three pro-death penalty petitions in the top 20 are being dwarfed by the number 1 anti-death penalty petition, the snappily titled ‘Petition to retain the ban on Capital Punishment’. Although it does seem that the anti-death gang might not have thought this through. If 100,000 people sign this petition, surely the Commons will have to debate whether to retain the ban or not, which is exactly the same as debating whether to restore capital punishment or not, isn’t it?

Should be interesting to see what this system produces, though. My personal feeling is that this will be filed under the ‘hilarious waste of time’ section of history, but at the moment there are a few interesting ones kicking about. Legalise cannabis is doing surprisingly well given that most of its proponents are probably still in bed, decriminalise recreational drugs likewise, although that’s probably just one guy on speed voting over and over again. Then there are a couple of rabid ones, including ‘Make Prison Mean Prison – Bread and water and that’s it’, presumably dreamt up by the same intellectual titan who also expresses a fondness for short lengths of rope.

My favourite is a petition which is simply called ‘resign’, aimed at the PM. Couldn’t even be arsed with a capital R. ‘resign’. Inspired.

Anyways, before this e-petition thing turns into a Daily Mail wet dream and we’re throttling anyone who looks vaguely foreign, I say we have some fun with this and make our own petitions. Make them watertight so they can’t be rejected out of hand, then see where we go.

Here are my initial efforts, which are basically just excuses to get funny videos into this post.

1) Petition to make this man head of the Church of England

2) Petition to make this a compulsory sport in schools

3) Petition to find this person and make him/her official God of Champions (working title)

I feel better can be done. I want it to involve bears in some way. Thinking caps people.

P.S. I’ve been travelling! And when I get hold of the photos I’ll be writing stuff about it. So, if you’ve ever wondered:

– What is the most prevalent haircut in Berlin?

– Why shouldn’t you build a large interational train station in the middle of a fucking wooded park?

– Where is the most comfortable place to sleep in Turin station which still affords you decent protection from mentalists?

Then watch this space. Until then you’re just going to have to stay on those tenterhooks!