Friday, 21 May 2010

manager transfers himself; the boateng brothers

Two intersting extracts from the Guardian Knowledge of 19 May, one a question and answer, the other a striking fact within a question:

"The banter took an interesting turn in the pub when one of my mates claimed that a player-manager at Carlisle once placed himself on the transfer list, then sold himself to another club. Can this possibly be true?" enquired Stephen Guilfoyle back in 2006.
While we would never advocate believing everything you hear down at your local, Stephen, on this occasion the banter is spot-on. Ivan Broadis, born in Poplar, east London in 1922, is the man at the centre of this tale, although, as John Briggs notes, "the Football League read his signature incorrectly and he was registered as Ivor, by which name his has been recognised ever since." Ivor's early playing career took in amateur appearances for Finchley, Northfleet, Finchley again, Tottenham, and Millwall, before he became the youngest player-manager ever at Carlisle - in 1946 - at the tender age of 23.
"Although his time as manager of the club could be regarded as being average, Broadis laid the foundations for the future, and when he left in January 1949 (replaced by one Bill Shankly), United were in a far healthier state than when he had taken over," explains the club. "Still registered as a player, he sold himself to Sunderland for £18,000 claiming that it was in the best interests of the club that he leave, providing Carlisle with suitable financial reimbursement for the transfer. The fans were not convinced, but accepted his move out of respect for the money it produced. Ivor is officially the first ever manager to transfer himself to another club."
Ivor's playing career took him on to Manchester City, Newcastle, back to Carlisle and finally Queen of the South, while he also accrued 14 caps for England and played in the 1954 World Cup finals. He hung up his boots in 1962, choosing to take up a career in journalism, reporting for the Carlisle Evening News and Star, and even for the Observer. And, according to Chris Little, "he can still be found swearing at bad copytakers at about 5.30pm on most Saturday afternoons in the Brunton Park press box."

Next week's Knowledge will be the first of our World Cup specials, so get your World Cup questions in. Here's a few to get us started:
"Kevin-Prince Boateng has opted to play for his father's country of Ghana, whilst his brother Jerome, has opted to play for his own country of birth, Germany," writes Lee Richardson. "With both teams drawn together in the same group this World Cup, and both players looking likely to selected for their relevant squads, there is a good possibility of two brothers playing against each other in an international. Has this ever happened before?"

mastermind specialist subjects

So how does one go about getting a specialist subject past the rigorous selection process of the Mastermind powers-that-be? Famous rejects have included 'Routes to Anywhere in Mainland Britain by Road from Letchworth', 'The Banana Industry' and 'Orthopaedic Bone Cement in Total Hip Replacement'.
'They have to be subjects that we can set questions on that are interesting and engaging to the viewers,' explains [series producer Jon] Kelly. We rule out things that we have done too recently and the subject has to be sufficiently dense that we can write enough questions.' He warns potential contenders that their subject mustn't be too broad either. 'One man wanted to do "The History of the World since Jesus Christ." We told him he'd better narrow it down. He came back with "The History of Europe since Jesus Christ". We realised then that he wasn't for us.'
- from an article on Mastermind in tomorrow's Radio Times

what kind of cheese...

What kind of cheese can get a bear down from a tree?
- Mark Ellen told this on this week's Word podcast

yes, shakespeare wrote shakespeare

Yes, Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare: Cypher wheels and snobbery: the strange story of how Shakespeare became separated from his works
- long and interesting Times Literary Supplement article, 21 April

'tim vine...

... is not appearing at this year's Edinburgh Festival.'

Famous poster from Edinburgh Festival 2006, which I was reminded of this morning listening to Frank Skinner podcast from last Saturday on which Tim Vine was the guest. Three Flickr images here. He'd seen the poster site the year before, booked it, then didn't do a show, but kept the poster space anyway.

officially old

My lovely wife and I are now both several years older than the chancellor of the exchequer (23 May 1971!). I'm still younger than the prime minister and deputy prime minister, though.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

goliath cartoon; dup poster

Cartoon from the current Private Eye. 'Book of the month' salesman at the very high door of a house, above which is inscribed 'Goliath of Gath'. In the doorway stands a woman who is saying, 'It would be a waste of time - my husband is such an enormous Philistine'.

From the previous issue - and here it is online, complete with the entertaining posters (don't know how much of Private Eye is accessible online now):
In Northern Ireland, the DUP ran into trouble after using freebie stock images from the website iStockphoto for its posters. Not only did the move spark complaints that it breached iStock’s policy that pictures cannot be used to suggest personal endorsement by the model, but it was easy for rivals to find more pictures from the very same photoshoot (simply captioned “cute female”) and produce spoof posters suggesting that Cute Female had switched her party allegiance without even changing her jacket.

nick clegg: my hero samuel beckett

Nick Clegg: My hero Samuel Beckett
- Guardian, 30 April

Since then I must have read Waiting for Godot – of course – a hundred times. Every time I go back to Beckett he seems more subversive, not less; his works make me feel more uncomfortable than they did before. The unsettling idea, most explicit in Godot, that life is habit – that it is all just a series of motions devoid of meaning – never gets any easier.
It's that willingness to question the things the rest of us take for granted that I admire most about Beckett; the courage to ask questions that are dangerous because, if the traditions and meanings we hold so dear turn out to be false, what do we do then?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

alan rickman flinches

In the film review section of this week's Radio Times, the 'did you know?' fact about Die Hard is 'Director John McTiernan had to cut away from villain Alan Rickman during gunfire, as he couldn't help flinching at the bangs'.

class in the beatles, and yoko

... another factor I hadn't fully considered arrives to further complicate the internal cocktail of The Beatles: class. Last year's publication of Philip Norman's John Lennon: The Life brought it home that within this quartet was a fragile class system all of its own. When the well-educated, middle-class Lennon, generously funded by his aunt and uncle, met the lower-middle-class McCartney and told his aunt they'd recruited the working-class Harrison and the genuinely impoverished Starr, she made it crystal clear that *he hadn't been brought up to hang around with boys like that*. It never fully registered, with me at least, that in a relationship originally forged from a shared love of Elvis and Little Richard, there must have been tense or envious times when the others considered Lennon intimidatingly informed and pretentious - or just spoilt and over-indulged.
To further disrupt this far-from-level playing field, you can apply the Yoko Ono theory that non-members of groups have an immense, often invisible, influence. I first became aware of her when I was 12, so Yoko deniers like myself grew up thinking she'd massively reduced the potential lifespan of the group. Her own perspective is, of course, precisely the opposite: John would have wanted to abandon the group anyway and only attended the sessions from '67 onward because she encouraged - and very often *accompanied* - him. There would have been no White Album, no Let It Be and no Abbey Road without her.
- Mark Ellen, Word, August 2009

Kate Bush's only tour

Kate Bush's only tour: pop concert or disappearing act?
On this day in 1979, Kate Bush completed the last date of her first tour. Although she had redefined what was possible in a gig, she never played another full show. What happened, asks Graeme Thomson
- Guardian, 13 May

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

the top five plagiarising musicians

Interesting article - with illustrative sound clips - from, 6 May. Led Zeppelin (naturally), The Black Eyed Peas, Metallica, Deep Purple, Andrew Lloyd Webber. 'Child in Time' in particular is startling.

giro the nazi dog

I'd heard about Giro the Nazi dog, buried in central London, before, but this article on has got a photo and clear directions to the headstone of the Nazi German Ambassador's dog:
'There was a German (Nazi) Embassy in London from 1936 to 1939 at 9 Carlton House Terrace. Albert Speer, the Nazi architect, was involved in the building's thorough renovation and the interior boasts a staircase made from Italian marble, which is said to have been donated by Mussolini. The Nazis had to leave when the war started and The Foreign Office used the building from 1939. They attempted to remove most of the swastikas but apparently there is a border design of swastikas on the floor of one public room. The building is now occupied by the Royal Society.
'Location: Waterloo Place / Outside 9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG. It did take me a while to find the tombstone as it's much smaller than normal, but you'll find it under the tree, at the top of the steps, close by the enormous statue of the Duke of York on a tall column. The tombstone is in a small space that was once the front garden of 9 Carlton House Terrace but is not directly in front of the building. It is the other side of the garage ramp.'

Monday, 10 May 2010

fp manse children in politics

The new Conservative MP for Brentford & Isleworth is Mary MacLeod, daughter of an FP manse. Being a son of an FP manse had quite a different effect on Alasdair Morrison, formerly Labour MSP for the Western Isles.

Here's an old John MacLeod article I came across about being children of the manse.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

real origin of 'early doors'

Q. There has been a discussion of the phrase "early doors" in the Daily Telegraph recently. One reader took it for granted that it originally referred to a drink at the pub as soon as it opened. Another said it referred to the selected few allowed in a theatre before the scrum at opening time. Neither explanation sounds right to me. Can you bring your knowledge to bear on this one? [Peter Morris]

A. Some background for non-Brits who haven't encountered this odd phrase would seem appropriate before we get into discussing where it came from. "Early doors" is a phrase particularly linked with football (soccer, that is). It means "early on":
We've got to make sure we don't concede, especially early doors, but I think it's definitely game on if we score first. [Sporting Life, 3 Jan. 2010.]
Why footballers, commentators and fans say "early doors", when "early" or "early on" would work just as well is probably due to
Big Ron, otherwise Ron Atkinson, a well-known television football commentator, a former player and manager now regarded as one of the characters of the sport. Like another commentator, David Coleman, he's famous for his accidental sayings in the heat of the moment ("He dribbles a lot and the opposition don't like it - you can see it all over their faces"). He's so closely associated with "early doors", almost as a catchphrase, that he's often been credited with inventing it. However, my memories of the phrase go back to Brian Clough, a rather more famous football manager, who is on record as using it in 1979.
The pub origin you mention is widely believed. In the days before liberalisation of hours, pubs would reopen for the evening at 5.30, just in time for a quick drink after work and before going home. An early-doors beer would be one grabbed as soon as possible after opening time. It's a neat idea, but it isn't true.
We've actually got to go back well over a century to find the true origin, to the other suggestion you've heard, about theatres. Then as now, a last-minute crush usually developed at the entrances just before the performance started, with the street outside crammed with vehicles. Show bills and advertisements commonly urged patrons to arrive early. Around the 1870s, the idea grew up of charging a small premium to members of the audience who were willing to arrive well ahead of the crowd and avoid the crush; in return, they were allowed to choose their own seats in unreserved areas - the pit and the gallery in particular. This could be a considerable advantage, as sightlines in those areas were often poor or interrupted by pillars. The earliest comment on the practice I've found is this:
It was with some degree of satisfaction that I welcomed a movement in the right direction adopted at most of our local theatres during the pantomime season - namely that of providing special entrances or early doors for the convenience of those who, wishing to avoid the crush, would willingly pay a small extra amount. [Liverpool Mercury, 24 Apr. 1877.]
The system continued into the twentieth century and became very well known:
The park-keeper eyed him; thought better of the bitter words he had contemplated; contented himself with: "Funny, ain't yer?" "Screaming," said George. "One long roar of mirth. Hundreds turned away nightly. Early doors threepence extra. Bring the wife." [Once Aboard The Lugger, by Arthur Stuart Menteth Hutchinson, 1908.]
It was recorded by G K Chesterton as a First World War battle cry by Tommies going over the top to attack the enemy ("If they had only heard those boys in France and Flanders who called out 'Early Doors!' themselves in a theatrical memory, as they went so early in their youth to break down the doors of death."). Theatres seem to have stopped the early-doors practice in the early 1920s. When J C Trewin wrote in the Illustrated London News in February 1956 about his memories of the practice half a century earlier, he was able to say that "'Early Doors' is an archaism."
What he couldn't have known was that somebody in the football world in the UK - identity now lost - later remembered the expression and reinvented it to refer figuratively to the early part of a game.
- World Wide Words email, 8 May

Friday, 7 May 2010

never use one syllable where none would do

A lot of the news-article-related links that I used to put here are now getting put onto this work-related blog of mine, London News. This article from the Guardian's Comment is Free section, belief section, dated 5 May, which compares Clegg and Attlee and what they said about their lack of faith in interviews, for example, is there. But I wanted to preserve this little quote from it here:

Attlee, as Peter Hennessey has observed, had the habit of reducing interviewers to near desperation by the brevity of his replies. Douglas Jay, who worked with him in No 10, once said that Clement "would never use one syllable where none would do."