Sunday, 27 September 2009

Where The Cheats Have No Shame.

Cor blimey, it seems there truly is nowhere that U2 front man Bono (real name Paul Hewson) won't venture these days in order to raise awareness of the terrible plight currently faced by third world Africa. Of course we know about his well publicised jaunts to places like No.10 Downing Street, the White House and even the United Nations, all in the name of gaining justice for the planets underprivileged nations; but imagine my surprise when, on a routine stock up at the local shop, I heard whispers that none other than Bono himself (real name Paul Hewson) was in attendance at the bowling club not five minuets walk away! Needless to say this I had to see.
Naturally I was more than a little sceptical on my way there, but sure enough, when I arrived at the outdoor venue I found a huge crowd jostling to get a better view of what was apparently some fantastic spectacle. Maybe one quarter of the slightly overrated Irish stadium rock giants really was here I thought. There was only one way to find out for sure though, so I started working my way carefully through the reverentially hushed mass of people, until finally coming to a stop behind a quite unfeasibly tall man whom I assumed was most likely to have the best view of whatever was going on. When I asked him what all the fuss was about, initially he just looked at me as if I had three heads, before finally asking if I was serious. I said I was, and so my freakishly tall chum was kind enough to briefly and quietly fill me in on the cause of all the obvious excitement. Seemingly that particular afternoon the green was playing host to an important men's semi final in the fifty-first annual Local Lawn Bowls championship. I had arrived during the tense second set of a grudge match between Terry 'Golden Bowls' McManus and Jack 'The Jack' Thatcher, who had a rivalry stretching back nearly as far as the early nineties.
Now intriguing as that sounded, it wasn't quite what I had come expecting to see, so feeling a little disappointed by such an anticlimax I reluctantly started back towards the exit. Ironically it was just as I was approaching the main gate to leave that my attention was caught by an loud, invasive cough followed by a definite murmur of discontent from the assembled bowls enthusiasts. I turned instinctively to see what the commotion was and that's when first laid eyes on the man sitting on the bench near the back; there, kitted out pretty much entirely in stylish rock 'n' roll leathers apart from a straw Stetson and trademark dark glasses, stroking his chin, concentration locked on the bowls – to my amazement – was renowned humanitarian Bono! (real name Paul Hewson.)
I did, in all honesty, feel a momentary rush of adrenaline and even fleetingly considered approaching him for a casual chat. As it turns out though I was glad I didn't, when – after three more unnecessarily distracting coughs, two ruthlessly precise loud sniffs and one mercilessly calculating, extraordinarily drawn out creak of leather trousers – it became shamefully clear that the globally celebrated rock star was blatantly attempting to sabotage the game plan of one Terry 'Golden Bowls' McManus! Of course the match officials were quick to act, taking immediate steps to have the offending observer removed. We all watched on with a mixture of sheer disbelief and excruciating embarrassment, as unexpectedly a clearly enraged Bono (real name Paul Hewson) suddenly erupted, struggling violently against the valiant attempts of three elderly stewards to forcibly eject him. He kicked his legs and flailed his arms wildly, all the time screaming at the top of his lungs about once giving his shades to Pope John Paul II, having George W Bush as part of his BT friends and family discount service and the time he beat Nelson Mandela in an arm wrestling competition. I don't mind telling you, it was a genuinely sorry sight. Finally he was awkwardly jostled out and the match was allowed to continue.
After what will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest (and most controversial) matches in the history of regional lawn bowls had concluded, I decided to round off what was a pleasant summer evening in the local pub. It was here I found the fallen Irish icon sitting alone in the corner, nursing the dregs of his third pint and looking thoroughly dejected. Taking a degree of pity on him, I decided to buy both he and myself fresh pints and join him. It was later that evening he rather drunkenly confessed to having an accumulator bet on the result of the match which would've been worth almost £250 had Jack 'The Jack' Thatcher triumphed. He did try to qualify his sporting skulduggery however, by assuring me that the winnings would've been going straight to Sir Bob Geldof either to use on aid for Africa...or at least decent haircut.
The night looked as if it may end on a positive note after all, when myself and said rocker decided to form a team for the pub quiz later that evening. It was going well too; that was until it came down to the crucial tie break and Bono (real name Paul Hewson) was asked to name any African capital for a crucial two points...and d'yknow he couldn't name one. Not one. Sad

Monday, 21 September 2009

Quack Addict

Look I’m no prude right. For the most part I believe that people should, within reason, be left to their own devices and allowed to do whatever they want with their respective lives. Having said that however, evidently there are some people out there who should just steer well clear of drugs. Don’t get me wrong, addiction is a terrible thing that destroys the lives of near enough everyone it touches, but for some reason that destruction seems all the more pitiful when it affects someone with a degree of talent. Y’know, something special, a bit of promise. I mean, it’s bad enough watching the systematic decline of someone like Amy Winehouse in the papers every day, but when you’ve personally witnessed drugs take their toll on a hitherto talented performer, that stays with you. Believe me.

A little under two decades ago now I went to a pantomime – Jack & The Beanstalk I think it was – and a few of us in the audience were lucky enough to be invited backstage to meet the stars after the show. Now anyone who is at all aware of Keith Harris & Orville, will no doubt know what giants they were in the field of light entertainment around that time and therefore understand why this was the kind of once in a life time opportunity you simply do not pass up. So I duly went behind the scenes where I met Keith Harris, on his own at first. I remember he seemed a amiable sort of a fellow and we had quite an interesting chat in which he explained the concept and basic principles of fondue, which I was unfamiliar with at that point in my life. Eventually Keith excused himself, saying he was going to chase up Orville and that he’d be back in a minute.

Longest minute of my life. I don’t mind telling you I was nervous. This was big moment for me. We all have our idols – my dad had Bob Dylan, his dad had Marlon Brando and his dad had…I dunno, someone from his era…Moses or somebody – it just so happened that for most of my very early years I chose to aspire to Orville Theduck. Sure enough when he returned he was accompanied by his showbiz partner. It’s true what they say you know, you should never meet your heroes.

We struck up conversation again and it was soon clear to even me, a mere child, that something was seriously wrong. For a start Theduck was quite obviously having to be physically propped up by Harris, clearly in such a state he was unable to stand of his own accord. Also, I’m no neat freak by any stretch of the imagination, but he was hardly what you would call presentable either. In fact, shocking as it may sound, he was topless and wearing nothing but a nappy. I’ve since learned of course that concern for their personal appearance is often the first thing to go when the lethargy of chemical abuse sets in. I’m sure that’s what it was. His eyes were glassy and vacant, his pupils were huge, almost taking up the whole eye and his eyelids drooped slightly in the manner of someone struggling stay conscious. He said very little. Admittedly Orville's persona was always famously timid but that particular day he seemed shy to the point of paranoia. An impression backed up by the fact that the only time his eyes did move it was to dart shiftily momentarily to the left and right. Harris must’ve known something was amiss too because on the rare occasions when his friend did speak it was usually childish nonsense and you could see Keith's lips almost moving like he wanted to interject but just couldn’t quite bring himself to do it. After about fifteen minutes Keith Harris graciously said his goodbyes and literally carried an almost catatonic Orville Theduck back to his dressing room.

Sad. A difficult lesson for a boy of that age to learn. I should say at this point that I also met Cuddles, who was clearly speeding off his face. He was hyperactive, abusive and borderline violent. Amphetamines I shouldn’t wonder. But Cuddles was an arse, y’know, you expected it of him, not Orville. Puts a whole new perspective on that song he used sing, eh? “I wish I could fly/high up in the sky/ but I can’t” We all thought it was a touching lament about the limitations of flightless birds. It really a cry for help relating to his inability to achieve the same high as at the start of his habit, as also tends to happen. Don’t hear much about Orville Theduck these days, do you? I only hope he’s somewhere getting the help he needs.