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Friday, November 21, 2003
Winter quarters

The lady has departed for Positano. Meanwhile I amuse myself waiting for Marty, my personal pilot to finish testing the Blackbird SR-71. You would not believe the amount of documentation he has to get through. Apologies to people disturbed by the noise of flight-testing - I'll bet you thought that, with the demise of Concorde, there'd be a lot more peace in the air...

Once more, I'm off to Australia for the winter but I am quite dreading the occasion. When we win the rugby union world cup final: the 'sledging' from the Aussies'll be insufferable (I can hear the cries of 'Cheats', already). Should we by some mischance lose, it'll be just as bad: 'no good poms', and the rest of it. Here's a refined example of bad-mouthing that claims it isn't. Still, whatever happens perhaps I'll mollify them by asking, with a serious attempt to be unironic, for an introduction to Aussie Rules football. If you think cricket and rugby are crazy games, try getting to grips with Aussie Rules...

My visit also comes at a time when the status of Australian in the World seems to be in decline. I recently had to fill in some forms; it wasn't for the Friday Five. There was a section on languages spoken; one could tick things like 'English', 'French', 'Spanish', and many others. Then, there was a space for 'Others' so I added 'Latin' and 'Strine'. When I checked the document on-line, I found that neither of my 'other' entries had been included. I can understand their omitting Latin - a dead language, useful only to regressive and increasingly irrelevant fossils in the Vatican. However, to fail to register Strine indicates that this vibrant language, with all its subtlety ('Death to Jonny') is probably in decline. I shall endeavour to assist in its resuscitaion while down-under.

This will be the SR-71's last outing. Jeremy Clarkson's endorsement of this fine aircraft makes it no longer possible for me to have any pride in ownership. It's the same thing seeing all those coarse footballers and comedians with Ferraris and Rolls Royces: the association is a big turn-off. So, Jeremy, do you want a low mileage SR-71? I know you haven't got one, Christmas is coming, and I'll ask a fair price; I've got an up-to-date Glass's Guide To Exotic Miliitary Aircraft...

The much-unloved Jeremy was on Desert Island Discs, this morning, trying to persuade us what a sensitive lad he really is. Coincidentally, I had earlier been looking at some of his road tests of interesting cars. The articles I looked at were at least 50% unrelated to the car in question. He clearly writes under false pretences. Look up your favourite car here to see what I mean. In the piece on the Mazda RX-8, for example, you will find lots about his hair, picking up his children (poor brats) from school and, of course, his prejudices about women. A sensitive soul indeed.

Now where were we? Ah yes: I'm off to Melbourne in just over a week. Well, someone's got to do it; someone's got to tell the Aussies that, just because we wipe the floor with them at rugby, we still rather like their country, even though it's full of deserts, flies and bloody miles from anywhere.

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