It’s The Way I Tell ‘EM

As an aficionado of the one-liner and the excruciating pun I bring you the top ten one-liners from this year’s Edinburgh Comedy Fringe. Enjoy!

  • 1. Stewart Francis – “You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks.”
  • 2. Tim Vine – “Last night me and my girlfriend watched three DVDs back to back. Luckily I was the one facing the telly. “
  • 3. Will Marsh – “I was raised as an only child, which really annoyed my sister.”
  • 4. Rob Beckett – “You know you’re working class when your TV is bigger than your book case.”
  • 5. Chris Turner – “I’m good friends with 25 letters of the alphabet… I don’t know Y.”
  • 6. Tim Vine – “I took part in the sun tanning Olympics – I just got Bronze.”
  • 7. George Ryegold – “Pornography is often frowned upon, but that’s only because I’m concentrating.”
  • 8. Stewart Francis – “I saw a documentary on how ships are kept together. Riveting!”
  • 9. Lou Sanders – “I waited an hour for my starter so I complained: ‘It’s not rocket salad.”
  • 10. Nish Kumar – “My mum’s so pessimistic, that if there was an Olympics for pessimism… she wouldn’t fancy her chances.”
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A Bit Of An Impression

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To the Royal Academy at lunchtime to see the rather curious “A Taste For Impressionism” exhibition (http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/from-paris-a-taste-for-impressionism/). Unlike most exhibitions which trace the development of an artist or a movement, the forming idea behind this collection was what some rich American geezer (Sterling Clark) bought from dealers in Paris, London and New York. The collection featured French works from the mid to late 19th century, including a group of 20 Renoirs. The curators gamely tried to make sense of what they had by arranging the pictures (loosely) by theme and within theme by chronological order. But it left each work marooned outside of the context of their own particular artist’s oeuvre and technical development. It was like being invited to view someone’s stamp collection – mildly interesting but with all the substance of a soufflé. There were some great pieces; it was well worth a look but it was a pretty lame organising idea. At least, I can cross the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts off my list of galleries to visit.

There Aren’t Half Some Clever Bastards – Part One

Thomas Malthus

On the train journey back from Sheffield yesterday I started thinking about the exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Anatomical Drawings I saw recently at the Queen’s Gallery (http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/exhibitions/leonardo-da-vinci-anatomist?_$ja=kw:%2bda%20%2bvinci%20%2banatomy|cgn:Leonardo+Da+Vinci+Anatomy_BMM|cgid:3927870788|tsid:5255|cn:Leonardo+Da+Vinci+Exhibition|cid:96471668|lid:30613026571|mt:Broad|nw:search|crid:14023613828&gclid=CLTT5sTm87ECFY8mtAodY2gAGg – well worth a visit if you are in the area) and what would have been the impact on the development on medical science if his drawings had entered into the public domain rather than been hidden out of sight for four centuries. The detail and understanding of how the body works is astonishing but it must have been a gruesome and gory process to achieve it.

Of course, medical knowledge and anatomical understanding didn’t really advance for two millennia, mired in religious dogma and over influenced by the theories of Gallen and Aristotle. At best, the medics made little difference to their patient’s welfare; at worst, they hastened their demise. Purgatives and regular bleedings were the order of the day – they say Britons shed more blood in peacetime than they did in times of war.

Nowadays, the balance has gone the other way and medical advances are such that for most problems there is a cure or at least a way to help the patient prolong their life. I can’t help thinking that the pendulum has swung too far and is now starting to provoke serious debate about what is more important, quality of life or longevity.

Taking a step back, the world we live in is finely balanced. In many environments we have seen the problems that can be caused by deliberately or inadvertently upsetting the ecological balance. We seem to think that we need to restore ecological balance amongst flora and fauna whilst at the same time cheerfully ignoring the serious damage we are causing to our own ecological environment.

The world’s population is now in excess of 7 billion. Medical science and charitable good works are extending people’s life expectancy and negating some of the effects of famines and epidemics. At the same time we have caused incalculable damage to the world’s climate which in turn is going to impact our ability to feed and sustain our booming population.

The drought, the worst in half a century, in America’s corn belt is the latest of a series of major climatic disaster which is going to have

a profound impact on the world’s economy. Wheat and corn prices have already soared by 40% and stocks of maize are already dangerously low. This comes at a time when demand for food is rising because of population growth and rising incomes in previously undeveloped countries. Meat consumption, for example, in China has quadrupled since 1978 and is now at 50kg a head compared with the per capita figure of 80kg inn Europe. It takes 7kg of maize to produce 1kg of beef and if Chinese consumption rates reach the current European levels, as they are predicted to do in 2030, the demand for food will double.

Food prices will inevitably rise and shortages will be more common. Poorer countries will be unable to afford to feed their population, with all the inevitable social unrest that that will cause. It is not a happy prospect.

It is timely then to remember my first clever bastard, Thomas Malthus (pictured). In his book, An Essay On The Principle of Population, first published in 1798, he warned that the power of population is infinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man and that sooner or later population would be checked by famine or disease.

Thomas, your time may have come.

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If you enjoyed this, why not try Fifty Clever Bastards by Martin Fone which is now available on Amazon in Kindle format and paperback. For details follow the link https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=fifty+clever+bastards

In Graham We Trust – Part Two

One down, forty five games to go, fifty points to find.

Unsurprisingly, TMS lost 1-0 away to a somewhat blunt Blades side. Conceding a sloppy early goal was always going to make it mission impossible but TMS had a spell towards the end of the first half when they could easily have scored. A lack of composure and too many long range innocuous shots proved to be their undoing. Still, some bright signs and Paul Parry looks as though he will be an influential player this term.

In Graham We Trust – Part One

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Tomorrow marks the start of the football season, my 48th following the Mighty Shrews (TMS). Last season’s triumphant campaign saw TMS gain automatic promotion to League One (Third Division in old money) as runners-up and return to this level after an absence of 15 seasons. The opener is away to Sheffield United, the bookies’ pre-season favourites for promotion. The Blades missed out on promotion last term following defeat to Huddersfield on penalties in the play-off final, their season falling apart after the jailing of top scorer, Ched Evans, for rape. It won’t come any harder than this but, as I always say, you’ve got to play them all at some time.

So what does the season hold in store for TMS? Following the close season diaspora of most of last season’s team, they are a bit of an unknown quantity. I think they are short of fire-power and the defence looks inexperienced. Realistically, TMS need to find four teams to finish above and get to 50 points as quickly as possible. Any more than that will be a bonus.

Our principal asset is the steady guidance, wisdom and experience of boss, Graham Turner (pictured). A manager since 1978 (only Sir Alex Ferguson has managed more games amongst the current incumbents of the 92 hot seats), he guided TMS to promotion 33 years after he last performed the feat. I am confident that with Board support and judicious use of the loan system, he will navigate us into safe waters.

The summer break is the best time for football supporters because reality does not interpose itself on blind faith. When the ref blows his whistle at 3 tomorrow, the bubble will be burst and we will know we are in for a long hard season.