1920s slang

I’m just going to get on the ameche and tell my blue serge I love her. She’s in the hen coop at the moment so I may as well kick the gong around. Nerts! This is wonderful.

41. Jack: another name for money. (Other words for money: “rubes,” “kale,” “mazuma.”)

42. Johnson Brother: a criminal.

43. Kick the Gong Around: to smoke opium.

44. Knee-Duster: a skirt.

45. Lalapazaza: a good sport.

46. Lens Louise: the person who steamrolls the conversation.

47. Meat Wagon: an ambulance.

48. Middle Aisle: to get married. Example: “I’m going down the middle aisle.”

49. Mustard Plaster: someone who isn’t wanted but won’t leave.

50. “Nerts!”: “That’s awesome!”

KP too good for dreary, old-fashioned England

So the fallout of England’s winter continues unabated. Prepare yourselves for the mother of all introspection.

I just read the following on Twitter:


There’s only so much room and dispensation for mavericks. Well, I don’t know who Steve Booth is, but it’s fair to assume he’s probably British and supports the England cricket team, and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that his view is shared by many England sport fans. And if we learn nothing from the bleach-clean of this England team in the last few weeks, you would hope that the treatment of Kevin Pietersen is one lesson we may in future look back on with regret and a turning point in the attitudes towards our sportsmen.

What’s wrong with having a maverick?

Steve Booth is wrong – all the best teams in the world have had mavericks, and often relied upon them. West Indies: Lara, Richards, Gayle and others. Australia: Warne, of course. India: Ganguly perhaps. Pakistan: where do we start? And what about Sri Lanka? Muttiah Muralitharan, maverick arm himself. What about football? Was Pele a maverick? How about Campese for Australian rugby, or Jonah Lomu?

And yes, of course they are more likely to unsettle an established team. They might be born with fractionally better eyes, faster reactions, bigger muscles or a desire to succeed and win which outstrips their peers, but in nearly all cases they train and prepare incredibly hard, not a trait you associate with these so-called geniuses. And to reach that level of commitment requires the hardest of noses, the most stubborn of chins and a bloodymindedness likely to rile even the most zen of managers and captains. So, how exactly are these managers and captains managing and captaining?

What Steve’s comments show is that it is England who can’t cope with mavericks. As a country we still can’t hug and celebrate our winners in the same way other nations can and do. To most people’s astonishment, particularly our own, Great Britain took home a stash of gold at the London Olympics and the nation unshackled its chastity belt to experience an orgasm of celebration. That was unprecedented. England won the 2003 Rugby World Cup then quickly sank back down to its knees, only occasionally stumbling on to its haunches. England winning the Ashes in 2005 was another rare event, the rarest of its type given how closely fought that series was, but the following series confirmed England wasn’t ready to take on the world. Several players fell by the wayside through injury, so we can’t blame the nation’s psyche entirely of course. But it’s further evidence of a country far more comfortable appreciating the rich light of a winter’s afternoon than bask in summer’s victorious glare.

Pietersen needs attention and the warmth of adulation in a way few English cricketers, or fans, can get their heads around. This isn’t to diminish other players’ guts, determination or desire to succeed; for them, contributing to the team may mean just as much (or in some cases more) than dominating an entire series with two swashbuckling, daring innings. But England have been too inflexible, conformist, conservative and rigidly uninventive to accommodate a man willing to forsake the country of his birth in order to show the world his true talents. You only need look at the funereal approach to entertaining its fans in the last two or three seasons to know that those in charge were terrified of anything, anyone, threatening risk.

And what’s worse is that this move smacks of the ECB attempting, rather pathetically, to make a bold statement. “It’s time for a change. Time to clear the decks and start afresh.” Does that include dumping your best player, your prized asset – in fact, the only asset that competing teams are scared of? Oh, right. You really do have no idea how to manage different characters.

Pietersen came into the side a showman, a grinning entertainer bereft of insecurities, bereft too of political nous and gravitas, but too gloriously naive to realise his adopted country required it of him. He departed without so much an ovation, though the applause by his fans will ring loud in the ears of the ECB for years until England finds a cricketer with Pietersen’s skill and Andrew Strauss’s sober diplomacy. I suggest such a beast doesn’t exist, and for that we should be thankful.

Pietersen dropped – for the final time?

KP gone, never forgotten

That, surely, is it for Kevin Pietersen’s involvement with England. He’s been overlooked (or whatever is the consolatory phrase for someone who has been thrown out with the rubbish, probably prematurely). Binned. Dumped. Jettisoned. For the better? Well, I don’t think anybody will agree that it’s for England’s short-term good that he has been dropped but, perhaps – just perhaps – this signals the first significant moment of leadership for the new management team. And yes, I can’t believe I just wrote “management team” in the context of cricket, but such is the changing world and all that.

I wonder if he and Flower will be sharing a pint. A pint of bitter, no doubt.

With the announcement of England’s World Twenty20 squad expected on Thursday, the ECB took the unprecedented step of holding “policy meetings” solely to discuss the eligibility of one player: Pietersen. He spent the day of his sacking giving a class on spin bowling to his Surrey team-mates at The Oval.

“Clearly this was a tough decision because Kevin has been such an outstanding player for England as the fact that he is the country’s leading run scorer in international cricket demonstrates,” Downton said.

“However everyone was aware that there was a need to begin the long term planning after the Australia tour. Therefore we have decided the time is right to look to the future and start to rebuild not only the team but also team ethic and philosophy.

“England cricket owes a debt of gratitude to Kevin who has proved to be one of the most talented and exciting players to ever represent the country and his 13,797 runs are a testimony to his immense skill. This decision brings some clarity now for the future of the England teams and we all wish Kevin the very best in the rest of his career.” The new of England apparently forcibly retiring one of their most experienced players comes less than a week after Andy Flower stepped down as team director and follows the retirement of Graeme Swann during the disastrous Ashes tour.

A career that spanned 104 Tests and more than 150 limited-overs appearances over nine years, during which time Pietersen became England’s leading run-scorer in international cricket yet constantly divided opinion, may now be at an end, little more than a year after his successful “reintegration” to the team on the tour of India.

Waves “as high as houses” in Devon

Wow. Torcross is generally sheltered inside Start Bay (map), but this morning it’s been absolutely pummelled by the sea. Here’s a video from the Start Bay Inn.

Another on YouTube

Before-and-after photos from childhood

Nice idea, this: grown-ups reenacting old photos:


Money madness

Things I learned this week:

At $51m the Sochi Olympics is the most expensive ever.

Apple’s revenue for the last quarter exceeded Luxembourg’s annual GDP. Annual!

This is bonkers. What the hell is Apple going to do with all that sloshing dosh? Just sitting there making minor, underwhelming improvements to iPhones and iPads?

NFL and other American acronyms

Just read a passionate piece from John Stern on the NFL. Ah – now, no sooner have I finished that sentence than I’m already feeling uncomfortable over its accuracy: is it NFL, or the NFL?

See, this is my ignorance and my own shame, made all the more acute given I work for the American sport colossus, ESPN. I really know nothing of any note about American sports and, what’s worse, my indifference towards it has morphed to dislike and dismissiveness. It’s not that I don’t appreciate its skill; what little I know of it has dispelled that particular nugget of ignorance. And it’s certainly not that I wouldn’t enjoy it myself if I spent time getting to know it. No. I think it may actually be a form of anxiety.

To be a sport fan, or sports fan as my American employer insists it is spelled, requires dedication to the cause and an unwavering loyalty, but you can only reach that level of commitment once you’ve mastered how it all works. The nuances of its rules, the lingo, the exceptions, history and form – never mind all the teams and players, and associated statistics. And it’s those two things which I’m most  fearful of: if I did spend time getting under the skin of an American sport, or any other sport for which I’m not familiar, I worry that I could become almost hyper obsessed with it.

The Premier League doesn’t have this. Yet.

It happened with cricket, albeit when I was 12, and I’m definitely nowhere near that age now. But it could easily happen again, and John makes a compelling case for NFL to be my victim. Or me to be its, depending on the outcome. It’s also worth pointing out that American sport in the UK is a far, far bigger beast than you think. In 2004 Google says it was indexed at 21 (whatever that is). In 2014? It’s 100. The interest has gone up five fold.


I used to work with John when he was editor of The Wisden Cricketer magazine, and remember being starstruck when introduced to him on my first day working for Cricinfo (whose office we all shared) in 2005. I’d read TWC and its former incarnations since I was 12. He couldn’t have been more diffident or affable, yet here I was expecting a larger-than-life media mogul who also had a vast cricketing knowledge; a combination of Piers Morgan’s bluster and blind confidence, and anyone who appeared on Mastermind in the 1980s (bespectacled, lack of social skills yet absolutely obsessed with their subject).

Disappointingly I got neither, just a top bloke, writer and editor.