15 June 2011

Insert your own 'short leg' reference here

Freddie Owsley and his family were playing a game of beach cricket last week. Which was a fine thing for a teenager during a half-term holiday in Polzeath. The only problem was that nobody had brought a bat. No matter. Freddie found a suitable stick in the rocks nearby, long, thin and smooth with a lump at one end that would make a good club head. Freddie's hunch was right. The stick had a sizeable sweet-spot and when he swung and hit it sent sixes sailing out into the sea.

They were half-way through the game when a family friend who happened to be a doctor spotted that the reclaimed bat was in fact a human thigh bone. The police later found part of a pelvis and spine as well. Local archaeologist Phil Coplestone estimates that the bones are 200 years old, and thinks that they are the remains of a sailor whose body was washed ashore after a shipwreck in 1808.

- Andy Bull, The Spin cricket newsletter, Guardian, 14 June 2011

14 June 2011

How to appear diligent

Sir - I can remember working in the City of London back in the 1990s when it started to become necessary to work longer hours. A colleague had an extra jacket that he left over the back of his chair so that it looked like he was away from his desk. In fact, he had left to catch his train.

- Cary Labdon, letter to the Times, 25 May 2011

12 June 2011

Flashman weighs his options

In George Macdonald Fraser's 1990 novel Flashman and the Mountain of Light, the eponymous anti-hero and unabashed cad finds himself in a bit of a pickle during his secret mission to the Court of the Punjab in 1845. He sits down to tabulate the pros and cons of his present perilous situation, in his own inimitable style:

EVIL: I am cut off in a savage land which will be at war with my own country presently 
GOOD: I enjoy diplomatic immunity, for what it's worth, and am in good health, but ruined.
EVIL: An attempt has been made to assassinate me. These buggers would sooner murder people than eat their dinners.
GOOD: It failed, and I am under the protection of the queen bee, who rides like a rabbit. Also, [the American adventurer and agent Alexander] Gardner will look out for me.
EVIL: My orderly turns out to be the greatest villain since Dick Turpin, and is an American to boot.
GOOD: [Major] Broadfoot chose him, and since I see no reason why he should be hostile to me, I shall watch him like a hawk.
EVIL: Damn Broadfoot for landing me in this stew, when I could have been safe at home rogering Elspeth [Flashman's wife].
GOOD: Rations and quarters are A1, and Mangla sober is a capital mount, though she don't compare to Jeendan drunk.
EVIL: If I were a praying man, the Almighty would hear from me in no uncertain terms, and much good it would do me.
GOOD: Being a pagan (attached C of E) with no divine resources, I shall tread uncommon wary and keep my pepperbox [pistol] handy.