Saturday, May 27, 2017




THANK YOU, MA`AM...

I guess I must be mellowing in my old age.   It was only a couple of days ago that I had something nice to say about Manchester United.  Now I find myself having similar thoughts about the royal family.  Well, the Queen anyway.

Once again over the years I have had the odd poke at the royals - the privileged lifestyle, the excesses, the fact that there are too many of them largely supported by the long suffering taxpayer and all that.  I may have mentioned too that I was once invited to one of the Queen`s Garden Parties but declined gracefully on the basis that I really didn`t want to go.

But I have to say how encouraging and entirely fitting it was that Her Majesty took the time, trouble and effort (no small matter at her age) to travel to Manchester and visit the victims of the terror attack in hospital.   I got the impression that it was something she wanted to do and her visit was a poignant demonstration of the country, at all levels, coming together in the face of such an outrage.  Your Majesty - I salute you.

I must be careful.  If my tendency towards mellowing continues, I might find something nice to say about the European Union....... even if it is `goodbye.`



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Aficionados of these pages will know that, over the years, I have developed an almost pathological dislike of anything and everything to do with Manchester United. (I`ve long thought I need help!)  From the brutal assaults of Roy Keane, through the ranting, thuggish `management` of `Sir` Alex Ferguson, to the modern day when the self-proclaimed `Red Devils` continue to display all the arrogance and assumed entitlement encapsulated by the antics of their current manager, Jose Morinho, who had to dub himself `The Special One` simply because no-one else would.

And yet I found myself wishing and hoping that they might actually win the Europa League against Ajax of Amsterdam in last night`s Stockholm final.  And so they did - by 2-0 - and for just once it seemed entirely fitting for Manchester to have that victory to provide at least something to hang on to given the appalling events suffered by so many just two nights ago.

And yet again it has taken events such as this to provide a context, a perspective and a reminder that the excesses and spurious bubble of the Premier League become almost irrelevant against the backdrop of the reality of the wider world.   But if nothing else, last night`s victory in Stockholm being dedicated by United to the city of Manchester was a fitting demonstration of solidarity with the community they represent. 

And so, for once, I congratulate them on the two accounts of winning the Europa Cup and conducting themselves with the kind of dignity which goes some way to enhance their reputation.  (Maybe I don`t need that help after all?)

Monday, May 22, 2017


Thank goodness for that.  It`s been a long season for us Saints fans - 53 competitive matches played - and we end up eighth in the Premier League, having had some `interesting` times in the EFL Cup (where we were narrowly beaten by Manchester United in the Wembley Final) and the Europa League, where we hit the highs by beating Inter Milan but hit the lows with something of a whimpering exit.

And now that it`s all over, there is speculation about our French manager, Claude Puel.   Now he has been in charge for this season following the defection of Ronald Koeman to Everton, and Claude has struggled to win over the fans, whose expectations have reached unrealistic proportions.  Each of the last six or seven seasons has seen an improvement from the depths of League One to reaching 6th in the Premier League under Koeman.

When Pochettino left us for Tottenham, we finished eighth that season, the same as this term, so on the face of it there should be little for Claude to be worried about.   Trouble is, whilst we don`t concede many goals, we just don`t score enough - in the last five home games the Saints have failed to score at all - first time that`s happened since 1937, when even I wasn`t born.   And it`s this kind of negativity that suggests that Claude might be off to pastures new.  


I`m not sure I agree with the hue and cry, as it`s not Claude who misses gilt edged chances and it`s not Claude who misses three penalties in the last five games.  But he is a decent and humble man and whilst I think he deserves at least another season in charge, I fear that we might be looking at yet another summertime circus at St. Mary`s.


Looking on the bright side, we have finally seen the departure from Stamford Bridge of John (The LegEnd) Terry - whose choreographed substitution after 26 minutes yesterday to coincide with his shirt number must surely lead to a judicial inquiry;  and I doubt Wayne Bridge, Anton Ferdinand and a host of others, me included, will mourn his departure.  


In other news, my local club, Maidstone United, finished creditably half way up the National League in their first season at that level;  our street`s local hero, Gillingham`s very own Scott ("buzzin` six pack") Wagstaff, sadly missed the excitement of the Gills` narrow escape from relegation, thanks to an Achilles tendon mishap;  other teams I follow saw Forest Green Rovers promoted as the smallest village ever to have a team in the Football League; and Truro City, they of the long heroic journeys, just, but only just, maintained their place in the National League South


I`m looking forward to the cricket - I think - even though Hampshire have just been stuffed by Essex in an innings defeat at Chelmsford.  As Claude might say, "Sacre bleu, mais c`est la vie."  Au revoir mes amis.



Thursday, May 18, 2017


Maybe it`s just me but you would think that I would have more `important` things on my mind.  But ever since I posted some stuff about the May Day celebrations in Padstow, the music - as it invariably does - has been playing on my mind, to the extent that I just can`t seem to shift it.  

Now I`m not talking about the hauntingly repetitive song that insistently declares that `summer is acome unto day.`  Instead, I`ve become almost obsessed with the Dirge.  You see, throughout the whole event, the Evening Song and the Day Song are accompanied by massed accordions and pulsating drumbeats and all the while, the Obby Oss twists, turns and cavorts to the beckoning of the Teaser.  

But there comes a point - a lull in proceedings - when the Oss falls to the ground, either out of exhaustion or as a determined reference to the dying of winter.  The accordions and the drums fall silent and the Dirge is taken up, unaccompanied, by the assembled throng.  It seems to consist of a stanza full of unconnected lines, random phrases and oblique references to St. George and `Aunt Ursula Birdwood.`   So you can see why the Dirge puzzles and intrigues me.   It goes like this:-

O where is Saint George
O where is he now?
He`s out in his longboat
All on the salt sea O.

Up flies the kite.
Down falls the lark O.
Aunt Ursula Birdhood
She had an old ewe.
And she lies in her own parc O.

And at about 6 minutes into this video, you can hear it as it was sung in Padstow in 2016........




At the end of the Dirge, the Oss leaps up with renewed vigour to signify that summer has indeed acome, the accordions strike up and with the drums beating again the procession through the town resumes. 

Now I`ve done a bit of digging around and it seems possible that the reference to St. George implies a strong connection with the Solar Deity, whose Saints Day is around 1st May.  "He`s out in his longboat....." might well refer to a funeral ship, thus referring to the death and rebirth of St. George through the choreographed fall and rise of the Oss.  It was often the custom in the distant past to place an important body, along with all his or her worldly goods, in a ship; put it to sea and even set it ablaze.

As for Aunt Ursula Birdhood, her appearance in the Dirge might allude to the Saxon Bear-Goddess, Ursel.  The constellation of the Big Dipper, Ursa Major, is often called the Great Bear.  Ursel is another Deity, this time the Moon Goddess, who was canonised and made Saint Ursula by early Christians.

But, these speculations aside, the mystery of the true origins of the Dirge remain and so when I am next in Padstow, in October, I will pay a visit to the local museum so that my inquisitive mind might be satisfied, at least until next May.





Monday, May 15, 2017


SPOILT FOR CHOICE...


Don`t know about you but already, with three weeks to go, I`ve had enough of the General Election campaigning.  There`s the old saying about statistics, of course - you know the one - lies, damned lies and statistics - and the more I hear from our campaigning politicians the more it seems there are lies, damned lies and election campaigns.

We seem to be spoilt for choice this time round between a mixed assortment of party leaders.  The Labour Party is rumoured to be led by Jeremy Corbyn.  Now I would have thought that anyone who was once the alleged paramour of Diane Abbott is automatically barred from holding any responsible position. 

Then there is one Tim Farron, who found himself leader of the Liberal Democrats who are so democratic that they want to reverse the democratic decision of the majority of voters and crawl back on bended knee into the European Union.   Oh, and they want to legalise cannabis.  Of course they do.  Maybe when Tim`s gap year is over he`ll think differently.

The Green Party always intrigue me.  Until last year they had a Leader, Natalie Bennett, who was Australian and barely comprehensible.  She apparently supports polygamy and doing away with the monarchy whilst the current leadership want to legalise prostitution. Sounds par for the green course. The current leadership is held jointly by Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, presumably because the membership couldn`t decide which one to choose or maybe they were worried about inflicting mental health issues on whichever one was rejected.   Bartley`s claim to fame seems to be that he had an uncle who was married to Deborah Kerr, whereas Lucas unfathomably escaped prosecution for obstructing the highway during the Balcombe anti- fracking demonstrations a couple of years ago.

Which leaves the Conservatives, UKIP and any other even more bonkers parties that may emerge from the woodwork.   The Tories are now led by Theresa May, who seems to be Maggie Thatcher without the handbag (yet) and UKIP are currently led by Paul Nuttall who reminds me more and more of Peter Kay.  Their mission is surely accomplished, job done and our democratically arrived at decision to leave the EU can surely be left in the hands of David Davis, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and their chums.  Well, it can can`t it?

I`m thinking of starting The Football Party, led by Matthew Le Tissier, when everything will be decided  over 90 minutes plus stoppage time at Wembley.  It might be just as sensible..........


Saturday, May 13, 2017

DREAMY.....

OK, so Fleetwood Mac didn`t work, so last night I thought I would give Gustav Mahler a go.   His 5th Symphony is reckoned to be his masterpiece and the 4th movement, the Adagietto, is said to have been written as Mahler`s expression of passion and love for his wife, Alma.

Anyway, I`m sure it did the trick for her, as it did for me in ensuring a decent night`s sleep........

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I BLAME FLEETWOOD MAC...

Don`t know why but I`m having a period of sleepless nights. Well, I get off to sleep OK at the usual time and then, half way through the night, age-related bladder issues disturb my slumbers.  I get back in to bed, close my eyes and try to get back to where I was in my interrupted dream.  

Most times I lull myself into unconsciousness with my photographic memory of journeys to favoured destinations, mostly down the A303 towards the Devon or Cornwall coast and normally by the time my mind has travelled  as far as Wincanton I`ve fallen asleep again.

Lately, however, music has taken over and I find myself replaying favourite items of music in my mind.  Now, with soothing classics  like the Adagietto from Mahler`s 5th or the lilting strings of John Barry`s `Out of Africa` I have no problem dropping off.  But you know what it`s like - you get a piece of music in your head and you just can`t shift it.   Right now it`s Fleetwood Mac who are to blame and I keep replaying `Go your own way`and especially Lindsey Buckingham`s epic guitar along with Mick Fleetwood`s driving drums - not the kind of thing to lull me back to sleep.

Anyway, at least this gives me the excuse to play it on here.......Goodnight, all


Sunday, May 07, 2017



A few days ago I had a little fun at the expense of Portsmouth FC by posting a photo of their open top bus parade in honour of the club finishing third in Division Four.   Fast forward and what do I find?  Yes, against all odds and expectations the blue few of Fratton Park (Krap Nottarf) went bonkers yesterday and beat struggling Cheltenham Town 6-1.  That result, coupled with front runners Plymouth and Doncaster both failing to win their games, meant that Portsmouth finished the season as champions of League Two.

Now there is, of course, a very long standing rivalry between Portsmouth and Southampton, which often takes the form of mutually assured abuse and I confess that I have myself perhaps indulged in a little banter towards our friends down the other end of the M27.   However, to give credit where it`s due, I offer congratulations to Pompey and hope they can now enjoy a real open top bus parade to the adulation of their supporters. After all, next season they will be in the company of such football giants as Fleetwood, Bury and Shrewsbury.   Not sure it gets much better than that.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

IS IT ANY WONDER ?

They say a picture paints a thousand words and this one just about sums up today here in deepest Kent, where we have all the fun of yet another election - this time for the Kent County Council.

Now I have to be careful what I say here not least because at least one good friend is gainfully employed by KCC.   But it always strikes me that any county council is stuck between a rock and a hard place - between the central government and more local councils such as districts and parishes.  The central government and all its doings arouse passionate debate about national and international affairs, whilst district and especially parish councils are concerned with the more local issues that affect out daily lives.

All of which suggests that county councils, whilst perhaps largely and unfairly perceived, are thought of as a bit remote and, of course, like most politicians, theirs share a tendency for us voters to hear from them only at election time.

My personal insider knowledge of Kent County Council is limited to the time when, in a former life over half a century ago, I worked in `administration` at the office of the County Clerk.  I had just finished my national service and was pretty desperate for a job to support both myself and the fragrant, recently betrothed Mrs. Snopper and so I was grateful for the opportunity presented by KCC. 

But the experience left me with a jaundiced view of life in the marbled halls of County Hall.  I would dictate a letter to a comely shorthand typist, get it back, make sure it was OK and then initial the carbon copy, whereupon it was passed on to two other more senior administrators who would themselves initial the carbon copy before the stamped signature of the county clerk himself (one GT Heckels) would be applied.  That stultifying, almost Dickensian regime, coupled with my penchant for minor rebellion, ensured that my tenure at county hall was understandably short lived.

I`m sure things are very different today, with the emphasis on management rather than administration, but I`m still left with a feeling of apathy towards those who seek to spend their time as elected members of that organisation, so is it any wonder that I`ll give today`s election a miss especially as the choices on offer are less than compelling.   It`s the wrong decision, of course, but I confess to being underwhelmed by it all, despite the teachings of Plato........



Tuesday, May 02, 2017




First and foremost, congratulations to Gillingham Football Club for securing their place in League One for next season.  In a nail-biting climax to a difficult season the Gills needed to avoid defeat away at Northampton and hope that their nearest rivals for relegation, Port Vale, failed to win in their game away at Fleetwood.  In the end, each game finished 0-0 and so the Gills survive, leaving Port Vale to plunge into the murky depths of League Two, aka Division Four.

My next door neighbour, the renowned Gills fan, has been remarkably quiet following this great escape - perhaps he is still savouring the moment or possibly still under sedation - but it shows the touch of class which Gills fans have in accepting those twin impostors of triumph and disaster with restraint and moderation.

Sadly, but perhaps predictably, the same cannot be said of Portsmouth, who, despite the rise of Bournemouth and Brighton, still consider themselves to be the Saints` main south coast rivals.  Now, Portsmouth have just secured promotion from that same Division Four back to League One, which is seen by the club and their supporters as a sporting achievement that warrants an open top bus parade through the streets.  This was the scene as Portsmouth once again displayed the kind of class for which they are themselves renowned.........


Maybe, as they will be in the same division next season, they will get some helpful advice from Gillingham as to how to go about this sort of thing........ 

Monday, May 01, 2017

MAYDAY, MAYDAY.....

"With the merry ring, adieu the merry spring,
For summer is acome unto day,
How happy is the little bird that merrily doth sing,
In the merry morning of May."

Well, it`s the first of May and I look out of my window and it`s raining, grey, dull and a measly 12 degrees.  Bit never mind, the good folk of Padstow in Cornwall have been up all night celebrating adieu to the merry spring and the little bird is happy now that summer is acome unto day.

The origin of the Padstow May Day celebrations are lost in the mists of time but each year they provide a raucous, passionate glimpse if what it means, especially for curmudgeons like me, to know that summer is on the way.   There`s no way I can hope to do justice to the traditions of Padstow and the Obby Oss, but here`s a short video of what it`s about:-





There`s no denying that the music of the day song and the night song is both haunting and hypnotising and the more I hear it the more compelling it becomes.  So here`s a longer version which perhaps captures the real atmosphere and charm of being part of it all.......




All of which makes me wish I had stayed in Cornwall for a bit longer rather than coming home last Thursday to deepest Kent with its dull, grey, rainy 12 degrees and its May Day `travellers` gumming up our village green..

Saturday, April 29, 2017

OH TO BE IN ENGLAND...

.....now that April`s here.   So said Robert Browning and he may have had in mind the kind of scene in this photo that I took earlier this week along the stretch of the south west coast path near Lundy Bay in north Cornwall.   It was a perfect scene - blue skies, gentle breeze, birds singing, flowers along the way.

Trouble was, nothing really prepared me for what I discovered on my return home on Thursday.   Now we like to think that we live in a quiet-ish, peaceful, supportive community here in our Kentish conclave in what passes for the Garden of England.   And just 100 yards away down the road there`s a rather nice green area, flanked by trees with a stream running through it - a much treasured `amenity` for local residents, especially children.

Unfortunately, the area has once again been invaded - there`s no other word for it really - by about a dozen caravans, vans, trailers, etc. of the `travelling community.`  They simply break into the area, drive their vehicles over it, set up camp and know that the law and the authorities cannot touch them all over this Bank Holiday weekend.  Here`s what it looks like today:-


Just over the hedge on the right are three or four houses whose residents have to put up with the noise, the filth, the abusive behaviour and language but apparently there`s nothing the authorities can do apart from go through the tortuous legal process of serving Orders and hoping, optimistically, that eventually our visitors will be gone.  We local taxpayers have to pick up all the bills not least being the cost of cleaning up the mess they leave behind and leaving the area fit for human habitation again.

This is the third or fourth year this has happened and if I were not a tolerant, understanding chap who recognises the primacy of human rights, I could get a touch miffed about it all.   But this is England and it`s still just April...but I just wish I was back on that coast path again.

Monday, April 17, 2017

GOOD NEWS AND GOOD NEWS...

It`s not often that I get interested in mergers, acquisitions and takeovers but the last few days have seen two lots of good news for people, like me, with concerns about affairs in and around Southampton.

First the good news about the Hythe Ferry. I grew up in Hythe on the western shore of Southampton Water and the ferry from Hythe to Southampton`s Town Quay was part of the permanent fixtures of my happy childhood.  I used to be taken on the ferry by my mother when she needed to go shopping and by my father to go to The Dell to watch Southampton - the Saints - playing in the old Second Division.  

For some years the ferry operation has been under threat as a result of falling passenger numbers and increased running costs and has only been kept going with subsidies from Hampshire County Council, who see it as a vital part of the transport links between the city and the Waterside.  More recently the prospect of the ferry having to close has become more acute but the good news is that both the ferry and the unique pier from which it operates are to be taken over by Blue Funnel , a long established and vastly experienced company operating from Southampton.   As a ferry has operated between Hythe and Southampton since at least 1575, when it was shown on Saxton`s map of the area, the news that its future is now secure is good news indeed.

The second bit of good news is that the Chinese Investment Group, Lander Sports, have now confirmed to the Stock Exchange that their interest in acquiring a stake in Southampton Football Club has now been abandoned.  For over a year now, they have been in discussion with representatives of the Saints` current owner, Katharina Liebherr and have had a lengthy period of exclusivity as the discussions have taken place.  

For Saints fans like me, this is also good news, as the current ownership has proved to be both benevolent and efficient and has seen the club rise from the depths of the third tier of English football into an established place in the Premier League.   It might be a case of `better the devil you know` but, as a former shareholder, the prospect of the club changing hands and leaping once more into the unknown was not a happy one for me.

All`s well that ends well?

Saturday, April 15, 2017


OWZAT ??

A few days ago, the powers that run cricket introduced a range of new laws for the game. At first glance they seem sensible, which most of them are and there would seem little to complain about.  What is especially pleasing is the introduction of new powers for umpires to have more authority when dealing with bad behaviour on the field of play.   Unlike football or rugby, the powers open to cricket umpires have been limited but now they too will be able to award penalty runs, issue warnings and even expel players for bad behaviour.   About time too.

A number of technical changes will also be introduced including, for example, clarification of run-outs when a bat is in the air but not grounded; clarification about run-outs by the bowler when the non-striking batsman is backing up and, intriguingly, the fact that the new laws will be in a language which is `gender neutral.`   Having said that, however, a batsman of whatever gender will still be a `batsman.`

And it`s this perhaps timely encroachment into modern day `correctness` that might lead to the need for further clarification on the part of the lawmakers.   Will there have to be a `Third Person` in place of a `Third Man?`  What about the twelfth man?  And, in this oh so sensitive age, will fielding positions such as short leg, long leg, fine leg and square leg become accused of legism?   Perhaps most alarmingly `silly point` (which I have often mistaken for a parliamentary interjection by Diane Abbott) might have to become something like `intellectually challenged position.`   Well, it was always a daft place to field anyway.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


There have been a number of occasions over the past 77 years when I have felt something approaching genuine despair.   I remember, for example, the sinking feeling I had around the time I was doing my National Service when the Cold War was at its height and there was a real danger of being caught up in a collision between the old east/west protagonists.  

And there I was on the night of my 21st birthday supposedly `guarding` the regiment`s tanks in the wilds of Luneburg Heath armed only with a whistle and a pick axe handle.  No wonder I felt a tad vulnerable.

And just now I`m beginning to get that feeling all over again, what with the Syria disaster, the Russian involvement, the Trump thing, the madness of North Korea  and all that.  And so, perhaps like 56 years ago, I turn once more to the gallows humour of The Kingston Trio and their rendition of The Merry Minuet, which seems just as relevant today as it did all those years ago.   Here it is:-



Saturday, April 08, 2017


A SONG TO REMEMBER...


Among all the `news` assailing our senses just now I was sorry to learn yesterday of the passing of Tim Pigott-Smith, one of our more notable actors, perhaps best remembered, by me at least, for his portrayal of Francis Crick in the BBC production of `The Race for the Double Helix.`   And his quiet passing at just 70 reminded me of just how many personalities have left us in the past few months.  A long list, of course, ranging from David Bowie to Graham Taylor and so many more besides.  And on a personal note, I have lost some good friends, some from childhood, some from my army days and some from work - the most recent just a couple of short weeks ago.

And a favourite piece of musical excellence came to mind; one which also recaptures memories of the loss of George Harrison and Roy Orbison.  The Traveling Wilburys gave us some of the very best that `popular` music can offer, perhaps the best of theirs is `Handle with Care,` showing the unique talents of George and Roy as they take leading parts alongside Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan.   The words of the song have a particular poignancy and seem especially appropriate on yet another unsettling day.  Here it is.......





Friday, April 07, 2017


REDEEMING FEATURES ?

I`ve tried over many years now, to adopt an attitude towards other people that looks for the good in them - slow to chide and quick to bless, trying always to be tolerant and understanding - and most times it is possible, even on some `testing` occasions, to discover that if one looks hard enough then maybe the odd redeeming feature will emerge. 

For example, my former obsession with `Sir` Alex Ferguson reached perhaps startling proportions, given his persona of belligerence, wilful disdain and assumption that he could ignore the rules which most other football managers were compelled to observe.  He has long gone, of course and is well in to a comfortable retirement and it may be me becoming a little more `mellow` or even desperately trying to find something in him with which I have no issues.   And, of course, his one redeeming feature was that he was a winner - he won things even if the managerial practices by which he became successful were questionable.

But, try as I might, I have found it impossible to detect one single redeeming feature in `Big` Sam Allardyce, currently plying his managerial trade at Crystal Palace, having stopped off at the shortest reign of any manager of the England national side.  I`m afraid he comes across as lacking in any form of `charm,` and like Ferguson he somehow displays that natural belligerence and wilful disdain that marks him out as one who might keep Palace in the Premier League, as he did with Sunderland, but who does little for the public persona of the club which employs him.

I`ll keep looking for some chink of light in the darkness but I suspect it will, for me, be yet another in a long line of failed attempts.   Just don`t get me started on Diane Abbott 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017



What a momentous day!   It would hardly surprise me if people have been dancing in the streets, if bells were ringing out, if there were bunting and frolics and if peoples` minds were not completely engaged on the significance of this special day.

Now, whilst I am aware of certain `other events` taking place today, the priority is obviously to celebrate the fact that, seven years ago on this date in 2010, Southampton FC overcame the northern powerhouse that is Carlisle United to win the Johnstones Paint Trophy 4-1 in front of a packed house, including your correspondent, at Wembley Stadium. 

The Saints goals that day were scored by Rickie Lambert, now of Cardiff City; Michail Antonio, now plying his trade with West Ham United; Adam Lallana, now at Liverpool; and one Papa Waigo N`Daiye, aka `The Specimen,` who was then on loan to Southampton from Fiorentina and, having been on a world tour ever since, is currently playing for the UAE team Al Arooba.

Surely an event worthy of celebration and yet another demonstration of the importance of getting one`s priorities right.   In the words of the bard, `I`ll get me coat.`



Tuesday, March 28, 2017



THE END OF THE LINE..
More from our golf correspondent...

The photo above perhaps conjures up visions of heroic failure coupled with more than a little desperation.   And the same might be said of Snopper`s golf trolley, which carried the name `Kingsway` and which was, of course, the brand name for Woolworths` own brand products.  And it was all of 35 years ago that that purchase was made, since when that same trolley has carried Snopper`s eclectic array of golfing equipment around an equally mixed series of golfing venues.

In the last year or so, his redoubtable trolley has been showing its age, signs of wear and tear, perhaps reaching a tipping point last Autumn when the tyres began to fall off.  In a fit of inspiration, Snopper simply removed the tyres and trundled on regardless.  Trouble was that without the tyres, the trolley made a frightful noise especially when dragged along gravel paths, all of which led to complaints and exhortations fro club members and the sparse galleries for him to buy a new one.

And yesterday, following much detailed analysis and research, the deed was done and Snopper is now the proud owner of an ultra efficient and quietly wheeled trolley.  Maybe it was this event which led yesterday to arguably one of the least propitious rounds of his long and undistinguished career.  Although there was at least some redemption when he parred the difficult par three fifth, the rest of his round epitomised that same heroic failure and desperation that encapsulated the demise of Woolworths all those years ago.

But maybe we should forgive him these trespasses, as he has had an emotionally difficult time of late.  It was one thing to say farewell to his Greg Norman golf ball but quite another to see his 35-year old Kingsway trolley finally come to the end of the line.  It felt like losing Woolworths all over again.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

 FAREWELL GREG NORMAN..
Our Golf Correspondent reports

It has been an interesting time to be following Snopper`s golfing exploits in the last two or three weeks.  Some have been admirable, others not so;  but some of them have happened off the course, away from the ever critical galleries.

Take, for example, the recent changes in Snopper`s golfing equipment.  Now some months ago hus next door neighbour, who can perhaps be described as a `proper golfer,` bequeathed some of his cast off irons to Snopper, having upgraded his own set of clubs to a more upmarket one.   Snopper has got the hang of these and his iron play has consequently reached a level that might now be characterised as `adequate.`

And just last week, his neighbour the other side - himself a 15 handicap trophy winner - donated a couple of `rescue` clubs, a 4-wood and a 5-wood, which Snopper gleefully accepted as he is in almost constant need of `rescuing.`  His first sortie with this neighbourly array of clubs showed signs of improvement although Snopper accepts that he made need to get used to playing with decent clubs for a change.

As for the Greg Norman in my title above, I have to report that Snopper managed somehow to use the same Greg Norman golf ball for almost three complete 9-hole rounds, only for the ball to disappear into dense undergrowth on the final hole of his third round. This in itself is something of a victory but one tinged with a little sadness as Snopper had grown quite fond of his Greg Norman ball and was sorry to see the relationship coming to an untimely end.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


"LIGHTS WILL GUIDE YOU HOME..."

Well, as you can see, my bucket list is just about non-existent, possibly because I live in my fantasy world where I don`t expect to `pass on` any time soon or more probably because I really can`t be bothered to write a list and even if I could I`m not at all sure what it might contain.

But I came across something on F***book the other day that made me think that, after all, there might be something I would like to do and in a place where I might like to do it. It`s being in a flash mob down at Southampton`s Westquay shopping mall, singing Coldplay`s `Fix You.`   A few reasons for that.  I love good music, of course, as you can tell from my frequent posts nicking videos from Youtube.  Then there is my affection for Southampton, the centre of my boyhood spent at the Waterside village of Hythe on the western shore of Southampton Water.  And my love of Southampton FC, one of whose more famous fans is Coldplay drummer Will Champion, local boy made good if ever there was one.

And it all comes together in this flash mob performance by local choirs at Westquay, which left me with a lump in my throat, a few goosebumps and a tear in my eye.  Now, this video doesn`t appear on Youtube - it`s of F***book - so uploading it on to here isn`t the easiest thing; but if you highlight the link below then right click on it, an option appears to go to the website.  Fingers crossed it works and you can enjoy it as much as I did:-

https://www.facebook.com/dancoopermusicuk/videos/1471725966205925/

Saturday, March 11, 2017

EMERGENCE....
Our Golf Correspondent reports.....

It has been some time since we heard anything at all from Snopper and when I caught up with him the other day it quickly became apparent that he was finally ready to emerge from his winter hibernation and resume what passes for `normal service.`  What galvanised him into action was the news that the golfing authorities are planning to introduce a whole series of rule changes.

Now, Snopper has always had a problem with the rules of the royal and ancient game, not the least because he has failed, either through ignorance or deviousness, to apply most of them to his own version of how the game should be played.   He is, therefore, worried that he might not be able to `have another go` if his first tee shot lands - as it invariably does - in nearby woods or ponds.   Moreover, he is concerned that his own rule concerning lost balls might now be in trouble.  You see, he has always contended that losing a ball is punishment enough without adding to your score, which he chooses not to do.   The list goes on - putts being held to be `near enough` and so on.

But there is hope on the issue of the number of golf balls allowed in a bag.  Snopper has probably always exceeded the rule in this regard, on the basis that he invariably loses more balls than the number allowed.  However, his last two rounds of 9-holes on the infamously easy Poult Wood course have seen him, for the first time ever in a long and undistinguished career, use the same ball and lose none at all.   The ball is called `Greg Norman` but that is where the similarity ends.