Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Just not cricket!

It is the end of civilisation as we know it. Cricketing authority, the MCC, intends to introduce pink cricket balls into the game. Apparently, the white ones flake too easily and the powers-that-be reckon that the pink balls will be easier to see.

Perhaps we should not be too surprised. It is not that long since cricketers dumped their whites for garish uniforms in certain competitions.

Still, while metro-men may be comfortable enough in their sexuality to wear a salmon-coloured shirt, pink balls is taking things just a little too far.

Worse, the MCC intend to try out the sissy spheres at university level first, thus adding to the unfortunate image of university cricketers being a lot of Hooray Henrys.

The sliding scale of sporting respect for macho men in my day at Queen's University was: hurlers (mad b*****ds with wooden bats), rugger-buggers (mad b*****ds without wooden bats), full-contact karate fighters (mad b*****s who kicked each other) and way, way, way down at the bottom, cricketers.

In fact, cricketers were held in even lower esteem than fencers and men's hockey - and neither of those were highly regarded.

Pink balls? Pity next year's poor freshers.

Peaceful, but impractical

I saw a micro-light flying over Armagh. No, that is not the first line out of a surreal Paul Durkan poem. It is an observation; I saw a micro-light flying over Armagh.

At first, I thought someone had escaped from a James Bond movie, but there did not seem to be any baddies in hot pursuit.

Who was the lone airman who haunts the skies about Lough Neagh? A pilot-philosopher like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, composing Wind, Sand and Sheughs or Flight to Augher, perhaps.

It looked like a very peaceful mode of transport. No Westlink traffic jams. No rail delays.

But perhaps just a bit impractical for the school run. Pity.

Paramilitaries for Palace?

I spy with my little eye something beginning with 's'. Spy!

The president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, posthumously honoured one of the Soviet Union's old Cold War spies, George Koval, who spied on the United States' atomic project for the USSR.

Koval fled the US when his cover was blown and died last year.

Needless to say, Putin's decision to award Koval the title Hero of the Russian Federation has not gone too well with the Americans, who get a little annoyed when people remind them about the pesky Russkies stealing their secrets.

It makes you wonder, all the same, about the difference between the way in which the Russians and the British treat their spies.

The Russians shower British and American defectors with medals and dachas while the British hardly acknowledge theirs.

I mean, whatever happened to Stakeknife? Did he get a medal for services rendered?

And what about all those other agents in the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries?

Can they expect a day out at the Palace any time soon?

Marty Mc: a Deputy First Minister's blog

Ian and I - who have never had a cross word - are packing our bags and getting ready to meet George Bush, president of them there United States, yes, hey.

Gerry has given me a list of questions to ask Bush when I see him:

1. Why did you invade Iraq even though I told you not to?

2. How did you get away with gerrymandering the Florida vote and could you show us how it's done? We want to get Durkan out of Derry.

3. When you fund raise, do you really declare all the income or have you any sneaky tricks around it that you could show us?

4. Do you have any old Stetsons you could lend us? Nationalist areas are becoming more dangerous and we might have to put a posse together to keep law and order.

5. Why is it acceptable for you to use extraordinary rendition and hold people without trial in Cuba but not all right for the 'Ra to chase people?

That's a lot of questions. I had better bring an extra crayon.

Paris Hilton: Cultural Attaché to Ulster

The television producers rang me last week: "We want you to take part in I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

You will have to live in squalid conditions, eat disgusting food, listen to people moan all the time and slag you off and be constantly on your guard against being bitten."

I thought it sounded cool. I can't wait until the camera crew come to Belfast and show the American people what I have to put up with.

Kate grates on the neighbours

Having supermodel Kate Moss living in your street is not as cool as it seems. Moss has pitched her tent in a quiet suburb of London, but not all the neighbours are happy with her famous friends dropping up to hang out with her. Some residents have complained about the noise. Just right. If there is anything worse than a supermodel and her celebrities chilling, it is a supermodel and celebrities chilling and not inviting you over. Bitch!

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