Friday, August 19, 2016

Olympic glory

I suppose that there's no harm in my acknowledging in this blog that the Olympics are taking place.  Generally I pay them no attention at all.  When they were in London four years ago I watched nothing live (well, other than the first 15 minutes of the opening ceremony, which was dreadful) apart from a few minutes of some hobby/pastime/activity which happened to be on the television in the canteen at Yarmouth one afternoon.  This time around I've watched nothing.

However, the past couple of mornings I've seen replays of various highlights as I've been turning on the television when I get up so that I can monitor the weather in advance of tomorrow's Bath meeting.  An early-morning weather bulletin has been keeping me up to date with what, if any, rain has fallen overnight, and what, if any, rain is likely to fall in the next day or two.  And, of course, the weather bulletins have been squeezed in amongst the lengthy Olympic reports.  So I know that Great Britain, which generally does badly, is doing very well; that China is doing less well than one might have thought; and that Australia, which generally does fairly well, is doing very poorly.  So that's good, even if not in the eyes of our antipodean brethren.  But then again it never does an Aussie any harm to see his national teams perform poorly.

Anyway, what I was hoping to see was a fair amount of rain for Bath.  I made three entries for Hope Is High this weekend (Bath and Chelmsford on Saturday; Brighton on Sunday) and Bath was my preferred option, not least because it is the only one without a question mark over how she would handle the track and the only one at which Josie would be able to ride her.  Anyway, the ground at Bath would have been hard at daybreak today (notwithstanding that officially it was merely 'firm') so, even though she likes fast ground, I was hoping to see a solid amount of rain fall there.  Happily, I think that we'll be OK: they had 7mm today and ought to get a similar amount through the day tomorrow before our race at 6.05, so I hope that we should have safe fast ground, rather than rock-hard fast ground.

Even if I hadn't been watching television at dawn, however, I would still have known that the Olympics were taking place.  The clue comes from the word 'repercharge'.  One hears this word on the radio frequently for one week, and then never hears it again for another 207 weeks.  And when one does hear it, one knows that the Olympics have started.  Since having my few days of repercharge overload, the clues have been coming in thick and fast.  Another sign that the Olympics are on is that the one keeps hearing the noun 'medal' used as a verb.  And that has indeed been happening over the past couple of weeks.  Pretty much all the time.

Yesterday I heard an even worse example of a media personality attempting to demonstrate that he can misuse the English language as well (badly) as the next man.  The disc-jockey who comes on Radio Two after Ken Bruce exhorted his listeners to call in by asking whether any of them has a five-year-old child who has been so inspired by the success of the British Olympians that the child has taken up "swimming or gyming".  For God's sake!  It's one thing saying as a (very good) joke that any noun can be verbed; quite another believing it.

The trend of abusing our native tongue has, of course, spread across all branches of the media as life continues to imitate art.  Devotees of Alan Partridge's former graveyard shift on BBC Radio Norfolk will recall him berating Dave Clifton, one of his many betes noirs, for saying that he was "splidding hairs".  The spat ended with him calling Dave a "dwad", so you get my drift.  Anyway, Steve Coogan had clearly spotted a habit among media types of pronouncing the letter 't' as 'd', but since then the matter has really got out of hand.  Yesterday morning's BBC weather bulletin, delivered by a seemingly educated man in his 50s, told us that it would be a warm night in "the towns and ciddies"; while Battersea contested the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury last Saturday under the nom de course of Badderzee.  And naturally the Briddish medal tally continues to rise.

Another Partridge brahma which has been imitated in real life has been the non-subjects which nowadays spawn TV shows.  We chuckled when Pink found himself lonely and depressed in an hotel in America in 'The Wall' and had "thirteen channels of shit on the TV to choose from" (because, of course, we only had three channels at the time, and it was inconceivable that there could be thirteen).  Yet now we find ourselves with 513, or however many there are, channels of shit on the TV to choose from.  So it was with Alan when an idea sprung to life in his brain, prompting him to reach for the dictaphone to record an aide-memoir for Lynn to contact Tony Hayers with an idea for a programme which clearly would be so shit that it could never possibly be commissioned.  ('Partridge among the pigeons' ...).

Anyway, now life is imitating art to the extent that our 513 channels of shit feature programmes which are so shit that not even Alan would have had the gall to regard their commissioning as a possibility.  If you want to see some of the best examples, you can follow the Twitter feed @PartridgeIdeas, which is described as, "Real TV/radio shows that sound like Alan Partridge ideas.  Life imitating Partridge".  Each tweet has Alan supposedly coming up with a ludicrous non-idea on one side, and proof on the other side that such nonsense has indeed seen the light of day.

Anyway, how would we have reacted had Alan dictated the message, "Hitler to rise from the dead and become a world-class comedian"?  Too silly even for him?  Well, how about this 2015 movie, 'Look Who's Back'?  "When Hitler reawakens at the site of his former bunker 70 years later, he's mistaken for a brilliant comedian and becomes a media phenomenon."  This twitter feed (along with the similarly brahmatic @getinthesea) provides a perfect alternative for entertainment when you're sidding in front of the TV, flicking through the 513 unwatchable channels and looking for something more entertaining than the semi-final of the men's 10-metre air rifle target-shooding.

So, as you'll have gathered, we'll be off to Bath tomorrow with Hope Is High.  We can only hope that we might enjoy a trip more productive than yesterday's outing, when I took Cottesloe even farther down the same road, to Chepstow.  (Hence my listening to the radio during the morning).  Yesterday's race didn't work out as I'd hoped, but no lives were lost.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.  Cottesloe is pictured before yesterday's race in this paragraph.  Hope Is High is in the first three photographs, taken on Tuesday with Jana.  The next six photographs were all taken on Wednesday.  Magic Ice (who is entered at Chelmsford on Tuesday) is in the first two of them with Anna; White Valiant (who might make his debut the week after next) is in the last two of them with Clare.

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