2018-19 BOB HARMAN’S SEASON PREVIEW
THEY ARE ALL MILLING AROUND AT THE START – THE FLAG FALLS AND THEY’RE OFF!!!
REPORTING FOR DUTY?
I trust that everyone has enjoyed their annual summer break from our sporting winter wonderland which involves a small bat and an even smaller ball, and I guess every player is champing at the bit ready to give their all once again, ahead of the start of a new season which seems to have arrived so very quickly this time round.
Please try and remember and stick to the League’s three ‘R’s - Result, Reaction, REPORT!! This went very well last season, with some stunning match reports in from any number of captains and their trusty cohorts - I will be sending out the usual weekly nudges to the captains concerned, but please do check the rota on the website to see when you are required to report for duty that week so to speak! Make it as wacky as you like, as our censor enjoys a bit of role-play and light-hearted fun, just as long as it isn’t at some poor soul’s expense. That said, we do like a bit of self-deprecation though, so any amusing tales of mild misfortune on the night, do share the tale.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE?!
So at least let’s kick off on a positive note, warm greetings to all readers and users of our superior website (take a deserved bow, Mr Unwin), the envy of all other local sports. We are about to start season 51 set in the voluptuous vale of beautiful Bury.
As ever come September in the rainy season, we are full to the brim with a mixture of expectation and anticipation - hopefully all our joueurs of all shapes and sizes can stay free of injury and those pesky losses too, which are as unavoidable as roundabouts in the mesmeric maze that is much-maligned Milton Keynes!
Talking of shapes and sizes, I often wonder what playing sport will be like in the future, let’s say in the 22nd century? Will medical science by then have changed the norm as we know it and have moved on enough to enable us to choose to replace an iffy arm or leg at will, and improve our game accordingly?
You could maybe change any body part from a local store, just like you would on your Lego unicorn that had met with a setback or two in combat. I wouldn’t mind a new playing arm right now about a foot longer and normal length legs would be a bonus too, but it would have to be both legs, one would be no good at all - I wouldn’t be greedy, just another six inches wouldn’t go amiss on the inside leg measurement front. Flexible 360 degree ankles would be an interesting addition to the mix, and imagine having a flexi-neck to match? All this might actually make table tennis a better sport to view on the telly, but I would still fear for viewing figures for squash, which could be a scene from a 'Game Of Thrones' battle.
It’s probably all pie in the sky, but for all you or I know, this could just be a reality right now on the planet Zonk in a parallel universe somewhere out there. Don’t say you weren’t warned if these zany Zonks finally show up and decide to set up home here on Earth en masse. Brexit would be a mere bagatelle by comparison…
Despite the apparent universal acceptance of unwelcome global warming and the inevitability of us all frying like tomatoes in a very hot pan, it’s that salty subject of hot language that I need to address before the season kicks off. Yeah, yeah, yeah I hear a few of you saying…not me sir, not my concern, sorry I don’t indulge in swearing and moaning about my lot on the table ever - well ok perhaps a few times a season…ok then admittedly I do indulge, but certainly no more than anyone else having a rough night does….
Yeah right…well anyway, I do think the need for anger management is on the increase in a lot of sports generally and if our hot summer continues apace and autumn is bypassed altogether, then I fear a rash of the ‘f’ & ‘s’ words by all and sundry is fairly inevitable and unwanted. Down at Club British Sugar, we are extremely lucky to now have the option of air-conditioning at the flick of a switch which can usually cool even the hottest of heads at our most luxurious venue, which can only aid our verbal cause, but for those who aren’t quite so fortunate, read on….
As I have a cunning plan to avoid the feared rash which doesn’t involve muzzling or even rubbing soothing oils on affected temples at great expense. I offer you, for free, ‘Pa’lante’!!
Sorry, come again? What the heck is Pa’lante and how can it stop me from going all Anglo-Saxon at any given moment on any given night?
OK ALEXA? WHAT IS THIS PA’LANTE? (YOU COULD ASK JEEVES TOO)
This is where our online guru Google helps, or perhaps your resident stay at home friend Alexa comes in very handy too, as it’s a Spanish word - see below definition:
Pa’lante is a shortened version of "para adelante" a fairly common Spanish phrase made up of the preposition para, often meaning "for" and adelante, meaning "forward." So it’s basically a Puerto Rican rallying cry, which is quite appropriate in our stupendous sport for obvious reasons as we endure much crying and gnashing of teeth over certain rallies that haven’t gone our way.
I have to admit to being a bit of a sucker for rallying cries and freedom songs generally, and this one fits the bill. If you like music and don’t mind dipping your toe into fresh unchartered waters, then I can recommend Pa’lante, a song by the interestingly named American group Hurrah For The Riff Raff. Ironically, there is actually more a little swearing in the lyrics in some versions of it, which is often par for the course these days with any number of 21st century wholesome ditties, but I’m not suggesting you do any more than just use a word such as Pa’lante to replace what you might normally resort to uttering when your opponent hits a net or an edge at a vital stage of a match, or perhaps when you feel that you are just playing like a goon…be honest, we have nearly ALL been there and felt very silly and stupid, going off on one…
YOUR FLEXIBLE BREXIT FRIEND?
So the Sugar Puffs (and maybe Chairman Martin’s newly promoted Sugar Blades team too?) will be using ‘Pa’lante’ as the adopted club byword, mantra, battle cry this season in aforementioned moments of pressure/stress/anger - of course it could also be used in moments of joy too - you know, those rare as hens’ teeth winners when you have even surprised and surpassed yourself with a quality shot that should really be worth two points at the very least.
Do feel free to say ‘Teapot’ ‘Tadpole’ ‘Sudbury’ or even ‘Brexit’ if you so desire, although the latter could well be deemed an offensive word in the coming years (if not already) depending upon imminent negotiations of the delicate kind. In keeping with the political theme, I would advise against adopting a word such as burka, although that hasn’t stopped Boris Johnson offering his myopic view on the usefulness and otherwise of the dark garment in question.
Ok, so just in case you are a little stuck for inspiration, or perhaps undecided by being totally spoilt for choice, or maybe I have just put you off Tadpole, Burka or even good old sleepy Sudbury, I am happy to offer up a few viable alternatives, some with music, film or book connotations that spring to mind which hopefully can be used without fear of offence or even arrest by our very own Puffs PC Hall, who will be kept very busy keeping an eye on any foul play even when officially off duty..
‘Zonk’ – As mentioned above, a truly futuristic sounding word that might one day be as common as the shrew if indeed the planet Zonk is discovered any time soon - but for now feel free to use it until you hear of an official discovery or even invasion. The Zonk nation are rumoured to have shiny silicon domes for heads and as it’s not a word generally known in the category of insults, my humble advice is suck it and see! You could always pretend it was a sneeze if you get any hassle from its use.
‘Kes’ – it’s short for the stunning bird of prey, the kestrel, and it’s a famous iconic film of the same name about a special bond between a young boy and his best friend, the wonderful kestrel named unsurprisingly Kes... naturally everyone loves a kestrel, well maybe not poor Sid sparrow or Jenny wren having a quiet snooze under a hedge
‘Dan!’ ‘Dan!’ ‘Dan!’ You might want to say this one repeatedly and increasingly loudly, just as Alan Partridge famously did when trying unsuccessfully to gain the attention of his new best friend (Dan) in a car park, one of the funniest things I have ever seen on the small screen. A very good choice guaranteed to bring some levity to the moment, unless of course you happen to be playing against Dan…in which case don’t Dan dare…
‘Cher’ – simply had to include this little beauty for our old friend Sunders, again for obvious reasons. He swears more than most of us – well a lot more - as has Cher I dare say in her time with not so sunny Sonny - but as Sunders worships the ageing crooner, it will be a word that will always put a smile on his boat race whatever happens in a game, good or bad.
‘Sting’ – refers to the popular ageless muscular Geordie from the band The Police, definitely not the annoying little wasps that seem to be everywhere right now. He’s a bit handy when it comes to singing the odd freedom song and highlighting a good cause - he had a few well chosen words to sing about the Chilean government and the missing male hordes under the Pinochet regime – ‘They Dance Alone’ is definitely one of Sting’s better solo efforts, well worth a listen.
‘Vindaloo’ – surely all we Suffolkbrethren love a good curry? Vindaloo the song was pretty memorable in its day, although ‘Three Lions’ was arguably a better tune, but if you like your ping preceded or even followed by a good curry, Vindaloo might be just the word for you to curry favour with any long-suffering teammates.
‘Biggles’ – a legendary character from the pen of Captain W E Johns, and a worthy word for those who prefer to imagine themselves flying and soaring in a single seater plane, rather than being stuck in a dusty hall hitting a ball for kicks. A keen ping player by all accounts, I wonder if Biggles played in his goggles and flying jacket? For some reason, ‘comedians’ Benny Hill and Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown suddenly spring to mind - best not go there…might lead to some infamous swearing especially in the latter’s case, Chubby’s humour is very northern of course, something we don’t get at all down here in the East among the goblins and werewolves of the world.
‘Enigma’ – memories of my home town of Bletchley and its famous wartime decoding Park that wasn’t so famous to me when I used to play cowboys and Indians in the fields within the complex as a child – it might not be the easiest word to blurt out instead of your usual four letter offering, but it’s a word that is fairly apt as it describes any number of people who play ping and who get up to all sorts of antics to put you off your stride in matches and thus make you angry – why DO they resort to such underhand tactics? They are truly an enigma to me... all of them!!! Reminder to self, must go on an anger management course right away.
‘Florence’ – just as lovely a fragrant name as the glorious place itself in Italy, and also a very alternative singer too who doesn’t need a backing group, the machine does it all for her. All credit to her, she has just overcome all manner of problems to return with a vengeance of late, the Dog Days are indeed over!
‘Wooster’ – there is something quintessentially English about this name - good old Bertie, he would always have done the right thing and loved a bit of whiff whaff, gossima, or ping pong as our sport was known back in his day…any player worth his or her salt should be proud to call out ‘Wooster’ in deference to the late great P G Wodehouse, a cheery chappie for all seasons. At the very least, I reckon we all wish we had someone like Jeeves to at least fold the table up and put the chairs away after matches, not to mention putting a fine crease in your shirt and plus fours beforehand.
TO ME, TO YOU - PLEAS AND MORE PLEAS?! PLEASE, PLEASE ME AS THE FAB FOUR ONCE SANG
Bob’s Almanac for the new season is complete, so have a great one and keep an eye out for a few new faces in the League from lands afar. We will unveil two new Puffs next month, including Ben Avery who hails from Cardiff- you won’t miss him, he’s about 6ft 5ins tall and has more talent in his little finger than all the digits that the rest of the Puffs can muster between them. We are definitely not worthy…he’s mustard.
Our very own Puffs swear box has already been chucked in the recycling bin by our manager Stella at Sugar, so follow suit and pledge to do your very best to try and manage a curse-free season. As League champs, we will be leading from the front…“Hang on just a minute, that’s not very bloody likely is it Bob?” some wag yelled from way back in the cheap seats at Kegs. Shame on you whoever you are - to ye of little faith, I say Pa’lante!!!!!!!!!
A penultimate plea to all, do please try and serve within the rules and when umpiring don’t be a jelly and call a foul serve if you see blatant aerial cheating, it’s more often than not a sneaky swipe off the hand with no vertical lift of the ball whatsoever.
And to the final plea…always admit an edge ball that goes against you, even if it pains you to do so. ‘Honesty is always the best policy’ as my mother used to say when I visited her in Holloway, that most Victorian of institutions. Her crime? That’s for me to know and you to ponder perhaps. Don’t be so nosy, after all, curiosity killed the cat and we don’t want that do we? After all everyone loves a cat…and of course Kes the kestrel.