I’m a man prone to jealousy, not in a nasty way I hasten to add. It’s just that some peoples lives fall in such a way to make my own seem rather dull. I have my health, I have a roof and I have a family that I love therefore I really can’t complain. However Michael Atherton, proffesional cricketer, ex England Captain, Sky Sports commentator and Times cricket correspondant is one of those men that makes a man like me feel wholly inadequate. Yes Mr Atherton I am quite jealous of you.

A brief precis of Athertons life includes a solid family background, Grammar School, Cambridge University, Lancashire CC, England, Sky Sports and The Times.  A more expanded and beautifully written autobiography (by Atherton NOT a ghost writer), fills in the gaps better than I can. I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

As a student he was exceptional, as a cricketer from an early age he was obviously something special. By the time he reached Cambridge the nickname “FEC” (Future England Captain) had taken hold and the inevitable happened in 1993. It was his time as England Captain that Atherton suddenly found life hard there were no great England players, just a stream of uninterested, average club cricketers and older players counting down their days. The exception being Alec Stewart who probably resented being overlooked for the captaincy at the time. Australia were at the beginning of the exceptional period in their history when the Ashes were never to be won by England until 2006, by which time Athertons back had ensured he took early retirement from the game he loved. It is a reflection of Athertons England career that his finest innings was 185 against Alan Donald and Co. in 1998 against South Africa to save a game.

For me two questions hang over Athertons career:

1/ How good would he have been as an opening bat in a strong England team? Too many times he was batting after 2 days in the field trying to control Devon Malcolm and Phil Tuffnell. Then wickets of lesser players continually fell around him.

2/ What would he have achieved as captain under Duncan Fletcher and with the bowling attack of Harmison, Flintoff, Hoggard and Jones? His time as Captain was blighted by a bowling attack that changed every test and never gave hime the control so essential in test cricket.

I only mention the “dirt in the pocket” incident because it was probably the low point. It was really nothing and no different to watching a bowler rub his hands in the dust of his run up and then apply it to the ball. Atherton just put dirt in his pocket, it was a load of nonsense and blown completely out of proportion.

So in essence Athertons career has seen some lows but in context of a man doing what he loved playing more than 100 test matches I’m sure he has coped. He is now a commentator  tailor made to replace Richie Benaud and a genuine journalist worthy of his place on The Times. His report on the Allen Stanford affair is exceptional and well worth a read.

I have enjoyed every aspect of his career so far and look forward to listening to him and reading his thoughts for as long as I am able. Cricket without Atherton now seems unthinkable. Maybe his Lancastrian roots, my father was from Bury, allows me to see a kindred spirit. He (along with Bumble) have convinced my wife that cricket is a game worth watching. So yes he has a dream job, has played for and captained England and I hate him for it out of pure green eyed jealousy he has had the life I was supposed to have! The dicotomy is that he is the type of man I would like my sons to aspire to be.

MY ZEN GARDEN

Today I decided to dabble in the art of Zen Gardening. I had a small area in my front garden that was looking rough, so using materials I had lying around plus a newly purchased Japanese Acer plant and some bamboo screening and I was off.

My chi was disturbed when I went to pick up my smiling Buddah and his hand fell off causing me to drop it, I watched as it bounced and the other hand fell off. Some super glue and controlled breathing later and he was back to his glorious self. I did wonder if this kind of mass produced item had a place in my Zen Garden, but I like him, he makes me smile, he’ll do for me!

The stones wouldn’t go where I wanted them, I was searching for their happy side and failing miserably, in the end I went for the ” Where They Lay” option. I added an old bird bath that was kind of Japanese and placed a serene figure on the top where a bird used to be before it broke off. The bamboo screen had a life of it’s own and tested me to the limit.

Then it was complete, I washed it all down with the hose, filled the birdbath and sat in a chair contemplating. My wife wants me to trim the bamboo screen (it’s a bit high) and it still looks a bit too busy but you know what? I could sit, looking at my garden, clearing my mind of the collected debris and generally feeling good for hours.

My final thoughts on my day? I love it.

Peace to you all.

Is Robert Mugabe the only world leader who hopes oil is never found in their country? In my new role as cheif Zimbabwe correspondent, Todays Problem Is reports…………..

OIL FOUND ON HARARE HOMESTEAD

News has reached us that a major oil strike has taken place in a downton Harare homestead. Farmer Solomon Bingo, was digging in his yard when he struck black gold. He told me in a secret interview “It was amazing, we can’t afford to flush our toilet anymore so I was digging out a new crapper in the back yard when whoosh I was covered in a black sticky mess. I called my wife and she told me I was a stupid bastard and not to walk that mess through the house. Anyway my mate Dispy Congo told me it’s oil you dickhead and I thought fuck me, what if Mugabe finds out I’m a dead rich man”

Early reports claim Mr Mugabe has denied these reports saying “There is no oil in Zimbabwe, these rumours are an attempt to distabilise my glorious country”.

George Bush has made a statement in which he has said, “The war against terror has no boundaries and our special services have been watching Mr Mugabe for some time and have evidence that he his hiding Osama Bin Laden, employing him as a gardener in one of his mansions. We will immediately despatch 10000 troops and will remove this harbourer of terrorists with immediate effect. I have always believed Zimbabwe was behind 9/11 and this news confirms my suspicions” off camera Todays Problem Is Washington reporter overheard Mr Bush saying “Daddy won’t belive it, I’m gonna get him more oil, where there’s muck there’s brass and guns and death and destruction and me, ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha”

Dave Ross

Zimbabwe

 

 

Petrol station charges £1.99 a litre

Enough now, £1.33 (£1.99 in some extreme cases) for a litre of diesel. An increase this year of more than 30%. If I’m right most oil companies made colossal profits last year charging £1.00 per litre, they would still make a huge profit this year if they still charged £1.00 per litre. Where is their loyalty to us, the long suffering customer? What can we do? Boycott the petrol stations, great idea but how do I get to work? Use another mode of transport? Getting across London on London Transport? No way, it’s more expensive, it takes longer and it stinks? I’m sorry this is 2008 if I want to drive, I’ll drive! Which is where the oil companies have us over a barrell. Most of us can afford the extra cost, in real terms it costs me an extra £ 5-6 per week. The oil companies know this and will keep the rise going for as long as they feel so inclined, it has nothing to do with the extra cost of oil it is greed, does it really matter to them if they make £20 billion this year or £10 billion? It’s the sheer arrogance, the misuse and abuse of a natural resource for enormous personal profit. I don’t want to get all green but while I have no objection to paying a fair price for the efforts of pumping, refining, delivering and supplying diesel I don’t want to be taken from the rear by pump number 4 thank you very much.

Our government stand idly by letting this highway robbery go ahead, where’s the monoplies commission when you need them? Alternatively if they don’t want to upset their greasy benefactors then reduce the rate of tax on fuel by 30% to level things up. The irony of my fuel tax paying for our soldiers to fight a war to protect oil fields to keep down the price of fuel is not lost on me. Thanks for your efforts Mr Brown an opportunity to DO something passes you by again, you really are a waste of skin and bones.

Finally when are the car manufacturers going to role out alternative fuel vehicles that are accessible to all? Fuck the oil companies I’d drive a steam powered car if I could.

This is all part of the biggest conspiracy of all time, the Bush family continue to line their pockets while innocent men, women and children die. Troops are wiped out protecting what? Fighting who? None of us really know the truth we can only surmise at the sheer magnitude of the black, sticky mess on the sole of our collective conscience.

So when I finally pay £2.00 per litre and decide it’s time to by a scooter it won’t matter, no-one cares and nobody can do anything about it. Like a latter day Marie Antoinette, the conspiritors can say “Diesel, let them use unleaded”. Fuck them all, I’m off to get some diesel before the pumps run dry!