YOU know something weird is going on when you find yourself glued to an archery contest.
The Olympic final was between a trio of chubby Italians in shell-suits who could have been extras in The Sopranos, and three Brahmin Americans in khaki shorts who were probably Matt Damon's brothers.
Needless to say the Italians won, scoring maximum 10s with the ease of Willie Tell hitting a Golden Delicious off his gorgeous assistant's nut. I know, I know, Mr Tell was not an archer but a crossbowman. As every schoolkid surely knows it was Robin Hood, played best by Richard Greene, who won Olympic gold when the games were held in Nottingham back in yonder days.
As a boy I used to make my own bows and arrows, inspired by the great Duncan Macrae whose party piece – Wee Cock Sparra – kept the Beatles off the No 1 slot in Tobermory for yonks. Alang came a boy wi' his bow 'n' arra and let fly at the sparra 'n' hit a man wi' a barra who wisnae his farra. Magic!
ANENT – indispensable wurd – the Olympics, this is what it must be like to live in a police state, in which the London-based media, print as well as broadcast, insists on transmitting unremittingly good news, irrespective of reality.
As usual the Beeb is the worst culprit, with presenters who could not be more sunny and jingoistic if they were on Blue Peter. The worst of the worst is Clare Balding, who sounds as if she's been trepanned. What's she on? Anabolic sweeties?
BLACKPOOL, apparently, is the most unhappy place in the UK. How does a town win such an accolade? Do researchers wander round it asking its inhabitants how happy or unhappy they are? Or do they simply look at them and count those wearing cheesy grins and those who look as if they've just been mugged?
On my recent reconnaissance trip to Ireland I talked to a couple of English amigos who'd gone into Belfast for the day. "How," I asked, "had they found it?" "By sat nav." Ho, ho. "I meant the place." "Grim." "And the people?" "Grim too." Doubtless there are good reasons for this. Ditto Blackpool. But it can't be good for a town whose wellbeing depends on day-trippers, B&B dwellers and candy-floss scoffers to have its misery broadcast to the nation. Blackpudlians need to cheer up soon or suffer the consequences. Whatever they may be.
I have seen it all now. I refer to Celtic's Champions League game against Helsinki before which Michael Jamieson's silver medal-winning swim was broadcast live to the inhabitants of Paradise.
Perhaps this could be the start of a trend. John Higgins pots a final black? The Jocky Wilson de nos jour hits the bullseye. Andy Murray nearly beats Federer ... Or there again, perhaps not.
LORD Wiggo, aka Bradley Wiggins, a cyclist, is surely the greatest Olympian since Zeus who, to the best of my knowledge, never won the Tour de France or even a measly time trial.
Mr Wiggins, who gave up strong Belgian beer to become a complete bicycle, can now be expected to have a profound effect on modern life. Not the least of his achievements, it seems, is the resurgence in popularity of sideburns, which have been defined as "patches of facial hair grown on the sides of the face from the hairline to below the ears and worn with an unbearded chin". They got their name from one Ambrose Burnside, a general on the Union side of the American Civil war who, according to Mr Wikipedia, was more hirsute than he was a hero, invariably clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The last cultivator of sideburns was Noddy Holder of Slade, who many believe was responsible for kicking them into the dustbin of history where they obviously belong. Their resuscitation by Lord Wiggo is just one by-product of the Games. Another is the wearing of over-tight garb by male rowers and swimmers whose bits and pieces are on display for all to see. There should be a law against it.
TOMORROW (or today if you prefer) marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death. Some conspiracy theorists continue to insist that she was murdered, possibly by ne'er-do-well chums of Bobby Kennedy with whom she had a fling and who she was threatening to expose. Or so the rumours fly.
My own hunch is that Ms Monroe was murdered, though not by an individual but by the Land of the Free and Ignorant. Her life was one of abuse. Her father, a Norwegian immigrant, abandoned her mother before she was born, his sole bequest to his daughter her blonde hair. As a child she lived in one foster home after another, in several of which she claimed to have been abused. When work in the movies proved difficult to come by she agreed to pose in the nude on the proviso that her identity would be withheld. It wasn't. She got a part on a Marx Brothers movie which, Groucho remembered, called for "a young lady who can walk by me in such a manner as to arouse my elderly libido and cause smoke to issue from my ears".
Ms Monroe was never embarrassed to use her body to advance her career, once walking into a party in a see-through dress and wearing no underwear.
"There was a whole period," she once said, "when I felt flattered if a man took an interest in me – any man."
Seeing her, one Hollywood female veteran remarked: "They'll eat her alive." And they did. But she was not all give and no take. Asked to rank Frank Sinatra as a lover, she said: "He was no DiMaggio", referring, of course, to Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, the famous baseball player and her second husband, who took care of her funeral arrangements and, unlike countless others, refused to cash in on his memories of her.
You don't need to be svelte, or wear green felt, to be a good archer
Poor Marilyn had many a beau, but Cupid often missed the target
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