Monday, August 13, 2012

When Alexander Saw The Breadth Of His Dominion He Wept For There Were No More Worlds Left To Conquer

So, that's all over then. Bugger. What the hell are we all gonna do with our lives now it's finished? 'But, enough about Big Brother,' yer actual Keith Telly Topping hears you shout, dear blog reader, 'what about the Olympics, then?' Great Britain's chef de mission Andy Hunt has called his team's performance at London 2012 their 'greatest ever' after sealing third place in the medal table. Hard to argue with that, really. Of course, it's not all about medals. Although, mostly it is. Britain ended behind only the United States and China and ahead of Russia. And Australia. Way ahead of Australia. 'This is our greatest performance of our greatest team at the greatest Olympics ever,' Hunt told the BBC thinking briefly about avoiding hyperbole and then, clearly, deciding the train had already long since left the station  on that score. Britain won sixty five medals, with twenty nine gold, seventeen silver and nineteen bronze. It surpassed their total of forty seven at the 2008 Beijing Games and the target of 'at least forty eight' set by UK Sport and was two more than Steve Redgrave predicted Britain would win just before the Opening Ceremony on BBC1. Uncanny. 'It's been a massive privilege to do this,' Hunt said on Olympic Breakfast. 'The performance of the athletes has been extraordinary, and the collaboration across British sport to make it happen has been nothing like we've ever seen before. Combine that with the support of the British public and it's been magical. We know that seventy per cent of athletes usually do not win a medal at an Olympic Games. We've unquestionably exceeded our expectations.' The United States restored their dominance at the Olympics after China's extraordinary performance in Beijing, but the poor display from Australia with just seven golds is equally as noteworthy. Four years ago in Beijing, the US, who had previously come first in each Olympics since they boycotted the 1980 games, were knocked off the top of the overall podium. But they have restored their position as the leading medal-winning nation with forty six golds and one hundred and four medals in total. Britain's twenty ninth gold medal came courtesy of boxing super-heavyweight Anthony Joshua who narrowly won a pulsating bout with the reigning Olympic champion the great Roberto Cammerelle of Italy. Four years ago, the twenty two-year-old from Finchley had never stepped into a boxing ring. On Sunday, he won the final boxing gold of the London Olympics. It was Britain's third boxing title the fortnight. There was an Italian appeal afterwards, due to the closeness of the decision but, ultimately, Joshua was confirmed as the gold medallist. Fred Evans's bid to become the first Welsh Olympic boxing champion ran into a better welterweight in Serik Sapiyev on Sunday. The Kazakh boxer was simply too good for the tough little twenty one-year-old from Cardiff, winning the gold-medal contest by seventeen points to nine. Evans's silver medal, nevertheless, makes him the most successful Welsh Olympic boxer, beating Ralph Evans's bronze in 1972. Fred can certainly be proud of his run to the final with four victories, including a win over world number one Taras Shelestyuk. Britain's sixty fifth medal came in the final event of the games, the women's Modern Pentathlon with twenty two year old Samantha Murray taking a silver. British pentathletes have now won medals at all four games since the women's event was first introduced in 2000. Samantha started the run-shoot finale eight seconds off the pace in fourth place, but quickly moved to take second behind Lithuania's Laura Asadauskaite. 'Four years ago I was doing my A-levels at school, I'd started pentathlon but I was by no means performing on an international level,' Samantha said. 'Since then I've come through the ranks, won some medals along the way and made it to the Olympic Games. Honestly, if you have a goal - if there's anything you want to achieve in life - don't let anybody get in your way. You can do it. If I can do it, and I'm a normal girl, anyone can do what they want to do.' And, with those genuinely inspirational words, it was all over bar the Closing Ceremony. The entire country was watching that. Well, I say the entire country, Morrissey recently launched a withering attack on the 'blustering jingoism' of the Olympics and declared that 'the spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain.' So he was obviously watching A Touch Of Frost on ITV instead.
The closing ceremony featured some of the biggest names in British pop playing to eighty thousand people at the Olympic Stadium. Not Morrissey, obviously. He was watching A Touch of Frost, remember? Big Ben chimed to start the event, as a spectacular cityscape in the shape of a Union Jack was unveiled. After sixteen days of competition, the show, said to be 'a celebration of British people, music and culture,' kicked-off at nine o'clock on Sunday evening at the Olympic Stadium. Madness, The Pet Shop Boys, Elbow (a beautiful version of 'One Day Like This'), George Michael, The Kaiser Chiefs (playing The Who's 'Pinball Wizard'), Fat Boy Slim and Ray Davies (leading a singalong for what should be the national anthem, 'Waterloo Sunset') were some of those who performed whilst the show also included the music of Kate Bush, David Bowie and (lots of) The Beatles. The Spice Girls reformed and Beady Eye played a vast singalong version of 'Wonderwall' with most of the crowd and the athletes joining in but, significantly, without the chap what wrote it. (One imagines Noel was fantastically pissed off about that.) The ceremony, basically, was saying 'Britain will not only beat you at cycling and rowing, but thrashes the rest of the world at popular music too.' Silence descended as a fanfare from the Household Division Ceremonial State Band announced the arrival of Prince Harry, who was at the show representing the Queen - presumably she had something more important to do on a Sunday night. Not sure what, exactly. Wash her hair, maybe? - and the President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge. Shortly thereafter, the athletes began entering the stadium, with sailor Ben Ainslie, a four-time Olympic gold medallist, carrying the flag for Great Britain, and leading out the British team. Some of the ceremony - A Symphony of British Music - was great, some of it was mawkish and trite (the use of that wretched frigging dirge 'Imagine' for one) and some of it was down a question of personal taste. But, like the opening ceremony most of it was, undeniably, beautifully, British. A mixture of reserved introspection, proud individuality and massive doses of self-deprivation. Eric Idle doing 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life' with eighty thousand people whistling and some roller-skating nuns, covered that last one quite nicely. Which, ultimately, is the whole point of putting on a show, I guess.
Could've done without Annie Lennox, personally. Traditionally, the closing ceremony is a chance to celebrate what the athletes have achieved, with Olympics supremo Lord Coe describing it as 'a time to party, party, party.' I dunno what sort of parties he gets invited too but, if they feature somebody playing 'Imagine', I'm pretty sure they'll be over by ten o'clock and nobody will get laid. 'This is the disco at the end of a wedding,' artistic director Kim Gavin said of the ceremony. So, that's explains Annie Lennox, then. The embarrassing old auntie who can't sing and whom everyone wishes would just shut the hell up. And, as for whose idea it was to have Russell Brand massacre 'I Am The Walrus' jolly well done! Bet that's the first time an Olympic closing ceremony has featured the word 'knickers'. (Russell appearance was, in and of itself, rather welcome - if only for the sole reason that it was likely to have severely pissed off a few hundred thousand odious sour-faced shit-scum lice who read the Daily Scum Mail.)
And then, in flash (and a samba) and some fireworks (lots of fireworks, actually), it was all over - albeit, more than forty minutes later than expected - and Jacques Rogge was calling on the youth of the world to assemble in Rio in four years time to celebrate the Thirty First Olympiad. Whether the next one will be as successful, as 'happy and glorious' and, at times, as downright bonkers as London 2012, we'll have to wait and see. If we haven't been bombed to dust by the North Koreans over another flag incident before then. One thousand four hundred and fifty four days, and counting. Bet they won't have The Who playing 'Baba O'Riley', 'See Me, Feel Me' and 'My Generation' at their closing ceremony, though!
London has held a 'fabulous' Olympics, enabling athletes to 'make history,' the president of the International Olympic Committee has said. Jacques Rogge thanked the organisers LOCOG for their efforts saying 'I am a very happy and grateful man.' In all, forty four world records have been set during London 2012, and one hundred and seventeen Olympic records broken. Rogge added that 'nothing fundamental' had gone wrong at the games, but added that the IOC would review ticket allocations ahead of Rio in 2016. Rogge said it would be unfair to compare London with previous host cities but that he would deliver his final assessment of the games during his speech at the closing ceremony. During the joint press conference with Olympic organisers LOCOG, Doctor Rogge praised the British public for embracing the games in such an 'exceptional' way. He also thanked the volunteers and military and praised the transport system around the capital. But the IOC president said that his team would look at some 'minor issues' which could be improved in time for the games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Among them would be a review into how tickets are allocated, after some problems emerged in London. 'The sale of tickets is a very difficult issue,' Rogge said. 'A balance must be struck between the home country and the rest of the world.' He insisted however that the venues were full. The chairman of LOCOG, Lord Coe, said that he was pleased that the IOC was happy with an 'uplifting and energising' London 2012. 'London promised an athletes' Games and that's exactly what we got,' Rogge said. 'History has been written by many, many athletes - the double treble of Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Sir Chris Hoy, Ben Ainslie, Andy Murray winning his first major title. I could go on.' Please do. He said that his defining image of London 2012 was Sir Chris Hoy's tears of joy on the podium, after winning the keirin track cycling event. The gold was Sir Chris's second of the Games and sixth in total, which along with a previous silver medal made the Scotsman Britain's most successful Olympian ever. Lord Coe said his enduring memory would be the British public's enthusiasm and support. He said spectators turned the stadia into 'theatres of sport.' Rogge added that the challenge for British sport in the aftermath of the games is to 'continue to surf the wave' of success, and insisted long term investment was needed. Earlier on Sunday, oily prime minister David Cameron announced that Coe is to become the Olympics 'legacy ambassador' and will advise the government on the best ways to secure long-term benefits for the UK.

Tom Daley's Olympic bronze in diving gave BBC3 an enormous audience on Saturday night. Daley's involvement in the ten metre platform men's final attracted a high of over six million to BBC3 at 9.30pm, the channel's best peak of the Olympics. When the event switched to BBC1 and BBC Olympics One, the eighteen-year-old made an even bigger splash, with 15.9m watching him win a medal at 10pm. Mo Farah capturing a second London 2012 gold was seen by a peak of at least 12.4m at 7.45pm. With Britain extending their gold medal tally to - at that stage - twenty eight, 3.78m caught up with all the action with Olympics Tonight from 10.35pm. Olympics Breakfast, meanwhile, averaged 1.45m for a preview of the penultimate day's events. BBC1 dominated with an all-day share of 36.3 per cent and a primetime share of 39.2 per cent. BBC3 was a remarkable second with 6.9 per cent and 11.8 per cent respectively - the first time the digital channel has ever beaten ITV to second place in primetime.

Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda won the Olympic marathon, beating the Kenyan pairing of Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang. Kiprotich led at the thirty seven kilometre mark, despite appearing to suffer discomfort in his leg minutes earlier, and went on to win Uganda's first medal at London 2012. His time of two hours eight minutes and eleven seconds was twenty six seconds clear of Kirui with Kipsang was over a minute further back. Kipsang had taken up the running after Brazil's Franck de Almeida's early break and led at the halfway stage. Kiprotich and Kirui caught him up to leave a three-way fight for the gold medal. Hundreds of thousands of spectators earlier lined London streets for the men's marathon, one of fifteen events on the final day. The Ugandan looked to be struggling with an injury to the back of his leg, but unexpectedly surged to the front and pulled away. 'It means a lot [to Uganda],' said Kiprotich. 'Since 1972 we have never won a gold medal, so they are very happy.' Uganda's last Olympic champion was four hundred metres hurdler John Akii-Bua, who won gold at Munich. Brazil recovered from a shocking start in the women's volleyball final to beat the United States in four sets and retain their Olympic crown. Led by inspirational captain Fabiana Claudino, the South Americans inflicted USA's first defeat at London 2012. The result denied the Americans a first women's volleyball gold and revenge for when they met in the final in Beijing. Earlier, Japan beat South Korea to claim the bronze. The USA came into the match at the Wembley Arena unbeaten in twenty one matches in the calendar year, as the number one ranked team in the world, and with the loss of just two sets at the games. Their billing as pre-event favourites seemed justified as they blew away Brazil to take the first set in an awe-inspiring twenty one minutes. Shocked by their appalling start, Brazil quickly began to dominate at the net and the USA had no answer to the ability of Fernanda Rodrigues and Jaqueline Carvalho. Two Egyptian wrestlers were disqualified from the Olympics after arriving late for qualifying on Sunday. Abdou Omar Abdou Ahmed and Saleh Emara were due to take part in the sixty six and ninety six kilograms freestyle at the ExCeL. Qualifying has started at one o'clock all week but Sunday's competition was moved to half past eight to accommodate the Closing Ceremony and the Egyptians were thirty minutes late. 'We know it is our mistake. We are investigating the matter now,' an Egypt team spokesman said. 'It was in the booklet that the team were given but they didn't see it and they were a little bit late. We are calling the administrator to see who is responsible. They should have known.' The team and Egyptian officials were spotted desperately trying to persuade a bus driver at the Olympic Village to take them to the ExCeL. Once they arrived at the wrestling hall just after nine o'clock they were not allowed to compete despite pleading with officials. France made history by staging a successful defence of their Olympic men's handball title with a tense victory over Sweden in the final. The reigning world champions, who beat Iceland in 2008, edged Sweden twenty two to twenty one to become the first country to win gold at consecutive Games. Croatia won bronze after a comfortable victory thirty three to twenty six over Hungary. France were pushed all the way for their win as Sweden staged a late comeback. However, a strong defensive display, led by former world player of the year Thierry Omeyer, ensured France did enough to take gold. Omeyer was the matchwinner in the semi-final against Croatia. He was again on form in goal against Sweden, producing a string of saves to frustrate the Scandinavians. Sweden's Niclas Ekberg was the tournament golden arm, after his six strikes against France lifted him one above Croatian Ivan Cupic. Afterwards, France celebrated victory in the medal ceremony by stepping onto the podium and performing Usain Bolt's Lightning Bolt pose.

Great moments of the Olympics, number eighty three: BBC basketball commentator Mike Carlson gets hit by a ball whilst commentating on Argentina's quarter-final victory over Brazil. And, he's not happy about it. Although the incident was not caught on camera, there is no doubting he took a full hit in the mush ... Ow!

Joe McElderry has insisted that he is 'fine' with being pointedly excluded from The X Factor's new advertising campaign. Not that anyone would've been particularly interested even if he wasn't 'fine' with it, you understand. ITV unveiled its 'Whose Time Is Now?' promo last month, featuring Leona Lewis, One Direction, Olly Murs, Alexandra Burke, JLS and Little Mix talking about their success since appearing on the talent show. McElderry, along with fellow previous winners Shayne Ward, Matt Cardle, Leon Jackson and Steve Brookstein, were notable by their absence from the commercial. 'I'm not on Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's label so I wouldn't expect him to promote me,' McElderry told the Daily Lies Sunday. Shortly before clocking on for his next shift stacking shelves at Morrisons in South Shields. Never mind about your failed recording career, pal, just tell me where can I find the sauces, oils and condiments and quick about it?

The Edinburgh International Book festival is beginning its sixteen-day residence in the city's Charlotte Square Gardens. More than eight hundred authors from forty five countries will be appearing at about seven hundred and fifty events during the festival. Festival director Nick Barley promised 'an Olympics of the mind' with top authors discussing big ideas. Half of the twelve authors long-listed for the 2012 Man Booker Prize will be appear at the festival. Ned Beauman, Michael Frayn, Deborah Levy, Hilary Mantel, Will Self and Jeet Thayil will all showcase their work in Edinburgh. Also appearing will be Zadie Smith, Howard Jacobson and Pat Barker. Mr Barley told BBC Scotland: 'We have had the Olympics - the joy of seeing all that sport - and I think people can now get themselves into a different mindset. This is an Olympics of the mind where people can come and think hard about who we are and what we are doing.' The festival director said it was free to enter the gardens and encouraged people to sample the wonderful atmosphere and rub shoulders with literary greats. Barley said that in addition to 'intellectual challenge' there would also be lots of fun at the festival. He said David Walliams would introduce his new book Gangsta Granny, while crime writer Val McDermid will present her first book for children My Granny is a Pirate. The children's section of the festival also includes Jacqueline Wilson, who will give young audiences a peek of her re-interpretation of the classic Five Children and It. Andrew Motion will be reading from his sequel to Treasure Island and Frank Cottrell Boyce from his sequel to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Mackenzie Crook and BBC Radio 2 DJ Simon Mayo will also discuss their new books for youngsters. Interviewer Jeremy Paxman and former Chancellor Alistair Darling are among the other well-known names attending. Other politicians include ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who will deliver the National Library of Scotland's Donald Dewar Lecture, and First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, who will discuss his life beyond politics and literary tastes with Booker Prize-winning author Ian McEwan. Many of the sessions have already sold out including Frank Close's A Race for the Higgs Boson, which will be chaired by Professor Peter Higgs, who first identified the concept in the 1960s. On the opening day, influential journalists Ian Black and Paul Mason are sold out for their session on What Caused the 2011 Revolutions?, as are actor Simon Callow and local favourite Alexander McCall Smith. On Sunday, the big draws include British-born Pakistani Maajid Nawaz, who was recruited into a global Islamist party and rose to its leadership before being imprisoned in Egypt. Former Monty Python's Flying Circus star Michael Palin will return to the festival for the first time in twenty five years.

As 'Dog the Bounty Hunter,' Duane Chapman has made a name for himself tracking down offenders on his US reality TV show, but his own criminal past came back to haunt him when the British government refused to grant him a visa. Y'see, dear blog reader. With no Olympics, this is the sort of shit which constitutes 'news', apparently. Chapman, whose show has run for eight seasons in the States, was due to appear on Channel Five's new series of Celebrity Big Brother from Wednesday but the UK Border Agency denied him entry because of his involvement in the 1976 murder of Jerry Oliver in Pampa, Texas. Oliver was shot dead by one of Chapman's friends when they went to buy marijuana from him. Chapman was outside waiting in a car when Oliver was killed inside his house during a struggle. Nevertheless, he was convicted of first-degree murder and served one and a half years of a five-year sentence. Chapman said he was not seeking to minimise his involvement – 'I should not have been there, that's that' – but insisted he had turned his life around. His show, screened on Sky2 and Pick TV in the UK, features him praying with his family for safety and for a successful mission 'in Jesus's name' before going to work on criminals, who frequently repent in his presence. A sworn letter provided by Charles Love, a Pampa police officer at the time of the murder, provided as supporting evidence for Chapman's visa application, described the bounty hunter's role as 'minor.' 'I'd like to see your country and I have a lot of fans there and I'd like to meet them,' Chapman told the Gruniad Morning Star from Hawaii. 'I have always wanted to come here.' He was bound by confidentiality from confirming his scheduled appearance in the Celebrity Big Brother House but expressed hope the 'red tape' could be overcome. However, his wife, Beth, who is also his business partner and co-star, was more forthright. 'It's just incredible that something that he did thirty three years ago is just haunting him,' she said. 'It prevents him making a living. Our society is so unforgiving it seems, no matter how many good things we do.' She pointed to her husband's work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He also has a letter supporting his visa application from a charity called RG1, run by film-makers, which supports young people to lead a life away from crime and wants Chapman to take part in its youth initiative scheme. Additionally, more than three thousand five hundred fans have signed a petition calling for him to be allowed into the UK. But, that's been thrown in the bin along with all the other crap you get through the post these days, it would seem. The refusal letter from the UK Border Agency says: 'Records show that you were convicted of one offence which carried a sentence of five years. According to those records, that conviction is not spent.' It also says the purpose of his visit is not 'of a sufficiently compelling nature' to exercise discretionary powers to let him in. Other Americans have been allowed into the UK despite convictions, including the boxer Mike Tyson, who was granted entry in 2000 at the discretion of then-home secretary Jack Straw, despite his conviction for rape. Chapman's official website says he is considered 'the greatest bounty hunter in the world' and he has made more than six thousand captures in his twenty seven-year career. His TV show was recently cancelled in the US after eight seasons. Hence, one imagines, his desperation to get himself onto the Big Brother. Because, let's face it, not other sensible, God-fearing, self-respecting individual would want to be in there for other reason.

Sheikh Yer Man City scored three times in twelve second-half minutes to beat ten-man Moscow Chelski FC and win the Community Shield. Moscow Chelski took the lead before the break when Fernando Torres finished smartly. Yes, you heard me right, Torres scored. No, this blogger has difficulty believing it as well. But Branislav Ivanovic was sent off moments later for a reckless challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov. Yer actual City took advantage as Yaya Toure swept home, Carlos Tevez hit the top corner from the edge of the box and Samir Nasri volleyed in a cross, with Ryan Bertrand adding a late tap-in for Moscow Chelski. Sergio Aguero could have made it 4-2 a minute from the end, but he missed the target from seven yards out with the goal at his mercy.

Football Association chairman David Bernstein hopes that Premiership footballers will emulate the sporting spirit shown by athletes at the Olympics. The FA met with the Professional Footballers' Association on Thursday to discuss ways of improving the standards of behaviour seen on the pitch. 'The discipline of our athletes is a benchmark that all sports people can aspire towards,' Bernstein said. 'It is important players embrace what we have seen over the past two weeks.' Bernstein added: 'After the sporting spirit we have seen at the Olympic Games, players must recognise that with the privilege of playing comes the responsibility for managing themselves and their behaviours in a similar way.' Yeah. Some hope.

Some really sad news, now. Legendary darts commentator Sid Waddell has lost his fight with bowel cancer, dying on Saturday at the age of seventy two. In a statement, his manager Dick Allix said that Sid 'died peacefully with all his family around him.' Waddell had revealed that he had cancer in September last year. He made a partial return to the commentary box in early 2012, after missing the PDC World Championships in December due to his chemotherapy treatment. Sid's linguistic capabilities captured the attention and affection of the viewing public, his tongue-twisting extended metaphors helping to attract a whole new audience for his great sporting passion and the excitable analyst with the voice evoking the Tyne more than possibly anyone else helped to popularise the sport. Born in Alnwick, Sid's instantly recognisable, enthusiastic commentary style was married with a tremendous, witty turn of phrase. The son of a Northumberland miner, he attended King Edward VI School in Morpeth, and he went on to obtain a scholarship to St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a degree in Modern History. At Cambridge, Waddell played rugby for St Johns and the Cambridge University LX Club. Injury brought him to darts and he started the inter-college darts competition - St John's lost in the first final in 1961 to a team of trainee vicars from Selwyn College. He went into academia for several years from 1962, joining the Social Studies Department at Durham University and helping the Professors of Politics and Economics write books. He toyed with the idea of a book on the history of trade unionism but settled for folk singing in a duo with Charles Hall called The Gravyboatmen. They played the BBC's Tonight and were a regular feature on Tyne Tees Television during the 1960s. In 1966 Sid  joined Granada as a trainee producer working with Michael Parkinson on local news programmes. Two years later he moved to Yorkshire Television where he would create the lunchtime show The Indoor League, fronted by Freddie Trueman ('ah'll see thi!'), which featured various pub games including darts - many people in this country's first exposure to the likes of John Lowe and Leighton Rees. Between 1968 and 1974, Sid was a producer for over six hundred editions of the local news programme, Calendar. He also devised the ITV network children's series The Flaxton Boys a historical tale, set over several generations, which ran for three years from 1969. In 1976, he switched to the BBC and his prior experience with televised darts helped him to become one of the commentators on the first World Professional Darts Championship when it began in 1978. He stayed with the BBC until 1994. During his time with the Beeb, Sid also created and wrote ten episodes of the hugely successful children's series, Jossy's Giants in 1986. He was also the writer of two series of another children's show Sloggers which ran from 1994 to 1996. Sid's credits also include working with the eccentric scientist Magnus Pyke and he was Alan Whicker’s producer on Whicker's Women in 1972. Sid worked on The Russell Harty Show, and in 1993 did a series for Tyne Tees Television called Waddell's World in which he was a butler to a posh Tweeddale family, a caravanner and experienced life on the dole. He made one appearance as The Voice of the Balls on The National Lottery Red Alert on BBC in 1999. He claimed to have been sacked for being 'too Geordie.' He moved to Sky when the Professional Darts Championship was set up in the 1990s. His Sky Sports' colleague Dave Clark described Sid as 'a brilliant man, a genius of the microphone. He had a child-like exuberance, he'd be bouncing round like a young puppy in the commentary box, and mix that with the intellect of Einstein.' Fellow Sky colleague, Jeff Stelling, said: 'Back when I was working with him he made more of an impact than any of the players did. He is totally irreplaceable.' His friend, and fellow darts enthusiast Stephen Fry wrote on Twitter: 'Farewell Sid Waddell: Cambridge educated but always loyal to his beloved North East. Master of the wild epithet and the true voice of darts.' During a memorable guest appearance alongside Sid in the TV commentary box Stephen had proclaimed himself - in a Waddell-style - as 'happy as a pig in Chardonnay.' A fervent Newcastle United supporter, Sid spent most of his later years living in Leeds. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping worked, briefly, with Sid in local radio in the 1990s. He was a fascinating chap, widely recognised as the man to popularise a now common sporting aphorism 'that's the greatest comeback since Lazarus.' 'The atmosphere is so tense, if Elvis walked in with a portion of chips, you could hear the vinegar sizzle on them,' was another of Sid's classic one-liners. So was: 'If we'd had Phil Taylor at Hastings against the Normans, they'd have gone home!' Possibly his most memorable bit of commentary - one which has become much quoted (and misquoted) - occurred at the climax of the 1984 world darts championship and combined Sid's vast historical knowledge with his brilliant sense of humour: 'When Alexander of Macedonia was thirty three, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds left to conquer. Eric Bristow is only twenty seven!' The author of eleven books, Sid's racy 1973 novel Bedroll Bella about a Geordie groupie, was reportedly banned by WH Smiths and John Menzies. Bellies and Bullseyes: The Outrageous True Story of Darts (2007), is a fine warts-and-all exposé on the history of televised darts. In 2009 he published a memoir of his boyhood in a Geordie pit village, The Road Back Home. Sid is survived by his wife, Irene, and their five children, Nick, Lucy, Emma, Charlotte and Dan.

One of the quotes of the Olympics, came from The Beast, Yohan Blake on the subject of the Jamaican sprint team: 'Basically, we are not human, we dropped from space like Mr Bean. Mr Bean is not a normal guy, he makes jokes. We are not normal guys. We are from space, I am from Mars.'
Which brings us nicely to today Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Because, I always thought dear blog reader that the chances of anything coming from Mars were a million to one, they say.

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