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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

#8: Weather You Think You Can...

As an outdoor sportsman (or woman), you can’t claim to be a fully rounded master of your craft until you’ve experienced playing in the full gamut of weather conditions. Such as golfing in a blizzard; running through a monsoon; or trampolining in a tornado.

Wind, in particular, can play havoc with your golf game. And I’m not just talking about Swiss Tony proudly letting one go at the top of your backswing (having wolfed down an extra helping of Uncle Ben’s Extra Spicy Three-Bean Salad at dinner the previous night).

My former work colleague – let’s call him Dave (being as that was his name) – experienced this first-hand during a charity golf day back in the late ’90’s. Dave was a newcomer to the game, and wasn’t familiar with the need to plunge your (closed) umbrella (spike-end-first) into the turf on a day when rain and gale-force gusts collaborated. And plunged so deeply that the tip of your brolly is technically in New Zealand.

On this particular day, as we surrounded the second green of a course in Somerset, England, Dave nonchalantly left his fully-erect umbrella perched delicately on the edge of the fringe as he eyed up his putt for a triple-bogey. What happened next is usually reserved for cartoon chases featuring Tom & Jerry, Itchy & Scratchy or The Anthill Mob.

A gust of wind roared up like Godzilla from the sea, causing the umbrella to take to the skies; soaring majestically towards Glastonbury, via the seventh tee-box. If ‘soaring majestically’ is technically possible three inches above ground-level. ‘Revved-up’ revellers at the famous music festival are used to seeing umbrellas (and a plethora of other magical objects) flying through the air… though not normally real ones.

We quickly alerted Dave to the alarming turn of events, and watched as he hastily abandoned his attempted plumb-bob (a technique which involves dangling the putter in front of you while closing one eye, just because you’ve seen Jack Nicklaus do it on TV; even he admits it doesn’t work, just looks impressive) and gave chase like Usain Bolt trying to win Olympic gold (and simultaneously prove the critics wrong).

To read the rest of this column, check out BC Johnny's upcoming book: Chilled Almonds.

Friday, 19 October 2012

#7: Locating my Inner Shizzle Bizzle

Germany hadn’t played a massive part in my life up to the 17th of September, 2009.

I’d been to Frankfurt, visiting friends I met during a fall, 2003 foreign exchange to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville (UWP); I’d been to Munich airport, bouncing through with friends and family on the way to Scheffau, Austria for a skiing trip to celebrate Yuletide 1996; and I’d been gutted when Pearce and Waddle, then Southgate fluffed their penalty shootout lines as they (the West Germans in 1990; then the unified Germans in 1996) inflicted World Cup Italia ’90 and Euro ’96 heartache on England.

So about 99.9% of the country – a whisker smaller than the U.S. state of Montana – was still a mystery to me. As far as I knew, we’d forgiven the Germans for starting World War II (I think), and they’d forgiven us for finishing it (I think). Either way, the 35th Berlin Marathon was going to be an adventure… or a war of attrition/investigation/exploration.

As my mum kindly drove me to Bristol airport, I felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation as to what lay in store in less than three days' time. Lining up (or should that be wedged in?) with 39,999 others was set to be one of the most memorable experiences of my life; completing Leg Four of the marathon world’s ‘Big Five’ (with London, Chicago and Boston already in the bag).

Well, that was the theory. I hadn't got there yet – and the rush-hour traffic in Ashton (a central district of Bristol) was none too forgiving, as Mum and I (in my dad's Mini Cooper) inched our way past Ashton Gate – home to Bristol City Football Club (that’s real football, where you actually use your feet) – with all the speed of a male snail (not to be confused with snail-mail) stoned out of his shell.

There was no need to really worry, though. That's because we were armed with Dad's trusty Sat-Nav (Satellite Navigation) system. Oh, yes. One of the 21st Century's truly great technological discoveries – and quite possibly the most annoying.

For as little as $100 or as much as $1000+, you can have Snoop Dogg (or Lion as he now calls himself), Simon Cowell or Ozzy Osborne barking/whining out instructions as to where you should be going.

And if you make any mistakes (the pressure not to is enormous), you’ll have Snoop ('in his soothing West Coast shizzle bizzle') telling you to: “Rewind that move and fly to the left ya’ll.” Cowell smugly declaring: “That is...

To read the rest of this column, check out BC Johnny's upcoming book: Chilled Almonds.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

#6: There's a Voice, Keeps on Callin' Me...

I’ve always related to The Littlest Hobo. The cool, German Shepherd who starred in the late 70's/early 80's Canadian TV series of the same name.

Paw-loose and fancy-free, Hobo was like a poor man's Lassie; turning up out of the blue in a no-name town in NowheresVille and helping save the day by rescuing a damsel in distress – or solving a mystery Columbo-like; aside from the fact he was a dog, never so much whimpered in earnest, and had two good eyes.

Hobo was an enigmatic hero. A bit like Jack Reacher, Lee Child's recurring novel character; though less likely to hurl the antagonist through a plate-glass window if he didn’t play ball. And Hobo was normally naked (I guess that's just a dog thing); whereas Reacher, though a famously light traveller, was usually wearing pants and a shirt (bought from Mark's Work Wearhouse, or somewhere similar).

TLH, based on a 1958 American film of the same name, ran on CTV from October 1979 to March 1985. It starred an ownerless dog who regularly rolled (or trotted) into town unannounced, helping good triumph over evil. That's not a bad mantra to live by, in my book. Plus, if I needed any extra reassurance of the power of our kinship, Hobo was primarily played by an ‘actor’ called London.

I was in my early teens when the series was in full swing back in the UK (during the mid-1980’s); battling it out with my brother and sister to claim the armchair nearest the TV on Saturday mornings so we could sit snugly (and smugly), with our bowls of Kellogg’s Start, mesmerized by Hobo and his remarkable deeds.

“There’s a voice, keeps on callin’ me… down the road, that’s where I’ll aaalllways, beeeeee.” A theme tune for a generation, and one that's been etched in my DNA ever since.

To read the rest of this column, check out BC Johnny's upcoming book: Chilled Almonds.