A Boxing Day slip-up

29 12 2016

In Europe most countries take a winter break during their football season (that’s soccer for those of you of a North American persuasion). Given the cold, wet climate that would seem pretty sensible. Britain, of course, does not. Not only that, but games played over Christmas regularly attract the highest attendances of the season. When I was a kid teams actually played local derbies on Christmas Day itself, with the reverse fixture played 24 hours later, but nowadays they’ve settled on a full Boxing Day programme with two more games to play in the coming week.

I was particularly excited about this year’s fixture list as my favourite team, Southampton (known by all as the Saints), were playing my brother Mike’s favourite team, Tottenham Hotspur (known as Spurs by their fans and ‘those north London ba$tards’ by everyone else), and the game was going to be televised.

Over the years Spurs have definitely had the better of Southampton and Mike has rarely been slow to point this out. Determined to stake out the high moral ground, I phoned Mike ten minutes before kick off (7.45 pm British time, 11.45 am here on the west coast) to suggest that there was no need to phone each other every time our team scored – we could just have a nice, civilised chat once the game was over.

Well, that plan went straight out the window when Saints scored barely 60 seconds into the game. It was like reaching for that third mince pie – I knew I shouldn’t but I just couldn’t help myself: I rang Mike immediately. He was pretty good about it, but did point out that there were still 89 minutes left. And, of course, karma kicked in: 15 minutes later Spurs equalised. Surprisingly, Mike didn’t call. Early in the second half Spurs went ahead. Still no call. Saints conceded a penalty and had a player red-carded. Still no call. Spurs scored a third. Nothing. Finally, 30 seconds after Spurs went 4-1 up, the phone rang. Sure enough, call display showed Mike’s number. I picked up the phone and, without giving him the chance to speak, I said “Well, you can f#ck off for a start.” There was a pause… and then my 84 year old mum, without missing a beat, said “And a very Happy Christmas to you too, darling!”

So that’s me out of the will, then.

Love you, Mum!

Your truly penitent son


(Oh, and Mike – well played, both you and Spurs!)


Good sportsmanship

19 03 2016


I received this email from my friend Bob recently. Though it’s not to do with golf it did remind me of my responsibilities as a grandparent when I watch my five year old grandson Eli play sports:

"You're outta here!"

“You’re outta here!”

 At one point during a game, the coach called one of his 9-year-old baseball players aside and asked,

‘Do you understand what cooperation is?’ The little boy nodded ‘yes’.

‘What a team is?’ The little boy nodded in the affirmative.

‘Do you understand that what matters is whether we win or lose together as a team?’ Again the little boy nodded ‘yes’.

‘So,’ the coach continued, ‘I’m sure you know, when an out is called, you shouldn’t argue, curse, attack the umpire, or call him a pecker-head, dickhead or asshole.’

‘Do you understand all that?’ The little boy nodded ‘yes’ once again.

He continued, ‘And when I take you out of the game so another boy gets a chance to play too, it’s not good sportsmanship to call your coach “a dumb ass or shithead” is it?’ The little boy shook his head ‘NO’.

‘GOOD’, said the coach . . .

‘Now please go over there and explain all that to your grandmother!’



(Any resemblance to any particular grandmother, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Especially Scottish Wife.)

All da best.

Dave B.

R.I.P. Muggsy

6 05 2015

Muggsy. Still got it.

In the summer of 1996 a new addition arrived in the Brooker family. For reasons never explained at the time, Scottish Wife had taken herself off to the SPCA in Courtenay and returned with a scrawny looking tabby kitten, just a few weeks old. “He was born in a ditch and his mother’s died,” she said, “and if no one takes him he’ll have to be put down.” There are times when SW can be talked out of a course of action by using logic and rational argument. This was not one of those times. Apart from Bob the goldfish a decade or so earlier – and that hadn’t ended too well – we’d never been a pet family. Now we had a little bundle of energy tearing around the house, jumping at shadows and leaping half way up the curtains. Kate had picked him out – the smallest of a litter of five – so it was up to Joe to choose a name: no hesitation – in honour of Tyrone ‘Muggsy’ Bogues, at 5’3” the shortest player ever to play in the NBA and surely the owner of the most impressive vertical in all of basketball, Muggsy it had to be.

It wasn’t too long after that we took Muggsy to the vet. We borrowed a cage to transport him in the car. He was fine going into the cage – we must have caught him unawares – but when we arrived at the vet’s he went absolutely mental. A year later, when we received a phone call to remind us that it was time for Muggsy’s annual check up, SW and I looked at each other and said “Nuh.” Apart from being on a special diet for a urinary tract infection, Muggsy remained in the best of health and he never went back to the vet.

If Muggsy had been a human being I think the best word to describe him would have been ‘curmudgeonly’ which, as the rest of the family pointed out, made him ideal company for me. Molson, our second cat, who arrived on the scene four years later, was the friendliest cat imaginable. If anything, Muggsy got even grumpier. He tended to ignore Molson unless she got in his way, in which case he would give her a cuff round the ear.

In recent years Muggsy got a little slower and his hearing started to go (insert your own ‘Just like Dave’ comment here). Although he was approaching his 19th birthday (we never knew his exact birth date so we chose August 4th, to coincide with the date we immigrated to Canada), and we’d started to leave DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) messages with friends whenever we went away, it was a shock to receive a Skype message on Monday from our dear friend Mickey to say that when she’d popped in to check on the house that morning she’d found Muggsy lying dead on the carpet in my study.

Here are some extracts from emails sent between us and the kids yesterday:

Me: Sorry to have to tell you that Muggsy passed away yesterday. Nearly 19. The good news is that you both move up one place in the family hierarchy. Stu’s going to bury him down by the shed.

Kate: Surprised at how sorry I am to hear the news about Muggsy. Can’t believe I never knew how to spell his name. Glad to hear of the burial plans – I’ve never forgiven you for flushing Bob the goldfish down the toilet.

Joe: Damn. I respected that guy more and more each year – a true rags to riches story in joining Molson in a life of luxury. Please give Mom a hug from me.

Joe: P.S. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say I wish it had been Molson.

So from all of us (I think Joe was just kidding) RIP, Muggsy. It’s been a pleasure having you as a part of the family all this time and it’s going to be weird without you.

All da best.

Dave B.


R.I.P. Muggsy