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Soup of This Day #252: Everything And More And That’s For Sure

October 5, 2012

Sumatran Tiger
A Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), representative of a critically endangered subspecies of big striped cats. A tiger will trump a canary, unless of course the canary takes wing as cats aren’t equipped with those. In such circumstances there would exist a stalemate as the canary clearly can’t harm the tiger. Not even Tweety Bird could and he/she is fictional. As are Liverbirds but it’s clear that if they existed they would whoop a canary’s arse – Photo: Captain Herbert, 2009. Captain Herbert is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I am sure, that given the right set of circumstances, that I could be fond of Mr. Stephen Fry. The English comedian is responsible for a large volume of work that I find compelling. This includes the quite brilliant QI, a quasi-quiz show that he has fronted since 2003.

QI incidentally stands for Quite Interesting, and it is.

There is also his comedy work with regular sparring partner Hugh Laurie, including throughout the seminal A Bit of Fry and Laurie and via supporting roles in the classic Blackadder.

Then there are the documentaries that he has hosted, such as his mildly eccentric tour of each of the United States – He covered all 50 (And 1 federal district), almost all of them via an iconic London taxi-cab. For a part of 1 leg of that journey he was accompanied by Sting, an Englishman in New York.

Fry is also 1 of the best of tweeters (or twits) out there. His followers number just shy of 5 million and they are that numerous for a reason – He is humorous, without being malicious, gentle without being cosseting and sharp without being cutting.

On the surface then you’d say that he was some person and would seem to be the kind of man I’d greatly respect. There is a potential problem though.

Stephen Fry has made a lifestyle choice I cannot say that I would agree with.

Sure, some will argue that it isn’t a lifestyle choice. He was born that way, they’ll say.

To which I would reply hogwash – He was born in London.

He did grow up in Norfolk later though – For nigh on 35 years the Fry family home was Booton House, near the city of Norwich, the county town of Norfolk. This then explains why Fry is the way he is – It is nature vs nurture and nurture near Norwich nullifies nature.

Which is a tongue-twisting way of saying that Stephen Fry has chosen to be a Norwich City FC fan. Actually he is more than that even – In 2010 he joined the Board of Directors for the club, saying:

‘Truly this is one of the most exciting days of my life and I am as proud and pleased as I could be.’

That’s just shamelessly flaunting it now. In the privacy of your own home is 1 thing, but to do so in public is surely too much.

Not that I should have much to hold against Norwich City FC – They are a proud and ancient football club, having been founded in 1902. Since then they have won 2 League Cups and in the inaugural season of the English Premier League (EPL) the Canaries finished a more than creditable 3rd, having lead the table at Christmas and indeed for most of the season. With the likes of Bryan Gunn in goal, Ruel Fox on the wing and Chris Sutton and Mark Robins potting goals they were a memorable outfit.

Also because their uniform was 1 of the most stomach-churning you’ll see. As an aside, those bright yellow and green colours emanate from the club’s nickname, ‘The Canaries’. They are so named because around the time they were formed Norwich, the city, was a key centre for the breeding of canaries.

Yep, they churned out flocks of randy songbirds in Norwich and then named a football team after them.

We had a canary when I was a kid. He was appropriately called Whistler and was savagely killed in his cage by an appropriately named butcherbird. I was heavily traumatised by this and vowed then and there to despise all butcherbirds for all time. I’ve now grown out of that and have come to appreciate butcherbirds for their melodious calls and their whistling.

It’s the circle of life.

Perhaps then it would have been fitting for me to become a fan of Norwich City FC – Honouring the memory of Whistler. It would have been nurture, albeit not quite as strong a connection as that experienced by Stephen Fry given that I grew up in rural Western Australia, roughly 16 million kms from the Canaries’ Carrow Road home. It would most definitely not be nature – My DNA was configured to make me a supporter of Australian Rules football and in particular the Claremont Tigers of the Western Australian Football League (WAFL, pronounced ‘waffle’).

Claremont is a suburb of Perth, Western Australia. It is an old borough, 1 of a number of exclusive areas known as the ‘Western Suburbs’, peopled by the rich and entitled. My family wasn’t either of those but my grandparents had purchased a house in those parts back before the location took off and so that’s where my Dad had grown up, a very short walk from the main gate of Claremont Oval, aka Tigerland. Consequently my brother and I had Claremont jumpers as juniors and we were programmed to worship the Tiger’s greats. I have some vague memory of a bedspread that had legendary Tiger player/coach Graham Moss’ number on it – 25 I think.

The bedspread and jumper are just a distant memory now but I do have a Burley football that was used in a WAFL match by the Tiges. That ball is around 30 years old now but once in a while I take it out for a kick.

It still goes.

In spite of this I’m not qualified to describe myself as a Claremont fan. I support them a bit I suppose, but my commitment to even that is hardly worth crowing about.

Or whistling.

The great Bill Shankly once said dismissively that if arch-rivals Everton were playing at the bottom of his garden he’d draw the curtains. If Claremont were playing at the bottom of our garden I’d leave the curtains open but I’d shortly get distracted by The Noah playing Lego.

I’d possibly be a little worried about the windows too – Our garden ain’t that big. Also the wife is quite fond of her vege patch and there would be hell to pay if they churned that up.

So I defied my genetic predisposition. Not just in my choice of team, but in my selection of sport. I gave my loyalty to another code of football.


And the team I picked to support was Liverpool FC. A team represented by a Liver bird – Sort of a swan crossed with a bird of prey. Possibly it’s a cormorant – Either way, it’s not as tough as a tiger but it is a little more impressive than your average canary.

For serious animal clout it’s hard to top a tiger – The weekend before last Claremont matched up against the East Fremantle Sharks in the WAFL Grand Final. Sharks are quite fearsome – East Freo had actually made the Grand Final in the Colts and the Reserves as well and were bidding for a hat-trick of wins on the day.

They didn’t get it.

Sharks aren’t good out of water.

They lost the Colts to the South Freo Bulldogs, the Reserves to Claremont and the big 1 went a little like this:

Claremont won the 1st quarter by 8.6 to 1.1. The Sharks then thrashed back to within 7 points at 3-quarter time leaving both teams with a decent shout in the last. East Freo had the momentum though and it looked like Claremont would need a bigger boat.

They must have found 1 and a way for big cats to paddle it because they took the last quarter by 5 goals to 2 and for the 2nd consecutive year are the WAFL Premiers.

Given that the Tigers had pasted the Sharks by 92 points in their most recent meeting that final outcome should not have been a surprise – There had been a warning, a canary if you like…

Canaries were once used in underground mines as bellwethers you see. If the air was becoming dangerously noxious the canary would die 1st, giving it’s human companions time to beat a hasty retreat to safety.

That was the role of the canary – Die as a warning to others. Noble and committed.

The Liver bird on the other hand is a tough looking bird and it don’t do no laying down for nobody, least of all canaries.

Which might be how Liverpool FC approached its 6th outing of the EPL season last weekend, a game against Norwich City at Carrow Road. With both clubs desperately seeking their 1st win of the term, Liverpool needed to channel their inner Liver bird and send some canary feathers flying.

That they duly did because, just like Claremont’s last quarter a week before and that butcherbird against Whistler many years ago, they killed off the opposition with a 5 goal to 2 burst and snared the 3 points.

Technically the butcherbird killed off the opposition with a very sharp beak which is only 1 point – I may have taken a literary liberty suggesting that it had scored goals.

And so Stephen Fry and I are at opposite ends of a divide.

Or maybe not…

Fry suffers from cyclothymia. He describes this mental illness as ‘bipolar light’ – It is characterised by highs and lows. Hypomanic episodes countered by depression.

I don’t have that, at least not the 1st bit. I do have to face down the 2nd part though – Depression has been my companion for the past 20 years. Anyone who battles that is on my team.

It seems that not only could I like Mr Stephen Fry, but that I actually do. Whistler would be so proud.

Everything And More And That’s For Sure

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