The cover of the latest issue of Private Eye shows beleaguered/embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter showing his hands, which appear to be covered in oil. The speech bubble has him saying, 'My hands are clean!'
EXPLANATION The cover illustrates a common English idiom. If you say that someone's hands are clean or that someone has clean hands, you mean that they have done nothing wrong. • "I am not worried about the investigators checking me out," he said. "My hands are clean." The joke is that while Blatter protests his innocence in the speech bubble, his hands are dirty, telling a different story. In fact, he is currently under investigation following the corruption scandal that has rocked world football.
BACKGROUND Sepp Blatter has been returned to serve a fifth term as the head of FIFA. The 79-year-old defeated Jordan's Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein in the presidential contest in Zurich Friday. His victory came despite a week marked by arrests and investigations tied to alleged corruption, which led to calls for the dismissal of the organization's longtime leader. Read more >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Dave Brown from The Independent shows a footballer taking a penalty. The ball, which is on the penalty spot, is emblazoned with the face of Sepp Blatter.
EXPLANATION The cartoon caption 'On the Spot' is a play on an English idiom. To put someone on the spot means to ask someone a question that is difficult or embarrassing to answer. • I’m going to put you on the spot and ask what you would have done in his position. The FIFA arrests have put Blatter on the spot, and in the cartoon he's on the penalty spot.
CARTOON This cartoon by Bob from the Daily Telegraph compares choosing a winner for the Grand National (a famous English horse race due to be run today) and choosing a winner in the UK General Election (due to be held on May 7th.) On the left, a blindfolded man is preparing to choose a horse to bet on among the runners and riders. On the right, he's doing the same thing with a ballot paper listing the political parties standing in the election.
EXPLANATION Declining support for the main parties, allied with the rise of UKIP and the aftermath of the Scottish Independence Referendum mean that the 2015 General Election promises to be one of the most difficult to predict for many years. The cartoonist is making the point that choosing a winner will be a lottery, just like trying to choose the winner of the Grand National.
CARTOON The cartoon by Bob from the Daily Telegraph comprises two panels. In the left-hand panel a man is sitting in front of the TV crying because the World Cup in Brazil has just finished ("It's over"). His wife, who seems unimpressed, hands him a tissue to dry his eyes. In the right-hand panel, the same man is staring excitedly at the screen because it's the first day of the Premier League ("It's started"). This time his wife, whose expression has not changed, is removing the box of tissues and handing him a can of beer.
COMMENTARY The title of the cartoon 'Ad Infinitum' is Latin for 'to infinity'. If something happens ad infinitum, it never finishes, or happens again and again. • You cannot stay here ad infinitum without paying rent. The cartoonist is making a humorous comment on fact that as soon as one football competition ends, another one begins, and so on until the end of time (or so it seems).
BACKGROUND Rory McIlroy battled back from a poor start to claim his second straight major title in the fading gloom of Valhalla Sunday with a one-shot victory over Phil Mickelson in the PGA Championship. In near pitch darkness, the 25-year old from Northern Ireland parred the final hole for a three-under 68 to finish on 16-under 268 and deny American veteran Mickelson his sixth major title at 44 years of age. McIlroy was winning the Wanamaker Trophy for the second time and his fourth major, consolidating his status as world number one. Read more >>
CARTOON The cartoon by Paul Thomas from the Daily Express shows a father showing his young son how to putt in their back garden. The father is obviously a golf fanatic and is wearing the classic golfer's outfit of checked trousers, sleeveless pullover, and golf cap. However, the son has bent all his golf clubs and tells his father, "I don't like golf dad — and stop calling me 'Rory'!"
COMMENTARY Rory McIlroy was was introduced to golf at an exceptionally young age by his father Gerry, who coached him and is a fine golfer himself. Young Rory McIlroy gave early evidence of his golf potential by hitting a 40-yard drive at the age of two. He asked his father virtually every day to take him to the golf course. Family lore relates that he received a new golf club as a present, being shown the correct grip by his father, then taking the club to bed with him that night, with his hands holding the club properly. [source: Wikipedia]
The father in the cartoon wants his son to be the next Rory McIlroy, even going so far as to call him 'Rory', but unfortunately, the boy doesn't like golf.
VOCABULARY See if you can spot these things in the cartoon: garden shed, greenhouse, golf bag, greenhouse, flags, bird fountain, golf balls, lawn, bushes, garden fence, tower blocks, tree, windows, roof, cat, golf clubs, putter.
Vincenzo Nibali became the first Italian to win the Tour de France in 16 years Saturday. Nibali won four stages of the race, which no winner has done since Lance Armstrong won five stages 10 years ago. Still, The New York Times writes that Nibali owes his victory, at least in part, to the misfortune of others. Such as three-time champion Alberto Contador, who hit a sinkhole and broke his leg earlier in the tour. And last year's winner Chris Fromme, who withdrew from the tour during stage five due to a wrist injury. Full transcript >>
BACKGROUND Tartan-clad performers, spinning oversized Tunnock's tea cakes and a giant kilt were among the highlights at a feel-good Commonwealth Games 2014 opening ceremony on Wednesday night. The Queen officially opened the games before a 40,000-strong crowd in Glasgow's Celtic Park with millions more expected to watch on television. Thousands of athletes from 71 nations and territories took part. They entered the stadium after the live show, which had a cast of around 2,000. The Queen declared the Games open by reading her own message from inside the Commonwealth baton. Read more >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Paul Thomas from the Daily Express shows the Queen and Prince Philip at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The Queen, who is wearing a parachute, says, "The parachute? I'm hoping I might be jumping out of a plane again ..."
Last week I posted a Tour de France crossword to mark the legendary cycle race's start in England. This week's crossword is on the theme of cycling in general. See if you can tell your lugs from your forks! You can download a PDF version of this crossword (with solution) here, and alternative web-based version here, should you have problems with the one below.
With the World Cup wrapping up at Rio's legendary Maracaña stadium Sunday afternoon, many are already asking if this has been the best World Cup ever.
It's the ubiquitous question, gracing the headlines of publications from Forbes, to The Guardian and The Atlantic, as pundits try to find Brazil 2014 a place in the World Cup pantheon.
BACKGROUND Germany were crowned world champions for the fourth time as Mario Gotze's extra-time winner beat Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final. Gotze demonstrated perfect technique and commendable calm to chest down Andre Schurrle's pass and sweep in a left-foot finish with the prospect of a penalty shootout only seven minutes away. Argentina, with skipper Lionel Messi looking subdued despite flashes of his talent, could not respond and Germany claimed their first World Cup since they beat the same opponents in Rome 24 years ago. The success means Joachim Low's side have become the first European team to win the trophy in South America. Read more >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Paul Thomas from the Daily Express shows a man sitting in an armchair drinking a can of beer whilst watching (we assume) the World Cup final on TV. His wife, who is standing beside him with a long piece of paper, tells him, "It's the list of things you said you'd get round to after the World Cup final ..." The man does not look happy!
COMMENT The cartoonist uses the stereotype of the husband who always finds excuses to put off doing jobs around the house — and the wife who nags him to do them.
VOCABULARY If you get round to (doing) something, you do something after you have intended to do it for some time. • I meant to call you, but somehow I never got around to it. • After putting off for a long time, he finally got round to fixing the leaking tap.
After a long, hard-fought battle, Germany is taking home it's fourth World Cup. It took nearly 113 minutes for the stalemate to break open, but it was the foot and chest of German striker Mario Götze that broke the hearts of Argentineans everywhere and led Germany to victory. Full transcript >>
Sometimes dreams don't come true, and with the growing prominence of social media, it's not too hard to screw up a good opportunity. That's something 17-year-old Axelle Despiegelaere had to learn the hard way. Full transcript >>
Even if you picked Germany to beat Brazil in Tuesday's World Cup semifinal match, there's no way you saw this coming. It was a match that made the words "national embarrassment" an understatement. And if you were on Twitter, you've probably already seen your share of photos of sad Brazilians. But they had every right to be sad — and shocked. Full transcript >>