Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ringo Starr and the psychic octopus

One of The Beatles' lesser-known numbers is a jolly little ditty called Octopus's Garden.

It's not exactly what you'd call a classic. It wasn't written by John Lennon, or Paul McCartney, or even by George Harrison, but by drummer Ringo Starr, whose talents as a lyricist are hardly up there with the greats.

He sings it too, on the album Abbey Road, in those lugubrious tones that he was later to put to good effect as the storyteller in the Thomas and Friends animated TV series.

"I'd like to be, under the sea, in an octopus's garden in the shade," warbles Ringo at his most Liverpudlian. And somehow you can tell he means it.

Funnily enough, if you should ever chance to visit the website of the Daily Telegraph, you can find a picture of Ringo visiting this year's Chelsea Flower Show.

The caption identifies him as the narrator of the tales of anthropomorphised locomotives, but there's not even a mention of his job with the Fab Four.

Whether that says more about the Telegraph web site or about popular culture is a question we shall leave to the reader.

Anyway, cephalopods. They're back in the headlines after the astonishing success of Paul the Psychic Octopus's World Cup 2010 predictions. And rightly so.

They're fascinating creatures. They have eight legs (no surprise). They have three hearts (big surprise: one for each set of gills, one for their body).

They're pretty brainy, too, for an invertebrate mollusc. So brainy in fact that Sam Holliday has started contractual negotiations with Paul with a view to assuring the continued success of The Bath Chronicle's all-conquering Brain of Bath quiz team. Although it remains to be seen how Paul will cope in the infamous "smells round".

It's a bit like the old joke. "My octopus has got no nose." "How does he smell?" Oh never mind.

Paul is a bit of a turncoat, though. He was hatched in a tank in Weymouth, but early in his career emigrated to a sea life centre at Oberhausen in Germany. And since then he has taken an unhealthy interest in the fortunes of the German football team.

He correctly predicted four of their six Euro 2008 results, but it was at the World Cup that he really got into his stride. (Do octopuses have a stride? Subs please check.)

By choosing food from two boxes, one with the German flag and one with their opponents', he accurately foretold Die Mannschaft's progress from defeat against Serbia to defeat against Spain.

(OK, they had some wins too. But let's just remember the good times.)

And now the Spaniards have invited him to an annual octopus festival, at which they have promised not to eat him. Paul (and his minders) have wisely declined.

Sadly, Paul's career as a football pundit will only be short-lived. The natural lifespan of the common octopus is only two years, so he's close to retirement. A pity really: he'll never get to see his original homeland's success in Brazil 2014.

Never mind, though. We've always got Alan Hansen.

1 comment:

  1. Nice bit of fun. Thanks. Interestingly George Harrison did help Ringo write Octopus garden and you see them doing it in the film Let it Be.

    You might like this. My song about the 'psychic' octopus.