When the Man Matches the Moment

Several years ago I was listening to news on public radio when I heard something that raised my spirits for a very long time. It was a report about some bit of foreign affairs involving our respectable brethren, the Brits. I love the Brits. Always have. They are sillier and stuffier than us at the same time, and simultaneously classier and more uncouth. And much better cricketers. Anyway, when you come to know the British like I do (through study of Monty Python and the Beatles discography) you become very adept at identifying the true essence of British-ness. Which is exactly what gave me such a thrill when the reporter on the news mentioned the British Foreign Secretary at the time by name. The man’s name was Jack Straw.


No need to look him up, this is almost certainly what Jack Straw looks like

It’s really a profound pleasure to happen upon a fact like this, one that represents a perfect harmony between what is and what ought to be. If we all got in a room and read Oliver Twist for two weeks, had a sporting Polo match against the 15th King’s Hussars at Eton, refrained from brushing our teeth for several months, and then we decided to come up with the best possible name for a British Foreign Secretary, I am pretty sure it would come down to a choice Archibald St. James-Smythington and Jack Straw. But we’d have to go with Jack Straw. Jack Straw is perfection. I never got to know the man during his tenure, but it’s clear he comes from humble beginnings and found success only due to the provident intercession of a mysterious benefactor, and that he always wears a bowler hat, which is occasionally knocked off by the odd snowball thrown by street urchins who all have actual soot smeared on one cheek. I loved Jack Straw.

Not long after that, the Americans upped the stakes. I heard about the quarterback of the Texas Longhorns. He’s still there today, and, given his celebrity, people are somehow able to mention his name without sitting down to ponder the miracle of that name. But the name remains astonishingly perfect. Yes, it’s Colt McCoy. Colt McCoy is the quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. I can’t count the times I have given thanks for the fact that Colt McCoy is the quarterback for the Texas Longhorns, doing exactly what he was sent to this earth to do. If he’d been born 150 years ago, there would have been a number of good career options for Colt McCoy, most of which would have involved slinging, russling, and spittoons. But in this moment, there is nothing else on earth worthy of that man, and that name.


Colt McCoy

So why am I bringing this up now? Because those of us who find transcendence in these perfect convergences have now received yet another blessing, better than Jack Straw, better even than Colt McCoy. And predictably, the blessing comes by way of Merrie Olde England again. I was listening to the radio again this weekend when someone mentioned in passing the current British Finance Minister. What? What was that name again? Seriously? Alistair Darling? Yep. Alistair Darling. The Brits have named their finance minister Alistair Darling. “After heated caucus meetings, Labour have sallied against the Brown coalition government demanding the appointment of new Finance Minister Alistair Darling. Darling, the Earl of Lortoncestershire and son of St. Patrick and Mary Poppins, was originally viewed as something of a git, but after his mates in the House of Lords shouted down the ponces on the other side, everyone was knackered, and the nutter got the post. ‘Brilliant!’ said Darling.”


Alistair Darling, after his appointment to the ministry

There’s just nothing you can do to compete with Alistair Darling. We’d have to elect someone named Sam Yankee Washington to the presidency. Maaaaybe we could fight them to a draw if we elected Colt McCoy, but we’d be the underdogs.

Anyway, hats off to the Brits. They are just killing it right now.

UPDATE: Astute reader Elizabeth tracked down Mr. Straw’s bio for us. Amazingly, and awesomely, Mr. Straw enjoys “walking, music, cooking puddings, and supporting Blackburn Rovers.” That’s right. Cooking puddings.

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21 Responses to When the Man Matches the Moment

  1. Nate says:


    I thoroughly enjoy these. I am never the guy who produces the humor…and for that I’ve always been envious of the Bells…but I’ve always been the guy to appreciate the humor. This is good stuff. Thanks.

  2. Eliza says:

    so funny and true!

  3. Troy says:

    Hmmm, should I be the bubble burster and reveal that “Colt” is a nickname and that his real name is “Daniel”? Naaaaaahhh.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Ryan, if you read Jack Straw’s official biography on his website, his “recreations include walking, music and cooking puddings.” Just another reason to love the Brits – cooking puddings is an acceptable item to stick in your biography.

    Great post – hilarious blog. This thing is going to be huge.

  5. Rebecca says:

    so true! you’re for sure never going to find a guy named colt over there and likewise with alistair here (except of course in the Man From Snowy River). Great post.

  6. Andrea W. says:

    So funny and so true. I love it when a name fits so perfectly. Sort of like marrying Mr. wRight.

  7. Ryan says:

    Wow. The fact that Jack Straw loves to cook puddings is definitely the best thing I’ve heard all week. I have already indulged in several daydreams of watching Jack Straw in his kitchen just cooking puddings. He may be in my top five British gentlemen of all time now.

  8. Davis says:



  9. Davis says:

    On a related note, I came across a Wikipedia article on a British naval historian. As a British naval historian, his name is, of course, Cyril Northcote Parkinson.

  10. Rachel says:

    So, Alistair has morphed from a drunk leprechaun into an older, distinguished-looking gentleman…what next?

  11. Christian says:

    lolol, Rachel. Davis and I made Ry change that weird picture. Only you and a few privileged early East Coast readers saw that. Busted

  12. Ryan says:

    Rachel, it’s what you call ‘growing in office.’ We’re very proud of the changes Alistair has made.

  13. Rachel says:

    Not to add insult to injury, but you forgot to mention the appropriately named Kim Jong-il (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_jong_il), as well as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmadinajad) and lest we forget Barack Obama, I mean Osama bin Laden. Really, where would the world be without these guys?

  14. Christian says:

    Rachel, I’m nervous you’re going to bring the Secret Service down on dontdodumbthings.com, and Davis wouldn’t last a week in prison.

  15. Macy says:

    Love those Brits. Great post, Ry!

  16. Craig says:

    add lifesaver to the list of Colt’s accomplishments:

  17. Braden says:

    Oh Ry, I am crying. That was the wittiest, funniest post I have read You nailed it–everything that you attempted to nail and more. Your post, in fact, was as good at nailing the phenomenon as the examples you cited.

  18. Chelsea says:

    Ryan, this is a great post. And I have to add that a few years ago Mike joined The Optimist club for networking purposes and told me that the president’s name was Smiley Jones. I was like, “Nuh-uh! Is that his real name??” And Mike was like, “No, his real name is Carol, but he’s been going by Smiley since he was a kid.”

    We laughed for days.

  19. Ryan says:

    Wow, Smiley Jones has made me laugh all weekend. I would seriously vote for him for elected office based solely on what I know about him right now. Any chance he gets caught in a scandal or is ever accused of corruption? Smiley Jones???? No chance.

  20. Greg says:

    Only the British:
    Dictionary.com: jackstraws, (used with a singular verb) a game in which players compete in picking up, one by one, as many jackstraws as possible without disturbing the heap.

    Great post as always.

  21. howdy, I go over all your posts, keep them coming.

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