Hugh refers to the opening statement of President Obama’s address on 10 September 2014, as regards the terrorist organization ‘Islamic State' (ISIL). The address concerns efforts he and American allies intend to employ to combat the group's threat throughout the world. 

Hugh’s question refers to what appears to be a needless reiteration—he suggests destruction already implies degradation (which Hugh apparently misquotes as ‘downgrading’). 

photo credit: politico.com

Hugh most likely refers to the film version of the spy novel The IPCRESS File, written by Len Deighton and first published in 1962. The story features a nameless protagonist (named Harry Palmer in the film, and played by Michael Caine) who undergoes a form of Cold War brainwashing. The story is a darker, more sinister mirror image of the Bond films being produced at the time. 

Just in case you missed it in the news somehow, Hugh is reminding us that the referendum for Scottish independence is drawing near. It’s taking place on September 18, 2014. The homepage with all relevant info can be found here. A good example of commentary on both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ side of the issue can be found at the Guardian website.

Hugh’s reference to ‘Better Together’ refers to the campaign for a ‘no’ vote in the referendum.

Our man refers to the sport of boxing, and in particular Kell Brook, the new International Boxing Federation welterweight champion, with a 33-0 record. Hugh congratulates The Special One on his win over American Shawn Porter in Carson, California on 16 August.

decodinghugh:

The Decoders must admit that the game of cricket, and in particular how it is played, still remains mostly a mystery, despite rigorous study (and watching live games online). However, we can say with some certainty that ‘dropped one’ probably refers to a dropped catch; ‘caught one’ may refer to one of the ways a batsman may be out; and ‘hammered a rousing, spectacular, axis-shifting 7’ means Hugh’s team won the game (as he points out).

You can find a good overview of cricket and its complexities here. This video also offers the basics.

Edited to add: one of our Decoders-on-retainer (who knows far more about cricket than the rest of us) sent in this comment, which we felt was worthy of inclusion in the post:

'At the risk of getting it all wrong: I assume that Hugh Laurie played with friends (there doesn’t seem to have been a fixture of note on August 3 and the picture seems to indicate a local pitch) and is talking about his own contribution to the game. In that case ‘Dropped one’ and ‘caught one’ mean that while he was fielding he dropped a catch, but caught one batsman out. ‘Hammered a rousing, spectacular, axis-shifting 7’ is probably his ironic way of saying that he batted lousily. In cricket, seven runs isn’t exactly spectacular and there’s no way his team could have won if that was the sum total of all the players’ runs. I think it’s safe to say that the core of the message is that his team won despite his mediocre contribution.'

(Reblogged from decodinghugh)

The Decoders must admit that the game of cricket, and in particular how it is played, still remains mostly a mystery, despite rigorous study (and watching live games online). However, we can say with some certainty that ‘dropped one’ probably refers to a dropped catch; ‘caught one’ may refer to one of the ways a batsman may be out; and ‘hammered a rousing, spectacular, axis-shifting 7’ means Hugh’s team won the game (as he points out).

You can find a good overview of cricket and its complexities here. This video also offers the basics.

Edited to add: one of our Decoders-on-retainer (who knows far more about cricket than the rest of us) sent in this comment, which we felt was worthy of inclusion in the post:

'At the risk of getting it all wrong: I assume that Hugh Laurie played with friends (there doesn’t seem to have been a fixture of note on August 3 and the picture seems to indicate a local pitch) and is talking about his own contribution to the game. In that case ‘Dropped one’ and ‘caught one’ mean that while he was fielding he dropped a catch, but caught one batsman out. ‘Hammered a rousing, spectacular, axis-shifting 7’ is probably his ironic way of saying that he batted lousily. In cricket, seven runs isn’t exactly spectacular and there’s no way his team could have won if that was the sum total of all the players’ runs. I think it’s safe to say that the core of the message is that his team won despite his mediocre contribution.'

Hugh’s talking about former X-Factor judge and hip-hop artist Tulisa Contostavlos, a name familiar in the UK but perhaps not so widely known elsewhere. Ms Contostavlos was recently taken to court for allegedly dealing drugs, but the trial was dismissed after it was discovered one of the star witnesses, Mahzer Mahmood, a lead investigative reporter for the tabloid newspaper the Sun, may be guilty of witness tampering.

There’s a fine explanation of the slang phrase ‘a good egg’ to be found here

Down time means time to watch old movies on TV and tonight it’s time for ‘Where Eagles Dare’. The 1968 film stars Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood, among others.

Just in case some think Hugh’s forgotten basic geographical facts while he was away on tour, his following tweet is a direct quote from the film. 

The tour has ended and Hugh has time again to dip into current affairs. 

The argument between conservative American Fox News TV host Sean Hannity and English comedian and actor Russell Brand started a few days ago. Background can be found in this article from the Guardian or this Huffington Post article for example.  

Hugh quotes a line from an episode of the television series ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' (based upon a book by John le Carré, one of a series of novels featuring the retired spy George Smiley). In this case, it’s part of a conversation between fellow spy Roy Bland and Smiley, as Bland complains that he’s done many dirty jobs and never been rewarded properly. 

Many, many thanks to fellow tweep @hoskas for posting the correct reference!