Thursday, November 10, 2011

Devastation stalks the streets : the GB football team won't be coming to Hampden

Nick Pearce writes in the Telegraph about the unveiling of the Great Britain football teams' fixture list for next year's Olympics -

"As neither team will play group matches at Glasgow's Hampden Park Scotland supporters may miss out on the unique experience of seeing Team GB perform on Scottish soil."

Does anyone want to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume this is a brilliant piece of ironic wit? No, didn't think so. This is the Telegraph we're talking about, after all.

The choice of Manchester and Cardiff is a bit startling, though - I had always assumed the English FA would want to keep their Greater England teams firmly confined to the Imperial Capital and Acknowledged Centre Of The Known Universe. Presumably they've calculated that Welsh supporters will at least be ambivalent about the whole enterprise - I don't think it's too outlandish to suggest that every GB kick of the ball at Hampden might have been greeted by a chorus of boos. It would have brought a whole new dimension to the term "home game".

* * *

Someone once damningly said of Geoff Hoon - "I bet he thinks he's a great communicator". I think we can safely say the same is also true of James Murdoch.

Q. Do you exist, Mr Murdoch?

A. Mr Watson, it's important to, uh, acknowledge that, to the extent, uh, that discussions about whether I, uh, exist may or may not have, uh, taken place, I was not party to them. I was never told, uh, at any time that I exist - it's conceivable I may, uh, have been given a heads-up about rumours that, uh, someone had seen me around, but as I clearly testified to the, uh, committee earlier, that's not something I recall. The question of whether I, uh, exist or not is a matter for others, and it would not be, uh, appropriate for me to speculate, uh, at this time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Poppy zealotry

I'm glad a sensible compromise has been reached to allow the England football team to display poppies, but some of the language used along the way has been monumentally silly. David Cameron, for instance, described FIFA's original decision as "outrageous". Really? FIFA have done many things recently that could reasonably be described as "outrageous", but I'm not sure that insisting upon a rule that everyone knew about in advance is one of them. "Over-zealous" would perhaps be a better description - which coincidentally is also an apt characterisation of the attitude of so many to the poppy tradition. We've grown up to have such reverence for the poppy and what it symbolises that we lose all sense of perspective sometimes. The worst example of that was when the Royal British Legion criticised Mary McAleese for failing to wear a poppy during her inauguration as Irish President in 1997. Now, why should a demand for an Irish official to display a symbol associated with the UK be regarded as anything other than risible? And yet because it was a poppy, that seemed to trump everything - including common sense, realism and sensitivity to the traditions of a different nation.