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June 12, 2010



Wow, lots of - er - energy.

I ... get excited about ... jocks ... a sensitive phalanx ... painful, organised sadism and unspecified locker-room peril ... Frank Lampard's admittedly shapely calves. This country is in crisis.

Young people are in crisis.

Forbidden ... violently excluded ... shuffling, gloriously dissipated ... entirely undefended ... deflating.

Assuming Laurie can get her drives in order, she'll soon be up for more. But will we?


There is something suspect about a people's sport that violently excludes more than half the people



She's talking about Ryan Giggs, ejh.
Condemned by the oppressive patriarchy to play for Wales. Pure cruelty.


By the way, I'd like to see Laurie try and rupture a football by smashing against a wall.


Marketing strategists clearly envision the people of England drinking and shopping the summer away, safe in the knowledge that national pride is being guarded by a regiment of xenophobic pottery goblins.

My emphasis.

According to A.J.P. Taylor (who wasn't impartial), Dylan Thomas used to write poems that made a reasonable amount of sense, and then go through methodically crossing out adjectives and nouns and writing in substitutes which were completely unrelated but fitted into the line by scansion (and rhyme where necessary).

Just saying.


The excerpts Jamie quotes (and much of the piece itself, sadly) reminded me slightly of this passage:

Timidity here will bespeak canker and atrophy of the soul. The heart of Britain may be sound and of strong beat, for instance, but the British lion's roar at present is like that of Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream -- as gentle as any sucking dove... When the Voice of Britain is heard at nine o'clock, better far and infinitely less ludicrous to hear aitches honestly dropped than the present priggish, inflated, inhibited, school-ma'amish arch braying of blameless bashful mewing maidens!

Of which GO says (a little harshly and unthinkingly, I must admit)

In (5), words and meaning have almost parted company. People who write in this manner usually have a general emotional meaning -- they dislike one thing and want to express solidarity with another -- but they are not interested in the detail of what they are saying.

(my emphasis). Being but a bear of little brain, I'm still struggling with the image of a bandage of cheese stifling a healing power.

To be momentarily charitable, the closing attempt at a metaphor isn't claiming that the football was ruptured by being kicked against a wall, merely that it was further deflating after having been ruptured. But then again, quite why "idiot children" - isn't that an odd choice of language from an "-ist" commentator? - are kicking said football, I don't know.

Ack. Somehow I suspect I am putting more effort into parsing what was written than was spent stringing it together.


I recall that my first comment on Aaronovitch Watch involved the criticism of a bad chess metaphor.

It wasn't pure pedantry, nor the defence of my knowledge-territory, which moved me to make the criticism: it was also the feeling that senseless metaphors, more quickly than bad arguments, expose the writer as knowing nothing about their subject.

I'm afraid Laurie has no clue what she's writing about here. That shouldn't have prevented her from writing a why-I-don't-like-the-World-Cup piece, and perhaps a good one: Orwell wrote a very good piece about nationalism in sport without actually having much acquaintance with sport at all. But he didn't try to cover up for that.

Chris Williams

I have a soft spot for LP and her writing but sometimes her sense of rhythm gets all the attention, to the detriment of her argument.


It's difficult to see what her argument was other than that she doesn't fancy the footy. I did wonder whether she was taking the piss, but that begs the question of what she was taking the piss out of.

Incidentally Chris, did you get my e-mail last week?


Marina Hyde seems to have had a refreshing holiday; she has a nice piece on the England v. USA game, which I watched, and which was dreadful. Myself, I'm almost at the point of hoping for no advance beyond the group stage: I just can't take any more of the national convulsing. Then again, as Marina suggests, if you view the whole thing as extended, multi-part tragicomic theatre ...

Actually, you know, it's the England flags. They are small; in fact they are all the same size. They are sold at retail, so they are passive, they do not fly proudly, and the only thing that increases, the more that are bought, is the sense of ineffectualness and failure. Basta.

Chris Williams

Yes, ta - then some work and a 5th birthday party intervened. Response soon.


Talking of email, if bert's still reading, would he be able to email our host and our host forward it to me? That might save us derailing the Crooked Timber thread with his much-appreciated but poorly-understood technical advice...


"and the only thing that increases, the more that are bought, is the sense of ineffectualness and failure. Basta."

And fuel consumption, I understand. Over the weekend I saw a Range Rover with two on, which must be approaching sub unity levels of mpg by now. Surely some enterprising Green can invent one that harnesses the wind?

[Also, I was in Plymouth, which seemed to have fewer pubs and more England flags per car than London. Possibly an erroneous personal observation, but I throw it out anyway]


a regiment of xenophobic pottery goblins

what's Stoke got to with this?

I still maintain that the chess metaphor in question was accurate, by the way. I can't remember what it was, but it was right!


By the way, I'm currently viewing the Chinese channel CCTV-5 in the hope that I will be able to watch this afternoon's games thereby. In the studio, a smiling leopard with green hair is handing out red football shirts to a group of men, conceivably footballers, presently wearing orange ones. Is this some kind of World Cup Willie thing?


Over the weekend I saw a Range Rover with two on, which must be approaching sub unity levels of mpg by now.

But you should see it when it gets before the wind.

chris y

By the way, I'd like to see Laurie try and rupture a football by smashing against a wall.

I saw dozens of people trying to do this, every weekday between 11:00 a.m. and twenty past for about twelve years. I never saw one succeed.

Darius Jedburgh

From the comments to the article:

As I'm reading this humourless piece, the World Cup's opening concert is on tv.

Desmond Tutu is wearing a SA shirt, scarf and very silly hat. He is dancing.

I'm going with his approach.


Quite. Or put another way: look, Laurie, there are lots of silly men trying to kick a pig's bladder into a fishing net. And there are millions of even sillier men taking it seriously. So if you can't laugh at that - what can you laugh at?


I like the heady mixture of a bunch of probable homophobes engaging in homoerotic behaviour. Though nothing really tops US football for this.

England are really not very good this year, are they.


Talking of not very good, it's not the first time the Staggers has published something not very good about football.

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