One of the most prevailing stories of the 1974 football World Cup happened during the Brazil v Zaire (as they were then called) match. As Brazil lined up a free kick, a defender broke free of the Zaire wall and booted the ball as far as he could, receiving a yellow card for his troubles. African ignorance of the beautiful game was cited and laughter and derision was thrown at the men of the Congo. In fact, that kick may have saved lives. After losing 2-0 versus Scotland, then being thrashed 9-0 v Yugoslavia (as they were then called), the Zaire ruler threatened the players and insisted that they not lose against Brazil by more than 3 goals. The time wasting tactic at that free kick helped the Zairian footballers cause. They only lost the game 3-0. I’m not sure if they lived happily ever after. At least they lived.
The then ruler of the African nation was Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (meaning “The all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, goes from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake). Now there’s a name for a monster. Every day is a school day, they say. Alas, just like at school there’s no way I’m remembering that.
I do remember the free kick.
While watching the, now five years old (Happy Birthday da da da), Africanews channel on YouTube (FYi, as I know Charioteers like a stat, I was one of 47 watching; a select band you could say) a segment came up showing a collection of youths parkouring in the rubble of Gaza city. Well played those Gazans, their attitude to the current crisis was , hey you know what, life goes on and let’s make the most of this opportunity.
It’s a magnus vicus where I live, not an urbs. (Come back, Latin haters, this is not periculosum.) But there seems to be a blossoming of interest in learning and studying Latin; perhaps even a resurrectio! I offered to teach a few discipuli and now there are multi waiting patienter to join us. But no, I must keep the pax Romana with a cohors minima amicorum. The mensae at the Waitrose taberna are non satis magnae for a multitudo!
O Aurigae, opto sitis felicissimi et felicissimae anno MMXIX
(‘O charioteers, I wish you guys and gals great happiness in 2019’)
M’Dad always flipped wi’ a farthin’ –
An old un, ‘e told us. ‘E knew,
‘Cos it ‘ad old Britannia on one side
And at t’botttom the year twenty-two. Continue reading “The politics of childhood”
Only a couple of weeks ago I read A Legacy of Spies, published last year; as ever with le Carrè, having to concentrate hard on the intricacies of the plot while drooling with appreciation at the vibrancy of his descriptions, both of people and places. And now I have almost finished re-reading Smiley’s People – written 40 years ago and as intriguing as ever. Continue reading “The book is better”
The 1914/18 war was always in monochrome; and film footage always depicted armies marching in double time, gesticulating like robots. But all that has changed, thanks to the modern technology Peter Jackson has deployed to shocking effect. I cannot imagine the reality of blood and guts in the trenches when the whole picture is revealed. Lest we forget? After this we never will.
I can’t help thinking I’m an egalitarian. The word seems to connote more or less what I stand for, morally speaking. It cements the aims of all those who want to lift our species out of the life old Hobbes described as natural: ”solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. But ever since the Americans crystallised the principle – ‘all men are created equal’ – plenty of gainsayers have ensured that some are more equal than others. They have used pseudo-science, pseudo-religion and pseudo-economics to justify their belief in the subjugation and humiliation of other races and creeds. Not to mention politics where we witness so-called social democrats identifying members of their clubs who have unsuitable views about equality.
Of course the best strategy for my opponents is to deny the principle – which in their book gives them licence to deny their hypocrisy, their dressed-up inhumanity, their sense of innate superiority. Their tribes just play their cards more skilfully, they’ll say; and devil take the hindmost. But I can’t hope St Peter will deal with them in the end; so many of his adherents agree with their flawed conclusions. I just want them to know they can’t fool everyone with their arguments.
I happened upon the trailer to ‘Christopher Robin’ the other day; a film (as my reader knows) about the denizens of Ashdown Forest, just down the road from here – which I can see as I write.
So just imagine my mystification when I heard my little ursine friend speak! Wasn’t that a Transatlantic accent? Yes, of course, he is ‘spoken’ by Jim Cummings, who is Disney’s go-to voice for their animal animations.
But then, said I to m’self, said I: the Bear of Very Little Brain (and his friends) are well-known polyglots, talking to their readers all over the world. Even to Romans, in the 1960 best-seller. Salve, Pooh!
I came across a Grauniad leader this morning – and had to read it twice. Is this about Denmark, with the happiest people in the world?
I suppose the biggest difference a non-Dane notices over there is that most of the folk in the shopping centres (except perhaps in the few cities) are discernibly descended from Scandinavian stock. Compare that to most British towns. But there is another major difference. Since WWII we have grown used to seeing and living cheek-by-jowl with incomers of all races and persuasions; they are part of our landscape. I hate the word ‘integration’ but I would say they play a part in our society which most of us recognise and no longer resist, as we did at first. But the Danes are still where we stood after WWII! Hence the existence across that small country of 56 ‘ghettoes’, as described in the article, linked below.
After my second reading, I have had visions of PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen playing our favourite Viking, King Canute (never mind the spelling), as portrayed in fake news as a megalomaniac resisting the waves. I hope I’m wrong.