Bermudas: Long Shorts
Three years ago, Mohed Altrad, the lorry magnate (a self-confessed bastard by birth), secured the patent for the jerseys. He is the richest friend of Laporte, ex-Sarko minister of sport, and currently* president of the rugby federation. And their relationship is now a court case. Clearly the rules of fairness were not in operation. Cash was exchanged and favours bestowed. The businessman got the best deal. The World Cup is next year. He paid peanuts for worldwide publicity.
I wonder if the matter would have ever led to a legal process if Altrad was not a an Arab? Fear of Islam taking over France is a right-wing flight of fancy. But it sells papers and books and now gains votes (the national front moved from 3 members of parliament to 68). However, I doubt if either will get locked up. Tomorrow I will know.
Coda: I was right. Though the case went against the two, neither will be put behind bars. A relatively modest fine was imposed, but Laporte has lost his job. Still the Altrad logo remains on the French jerseys.
A Thought or Two about Tim
In Paul O’Connell’s autobiography his insecurity as a rugbyman comes as a surprise. For most of his career he was top of the world as a second row forward. Soaring to catch touch throws like a swan and distributing the ball with calm confidence. But 'could do better' was his motor, and it was fueled by vague fears. .
One chapter is about sessions with a sports psychologist. The usual singsong about the salience of positivity for high achievers. But it contradicts Paul’s mindset. Negative thoughts kept him going harder and on the ball.
Tim Stimpson the English fullback joined Perpignan in 2003 and never played because of an injury. I was treated for a collapsed back muscle (too much mountain-climbing on my bike) in the same clinic and I asked him what was he thinking when kicking goals. and was told he was thinking of all the terrible regrets he'd have should he miss. his success rate in internationals was almost 90%,
Tim Stimpson, a name that trips off the tongue, was a gangly giant grounded by a bad knee. Despite awesome speed ball in hand, and accuracy with the boot, the English coach Clive Woodward no longer favors him because he is too individual to be reined into army discipline. I got to know him quite well. He was desperate to recover. A curious fact according to Christian Furness, the team doctor, is that English players are particularly prone to knee injuries. He speculated it wasn’t due to praying too much but bending it to authority. Tim said his was due to doing the opposite. Too much knees-up. The joke fell flat in French but he tried to laugh to cheer himself up. So I led the laughter. I said when kicking penalties shouldn’t he think of the pleasure of getting the ball over the bar. No, he replied, my mind is telling my body that should I miss, the game would be lost and a nation plunged into gloom. And it would be all my fault. I shame myself into getting it right. He looks as though he has missed a drop-goal. Christian consoles him by saying well it works nine times out of ten.
I trust Tim is intelligent enough not to apply his method-school of kicking to his personal life (‘most gentlemen don’t like love/ they just like to kick it around’, says Cole Porter).
I wonder if he knows about cognitive therapy?
Sentencing Martin Amis
Writing is not a performance art. Though many writers come out of their cocoon to show themselves off. It’s how to become famous, and therefore read. It is understandable, but I wonder how such high-profile public writers get time to get down to the serious business of making words work. Martin Amis is a curious example. He touts himself for his sentences. And presents Nabokov as his exemplar. But compare him with his master and you see he is the sort of student who copies the lecture but does not take it in.
Writing is not about ‘getting the sentences right’ (Martin Amis), but about getting ideas to fit them. Rilke knew that. However, when his ideas are felt thoughts, they are prone to be poetical figurations. Sometimes I wonder if the ‘fit’ is translatable, even into German (as Jules Renard says of Mallarmé’s French into French).
James Joyce and Frank Norris (and me)
I went to the same Jesuit school as James Joyce, for a truncated term. I wasn’t expelled for secreting a copy of Ulysses under the floorboards. I did a runner when supposed to be attend a violin lesson in Dublin. I heard JJ’s name mentioned only once. My English teacher, Father Condon, gave him as an example of a writer who exploited real people’s lives for art’s sake, and recommended we read Frank Norris’s McTeague instead. (Advice which puzzled us. There were two Teagues in the class. One subsequently became a dentist like Norris’s main character). Fr Conlon’s scorning fell on deaf ears. Youthful readers like nothing better than when the dirt is being dished. Nevertheless, a pity he didn’t tell us about Erich von Stroheim’s silent film version of McTeague, Greed (1925). It was shown in a cinema Joyce briefly managed.
‘I hope you are well’
This expression was banned by my mother in letters. She said if you are well the suggestion it could be otherwise is annoying, and if you’re not well its hardly a consolation to be sympathised with a vain hope. I would add, it also carries a veiled threat: ‘’you better be well’’. Essentially though it’s a careless cliché, a ‘wishful think’ that is well meant.
We love animals
But eat them.
We want to save the planet
But still guzzle petrol and gas
We want to save energy
But the bike is still in the garage.
We love our neighbour
Don’t make me laugh.
The world is in amoral mess and truth and justice is considered unimportant, a thing of the past. Global capitalism and nationalist fantasies rule a planet that is going down a man-made plug. Consumerism is the whip. Democracy, bought and sold to dwindling electorates, the lash.
Religion has made a medieval comeback. Not alas with a moral bent. For instance, evangelists in Brazil not only seduce the poor to give money but lead the extreme right-wing in parliament. The days of worker priests there have long gone. Nostalgia for the military dictatorship fuelled the election of a proto-fascist, backed by oligarchs, evangelists and a politicised legal system used imprison his rival for a trumped-up charge of corruption (reversed after the event*).
The Sermon on the Mount which offered the basis of Christianity has long been shelved by these evangelist sects. Humanism is now a dirty word. Comparing the three main traditional religions they have this humanism in common. But it’s undermined to a degree by their respective Good Books. The Bible has two contradictory Testaments. The Old is Jehovah’s vengeance and the New Christ’s redemption. The Coran’s first half is humanist inclined, the second hardens into vengeance.
Christ’s Sermon on the Mount was a guide to getting on with one’s fellow man, and living a decent life. But being humane to those you don’t love or even have reason to hate, is its crucial subtext. The prevailing shameless of selfish indifference to others initiated by the 1990s slogan ‘greed is good’ has put the ‘let’ in ethics. So, you can do what you want.
Sportswashing is the latest abomination. The planet is currently glued to watching the World Football Cup in a country of 2.3 million. 300, 000 are natives with civic status and the rest are imported workers with none. Qatar is ruled by a family dictatorship with one of the worst human rights records in the world. Their interest in the sport is political rather than participation.
One third of trillion dollars has been spent on setting up the Football Cup. More than the sum of all previous World Cups and Olympics together. The money come from carbon products such as gas and oil which is not only destroying the planet but which is the source of a war raging between the West and Russia. It is estimated that within the next decade deaths due to starvation will once again outnumber those due to eating disorders. UNESCO has calculated that this could be reversed if the money had been spent on famines (an unlikely event but cause for pause).
Not everybody is happy but the mass of humans go along with these contradictions. Selfish materialism overrules intelligence in most democracies (where bothering to vote is often less than fifty percent). Self-destruction is now the predominant movement of a once creative world. Even the dictators suffer. The Qatar elite suffer from hight rates of heart disease due to mass obesity. Living off the pig’s is bad for the health.
Family Misfortunes: Old Martin Chuzzlewit’s Mea Culpa
‘There is a kind of selfishness, I have learned it in my own experience of my own breast: which is constantly on the watch for selfishness in others; and holding others at a distance by suspicion and distrusts, wondering why they won’t approach, and don’t confide, Thus, I doubted those about me (instead of myself)’.
Martin Chuzzlewit, Charles Dickens, chapter X1X (page 884, Penguin paperback)
Rousseau played chess with the King
and couldn't stop himself from winning.
He thanked his majesty for losing
Implying it was deliberate.
His majesty was appeased.
Et en meme temps: Macronic BS
It’s the phrase (on the other hand) that Macron used
chronically in his speeches. Frankfurt’s famous essay
distinguishing between a triad a la Hegel and bullshit
identified binary opposites without a synthesis as the latter.
One must make a judgement between the two sides
Rather than accept their co-existence. Macron as a
self-declared politician of the extreme centre (neither left or right)
is a BS artist. Particularly as judging from his policies he
is an old fashioned neo-liberal with right of centre policies that has him labelled rightly the President of the Rich.
Napoléon’s an army marches on its stomach has expanded to French people and street protests. Their groups are called casseroles because they only stop for long lunches, blocking and doing what is best done in La France, eating. When I try to figure out what ‘unites them in anger’ I miss the obvious point. First of all, it is to enjoy a free communal meal. Secondly to prove the revolution is digestion.
Nobody Loves My Work
Schubert puts whining about creative disadvantages in perspective. He was eighteen before he had a piano of his own (only thirteen years to go). The publishers rejected his ‘Erl King’ and returned the manuscript to the wrong Franz Schubert (a minor composer of violin music (‘The Bee’). He expostulated, ‘I’d never write such rubbish’).
Could Beckett’s ’Godot’ be a Deliberate Misprint?
Godet means a pot in French and going for a pot is a common expression for sharing a drink. I think Beckett had in mind, ‘Waiting for the pubs to open’.
I regret he never wrote a sequel, Un godet de plus. ‘One for the road.’ Not least because the director of the Tour de France (1936 – 86) was a certain Jacques Godet. As his car led the race, waiting for him excited the crowd. There were cries of God-oh! As an avid sports fan Sam would have heard them. Becket wrote Waiting for Godot in 1948, a year after the Tour returned to Paris.
Bolsonero’s Porkpie 2022
Needing to consolidate his support with professional footballers the Brazilian neo-Fascist changes the 30 million dollars owed by Neymar in tax to 1 million. Needless to say, Neymar and his father are prominent amongst his supporters. Currently Neymar is on trial for corruption in Spain for a multi-million payoff in a transfer deal. His evangelist supporters don’t blink an eye. The suffering poor may not be so forgiving.