It is incontestable that the average punter on the proverbial Clapham omnibus could be forgiven for thinking that the world has lost both its marbles and bearings and has taken a one-way ticket to Hell in a handcart.
These days you can go to bed day-dreaming up the whackiest and most unlikely scenarios that could ever possibly happen – only to wake up a few hours later to discover from the briefest visit to your news channels of choice that stuff ten times more scary, ridiculous and improbable has actually taken place … and that’s just the ‘setting off point’ for what is to follow during the next twelve to fifteen waking hours.
It’s no wonder that increasing numbers are mentally ‘switching off’, either because they have ceased caring and/or because everything has seemingly become so anarchic, weird and unfathomable that trying to get a ‘fix’ on it from which to begin devising a future life path with any security, stability and order to it has become to all intents and purposes impossible.
Yet arguably there are some positives (I was going to type ‘straws in the wind’) to be had and today we offer our readers the following:
THE WORLD OF SPORT
Even non-believers could marvel at the type of football that has been on public display in the European Champions and Europa Leagues this past week. I’m referring in particular to the clashes between Barcelona and Manchester United on Tuesday night, Manchester City’s against Spurs on Wednesday and that (in the Europa League) between Chelsea and Salvia Prague 24 hours later, all of which seemed to adopt an attacking approach to such matches that is a world away from the various oft-deployed negative defence-based, ‘win at all costs’ (‘park the bus’ and/or bore your way to the final), versions of the past.
What’s not to like about that?
On this organ it is no secret we take a hard line on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport, so in one sense it is most welcome news that Jarrell Miller – the Buster Mathis-shaped pug who was slated to face Anthony Joshua in the latter’s US debut bout on 1st June – has been ‘caught out’ by routine pre-fight drugs testing, now confirmed by the checking of his “B” sample, and dropped as a result. Especially since in the early PR skirmishing Miller called out Joshua, without providing a scintilla of evidence, on the basis that there was no way the former Olympic gold medallist could have changed his weight and body-shape as he has since 2012 without the use of drugs.
Speaking of boxing (as sometimes we must), there are plenty of promotional trails being played out on BBC television and radio stations at the moment about Terence Crawford’s defence of his WBO world welterweight title against Britain’s Amir Khan tonight at Madison Square Gardens [albeit that the British timing of the fight is being advertised as “4.00am Sunday morning”].
It will not just be our columnist James Westacott who will be considering in anticipation the prospect of Khan – who has fought only twice and inconsequentially in the past 12 months – completing a logic-defying upset. Part of the build-up to any major fight requires that interested fans let their hearts rule their heads (as I shall be doing today).
However, the bleak facts of the set-up are that Amir Khan – despite being a Brit, a ‘world at his feet’ Olympic silver medallist as a teenager and also having already achieved enough success in the pro game to satisfy any mortal and live comfortably for the rest of his life – is ‘chinny’, not quite ‘all-time’ class and certainly mentally neither focused or determined enough to prevail in this bout.
Don’t get me wrong, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be proved 100% incorrect in my analysis. It’s just that the latest odds I have seen (Crawford quoted at 1/12 to win – as I speak it “12 to 1 on” – and Khan 7/1 … this in a two-horse context!) seem to me about right.
But aah well – that’s the glorious uncertainty of sport and following it.
This week has brought us Climate Change – The Facts, David Attenborough’s essay on humanity’s existentialist crisis, broadcast on BBC1 at 9.00pm on Thursday evening and, of course, the continuing Extinction Rebellion protests on the same subject in and around Central London.
At 93 next month, Attenborough – probably the greatest living example of a secular ‘saint’ rightly respected and revered by all – is looking and sounding a bit worn around the edges these days, but who wouldn’t be?
I say that because, never mind the extraordinary natural history programmes he has been associated with all his professional life, he also proved in his time as Controller of BBC2 and then BBC Director of Programmes to be an outstanding and innovative corporate executive.
Never mind the issues of the ‘rent-a-mob’ pop festival-like antics, the ‘celebrity-luvvie’ joiner-inners like Emma Thompson who have pitched up in solidarity and the indeed the issues surrounding the police reaction to its developments, the positive angle on the protest is the way in which it has focused attention upon the issues surrounding climate change.
It’s all very well for a bunch of Western ‘right-minded’ middle class, holier-than-thou shouters to demand that governments ‘take action now’, fuelled as they are by the word’s media, the internet, smartphones, social media, Waitrose-bought sandwiches – and the prospect of a good day (or week) out and about.
However, the real issues are the facts that the structures and electoral processes of Western democracy are incompatible with the worldwide scale and dynamic collective organisational action required to achieve what is required to ‘sort’ the problem; that with the direction (the sheer numbers) in which the global population is heading, the amount of energy needed to support all of humanity cannot be achieved – certainly not quickly enough – simply by ‘going green’ and adopting renewable energy solutions; and that, in practical terms, any and all actions taken by individuals, by communities, by single nations, or even by single continents, designed to rectify and/or deal with the catastrophic downsides of the climate changes the Earth is currently experiencing are wholly inadequate to the degree of being futile and pointlessness.
It’s funny how things pan out, isn’t it?