May 31st, 2010

breaking bad

World Cup: yes we can

At work we were talking about what effect it would have on politics if England won the World Cup. Would it be good for the Tories' popularity? My colleague is half German, and he was laughing and saying every four years the German press run articles by their London correspondents about this phenomenon: the English think without any reason that they are going to win. They talk as if it's a likely event.

We laughed, agreed it was ridiculous, and then I was saying that even if we did win, it might emphasise feelings of solidarity and community, mutual assistance, rather than boosting conservative feeling, and people were saying I was over-optimistic. After a few moments I realised we had heard his comment, and yet we were still doing it. We were still talking as if winning the World Cup were the most likely outcome, and all that was up for discussion was what impact this would have on our national life. Madness.

For any country, for the best football team in the world, the chances of winning the world cup must be touch and go. So many things will go wrong. And yet every four years (and I am by no means atypical) I deliberately commit myself emotionally to this utterly quixotic and doomed enterprise. I do not regret it.
breaking bad

Far North

I just read Far North by Marcel Theroux. It's one of the growing genre of near-future stories about the collapse of human civilisation, of which the greatest is The Road. Far North is written in that straightforward easy style, and slight delicacy about sex and violence, used for young adult fiction (not that it's marketed as such). It's plain and humanistic. I sped through it in a day or so.

The story is set in Siberia. With accelerating global warming, it has become marginally more habitable and a bunch of Americans (mostly Quakers) looking for the simple life, leased a tract of land from the Russian government, and built some small towns while things were still looking hopeful. The point of view character, Makepeace, is a child of those settlers, now grown up, and trying to survive in a world where civilisation has suddenly gone.
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