Friday, 13 April 2012
Not Playing the Game.
It's early days, but I am already planning my escape. I thought it might be necessary to leave the country, and indeed this might still prove to be the case.
Although my son is no longer living in Kazakhstan the idea of a yurt on the Central Asian Plain has distinct appeal.
But for the time being my plan is to stay here, at the bottom of the garden.
Past the lamp-post, over the bridge, through the bamboo thicket and I enter, not Narnia, but a wi-fi, television, telephone and radio-free summer-house. I can hide in here with some good books, a tea-pot and lots of writing and drawing materials. I can't even hear the doorbell unless I try really hard.
Already there are ominous signs. There are Union Jacks and replica medals appearing in shop windows. There are kits to make cup cakes with those interlinked ring symbols on top. There are tee-shirts and other jingoistic rubbish items for sale.
It is worse that last year's Wedding, and that's saying a lot.
It's worse, because it's all about competition, about beating other people, about being the best at the expense of others. Sport on its own is bad enough, but Olympic sport is truly distressing to my mind. However, I think I am quite reasonable really, and I accept and even strongly suspect that others may feel differently. The problem for me is that those who think differently are going to take over this country for most of the summer, and it will be really hard to escape their domination.
It distresses me because for every winner there have to be hundreds who are made to feel that they are losers. The competition is already so ferocious, with hopefuls being eliminated left right and centre, and it can only get worse as the pressure builds. No matter how many quotes are made about it being the taking part that is as significant as the winning, this is not so. It is the winning that matters. Coming second or third is not exactly triumphant, even though it's better than being fourth.
The paralympics are perhaps even more savage, with people pitted against one another in a frantic effort to be the best, physically.
It takes years of training and all hope is dashed in seconds.
At least with things like cricket people can spend a few hours in the sunshine and have a decent tea afterwards.
But I write as one who increasingly dislikes any form of competition, and as one who finds it increasingly hard to avoid witnessing it.
On many evenings you can, if you wish, witness competitive cooking on television, or competitive home improvements, or dining experiences, or bed-and-breakfast catering.
People get very emotional, upset and angry. There are tears and shouting and the occasional tantrum which presumably makes for good viewing.
I write as one who had a brief foray into Britain in Bloom, which is competitive planting on a grand scale, where whole towns are pitted against one another.
Perhaps I should also add that I write as one who spent many games lessons lurking in the shrubbery. That fact may be rather noticeable.