Friday, October 13, 2006

Spear Gun Primo

I don’t know anything about football but I always thought that if you were the goalkeeper, it was your job to keep the ball from dribbling into the net behind you. In the admittedly few games I’ve watched, it seems to me that the goalkeeper makes a particular point of reaching down and bundling up a net-bound ball with both arms as if he is taking a newborn baby out of a bath – it’s that important.

Goalkeepers are the only people, apart from Diego Maradona who are allowed to actually touch the ball with their hands and usually relish that specialness. Having to wear gardening gloves must detract somewhat from this joy, but most goalkeepers cradle the scooped-up ball as if it were the FA cup. Then they wave their arms about a bit and kick it the length of the field so that the goalkeeper of the opposing team can do the same for the entertainment of the spectators at the other end of the stadium. What goalkeepers are definitely not supposed to do is take a wild swing with their leg at a ball that is headed inexorably for their goal. Even I know that.

England goalkeeper, Paul Robinson, hadn’t read the script. Television replays are a bit cruel in that they rerun embarrassing sporting howlers over and over in slow motion which makes them look even worse. Robinson must be wishing he could just disappear – as are the rest of us. Paul, if you are considering just orbing out of our consciousness can you grab Steve McLaren by the leg and take him with you? Cheers.

Excruciating public figures should consider vanishing, as opposed to being killed. I watched some of Gabriel Range’s Death of a President on Monday and found it really dull. Where’s the mystery in being shot? I switched over to Spooks when it was time. Presidents get killed on Spooks at the rate of five a minute and no one broods over it. They’ve got much better things to do down at MI5, like shag each other and when they’ve run out of each others to shag, they get started on their au pairs. Spies are not allowed to shag total strangers unless they are going to kill them. National security depends on it. Footballers are only allowed to shag people they intend to duff up a bit. Actually killing them is considered ‘bringing the game into disrepute’. It’s very useful to know this if you are in two minds about which career path to pursue.

When I was a child growing up in Australia, our Prime Minister, Harold Holt (pictured), disappeared while swimming in the surf off the coast of Victoria. This was much more exciting than if he’d just been shot. There were so many possibilities. People who drown are invariably washed up somewhere miles away much later so we had two whole weeks of wondering if that was going to happen and if he’d be in one piece. Some people thought he had been eaten by a shark. If this had been the case he would have been the only Prime Minister ever to have been eaten by a shark. Not even the scriptwriters of Spooks have thought of that.

There were probing questions like why he wasn’t wearing water wings and why none of his many minders noticed that he wasn’t there any more. Some people thought he was a spy and had been picked up by a Chinese submarine. There was also speculation that the CIA had assassinated him or that he had faked his own death so that he could run off with his lover. It was all very exciting at the time. Think of how the disappearance of Richey James still fascinates us. He may turn up at any time. I understand the Manics have changed the locks on their rehearsal room just in case.

It’s quite fun to think of how people could and should disappear. Richard Branson could ascend in a hot air balloon and just never level off. The Hubble telescope could report strange coded messages received from other galaxies which, when decoded, turn out to be bids to purchase Coca Cola or Belize. Gordon ‘Scrooge McDuck’ Brown could dive into his money bin and never come up. If he was Prime Minister at the time he would be the first to drown in a government surplus. He’d only be the second Prime Minister to ‘drown’ as the coroner in Australia last year finally ruled that Harold Holt had been lost in the wild surf, which sounds like a great title for a movie, or at the very least, an episode of Spooks.

Charles ‘Grizzly’ Clarke might be scouted by Saba Douglas Hamilton on Big Bear Week and suddenly vanish, shattering the nation’s collective heart. Ruth ‘Head Girl’ Kelly, John ‘Chopper’ Reid and Jack ‘Straw Man’ Straw might take the veil. They’d finally be detected in 2012 when retina-scanning comes in but think of the fun we’d have for six whole years wandering if they were walking amongst us, subliminally educating us on building ‘community cohesion’. Tony Blair is probably the best ‘puff of smoke’ bet but you can no longer get decent odds on the likelihood of him disappearing up his own behind. If Paul Robinson and Steve McLaren do actually disappear, then at least we’d have a passable excuse for losing. Or, then again, we might even start winning…

Picture of Harold Holt by Alan Lambert

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