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Soup of This Day #220: We Are Strange In Our World

July 29, 2012

Tower of London, 1737
The Tower of London in 1737. Still standing strong today, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress is watched over by Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary, otherwise known as ‘Beefeaters’. These rather serious gentlemen (and 1 lady) possibly get their name from being free to eat the Sovereign’s beef. They in turn give their name to a rather serious type of gin – Image: Nathaniel and Samuel Buck, 1737. Neither of the Buck brothers is affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

It’s been 8 days since my last confession.

This is not entirely my own fault – Sunday a week ago, I woke up feeling pretty ordinary – I had a cough, a sore throat and this shivery feeling that I’ve now learned the experts like to call a ‘fever’. All of which would be enough for most.

But not me. I had to get greedy.

So, while lying in bed, quarantined from The Noah’s Birthday Party – An event that had already been postponed once due to illness – I developed a nasty abdominal cramp. An internal ache that felt for all the world like I was passing a gallstone.

I have no gallbladder.

After 6 hours at the local Emergency Room (ER) I can now assure everyone that; a. You don’t need a gallbladder to form gallstones; b. Getting the annual flu vaccine shot does not mean that you won’t get the flu; and c. That the universe has a perverse sense of humour.

All of which means that I wasn’t up for writing this week past. This is a shame because there was much sport to write about – Liverpool played a pre-season friendly at Fenway, which allowed fans of both Liverpool and the Red Sox to see a useful ball float infield from the direction of the Green Monster. Sadly the novelty wore off pretty quickly, at least partly helped on its way by Liverpool losing the game 1-2 to Italian side Roma.

In sympathy with the prevailing mood of a happy lark the Boston Red Sox played some mid-season friendlies at Fenway too – Against the Toronto Blue Jays in particular the Red Sox were mighty friendly – So amicable in fact that the Sox just went and gave the Blue Jays all 3 wins as keepsakes – Oh how we’ll all laugh and joke about that around the fire in October when we have nothing better to do. Nothing at all.

It’s worth noting at this point that coolstandings.com has Boston down for an 18.5% chance of seeing post-season action. Toronto is marginally better off at 21.4%.

Cloudy, with a chance of meatballs for both me thinks.

The Fremantle Dockers have at least been focussing on winning games to the detriment of their relationships with opponents. They have actually won their past 4 on the trot and whilst that’s a whole bunch of football people who probably don’t like Freo anymore, there is now some hope that the purple-clad army might see some finals footy this year. After a workmanlike 27 point win over Port Adelaide in Adelaide today the Dockers sit in 9th, less than 4% points shy of a finals berth.

But enough about that I hear you cry, let’s talk about the sporting elephant in the room – The London Olympics.

Let’s not and say we did.

Yep, that’s right. This is a sport blog and the world’s, nay, the universe’s biggest sporting event just happens along and I’m taking a pass.

I’m struggling to be bothered.

It’s partly because the Olympic movement is a little too slick and a fraction too neatly packaged. That kind of tightly legislated organisation has the slightly off whiff of something around it. It’s the same kind of odour that was left after the global financial crisis kicked off – It’s the smell of rich people getting a whole lot richer, no matter how crap the situation might appear to the rest of us.

Which I’m ok with, although not as ok as I would be if I was 1 of the rich people.

The problem I have is that with the Olympics the rich people use sport to distract us from the part where they are getting richer and we are getting manifestly poorer.

It just seems wrong somehow – See, that guy over there has trained his heart out for most of his competing life and now all of that is being used to sell a certain fizzy drink to a group of people who just don’t need said fizzy drink.

It’s sleight of hand. Misdirection on a grand sporting scale.

An Australian commentator flashed to a colleague who had unearthed a human interest story at the gymnastics today. He was interviewing an Irish gymnast who, when he was a litle tacker, was confined to a wheelchair and told he’d never walk again. The Irishman, now competing in the Olympics, was in tears recounting his tale, but throughout the crying he was probably wondering just why he had the rapt attention of an Australian news crew.

Ratings, mate.

We love the Irish. We love an underdog. And apparently we love watching an underdog Irishman dance around in a leotard.

It’s why Riverdance played so well here.

I don’t actually know how the Irish lad fared in actual competition but after that build-up it’s pretty much irrelevant – Sometimes it’s best if the heroes don’t actually compete, lest they show us some feet of clay. Far better that we are left with the myth.

Although if someone does have literal feet made of clay then I’m sure there will be an angle in it.

Particularly if they are in the swimming.

Because the clay would dissolve.

Honestly, I feel like I’m doing all of the work here.

1 Australian swimmer managed to sneak into an Olympic final yesterday via a more conventional feeting arrangement. The time was not great but not to worry we were told by a fearless commentator, because the competitor would surely gain an extra lift, a competitive edge even, from competing in an Olympic final.

Wouldn’t the other 7 swimmers get the same lift, the same edge?

Anyway, I won’t be focussing over-much on these Olympic games but I will finish this post off with a bit of a London theme…

This story emanates from another Olympic year, 2000, when the Games were rather conveniently (For me anyway) held in Sydney.

It was also the year that my future wife was turning 21. She had decided to celebrate with several parties, including 1 at her house to which I scored an invite, despite hardly having met her.

Since I was not quite sure why I had been invited I decided to make the most of my social awkwardness by rocking up with a bottle of Beefeater Gin and a stupidly under-sized miniature of tonic. The tonic water was gone in the early heats and thereafter I proceeded to drink myself into a Herculean stupor with some of London’s finest, sans mixer.

It was an effort that cost me in the latter stages of the event – Some of that gin I brought up again at the edge of my future wife’s driveway, but most of it hung around in my system for long enough that I suffered from what is still the worst hangover I have ever had the misfortune to be murdered by.

That’s right – Forgive me, there’s been 3 Olympic Games since it happened, but I feel like I now ought to confess to you all that I have ginned.

We Are Strange In Our World

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