Thursday, June 24, 2004

Is it me?

Normally the guy who writes at Casino Avenue is fairly amusing and quite nice [why else would I bother to read it?]. But now he's become this puritanical figure, with more than a hint of prolier than thou. A couple of days ago it was Chavscum and it's users that displeased him, now it's anyone daring to speak the name that isn't Rusedski.

Chavscum, I have to admit, I've never quite got. Presumably it's a joke, but taken to such an extent that it's long since ceased to be one.

Henmania. Once again I've never quite got. He's pretty good on occasion but has too many instances of not thinking. He gets stuck in the same pattern, that stops working [Before someone responds with the inevitable: No, I couldn't do any better, and I have no particular wish to try]. Despite my personal feelings, what is so truly horrendous about people who aren't usually fanatical about sports being so? Perhaps it might seem a bit unthinking to continually opt for the same person without necessary knowing much about his ability. But that happens with any activity. Why else would anyone support [insert whichever football team is doing worst, or the one which you most despise]?

Maybe the sudden occurrence of legions of fans is a little off-putting. They aren't visible at any time other than the wettest fortnight of the summer. They must be Johnny-come-latelys, the worst form of supporter, the fair-weather sailors. A. What is wrong with being that? Being a fan isn't necessarily an endurance event. B. Tennis only gets persistently into the news in this fortnight. The media need to have their humanising angle, so we get the vox-pop sound-bites. People who've spent the past few hours sitting tiredly on wet concrete aren't going to seem the sanest people, regardless of whether they come out with anything coherent [well, would you? I think most of people, including me, would struggle to get past "Er?", though some might get up to giddy heights of "What?"].

Do people spontaneously burst into cries of "Tim! Woo! [Flag wave]" in unison, whenever they see a camera? Only when the television crew just told them to. If it wasn't for tennis, then they'd have clips of people being asked "How do you feel about the draft EU constitution / the threat of Terrorism / the Pope's prescription for viagra / the Blue Peter dog [Katy Hill or Goldie?] / being mute / the number 42 / the number 42 bus / Bush wanting to bring on the Rapture / milk?" followed by a quick plug for BBC le Dun [how else should one pronounce LDN?] 94.9's John Gaunt [Outraged by thick people? Call us now] / Panorama / Match of the Day / This world / [or the slow news day option] This life.

To judge by BBC LDN's television output, their camera crews must be worse than squegee guys at pouncing on drivers at red lights. They've gone amber...white van middle lane, he's got his window down, quick!. They must be like a Formula 1 pit crew [and they probably run out and wrench the wheels off to stop the poor fool driving away without saying anything].

Hmm, considering I was getting annoyed by other people being judgmental, this probably isn't a theme I should be exploring now.

Anyway, getting back on my shaky soapbox. Why is being a fly-by-night [or pavement camp by night] fan bad? Some of them might actually be proper know-far-too-much-about-Mr-Henman's-life-and-have-memorised-years-of-statistics fans. It's just that tennis doesn't get much media coverage, apart from this brief spurt, and so their obsessiveness appears fleeting, because we're only exposed to it now. And the fact they'd try to spend a large chunk of their lives in France, Australia and America.

And which sport is so demographically unbiased that it represents a cross section of the nation? I think none possibly.

Perhaps it's not so much Cas-Av as the Independent writer's tone that irritates me (though Cav-Av aping it doesn't help).
From the section included on Cas-Av's page:
...Middle England, that place of well-tended lawns and solid Home Counties values. This is bad why exactly?
...the squealing supporters... Because Neanderthal roars are a better. Oh hang on, that would be equally as judgmental.
...with their Union flag hats and little flags... Flags being an invention of tennis fans, and never used by the supporters of any other sport. He forgot to mention the facepaint.
...who seem to have a polite orgasm... Unconstrained, messy, damp ones are much better in public. Saves a fortune on cream for the strawberries as well.
No one, in all honesty, could say that they are a cross-section of the nation. Your point being?
What they are cheering is more than just an unusually successful British sportsman; it is a version of Englishness. Their suburban form of patriotism, also on show at the last night of the Proms, is trim, well-spoken and profoundly conventional, in the manner treasured and nurtured by minor public schools. I really don't get what's so objectionable here. Being suburban is bad? [it's a newspaper, therefore it's London, so from their perspective yes. Just don't call Clapham, Hammersmith or Muswell Hill a suburb (it's not like they're actually in the City is it?)]. Patriotism is bad? Well a bit anachronistic perhaps, and slightly unsettling. But I can think of worse forms [See the land of free and home of the brave, and given England's just lost on penalties and dubious refereeing possibly Portugal tonight]. Last night of the Proms in bad? Well, at least one knows more of the tunes than on any other night of the Proms [and so of them are quite catchy]. Trim [whatever that may be] is bad? Well-spoken is bad? And what stunning bit of grammar that is [and this too], init? Conventional is bad? Well if we were all unconventional, then that would be conventional, wouldn't it? I suppose believing in basic human rights is a bit conventional too. Oh well. Minor public schools are bad? I thought this was from the sports section? Not really the place to launch into the ethics of private schools or the reasoning behind retaining the minor ones. Or am I just being a little too conventional in my thinking?

Insp. Sands is always ready to lambaste the media for printing naive and judgmental work [see his post on the Guardian's Lads' Mags article]. Provided of course it is naive and judgmental in the right [or wrong] way. Which means it has to come from the Guardian or Evening Standard to count as such [the Telegraph need not apply].

Simply because it is not something he connects with, Insp. Sands appears to think it cannot matter. In case you hadn't yet noticed, I don't entirely agree with this viewpoint.

[The article in question comes out much milder overall than the excerpt quoted by Cas-Av].

And just to demonstrate my utter inability to be judgmental: This Classic Gold hoo-ha, Blackburn plays Cliff [see Cas-Av though I heard it from elsewhere]. Cliff: does anyone care? Blackburn: Ditto. Classic Gold: I'd always assumed that it was like Classic FM, only more, um, classic. Classic Classical. Except Classic FM plays only the recognisable Classics, so they're Classic Classical already. So I never really figured out what they played, but thought it was probably a looped tape of just one Season by Vivaldi [Spring], that "ba-ba-ba-boom" Beethoven thing, and whichever Mozart tune it is that was used as the soundtrack to Frogger [Very early computer game].

So hearing the DJ had been suspended for playing [relatively] "modern" music didn't seem terribly surprising or interesting. And as for the theory that this was all just a ploy to boost awareness of the station and so hopefully the audience, well, sorry to disappoint, but if I want a digital radio station to play music that bewilders me, I'll listen to Kerrang!


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