We live in increasingly tense and fractious times with heightened levels of anxiety.
Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I know nothing. That I am frequently wrong but often with happy consequences, for instance, Tom confounding all of my predications on his chances in the world of show-biz. An attritional business in which many great men have tried and continue to try…
And speaking of tries…
My vein of form continued last weekend when I predicted a heavy defeat for England against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup semi-final. And, once again, I am delighted to be so categorically wrong.
This English victory might not mean very much to my readers. Since this blog (on the worldwide web) is genuinely read across the world, many of my readers will not know what rugby is, nor that a world cup is even taking place. In Japan btw.
Anyway, its a very big deal indeed for us Brits (that is, England, Wales and Scotland) and Ireland also (although Ireland is not part of the UK, but Northern Ireland is, but they don’t field a rugby team as they do in football…)
Anyway, such fiendish complications aside, the rugby world cup is an enormous sporting occasion and remains so for the English – since it is England in the final against South Africa – and not Ireland, Scotland or Wales and as such, too many of our fellow countrymen of these most beautiful islands will now be praying for a South African win this weekend. Anyone but the bloody English – being the most polite way of putting it.
Wherever you are in the world, you might have heard of a new word in the English language called – Brexit – in brief, the good people of Great Britain were asked if they would like to leave the European Union and the majority of whom had the temerity to say yes. As such, we are not such a united Kingdom anymore and this decision has caused much rancour and exposed even deeper splits within our great country and its various peoples.
And England winning the rugby World Cup will do little to salve these wounds and indeed, might even deepen them.
Indeed, there are many tensions that come with the game of rugby itself. Predominantly played in the private schools, it is known as a patrician sport for the well-to-do. With football (soccer) being the game for the masses. Many rugby professionals hail from this country’s most gilded schools although certainly not all. And further splits within rugby also. Rugby Union, being the game of the south of England (where everyone is rich and posh) and rugby league being the game of the north of England (where everyone is poor). These are crude and vulgar generalisations and yet they are frequently made.
True to say though that rugby union is supported by and large by the professional classes. Since our win in the semi-final, the people scrambling for flights to Tokyo and tickets to the match are not worried about asking for time off from work – since the only people who can afford such a bender most likely own the company’s that they work for.
And tensions also within the Holland household too.
Sam and I were enthralled as the game plays out and it looks likely that dad is going to be wrong, yet again. Mid-match, England have a penalty and George Ford (our fly half and n0.10) is steadying himself for the difficult kick at goal. Nikki returns from a dog walk and wanders in a little too loudly…
‘Oh, who’s playing?’
Naturally, neither of us bother to answer.
So, Nikki looks at the caption on the screen for her answer. George Ford is still gathering himself and his face fills the TV screen.
‘Bloody hell, he’s good looking. Who’s he?’
George makes his kick and Nikki is dispatched from the room with very our loudest tuts.
Then a phone rings!
I ask you, who would be calling any of us during the semi-final of the rugby World Cup?
He is calling from the United States where it must be very early in the morning and where he and Harry will be watching the game. Sam answers the phone as I am busy apologising to my wife for being ‘rude’ and explaining that I might be jealous of George Ford but not for his good looks.
Tom and Harry are indeed watching the game and loving it – but their internet reception is fragile and so Tom has the idea to watch our TV via his phone on Face-Time.
This is not ideal and tensions ramp up a little further.
The game has restarted by now. Sam is not keen on the prospect of holding his phone where it best suits his older brother, (some 3 thousand miles away) and anyway, I have a thing about other screens being used when we are watching telly. Too distracting.
It should be said that Tom is now an actor of a certain cache and prowess. He has people and increasingly rarely, does he hear the word, no.
But we’re not his people. ‘We’re family…’ as Ray Winston might say.
‘Hang up the phone, Sam.’
Normally, Sam might equivocate but not this time. With such a big prize and tensions so high, Sam hits the red button – and Tom doesn’t call back until England have won and we celebrate together.
And to ensure the correct result this weekend in the final – I am predicting a handsome South African victory – and I look forward with glee to being absolutely and completely wrong.