Thursday 29 September 2016

Embrace the chaos - there's certainly enough for everyone

Published 03/07/2016 | 02:30

Brexit bombshell: Boris may well be known by his foes and former allies as the biggest British traitor since Lord Haw Haw
Brexit bombshell: Boris may well be known by his foes and former allies as the biggest British traitor since Lord Haw Haw

So, let's get a few things straight, as they ­currently stand.

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I say "as they currently stand" because that's the occupational hazard every columnist faces.

You write something brilliant and incisive (ahem) and before you know it, the story has moved on, leaving you look like a fool - or worse, a malevolent fool.

Frankly, I still shudder whenever I think of the time I wrote a piece having a pop at someone; someone who really, really deserved it, only to discover an hour before the paper went to bed that the individual concerned had died.

That's the problem inherent in the trade and there's nothing you can do about it.

But things are currently so febrile in UK politics right now that even that old qualifier which plaintively states that things may have changed between me writing this and you reading no longer applies.

Instead, in this most unpredictable of periods, it would probably be more accurate to say that things may well have changed from the time you started reading this page to the time you finish.

We have entered the arena of chaos. And we may as well embrace it, because things aren't going to settle down any time soon.

No, we're a long way from being even within waving distance of normality.

Forget the old Tony Blair Labour anthem of things are only getting to get better - it would be more accurate to say things only going to weirder.

When Boris Johnson dropped his most unexpected bombshell around lunchtime on Thursday, he damned himself to be forever known by many of his former allies and supporters as the biggest British traitor since Lord Haw Haw.

Here is the man, after all, who did everything in his power to become the centre of attention. Then - rather like some suspect may also be the case with Donald Trump - his feet got cold at the last minute.

Rather than announcing he would stand for leader of the Tories, as expected, he amazed everyone, most particularly his own advisors, when he appeared to rip up his intended speech and seemed to conclude that it all seemed like too much hassle.

For once, Irish politics actually looks like a model of probity, calm and common sense. Sure, we undoubtedly have some of the biggest eejits in the Western world sitting in our own national parliament. But even the most febrile levels of craziness we have ever witnessed in the Dáil pale into dreary insignificance when compared to what's currently going on across the water.

To put this into some sort of digestible perspective, here's what's happening in the UK right now - the bloke from Have I Got News For You has somehow managed to drag the UK out of the EU.

Then, having been the public face of Project Mayhem, he blithely abandoned all those who voted on his recommendation.

On the other side of the aisle, the opposition leader is so clueless that he hosted a meeting to try to deal with the constant accusations of anti-Semitism which have dogged the stricken Labour Party - and then promptly offended everyone when he compared Israel to ISIS while his team complained that there weren't enough black and Muslim people present.

This begs one relevant question - are they putting something in the water over there?

If they're not, maybe they should start. Because, horrifyingly, this is modern politics as imagined by Tyler Durden.

The nihilistic anti-hero of Fight Club would surely be in his element as he watches Britain's political establishment collapse into a collective nervous breakdown.

To put Johnson's betrayal into perspective, how many of the 17.5 million people who voted to leave the EU would have done so if they weren't persuaded by him? Those people did so on the basis that he was the man with the plan and now they've been made to feel like shmucks. Even worse from their perspective, they've been made to look like shmucks because of his U-turn.

Somehow, the fact that he feels that he was betrayed by his colleague-turned-rival Michael Gove makes things even better.

Boris Johnson, the man who defenestrated David Cameron, is now whining about being shafted? As Uncle Monty from Withnail & I might say, how delicious!

It's now become clear that the last week has been the most chaotic and depressing in living memory. Everybody, on both sides, seems to have completely lost the plot, which now goes beyond even the maddest conspiracy theory. After all, conspiracists are convinced that The Man has a nasty, evil masterplan.

As we have seen in the last few days, The Man is just as clueless and freaked as everybody else. There is no evil masterplan, which would have been perversely reassuring. That would at least indicate that someone has a clue about what the hell is going on.

Instead, we wake up each day to some new piece of tomfoolery or stupidity which, if nothing else, reminds us that politicians are just like the rest of us, only weirder.

At this stage, we should embrace the chaos, greet every new crisis with a malevolent grin and endeavour to simply marvel at the criminal incompetence of these people.

As Tyler Durden said: "Only after disaster can we be resurrected... Nothing is static, everything is evolving, everything is falling apart."

Honestly, you know things have gone badly, badly wrong when a quote from Fight Club is the best way to discuss modern politics.

May God have mercy on us all...

McIlroy was right - for a number of reasons

Let's be honest, none of us really know how the Zika virus works. In fact, when a bunch of male golfers start to freak out over a disease which apparently only afflicts pregnant women, it's hard not to be reminded of the old Bill Hicks joke about only buying cigarettes which had a warning about low birth weights on the packet.

His reasoning was that he was unlikely to get pregnant anytime soon so it was the ones which warned about cancer he wouldn't smoke.

So, when McIlroy announced that he wouldn't be going to the Olympics because of Zika, the critics were quick to give him a 9-iron upside the head.

But there is a much more interesting question about the golfer's participation than whether he picks up a mysterious virus or not - why was he going in the first place?

Why is any professional athlete going to the Olympics?

Cycling, basketball, football (with some flimsy caveats), tennis and now golf are all represented by professionals, while there is even talk of allowing pro boxers into future games.

What is the point of an amateur working all their life and pushing their body and mind to breaking point if they finally reach their goal only to be overshadowed by millionaires?

Why bother when they are eclipsed by people like McIlroy who, with refreshing honesty, admitted this week that he already has four Olympics every year and this was, really, just a bit of a pain in the hole in one?

Yes, yes. The Olympics as we knew them are now tarnished beyond all recognition. Track and field, and so many other pursuits, have lost all moral authority when the spectators' first reaction to a record being broken is to wonder who their pharmacist is.

But the Northern Irish golfer has always been blunter than people gave him credit for, and even the golf trade should thank him rather than condemn him as so many have.

Nobody who plays golf professionally ever grew up dreaming of winning Olympic gold. They dreamt of the Masters and maybe the Ryder Cup. Those unsung athletes who participate in sports which don't have multi-million dollar purses, however, have thought of little else all their lives.

Sport still has the power to move us in ways nothing else can achieve, and we believe in it despite recent revelations, not because of them.

But leave the Olympics to the Olympians, and leave professional sports to the pros.

That's not too hard to understand, is it?

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