Monday 23 October 2017

If it's any consolation, there's always Wayne Rooney's hair

THEY say that man is the only animal that is aware of his own mortality. And yet, knowing that we are going to die, we still strive to overcome that by performing valiant deeds or by creating beautiful things.

Thus the nobility of man can be discerned in this knowledge that his life will end. But more than this, it can be discerned in the knowledge that Euro 2012 will end.

While man can expect his life to last for 70 years, Football Man knows with terrifying certainty that with Euro 2012, he's only got about three weeks. How much more noble then is he?

Moreover, even within that mayfly-like span, he is given a premonition of the void with the ominous arrival of the first "rest day", which comes after the group stages, and then more "rest days" as the semi-finals and the final come into view. Agonisingly, as the tournament moves towards a climax, so the number of matches diminishes until the last day, when there is but one, and then ... nothing.

Even as it is building, it is ebbing away. Yes, we tell ourselves that its very brevity is the thing that gives it meaning, but perhaps we are only saying that to console ourselves, the way we look for consolation in the oddest things, such as Wayne Rooney's hair.

It is a remarkable thing that man, with all that nobility, all that ingenuity, has still not found a way to make a rich man look any better than a poor man in the areas of hair loss and restoration. Wayne is taking home about €200,000 a week. His hair is the culmination of the best efforts of the most sought-after practitioners, the top men in the transplant game, and yet essentially it looks no different to what a Fianna Fail senator might have been wearing on his head circa 1976.

As a life-long student of these issues, I see a clear link between the pursuit of worldly success and the pursuit of false hair -- the man who seeks these solutions is saying that he is no longer subject to the ravages endured by other men, that he has arrived at a place where he can defy nature itself.

In Irish politics, there was a fascinating twist, whereby the toupee wearer, far from wanting to make his new hair look "natural", would actually want the people to know that he is wearing a wig, so that they can be made more keenly aware of his power.

Wayne Rooney, even with his Irish roots, would not want that. But he is getting it anyway, with this transplant that, like so many other efforts in the field, merely draws attention to itself.

And yet even here we see the nobility of our species in Rooney's attitude to his misfortune, which increasingly is one of good humour.

With this, Wazza is showing a lot of class which, like a head of hair, is something you can't buy. First, he seeks fundamentally to change his appearance, though he knows that life is short. And when it doesn't work out, what does he do? He laughs at it.

Aye, what a piece of work is a man.

Noblest of them all, of course, is Paddy, who knows not only that Euro 2012 will end, but exactly how it will end for him -- he will be very, very drunk. I think of this as I watch Ireland's Depression Epidemic, the series presented by Ray D'Arcy on TV3.

Ray has emerged as a broadcaster of fine intelligence, a man who, for example, was interested in the drinking schedule of the last Taoiseach long before any political correspondent deemed it relevant.

So while I respect his work on depression, always in Ireland I feel there is one epidemic that comes before all the others, and that of course is the alcoholism epidemic. Indeed, of the many ways to start a conversation about depression, you might try this one -- "Do you drink? If so, stop, and then we will talk."

In fact I can hardly think of any conversation about anything in Ireland that could not start in that way, nor can I think of a half-decent TV programme made about it. Maybe Ray D'Arcy will make it.

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