Millions will be watching the last games of the season’s Premier League this afternoon, but some of us will be watching less of it than others.
Indeed, I can hardly remember the last Liverpool FC game I watched in full, in real time, without pausing and then fast-forwarding parts of it on the Sky Plus machine.
And in conversations with friends who also support Liverpool, I am discovering some of them are choosing to control the narrative, using the many strategies which TV technology has developed for us.
Like, if the other team so much as crosses the halfway line, heightening your anxiety, you use the minutes you have saved up on the pause button to turbocharge the attack at 30 times the speed, getting it over with as quickly as possible.
This is how we rip off the plaster, as it were. This is the way we live now.
And it is not because we fear some deep-seated weakness in this Liverpool team. On the contrary, we know they are great, that no English team has ever been in this situation.
With the League Cup and the FA Cup already won, they are in contention right up until the last game for everything, including the Champions League final next Saturday night.
But we also know the game can be unspeakably cruel, that a freakish misfortune can deny even the great ones what they deserve.
So it stands to reason that last Saturday I did not watch the penalty shoot-out in the FA Cup final in its raw, natural state. No, I paused it, seeking to gain some composure in the silence of the freeze frame, calling out to the baleful gods to be just.
Then I watched it in my own time, “editing” the long walks to the penalty spot and indeed other parts of it, so I did not see Sadio Mane missing his penalty. I just saw he had missed it — which did not stop my grief, though it did shorten it somewhat.
To those who may find this disturbing, I would say TV technology is just enabling us, in a more sophisticated way, to control our sporting environment as people have always done.
We all readily accept it when we hear of the mother or father of a player who can’t bring themselves to watch a game in which their child is involved. It is a demonstration of love, it shows they care so much about their son or daughter, they just can’t bear to see anything bad happen to them.
So it is with me and this Liverpool team. I love those lads so much, I can’t be sitting there watching the full, unexpurgated actions of other teams scoring goals against them, or other such atrocities.
They may not be my actual sons, but when I wake up in the morning I do not ask myself: do I feel rested? No, I just wonder if Trent Alexander-Arnold feels rested.
I am hearing critics who claim that by thinking only of the result, I am missing some essential part of the entertainment experience. To which I say, that for entertainment I have many excellent dramas on Sky Atlantic and a subscription to streaming services such as Netflix. These, and of course every other football match and sporting event in which Liverpool are not involved, are supplying my entertainment needs.
But when you get to the rarefied place that Liverpool Football Club are in today, you are no longer in the “entertainment” space. You are not inclined to be listening to those critics who thought Bill Shankly was “joking” when he said that football is not a matter of life or death, it is more important than that.
Bill Shankly… “joking”… about football?
To give me my due, I have never liked to concede too much power over the viewing of any football match that I actually care about — Ireland matches in a pub were always a tough watch for me.
Consoled only by the fact that in a pub you have a lot of drink, you are dealing with people who do not rightly understand what is happening, and whose overreactions or indeed underreactions can be vexatious to the spirit.
It was tense enough watching Jack Charlton’s lads trying to hold out for another draw, without someone beside you prematurely celebrating a “goal” that was clearly always going wide.
Now we have been furnished with the equipment which empowers us to direct our own game. When I write that “you should never not watch a football match”, I’m not telling you how you should never not watch it.
You may not be influencing the game itself — as you would by, say, eating the correct brand of biscuits at half time — but it is still an interesting fact that since I adopted these viewing tactics, I have seen Liverpool winning many, many times.
And later I will happily watch those entire games again, without pause, including the analysis and even the ad breaks, savouring every moment.
The delay in the sale of Twitter to Elon Musk was anticipated here recently. I pointed out that for a man thinking of paying $44bn (€42bn) for the old hellsite, Musk seemed to have a poor understanding of it.
Leaving aside the “bots” with which he is so exercised, he had observed several accounts with massive followings hadn’t tweeted for a long time, which to him suggested Twitter was dying.
Yet the vast majority of Twitterati are not there to await the occasional pronouncements of Justin Bieber or Barack Obama, and perhaps most tellingly, it doesn’t seem to occur to Musk that the rich or famous might just have nothing of any interest to say. Which has little to do with Twitter, raising again the question of what Musk thinks he is buying here.
More clues emerged last week — “unless it is stopped, the woke mind virus will destroy civilisation”, he quipped good-naturedly. He warned that “political attacks on me will escalate dramatically in coming months”.
Presumably this will be the woke mind virus at work, or maybe just straightforward American journalism. Again he quipped that he had a great word for any scandal in which he might be embroiled: “Elongate.”
In one obvious sense he has gone full Trump with this idea that any criticism is just a hitjob by the radical left media. And in a more visceral sense, it was probably Twitter banning Trump that really got his acquisitive juices flowing.
Naturally, as owner of Twitter he would reinstate Trump, supposedly for reasons of “free speech”, but mainly because it seems utterly incomprehensible to this billionaire — and to billionaires in general — that anybody, anywhere, should do anything to stop them doing whatever the hell they want.
This is the billionaire’s belief system in its essence, and here was the ultimate Twitter transgression. It put a rich white guy in “jail”.
This cannot stand. Musk, who himself inherited a fortune from his father, is fighting back for billionaires everywhere — the ultimate victims of the woke mind virus.
If I had billions, I would do something useful. Like buying the Eurovision and getting rid of the phone voting which has destroyed it.
When the real voting of the juries is over, and the avalanche of phone votes arrives, it reminds me of the satirical TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? which makes a virtue of its mad scoring system, the presenter declaring nonsensically that he is awarding …“57 points”.
A friend of mine who knows his way around the executive lounges, tells me the phone voting must be about “driving engagement”. He often hears these words in his corporate world, and he longs for some marketing type to say to him, just once: “Actually, your system is working fine, there’s no need to be driving engagement.”
For Eurovision, tragically, it is too late.