Friday 22 November 2019

When all else fails, or is frozen off, we will always have the pub

I t would surely not be too difficult to point out to the public safety lobby the great danger to health, and indeed safety, of men being left alone with nothing to do.

The devil, as Iris Robinson would attest, makes work for idle kitchen hands. Lucifer is always at our born-again Christian friends. When they welcome Jesus so fervently into their lives, fundamentalists like Iris seem unprepared for the counter-attack from Satan. The Prince of Darkness is a keen student of human behaviour (he is, as Al Pacino says in The Devil's Advocate, "a fan of man") and is clearly aware that those who climb to the high moral ground suffer from vertigo and an urge to jump.

So while the rest of us are going around messing up in our human way, Iris and her crew are tussling with Mephistopheles, wrestling with the great alligator. There can only be one winner.

Alligator wrestling may be all we have left soon as everyone decides it is too cold and dangerous to do anything else.

Liverpool recommended that their game against Tottenham today be called off and nobody seems to go against those type of recommendations. In Liverpool, they understand the culture of claiming better perhaps than any other club in England for the simple reason that they are not English. They are Irish.

Perhaps they had the Irish fan in mind when the game was called off. They would have figured that those travelling from Ireland and Scandinavia would appreciate an early postponement to avoid travelling for nothing. They probably need to get to know their audience a little better.

For a few Scandinavians and certainly for nearly every Irishman planning to travel, the early cancellation robbed him of the only excuse for making the journey. He continued with his plans while the game was in jeopardy, mainly as his plans probably involved watching the game solely as a capstone to a weekend of tremendous drinking which wouldn't have been denied by any weather.

For the health and safety network, it was another victory but if you can't get games called off at the moment, frankly you shouldn't be in the health and safety business. There is always one man who can see things as they should be. Arsene Wenger is in love with the game and believes football and life should be played one way.

"It is the price we pay for living in a society where everybody wants 100 per cent security," he said on Friday. "Nobody accepts any risk any more and everybody is always guided by fear. If one of 60,000 people has an accident, you feel very guilty and nobody accepts anymore that the slightest insecurity could exist in our society and that is why the games are postponed when there is no real need for it."

Once again, I am in broad agreement with Wenger. I took a tumble myself on the way to the dry cleaners' on Friday but I didn't demand their immediate closure, despite being laughed at by a postman and possibly everybody on a bus which unfortunately happened to be going by at that moment. I took it well. After all, we are in the entertainment business.

Wenger would have undoubtedly applauded the individual initiative of Jeffrey Bernard who, during one of the great freezes of the past, was left to his own devices -- not always a good place for him to be -- and commandeered a few cats, one of which was said to be particularly promising, and raced them around a friend's Battersea flat.

As they called off the all-weather at Lingfield and wondered why it wasn't on in Dundalk, which had shut down for the winter, marshalling cats and racing them began to look like the only way to pass the time.

The pubs, I am told, remain open and it is to their tender embrace that many will have resorted. The pub's 'Live now, pay later' philosophy endures despite the best efforts of those who seem to have a better idea, who would make us all safe and secure all the time.

It was too dangerous to walk down to Craven Cottage or the RDS last week, but the Horseshow House or the Queen's Elm were defiant. Many found that their only welcome was in the pub. What were the health and safety repercussions of that?

Bernard had no option but to round up a few cats in search of entertainment and many last week were forced to go online, searching around the world for a place that cherished freedom.

They will have taken solace in the NFL which is reaching its "busy period", being cheered by the knowledge that the African Cup of Nations begins today and noted that the bad darts is on and consoled themselves with that.

There is always a welcome online and in the pub. This is the silent cost of the cancellations. Meanwhile, websites that facilite extra-marital affairs have reported increased traffic as a direct result of couples being forced to spend some quality time together You can go to A and E for a broken arm, but the damage done to a man's soul this weekend is harder to repair.

Sunday Independent

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