Friday, February 23, 2007

Word Games When I'm Drunk...

My mind runs my words out of play. I’ve drunk too much. Can barely stand. Can’t find the remote to turn off the TV. The memory of two UEFA Cup matches lingers as much as the words from the news. I can’t escape the news.

‘War’s a game.’

Or so they said, whoever ‘they’ are. They must know. I wouldn’t talk about something I know nothing about. I suppose ‘they’ feel the same way. And that’s why they say the things they say.

They’re the usual sorts. The ex-army types who appear on the news wearing their badly matched shirts and ties, geometric deigns, grid coordinates, haircuts shorter than those of the 1934 FA Cup winning team. They look like farmers. They say that war’s a game for boys who like big toys. Find them on YouTube videos, like 'Match of the Day' replays. See weapons discharge like John Arne Risse’s left foot. The boom of the crowd. The bulge of the net.

They talk of the thrill of combat. They talk about experiences that turn boys into men. They say that Prince Harry’s going to Iraq and he’s delighted, looking forward to every moment. They say the equipment’s state of the art. They say that the equipment won’t last, there’s not enough of it, that it’s not as good as what the Americans have.

They say…

I say what has happened to the games we played for fun? What’s happened to this country of ours when a boy doesn’t aspire to the England number 7 shirt? Remember the game lads, ladies? Remember what it means to lose but come back to win again? Don’t confuse the game with war. We mix our words too easily. We speak of victory and loss as though we’ll have another chance in the mid-week replay. There are no career threatening injuries now bar one. The big one. The one that got Bobby Moore, George Best, and all the rest.

I’ve never gone to war but I’ve known some pretty terrifying encounters when I was playing the game I love. But it really was only a game. I didn’t know what it was to feel a fear more than that which comes of an ankle injury I thought would keep me out of the game for six months. And I didn’t know the sense of loss any more than the bets that I lost with the unexpected draw.

I want to say that politics is a game too but I’ve drunk far too much because it's a night of European football. I’m now running my words to the corner flag. Counting the seconds. Referee's whistle.

Yes, politics is a game too, only you know what people say...

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