*Bloggers* I am greatly heartened by your support. Here is my column:
To call it genius, frankly, is putting it mildly. When the nation sank back on the sofa last Saturday afternoon, and everyone rubbed the eye that had been accidentally punched by his neighbour’s gesticulation, and when the screams of delight had died away, we were left to contemplate the mental processes by which David Beckham, 29, was able to slot that second goal into the back of the Welsh net.
The rest of the animal kingdom must bow before him, because there is nothing else like it in nature. No dolphin jumping for a ball; no monkey hurling a nut; no archer fish catching a fly with his sputum dart – no other species can solve such a complicated, three-dimensional problem with such speed, and, of our own species, Beckham is the supreme exponent.
He was five or six yards outside the penalty box to the left; Welsh defenders were lunging at him, and yet – in a trice – he had sized up exactly how to strike that laminated sphere so that it moved in a gorgeous, uninterruptible parabola, describing the entire hypotenuse of the box, and arriving with such speed in the top right hand square foot of the goal that it left the keeper’s fingers flapping as uselessly as a dying butterfly.
Any biologist would be bound to concede that this was the human brain at its finest and most efficient.
He would also have to say, however, that there seem to be different types of cleverness; because if Beckham is in some ways cleverer than the cleverest rat or squirrel, he seems in other respects to be a few apples short of a picnic.
He does not, for instance, seem to have the surest grasp of logic, or the English language. Asked once whether he was a volatile player, he said: “Well, I can play in the centre, on the right, and occasionally on the left side.” Asked about his childhood, the England captain said: “My parents have been there for me, ever since I was about seven.”
And this week he had his supreme moment of tapioca-like density, when he decided to confess to a flagrantly cynical foul.
It was, on the face of it, quite a cunning dodge. Becks was already on a yellow card, following a burst of petulance in the Austria match. If he incurred another, he would be banned from the next match. He had just cracked a rib in the course of a collision with a Welshman, and – whirr, chunk – he had a brilliant idea.
If he could earn another yellow card now, he would be banned from a match he was going to miss anyway, cos of his broken rib. So – thok, crunch – bionic Becks cannoned into the same poor Welshman, picked up the second yellow card, and so removed the risk hanging over him from that first yellow card.
Fantastic! Alas, Beckham was so stunned by this chess-like piece of planning, that he could not help but boast: “I am sure some people think I have not got the brains to be that clever, but I do have the brains.”
Yes, David, you do have the brains. You have the brains of the average eight-year-old. Here we have the England captain, theoretically an example to the nation’s youth, admitting that he deliberately set out to foul a rival player, in order to execute a complicated dodge to do with yellow cards.
That is thuggery. For him to claim that this action shows his intelligence is a magnificently self-negating statement. One way or another, Beckham will pay a heavy price for his confession, and what makes it so ridiculous is that the derr-brain could have got clean away with it.
There was no way of telling, on the face of it, whether the foul was cynically motivated. We might have had our suspicions, but there was no way of proving it. All he had to do was keep schtumm.
In that respect, we must admit that there is a certain nobility in his sheer lack of cunning. Contrast Beckham, who is very good at foopbaw, but not much good at thinking, with Tony Blair.
Beckham draws the wrath of the nation upon him by confessing to a crime that no one else could possibly have identified. Instead of concealing his machinations, he moronically blurts them out, in the let-it-all-hang-out tradition of the foopbaw star.
Blair, on the other hand, has been convicted, in the eyes of all clear-eyed and moderate people, of a considerable deceit. A close reading of the Butler report confirms that, in no fewer than 28 ways, Tony Blair took the raw intelligence data that he was being fed about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, and hardened up the language so as to make the threat posed by Saddam sound more immediate, and to encourage his dispirited and lobotomised backbenchers to support the war in Iraq.
That is not a dereliction concealed in the mind of Blair; the great Butler action replay has revealed it to the ref, in the form of the British public.
All we want is for Blair to admit that he did it; all we want is that glorious gabbling moment of Beckham-like candour. All we want is for him to go on the telly, and say, yeah, well, I did exaggerate them things cos that was the best way of getting everyone in the Labour Party to support the war.
We yearn for this honesty, because it would clear the air, and allow us to close the subject, and get on with something else. And yet the sadness is that Blair believes he cannot possibly make such an admission, because that would mean that he had wittingly misled Parliament.
Our most cunning politician is locked in the prison of his dishonesty. Our most brilliant footballer has the honesty of the dunce, and his punishment will be over sooner.
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