Friday, 9 July 2021

Sporting superstitions. And some thoughts on informality.

Superstition is a funny thing. England manager Gareth Southgate has been seen wearing the same knitted polka dot tie since the middle,of June. It has been pointed out that the only match where he did not wear that tie was England’s 0-0 draw against Scotland, the only time the team failed to win in the tournament. The fact that the team did not lose either seems not to make any difference to the lucky tie effect. He wore it again on Wednesday for the semi-final against Denmark. And the ITV pundit Ian Wright also wore a polka dot tie. Did that extra-luck support make all the difference? We’ll never know.

Sales of the very same and, indeed, merely similar polka dot ties have gone crazy. Are all England supporters planning to wear “the tie” when they watch the final on Sunday? What other rituals will people observe? Even BBC radio is getting in on the act, asking people to email them their football superstitions so that they can feature them in the PM programme later today! 

Meanwhile, it seems that Gary Lineker has been tweeting to remind supporters to remember their manners:

“If you’re lucky enough to get a ticket for the final, please, please don’t boo the Italian anthem. A/ It’s an absolute belter and worth listening to. B/ It’s bloody rude, disrespectful and utterly classless.”

There you go!

It’s all distracting attention from the continuing covid chaos in the country. Numbers of cases are still going up, especially it seems in places like Greater Manchester and Newcastle but still masses of people will go to Wembley, possibly wearing polka dot ties!

According to news reports the Olympic Games are going ahead without spectators. Japan will have spent huge amounts of money in preparations and now will not recoup any of that from the tourism the event would normally have generated. 

Also on the news they were reporting that police officer Wayne Couzens has pleaded guilty to the murder of Sarah Everard. I was struck by the fact that during much of the reporting the victim was referred to simply as Sarah, as if the reporters were all personally connected to her. It’s an informality too far which I have noticed again and again, particularly when crimes are reported. It’s an odd phenomenon of modern times. I grow annoyed by the fact that written reports often refer to people just by their surname, which can be confusing, but in TV and Radio reports the first name alone if often used, in a way that never used to happen.

The prime example, of course, is our prime minister, so often spoken of as Boris, as if he were a bloke who lived just down the road. Nobody ever spoke of Margaret Thatcher as simply Margaret. In more recent times, David Cameron was not David and Theresa May was not Theresa. Jeremy Corbyn, however, was often spoken of, at least by those who loved him, as Jeremy. Why such a difference!?

I notice it in other areas of life. On Wednesday I received a phone call from the triage nurse at our doctors’ surgery. She immediately addressed me as Anthea, discussed my symptoms and went on to arrange for their resident physiotherapist to phone me. This second call occurred yesterday. Once again the physiotherapist addressed me instantly as Anthea. Mind you, the triage nurse had referred to him as Simion, rather than Dr Mattis, which is what it said on the door of his consulting room. For I did get to see him face to face eventually, after we had both expressed our surprise at a telephone consultation being arranged. I wonder if the triage nurse refers to the GPs by their first names when telling patients which doctor they should see. Hmm!

In much of life the relatively new informality os good. A certain stuffiness, and even class discrimination, has been eliminated. I can’t help wondering, however, what would have been my grandmother’s reaction if her doctor or the chemist or the vicar had started addressing her as Martha rather than Mrs Pye. I suspect that that lady, who did not leave the house without being smartly dressed and usually wearing a hat, would not have been impressed.  So it goes. Autres temps, autres moeurs!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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