Yesterday’s murder in Birstall served up a gruesome unwanted glimpse into a possible future that’s about as welcome as Donald Trump in a hiphop club. The ghosts of Mosley and Powell are stalking the land and many people are genuinely frightened. Understandably so.
Anyone who has read Paul Mason’s seminal book PostCapitalism will have an idea of what the future could hold. The author believes intensified conflict over immigration looms like a dark cloud on all our horizons. As the Four Horsemen of the Neoliberal Apocalypse – permanent economic stagnation, global warming, poverty and war – intersect, and make many underdeveloped countries virtually uninhabitable for millions of the world’s poorest, huge population movements into Europe and the USA will be inevitable as refugees and migrant labour follow the trail of wealth and hope. Mason makes it clear this isn’t inevitable but will need a counter narrative to the twilight world of moribund capitalism.
Through thinkers like Mason, and through the actions of millions of disparate practitioners of socialised economics, a counter narrative is emerging, slowly but surely. If we look hard enough we can find its seeds close to home as well as further afield but at what pace will they sink roots and flourish? This is the great unknown at present. There may be much darker days ahead.
Football is as good a form of escapism as any. This isn’t an admission of apathy or abnegation of responsibility. There is so much suffering in the world that to try and point your antennae at all the horror would drive you insane. You can only do what you can and help where you’re able to. Sometimes you need to look away which is one reason I’m glad the European Championships are on. They’re a much needed diversion (for some of us) from the rest of the day’s news. If the TV cameras were pointed away from the usual beer-bellied chair-flingers they’d find joy, excitement and the spirit of internationalism. Football fans from our nearest neighbours in Iceland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Ireland are having a ball, bringing colour and partying to the streets of France. That’s the way it should be. On the field they’re all still in with a shout of qualifying for the next round. Bonus.
As per usual the meeja are obsessed with the next door neebors. To be fair the England team are playing well. They’ve got a decent squad with plenty of attacking flair in it. Their players seem to relish playing for their country, giving their all, in a way the financial bloaters and bigheads of yesteryear didn’t seem to bother. But their match against Wales showed how success and failure are just a baw hair apart. As Jonathan Watson mentioned in a twitter exchange yesterday Roy Hodgson was just a minute away from a sacking. This may or may not be the case but we’ll never know now thanks to Vardy.
Like other Scottish football fans I miss our own team not being involved. Instead of lapping up heroic defeats in the glorious sunshine we’re playing pointless friendlies that serve only to embarrass us. France was our last chance of a decent footballing party for a while. Even if Scotland qualify for the next couple of World Cups who wants to go to corrupt cesspools like Qatar or Russia? Having the tournaments played there is a bizarre joke that only the FIFA brown envelope brigade think is funny.
There should be plenty of quality matches in the weeks ahead though. When it gets down to the business end of the tournament I expect Germany to step up to the mark again and win with teutonic efficiency. (“You can never count out the Germans” (c) every fucker).
But there’s part of me thinks it might be England this time. Seriously. They’ve got the squad cohesion and never-say-die attitude that Hibs had in the Scottish Cup final. (Did I mention that Hibs won the Scottish Cup? Aye? Just checking.) For some in these lands an England victory would be akin to Malcolm McDowell’s ordeal by eye-opener in Clockwork Orange but I’d be okay with it. Up to a point. The point where I switch off the bawheids in the London TV studios. Ja.
If there’s one thing that will unite every true football fan over the next few days (except for viewers in the Austro-Hungarian Empire) it will be the rallying cry: Come On Ye Bjorkies. Fuck knows how they’ve managed to get this far with a population the size of Musselburgh but they’re what the romance of football is all about. They’ve put a smile on a lot of faces already. Here’s hoping for more. Go Iceland!