Wednesday, September 14, 2005

That Was Rubbish, Jenkins

So pleased is The Guardian with its new signing - the columnist, Simon Jenkins - that it runs his name across the breadth of the front page above the title today.
And what does he give us on his first outing? A clich├ęd encomium on the game of cricket which has been written thousands of times in the past hundred years.

If you're paid megabucks and are supposed to be a cut above the average columnist you should consider carefully the words you choose lest you inadvertently write rubbish:
"Some time between two and three o'clock on Monday afternoon the nation heaved a sigh of relief and delight as Pietersen's bat........"
Now I know I've mentioned this before, but a few million people does not = the nation. On Monday afternoon I was asleep dreaming that I was playing Guy Ball on a Caribbean beach with Beckham and Ronaldo. About 52 million other people were doing a variety of other things and cricket was as far from their minds as endogenous growth theory.
I shall be glued to the World Cup next year. I shall not assume or write that the whole nation is. When I watch England World Cup matches I glance out my window and see people walking their dogs and shopping, including many young men.

Does it matter? Well, if you write then you surely believe that language matters. And if you attempt, however unsuccessfully, to think rationally and logically, then you are aware of the close relationship between precise language and clear thought.
(Feel free to comb through my archive for examples of sloppy thinking and writing. But I do often agonise a long time over the use of words, the more so if I'm writing about a serious subject).

As you'd expect, because it's part of the template for cricket articles, Jenkins compares soccer (that's football to scum like us) unfavourably with cricket.
But the difference between the two sports has nothing to do with class or social background. Oh no! Perish the thought!
Yet Jenkins refers to Rooney and Beckham as "bling-encrusted idols". Soccer (that's football to we great unwashed) is "choking on egotism and vulgarity." Furthermore, "the ritual of a football crowd [don't you mean 'soccer', Simon?] is awesomely vulgar."
Clearly, nothing distresses the sensitive Mr Jenkins more than vulgarity.

It's very puzzling because, according to Jenkins, the supporters of both sports are not dissimilar. I'm bound to say that the irritating mini-twats I saw interviewed on BBC News at the Victory Parade appeared to have been given the afternoon off Prep School. They must have been because if they'd been working class kids they'd have been rounded up by the Government's new Truancy Patrols.

Jenkins referred to Beckham and Rooney in the context of Rooney's tantrum in the recent England v N. Ireland game. Everything about that game was awful, he says. He apparently didn't notice that Captain Beckham, besides playing a blinder of a game, behaved with a dignity and sportsmanship that was world-class, shaking hands afterwards with every player on the other team and remaining on the pitch to applaud the crowd.

Jenkins finds an explanation for football's inferiority in the fact that a result "often turns on one or two incidents, themselves vulnerable to the match-turning decisions of a referee."
I have zero understanding of cricket but I noticed that a few days ago England supporters were praying for rain because that would enable England to win the series. So the weather and umpire decisions are acceptable but referee decisions and 'incidents' (e.g. goals?) are not.

I wouldn't normally get into a discussion about the comparative merits of different sports, all of which are inherently absurd anyway. No more point than having an argument about you liking olives and me hating them.
But if we're going to get this level of poppycock - along with 'God, it's so's so vulgar' - from Simon Jenkins every week, The Guardian might as well have engaged Prince Charles as a columnist.


At 4:14 PM, Blogger cello said...

Two corking posts today, Willie. you are spoiling us again. but we are worth it.

I shall now try and think of God as a meringue. I will definitely have more success with that than trying to believe s/he/it is an omnipresent, sentient, creator ...thingy.

And Simon Jenkins. So disappointing. And so lacking in imagination, when they could have Willie Lupin for (I'm guessing) half the price. Celebrity columists seem to be allowed to play the field and then, when they are jilted by one lover or they have a tiff, expect to be able to shack up with any other grateful editor. Shabby.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

cello: from Thought For The Day (with acknowledgements to Billy Connolly):
and, you know, when my wife, Annabel, opened the oven door, I realised that, in a funny kind of way, God is rather like a meringue. Did not his son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, also rise...

What do you mean 'half the price'?!
Anyway, I'm free on the internet, old scrubber that I am. So spread the word. For the Word is God, or God is the Word, or something like that.

I've now dealt with the Hattersley column, as you requested.
Truly, the Spirit moved me today.
(Or, as I'm more likely to say: Ah! Men!)

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Urban Chick said...

i seem to remember reading mr jenkins saying that he believed print and broadcast pundits had sth to fear from bloggers who for the most part peddle their views for free

so the man has some self-awareness...


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