Saturday, September 04, 2004

Chels, Mutes, and Becks

Pro Sport TV, one of two sport channels we have here have clearly bought up the rights to air “Chelsea TV”, which as you might imagine is a feast of Chelsea related boredom. One of the shows most often used to fill time between real sporting events is something called “Classic Chelsea” featuring old games. Now clearly any normal person watching “Classic Chelsea" would expect to see highlights of comedy cup defeats to lower league teams or similar, but not on this version. Here we see matches that Chelsea actually win (note to younger readers – Chelsea used to be crap, shuttling back and forth between the first and second divisions – that’s the premiership and championship to you lot- like West Brom), so there ought to be lots of material to fill up a true “Classic Chelsea” show.

The reason for this Romanian interest in Chelsea of course is the presence on their team of Adrian Mutu. Mutu is Romania’s footballing heartthrob, the idol of young pubescent girls across the nation. I’d compare him to David Beckham in this regard, but as far as I can tell he hasn’t yet taken on the mantle of cultural icon as “Becks’ has. I suspect Romanians have far too much sense than to award leader of the nation status to a pretty boy footballer. Why the English have come to do this is beyond me, but it does make for some comic moments, I think, as intellectuals and cultural commentators rush to jump on the Becks bandwagon.

We begin tonight’s edition of the South Bank Show with the news this morning from Madrid that David Beckham had a mild case of diarrhoea. I’m joined by a distinguished panel of critics and thinkers to discuss the implication of this event on Britain. If I may begin with you, Anthony?”

"Well, Melvyn, what I think we are seeing here is once again a reflection of Tony Blair’s Britain. We are a nation moving forward and attempting to rid ourselves of the waste and detritus of the past, but things at the moment are not terribly solid. Once again we see here Becks as the cultural barometer of the nation"

“Interesting point, Anthony. Lucinda?”

“Melvyn, again I see the issue here being a nation uneasy with being an integral part of the “great European adventure” [
makes quotation marks with fingers, smiles knowingly. Nods of agreement from panel]. We’ve all been to Spain and all suffered from tummy troubles as our English guts struggle to cope with the shift from hearty and solid fare – I’m thinking here of beans on toast, sausages and mash, meat and potato pie – to the more exotic and less palatable ingredients of the Castilian diet –[fakes strong Spanish accent] Calamares a la Romana, Gambas ajillo, etc. As the permanent and widely accepted anthropomorphisation of modern England, I think what Becks’ insides are reflecting is a widely held English disquiet with ceding sovereignty to the mainland of Europe.”

Yes, I see what you’re getting at that, Lucinda. Perhaps you’d care to comment, Frank?”

“Well, perhaps it was something he ate?”

“If I could ask you to keep your comments to the idea of Beckham as metaphor rather than as a human being, Frank.”

“Ah yes, my apologies. Errrm maybe it’s something to do with Gibraltar?”

“No, no, no. You’re missing the point entirely. Think Princess Di. You need to come up with something pithy and semi-ironic regarding Beckham’s role as representative of modern Britain, spouting intellectual truisms while keeping a knowingly ironic tone to your voice to let everyone know that you’re aware of his iconic status but don’t quite subscribe to the celebrity cult beloved of the “Hello!” reader.

“But won’t that mean I’m actually behaving with less integrity than things like “hello!” magazine or suchlike? I mean I’ll be fuelling this rubbish and feeding off it while pretending that I’m not. That sounds like crap to me.”

[South Bank Show, The Guardian’s G2 supplement and all other artifices of post-modern celebrity worship implode in a puff of realism]

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