April 21st, 2012

A Bad Day At The Office For Salman And Bernie

The Crown Prince of Bahrain thought it would do his regime good to invite the F1 circus to town. It would show the world that his particular hell-hole was pacified and open for business. He thought he could control the story, but no-one can these days. He invited the world to look and the world saw petrol bombs and gas attacks and heard stories of police brutality and torture. It also saw him standing around like a plank saying things like, "Well we're not perfect, we have our little troubles." Bahrain is a small place and the western news media hadn't bothered with it much, but they're bothering now.

It's less clear what was in it for Bernie Ecclestone. Money, I suppose. Money and blondes who are twice his height seem to be Bernie's ruling passions.  Anyway, he too got it wrong. Having his zippy little machines buzzing round and round in their bubble while outside on the streets people were being gassed and baton charged and dragged away to torture chambers isn't turning out to be the best advertisement for his business. Also he got to be filmed saying things like, "We're just in it for the sport; it's nothing to do with us." His drivers and other underlings were filmed saying the same thing- like drones- thereby making it apparent that Big Sport- like Big Everything Else- is utterly without a moral dimension. Ecclestone is a cocky little bugger. Cocky is exactly the wrong note to strike in these particular circumstances. 

I sometimes think we're at the beginning of something enormous. The cloud-capped towers of our current world order are beginning to go wispy and transparent at the edges. The spell is dissolving. The Lords of this Creation- of whom the Crown Prince of Bahrain and Bernie Ecclestone are low-ranking examples- don't fool us any more.  I could, if I wanted, draw up a long long list of things that are not going their way. I don't think it's the Millennium or anything as grand or final as that, but I do think it's upheaval time- and the powerful- of all political stripes and none- all those who have benefited from things as they have been over the past two or three decades- need to be looking for archways to shelter in. 

It's A Side Issue, But...

...I don't get F1. I can understand why people got excited about motor sport in the days when the drivers were crazed hobbyists or louche playboys and the cars were likely to blow up in their faces, but everything about the sport is so Disneyfied now- so sanitized, so corporate-  you might as well be watching traffic. The motorized bill-boards go round and round in circles- like flies about a lampshade- the drivers are drones (not allowed to have character for fear of hurting the brand) the dangers minimal and the results predictable. It's sport with almost all the human element drained out of it. The best spark-plug wins.

Hospital Visiting

We're still visiting my f-i-l in hospital every afternoon. They've sorted out his medical problems, but he's still very weak and sleepy and depressed. "When can I come home?" he asks, but the answer- which is always along the lines of "When you start eating properly and working with the physios"- isn't what he wants to hear- so he doesn't. 

They had got him out of bed (under protest) and sitting out today. He drowsed through our visit, so we talked among ourselves (briskly and cheerfully in an attempt to raise the level of the vibrations in his room)  about Ailz's former in-laws and their haunted side-board. The musical windmill that sat on it would play you its tune without being wound. Put your hat on it and the hat would be thrown across the room, lose a trinket and you knew where to look first, run out of cigarettes and you'd always find a single one hidden at the back of one of the drawers.