Sunday, 15 April 2007

Fish Not Flapping

The depressing narrative of this season has unfolded with the grim inevitability of hubris inviting humiliation- if Euripides had ever tried writing football stories he could not have done it better. There was something about the shuddering defeat at Bramall Lane yesterday that was as predictable as it was devastating; to follow up momentous away victories at Blackburn and the Emirates with such an abject performance in Sheffield speaks right to the heart of the club.

Of course, it was not just the result but the manner of the performance that extinguished the few remaining embers of hope for survival. As Arindam Rej observed, there comes a point in a relegation run-in when it is no longer enough to have a gifted set of players who strive to play constructive football. Days such as this are about players who put their boots in when it matters, deal with bouncing balls, win important shoulder barges and make the sliding tackles. To even the casual observer it would have been obvious from the body language alone in which direction these two respective teams were heading. There was one relegation threatened team which raged against the dying of the light and another who willingly acquiesced to the ineluctable destiny of defeat.

I've been sat here trying to think what I could write but my mind keeps wandering back to a scene from Kill Bill 2; the one where David Carradine is cutting a sandwich with his big kitchen knife...

Our little girl learned about
life and death the other day.

Wanna tell Mommy about
what happened to Emilio?

I killed him.

- Emilio was her goldfish.
- Emilio was my goldfiss.

She came running into my room,
holding the fish in her hand and crying,

"Daddy. Daddy.
Emilio's dead."

And I said, "Really? That's so sad.

How did he die?"

- And what did you say?
- I stepped on him.

Actually, young lady, the words
you so strategically used were,

"I accidentally stepped on him."

To which I queried,

"And just how did your foot accidentally
find its way into Emilio's fishbowl?"

And she said, "No, no, no. Emilio was
on the carpet when I stepped on him."

Mmm. The plot thickens.

"And just how did Emilio
get on the carpet?"

And Mommy, you would've been
so proud of her.

She didn't lie.

She said she took Emilio
out of his bowl...

...and put him on the carpet.

And what was Emilio
doing on the carpet?


- And then you stomped on him.
- Uh-huh.

And when you lifted up your foot...

...what was Emilio doing then?
- Nothing.

He stopped flapping, didn't he?

She told me later...

...that the second she lifted up her foot

and saw Emilio not flapping,
she knew what she had done.

Is that not the perfect
visual image of life and death ?

A fish flapping on the carpet,
and a fish not flapping on the carpet.

So powerful, even a four-year-old
with no concept of life or death (or football)...

...knew what it meant.

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