Volte-face? You cannot be serious!

26 Jun

It worries me that, increasingly I seem to adopt views which, all too quickly, I change for their exact opposite. My political, social and even moral  core is in meltdown – or at least here today and weirdly changed tomorrow. Take Euro 2012. Just a few days on from spitting vitriol about our national game and lauding the gladiatorial-yet- sportsmanlike delights of top tennis, I am once again drawn by the multi-passing Spaniards,  Pirlo the peerless and the unavoidably admirable Krauts.   Even the host-god Andrei Shevchenko set my pulse racing before the Madeiran strutmeister Ronaldo took the wind out of the Ukrainian sails. The best four make up the semis.

Nalbandian hastened my VF along with the BBC’s near-prurient desire for Sue Barker to stick a microphone up Nalby’s nose so he could make a non-apology for kicking without due care and attention. We all make mistakes was the morally-relative message. Tell that to blood-stained officials everywhere. So I’m back on soccer and off Wimbledon. Hey waitaminnit that nice British girl Heather Watson has just, thrillingly beaten a Czech on Centre Court. We may never hear of her again but savour the back pages for just one day.

What else is on my list of fickle VFs? I appear to be an avid monarchist, judging by my recent appearances at the Derby and on the Mall. I went to church last Sunday and enjoyed the whole affair, even mouthing the Lord’s Prayer – albeit just a little self-consciously. But I’m a signed up member of the Dawkins and Grayling society? Further – I have painted all the doors outside doors at home. B and Q first, then sanding, priming, glossing, followed by a concerted gardening effort. I have had an MOT with my GP. I’ve had alternating opinions throughout June on education: academies, Gove’s  ‘O’ Levels, selection, courswork, private schools, the IB and much more.

I am an avowed mysoginist when it comes to modern literature -I ‘m not that fond of Jane Austen either. So why have I read Arundhati Roy, Anita Shreeve and P D James in the last couple of months – and enjoyed them? The last play I went to was written by a woman and the last 3 CDs (yes, I know, dinosaur) I bought were Adele 21, Dolly Parton’s Greatest Hits and something by Katie Melua. I’m exaggerating a fraction but you get the point. I don’t know what I think about anything any more. Worse, I seem not to care very much as long as people behave well in public.

Having banged on about the dearth of good public manners, I was disarmed this morning when a young girl (8 or 9) held a door open for me and rejoined my thanks with a ”You’re welcome.’ No hint of sarcasm either. She had a strong hint of Glaswegian in her voice. Another prejudice squashed. I did some gardening and enjoyed it. I went to a pub and didn’t. I had a conversation with a cold-caller and he seemed not to try to sell me anything. Strange times.

There is a good deal of ‘perceived wisdom’ out there. What we should do and say and think given a set of recognisable circumstances. Some of this wisdom is underwritten by law but the conforming pressure exerted by powerful groups in society becomes pernicious when our thoughts are scrambled by undue influence. From what to let your 5 year watch on TV to WMDs, we are led blindly by a perverse conformity. And the older and wiser we get, the more we struggle with what we really think.

It’s good to change opinions – do it whenever you are moved to do so. It’s a sign that you are reviewing a set of thoughts and beliefs in the light of new information or just a change of heart. A volte-face can reveal an intelligent humility but not if dishonestly delivered. Ed Miliband’s trumpeted admission that New Labour got it wrong on immigration would have been a worthy reversal if espoused in office rather than opposition. I have a great buddy who invariably brings furious debates to a convulsive conclusion by raising a white flag and lamenting,”If you’re going to present me with really good reasons why my point of view is invalid, I’ll have to back down!” Would that the boys in Westminster could manage that sort of emotional intelligence.

Back to Wimbledon. I rarely buy strawberries but they’re in the fridge right now. I want: Andy to have his back massaged by Virginia Wade; Brits to fail, as ever, gloriously; Tim Henman to be caught swearing at Sue Barker; Boris Becker to get a shave and look his age; Maria Sharapova to wear a muzzle; Roger Federer to go all the way because he really is poetry in motion. Most of all though, I need the brilliant analysis of John McEnroe to make eloquent sense of the big matches. And sun. Too much to ask? You cannot be serious!

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