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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Monday March 06 2006

Well, that was the first interruption of daily service, if you can call it that, since, whenever it was.  In order to be able to identify exactly when said seervice began, I would need not now to be suffering from the malady that I actually am suffering from.

Let me explain in a little more detail what has happened.  Basically, my proper, regular, round the clock, pay by the month, ADSL, SPQR whatever internet connection has been shut down.  This seems to have happened because someone at the ISP pushed the wrong button.  And this was no ordinary button.  No other button exists which, when pressed, could immediately rectify matters.  So as a result, Mark Rousell, who does everything computational for me except for the few Expression Engine things that Patrick Crozier helps me with, has bodged up a revival of my previous internet arrangement, dating back from about 2002, which involved me dialling up, whenever I wanted to be connected to the internet, and then paying for however long I was plugged in to the internet, by the minute, like it was a local phone call.  And that’s the pathetic state I am now in, again, the difference being that this time around, I am fully aware of how completely ridiculous it is.  Surfing the www when you are paying for it by the minute is like being charged by the minute for wandering around in Harrods, and it is something that I do not care to do.

You would think that this would be the time to step back from the hurly-burly of mere events, as experienced by the properly connected person these days, and to write out some of those Big Thoughts that I have been meaning to write down for a couple of deacdes, and maybe that is approximately what I will be doing in the days to come.  But even those Big Thoughts, it turns out, find themselves wanting to be decorated with smaller and very small thoughts, of the sort that a proper internet connection is needed to find and communicate.  (As this guy has also argued . . . etc.)

So, over the weekend, I turned away from my computer altogether, aside from a bit of obligatory paid writing that I had to do by Monday morning, and did twentieth century things.  I reshuffled paper, and put some of it in a black plastic rubbish bag.  I ripped the already ruined straw off a chair.  And, I cleared that up into a black plastic bag, and hoovered up all the resulting dust.  Today, I may even take that bag out to its black bag destination.  On Friday, the first day of my internet outage, I arranged for a plumber to come in and fixed my bath water heater thermostat, which went pop about ten days ago, and left me needing to switch the heater off by hand, if switching off an electric switch can be called “by hand”.  I did some dusting.  I read the instructions of my new Digital Voice Recorder, the one that Russell Wittaker says is a waste of money, but which seems to impress everyone else, if only because of the cute little microphones on the top.  I bought, and started actually to read, a Sunday newspaper.  Remember those?

And, I watched some more rugby in the telly, this time Powergen Cup semi-finals.  The world of English rugby has been plunged into gloom by the Scotland defeat.  The question I asked after the opening Wales win (and this is just the kind of thing I mean about little links that I now can’t be bothered with supplying) about the lack of star quality in the England side has now become, I am gratified to observe, the New England Orthodoxy.  Where are the Guscotts and Robinsons (as in Jason)?  Where are even such as the Greenwoods?  (Greenwood has just announced his retirement.) Where is Matt Dawson’s replacement at scrum half given that Ellis is not quick enough?  At the moment that looks to be . . . Matt Dawson.  What on earth has become of Iain Balshaw?  (Just returning, yet again, from injury, I believe.)

What I saw against Wales was a big tough machine, with little sparkle to it.  What I saw against Scotland was that same machine, but this time frustrated by adequate defence.  (I recall the commentators being extremely scornful of the Welsh “defensive alignments”.) At the time I though England played well against Scotland, but what I now realise I witnessed was the machine going expertly through all its motions, but baffled about what to do if those motions did not suffice.  The machine did not break down and fall to pieces, and in this sense England did their stuff well.  Trouble is, this stuff is not now good enough to beat the best sides, and the consensus in my Sunday newspaper yesterday seemed to be that no sparkle is readily available to beat the best sides and annihilate the lesser ones, the way England were doing in the years just before the last World Cup.  Now all England can do is beat the bad sides and lose to the good ones, it would seem.

In situations like this, you wonder if “professionalism” has coached all the fizz and pep and fun and bizzazz out of the potential star players, and turned them instead into superior cloggers.

Oddly, England cricket seems to be in a very different state.  The England cricket second eleven is now said to be as full of future talent as the England second fifteen now lacks it.  Well, I don’t know about that, but in the recently concluded test match at Nagpur - which was drawn but which England did pretty well in, of the three England stand-outs in that game - Collingwood, Hoggard and Cook - only Hoggard played throughout the Ashes series of last summer.  Collingwood did play at the Oval, and contributed one of those important little defensive inningses that only someone like me still remembers and appreciates.  (He made just ten runs, but stuck with Kevin Pietersen for an important hour near the end.  Come to think of it, Pietersen batted decently in the second innings at Nagpur too.) Alastair Cook, centurion at Nagpur, was playing in his first test.  Will he just be a pretty face, like James Anderson seems now to be?  Or will he really be something?  The experts seem optimistic.  Apparently an Indian lady proposed marriage to Cook during his second innings hundred, with a big banner.  And as for Monty Panessar!  I mean, your first test match wicket: Tendulkar!  They say he did very well too.

But if England beat France and Ireland at rugby, but if they lose their next too cricket games against India - as they did lose two of their three recent games against Pakistan, remember - no doubt the Sunday papers will be saying that England rugby is fine, and England cricket stares doom in the face.

Blah blah blah.

I am writing about sport because, I deeply believe that the whole point of sport is that, although of course for the duration it matters desperately, essentially, deep down, it really really Doesn’t Matter.  It Doesn’t Matter in and of itself, and it most certainly Doesn’t Matter what I say about it.  The above piece should have had various links in it, to reports of the Wales win and the Scotland defeat, to Iain Balshaw rumours, to an explanation of Monty Panessar.  A picture of Cook would have been nice, or maybe a picture of that banner which popped the question to him.  But, the fact that none of these things have actually been included in this also Doesn’t Matter.

Does anybody at all read my sports ramblings here?  A comment saying: yes I read all this, although I have nothing to say about it because it Doesn’t Matter, would be nice.  However, do not expect learned comment responses from me.  For that I would have to be plugged in.

I think the main thing I am going to do, until Mark Rousell plugs me back in again, is read books.  Not write about them, just read them.  I have about six good ones on the go just now.