British Humour, Under Achievement, and the Sports Personality of the Year

David Beckham, Bradley Wiggins and the Dutchess of Cambridge
David Beckham, Bradley Wiggins and the Dutchess of Cambridge at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, ExCel, 16th December 2012

I want to draw attention to something particular regarding the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award 2012. It’s best encapsulated in this tweet from Sunder Katwala, who is director of the British Future thinktank:

I love the suggestion that sports people might ‘bid’ for the Sports Personality of the Year trophy, as if it is an Oscar nomination or Presidential campaign that must be plotted and strategised years in advance. The humour lies in the idea that winning a world championship or a gold medal is simply a false peak, a means to an end, with the ultimate pinnacle actually being that little trophy of an old-style TV camera, on a polished wooden stand. Continue reading “British Humour, Under Achievement, and the Sports Personality of the Year”

Old Sri Lankan folk tale

Once upon a time, o best beloved, the Man lived in the jungle – next door to the Elephant. They went about their daily business together as friends. The Elephant would pull up trees for The Man to make a shelter. Sometimes, he would allow the Man, weary from a long walk, to ride upon his back. The Man allowed the Elephant to eat the rice he cultivated in the fields, and would make a fire for the Elephant to warm himself beside. They would sit together around the flames, and the Elephant would tell the man the long stories of the jungle.

Of all the animals in the jungle, only the Man felt shame. He would weave himself clothing from banana leaves, so that his body was shielded from the gaze of the other animals.

One day, the Elephant happened upon the man, down where the river becomes wide and splashes over the rocks. The man was bathing in a shallow pool, and thus was not wearing his woven clothes as usual.

“Good Morning,” said the Elephant to the Naked Man.

The man stopped splashing water on his back, and turned slowly to face the Elephant. “Hello,” he replied.

There was a short pause. The Elephant sensed that he should make conversation. So he stared at the Naked Man and said: “How do you breathe through that?”

The Man did not reply. Furious, he stomped off out of the forest. He never spoke to the Elephant again, and the Elephant never understood why.

After that, Man forgot the language of the Elephants. He lived by himself on the edge of the jungle, and ate his rice alone.