Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Ultimate Tragedy

It's World Cup season, so, inevitably, there's a lot of tragedy in the air. We're just about into the last third of group matches, and already a handful of teams have had their dreams cruelly (but predictably) cut short. Images of eleven players falling to their knees, heads in hands, at the final whistle already tug at the heart-strings, even though we know that the heartbreak is just beginning.

But when it comes down to it, how tragic is it all, really? I mean, when you consider the fight it has taken just to get to Germany in the first place, along with the (mostly) good football the teams have played once they've got there, one has to conclude that even when the teams have failed, at least they've failed with honour, and they go home with their dignity intact.

That's not real tragedy. Real tragedy gets no press coverage, has no glamour or style, and often no real meaning. Its just something that happens. The most tragic things happen to the most ordinary people (or, indeed, animals); coming uncalled for from sources that cannot even dignify their actions with malice - most of the time they are not even aware of having done anything at all.

And so we come to the ultimate tragedy. It might be something like this: a pale sun is hidden behind a veil of steel-grey cloud; the wind whips the branches of barren trees and swirls the golden blanket of leaf beneath. After a few minutes the sky darkens further, and heavy drops of rain begin to fall. An unhappy cow stands in the middle of a desolate field. It munches sadly at the muddy grass at its feet, despite the slight aches in all four of its stomachs. It keeps on eating because there's nothing else to do - no other cow to gossip with; no annoyingly perky rabbit to blast with its specially prepared bored-cow-stare.

But, just before the cow lapses into morbid thoughts about hamburgers and milk, something in the air changes. The wind, which has been steadily picking up, begins to howl. And then, without any warning, the cow does something that no cow has ever done before. It begins to levitate.

Not much surprises a cow, but this certainly does. Yet it is quick to adjust - not being familiar with the concept of tornado, the cow assumes that it is either being abducted by aliens (something which has been strongly rumoured for some time), or has been personally invited to an audience with the Great Cow in the Sky.

For the first time in ages the cow feels a warm fluttering in its stomachs that has nothing to do with the dizzying height to which it has now risen. All thoughts of hamburgerdom are banished, and, for the first time in its life, the cow smiles.

But as we know all too well, the laws of physics can only be denied for so long. And, tragically, the arrival of the eye of the storm halts the great escape, and the cow, its eyes closed, the smile still on its lips, begins to fall.

1 comment:

David said...

Poor cow. Although I'd much rather England won the world cup and I read about a cow falling from a tornado than England going out and reading a cow did not fall from a tornado