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Ten thousand fans and a hundred wedding guests

June 13, 2021

The other day I wrote a few words about the peak stupidity of those who refuse to have a COVID vaccine because they’re worried about being poisoned. Very arrogant of me, I know, though I’ve been poisoning myself for decades with various things and I’m still here. At least I was when I was writing this.

Now I have another beef.

Yesterday, I sat in front of my TV watching the England cricket team, as usual, teeter on the edge of disaster against New Zealand. The match was in my home town, Birmingham, in front of a crowd of 17,000 real spectators, young and old. As the afternoon progressed and the beer looked like running out, things got louder and louder. In the tightly packed stands, the banter and bawling intensified. It began to feel like old times.

In the evening, closer to where I live today, another 10,000 were at The Oval in London to watch a 20/20 match. For the uninitiated, 20/20 is crash-bang-wallop version of cricket that has as much in common with the game I grew up playing as cage fighting does with chess. I was at that fixture two years ago courtesy of our friend Carlo. It was so much fun that my wife, who has long heroically tolerated my domination of the couch for big football, golf and cricket events, came close to being converted. The final conversion came shortly afterwards when Ben Stokes and his unlikely batting partner Jack Leach blurred the distinction between the two forms of the game with a savage display of hitting that ripped the heart out of the Aussies in Leeds. Happy days.

Watching all the new-normal fun on display yesterday was something of a bittersweet experience. In just over three weeks someone very close to us is due to be married. She’s planned for a hundred guests. But now, after putting off the event once because of the second COVID wave, it looks as though her date falls a day or two within the rumoured extension to the current restrictions. This means that she’ll have to disinvite seventy of her guests, and that just one of the three tiers of wedding cake that I’ve made for her will get eaten.

All the while, there will be thousands of fans at Wembley watching England in a football tournament, no doubt bawling and hollering even more loudly than the relatively sedate cricket fans in Birmingham. Not that I begrudge anyone partaking in national sporting sacraments. After all, negative tests and two jabs should be enough to keep the dreaded Delta Variant (as we must now call it) at bay. Theoretically anyway, even if I would probably respond to any dissenting opinion with “you might think that; I couldn’t possibly comment”.

So why, one might ask, would it be impossible for a bride-to-be to have her wedding under the same rules? Negative tests, jabbed, masks indoors and celebrations outdoors. All of the oldies who are due to be there have had two jabs. Just as it’s possible to hire police officers for football matches, why shouldn’t they be allowed to hire a couple of soldiers to check our COVID credentials on arrival and keep us from getting too rowdy?

It’s not fair, she and her intended are entitled to wail. And they’d be right. It isn’t fair. But who said fairness was a human right? Not the virus, not the victims, not the rabbits in the headlights masquerading as a government.

Tomorrow, it seems, the rabbits will announce the latest rules. A lot of people will no doubt be disappointed. Fairness won’t be a factor, though the appearance of fairness will. Perhaps the bride will have her cast of thousands. Perhaps not. Either way, they’ll be grand.

All of which leads to one of my rules of life. Fairness is a gift that you should always seek to bestow on others, but should never expect for yourself. Which, I guess, is the same rule I apply to kindness and generosity, none of which can possibly be measured except in the heart of the recipient.

From → Politics, Social, Sport, UK

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