You know things have really changed for ever when you take them for granted.Three weeks ago, my team of super geeks realised that we were going to miss the afternoon matches in Germany unless ‘we did something about it’. We work in one of those buildings designed to serve a designer’s ego (doors that don’t look like doors, wash hand basins that look like concrete slabs, a kitchen not wide enough to swing a cat around…. you know what I mean). And signficantly, no TV in the space-age boardroom. I called my friend at the Cable TV company and persuaded him to give me a Sports Channel feed and send an installer with a set top box. The installer was slightly surprised to find he was setting up his kit in a server room. Giselle then remembered that she had an old TV at home. The geeks founds some space for it among the servers. But definitely not enough space for six men to pay homage to Totti, Beckham & Co. Two days later, the head of geeks turned up with some software. So fast forward to yesterday. I was on the tail end of my ‘404’ – a daily conference over VoIP with a bunch of people in Malta and the UK. Brasil are starting to get to grips with Ghana My friend in Rio is on Skype, watching the game in Germany via Satellite, chattering to me about Ronaldo’s 90kgs. Ronaldo does his bit of magic. CALL ME NOW!!! shouts the message on Google Talk. I click a mouse without thinking, as Ronaldo’s gap tooth smile fills my laptop screen. “Can you hear them?” screams my friend through my headset, above the rattle of firecrackers in a street somewhere in Rio de Janeiro. “We certainly wouldn’t have been doing this a year ago!” I shouted back, muting the sound on my VoIP call, as someone in the UK rumbled on about statistics and return on investment, blissfully unaware of what was going on in Malta, Germany, Rio…… I didn’t even know you, a year ago, I thought, driving back home later. Until we bumped into each other on Flickr and ended up in online conversations on life, the universe, and Ronaldinho Gaucho. Nobody is spared, from the onslaught of the new over the old. Not even my three year-old. We are currently working on a project together… a story that has taken a life of its own, as I drive him to kindergarten in the morning. We had got to a stage in the narrative where he needed to buy a present for someone on another planet, fast. “Where are you going to get a suitable present, Jacob?” I asked, taking my foot off the accelerator as the next speed camera appeared, thinking of the toy shop that has just closed down to make space for another wine bar. “Don’t be silly, Daddy,” he chuckled, “On the Internet, of course! Mummy even got me these shorts on the Internet. Look!” I laughed, thought of how his world is nothing like mine was, how he is already accelerating past me while I struggle with my daily dose of You Tube , Lifehacker , Boing Boing and TechCrunch . Then, just as my brain was spiralling to morbid thoughts of leaving him behind and dust to dust, I came across this. Which kind of puts things into perspective. We live in wonderful times.
OK, so the World Cup hasn’t been all that brilliant till now. There have been a couple of bravado goals (sic. Fernandez yesterday against Mexico, Frings in that first Game for the Germans), and the fans have been cool with telegenic painted faces (except for that stand-off between Germans and drunken Brits in Stuttgart (beer still served while plastic chairs flew from one end of the square to the other).But nothing, nothing justifies this! This from a gun-toting nation that thinks a ball is oval, ‘soccer’ can only be war (sic. Mr Bruce Arena before Italy v USA), and expects any sport event to be interrupted every 30 seconds by a commercial for flatulence (I know… 21st Century attention span keeps diminishing, and the US does have its share of flatulent people.) In 1984, on holiday in Florida, I drove round six blocks in desperate search of a sports bar showing the World Cup Final. I returned to my hotel room to find that Brasil v Italy was being transmitted, after all – but the commercials had eaten into everything up to the kick off. I know. I need to rant at something. Someone. Anyone. The USA will do for now.
Everything and everyone is frying. From the air-conditioners to the bandsmen playing their brass outside the electric parish of St Nicholas. The World Cup rumbles on, Italian football is on the verge of collapse. Max watches Shevchenko score a penalty for Ukraine, and cannot find it in him to forgive the Chelsea-bound mercenary, despite the 173 goals scored for AC Milan, or the hundreds of times the Ukranian gave grown men a rush of blood to the head.Or maybe it’s the way middle age infiltrates the old grey cells and whispers Stop wasting time doing stuff you don’t want to do. If you want to get something done that Jacob will be proud of, you have to do it your way… your way… It’s true. Ever since Shevchenko fidgeted his way through that press conference and said he just had to leave Milan to learn decent English and bond with his family in Knightsbridge, nothing’s quite been the same. Max scratches his head and contemplates ten fingers, waiting to claw a keyboard. Get a life, says the radio voice in the head, full of forty-five year-old static. Don’t get into trouble, whispers his soulmate. Let’s go and watch Xtruppaw next weekend, says Shaun