Has the world gone mad? I am not asking you anything you haven’t already gleaned from a fleeting glance at your preferred news media outlet. (Gwyneth allegedly claims that shampoo gives you cancer and orange juice gives you colds). So to answer my question I think, yes it has. You want proof?
First, there’s the terrible banality of our collective consumerist insanity. For example, Barbie is now 50 years old. Meaning that a bunch of fashion designers have made her some frocks (though some decided to design for Ken), while another designer has set up a sort of temporary pop-up-shop-cum-Barbie shrine inside a posh London shop which is of absolutely no interest or relevance to the doll market, which has anyway, moved on to Bratz!!
Likewise, now everybody’s depressed, unemployed or both. (They are not actually, but it makes a good story doesn’t it?). We are no longer going abroad for our holidays but are indulging in (sharp intake of breath) “staycations” which allows my glossy magazines to tell me what to buy to take to Southwold, the Lakes or Cornwall…Which are, in turn, apparently not so much places to head for a holiday as destinations, as “lifestyle-accessories”. And I know this is probably a bit rich coming from a rather materialistic, shopaholic, writing on her Mac while sitting on her John Lewis cushion, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But this grotesque and tedious lifestylication of absolutely everything has to stop.
So, on these occasions of a world gone mad, I would hope to escape to a place of relative sanity with proper rules that have to be obeyed and which can rely on a refreshing mix of certainties and absolutes – and no, it’s not school, but the next best thing: the world of sport. Where you may win or lose and when there is the occasional draw, the games are replayed and races rerun, and somehow, it sorts itself out. Bliss! So, imagine my distress on discovering that the madness is now infecting sport too. And I’m not talking about the Premiership, which doesn’t count as proper sport because there is way too much fashion involved. And obviously, nobody is planning to run the 100 meters wearing a pair of Kurt Geiger Fashionistas (though I wouldn’t put it past a London Marathon contestant).
No, I’m talking about a world in which Jenson Buton actually wins Grand Prix; a world in which Roger Federer has somehow gone from (arguably) the best tennis player ever, to taking lessons from McEnroe and becoming a racquet breaking loser, who throws away winnable matches against Djokovic; and, indeed, a world in which a Grand National winner is not only owned and trained by a woman, but raced to victory by a 23-year-old Aintree virgin at 100-1, the longest winning odds for like ever…
So you see, the world really has gone entirely mad!