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Day 148 – Déjà Vu

August 24, 2014

Song of the Day: The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie

I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve already named one of my posts Déjà Vu. Can’t find any record of it though, so I’ll press on.

Decided to go for lunch at the Student Center (sic) today, rather than the Liberal Arts and Sciences building where we usually go. It’s this kind of radical, off-the-cuff break with routine that keeps life exciting. So as we were wandering over I was telling my companions about my friend Miguel, who I go and watch other people sailing with. I told them how he takes his lunch at the Student Center, coming in from the road-building project he’s working on nearby, and as we walked through the door into the cool, marble foyer, guess who we met coming the other way?

You guessed it yet? OK, I’ll tell you. It was Miguel. And he had just had his lunch. So that was a coincidence. Or was it? I mean, I knew he took his lunch there. And I knew I was going there. And it was lunch time. So you could say it would have been a surprise if I hadn’t seen him. Anyway, I had a very nice potato salad, noodles, deep fried chicken, a couple of mini Danish pastries, some melon and an espresso. About four quid. Very nice. We only get half an hour for lunch, though, so it’s a lot to cram in in a short space of time. Not good for the digestion. Still, what can you do?

The 2022 World Cup is back on the agenda. Here’s the story in Doha News today: a bunch of weathermen looked at the prevailing temperatures at Doha International Airport in the summer, compared them to the range of temperatures that have been deemed comfortable for human beings, and found that they are higher. Therefore, they postulated, watching a summer World Cup in Qatar might be a tad uncomfortable, so they should hold it in winter.

Hmm, clever. This is the kind of scientific expertise we need. However, there are one or two points that they haven’t taken into account:
1. We already know it gets hot in Qatar in the summer.
2. We also know that it doesn’t get quite so hot in the winter.
3. No-one’s planning to play any World Cup matches at Doha International Airport.
4. They’re quite good at creating shade in Qatar.
6. They know a bit about air conditioning too.
7. And they’ve shown that they can cool a large public area in the middle of summer.

As non-stories go, it’s right up there with the one in the Gulf Times about a bunch of Norwegian tourists visiting a tourist attraction. Among the group were “tourism enthusiasts and recent retirees”. Magnificent.

The funny thing about the flogging of this “It’s too hot in summer” angle is that there is a much bigger question that remains to be answered and that is, “How will conservative Qatar handle planeloads of fans from Europe and Latin America, for whom football in a hot climate means lots of beer, nudity and occasional outbreaks of violence?” Qatar has many riches, but if there are three things it has in short supply they are beer, nudity and violence.

I am confident that fans will be able to travel from hotel to stadium in air-conditioned comfort; they will find the stadiums cooled to a pleasant 25˚C, with clever architecture providing plenty of shade. But my mind boggles at the prospect of pockets of lads from Mansfield and Burnley and Aarhus and Munich and Buenos Aires coming into this environment without there being a rather awkward culture clash. Either Qatar will have to loosen its morals somewhat, or the lads from Mansfield will have to develop an overnight interest in 13th century Islamic art. To date, there has been no indication from either side as to which is most likely.

It’s always possible, of course, that what they’re really planning is a virtually fanless World Cup – or even a virtual, fanless World Cup – designed entirely for the TV audience. Price out the hoi polloi, dub over a bit of crowd noise and Bob’s yer uncle. It doesn’t matter where you play it, or when. Could this be the future of sport?

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