World Watch: FIFA

soccerIn a world that is often divided by politics, religion, and opinions, we have been graced by a somewhat unlikely connector, The World Cup. For here is a contest that has spurred the interest of so many. No matter what language, what culture, or where you are, it has brought the world together. And although we all have our favorite teams, the one we ‘cheer’ through thick and thin, the one we would travel across the globe to ‘spur-on’, the one that seduces us to stay up way beyond our bedtime, the one we say an extra prayer for…this sport has united and mesmerized people from all hemispheres.

And so I say, thank you FIFA for you have brought a bit of civility to our chaotic and confusing lives. For no matter where we are you can assuredly turn to someone and ask “What’s the score?” and they will know what you mean.

soccer ball Today’s post introduces us to the library of humor from Punch Magazine. Founded by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells, its name and masthead was adopted from the famous French Punch and Judy puppets. Beginning in 1841, the British magazine, Punch, brought to its readers comedy and satire each week. Filled with satirical drawings, the term ‘cartoon” was coined. The magazine’s popularity had its ups and downs, when in 2002 its diminished circulation dwindled forcing the publication to no longer publish its wit and humor.

From Mr. Punch’s Book of Sports (1910) I bring you a bit of light humor in the form of poetry. Steal a moment between “games” to get an inside look at the world’s most popular sport…here is FOOT-BALL À LA MODE.

FOOT-BALL À LA MODE

[Hardly a week passes without our hearing of one or more dangerous accidents at football.]

A manly game it is, I think,
Although in private be it spoken,
While at a scrimmage I don’t shrink,
That bones may be too often broken.
I snapped my clavicle last week,
Just like the rib of an umbrella;
And sprained my ankle, not to speak
Of something wrong with my patella.
Last season, too, my leg I broke,
And lay at home an idle dreamer,
It’s not considered quite a joke
To contemplate a broken femur.
And when, despite the doctor’s hints,
Again at foot-ball I had tussles,
I found myself once more in splints,
With damaged gastronomic muscles.
Some three times every week my head,
Is cut, contused, or sorely shaken;
My friends expect me brought home dead,
But up to now I’ve saved my bacon.
But what are broken bones, my boys,
Compared with noble recreation?
The scrimmages and all the joys
Of Rugby or Association!

Esteemed thinker: A.A. Milne

a.a. milne There are a multitude of experts in the world, and I use that term loosely, who are relied upon to tell others what they like. For example; the interior designer tells the home owner what they like, the stock broker tells the buyer what stocks they like; the advertiser tells the consumer what products they like, and so goes the list. Writers are not immune to this phenomenon for reviewers will relay to the public what they, the reader, will like. So one has to wonder, what makes an ideal author? What are the criteria to which one would find a favorable light cast upon their continence…no, let’s have it cast upon their work.

Is the ideal author one that is the designator for the disenfranchised, the author that dares write what others only think… the author that delights the reader with whimsical stories… or the writer that retells the tales of yore?

So for today’s blog, after we ponder the question, I give you a moment to pause with the thoughts from our esteemed thinker: A.A. Milne (1882-1956). Our London born author is best known (thanks to Walt Disney productions) for his classic work Winnie-the-Poo… But please toss this aside for a moment ; for though the charming tales claimed him international notoriety and success, his career began as the assistant editor of Punch , a British humor magazine; he was a prolific writer, gaining recognition as a novelist, poet, short story and play writer, and essayist. Now, I give you Alan Alexander Milne aka A.A. Milne and a bit of wit from his essay, The Ideal Author

“Samuel Butler* made a habit (and urged it upon every young writer) of carrying a notebook about with him. The most profitable ideas, he felt, do not come from much seeking, but rise unbidden in the mind, and if they are not put down at once on paper, they may be lost forever. But with a notebook in the pocket you are safe; no thought is too fleeting to escape you. Thus, if an inspiration for a five-thousand word story comes suddenly to you during the dessert, you murmur an apology to your neighbour, whip out your pocket-book, and jot down a few rough notes….

If I do not follow Butler’s advice myself, it is not because I get no brilliant inspirations away from my inkpot, nor because, having had the inspirations, I am capable of retaining them until I get back to my inkpot again, but simply because I should never have the notebook and the pencil in the right pockets. But though I do not imitate him, I can admire his wisdom, even while making fun of it. Yet I am sure it was unwise of him to take the public into his confidence. The public prefers to think that an author does not require these earthly aids to composition. It will never quite reconcile itself to the fact that an author is following a profession— a profession by means of which he pays the rent and settles the weekly bills. No doubt the public wants its favourite writers to go on living, but not in the sordid way that its barrister and banker friends live. It would prefer to feel that manna dropped on them from Heaven, and that the ravens erected them a residence; but, having regretfully to reject this theory, it likes to keep up the pretence that the thousand pounds that an author received for his last story came as something of a surprise to him—being, in fact, really more of a coincidence than a reward.

For this reason a layman will never hesitate to ask of an author a free contribution for some local publication.. But the same man would be horrified at the idea of asking a Harley Street surgeon (perhaps even more closely connected with him) to remove his adenoids for nothing. To ask for this (he would feel) would be almost as bad as to ask a gift of ten guineas (or whatever the fee is), whereas to ask a writer for an article is like asking a friend to decant your port for you—a delicate compliment to his particular talent…”

*Samuel Butler was an English Victorian writer.