May 28: mourinho; the crookback monarch

Jose Mourinho finally signed for Man Utd yesterday. He appeared on MUTV looking slimline and contained, a controlled Mourinho in sober suit and tie with a placid smile on his lips. He is thinking, this time I won’t make the same mistakes as last time at Chelsea, when I bollocked the popular female team doctor in front of millions of viewers and so alienated my players and made the rest of the season impossible, or the time before at Real Madrid, when I poked a member of the Barcelona staff in the eye in front of millions of viewers. This time I am not the special one, I am not the happy one, I am the placid one. Think placid one. I am the placid one. And then he opened his mouth. I feel great. Well, I think I am in the right moment in my career because Man United is one of these clubs where you need really to be prepared for it because it is what I used to call a giant club. And giant clubs must be for the best managers and I think I am ready for it... Already the forshadowing of deep tragedy lurks within his first statement, the high vanity of a man who cannot remain in neutral , not for a moment, who must at every instant be promoting himself, hoisting himself upwards on his waxen wings. It is already Shakespearean. A case of And now we unveil our custodian of the kingdom, chosen to bring stability and harmony back to a troubled land. From behind the velvet curtains step forward Richard of  Gloucester, the Crookback.

May 27: the lonely God

Yesterday on my way back home from the tube station, actually on the way to Tesco to buy some dinner, I was approached by a smiling gentleman who wanted to talk to me about my life. He could see I was in a hurry. He fell into step with me. Could he have my attention for some moments? He could, if he fell into step with me. I had designs on Fish Pie. He just needed to give me a leaflet. I would be most happy to look at it after my fish pie. He was pleased with my accessibility. I took the leaflet happily. He did not know I make a collection of such things and that what mainly interests me is their form rather than their content. At home I have a whole shelf full of such leaflets, all lovingly produced to melt my heart, all adorned by cute little drawings or lush coloured versions of a world that might appeal to a simple-minded eight year old. This too was a naive production. It said: God loves you on its first flap, clearly considered to be a fascinating enough opener to make me read on. I opened it to reveal the second flap where it said that no one is too bad to be outside God’s love. No one is so good they don’t need him. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done. God will accept you when you turn to him. I must be desperate. It goes on. Life can be different. you can start again. I must be unhappy. It goes on: God became a man – Jesus Christ- and allowed himself to be executed to solve the problem of our wrong. Yes, he was prepared to die for YOU. How many people do you know who love you so much thay would give their life for you? And so on.

I am fascinated by the alien nature of these attempts to reach out, as well as being puzzled by what it is that this god wants of us. This has never been adequately explained to me. In the catechism I learnt as a child it went: Who made me? Response: God made me. Why did God make me? Response: To know him, love him and serve him and be forever with him in this world and the next.  Judging by this, he must be a lonely God.


May 13: the early christian church and gender assignment

The early Christian Church was much preoccupied by the relationship of Jesus Christ to God the Father. After all, a basic notion of the religion was that Jesus was God, so  you were on dodgy ground if you started watering down his divinity in comparison with God the Father.  But he was also the Son of God. As well as being human. So how could all these characteristics be defined within the framework of his relationship with the God of the Old Testament. Jesus was fully human and fully god, they claimed, not half and half but full and full, which made him a 200% man-god. Theologians spent centuries trying to have their cake and eat it. Tertullian came up with the formulation of three persons; one substance. That also included the Holy Spirit but let’s not go there. Some theologians were not keen on the of one substance formulation and of one essence was found. Substance and essence fought it out for decades. And then there was the issue of Jesus’s life span. Was he eternal, like the Father? Surely he had to be, if he was a proper god.The Creed has it that he was begotten not made, of one being with the father. How can you be begotten but not made, you may ask? Do not askIn fact, if ever you read the Creed it is a lattice of complex ambiguous formulations. At one stage there is something about sure and certain hope. As a child this had always puzzled me. How can hope be certain? And not just certain, but sure as well. In literature there was word for that. Oxymoron.  But this wasn’t literature; this was religion.

Which brings me to trans-genderism and the business of gender reassignment. The early Christian Church spent hundreds of years debating the overlap between God major and God minor. In the end it said sod it, we’ll just used these words how we want and call it the Mystery of the Trinity. When someone says they just know they are a woman inside or a man inside, this is partaking of the same kind of mystery. I suppose that then it depends on how you feel about mysteries.

May 6: emma peel

I saw Diana Rigg today. She was sitting at the terrace of a restaurant eating a chicken lunch. She was on her own and on her phone. She looked like she does does on Game of Thrones though she was wearing a kind of cream Chanel suit and not a Medieval gown with chunky iron jewellry. The evening before I had seen her on Freeview channel 61 Tru Entertainment in The Avengers as Emma Peel in about 1968. Sometimes I watch this as I am a big fan. Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in 1968 is my favourite.  It is disconcerting to see the same person in two different stages of their life like that. It makes you see how hard it must be to be an actor, always revealed to the public. I thought I should probably say something but she was on her mobile. In any case, what would I say? You were terrific as Emma Peel when you were twenty eight. She must know that she is a bit of a disappointment to Emma Peel fans now. Diana Rigg is not the only person whose change has disconcerted me. Friends who you do not see for many years and who are suddenly old or bald or fat or grey or wrinkled. You know it happens but it’s always a melancholy moment. Sometimes I google names from the past, from my old school, and hope to get an image of them. Then you can place your mental image of a snotty nosed boy of fourteen next to the photo of a greying man who is named an executive headmaster in some local newspaper. Once on the site Friends Reunited I came a cross a photo of my contemporaries from school at a reunion in a pub in Manchester. The photo slowly unscrolled and there revealed to me were the laughing, simple-minded faces of a group of fat old drunks. I could place no face on no name although I had all the faces of them as schoolboys  in my mind’s eye. These old friends are now gone. I would brush past them on the street without knowing them and they, on their way to Tesco, would brush past me.

May 4: secrets

Somebody has told me something that I feel I must not reveal to anybody. How long this will last I cannot say. We are social animals. We are not made to keep secrets. All secrets end up being revealed. To share intimacy with people we reveal others’ secrets. Failing that, there are other forms of betrayal we can perpetrate. All this, to win intimacy with others. I shall attempt to keep this secret but probably it will burn a hole in my pocket and I will end up spilling it.