Irish Examiner column June 12 2009

July 16, 2009

Taking advice one vision at a time

KEN LOACH has a new movie out, Looking For Eric.

You’ve probably seen the trailer: Cantona appears in the movie as
himself, advising an unhappy postman — and Man United fan — on how to improve his life.

As was his wont when playing, Cantona makes enigmatic statements and philosophises about life whenever he materialises in his acolyte’s
bedroom (philosophising was his habit, not appearing in people’s

Now, we have a lot of time for Ken Loach on account of his being
someone who makes films that don’t rely on a) huge robots exploding in a hail of ketchup and ball-bearings,
or b) teenagers “hilariously”
showing off their bodily functions on-screen.

We also respect Ken for including a game of hurling in his movie The Wind That Shakes The Barley,
possibly the last thing on earth you should watch before going to London to do a bit of shopping (you could end up shouting angrily at the people in Space NK when you only wanted the Sleepyhead Bath Oil; anyone hook a brother up?)

However, this seems a dangerous precedent. If people invoke the spirit of their sporting heroes, which then appear at crucial moments in their personal lives — then where will it all end?

It’s like asking what would Jesus do, but asking Paul O’Connell. Or Shay Given. Or Henry Shefflin.

Say you’re a rugby fan trying to patch things up after an unfortunate misunderstanding about forgetting an anniversary or some such.

What are you going to get when you invoke one of your sporting heroes?

First, the presence of an enormous, steaming second-row in your bedroom will do nothing for the
ambience of your boudoir, but leave that to one side. What about the words of wisdom?

“Never take a backward step . . . you’ve got to front up when you’re in the trenches . . . if you’re going to war you can’t look any further than the next day . . . it’s all about the performance — not the result . . . you’ve got the strength in depth, you’ve done well out on the
paddock in midweek, so you know you’re ready . . . don’t take anything for granted . . . you just have to want it that little bit more.

“And if it doesn’t work out why not come on down to Café en Seine with me and the guys?”

Fair enough. Not the best example. But if you love the beautiful game and conjure up some willowy winger to perk up your spirits?

“At the end of the day . . . got to be disappointed with yourself . . . got to be a penalty for me every time you forget one of those . . . full credit to yourself for the effort . . . when you get those chances to apologise, you’ve got to put those away, don’t you . . . know it all evens out over the season but you’ve got to go and do it out there . . . innit . . .

“And if it doesn’t work out, why not come on down to Chinawhite with me and the boys?”

Another false step. Let’s roll the dice one last time: how about an
intercounty hurler or footballer?

“No-one gave you a chance coming up here today . . written off by
everybody . . . showed the good side out . . . left early to bate the traffic and the sneaky guard on the motorway didn’t get you with the speed camera so you made it for a late breakfast before the match . . . hectic stuff altogether . . . lookit . . . when all is said and done league is league but championship is championship and you showed out there what it means out there for the so-called weaker counties.

“And if it doesn’t work out, why not come on down to Copperface Jacks with me and the lads?”

Be careful what you wish for.

The spirit may be willing, but on the evidence we’ve seen over the years, the advice you get could be pretty weak.


twitter: MikeMoynihanEx

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