Still all quiet on the Saturday front

Published on 1st June 2020
Author George Dodds

Those of us who predate it can find the Internet a baffling – often disturbing – place.

It has, without doubt, revolutionised everyday life with communication, knowledge, shopping, music, sport, films and many less worthy pastimes available by clicking the appropriate keys.

Google is now a verb; Twitterati a noun; friends often people you’ve never met.

For many the day begins with a quick check on their social media accounts.

Lockdown – at least for those not declared expendable pandemic fodder – or to give us our official name, key workers – has put a lot of time in the hands of people who may not always be best equipped to use it wisely.

To wit the cut and paste “info” which seems to clog up my Facebook account at the moment.

Some of it can be enlightening – Kev Doolan’s homage to The Bike, timely warnings about the fragile mental health of many during the pandemic, the jaw-dropping submissions of the Redundant Proofreaders’ Society. But much is witless. Some of it unbelievably clueless.

A personal favourite rather conveniently landed as I prepared this week’s blogg-lette.

All was good in the beginning as it expounded the perfectly laudable hope that the end of 2020s lockdown should not see a return to the bad old ways of the me-first generations who dominated Pre-Covid society.

So far, so good.

Surely, it argued, if a London exhibition centre can be turned into a hospital in a fortnight and a call for 250,000 NHS volunteers results in a million applications then that spirit is a spirit for good which must be harnessed when rebuilding society after the Covid dust settles.

So far so good.

Even better when the Mercedes Formula 1 team joins forces with a London university to design and produce an aid to breathing within 100 hours and James Dyson can, within 10 days, design and manufacture ventilators then we are doing something very, very right.

So far, so good.

Apparently this is what Britain is all about and why we are called Great Britain. When it’s all over don’t buy cheap rubbish (I paraphrase for our younger readers) from China.

Nominally acceptable although veering towards Gammonism.

Then the payoff line: Let’s be more self-sufficient and British.

As with everything these days it has its own hashtag #dontturnback

Really compadre?

So the definition of Britishness in the minds of those sharing this little gem is a German car manufacturer and an entrepreneur who closed his factories in south Wales and switched production to South-east Asia largely because manufacturing costs – i.e. wages – are considerably lower and you don’t have to get involved with those pesky British niggles such as National Insurance and tax.

#dumbdeludedorlemmings #ironydefeatssome

OK I admit that may be a little harsh but my defence is that I’m a little grumpier than usual this week as, had it not been for this Covid thing we would have now been basking in the satisfying afterglow which, inevitably, follows the visit of Glasgow Tigers to Shielfield.

Yup, Saturday would have been the first league clash of the season between the unbeaten Bandits and the Cookie Monster’s Mob. The first to be plotted by Ashfield’s new Head of Strategy – some Durham bloke called Cummings.

Anyway it didn’t happen – which is just as well as Dom wasn’t feeling too good and there are rumours that his eyesight isn’t quite up to scratch at times. And his mate – former Hackney Hawks’ fan Bojo – wanted him back in London.

Still he should be free to take up his new post by the time that British speedway gets back on track, whenever that is. August is still being tentatively whispered.

British Horse racing and snooker returned on Monday, a week after Aussie rugby league,  football in the top two English divisions is just weeks away from resuming – dominating the TV schedules along the way – and the big payers of Poland launch their speedway season on June 12.

All behind closed doors of course – although Hungary’s football league is set to become the first sporting event to allow limited numbers of spectators.

Which is why it’s a good thing that we didn’t race Glasgow on Saturday in front of empty stands and deserted terracing.

First of all it would have made no financial sense – although a lucrative TV deal could have taken care of that – but most of all because sport without spectators is a pale shadow of the real thing.

One of the reasons that clashes between the Bandits and Tigers have been so memorable over the past handful of seasons – and before – has been the presence of that old favourite from the 80s atmosphere.

The fans turn out in force, the Tigers’ army wind up the Bandits’ massif. It becomes a rumbustious affair on and off track. The racing seems better, closer, tougher. Everyone goes home happy – mostly.

Remove that and stage it in an empty arena and any sport – no matter how prepared, proficient and highly motivated its exponents are – struggles to appear raise itself to a level much above a practice session.

When speedway does come back to the tapes in needs to be in front of big, hungry, noisy crowds who will squeeze that extra ounce of passion/aggression/effort from riders and administrators.

In the meantime it’s back to Youtube and The History of Speedway Part 1. Thank you to bossman Scott Courtney for flagging it up via Facebook.

Settle back and pay close attention to the Pathe News coverage of the 1933 England v Australia test at a packed Wembley. In the background is the earliest known recording of Dick Barrie’s legendary rider introductions.

#letshaveaparade

George Dodds
George Dodds

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