12 June 2016

Fur, fox, ache (or: Perfection is everywhere)

They, the fools, say that perfection is impossible. That's because they set their standards too high.

Take two incidents from the France-Romania game. The first came in the opening ten minutes, when this kitten:


was threatened by this fox:

Fox — note how the image is magnified, making it grainy and bringing to mind a picture in a newspaper of a gangster or paedophile

The kitten's mother (I can't afford the image rights) got herself between the fox and the kitten, seemingly dissuading the fox from its evil scheme. But the fox had merely skulked away under the hedge to next door's, no doubt waiting for its opportunity to ... well, one daren't say. But the mother is a tough, rural cat, as opposed to the glorified draft excluders that populate city dwellings. She's dealt with worse in her time. She briskly walked to the hedge to keep watch. The fox would move along the hedge; the cat would move with it. Back and forth they went. Eventually the fox realised it had lost, and stayed away.

Meanwhile, I tended to the kitten:

Sleeve supplied by photographer

Now, certainly, this scene could have been improved — had, say, the cat mauled the fox, reached into its ribcage and grabbed the beating heart to take back to the kitten for something to play with. Which she could have done, if she'd fancied it. But what is she: a dog? Away and shite witcha. And anyway, just because it could have been improved doesn't mean it could have been made any better. It was perfect as it was. The cat's control of the situation was masterful, and I got to spend some quality time with the kitten. Nothing more was necessary. Anything more would have been wasted embellishment: a ribbon that falls off and gets kicked aside unnoticed.

I did miss a good part of the opening quarter of the actual football, though*. Thankfully, good old (29) Dimitri Payet waited until late to score a goal you've probably seen by now**. It was perfect. It wasn't perfect if "perfect" is taken to mean an ideal form of a goal, an unsurpassable standard all other goals can only fail to match. Such a goal is inconceivable, and a century and a half of football has failed to deliver it in practice. There are too many ways to score to allow it, and appreciation of such things in football is so subjective anyway — so open to taste, whim, perversity, fetish, and the unsolvable mysteries of the mind — that a consensus is impossible. Even a run-of-the-mill goal-of-the-month problem has about four plausible solutions (apart from when an Arsenal goal is involved, as Gooner vote riggers have so competently proved).


** If not, you'll have to go picking through the leftovers from UEFA's copyright trawling by yourself. Tell me if you find a good copy of Aiden McGeady's goal against Georgia while you're at it.

Let's play God, albeit a God who hasn't blown His post-production budget by splurging on the pyrotechnics. How can Payet's goal be improved? How can we make it sparkle? We could have him dribble past a player beforehand. But why stop at one? Or two, or ten? Is he only going to beat each player once? Could we have him flick it over the head of a defender, Gazza-style? Blanco hop? Some kind of Gazzablanco combo? There we are! Visionary! Needs work, though. Also, there's not enough of a team element to the goal. Can't we have them, you know, weave patterns or some shit? Shouldn't a great goal have a few dozen passes beforehand? There we are. Cracking. No, a few dozen more. No... Och, we'll come back to that. Now, let's move the shot back a few yards: twenty-five yards out, thirty, forty... How far out's the halfway line at that point? Can we have him nutmeg the keeper at some stage as well...

Payet's strike, made at a moment of high tension, was as pure as a strike can get. Or so it appears. It probably could have been improved — but by unimaginably minute degrees only a cruel, cruel bastard could enforce. It was already as good as it could be. It could have been improved, but not made better. No universal perfection being possible, the goal created its own perfection. It temporarily obliterated all other considerations, striking you with full force there and then***. You take such moments when you can find them****.

*** Thus leaving behind the "ache" in the title of the post. Such rare craft!


(Asleep, in case you were wondering)


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