In the aftermath of Brexit, the Welsh were fortunate enough to have something to take their minds off the fact that they were a divided nation, and not -as we had always thought- a united, liberal thinking, welcoming, fun loving, loquacious, passionate but gentle, group. The lively pub banter about politics, love, life and rugby -not necessarily in that order- where it was always part of the fun to be vocal about disagreeing with your mates’ opinions, (“Fuck off Dai, you’re talking bollocks again, I’m telling you it was Owen Glyndwr, not Llewellyn… One more pint? It’s your round.”) was in danger of being replaced by awkward silences, the kind that accompany even more awkward inner monologues of “I don’t know if my mate is my mate anymore,” and make you wish you still carried a comforting teddy bear/blanket/miscellaneous-misshapen-lump-of-softness-with-some-dodgy-Dr-Frankenstein-style-stitching around with you so that you could bury you face in it and hide that wibbly-wobbly lower lip.
Well, and I never thought I’d say this, thankfully international football came to the rescue! Somehow the Welsh football team, which only has a handful of premier league players in the entire squad, made it all the way to the semi-finals of the European Cup. Surprised? Me too, my flabber was well and truly ghasted.
A tidal wave of support rolled through Wales gathering momentum with the shock of each win. And it really was a shock, Wales is a teeny tiny country, one Russian tweeter summed it up with, “We’ve got a 168 million people in Russia, Wales has got less than 3 million. Where the hell do they find their players?”
I don’t know how true this is but one sports commentator did say that they are the smallest nation to make it that far in an international tournament, ever.
This astounding march through the tournament was conversational superglue between brexiters and bremainers. “It’s alright everybody, we may disagree on some really big important issue that could potentially ruin a lot of stuff for a lot of people, but my word we can be proud of our boys who play that game that’s not rugby!”
Even though they were ultimately defeated by the cup winners Portugal, the Welsh team returned home to a heroes’ welcome and a very affectionate country who lavished them with the pride and care normally reserved for teams that come home with a big shiny cup.
So I was thinking about this, and a mulling over recent events in the world and it occurred to me that 2016 is very much the year of the underdog. (It’s also the year of celebrities shuffling off their mortal coils years before they should have done, which brings to my mind all sorts of morbid conspiracy theories that tend to feature the church of scientology rather heavily.. so I’ll keep those to myself for a while.)
There’s little old Leicester City football club that won a the Premier League Cup in May. With odds at 5000-1 against them, that’s not too shabby.
Whilst we’re still on football, let’s point out that Iceland, another teeny tiny nation, made a fantastic showing at the European Cup also getting all the way to the quarters, and knocking out football giants, England.
From footie to politics, because there is no escaping it.
Bernie Sanders. It started with a couple of people saying, “That Bernie Sanders has got the right idea. He sounds pretty cool.” And ended with him being a major contender for the presidential race. Now of course he is not the democratic candidate, it didn’t happen. But by staying in the race they way he did, and garnering so much support he demonstrated that the American people do have a voice here and that voice does make a difference. His campaign and the issue of the super delegates’ votes also demonstrated the flaws in our voting system too, and brought them to the attention of millions of people who normally wouldn’t really care because the front runner was a forgone conclusion. His immense popularity set a fire under the Hillary campaign team which frankly it needs because of that other underdog…
Donald Trump. Actually I don’t really count Trump as an underdog. The man has funding, and stands for many things that already have the upper hand: corruption; ignorance; lies; hatred; a huge divide between rich and poor; prejudice; a supremely over-privileged background; the list is long. So whilst technically he’s not an underdog, he is a man with zero political experience and a national joke, who logically should never have been able to get this far.
By the same skewed logic, that also makes Hillary an underdog of sorts. She has bags of political experience, but the press has never liked her. Right from the time as first lady when she tried to get a universal free public health care system started, the press have circled her like a hungry pack of painted hunting dogs (it’s a wild canine breed, found in Africa: very vicious, individually small and weak, but as a pack…well, you’re dinner).
Then we’ve got the thorny issue of Brexit. Britain’s not an underdog, the MPs involved were not underdogs, the EU is not an underdog. But Brexit was 17 million people pissed off at the way the country is being wrong, being told that everything that is wrong in the UK is because of decisions made by the EU not the UK, and acting together to let the government know they were pissed off, by voting against them. Sadly, the post-commentary of Brexit shows that many Brexit voters didn’t understand the reality their vote would bring, but were voting leave to make an anti-government/ anti-immigration statement. For once, the disgruntled folks affected a change in the politics of their country, I don’t like the change that’s been made, but maybe people will continue to vote and use their right to have a say in the running of their country. Scotland is already scheduling another referendum to leave the UK next year, they may well be the only successful underdog to rise from Brexit.
Changing tack from politics, Deadpool was a box office smash. The movie that the studios didn’t want to waste money on, has made humongous profits. Well done.
Leonardo di Caprio, not exactly an underdog being the wealthy, successful, A-list Hollywood royalty that he is, but overlooked for an Oscar umpteen times, FINALLY got the glitzy little Ken doll on a podium to put on his mantelpiece. And all he had to do was get frostbite and wrestle a bear… if only he’d known that years ago.
Still in movie world, the remake of Ghostbusters received so much flak and negative commentary before release that people were saying they weren’t going to bother seeing it, but is now in opening week, receiving rave reviews. Hooray for the busters of ghosties.
The Quagga, a cousin of the zebra, was extinct for 100 years , but scientists have brought them back through some canny DNA engineering trickery. Great news for the Quagga; on the flip side though, a scary potential future for an overly powerful human race meddling about with DNA in a laboratory …have we not watched Jurassic Park? They’ve made four bloody films, and there’s a whole host of others on the perils of genetic mutation. Time to pay a little more attention I think.
Green energy! Yay, Hawaii has announced they want to be off the grid, and completely green by 2020. Yes Hawaii! If anyone can make this dream come true, it’s an island state in the middle of the Pacific ocean, geographically far away from ANYTHING. Lead the way Hawaii, show us how it’s done so that we can follow!