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Military Aircraft, National Museum of Flight

More pictures taken at the National Museum of Flight, East Fortune Airfield, East Lothian, Scotland.

A Czech S-103:-

Czech S-103

Lockheed Lightning. I forget which country’s livery this displays:-

Lockheed Lightning

The obligatory Spitfire:-

Spitfire, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Messerschmidt Komet. This was a rocket propelled aeroplane as I recall:-

Messerschmidt Komet

Vulcan Bomber:-

Vulcan Bomber, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Vulcan

The images of two bombs/missiles under Argentine flags on the fuselage of the Vulcan signal the two raids made by this bomber on the Argentinian forces at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands during the conflict in 1982. The flag of Brazil is because the Vulcan was forced to detour by engine trouble and land in Brazil after one of the raids.

Mission Markings on Vulcan at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Hawker Harrier:-

Hawker Harrier

The World Turned Upside Down?

You may have noticed there’s a rather large and important football competition taking place at the moment. (A swift glance at TV schedules would be enough to tell you that.)

Four years ago I expressed my fear that a period of Germanic hegemony was upon us. Notwithstanding Portugal’s efforts at the last European Championships the young German side which triumphed at last year’s Confederations Cup boded well (or ill, according to view) for that prospect.

It seems that hegemony is not to be. In three performances of stunning inadequacy Germany have been so poor as to finish bottom of their group, only a moment of individual brilliance on the part of Toni Kroos yielding them a solitary win over Sweden.

It’s been a topsy-turvy sort of tournament what with England playing well (so far) and Argentina, like the Germans, struggling badly – but still managing to reach the second round.

I’ve not been overly impressed by anyone – though I thought Colombia looked good against Poland. But that may have been because the Poles were totally ineffective.

Brazil seem unbalanced to me; too much in thrall to their star player, Neymar, who doesn’t look fully fit. Belgium may be dark horses but haven’t played anybody of standing yet.

Judgement must be reserved till the knockout games. Too often before, a good showing in the group has unravelled at the next step.

But… Could this be Uruguay’s year again? They’re the only side yet to concede a goal.

(Cue a Portugal win on Saturday.)

The War of the End of the World by Maria Vargas Llosa

faber and faber, 2012, 758 p. Translated from the Spanish La guerra del fin del mundo with no translator’s name given, merely a translation copyright notice for the book’s first US publisher. Returned to a threatened library.

 The War of the End of the World cover

An itinerant mystic, Antonio Conselheiro, called the Counsellor, wanders the Brazilian province of Bahia gathering adherents. He preaches against the recently formed Republic of Brazil as the Antichrist, stuffed with Freemasons. In Llosa’s account he has the ability to transform an assortment of unfortunates, misfits, and the misshapen – not to mention the worst of bandits – into followers of the Blessed Jesus (whose every mention among the Counsellor’s adherents is replied to with “Blessed be he”.) Eventually he sets up a community in the town of Canudos against which a succession of ever larger military expeditions is sent by the Republic as the “rebellion” defeats each in turn. All this is based on a historical event, the War of Canudos, the most bloody civil war in Brazil’s history.

The early part of the novel is taken up with sections relating to how some of the Counsellor’s most important followers come to fall under his spell interspersed with the machinations of local politicians in Bahia – both for and against the Republic. Here we also meet a socialist (and red-haired) Scotsman on the run from authorities in Europe – where he had indulged in seditious activities – who goes by the name of Galileo Gall (but whose real name is never given) and has a belief in phrenology. Gall is framed by the editor of the Jornal de Notícias, Epaminondas Gonçalves, to make it look as though Britain, referred to by most characters as England, is involved in gun-running to, and support of, the rebels of Canudos. (“Gall” does put Gonçalves right, though, when he says, “I’m a Scotsman. I hate the English.”) A near-sighted journalist – again nameless – goes along with the third military force to be sent against the rebels and witnesses most of the later fighting; at least until his spectacles get broken.

Entrants to Canudos were made to swear that they were not Republicans, did not accept the expulsion of the Emperor, nor the separation of Church and State, nor civil marriage, nor the new system of weight and measures, nor the census questions. (The devil is obviously in the way you count the spoons.) Mostly though, the Counsellor was playing on the faith of the poor and their fears that slavery would be reintroduced.

Gall thinks of Canudos as, “A libertarian citadel, without money, without masters, without politics, without priests, without bankers, without landowners, a world built with the faith and the blood of the poorest of the poor,” (though part of that is his own idealism projected onto it) and wonders about the – to him – curious code of “Honour, vengeance, that rigorous religion, those punctilious codes of conduct….. a vow, a man’s word, those luxuries and games of rich, or idlers and parasites – how to understand their existence here?” that so prevailed on the husband of a woman he raped that he pursued Gall there.

About a third of the way through the book we find the nameless journalist has survived the war as he talks to the Baron de Canabrava about his experiences. This has the effect of defusing some of the tension as we readers are still to meet them for ourselves.

In Canudos the near-sighted journalist thought to himself, ‘culture, knowledge were lies, dead weight, blindfolds. All that reading – and it had been of no use whatsoever in helping him to escape.’ The baron is disgusted by the journalist finding amid the chaos of Canudos love and pleasure with a peasant girl. “Did those words not call to mind luxury, refinement, sensibility, elegance, the rites and the ripe wisdom of an imagination nourished by wide reading, travels, education?”

Army doctor Teotônio Leal Cavalcanti’s image of humanity abruptly darkened in his weeks seeing to the wounded during the siege, observing of the able-bodied, “‘It is not what is most sublime, but what is most sordid and abject, the hunger for filthy lucre, greed, that is aroused in the presence of death.’”

The novel feels like it has a cast of thousands. There are multiple viewpoint characters and a narrative which shifts from present to past tense and back in section to section. This makes for a dry and slow start as the life stories of the Counsellor’s adherents prior to their falling in with him and those of the politicians of Bahia are told to us rather than shown. But, as the near-sighted journalist tells Baron de Canabrava, “‘Canudos isn’t a story; it’s a tree of stories.’” In telling his tale, Llosa tries to encompass this world of many branches. Some characters return again and again, others only appear in the scene in which we are given their viewpoint. 758 pages are a lot to fill after all. At times it becomes almost too much; but to recount a tree of stories does require length, a length which adds to the impression that this is a very male book. After all, war and revolution attract a certain kind of attention and are accorded an importance that other aspects of human endeavour are not.

Nearly all human life is in The War of the End of the World. Nearly all.

Aside:- In the scenes dealing with military men there are several references to Brazil’s war with Paraguay, which took place in the days of the Brazilian Empire. In Colin Wilson’s history of the goalkeeper, The Outsider, he stated that Brazil had never fought a war. That would be the Brazilian Republic rather than “Brazil” then.

Pedant’s corner:- The translation is into USian but curiously we had “fitted” once and “trousers” twice. Otherwise there were Jesus’ (Jesus’s,) “the Scotsman thought to himself: ‘The Republic has as little strength in Bahia as the King of England beyond the Aberfoyle Pass in the days of Rob Roy Macgregor.’” (The King of England? At that time the King was King of Scotland too. And it’s MacGregor.) “A host of questions were running riot in his head” (a host was,) laughingstock (laughing stock,) rear guard (the military terminology is usually rearguard,) ipso facto is used in the sense of “immediately” (it actually means “as a result of that fact”,) “a group of servants were” (a group was,) dumfounded (I prefer dumbfounded.) “They finally learn a little about what was gone on” (has gone on,) “he’s just dying little little, second by second” (little by little,) sunk (sank,) in a cross fire (crossfire,) chasseurs were mowed down (mowed down appeared at least twice; is this USian? In English it’s mown down.) Quite a few instances of “time interval” later.

Jimmy Hill

I was sorry to hear today of the death of Jimmy Hill and especially that he had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

As a player he was relatively undistingusihed (or is that perception of mine just because he played before football became plastered all over the TV?) but as chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association he was instrumental in having the cap on footballers’ wages removed in 1961, leading to today’s high salaries in the upper echelons. As a manager he brought Coventry City up two divisions before leaving for a career in TV.

As a pundit he was always worth listening to but famously annoyed Scottish football fans by describing David Narey’s goal against Brazil at the 1982 Word Cup as a “toe-poke.” Both sides played up to the supposed antipathy his remark engendered but in reality he got on very well with any Scottish fans he encountered.

James William Thomas “Jimmy” Hill: 22/7/1928 – 19/12/2015. So it goes.

The Team That Made All Brazil Cry

So. There is to be no redemption. Brazil’s historical trauma of the Maracanã in 1950 known as the Maracanazo has been surpassed. Will this one become known as the Mineirãoza?

The country of Brazil has never been involved in a war (except, perhaps, internally.)* The national consciousness has been invested in football. The 1950 defeat was akin to a national humiliation. How much worse, then, a 7-1 hammering by a team who had never beaten them in a competitive game? And a first home defeat in competition for 29 years.

It’s been coming, though. They weren’t convincing in the group games, Chile pushed them close in the second round and Colombia didn’t deserve to lose to them either. Both those sides perhaps had too much history with Brazil to overcome. (And the hoo-hah over Neymar’s injury is over-confected. Brazil spent most of the Colombia game kicking “Oor Hamish” – James Rodriguez – all over the park. Given the outcome of the semi-final the real loss was in fact Thiago Silva.) The Germans didn’t care about reputations or history; they did what German teams do.

Brazil’s scapegoat in 1950 (“Look! There’s the man that made all Brazil cry!”) was Moacyr Barbosa. At least this time they can’t blame it on a black goalkeeper.

Make the most of the last few days of this Brazil-hosted World Cup. I doubt there will be another one.

*Edited to add. I have since found out that not being involved in a war is only true of the Brazilian Republic and not of the Empire which preceded it. The Republic has had internal conflicts.

Scotland 0-2 Belgium

FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Europe, Group A, Hampden Park, 6/9/13.

Nobody really expected Scotland to get a result out of this and so it transpired.

I only saw the highlights and it looked as if Belgium did not have to reach top gear. Even so, Scotland did well to restrict them to as few attempts on goal as they got.

Belgium are an impressive side. Whether they are impressive enough to go all the way in Brazil next year is another matter.

Bottom of the group again. With only two games left we really need a win on Tuesday in Macedonia to have any hope of avoiding that spot at the end of the qualifiers.

The Outsider: A History of the Goalkeeper by Jonathan Wilson

Orion, 2012, 351 p

If football is symbolic, if the ball is a substitute sun requiring to be buried (in the goal) to ensure fertility, what then are we to make of the one player in the team whose primary object is to prevent that desirable consummation? Such is the question with which Wilson starts his history of the goalkeeper, who in this context can be seen as the outsider, an anti-footballer.

While not denying the goalkeeper’s essential difference I immediately started thinking, what about the stopper centre half, the holding midfielder, the midfield destroyer? Aren’t their roles equally anti-football in that sense? Of course these players may advance into the opponents’ half, even score the odd goal or two, but the goalkeeper generally isn’t expected/permitted even to do that. Except what, then, to make of the Paraguayan great, Jose Luis Chilavert, who took penalties and free-kicks and scored 62 goals, 8 of them for Paraguay and all while playing as a goalkeeper? (Brazil’s Rogério Ceni has since overtaken Chilavert as the highest scoring keeper.) The South American attitude to goalkeepers has tended to be less restrictive, though. In Europe keepers generally only charge upfield in desperate circumstances.

In any case Wilson’s title partly goes against the thrust of the history. When football was first codified it started with all players able to handle the ball in certain circumstances. That dispensation quickly became restricted to the designated one, who was detached from the team – and made to stand out by virtue of wearing a different coloured jersey/shirt. A gradual process of goalkeepers playing beyond the penalty area – the change of rules in 1912 which forbade handling outside the box (up till then they had been allowed to anywhere in their own half) delayed this process – by intervening with their feet or initiating attacks has reduced this difference. Arguably the keeper’s reintegration into the team was finally more or less institutionalised by the back pass rule. (Even before that, though, the custodian was not totally estranged, was a vital component of retaining possession. I remember reading elsewhere that Liverpool’s long domination of the European Cup was predicated on passing the ball back to Bruce Grobbelaar as much as possible during away legs. The sweeper-keeper had evolved even prior to this, though.) In Jose Luis Chilavert’s case the reintegration of keeper with team was surely at its most complete.

Wilson mentions that the first ‘Prince of Goalkeepers’ was Dumbarton’s James McAulay. Another Sons keeper to be mentioned in the text is Joshua Wilkinson, whose father was convinced his death from peritonitis in 1921 was due to a blow he’d received in a game against Rangers the previous Saturday.

In the very early days it had been almost open season on goalkeepers. The famous William ‘Fatty’ Foulke – reputedly 28st (179 kilograms) when he played for Chelsea – often took his revenge on physical forwards, turning them upside down and depositing them on their heads. Despite the obvious dangers – Celtic’s John Thomson (to whom a section of Kirkcaldy’s newly refurbished museum is dedicated – he came from nearby Cardenden – there was also a tribute to him there before the modernisation) received an accidental but fatal knee to the head in 1931 also against Rangers; Sunderland’s Jim Thorpe died in 1936 after several blows in a physical game in 1936 prompted a reccurence of a diabetic condition – it was not until after Bert Trautman’s broken neck and several other injuries to keepers in FA Cup finals in the 1950s, though, that British goalkeepers began to receive extended protection from referees.

Goalkeeping is not, in the end, a simple business. He/she is not necessarily only a shot stopper; there is a difference between the reactive keeper and the proactive. The former expects to make saves (spectacular or mundane) the latter’s best game is the one in which she/he has no saves to make at all, because the way he/she has organised the defence ensures, in an ideal world, that no danger occurs.

There are even national differences in approach. Both Brazilian and Italian defences tend to play deeply and so breed reactive keepers. In other countries a higher line is adopted, a goalkeeper’s play has to be more attuned to that. In Russia, Soviet Russia in particular, goalkeepers have been the subject of a reverence that borders on love.

Africa is represented here by the Cameroonians Tommy Nkono (who inspired Gianluigi Buffon) and Joseph-Antoine Bell, the Spanish, German, Italian, English, Brazilian, Scottish and US traditions are covered in detail. From Asia only Ali Al-Habsi gets a mention and that in passing. Oceanian custodians escape Wilson’s purview completely. Maybe no notable keepers have as yet been bred there.

So many great goalkeepers seem to have had unfortunate debuts, on the end of drubbings of various sorts. What distinguishes them all is that they are liable to be remembered, their careers defined, not for their great performances but for one, or – in the case of David Seaman – two mistakes. (My abiding memory of Ray Clemence is of him allowing a soft one from Kenny Dalglish to evade him in a Scotland-England game at Hampden. Proof if any were needed that there is no national tendency to persistently outstanding goalkeeping.) Poor Moacyr Barbosa of Brazil was forever blighted by conceding the winning goal in the 1950 World Cup final. In 1970 a woman in a shop said to her young son, “Look! There’s the man who made all Brazil cry.” Barbosa himself later complained that in Brazil, “the maximum sentence is 30 years. My imprisonment has been for 50.” That loss to Uruguay was perhaps, though, the single most traumatic moment in Brazil’s history as a nation. It was only founded in 1889 and has never fought a war.* Brazilians apparently are not really football fans. It is winning they like.

Wilson makes the point that the existence of a highly proficient one or two goalkeepers from one country at one time is not evidence of strength in depth, nor any guarantee of continued excellence. The apparent decline of English goalkeeping is a case in point.

The author certainly knows his football history – there is even a digression into the treatments of the sport in literature and film, most of which lean heavily on the goalkeeper; a further nice touch is that the book’s back cover is decorated with a “1” – and he thinks deeply about the game. Having read the book I’ll observe goalkeeping in a different light.

One final note. Even if a book is about football it might be thought a touch insensitive to describe the Spanish Civil War as “perhaps the clásico to end them all” – even more insensitive when Wilson observes that Real Madrid didn’t become Franco’s team till the 1940s.

*Edited to add. I have since found out that this is only true of the Brazilian Republic and not of the Empire which preceded it.

Brazil 3-0 Spain

FIFA Confederations Cup, Final, Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, 30/6/13

Seemingly Brazil don’t do competitive defeats at home. Their last was 38 years ago, and that was the only one in the past 50 years. They have only ever lost twice in a competitive game at the Maracanã (whose official name I’ve now learned is the Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho.)

As in the semi-final Spain were most unSpain like. This could be due to the fact that both Italy and Brazil got at them. I note here that even if Big Phil did not send Brazil out deliberately to play the early ball over the top David Luiz had certainly noticed the Spanish vulnerability. It was his crossfield pass that led to Brazil’s first goal.

It was strange to see Spain out-hustled for two games in a row. Hustling is one of their strengths. But Italy and Brazil didn’t allow them time on the ball nor space to pass it.

Spain had their chances but the combination of a David Luiz goal line clearance and a Julio Cesar in great form frustrated them.

Fred’s second early in the second half killed the game. Iker Casillas showed here why Jose Mourinho may have preferred Diego López latterly.

Talking about goalkeepers falling from their absolute best Gianluigi Buffon in the semi seemed to have recovered from Italy’s defensive horrors in the group games but looked a bit iffy again in the third place match.

Brazil don’t lose competitive matches at home?

Well, they’re still haunted by the loss to Uruguay at the Maracanã in the last game of the 1950 World Cup. They still will be when next year’s tournament comes round.

A Wind-up?

I’m not sure if this video is of a genuine Dumbarton fan or not.

If she is, she may be in for a big disappointment when she sees the mighty Sons in the flesh.

Socrates

I was sad to hear of the death of Brazilian footballer Socrates. He was a member of that second most entertaining of Brazil teams: the one that lost to Italy (well, to Paolo Rossi) in the second stage of the 1982 World Cup tournament. His goal in that game was sublime as he appeared to ghost past an Italian defender and then comprehensively beat Dino Zoff (Dino Zoff!) at his near post. He also had an idiosyncratic way with penalty kicks – which he would take with absolutely no run-up.

In his non-footballing life he was a medic, qualifying as a doctor before taking up professional football.

I remember from TV reports of the Brazil camp in 1982 he could play guitar and hold a tune. He was a smoker, though, and also, it seems, overindulged in drink.

Sad to see him go.

Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira (aren’t those Brazilian names wonderful?)
19/2/1954-4/12/2011. So it goes.

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