Strange Kind Of Urgency

by Quinn

So. This morning we’re trying to get my son ready for school, and not unusually it seems to be taking ages; every time his mother or I turn our backs he stops putting on his jumper, or his socks, he stops fastening his shoes, and when we return we instead find him staring at the TV, or looking at a book, or fiddling with the In The Night Garden figures his sister received for her birthday (yes, one year old yesterday; isn’t that a pip!)

Hard to blame him, I suppose; I too would be taking things at my own sweet pace had I a choice, but the fact is that I don’t. The reason that my wife and I are rushing around while he ambles along is that he has no concept of time. While for us a glance at the clock spurs us on there is no such pressure on a child; while for us running late has real potential consequences, a child is unaware of any responsibility. For my son Mummy and Daddy are forever there to sort things out, and he always eventually gets dressed and to school (more or less) on time regardless. As a result, as my son is getting ready, and unlike his parents, he feels no sense of urgency.

No sense of urgency! Now I remember using that phrase recently in a different context, but when was it? Let me think now…mmm…now then… think, think, think…erm…of course! That’s it! I said it umpteen times last week to describe the attitude of the players as England were contriving to throw away that vital football match against Croatia that confirmed I will have to support another nation – probably Spain – in Euro 2008. Then I used the phrase a number of times the following day too, during the post-mortem at work and in the pub.

And now I remember another couple of things, from a few years back; of Razor “Neil” Ruddock describing how baffling real life seemed once his career as a professional footballer was over because the simplest things such as phoning his GP had previously been done for him; how David Beckham once explained that the reason his car’s tax disc was missing was because he expected someone else would have sorted it out. Are these I wonder examples of a sort of arrested development, a delayed adulthood on the part of our professional footballers? Could this extended childhood explain that lack of urgency on display last week, so that even when the spectators in the stands and on their settees where anxiously staring at the clock, our spoiled and pampered representatives on the pitch meandered on regardless, their lives devoid of any real consequence shy of losing a trip abroad next summer, safe as they were in the knowledge that it would be left to others to pay the price or pick up the pieces of their failure to qualify?

And if this “childishness” analogy is an accurate assessment of the evidence we have all witnessed, then I am left to ponder on that other frequently heard excuse for the poor performances of our teams abroad when they so often fail to bring home the spoils; that our footballers play far too many games, that the rigours of our domestic leagues wear out our talented players, and that you can clearly see from the way they play that our lads are simply too tired. Interesting; because as every parent knows when they offer an apology for their child’s behaviour, sometimes when we say “I think s/he’s a little bit tired” we are purely dealing in euphemism.