Sunday, January 07, 2007

SPORTIN' LIFE; Goodbye Mr Warne

Chuck D didn't often get it wrong, but there are causes to scorn the sage words of Public Enemy's sage and go ahead and damn well Believe the Hype. Every word of it. Working in an industry increasingly geared to producing reams of hype, the magic of Shane Warne has been, for any cricketing - or in my case - cricket-loving -journalist, live up to the sort of snake-oil schtick we as a profession churn out. We rarely believe it -music journalism, my natural home, is, if anything, even more devoted to profit-generating hagiography than sport - and then the likes of Warne (in cricket) or Sviatoslav Richter (in music) or Eric Morecambe (i n showbusiness) come along and make us actually believe it. Not once, but over and over again. For the red-top boys, Warney's been box-office gold, and for the rest of us, he sets us the challenge of avoiding a route straight to Pseud's Corner without passing Go. We are so used to being a publicity, rather than a news, industry, that when someone like Warne comes along, it's fun to actually talk about such fables and know they're true.

Thus an awful lot of wallaby shit has, and will be, written about Warne and I have no great desire to add to the sum of marsupial droppings; and the greater the performer, the feebler become the tributes the longer they last. Relativists will sneer but, notwithstanding the uncountable hours devoted by Warne to his craft, chucking a ball around and doing the Grieg sketch are both, I fear, less arduous an endeavour as playing Liszt's B minor Sonata; nonetheless Warne, Morecambe and Richter inspire the same feelings. I want to do that - but doing it that well would be spooky. Just be thankful to be alive when it happened. Reinventing leg-spin, comedic epiphany and playing technically and emotionally-immeasurable piano works at phenomenal speeds are, in the grand scheme of things, all pretty meaningless - but these are the geniuses who most effortlessly remind one why we enjoy them nonetheless - why they matter.

Thanks for the memories, Mr Warne. Beauty.

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