Being alive brings with it the survival skill of reacting to the unexpected. Fear of the unknown is part of the evolutionary arrangements. Learning from the immediate is another.
My blogging tries to help me, and I hope readers, to connect up the microcosmic with broader sets of ideas, sometimes known as theories. This weekend there were several moments in which my reaction was “I didn’t see that coming”.
Tyson Fury’s win over Vladimir Klitschko was one such story. It involved two excessively large boxers in a sometimes hilarious spectacle of drumming up business for their world championship match. The challenger, Tyson Fury, had a range of attention-grabbing stunts. He heaped on the obligatory abuse belittling his opponent. At one press conference he appeared dressed as Batman and gave a pantomime performance of apprehending The Joker. He burst into tuneless song, dedicating it to his pregnant wife, and once, to his impassive opponent.
His underdog back story of the Gipsy King was already in place, ticking many boxes some with similarities to those of bad boy Mike Tyson after whom he was named.
Boxing, that noble art, risks going down a path of gratuitous violence with increasing suspicions of its integrity of decisions, and welfare of its participants. I watch from to time to time with a mix of admiration and suspicion at the apotheosis of athleticism at the service of big business.
The long-established but aging champion was still widely expected to win, although Fury had his cautiously optimistic supporters among pundits. In the fight, Fury delivered the strategy he had boasted of in the pre-fight nonsense and was the shock winner. I for one was fooled, and perhaps so was Klitschko.
As one report put it
Britain’s Tyson Fury pulled off one of the great boxing upsets as he outpointed Wladimir Klitschko to become heavyweight champion of the world. It was a dour and often messy fight but Fury, courtesy of his superior boxing skills, fully deserved to be awarded a unanimous decision.
Ukrainian Klitschko, whose nine-year reign as champion was brought to an end, simply could not work the challenger out and did not do enough to win.
The chancellor stood up to present his autumn financial statement before a House expecting some humiliating climb down over his plans to scrap financial benefits. Osborne sat down to conservative cheers having found a way of turning a defeat into apparent victory.
He was no longing scrapping financial benefits as announced, he was scrapping his plans. A bemused Robert Peston for the BBC described the ‘conjuring trick’.
So how has George Osborne pulled off the magical trick of maintaining spending on the police, imposing smaller than anticipated departmental spending cuts in general, and performing an expensive u-turn on tax-credit reductions, while remaining seemingly on course to turn this year’s £74bn deficit into a £10bn surplus in 2020.
Well, it is because the government’s forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility, has increased its prognosis of how much the Treasury will raise from existing taxes (not new ones) and reduced what it thinks the chancellor will shell out in interest on its massive debts.
Or to put it another way, George Osborne is today £23bn better off than he thought in July, and without doing anything at all.
Time to go back to the alleged remark by Napoleon about lucky generals.
Robert and Grace Mugabe
Nothing will surprise me about Mr Mugabe anymore. Or so I thought. Then I read of the expectations of his wife that thanks to a little help from orthopaedic aids, she expects him to rule Zimambwe until he reaches his hundredth birthday. After that Grace Mgabe is willing to assume the presidency. Grace has already astounded her observers at the speed her PhD was granted from the University of Zimbabwe, following her less successful efforts as a correspondence course student at the University of London.
Lucky Robert. Poor Zimbabwe.