Thursday 11 October 2012

The human race is going to win on the battle over the meaning of the word irony. A lad who I went to school and college with did a status update on Facebook that pointed out the ‘irony’ of LANCE Armstrong’s first name being an anagram of clean (an American anti-doping agency report laid out all the ways the now disgraced cyclist had cheated over the years). That’s not really irony. I mean if you were to stretch the meaning of one of the definitions of irony you might be able to suggest it was ironic that this anagram was ironic – I would still say you were wrong, though.

They were discussing the Lance Armstrong thing on Talksport tonight. I am afraid I was listening while experiencing the (relatively) high-pressure water being expelled by the shower head in my bathroom so I wasn’t able to make out who was talking to Danny Kelly or make notes on exactly what was said. However, I could hear enough to understand they were talking about the Livestrong charity. The chap who wasn’t Danny Kelly was (repeatedly to the point of annoyance) saying that Nike weren’t going to let the Livestrong brand be destroyed by its relationship to Armstrong. He said “80 million people believe in that brand” more than five times. He made sure people understood that Nike was great.

I can’t really deny that Armstrong’s legacy is in tatters. But what was a bit sinister that Kelly – and I wouldn’t say intentionally or unintentionally but it was happening – was using the same framework to talk about Armstrong/Livestrong has people have been doing to talk about Jimmy Savile (an anagram of AS VILE – the irony) and his charity work. I’m not defending the use of drugs to win at sport, it’s cheating. The use of drugs in cycling was a bit of a given when Armstrong was a competitor. Sure, he built a lot of his reputation on beating everyone clean..but still. He raised loads of money for cancer via Livestrong and cheated at some sport. Kelly was saying perhaps the charity was created to make him untouchable in the same way people have been saying about Savile. Cheating at sport and what the sick bastard with the cigar did really aren’t comparable*.

I may have over-thought the parallel in retrospect – that Kelly was in any way linking the two current news stories is highly unlikely.

*On top of how fucking obscene all the stories are that are coming out about him there is the fucked up thing that news programmes inevitably feature a picture of him in the background. There are no pictures of Jimmy Savile that don’t have a surreal quality (there is always a cigar, he is often in shorts or wearing a tracksuit without a top on underneath the jacket and he was just a weird looking fuck), even abstracted from the recent revelations. When you put them in that context it is extra-freaky. This is the most normal picture of him – and he is stood watching Frank Bruno shake hands with Peter Sutcliffe.

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