Split personalities

I just found a chapter from Climate Change for Football Fans which I cut out of the final version.  So here goes:

Split personalities

We were standing in the James Hargreaves Lower stand of Turf Moor.  The home crowd had become angry. ManchesterCitywere visiting and at half-time they were three nil up.  Joe was beside himself and showing off the best of his vocabulary. Doris was transformed into an Amazon warrior.  She led the war cry, her back to the game, looking up the rows of anxious, impassioned faces.  She whipped the crowd into a frenzy, arms waving wildly as she conducted their chant.  They screamed for the Claret and Blue army, stamping the ground, all standing, waving their scarves and banners.

Igor remained quiet.  He turned to me: “See how she is behaving?  Not the quiet, patient mum in the living room at home.  It’s almost as if she has two persona.  Look, the players are coming out for the second half.  We must discuss this further in the Bridge.  Meanwhile I will place a bet now on a Burnley recovery and a 3-3 draw.  Barry has been taken off and the Manchester midfield looks vulnerable to McCann.”

It was scarcely any easier to hear ourselves speaking in the Bridge.  Almost the entire population of Burnley was squeezed into the bar to celebrate their famous come-back.

“Why is it that we’re different people, depending on the circumstances?” asked the Professor.

“How do you mean?” asked Joe.

“Look at how fierce everyone was at the game.  They’re not like that at home.”

“It’s called beer,” said Uncle Frank.  “They were well tanked up.”

“It’s the situation, isn’t it?” said Joe.  “You get drawn in.  You’re not yourself.”

“Well, look at Joe at work.  He’s forever cleaning up the workshop and repainting the vans.  But he never does any washing up at home,” said Doris.

“And that is one of the things which stops us doing something about greenhouse gas emissions.  We are different at work from how we are at home,” said Igor.

“Oh yeah?”  Joe wasn’t happy at Doris hanging out the washing.  I mean in a figurative sense of course.  Otherwise he was very happy for her to hang out the washing and do the ironing for that matter.

Igor hurried on.  “I remember the head of a coal-fired power-plant saying: ‘As a grandfather I am worried about climate change and its impact on my grandchildren.  But as an employee of a very large German power group I have a big problem with regulating emissions.’  He admitted that we are two people in one.”

“He was just bullshitting,” said Frank.

“I don’t think so.  It happens all the time.  The last twenty years, while the USA held up progress on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, is littered with professionals, possibly decent men and women with families, who put loyalty to their employer before loyalty to their loved ones.  Remember, they all say that Stalin was fond of children and small animals.”  Igor’s glass wobbled.

“Weird that,” said Joe.  “Do I put Mr Trew before Doris and the brats?”

“Nowt wrong with that,” said Frank.  “Just ordinary people doing their jobs.”

“Just doing their jobs, I see,” said Igor.

“Yep, just doing their jobs.”

“Just as Joe changes from being a quiet chap at home to being a furious martyr at Turf Moor, so the professional negotiator switches between personalities like Mr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.  At home he’s a loving father, and at work an indirect killer of children.  How does this work?”

“He who pays the piper.”

“But can it be that so many professional people with wealth and intelligence are just clowns acting out the script of a paymaster?”

Frank said that’s the professional contract – you lose the right to speak your mind.  You do what you’re told, not what you think.  Unconditional loyalty.

After a swig of beer he continued.  “But that’s what gets things done.  You don’t win wars without that.  And you don’t win football matches either.  What the Gaffer says goes,” he insisted.  “Look, it’s the only way to survive.  You need people who can do stuff they don’t believe in.  What about lawyers defending criminals, or bankers giving loans?  People don’t have a choice.  They just have to live their lives.”

But Joe didn’t agree.  “They’re bloody rolling in it, them tossers in the City.  Of course they have a choice.”

“A choice between the mortgage and Igor’s penguins?  When you’ve got a high maintenance wife and a couple of birds on the side and a mortgage on a place in London?”  Frank downed his pint.  “Dream on,” he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.  “Integrity is a luxury.  More expensive than platinum.”

“And easier to fracture than a Faberge egg,” remarked the Professor.

“So no-one sticks to what they believe at home,” concluded Joe.  “But still, I mean if you’re on a few hundred grand…”

“If you’re on a few hundred grand of course you don’t walk away,” said Frank.  “You’ve more to lose.”

We finished up our beers while the celebrations continued around us.

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