Vitai lampada

To my mind (as ever), the soccer victories of Moroccan Islam over Spain and Portugal, were balanced by the English win on the cricket field of Multan, Pakistan (clinching their test series). One should observe these sporting events with reserve, as I was taught to do as a child (in Pakistan). We win on some occasions; we lose on most of the others; or in cricket, it is often a draw. In the past, along with cucumber sandwiches, one greeted the marvellous stroke (of friend or foe, equally) with gentle and not too prolonged applause.

Demonstrations afterward were, unquestionably, barbaric.

Among the younger souls, participating in the match, the object was to “play up, play up, and play the game.” This was an irreducible aspect of joy, perhaps hard to explain to a modern. The phrase presented the view of Sir Henry Newbolt that (so far as I could make out) wars should be fought in the spirit of the cricket pitch — rather than sport conducted in the spirit of war.

Oh yes, and there was terrible carnage and gore, death and frightful disharmonies — but we must not let this take our mind off the game.

This stirring poet and government advisor (died 1938), working from a line out of Lucretius (celebrating “the torch of life”), wrote various further lines that my Canadian mother was able to recite, while riding a tonga in Lahore. An Anglo-Indian lady, riding in another tonga in the opposite direction, once answered her, apparently with a quip from the same poet. My memory can no longer supply what it was, however; for this happened in ancient times. (I think it was 1959.)

The Muslims are perhaps recalling the year 711 AD, as they triumphantly cavort through the immigrant slums of Europe. This too passed anciently, even before the invention of cricket.