Tuesday, 16 June 2009

I have seen the future and it’s . . . pandas

I was in Israel last week, for a wedding — eight hundred or so of the bride and groom’s closest friends. It was a Sephardic-Ashkenazi marriage, held in a kind of pretend oasis in the rich flatlands south of Tel Aviv.

There was food (lots, of course). There was drink (lots, too). There were no suits and virtually no ties — but many, many deep-cut frocks, somewhat to the dismay of the religious, Sephardic side of the union. There were Power-pointed speeches. There were video-screens.

There was dancing — to modern house, to the delight of my son and the dismay of the older guests. The newly-weds were, as tradition demands, hoisted up high on shoulders. The groom’s brothers and friends hit the shots and circle-danced.

And there were pandas . . . giant, inflated, dancing pandas. Four-metre tall pandas, with men inside. They joined in on the dance floor, buffeted and barrelling around till exhaustion set in.

So? So this is where you first read about it. I’m as certain as I can be that this was the first appearance of inflatable giant pandas at a wedding anywhere. The bride had seen them on a TV show and thought: that’s exactly what weddings have previously lacked. The way you do.

I could, though, hear the minds of the young girls on the dance-floor whirling away. They were thinking: when I get married, giant pandas, that’s what I’ll want. But, Daddy, they’ll say, there are always giant pandas at weddings, it’s tradition. Etc etc.

The future started here.

Next up A story about the Sephardic-Ashkenazi thing, starring Claudia Roden . . . and me

Sunday, 14 June 2009

I have seen the future and it’s . . . asparagus

A couple of weeks back, I went to the last game of the season at Arsenal. They played Stoke. They won easily. The man next to me chanted at the Stoke fans: we pay your fucking benefits, we pay your fucking benefits.

At half-time, I went to the loo. As I walked in, I was hit by a really strong smell. Not piss. Not shit. Not unpleasant but not pleasant either. For a moment, I couldn’t place it. Then I could. It was asparagus-scented piss. Someone had obviously just had it for lunch.

Forget rants about prawn-sandwich eating fans, that just displayed the shallowness of Roy Keane’s cultural horizons. He hadn’t even noticed that prawn sandwiches have been the cheap option in supermarkets for a decade at least. (Then football players, like pop stars, are so cossetted that they often don’t even know you have to actually buy plane tickets and need to remember to take your passport with you.)

No, asparagus-consumption is the new measure of the new football fans. Maybe they could open a farmer’s market at the ground on match days. Maybe that man next to me could start chanting: you don’t even like asparagus, you don’t even like asparagus.

Next up I have seen the future and it eats shoots and leaves