Can't concentrate? Don’t go away

It appears to be an essential component of modernity that every silence must be filled with loud music

By Joe Joseph, November 26, 2009

I am at London’s O2 arena, watching a tennis match between a Swiss and a Spaniard, and a fan in the seat in front has a flag the size of Seville that he’s waving every time the Spaniard hits the ball, obstructing my view. What is the etiquette? Is it OK to tell him to cut it out?

So come on
Let me entertain you
Let me entertain you …

What? That snatch of Robbie Williams that you just heard in the last paragraph? Oh, that was to keep your attention on this column.

Just in case it was flagging. It’s a little trick I picked up at the O2 this week, when I was watching that match I was just telling you about.

Sure, it’s irritating at first. Maybe more irritating even than sitting behind a man waving a huge flag. But you know what? You quickly get used to it.

I can’t say it wasn’t a surprise, mind.

I went to the O2 expecting to spend a sedate evening watching Roger Federer play Fernando Verdasco in the ATP World Tour Finals.

I hadn’t realised that today in indoor tennis, at the switchover every two games when the players sit down to recuperate and cement their concentration, the arena turns into a rock stadium — Bam! — with music loud enough to vibrate your cranium.

Won’t you come on over, stop making a fool out of me
Why won’t you come on over Valerie, Valerie …

They’ve already injected a similar raucous zing to some limited-overs cricket matches by having dancing girls gyrate whenever a batsman hits a six.

Now the trend has reached tennis. So I figured, why shouldn’t journalists capitalise, too? Why shouldn’t they start interrupting their columns with catchy tunes lest readers’ attention strays?

Get it on, bang the gong , get it on
Get it on, bang the gong, get it on…

See how it works? And no need to stop at journalism.

What about Parliament?

Wouldn’t debates in the House be jollier if, after each motion, a Tannoy behind the Speaker erupted with a few verses of Hava Nagillah?

It works at home just as well. At the family Friday-night supper, when your father and your Auntie Hilda have already squabbled about so many improbable topics (Has the Queen ever eaten chopped liver?

Is Katie Price Jewish? Are implants kosher? Will Amy Winehouse ever settle down with a nice Jewish husband?) that they’re now reduced to arguing about which is the better vegetable, cabbage or beetroot, what better way to jog them on to their next argument than a blast of…

Don’t stop me now
I’m having such a good time
I’m having a ball …

Courtrooms? Those trials can be, well, a bit slow, no? Your attention can waver. Now there’s an easy remedy…

Well somebody told me
You had a boyfriend
Who looked like a girlfriend
That I had in February of last year…

What’s that? You think the judge won’t approve? Wait till he sees the size of the flag the defendant’s barrister is planning to wave in court.

Some people just don’t know when they’re well off!

Joe Joseph is a writer for The Times

Last updated: 4:33pm, December 10 2009


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