Simon Barnes has written the diary in this week’s issue of The Spectator. Here are his opening two paragraphs:
‘Sport is like love: it can only really hurt you if you care. Or for that matter, bring joy. You can’t explain sport, any more than you can explain the Goldberg Variations: you either get it or you don’t. So it can be hard to justify a life spent among bats and balls and leaping horses. I spent 32 years writing about sport for the Times, the last 12 as chief sportswriter, all of which comes to an close at the end of this month when I become News International’s latest economy, doomed to wander Fleet Street (is it still there?) wearing a luggage label that reads ‘Please look after this bear’. What shall I write about in my last week? The usual trivia of the sporting round: triumph and disaster, victory and defeat, leadership and betrayal, revenge and counter-revenge, strength and weakness, hubris and its chastisement, hatred, horror, honour, joy and glory: all acted out in front of me. The news pages of every newspaper are about cover-ups: in sport your subject is emotionally stark naked in front of you. A sportswriter is never without a big subject.
The betrayal stuff mostly comes from the England cricket team. Last week there was a concert of sporty music at the Proms, and I did a bit of stuff for the BBC on the medium my father calls the wah‑liss. I realised in the course of this that the operatic themes that have dominated the England team for the past three years are pure Don Giovanni: Kevin Pietersen in the title role, Alastair Cook as the virginal betrayed Zerlina and Andrew Strauss as the equally betrayed and now vengeful Donna Elvira. There’s even a part for Piers Morgan, KP’s eternal Leporello, faithfully cataloguing every triumph.’
Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.