my tenuous link to Leicester City

shocked
Photo by permission from http://www.sxc.hu/profile/bigevil600

So the impossible has happened. Leicester City won the Premier League this season after almost being relegated last season, and being most pundits’ favourite for relegation this time around. At the start of the season the bookmakers were giving odds of 5000-1 for them winning the Premier League. This is being proclaimed as the most astonishing sporting story of all time. They might be right.

I don’t support Leicester City, but as a supported of Ipswich Town I can relate to the surprise that they have been so successful. My only link to Leicester is that about 10 years ago a friend, who was a season-ticket holder at Leicester City, lent his tickets to me so I could take my son to watch a football match (my friend was unable to go). He did warn us that his ticket was in the rowdy section of the Leicester fans, but it was too generous an offer to turn down so we went.

Two things in particular come to mind when I remember that football match. The first was about the Leicester City tradition of a huntsman in full regalia playing a rallying cry on a hunting horn as the players ran onto the pitch. That still happens, and it still strikes me as somewhat incongruous. It is a rousing sound, but Leicester City’s nickname is ‘The Foxes’ so to have a huntsman playing a hunting horn seems to me to be more likely to rouse the opposition who are there to hunt the foxes.

The second thing was that although we were in the rowdy section of the crowd we were on the edge of it. Most of the chants and songs were generated (in the mystical way in which they happen at a football ground) from in the middle of the section and the rest of the ground joined in. But just in front of us was a young man who obviously fancied himself as a chant-generator. When it was a bit quiet he made us jump by standing up and shouting, “Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?”

Nobody joined in.

It was quite embarrassing.

But it didn’t deter him. A little later on he stood up again and sang a chant at the top of his voice (I can’t remember it) and kept repeating it in the hope that others would join in.

But nobody did.

It was cringe-worthy.

And yet through the whole match he kept on at it. He did not give up. Perhaps he thought that eventually he would wear down the resistance of the crowd and that they would join in with him. Or maybe he thought that if he was good enough he’d get invited into the middle of the rowdy section and be allowed to join in with them. Or it’s possible (and this is what I think is the truth) that he didn’t care whether anyone joined in with him – he just wanted to express his support for Leicester City at the top of his voice.

When I have heard football crowds chanting and singing I sometimes remember that young man.And I have stopped being embarrassed for him. Now I admire his persistence. I admire his loyalty. I admire his desire to express himself without worrying what other people are thinking. And I wish Christians would worship God more like that.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

The plan is…

The plan is that I will have a great day off tomorrow. The plan is that tomorrow morning I will do one or two jobs that need doing and do some child-ferrying. The plan is that tomorrow afternoon I will go to Ipswich and watch a football match. The plan is that Ipswich Town will put in the best performance of the season and win at least 4-0. The plan is that I will have a great seat.

The problem is that most of those plans are reliant on factors that are beyond my control… unless of course my fantasy comes true and Roy Keane (the Ipswich Town manager at the time of this bloggage for the uninformed) realises he is one player short, looks into the stand, spots me and decides that I am exactly the right person to save the day and I score all four goals. Of course if that happens I will have to give up my great seat. What a dilemma that will be.

In the real world the words of the Scottish poet and hero Robbie Burns seem to be true: “The best-laid plans of mice and men aft gan aglay.” (translation: ‘the best-laid plans of mice and men often go wrong.’) Robbie Burns observed (how?) that human and mice plans often go wrong. The comedian Eddie Izzard asks a very pertinent question of this truism. What plans are the mice making – plans to get cheese? (It’s a brilliant routine that I won’t spoil by attempting to quote it here). But even if we put the mice plans to one side for a moment, it is true that our plans aft gan aglay.

The key is to have the ability of a chameleon. No, not having a tongue twice the length of our body. No, not having a sticky bit on the end of your tongue to catch insects. No, not having eyes that can look in two different directions at once. All those things make chameleons extraordinarily cool creatures. God was definitely on a roll when he was designing them. No, the coup de grace, the piece de resistance, the cherry on the top of the cake for the chameleon is the ability to change colour. Some say that it does it to reflect its mood, while others say that it does it for camouflage. All we know is he’s called the Stig… (sorry, slipped into a Top Gear parallel universe for a moment).

Chameleons are adaptable. They are able to change. That’s something we often find difficult because we find security in familiarity. There is a comfortable inertia that we have to overcome if we are to be adaptable, willing to step beyond our comfort zone and try things a bit differently. It’s not always easy, but it means that if the plans gan aglay we are able to respond and make new plans that may be better than the originals.

I guess that’s what Peter found when Jesus encouraged him to step out of the boat. His plan original plan was to get safely from one side of the lake to the other but he ended up being the first boardless surfer.