The eunuch is not a character which has had a very good press in western culture. From late 18th century novels like William Beckford's Vathek to movie portraits of obese, deviant sensuality, he combines the twin horrors of the east and emasculation. In the figure of the eunuch, western artists could project the supposed decadence of the orient on a grand scale, and as icons of such decadence they were often seen dripping with jewels, constantly scheming and plotting, or sucking on grapes while eyeing young boys suggestively.
The reality was a lot more mundane, with many eunuch gaining positions of high influence around caliphs or Emirs, positions they could not have achieved had they held on to the old Mick'n'Keefs. Nor was it a curse of impotence - should one's chandeliers be polished off post-adolescence, what's left of the equipment is apparently capable of functioning, so I guess the delights of the harem without the worry of any little 'mistakes' might have appealed. Even so, in my eyes no amount of influence, social mobility or contraceptive free sex would seem a fair price for the loss of the goolies - some things are beyond price, and my knackers are included in that list.
However, when groping around for a suitable metaphor to portray the pointless energy which surrounds the Old Firm, a eunuch seems appropriate enough. Under the outward appearance, not a lot of substance any more. True enough, they were once big names with big cojones, main players on the stage, but every star eventually shrivels and now they about as relevant to today's football kids as Dogtanian & the Three Muskehounds. A sense of proportion is important - every other club in Scotland can only dream of being as relevant as Dogtanian, but even so there's no point in us overselling our own importance.
Possibly our star will rise again, almost certainly in Scotland, but further afield? I can't see it. Same with the other lot. So why the effort, why the furious effort, when it's all for so little outcome? Glasgow's main clubs are like two big fat eunuchs, surrounded by wealth and influence in the football world but always kept well away from the real power, England's Premiership or UEFA's cash-register competitions. For all their frantic pumping and 'look-at-me' jewellery, they are and I think will remain bit part players for the foreseeable future, spear carriers to the Arsenals, the Barcas, God help us the Leicester Citys of the 21st century.
Which makes it all the more insane that someone going to a game last year decided to finish whatever drink was in their bottle, leap onto an opposition bus and fling the bottle with such ferocity that a child was hospitalised.
It makes it all the more baffling that not a single person who was walking along side this person saw anything, heard anything or felt the need to pass on their information to the police.
This is a city where the utterly unimportant leads people to behave completely insensibly. On a far less depressing level, even the normally sane Gersnet has spent a week debating whether or not 'The Billy Boys' should be sung 'Brigton Billy' or 'Brigton Derry' with a passion utterly removed from the subject's merit; I know there's a gap in matches and people get bored, but really.
I suppose if the issue at hand was one of crucial importance for the future of mankind, you could just about try to understand why anyone would launch a bottle at a bus full of strangers, and why at a guess 500 people walking by don't find enough wrong with such an act to help find the perpetrator - if you read that someone threw a bottle at Oswald Mosley's blackshirts, for example, you might see a rationale even if you disagreed with the action. Or if an apartheid politician had been bottled while gloating over Soweto from an armoured car. Or something which actually means something. But over two teams, whose glory days are behind them and getting ever more distant, playing in a backwater league?
The behaviour of some fans is bewildering. I still believe, perhaps naively, that the vast majority of OF fans are normal, decent enough people who happen to detest the other side on a match day basis. Anything more than that and we're into the Miss Havershams, trapped in their own histories, determined to wait for the suitor from the south, oblivious to the decay and dirt round about them. With apologies to anyone who hasn't read Great Expectations yet, her house burnt to the ground with her in it. Nothing good comes from living in the past.
While the main complaint on this occasion concerns people from the feared east, I'm not trying to be partisan. As much as I love Rangers I'm not blind to the faults which go with her, and the odd associations some people bring with them when they come to a match. 'Pity the nation that is full of religions and empty of faith,' wrote the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran. And maybe pity the town where some people are out of their heads when it comes to football.
Discuss this article
Enjoyed this analysis? Disagree entirely? Found a spelling mistake? Whatever your opinion, it's welcome on our popular and friendly message-board.