15th July 2021

Dear Friends

I have to be honest, I’m not very good at watching sporting events – especially critical ones on TV. In fact I’m not very good at watching anything sporting on TV. I’m the kind of person who wants to know the result before embarking on the journey. Crime fiction, sporting events, TV, Film, or books, it doesn’t matter whether I’m reading, or watching. So on Sunday, I watched the last two minutes of full time, the last two minutes of extra time and then I couldn’t cope with the suspense, so switched off, rather waiting for the familiar ping on my phone to announce the result.  The result was disappointing. The England team had covered themselves in glory and they strike me as a wonderful bunch of talented sportsmen, led by a thoughtful and inspirational manager. As a nation we are lucky to have such talent – it’s not always been the case. The racial abuse which followed, was depressing and thoughtless. However, if the thoughtless morons believed that their narrow minded, racist abuse would somehow be effective they – as usual- were completely wrong. What it has done, it seems to me, is galvanise people to stand up to this abuse. I have been so impressed at the sight of that defaced mural in Manchester, now restored, covered with notes, cards, poems and pictures of support, literally thousands of them. People have travelled from all over Manchester to voice their support for the inspirational Marcus Rashford, they have even travelled from Liverpool and Birmingham. “He supported and stood up for us, it’s now our turn to support him” one card read. As a nation we should be proud of our players – they really represent the very best. We should be proud that we are a racially diverse country, with all the talent, vision and joy that brings, we are all enriched by our differences. Thankfully most of our young people get that, I pray that they may never lose heart, or hope.

Simon