I had the great pleasure of watching Paul Heaton play for two hours to 15,000 not very diverse fans in the O” last night. We’d had a lecture from Billy Brag earlier on , on tolerance but Heaton’s set explained why a decent man has the power to pull so many to a desolate spot on a cold December night in the face of considerable transport difficulties.
Billy is a decent man too, as Heaton explained, but the songs we left the O2 Arena singing were “Happy Hour” and “Caravan of Love” not Billy Bragg’s “Sexuality”.
Today, many of us will say goodbye to the Qatar World Cup, either grieving for or congratulating Lionel Messi. I have friends, of an age and sexuality to myself, who will not watch the football for reasons of politics, and mostly sexual politics. I respect their views but I am taking as an example the decency of the Argentinian number 10.
It takes a lot to get a nation behind what in the past has been perceived “the enemy”. If anyone can heal the scars of the past 40 years , it is Messi who like Paul Heaton, makes his statement by the decency with which he plays the game and conducts himself outside of it.
Again, I have no gripe with my friends who don’t watch the final this afternoon, but I think they are missing a joyous occasion which, whatever the result, is likely to bring a tear to the eye.
Whatever the result
France is a great team but they are not favorites this afternoon
But the odds are close enough to suggest we really don’t know what will happen in 90 minutes.
Caravan of Love
Paul Heaton left us with “Caravan of Love” last night and the overwhelming message of his set that whatever the result, it is our positivity that determines our happiness.
Jacqui Abbott is unwell, Heaton carried her part as well as his , but our thoughts are with her.
Heaton announced the results of the band’s sweepstake , explaining he’d drawn the pantomime villain – France. There were some pantomime boos but not many. The loudest cheers were still for England, but Argentina got a round of applause from those around me.
As I watched on , with fond memories of 36 years as a fan, I smiled that human decency wins out over hate , that tolerance is learned and earned by those we most admire – Messi and Heaton being but two very topical examples.
We have tough days ahead, but if you want inspiration, have a listen to some of the songs on the set list and tune into your TV at 3pm (also available on live stream)!