bread and circuses

Ni Hao from Singapore,

Here I am back in Singapore – sans Linda this time – to watch the Singapore 7s Rugby tournament. I’ve dropped over for the weekend to see how the Singaporeans “show us and show the world how we do it in Singapore”. This is the city/country where the standard deviation for public bus transport times is eight seconds, so it’s a safe bet they do it well. 

night skyline, Singapore

   It’s a warm day here, not unlike every other day in Singapore. It could rain later because it’s quite humid and sticky. But, there’s an obvious question in the air, and I’m not the only one asking it. What are they doing playing strenuous contact sports on the equator, I hear you ask, incredulously. The answer, dear readers, is the stadium is air-conditioned(!)

    There’s a roof over almost all of the stadium and cool jets of air circulate in and around the seating (and presumably on and near the playing surface, too). The stadium is very new and very impressive. The ‘natural’ green of the football pitch looks a bit incongruous: that and the small window on the sky at one end are the only concessions to the natural world. 

Sport is big business.

   Rugby 7s is obviously big business these days. It is completely inorganic and devoid of grassroots elements (forgive the unintentional pun there). The ground announcer’s inanities (trained at the same school as the 20/20 cricket announcers, I’d say), the raucous music and the constant Kiss cam opportunities are sufficient to spoil the experience somewhat for aficionados (and curmudgeons like me, too).

in the harbour

    Of course, this is another upgrade to the bread and circuses charade which pervades the modern world. This represents yet another circus diversion: an opportunity for lots of the faithful to dress up, unfurl national flags and drink lots of alcohol. “I said to Norm, . . .  You can have a drink at home,” said Edna Everage. Here in Singapore, at the stadium, there’s a live band, blokes in tribal regalia and excited music to render conversation impossible. 

in the botanic gardens

      Perhaps the highlight of the weekend for me was the match between two women’s teams: Thailand national women’s team and Singapore. They are real goers, these Asian women. (The occasion reminded me of Australian girls forcibly participating in games in PE or sport, often stepping out of the way rather than having a go. Alongside them, the Asian girls were participating at full throttle, sometimes wondering what was wrong with their native-born friends.)

    Anyway, Singapore has excelled again. But air-conditioned sporting stadia? Is this why the world is short of energy? What priorities do these represent? Anyway, it’s another warm day in Singapore.

Cai Cien from Singapore


Other photos from hereabouts

Lunar New Year
Singapore harbour

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