Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Eight Tentacles of Fate

So, the octopus was right. Again. Not that I believe in such things, of course. Let's face it, the average octopus isn't even going to know that there's a world cup on, let alone have any idea who is playing. To the best of my knowledge, octopuses aren't renowned for being football supporters. I can't say that I've noticed many on the terraces at White Hart Lane. But what about this supposedly psychic octopus? For a while it seemed like Germany's secret weapon, demoralising opponents with its uncannily accurate predictions. I mean, how could England be expected to play with any confidence against Germany when they already knew that their downfall had been predicted by an invertebrate? My brother was of the opinion that we should have countered the psychic octopus by coming up with a clairvoyant squid. After all, he reasoned, wouldn't those extra two tentacles make its predictions more accurate? Now I think about it, maybe it could have made its predictions in terms of clouds of ink? Black for defeat, white for victory? Imagine the panic that would have engendered in England's opponents - "It's been shown the German flag, it's straining, oh my God! It's the black cloud! This means doom! The Bundestag will fall!"

But, of course, the octopus finally let Germany down, predicting defeat against Spain in the semi-final. After suffering that kind of psychological blow, knowing that the creature had never been wrong before, is it any wonder their players couldn't perform on the night? Nevertheless, I'm afraid that I'll have no truck with either psychic octopuses or clairvoyant squid. Frankly, I'm surprised that the Germans went along with it for so long - they're generally a pretty level headed bunch. Except, of course, during World War Two, when various of the Nazi leadership apparently spent a lot of time consulting astrologers. Which makes me wonder whether Hitler's downfall resulted from paying too much attention to the antics of an allegedly psychic octopus? Perhaps they were using it to predict the outcome of various campaigns? Did it go for the Swastika food container prior to the Blitzkriegs against Poland, the Low Countries and France? Did Rommel get the green light for the North African campaign when it rejected the Union Jack? Most significantly, did it give the hammer and sickle the 'tentacles down' prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union? Perhaps that was the reason for Hitler's descent into madness - the infallible octopus finally chose the Allied food jar. Maybe we don't owe victory to the leadership of Churchill, the sacrifice of the Soviets and the unstoppable resources of the US, but rather to the eight tentacles of fate?

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