Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Artist

It sounds like it should be something that Dr Samuel Johnston might have said to Boswell while he looked up from his dictionary-making, 'Sir, I do believe that there is no misery known to man that could not be made passably better by a spot of tap-dancing.'

Fantasy Bob is pretty sure that Johnson did not make such an utterance, if only because he would not have known what tap-dancing was.  He could have looked for enlightenment in the dictionary he was compiling but he would do so without success. 'Sir, I cannot find this word tap-dancing - what incompetent wrote this wretched tome?' Thus frustrated he would throw the volume to the floor.  Boswell knew better than to point out that the author of the dictionary was the man himself.

Johnson was fully aware of cricket which did feature in his dictionary.  He reports to Boswell that it was played when he was at Oxford in 1728 - and he may well have played it himself.  But Johnson was frustrated in his search for an understanding of tap-dancing because in the 18th Century it did not exist, certainly not at Oxford.  It probably began in the mid 1800s when minstrel shows gained popularity in America, from where it made its way to vaudeville, Broadway and Hollywood.

Beaten 3-0?
The triumph of hope over experience - 
But Fantasy Bob was put in mind of the non-existent quote by Johnson upon a recent, and these days all too rare, visit to the cinema where the film The Artist finishes with a big tap dancing number. And very fine it is too.  It completely redeems the film in which there was no engagement with cricketing issues and sends the audience into the street with a smile on their face.  'There is no misery known to man that could not be made passably better by a spot of tap dancing.'

There has been remorse and self examination following England's humiliation by Pakistan.  There will, the world are promised, be lessons learned and strategies devised.  There will be analysis and discussion and no doubt graphs will be prepared.  But what the world really wanted was some tap dancing.  Regrettably grass is not a good surface for the art, so even had the England team made the effort they could have gone unappreciated.  But FB would like to see Test matches finish with a big production number and a happy line of tap dancing.  If the England batsmen had got to grips with tap-dancing they might even have learned something about moving their feet which could have helped them in their hour of need.  FB is sure that a meticulous coach as Andy Flower will have noted this.

And if you want to know what real tap dancing is - try this link of the Nicholas Brothers from 1943. (Look at the descent of the staircase at about 2.30 in and let your eyes water).  No spin bowler would have chance.

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