Finally Facing Your Waterloo
Yesterday, I was asked by someone what my favourite lessons were at school. As they concluding over thirty years ago, I don’t recollect much about my schooldays. That being said, I was just about able to recall History, PE and English as my most favoured classes.
I was an average student, but probably could have done better academically if I’d found the topics in the syllabus more fulfilling. Not to mention if I’d shown more application when studying.
I passed my ‘O’ levels and CSEs, and later a HNC in Business Studies, however they were studied without any real enthusiasm for the subjects in front of me.
If I could have written a thesis on Leeds United striker Allan Clarke’s sock tags, or goalkeeper David Harvey’s great haircut disaster of 1972, I’d have shown a great deal more interest. Subsequently, resulting with yours truly no doubt working with greater tenacity in the classroom.
Who knows, I could now be the head lecturer of Sock Tag studies at Kings College, Cambridge. Or even Dean of the Nightmare Hairstyle department at the London School of Economics.
It wasn’t to be though. My genius in the field of football sock accessories was lost to the world. Instead Gary Strachan drifted into an unfulfilling career in computer operations and shift work.
As I touched on above I did enjoy history at school, recollecting in one term studying the Napoleonic Wars.
What immediately springs to mind when I hear the name of Napoleon isn’t his distinguished military achievements in numerous battles. Moreover, I tend to think of his abject failure at Waterloo
He may have had a list as long as your arm victories in battle. However, I’ll always recall the Corsican born leader as the man who absolutely ruined that ABBA song during the French army karaoke evening.
Throughout history, much has been made of the fact Napoleon was depicted as employing a stance where he hid his hand in his waist coat.
Whilst researching online for this narrative, I’ve read various possible explanations as to why he hid his hand in this manner. They include:-
Napoleon was winding his pocket watch.
That in his era it was impolite to put your hands in your pocket.
Late entertainer Rod Hull had stolen his emu puppet.
He was hiding his sock tags from Wellington.
He had a deformed hand.
Lots of theories, but no definitive answer. The only thing that can be ruled out is a French historian’s theory, claiming Napoleon adopted that stance to avoid shaking Chelsea footballer John Terry’s hand after he’d slept with his wife.
In his 1975 movie Love & Death, Woody Allen plays a character (Boris Grushenko) unwillingly conscripted to the Russian army to fight against Napoleon’s French troops who’d invaded Austria.
In this satirical movie of Napoleonic times in Russia, the cowardly Grushenko falls in love with Sonja, played by Diane Keaton. However, much to his chagrin, she is smitten by his brother Ivan, who spurns her and marries Anna.
When Ivan is killed fighting Napoleon’s troops, Anna, aware of Sonja’s love of her late husband, shows there is no animosity by bequeathing her some of his possessions.
In a touching conciliatory gesture, Anna (who kept her late husband’s sword and gold watch) provides her jilted rival with Ivan’s moustache and a piece of his treasured string. They also agree to share his letters, with Anna getting the vowels and Sonja taking the consonants.
To close, I want to share some of the mock philosophical jousting between Keaton and Allen, which is a recurring theme throughout the movie. As a fan of such pretentious dialogue, I was particularly fond of these interactions. An example of which is below:-
Sonja (Diane Keaton): “Judgment of any system, or a prior relationship or phenomenon exists in an irrational, or metaphysical, or at least epistemological contradiction to an abstract empirical concept such as being, or to be, or to occur in the thing itself, or of the thing itself.”
Boris (Woody Allen): “Yes, I’ve said that many times!”