A few years back, after the Stuttgart keeper Jens Lehman had committed one of his periodic idiocies: getting lost in the stadium after being sent off for stamping on another player, a fan approached him as he wandered, bewildered, into the supporters area and asked: "Jens, why can't you be normal?" Lehman, without replying reached out and took the fans' glasses off from his face and walked away before randomly handing the glasses to another person and leaving, upon which this third man quietly handed them back to the original questioner.
Pondering Russia’s relations with the rest of the world over recent decades, it’s hard not to recall that confused and embarrassed moment of Teutonic witlessness and see in it a poorly disguised metaphor, poorly disguised in the sense that it is surrounded by neon lights flashing the word: “METAPHOR”.
Because behind all of the blather about Democracy on one side and foreign funded entities on the other there is the simple and plaintive question: “Why can’t you just be normal?”
I imagine Europe looking very much like a tired and middle aged Scandinavian minister of fishery policies, renewable development or some such, trouser suit slightly crumpled, kindly in wire rimmed spectacles, with lines around her eyes, leaning forward over the coffee table with a worried smile and saying: “Yes, I know: the Americans went mad a while back and told lots of lies to everybody, but they seem to be getting better now. I wish you could see that really we just want what’s best for you.”
And if it were in a TV drama this is the moment when Russia would feel tears come into her beautiful eyes, and she would feel a strange kind of joy welling up as her barriers and fears and all those bad memories began to melt away in the warmth of a truly human moment. We probably wouldn’t get to see the part where the two of them made a cup of tea and started thinking out a program of sorts to just get everything back on track. But we’d certainly see the scene a few months later where Russia is walking down a sunny street, hair shining, eyes full of bright happiness as old ladies selling apples and the local postman bid her a good morning. We’d likely get a glimpse of the architecture textbooks she is carrying to her college when she puts her bag down to find change for the loaf of fresh bread she is buying for her lunch. (Even in a warm hearted fantasy world the idea that anyone selling anything would have any change in their till is a step too far)And we would smile and squeeze our loved one’s hands in the cinema darkness, safe in the knowledge that everything is going to be ok.
That’s how it should be because Dame Agnetha Eurozonson, along most essentially reasonable people really want nothing more than the best for Russia. It’s pretty boring, and provides nothing of much value to conspiracy nuts or politicians on the make, but it’s kind of the way it is. If she could just be normal then everyone would be happy. I mean it’s not as if we are looking to sta… hey, what are you doing with my glasses? Where are you going? HEY!