Greenwich Moan Time

It's not been a good week for British justice. First of all, it looks like we're going to let General Pinochet go back to Chile, unhampered by any icky notions like his involvement in more missing persons cases than Mulder and Scully. It's not as if it was even us who were going to try him, all we were being asked to do was ship him to Spain. This was just a bit too much to expect, it seems: after all, we have a long tradition of providing a safe haven for doddery old fools -- despite the abolition of the House of Lords. I wonder whether we shall see the same miracle which blessed a certain jailed Guinness executive -- diagnosed with Alzheimer's, let out early on compassionate grounds, and suddenly cured with a completeness which would have impressed Lazarus. Expect to see Pinochet on the team sheet for the next Chile international.

Speaking of compassionate grounds, we're also letting Mike Tyson into the country, despite a criminal record which would suggest that he believes "compassion" to be what happens when you bang your head. At first, our beloved leaders said it would be left to the immigration authorities to decide, after it was pointed out that, by the rules set out, Tyson should be refused entry. Now, Jack 'U-turn' Straw has intervened, supposedly to save all those small businesses who would allegedly have been hit by such a ban. Not just a change of heart, but also lungs, liver and spleen, I am left wondering whether Tyson had threatened to arrive at Heathrow wearing a "Vote for Frank Dobson" T-shirt. But heavyweight boxing and our government are fine bed-fellows, given both rank lower on the credibility scale than professional wrestling, and are run by thoroughly shifty individuals with questionable hairstyles and an astonishing ability to twist the truth. In the blue corner, Don King tries to convince us the first Holyfield-Lewis fight was a great draw, and a fine advertisement for boxing. In the red, Tony Blair claims that the Millennium Dome is a great draw, and a fine advertisement for Britain. Seconds away...

As for the Dome, it seems to be in the great British tradition of entertainment that strives to be educational -- or is it education that...? Oh, never mind. Its major problem is that, predictably, for a theme park designed by committee, it appears to contain a lot of stuff that is there solely because someone thought it should be, rather than because it's fun. I've no idea what the "Faith Zone" contains, but it's unlikely to be a devastating proof of the existence of God. Or anything else worth 20. Such as a psychopathic demon-hunter. [Sorry, season 3 Buffy joke there. It's between the Giles and Willow Zones...] No wonder the queues vary so much.

Much has been made of the contradiction between the low crowds going there, and the glowing reports of visitors. Yet there's no reason why the two are mutually exclusive, especially given the British propensity to make the best of a bad job. "We booked these tickets months ago and spent all that time travelling to Greenwich -- we will enjoy ourselves, whether we bloody want to or not." The English will always have a nice time, but anyone who remembers the dinner party scene from 'Carry on Up the Khyber' will already be aware of this...

Here's a prediction: give it a few months, and the ticket prices will come down. For there's one advantage that boxing promoters have over Tony Blair -- they only have to generate hype for 12 three-minute rounds, not an entire year.


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