Saturday, November 26, 2005

A limit to silence

I'm just old enough to have seen George Best score a hat-trick (against S***hampton!). All I remember is the yellow and blue of the Man United kit that day. His premature death sharpens the colours, like floodlights through time.

The Sunderland fan at The Brute Choir says he is too young to know the magnitude of what preceded Best's celebrity notoriety, but he was impressed this afternoon by the fans at the Stadium of Light's observance of English football's tribute: 32,000 people falling utterly silent.
Above the east stand of the ground, fully a hundred yards or so from where I stood, flew three or four seagulls, and their plaintive cries were all that broke the silence. The cliche of the gull's mourning is a well-established one; what struck me instead was the sheer depth of that silence, when a mass of people acting as one become silent enough to allow something as insubstantial as an animal's cry to be heard. It took a limit to that silence to bring home its scale.


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