Common? Wealth?

For various reasons (this is one; this, most recently, is another [congratulations, guys]; moving house is yet another; oh, and there’s been the small matter of earning money [boring]) I haven’t been posting here with much frequency (if at all) of late. In an effort to remedy this, and to celebrate the happy-making trifecta that a) marking is over (hallelujah), b) the weather in Horsforth is unaccountably glorious , and c) I have plans for seeing friends and watching a really bad-good film later, I thought I’d dip a toe back in the water of online constructions of terrible metaphors, and do some writing.

This afternoon, the 20th Commonwealth Games begins. Growing up in a fairly sport-watching-friendly household,* I never really thought much about the political ramifications of the label: it was just a case of ‘well at least there’ll be something interesting on in the late summer in between Olympicses, and we’ll get to see how the preparations of top athletes are coming on, with 2 years in the future in mind’. Ok, so I probably had a slight think about the reasons behind the different countries’ involvements, but it probably didn’t extend much beyond the fact that the USA wouldn’t be there, so you could take some results (not the sprints [Jamaica] or long-distance races [Kenya]) with a pinch of salt.

It’s only as I’ve grown up (ish) that I’ve thought about the idea of ‘the Commonwealth’ more — particularly writing and teaching on various race-related topics. But although the roots of this organisation in the ideologies of Empire remain profoundly unsettling to me, that’s not what I want to write about. (In any case, it’s been thoroughly covered by better minds than mine; Paul Gilroy has some mind-blowingly brilliant things to say about Empire, here and [particularly] here, among other places.)

I want, instead, to focus on some of the countries involved, both big and (really, really) small, and give a short introduction to each. Because medal tables and obscure sports and the like are all very well, but isn’t it good to actually know a bit about the countries involved?**

If you want to provide suggestions, on here or Booker or Twitface, please do; if not, I’ll go ahead and pick at random, for the next 11 days or so.‡

And now, I’m off to enjoy/be impressed by/marvel at/deride some CGI primates.

*First understatement of the day.

**I think it is. Besides, it’ll make you better at pub quizzes slash GCSEs.†

†The current government, with the rote-learning fixation it’s installed at the heart of the education system, appears to be unable to tell the difference between these.

‡I’m not promising a regular commitment, mind. Busy-busy, me.


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