WINNING AND LOSING
This year has really brought home to me the huge gulf between winning – and losing. For those taking part in great events – there is no middle where you can run away and hide. It leaves behind those who have triumphed – and those who have been devastated.
We have had some momentous moments in 2016 – the three most momentous being the EU Referendum, the Olympics and the American Election. The build-up to all these events was tremendous, with the competitors constantly in the spotlight and under huge pressure.
The Referendum didn’t show either the winners or the losers in a very good light. Both lied, exaggerated and bullied to get their side through and a great deal of back-stabbing went on amongst the contenders. Finally, one long night in June produced the winner – Brexit – which made 52 million happy, 48 million unhappy and the long wrangle about the pros and cons will go on for years to come. No winners really and for David Cameron? His political career was over in one swift blow.
The American Election had a similar – and longer – run up to the final result. Insults were hurled, lies were told and accusations were made against each candidate. Trump became the winner against all the odds, but his win is now tainted with suggestions of fraud and help from the Russians. We can probably look forward to 4 years of upset and wrangle for the American people – quite apart from the rest of the world nervously watching on. For Hilary Clinton? Unexpectedly her political career was destroyed in another long night. Even winning the popular vote means nothing. She is still the loser and it is a very bitter pill to swallow.
Not all political elections are as huge as this – but losing is still as difficult to take. It was painful to watch the reaction on Zac Goldsmith’s face as the results were read out in the recent Richmond bi-election, a perfect illustration of what a devastating blow it is to lose your seat. My immediate thought was – do you ever recover from something like this? At least with rejections from publishers you can push out your manuscript to someone else. Over and over again we have seen the hammer blow of losing an election coming down on some of our most promising politicians – Michael Portillo, Ed Balls, Nick Clegg to name but a few. Some find success in other fields, other’s just seem to disappear from the limelight, no doubt licking their wounds in private.
With the Olympics there is an added pressure put on those taking part. Here the athletes are representing their countries, so they don’t only want to win for themselves but have the extra burden of knowing that the hopes of a nation are on their shoulders. The act of winning turns them into national heroes. The losers are quickly forgotten. It was painful to watch, all too graphically, the effect that winning and losing had on these athletes. There were many tears both of joy and of disappointment. Four hard long years of training could quickly turn to nothing for the losers. For the winners there was glory, a gold medal and probably a gong. The distance between these two is vast.
Recently the majority of the British public was glued to the television screens to watch the results of the Strictly Dance Final. One small slip in one contender’s first dance probably cost him the trophy. The winner on the other hand gave a perfect performance on the night. There was so little difference but that small slip will now live with the loser for the rest of his life. One of those ‘if only…’ moments. I know I will be told that it is taking part in such competitions that is the reward – but it may not feel like that to the loser.
And then there’s our cricket team – young, untried on overseas pitches, but full of promise – completely blown out of the water by the brilliant Indian side. Inevitably Alastair Cook is being blamed. As the losing captain will he step down? We will have to wait and see what he decides – but at the moment he is having to swallow many bitter pills on behalf of his team and the country.
So as we near the end of 2016 – a year I won’t be unhappy to say goodbye to – I am hoping that all the losers can pick themselves up, put this year behind them and start again.
On which note I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and a happy 2017.
And if you have a moment to spare over the holiday and are stuck for reading – try my trilogy – all available from Amazon.