Young and handsome Gareth Bale: the world's most expensive footballer. The envy the world over of young men, and women too. And not just the young. Older commentators also dribble at the mouth. We all want to be a success like him, don't we? And, if we dont, then there must be something wrong with us, or so the media imply. Gorgeous Gareth: so talented as a player: so rich, so famous, so photogenic, has he not achieved one of capitalism's great pinnacles of international glory; spread across all the newspapers and TV screens? What luck he has had, and deserves it all doesnt he? This young lad made good! Who wouldn't want to change places with him? To give up the monotony of a job, or the boredom on no job; to give up having to count the pennies when your wages run into millions; to laugh at austerity in the eternal sunshine of Spain (like being on holiday all the time) to be the current darling of the spectacular never-ending world capitalist circus. And all just for being good at playing football. He probably even enjoys it! What a difference between his job and working say as a hotel cleaner - twenty rooms a day, poor wages, and heavy work changing all those beds year in year out - or being a hospital orderly, sitting at the end of a phone all day, wondering if they're going to call you in for a couple of hours, on wages that'll barely keep you going for another couple of hours, never mind buy a few days in the Spanish sun. A zero win situation if ever there was one.
And look at this! The Daily Mail, so full of admiration for the takented and now immensely rich young man - and he achieved it all on his own you know, no looking around for handouts from the nanny state, or going off snivelling somewhere for a free lunch. No. Gareth is an example to us all. He has done all this on his own initiative: he has taken advantage of the possibilities that capitalism offers us all, if only we weren't all such half wits, for he is an enterprising youth. And he has attained his reward.
The Daily Mail gives us a list of what constitutes THE BALE LOOK, fashionistas wake up, and go out and spend, and a comparison with the RONALDO LOOK is made. The ageing David Beckham had better look out, or is he about to be dumped? But let's stick with Gareth. His Dolce & Gabbana T-shirt was £122; His WASHBAG (whats that?) was £420 and his Carrier bag, made in Wales - note this well - was 5p. Oh! What a wonderful touch that is. A plastic carrier bag at only 5p. D'you think he did this deliberately, my beautiful plastic bag, or did the newspapers suggest it, or even make it up? Oh! Our lovely Gareth and what a lark. Hoodie brand unknown they add. Its enough to knock yer sox off isn't it? Specially if a hoodie is all you've actually got to wear when you go out, and you may never rise to own a wash bag at all, or even to much of a wash given the price of hot water under austerity.
But "Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney sweepers turn to dust" as the bard penned years ago. What is the reality for Gareth Bale? Is not the media setting him up for a disastrous fall? Does he fully realize the enormity of what he's taken on? And what must Ronaldo be feeling as he is forced, like it or not, into a competitive role with regard to Gareth Bale? Capitalism has always been a hard task master even for those who are presented as having achieved an envious success under its poisoned auspices. I feel sorry for Gareth and no envy at all: apart from his skills at soccer that is. The money he gets may not bring the anticipated happiness it is always assumed it will. Plenty of rich and famous folk can bear witness to that. His skills on the pitch will come under hard scrutiny, as he is recognized as the "most expensive footballer ever" and has to live up to it. A toll will be made on his psychological strength, and probably on his young family too.
But let's wish him every success in his new job. He's won a golden bowl. But, as Henry James analyses in his novel The Golden Bowl, even for the very richest the bowl can turn out to be irremediably cracked and a poisoned chalice to boot.