Saturday, November 24, 2007

why what am i hamlet

Local Sports Calendar
The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Anyone wishing to have a notice carried in the local sports calendar should fax material to 613-596-8430, mail to the Ottawa Citizen, 1101 Baxter Rd., Box 5020, Ottawa, Ont., K2C 3M4 or e-mail toy no later than Tuesday preceding date of publication. The calendar appears every second Saturday. Sorry, we can't carry over ads for consecutive calendars. If you wish to have your ad published more than once, you must re-send the notice. This service is intended for non-profit organizations.

Field Hockey

Indoor field hockey for under-19 girls. Held at St. Pius lower gym on Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. from November to April. Sessions include skill and tactical instruction, and scrimmages. Also, there is an opportunity to participate in a women's indoor league on Saturday mornings at Carleton throughout the winter, and to prepare U16 players interested in trying out for the 2008 Eastern Region Ontario Summer Games Team. Contact: or more info. Sessions started Nov. 7, but we welcome newcomers! Cost is approximately $90.

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Font:****Ottawa East Field Hockey Club at the Louis Riel Dome, Blackburn Hamlet, from January to April. Sessions will run from 8-9:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, and will include instruction in skills and tactics followed by games. U14, U16, U18, and adult programs will be offered depending upon turn out. U16 will include Ontario Summer Games tryout preparation for those interested. Registration is Wednesday, Nov. 21 from 7-9 pm. at the dome. After, contact Carolyn at 613-526-2588 or Cost will be approximately $185 for U18 and $220 for adults.


Stittsville Laidlaw Rangers Old Timers Hockey Tournament, Jan. 3 to 6, 2008. Open, +30, +40, +50, +55 divisions, entry fee is $595.00, guaranteed three games. Call Rob at 613-836-1810 for further details. Lots of prizes.

New Ottawa rec hockey games, Wednesday and Friday mornings, 7 to 8 a.m. at Bell Sensplex. Check or contact Rob ator 613-292-8851. A $75 deposit is required to hold a spot. Spare spots are available in all ORH weekly games.

Weekly co-ed daytime pick-up games at west rinks: Jack Charron (Mondays), Nepean Sportsplex (Thursdays), Barbara Ann Scott (Thursdays) Tom Brown (Thursdays) Carp (Tuesdays, Fridays), Belltown Dome (Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays). Free for goalies, $5 for players. See

Adult Pick-Up Hockey, two rinks, at Nepean Sportsplex on Thursdays from 7 to 8:30 a.m. Free for goalies, $5 for players. See


The Ottawa Indoor Softball Leagues are now registering players for all of the following: winter session (Jan. 6 to April 6) for slo-pitch and 3-pitch; New Year's men's slo-pitch tournament; New Year's mixed 3-pitch tournament. Get all the information at

am the great and powerful Oz!" booms the wizard of that parish when Dorothy and her friends finally gain entry to the inner sanctum. "Do you presume to criticise the great and powerful Oz? You ungrateful creatures!" The impression of absolute authority is somewhat diminished midway through this speech, when Toto tugs aside a curtain and reveals the "wizard" is in fact a very human old man, twiddling semi-competently on what appears to be a hotwired church organ. Still, you have to salute his desperate attempt to maintain the facade with the famous line: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

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Sitting in the stands at Wembley on Wednesday, the above image drifted into my mind as Steve McClaren stood under an umbrella with his cuppa, and not simply because, at £757m, the cathedral to denial came in at about eight times the cost of the entire Emerald City.
We may never know what McClaren was shouting at his players, but it was hard not to be reminded of one of his predecessors giving us an earlier "man behind the curtain moment" the last time we failed to reach a major tournament - an instant captured on the enduringly brilliant documentary Do I Not Like That. No one who has nurtured delusions that the tactical thinking in the England dugout might outpace that on offer in a parks game will ever forget the horror of watching Graham Taylor, the then national coach, hopping about on the touchline. "Can we not knock it?" he was bellowing. "CAN WE NOT KNOCK IT?"

In any other week, the spectacle of institutionalised incompetence on display at Wembley on Wednesday would have been jaw-droppingly hideous enough. But having struck the motherlode with the missing child benefit discs the day before, the many millions of hapless souls caught up in both fiascos could be forgiven for reaching for the sedatives.

These are vaguely horrifying times for those who prefer to operate under the delusion that people in charge of things are even basically competent. Indeed, the very morning after the Wembley farce - when both front and back pages appeared to be competing for the right to use the headline "Black Wednesday" - we got another "man behind the curtain" moment. The partner in a law firm specialising in fraud cases told this newspaper that he regularly received confidential data from Revenue & Customs, either with no password or with the password written on the disc itself.

No one expects clockwork. A citizen's relationship with the state depends on a kind of suspension of disbelief, a similar sort of contract to the one that exists between an audience and the actors in a play. If everybody on stage plays their part fairly competently, the illusion is more or less preserved, no matter what panic is under way backstage. But if the spell is broken, that's it. The missing discs revelation is analogous to Hamlet drying up immediately after the words "To be or not to be". You may find it slightly hard to settle back into the "paternalistic state" performance now.

Indeed, you may have experienced similar feelings when you discovered that a dossier advocating going to war had been cut and pasted from the internet by a man whose only memorable story as a journalist was that John Major tucked his shirt into his underpants. Most of us feel life should be a tiny bit more sophisticated than that, and it's a kind of vertigo to contemplate the chaos that must be beneath the surface - must be there all the time - if such a thing can happen so easily.

After this latest hokey cokey, who'd be surprised if the password for the nuclear codes is "password"? Don't scoff. Last week it emerged that from the 1960s until the early years of the Blair government, the RAF's nuclear bombs were armed by turning a bicycle lock key. Aren't you glad you didn't know that at the time? It could have ruined three decades for you.

That's the thing: ignorance is arguably bliss. Once the illusion has been blown, though, it feels preposterous to watch our debunked wizards shutting the curtain and pretending to be Oz again. Yet this is what Alistair Darling seems to be up to. And so with the FA chief executive, Brian Barwick, who will not merely keep his job, but is asking us to trust him to find a successor to the calamity he himself always claimed was his first choice, despite presiding over a farcical appointments procedure in which someone else clearly was.

How to pull off this sleight of hand? Well, already the pall of platitudes is being spread over both cockups. Identical platitudes, in fact. There will be a "root and branch" review of management systems within HMRC. There will be a "root and branch" review of the arrangements around the England team. And yet it doesn't feel awfully like that at present. Vitriol is being poured over the England goalkeeper Scott Carson, just as it will be over the still anonymous junior manager who popped the child benefit database in the post. Obviously, both of them had shockers. But it feels neither root nor branch to be laying the blame on a 22-year-old and a 23-year-old respectively. Then again, deeper chaos is much more frightening to contemplate, let alone deal with.

Perhaps there would have been some measure of relief if the two fiascos had simply collapsed into each other. I should have liked to have seen Brian Barwick emerge from Soho Square on Thursday morning waving the missing discs, and Alistair Darling emerge from No 11 waving Jose Mourinho. Unfortunately, Toto, we're not in Kansas any more.


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