RIVALRY is weird. It seems hard-wired into the human condition. Barring a few saintly souls, and others not of this Earth, everyone is competitive, wanting to be better than everyone else, including their spouses, parents, best friends and colleagues.

I am moved to witter thus by the example of football, but if you dislike the fundamentally inane game, fear not for I shall as ever be deriving wider philosophical meaning for those of you seeking moral renewal.

The case that attracted my attention involved two teams on the island of Corsica, where rivalry between the communes of Ajaccio (where that Napoleon was born) and Bastia (the principal port) is so intense that away fans are banned from each stadium.

You say: “Here, in Glasgow, using the excuse of Covid, Celtic and Rangers have been keeping each other’s supporters away, because there is arguably some rivalry detectable between these two teams.”

That is a bad point, reasonably made. Celtic and Rangers come from the same city, rather than different toons, and their rivalry relates largely to theological disputation and the possibility of an afterlife. But, yes, I take your point, which only helps to make mine about rivalry as part of the human condition. And this is one of the most intense and inebriated rivalries in the world

In Corsica, “regional supremacy” is the cause for the rivalry, particularly over the notion of a capital. This also occurs in Scotland, where everyone else hates Edinburgh, with some arguing it is about as Scottish as Morris dancing.

In Corsican football, the situation has been made worse by ultras, fanatics for their team, a situation we now also have in Glasgow, though here it is less about violence and more about people singing boring songs for a very long time, with – as in Corsica – some politics thrown in.

Even without ultras, rivalry between footer teams takes on absurd aspects. I love the fact that sometimes Liverpool are my favourite English team and sometimes Manchester United, which is a bit like somebody saying sometimes they support Celtic and sometimes Rangers.

For, in England, the two largely proletarian, north-west English teams hate each other with a passion. You’d think there’d be more to unite than divide them. Typical of the poor solidarity of the lower classes, Man United fans taunt Liverpool supporters about their alleged greater poverty, changing their anthem from “walk on” to “sign on”. Disgraceful.

My allegiance to Liverpool was strong when I was a boy, though it weakened when I actually went to see the team in the 1970s and, as if to prove the stereotype, had my wallet purloined.

In the north-east of England, the rivalry between Sunderland and Newcastle is said to rival that between Celtic and Rangers, without the spiritual dimension.

Away from football, more generally, you find ridiculous rivalries between small communities a few miles apart. This is perhaps particularly pronounced on islands. Though not privy to attitudes where I live currently, I was once more embedded in an island community where the capital and the second largest community a few miles away entertained deep suspicions and prejudices about one another.

In addition, the north of the island accused the south of practising cannibalism, while the south accused the north of being virtually vegan.

Back to football, I must acknowledge the intense rivalry between Hibs, my own team, which is largely followed by poets and intellectuals, and Hearts, who have more support among satanists.

And yet when Hibs fans organised aid for Ukraine, Hearts fans chipped in with a generous donation. This moving and humane gesture showed that, when it comes to the really important matters of life, rivalry is as easily cast aside as a cloak or duffel coat.

Arguably, there is more to the western world than Hibs and Hearts, and as a whole it has come together pleasingly in opposition to Putin’s evil nutterism. This gives us hope for the future. It’s just a pity that it takes big rivalry, culminating in war, to make small rivalry look ridiculous.

Pie? Aye!

NOW they’re telling us to eat the Norse diet to lose weight. This supposedly consists of fish, berries, whole grains, seeds, nuts and rapeseed oil.

It’s also said such a diet can lower cholesterol and cut the risk of heart disease and stroke. Can it, aye?

As it happened, I inadvertently followed such a diet for years, with no effect on blood pressure or cholesterol. Then, recently, I spent some time in hospital attached to a drip, after suffering a kidney stone and associated infection. So, when I got out I consulted Dr Google, and found some people – I stress some – saying nuts, seeds and berries are bad for kidney stones. Cannae win.

Interestingly, or arguably otherwise, while ill, I didn’t eat for nearly three days, and how much weight did I lose? Correct: none. Mind you, I didn’t expend any energy either.

Recently, I’ve discovered excellent Scotch pies available locally, and have had one of these for lunch, with broon sauce, every day for nearly a fortnight. Never felt better (though that might just be the endorphins).

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