Today Boston, tomorrow all over

About the author
Dominic Hilton was a commissioning editor, columnist and diarist for openDemocracy from 2001-05.

Suddenly, just like that, out of the blue, with no real warning, anything is possible.

Anything, fellow pugilists! Anything!

How do I know? Because on Wednesday night, 27 October 2004, beneath a blood–red lunar eclipse, the Boston Red Sox won baseball’s World Series.

I repeat: the Boston Red Sox won the World Series.

Yes, I know it sounds silly. I appreciate you don’t quite believe me. You suspect I’m doing one of those annoyingly–close–to–the–truth jokes again. But trust me, ball fans, I’m not making this up. This really happened. Really.

“I’m willing to make a wager: if the Red Sox win the Fall Classic, John Kerry will be the forty–fourth president of the United States.”

I wrote this line last week. I sincerely hope I was off–beam. I don’t mean to fuss, but I’ve got a stack of cash riding on Bush. Not as much as Halliburton and Bechtel, of course, but enough for a meagre columnist with a frightening proclivity for vintage Jags.

John Kerry, a man whose love for the Olde Towne Team knows no opportunistic bounds, popped up at a rally in Ohio sporting an agreeably discoloured Red Sox cap. “We’re on our way, we’re on our way!” he declared, mentally picking out curtains for the Lincoln bedroom.

Two things postponed my flight to Rio. First, Kerry singled out “Manny Ortiz” as his favourite player – a slugger whose contribution to Boston’s unfeasible feat was marred only by the fact that he doesn’t exist.

Second, placards reading “Red Sox Fans For Bush” started doing the rounds of the president’s stuck–record stump speeches.

Thank heaven! All (my money) may not be lost.

Nevertheless, fascinating as my lifelong gambling affliction is to you miserable smut punters, for once my personal issues are beside the point. The point, as I said last week, is that something bigger is in play. Bigger than baseball. Bigger than Bush vs Kerry. Bigger even than my Barclaycard bill.

“Suddenly, all things seem possible,” Samantha Power, Pulitzer–prize winning Harvard–based author of “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” told the New York Times.

“For ordinary people who sort of thought ‘maybe I’ll never get that promotion,’ maybe they think now anything can happen. I feel more ambitious and more encouraged about things other than the Red Sox because of this sense that things can be turned around. Maybe we can make America a moral force in the world, maybe we can stop genocide. For those of us who live with lost causes, it’s a very inspiring perspective shift.”

Stop the press! An end to genocide because the BoSox reversed the curse? What next? A cure for TB? A man on the moon? Me finding a way to pay off Barclaycard?

Everyone’s feeling a little heady. At 94 years of age, Bob Dylan is rumoured to be dusting off his harmonica and planning to re–release “The Times they are a–Changin’” as an urban dancehall track. The so–called “global justice movement” is changing its slogan from “Another World is Possible” to “Come on, We Haven’t got all Day, You Know? We’ve Got Jobs to Go to. Chop–Chop, Comrades!”

“There’s a crack in Calvinism now,” says Leslie Epstein, highbrow novelist mother of now legendary Red Sox general manger Theo Epstein.

And folks, when Calvinism cracks, you just know in your wallet we’re in for a whole lotta bother!

As the Red Sox clinched their first world title since 1918, a gushing Boston Globe perfectly captured the mood: “AT LAST! Pigs can fly, hell is frozen, the slipper finally fits, and Impossible Dreams really can come true.”

Ah, Impossible Dreams. Capital ‘I’. Capital ‘D’. Boy, have I had a few of those. Last night I dreamt I ate a good meal on an airline.

Now that’s impossible!

But who knows? Perhaps Professor Power is on to something. Maybe now the Sox have lifted the hex, I’ll find my freeze–packaged transatlantic beef bourguignon tastes noticeably different to the fish pie? Miracles, my best sources tell me, can happen. Especially if you fly first class.

Iraq might now become a peaceful democratic haven. Ditto the European Union. China may soon transform into a beacon of human rights. An African country might not have a coup for a couple of weeks – really, who knows? America and France, allies. A McDonalds meal, the healthy option.

The possibilities, when you start squeezing them into a column space, are limitless!

And believe me, this stuff matters. In the circles of squares within which I prowl, the question “So, waddya reckon, is the world roughly moving in the right sort of direction or what?” dominates the casual urbane banter of sophisticated email discussion–groups.

Most people, I’m sorry to say, think the world is heading either for annihilation or Armageddon – or both. But thanks to the spread of McDonalds salads options, Vanilla Coke and my column, a small but attractively wealthy minority perceive the world as visibly improving by the hour. The remaining goofs, I hardly need note, have difficulty moving beyond the subject of Star Trek.

I tell you, if there’s a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, or a ray of hope beaming from the Starship Enterprise, the vast stinking mass of us will seize on it like ravenous vultures on an ailing legionnaire.

And what I’m offering here is hope, for a ludicrously negligible sum, probably tax–deductible.

Meanwhile, if it’s real revolution you’re after, you’ll have to wait ‘til the Cubs or the White Sox win the World Series.

Now that’ll be something!