Of the forty-four Hands
By Simon Barget
For aeons there was believed to be only one Hand of God. But there was also a time where the pre-Socratics held that all matter was earth, wind and fire. In the late sixteenth century, a quiet abbot from Perugia, Gianbattisto Cansaldo, speculated, and later proved, in a monumental and wide-ranging treatise, that the Hands of God numbered forty-four, which proof has stood to this day. It is not for me to repeat or adumbrate the proof itself, it is more than tiresomely known to a select few, and on the others could get as much hold as a blade of grass on a breeze. Maybe for that reason few are enlightened. Maybe the complication puts them off the scent. It is a complex algebra encompassing set theory, various refined number sequences and hours of whirling like a Dervish. What is, or should be, of greater interest to speculators, fliers of fancy, boffins and amateur philologists is the actual location of the Hands. For anyone who can acquire, either by luck or excision, one of the much-vaunted protruberances, well such man could be capable of anything.
Recently a well-known footballer has departed this earth, I should not need to remind you of this fact. Yet despite quite plain and obvious declarations from mainstream media, unambiguous and unironic pronouncements that this man was in possession of one of the Hands, few people have been willing to take notice. Perhaps it is slightly misleading to say these declarations are clear. They are at least clear to me. But laughable is the contention by a few outspoken members of the 1986 English team, which is not so much even a contention but far more of a slur if it were not so misguided, so devoid of context, so far off the mark -- for the contention as far as plain words is concerned is not false, or perhaps at least contested -- that the hand used to propel the ball was human. And how indicative of the sheer ignorance of such finger-pointers that they have and had no idea that really propelling the ball was one of the forty-four hands.
As if it wasn’t good enough for such truth just to exist, to glow, to be left smouldering, the holder itself, a certain Diego Armando Maradona, was recorded on camera responding to the Archduke of English TV football presentation, Gary Lineker’s forthright and plainly delivered English-expressed question: Was it your hand or the hand of God?:-
‘IT IS NOT THE HAND OF GOD BUT A HAND..’
thus helpfully correcting any misapprehension on behalf of the doubters. The answer was spoken in his local creole Argentinian Spanish, a Spanish of which I’m fond to this day. It is florid and can be misunderstood.
Subsequently, and to avoid outrage or even nationwide civil disobedience, the answer was rushed off and translated as an acknowledgement of the player’s guilt after all those years, an apology of sorts but yet to make the man seem more humane an excuse that such ball-handling happened all the time on the streets of Villa Fiorito in his boyhood years. In short, the English voice-over dolefully concedes:
‘It was my hand.’
Perhaps even an ornate double-bluff, an ironic meta tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment that the BBC knew all along. I very much doubt it.
No person batted an eyelid. No English viewer versed in some pidgin Spanish, no Argentinian native who must have come across the clip (as the man was so high-profile), not one person picked up on the fact that the words had been twisted. The Argentinians I know never mentioned it, and I can only speculate that they were so taken up by the general aesthetic, this noxious sentiment that so often clouds up the zeitgeist, the one that attributes semi-god-like status to men of abilities in relation to whom the attributors find themselves unable to divine the provenance of such abilities, either out of short-sightedness or laziness, that is to say where they came from, that they failed to see he was flatly claiming to have one of the Hands.
They failed to see the BBC’s lies.
The man died yesterday and may he lay in a blissful sleep. May the Hand return without fault to its maker. But what about this terrible myopia, and what of the other Hands? There have been sightings in the brushland beyond Chennai, a female tiger, seventeen years old, of whose divinity of hand the locals have no shred of doubt. They have simply seen it with their eyes. Reports have come in from Australia, other parts of the south-eastern Pacific, but the question remains, why are so few in the West even remotely aware of the Hands? Why do we not take things as read? Why do we have to read so much in to what we’re told, put on our own perverse gloss, just because it suits us? I should say ‘them’ because I am not from your country. Why should everything have to fulfil and conform to one man’s absurd projection, flight of fancy? This is a sad state of affairs.