Waterloo is often said to have been won on the playing fields of Eton, a line attributed to the Duke of Wellington that he almost certainly never uttered. He did say, however, it would be impossible to record an entirely accurate chronology of his “nearest-run thing“, as a publisher begged him to do, because any such effort would be as hopeless an undertaking as that confronting a social chronicler who set out to record the minute-by-minute history of a ball in which whirling revellers constantly changed partners and spirited dalliances unfolded unseen in darker corners. In this the Iron Duke was clearly in error, as the past 202 years have brought have brought countless re-tellings of the great battle, many of them very accurate indeed — even when the author’s chief objective has been to produce a bodice ripper in the empire-gown style.
Still, Wellington can still serve a purpose in providing metaphors that capture the essence of the great offensives of our day and age. Take the weightlifter pictured above, for example, who has just shattered four records and “made history”, to quote the New Zealand Herald, by hoisting a combined total of 268kg — a rather impressive 19kg better than silver medallist Iuniarra Sipaia of Samoa. After five paragraphs of adulatory prose, we learn
Hubbard’s selection was a considered a pioneering moment in sport for the LBGT community. Further ground could yet be broken, with tonight’s performance in Melbourne expected to go a long way to securing Hubbard’s place in the team for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next year.
Ms Hubbard, who now calls herself Laurel, first competed under her birth name, Gavin, until re-assigning her gender some three decades later. That might strike some as unfair, but not the International Olympic Committee, which has determined that any competitor who transitions “from male to female must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 [nanomoles per litre] for at least 12 months prior to her first competition”.
So bet on Ms Hubbard to be the short-odds favourite when she represents her country next year, as seems likely. And if she does go on to take the gold two things will need be kept in mind.
First, if you think Ms Hubbard enjoys a significant advantage in having spent her formative years flush with the hormones that produce masculine musculature, do not under any circumstances disclose which brand of beer you favour, as that may prompt a boycott by those who, while they may or may not not have switched genders, most certainly have elevated a screeching bitchiness to the prime and most obvious component of their characters.
And second, drive from your mind another of the Duke’s aphorisms, one for which there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever about its provenance.
Full details of Ms Hubbard’s great victory on the front lines of the gender revolution can be read in full via the link below.
— roger franklin