Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sam Wallace: Madrid fantasy island brings dystopian satire into the Real world

In his 1998 novel England, England, Julian Barnes imagines a giant England theme park, the idea conceived by a ruthless, rich entrepreneur and based on the Isle of Wight. It encapsulates everything most commonly associated with the country – the royals, pubs, Robin Hood, cricket, Big Ben, imperialism – and sells itself to tourists, sparing them the inconvenience of having to visit the real thing.

 Eventually, the theme park becomes more important than England itself and assumes sovereign status while the original declines and depopulates. As you would expect from one of Britain's greatest living novelists, it encompasses some major themes, yet even Barnes' brilliant mind could not have imagined the central conceit of his novel would become, in a way, a precursor of reality.

 But then, few of us could have anticipated the breathtaking self-regard of Real Madrid, a club who for some years now have regarded success as simply something that can be bought. Thankfully, hilariously, the grand plans of their president, Florentino Perez, have largely been foiled by the unfortunate coincidence of them colliding with the greatest Barcelona team of all time.

So last week Perez rolled out the master plan. Welcome to Real Madrid Resort Island.

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