COLM O'REGAN: Opening lines

SUCCESSION: it can be a positive word; a mixture of succeed and session.

Yet, depending on the circumstances, succession may also lead to bad ‘cess’.

The first truly ‘world war’ was the War of the Spanish Succession, fought in the early 18th century; it lasted 19 years with 58 battles across three continents. By the time it was over, Spain lost half its European territory, France was bankrupt and England had become Britain.

Obviously, it’s ludicrous to infer from this that new Man Utd manager David Moyes will necessarily have a catastrophic time.

It’s equally fanciful to suggest that Commander Chris Hadfield’s successor Pavel Vinogradov will precipitate the world’s first space war; however, succession is a tricky business and must be handled carefully.

Moyes is in the enviable position of having scooped one of the biggest jobs in football, but he is also very much overshadowed by his predecessor.

He is like a flat screen TV replacing an old Grundig that “we had for ages and ages, never gave a bit of trouble and we’re only getting rid of it because of that oul Saorview”. Regardless of what he does, he will be treated with the suspicion that they don’t make stuff to last any more. And he has to try and get some sort of adaptor to connect with a troublesome and possible obsolete Playstation (Wayne Rooney).

Vinogradov — whose name means wine-taster in Russian (ok, I made that up) — faces a different challenge. No one is doubting his technical ability; he has already commanded the International Space Station on previous occasions. Moreover, recent photographs show him to have a moustache at least as good as Chris Hadfield’s.

Nevertheless, he has big shoes to fill. Hadfield amassed 700,000 followers on Twitter, who were enthralled by his pictures of their homeplaces from space. His version of Bowie’s Space Oddity has accumulated more than 10m YouTube hits. Some people think he invented space travel.

The new commander doesn’t appear to be a social networking buff. There are a number of Pavel Vinogradovs on Twitter, one says he’s 22 and likes table tennis and another is a body builder who once had his photo taken with a pet tiger. Neither has a serviceable moustache.

Commander Vinogradov has been on the ISS since March. He was probably doing all the work while yer man was strumming his guitar and having the craic. With the whole world watching, now is a good opportunity for the new man to set out his stall. Set up a Twitter account and send one message “Ye can shag off if ye think I’m going to be making videos. I’ve enough to be doing.”

Or maybe he’ll surprise us all. He might create the first space panto, hit the first zero-atmosphere sliotar or show the world how hard it is to eat a kebab in space.

Let’s wish him every success.


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