Dateline, Madrid, Spain.Anyway you slice it, the future looks bright
for Paul Allen, the octopus made famous for his World Cup soccer
predictions. Yes, he has a surname.
Spain's victory over the Netherlands last weekend capped off a string
of successful prognostications for the unlikely oracle. And with his
days as fortune-teller behind him, Paul is happily set to retire behind
his pane of glass at Sea Life in Oberhausen, Germany. His keepers seem
intent on ensuring that the world is his oyster, providing him with a
lifetime supply of fresh mussels, ample shade, and stimulation -- he's
even been awarded his very own replica of the World Cup. In short,
everything a celebrated clairvoyant cephalapod could want, within easy
And if some of his
countrymen continue to harbour a grudge against him for picking Spain
over Germany in advance of their semi-final match, well, it's no skin
off his beak. Despite numerous death threats -- which typically make
references to marinades and deep-fryers -- Paul is well-insulated from
insults and injury in his aquarium home.
But if life is simply wunderbar in Oberhausen, it's nada next to la vida
that could await him in Spain. That's the suggestion, anyway, from a
zoo in Madrid, that says it's willing to sink any other offer to acquire
Paul. A spokesperson for the Spanish facility said it is prepared to
meet any and all demands necessary to complete the transfer. Whatever
the cost, be it an exchange of animals, or money, or both, he predicted
that Paul would arrive in the Spanish capital within days.
Paul's German keepers have since emphasized they've had no contact with
Madrid's Zoo aquarium, and Paul is not for sale.
course, where any of Paul's three hearts lie in all of this is
impossible to tell -- perhaps even for Paul himself. Did he have a hand,
or a tentacle -- or up to eight even -- in Spain's winning the Cup? Did
his forecast in turn assure the team's victory? And by the same token,
Germany's -- and ultimately the Netherlands' -- defeat? Does it even
matter, now that he's retired?
doesn't all the love -- or hate -- professed for this professed
prophetic mollusk do disservice to the skill and hard work of the human
players, who ultimately determined the outcome of the games?
suppose, just for a moment, that Paul was capable of presaging the
fates of the teams at the World Cup. Is it not an insult to his legacy
to suggest that as a psychic, he was anything but pure and impartial? To
imply that he might somehow be petitioned, with promises or prayer, to
favour one team for another?
If he was a genuine medium, then he wasn't a manipulator. Because the medium is the message. And nothing but.