For an Octopus that had the world at its many feet, Paul will do very well for himself if he survives the cooking pot, there are loads of people who want him in there – head, feet, suction cups and all. And who’s to protect him? What if a crazed Dutch fan decided to take a harpoon to him at the Sea Life in Oberhausen where he lies submerged in his world of water, mollusks, flags and near-accurate predictions?
Even though, he’s probably more famous than Angela Merkel herself, his security apparatus would scarcely be up to the standards that the German Chancellor herself is eligible for. And for a centre that makes money out of selling deep-sea attractions to tourists, getting that sort of sophisticated private security is not just impossible, it’s a shallow ambition.
However, looking at the brighter side of things where Paul survives any dastardly attempts on his life and continues to wallow in the milk of human kindness, hoping that the world can block it out of its collective short-term memory, it’s not a bad idea to contemplate what lies ahead. Even though his biological clock may be running out of time what if he predicts something that annoys his adopted countrymen once again? What if they seriously start considering him as an evil omen that was cast upon them by the British? If that happens, its possible that some rich German auto magnate might end up offering to buy him at an impossible price so that he can take the pride of place on his dinner table. It’s money and in times of recession with the euro crisis biting really hard, Sea Life might just be tempted to let go of him. The Spanish, considering how lucky he has been for them, might even give him asylum, but is he smart enough to apply? Picking food out of a box is definitely simpler than filling in the paperwork and walking all the way to the embassy. Besides, what’s the guarantee that the Spanish won’t mix him with their paella, if his prognostic abilities go against them?
What Paul really needs is a retirement plan with benefits thrown in. Think about it, if only Paul had a Facebook and a Twitter account and a smart publicist like Max Clifford. He could have his own website where he would dole out his prophecies for a price – from forecasting the gender of a forthcoming child to who could win the next season of American Idol. His tweets would garner him an unparalleled following and his own Facebook page (he has one right now that has probably been created by an impersonator with over 8000 fans), which could make him more popular than the Pope himself. And if he ever recruited the services of an Octo-whisperer, he could write his own autobiography. Only a fool would doubt it’s potential as the single most popular bestseller of all times. The intellectuals could be left frothing at the mouth if the book goes on to win the Pulitzer, or even the Nobel Prize for literature, but celebs would give up anything, including their lives, to be photographed with him in his watery abode.
A film deal worth millions is not impossible either and Paul would be assured of his royalties and pots of appearance money if he decided to go on a global tour. Huge crowds will greet him everywhere he goes and the hype generated as a result would probably be greater than let’s say if the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley had ever decided to tour together. For the technologically-savvy, Paul the Octopus’ skills could easily be integrated with a mobile application that allows people to get a prediction at the touch of a button – the downloads alone would make a fortune, or even a video game in the mould of EyePet, where players could outfit Paul in different clothes, or interact with him using trampolines and bubble machines, etc. Toy makers too could make a squeeze-me-now product that children, even adults would love to wrap their hands around.
The possibilities are endless, just that Paul does not have too much time on his hands, barely two years, if he’s lucky – most of his type don’t live beyond five-six years and he’s already done four. First, he needs to relocate to a place where there’s no real demand for Octopus, well-done, medium or rare. Secondly, he needs to be in a country, where emotion over a silly game does not spill out into the streets, and his life does not depend on a Jabulani rolling over the white line into an extra large fishnet. Having said that, he won’t survive a return to the sea – his predators will get him anyway, and a life of anonymity won’t suit him.
Somebody may have to point out to him, but the United Arab Emirates with its large expatriate population might just be most suitable of alternatives to migrate to. It is also a place that boasts some of the world’s biggest attractions, and since Paul easily qualifies as one, he would be at home here. More importantly he will have company, if he decides to be moved into those giant aquariums that they have here complete with all forms of marine life. He will have his friends and we will have our prophecies. So will it rain today Paul?