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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Generally, I don't like sport. I can see nothing remotely interesting in the subject.

I can think of nothing more boring than being made to watch some stupid game of football or cricket. That was what was expected of me when I was at school and it has remained like that into adulthood. We were forced into standing around on a Saturday afternoon watching these stupid idiots kicking a leather ball around in the mud, in the freezing cold and with a howling gale blowing. Surely, nothing was more likely to put me off sport forever than that. The school I went to in Bedford, the playing field was at the top of a hill, and to get to it you had to scramble up this hill in the mud and the cold, and the wind blew really cold from across the town and I suffered terribly with the cold as a child. I don’t particularly like being cold, nor do I like being covered in mud, nor do I enjoy being kicked in the shins or anywhere else for that matter. Then there was the trudge back to the school to get changed, in a smelly changing room, and having to sit and pick out the caked-on mud from the soles of your football books. Yuck!

Maybe it had something do with the fact that I was mildly dyslexic, which meant that reading, and in some cases writing, was jumbled up and round the wrong way. I think that at the time I was beginning my education, in the mid 1950’s, you had to conform to being right-handed. I can imagine that it was better to have all the children in a class the same, in this case, right handed- and a left-handed child would be a really nuisance and stand out like a sore thumb. (why is a sore thumb thought of as standing out? I really don’t know, but it seems odd, thinking about it.) I think I was really left-handed, and was forced into writing with my right hand. If that was the case, when it came to playing cricket I would have found using a bat really awkward if I was supposed to use my right hand and really would have done better with my left, or, kicking a football with my left instead of my right, foot. So I became really ham-fisted at anything sporty, and this didn’t exactly help my confidence. You’d be laughted at, and made fun of by teachers and other pupils at school. As a consequence of all this I was never selected for teams to play anything and was usually the last person to be chosen for whatever sport we were supposed to play when we had games.

I think, actually, I wasn’t technically dyslexic, as my problem was actually with numbers, and I was really poor at maths and anything to do with numbers. I still am, I think, to a degree. I can manage the basics of maths, adding up, subtraction, multiplication, but when it goes into the complex part, formulae, complicated calculations, and all that stuff, my mind simply can’t manage. Algebra might just as well have been a completely foreign language and I still can’t see the point of it. I think the term was actually dyscalculia. I was scared stiff of one teacher at school, who would get really angry with me, which didn’t exactly help. I was thought of as being naughty and had to sit at the back of the class, which didn’t exactly do much for my confidence.

Those particular souls who were brilliant at playing games were sort of heros, and those of us who were no good at these pursuits were made to look stupid in front of the rest of the school. I just wonder where those people are now, and what they are doing.

Another reason that sport was so boring was that I never understood the basic rules. Oh, yes, I learned from an early age that you had to kick the ball in the OPPOSITE net to score a goal, as the one and only goal I ever scored was in the WRONG net, which never made sense to me. I still can never fathom out the rules of cricket, what an innings was, how the scoring system worked, and why you were out when you were actually in, what Silly Mid On was, or L.B.W. and one-hundred-and one really pointless rules and regulations. Does it really bother me? Not really, as I have never felt I have missed out not knowing these basic things, but it would have been nice if some teacher at that wretched school that my parents insisted in sending me to had spent some time and effort to explain the rules.

I say I don’t like sport, which is true up to a certain degree. I did actually enjoy gym (or P.E.) despite the fact that the master in charge was something of a bully and rather a nasty, raving, loud-mouth. I did learn to climb a rope, jump over the pommel horse (or whatever it’s called.) and I did learn to swim, which was just as well, as my dad had several boats, and, as children, we weren’t allowed to go on them until we could swim properly. A good principal in case there was a possibility of these boats capsizing and we needed to abandon ship (which, fortunately, we never had to.) I do rather like field sports, and the Olympics I can’t wait for in 2012. But the thought of cricket and football in particular does nothing for me. Its also the fact that you’re expected to be a fan of football and want to talk endlessly about the latest match that was on television, and when that happens, because I’m not in the least bit interested, I just sit there and my mouth goes up and down and nothing comes out as I have no idea what they’re on about. I think it has something to do with having to BELONG to some sort of tribe, because that, initially, is what football is about, your team is about belonging to a tribe, it’s about belonging to a community of some sort, which I suppose in this age of marriage breakdown and families splitting up, is a good thing.

I can tell you one particular thing which puts me off sport and that's people who endlessly talk about football, making out that they're some sort of authority on the subject, and then ramble on and on as if you are interested in the subject. On television, when a bit game is shown, you have to endure hours and hours of experts sitting in a studio rambling on and on about 'The Game' (leading up to 'The Match', and once it's over you get another couple of hours of them disecting 'The Game' and droning on and on about it until you really get fed up with it. It never occurs to anyone, those executives in television companies who show this stuff that there just MIGHT be viewers out there who aren't in the least bit interested. Programme schedules have to be changed because a game goes into extra time, but does it matter that the rest of us, waiting for the next show to begin, don't matter that me miss our favourite show? Not a bit of it.
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