At junior school I was told to write up netball match reviews. Was this a reflection of my superior writing skills or, more likely, my lack of sporting prowess? At senior school my PE teacher asked why I ruined the game. I have no idea, to this day, what the hell she was going on about. I thought I’d given it my all. Being in the last few to be picked could have been an itty bitty clue.
I am still to fathom why, but in late teens my forensic friend and I both had sporty boyfriends. After their nagging, once a week the two of us would don tracksuits and tie up our hair. For a couple of hours we would sit, in McDonalds, and drink coffee. Well, where else can you go in that get up? Now much older and wiser, I’ve given up the pretence: my chest is too large to make running anything other than painful; my pathological fear of putting my head under water makes swimming difficult; and my near-zero-hand-eye co-ordination excludes all ball sports. Marching with the dog, (or dancing as if no-one is watching, no matter who is) is all I can do exercise-wise. And I’m happy with that.
All sports confound me. No space exists in my brain for off-side rules or the numerous leagues and divisions or why some games are really, really crucial. I hear match chatter and wonder where was I when everyone else learnt this alien-speak? Why is it necessary to speak in tongues about a bleeding game! This week’s headlines said the England football captain had been playing away. How exactly is that news?
Peculiarly I live with lovers of sports. Teengirl’s hand is mended and she returned to rugby; Georgeous boy plays football and rugby; the little-un squash and athetics. Plus they all have PE twice a week. This makes for an awful lot of sports laundry. As if I don’t have enough already! And boots. Nasty, muddy, stinking, boots. Georgeous boy knows my limited sporting knowledge and conned me into buying studs, moulds and astro footy boots. All absolutely essential says he. Mug that I am!
‘How was footy training?’ I ask this week, more from politeness than interest. ‘We were doing long balls’ he replied. ‘Why aren’t you playing with round balls anymore?’ Bless him, he even attempted an explanation!
He taps away at his blackberry and shouts random sports results and other game details. Conversation at mealtimes revolves around game reviews and who should have done what, where and when. I try to contribute: today I ask why do the Welsh rugby team wear green socks which don’t match their red tops?’ Cue much eye rolling.
I bought protective sheets for the car. They remain, neatly folded, in the boot. As well as sports laundry and boot cleaning (when boots are cleaned, the surrounding area is not) we now have to free the cars of mud as well. Some mothers suggest letting the mud on kits dry, then brush before washing. Live Dangerously! If they don’t come out clean first time, bung them in again with the next lot I say. The next lot, unfortunately, is never that far away.
Yer man (for better, for worse) is off to Spain tomorrow for a week’s work (or the life of riley depending on your view point). So I'm cheerleading solo. Tomorrow the boy has a 1pm kick off in east London. At roughly the same time Teengirl has a match in Letchworth, (somewhere North of London I believe). I make no claims of special powers and simply cannot be in two places at once. Weighing it up the boy wins – his is a cup match, Teengirl’s is only a training game. The little-un and I will thermally wrap ourselves in all the clothes we own, ready for touchline cheering/freezing. I will try my best to keep my eye on the ball. I will not lose myself in cloud formations or mentally stock take the contents of my freezer, or wonder whether I’ve been enough of a Strictly Mommy this week, or some other detail of dull domestic drudgery. Then, when my lid and the ball touch I will see it and take note, and be able to re-live it on the journey home before facing more laundry and defrosting of our bodies.
This is the life hey?