Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sporty Things

Just who is Jay Spearing?

I happen to know that he is a twenty-year-old Midfield Player for Liverpool, who came on for the last half hour of their match against Real Madrid last Wednesday, and played really well. I know, because at breakfast the next morning, this heartwarming snippet – this giving a chance to new talent – was the bit of George’s Match Debrief that caught my attention and made me smile.

George is a passionate Liverpool fan. Hence, soon after we met, he took me to watch a match; they were playing Stoke, I think - somewhere beginning with ‘S’ anyway. As it was my first ever live match, I determined to concentrate very hard and amaze George with my astute comments.

I was busy concentrating when everyone around me suddenly leapt up cheering and waving. Oh hell! - how had they scored so sneakily? And no replay…

Do you like sport? I like sporty things if they make me laugh; for instance, Cancanning on the mini-trampoline; sploshing about in the sea with an inflatable of some ilk (dinghy, dolphin, waterwings…)

At school, I was strangely good at Netball; in spite of being height-impeded, I could leap up to the net like one of those hunky seven-foot basketball players. And, of course, you could grasp the ball, whereas in Hockey you had to try and hit it with the end of a stick longer than I was.

In Hockey I was also horribly hampered by moving schools half way through the first year. I had learnt the Bully Off chant in a sort of slow motion: “Ground… Sticks… Ground… Sticks… Ground… Sticks… AWAaaaay!” - then the one paying most attention would solidly thwack the ball and set the game off in her favoured direction. At this new school they bullied off so fast, they’d scored before I’d even recognised the instructions.

Worse than that, the six months of growing that everyone else had had since buying their hockey shorts, meant theirs were trendy micro-minis; mine were a draughty tribute to Baden-Powell.

So sports lessons for me and other like-mindeds were generally a time to hide in the loos and compare scant notes on boys and eyeshadow. In post-school years I decided to try being sporty with Badminton; although this involved the tricky hitting-with-appendage, the target at least sailed through the air at a more gentle rate than a Tennis or (heaven forfend) a Squash ball...

Sadly, it it didn’t sail slowly enough for me, and I never graduated from Beginners’ Courses (in spite of taking three sets of them). But I wasn’t the only one. And we Put Our All into those games, hurtling desperately after the shuttlecock, shrieking “Good Shot!” whenever it made it over the net, and retiring to the bar afterwards to discuss our performance.

Definitely a cause for hilarity.

26 comments:

Expat said...

Liverpool, is it? George must have been very happy yesteday, then. Me, I've been a Man. U fan since forever....follow their matches via live blogs on my computer when I can.

I was very sporty in school, played hockey for the Second XI. I was right wing....short but fast. We wore very ladylike "divided skirts"!!! Did the 60 yard hurdles, too (I think it wa 60). Not much good at netball though, I'm afraid.

One thing I don't understand is how folks can strap on those skinny planks and swish hell for leather down snowy mountains. Apres ski is more my style.

Did you live in Liverpool? We lived in Southport for a couple of years when we first maried. John was working for a company that was building something at the Seaforth Dock. I fondly remember eating snails for the first time at the Adelphi Hotel.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Oh dear, Chris - you must have greatly suffered yesterday as a Man U fan. Yes, George was indeed Ecstatic!

He did have some formative years in Liverpool, and I know Southport pretty well. Dad gave my brother driving practice along that vast empty beach.

Skiing - splendid if the snow is soft and fluffy. George and I used to go a lot to Italy & France. Such convivial holidays with après-ski sleigh rides, toboganning & general jollities...

Canary said...

Such delightful reminiscences, Dolores! And yours, Expat!

At the age of nine, whilst out walking in Regent’s Park with my mother, I’d watched a group of young men – a rugby team in a training session. It was the first time I’d seen a rugby ball, and for me it was love at first sight. Gosh, how I wanted to play! To catch the ball, tuck it under my forearm, and speed away on a bewildering, swerving run that left opponents clutching at thin air! Exhilarating!

My mother was aware (bless her!), and on our subsequent walks through the park to watch that team she gradually let it dawn on me that there was a way in which I could play the game at my next school - by passing my 11+, and being accepted at a particular grammar school – the only one in my catchment area that focused exclusively on rugby.

Well, I became a swot for a year, aided by my mother, who (bless her, bless her!) paid for private maths tuition for me out of her tiny wage. She spent hours in the evenings testing me on my homework. I passed the exam! And I did well enough at interview to be accepted into the school!

Years later, after I’d become school rugby captain, played for Middlesex, North of the Thames, London Counties and South-East England, I played for South England in a final English trial. I didn’t get an England cap, but that was never in my mother’s sights.

She’d steered me on my path to University. That had been HER dream all along....

Expat said...

CI, you have mentioned your mother before and she sounds like a wonderful woman.

What is it they say about rugby...a hooligans game played by gentlemen?

(My other half was a rugby player too.)

Hockey could get pretty violent, you know. I looked innocent but I was lethal with the Indian Head. Sneaky, as well. That's why they call it Bully Off.

Canary said...

Oh, and a HUGELY important, bring-him-back-down-to-earth message for George.

Man U are 4 points ahead in the Premier League with a game in hand! Nuff said...

Canary said...

Hello, Expat! It's the second time we've been on-line at the same time!

Lethal and sneaky sounds like right up my street! Man U? Apres-ski? Two more things we have in common!

Expat said...

Yes, Man U. (Sorry George)since the sixties. Every trip home I am tasked with buying the latest strip for grown son and grandson.

Apres-ski...much more civilised that actually doing the athletic thing. You can't break bones lifting a glass...well, not too often.

Canary said...

Hello Expat!

Early in my career, I was asked to help in a European sales drive - by driving (yes, driving a car) through just about every country in Europe. My passenger was a sales executive and the car was loaded with the latest computer memory systems that we were trying to sell.

After many madcap adventures, we rested for a weekend in Davos in Switzerland. We didn't ski, but tasted the delights of Apres-Ski. Brilliant!

On the Monday morning, we headed uphill through the snow and ice on our way to Italy. It was tortuous. The wheels spun, we slithered and skidded, and we were overtaken (with huge avoiding-care) by several other cars whose tyres were thoughtfully wrapped in snow chains.

Shortly before reaching the summit, I decided to give up and fit our own snow chains onto our tyres. So I pulled into a car park, jacked up the car and started work. There were several other cars jacked up around us, with people also working on their snow chains.

I'd just finished fitting the chains, when one of the other cars pulled away, with the passengers waving and laughing at me. They had been busy REMOVING their snow chains!

We left the car park soon afterwards, reached the top of the mountain, and found ourselves driving downhill on snow-chains in warm sunshine on snow-free cobbled streets. At the next village, the occupants of the car ahead of us had pre-warned the inhabitants of our imminent arrival. They were lining the streets, waving and laughing, as we clattered along WITH MUCH NOISE at 2 miles an hour. It was totally humiliating!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hello you two - How splendid you were synchronised!

Canary - Congatulations on your Rugby prowess! I've never had a go, but the Grabbing aspect appeals to me.

I used to go out with a rugby player - he was always coming home plastered with gashes and stitches. (He wore them bravely).

What a Fiendish suggestion about ManU! George is Well Aware - I know, because his reports are Extremely detailed.

Expat, I can just imagine you being the devil of the hockey field! What's an "Indian Head"

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hello again - I hadn't quite finished wittering & it went without me.

What IS an Indian Head here, though - a type of stick or a cunning move, perhaps?

And, Canary - loved your Chains story!

Canary said...

So you BOTH know about rugby players!

I once, and only once, played in an exhibition "FUN" game against an all-female side. It was the only time I played in a game in which my side lost by more than 50 points, with all of our forwards put out of action by female tackles which involved a single-minded and totally ruthless attack on our tackles....

Dolores Doolittle said...

Good heavens, Canary, what a fearsome band, those females - and all for Fun!

Hope you're feeling better now...

Expat said...

Hello Dolores. When I first started playing hockey the head of the stick (the bit that you hit the ball with) was about five inches or so long. Then out came a new stick with a short stubby head favored in India. Hence Indian head. It was much better for flicking the ball over one's opponent stick. I am a (very) few years older than you, so the old sticks may have disappeard by the time you started to play.

CI, you brought back memories of a "friendly" that my team played against the boy's grammar school. They did not fare at all well either! Hockey sticks and boys' ankles...just made for each other.

We won handsomely, of course.

Oh, and I can still sing a bawdy rugby song or two....

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi Expat - Now you've explained it, I remember both types of Stick-End - fascinating!

I obviously went to an inadequate place of learning though - we never got to confront the Opposite Variety on the pitch, like you and Canary.

Oh, the joy of Rugby Songs in one's youth! It was somehow so liberating to be able to belt out foul words that sounded so harmlessly jaunty...

Canary said...

So we are agreed that females are the more deadly of the species (and the males are by far the more chivalrous)....?

Dolores Doolittle said...

Yes, Canary, we can be pretty damn Toxic, us females. So keep that armour nice and shiny, please, and watch where you're putting that lance...

Canary said...

Yes Dolores, but being a knight in shiny armour is so confusing.
I never know if I should give a Gal-a-head, or Lance-a-lot….

Dolores Doolittle said...

Good heavens, Canary! And you really wouldn't want to get them mixed up

Expat said...

That Canary! Always straight to the point!

i have been engrossed this weekend transcribing handwritten (and not very legible)letters written to his daughter in 1935 by the man who founded the company that's my primary client. He was travelling all over the USA at the time (at 68 years old) promoting his business and visiting job sites. They (the letters)are fascinating.

This research is for a book I am working on about the company history. Being paid by the hour....lovely!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Expat,what a marvellous and hugely rewarding task! Letters of old are certainly fascinating, and this man evidently led an exciting life.

Loads of Luck with it. I guess you can't divulge his company or amazing secrets - when d'you think it will be ready for publication?

expat said...

End of 2010. It will be distributed in 2011 to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the company's incorporation, although the founder actually opened the doors for his first business in 1888!

That business led to him inventing a wellpoint for draining waterlogged soils in the construction business...and the rest is history.

He was a prolific inventor and I found around 20 patents, dating back to the late 1900s on line. the illustrtions are incredible.

The company is called Moretrench. this is my second book for them. the first was a technical tome. this one's much more fun!

expat said...

make that late 1800s!

Dolores Doolittle said...

"Successful projects begin beneath the surface, both literally and figuratively".

A rousing conviction, and one I intend to adopt should a project arise! (googled Moretrench - Great old photos too).

Your particular project sounds wonderfully fascinating, Expat. I suppose there are many exciting phases before actual publication - please keep us informed!

Canary said...

Hello Expat!

I've been googling Moretrench too - and I see the company is exceptionally proud of its literature. But then, that's hardly surprising with you being a contributor!

PS. Any chance of a derriere-size lightweight ground-cooling (not freezing) device for sunbathers? The sands here get very hot in summer!

farming-frenchstyle said...

Didn't like sport at school, until the birth of my kids I was build for comfort not speed! Did alot of horseriding though.

We support various teams - OH Arsenal (sorry The Arsenal), me Leicester City, Thomas Man U, Louise Leeds United (well someone has to) and Laura Arsenal too (because it has arse in it, says she!). Of course there's also Leicester Tigers rugby team. We've even gone to Paris to watch them since living in France.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi farming-frenchstyle!

Crikey - you Are a family of footie fans.

I've just been taken toe-by-toe through Liverpool vs Man U on vid. Forgotten when the match was, but I think George will keep the tape for Some Time because of Liverpool's gratifying win.
(It gratified him, anyway).

Think I might have grasped the Offside Rule though at last...

How are things in your new home?