26 June 2008

Women and Sport and Dinner is in the Dog

Sometimes spoken responses come back to haunt you. I can clearly recall during the final televised match of the English Premier league Julie asking me if that was the end of the football for the season. I innocently, but foolishly said that it was, thinking that I would not have that much interest in the European Championships given that the ‘home nations’ had not qualified. It was therefore with some relief in May that Julie looked forward to a few months of football-free TV. No more battles of wills about who would watch their programme on the other telly downstairs. No more late nights in the bar in the house keeping the kids awake as me and my mates watched football matches last until midnight. The problem is that the European Championships have become interesting.

Men will always find a way to relate to a football team to justify why they should watch a particular game even if there is no overriding reason why they should. I hate Chelsea so I think it’s normal that I should watch their games. Similarly with Germany. I shout for the Turks because my neighbour Tan is Turkish Cypriot. I watch Italy because an ex-Glasgow Rangers player is in their team. Any old excuse really !

And then there is the cricket. And Wimbledon of course.

My point is that I don’t have any real hobbies. People think I love gardening and it’s a hobby but it’s not – I do it because it NEEDS TO BE DONE ! I don’t fly paragliders. I don’t spend hours cleaning and lavishing attention on my Alfa Romeo. I don’t even fish any more. I used to take flying lessons but the guy ran off with my money so I gave that up. I don’t really do anything so therefore I think it reasonable to sit down and watch a sporting battle and just relax.

So we come to yesterday. There I was planting, weeding and doing various other boring jobs in the garden when a thought struck me. ‘Wasn’t there a cricket match on the telly’ ? England vs New Zealand – the fourth match and the score was one each – it should be a good game. Gardening tools were cast aside and I sat down to watch it – after all it was 85 degrees outside – nobody should be out in that heat.

Well the game was pretty boring I have to report right up until England ran out a New Zealand batsman who happened to be lying on the grass having been flattened by the English bowler. England very unsportingly took advantage of the situation and looked to be heading for an unlikely and undeserved victory. There were 2 overs to go (about 10 minutes) and the game was at a critical stage. The NZ team were snarling after England’s very unsporting gesture and England had decided that a ‘win at all costs mentality’ was the correct attitude in this situation. It was tense.

Then a cry came from the kitchen ( I would say a screech but you might get confused with the Magpies). Julie wanted help with dinner. Now what is difficult about cooking spaghetti with tomato sauce and some breaded veal ? I popped my head round the door to say I’d be 5 minutes. Ten minutes later there was definitely a screech from the kitchen demanding my assistance. Luckily the game had just finished but again in a hugely controversial way but I decided to prolong my marriage and headed into the kitchen to help. I will not describe the mess (this is a subject for another blog posting) but I helped as best I could and we sat down outside on the terrace to eat. The kids were obviously looking for a fight and Julie was still wondering why there was so much sport on telly when I made a very unfortunate comment. I said, ‘this spaghetti is not cooked’ !

In a flash my plate of spaghetti and breaded veal was picked up and thrown over the terrace wall onto the drive below narrowly missing the car which Guy had spent all afternoon cleaning. Shadow headed off to have a tasty meal (for him) whilst I wondered about the wisdom of commenting on my wife’s cooking. Remember poor Geoffrey Palmer in that sit-com Butterflies ? Whenever he said anything about his wife’s terrible cooking, the plate was removed and he went hungry. Guy was also becoming stroppy at this stage shouting louder than Julie or I were and in a fit of pique threw a kitchen roll at me which struck me squarely in the chest. Being Glaswegian I could not let this go and threw a large glass of iced water all over him. Guy picked up the jug of iced water and tried to throw it over me but missed and hit the cats who were looking for any morsels of my now long gone dinner. We then all collapsed into fits of laughter – problem solved !

Later that evening I came into the lounge to find the family sitting contentedly on the sofa watching the start of what I knew to be a very funny film. As I sat down to join them Julie said without a trace of irony – ‘there a football match on the other side – don’t you want to watch it downstairs’ ?

One just cannot win.

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