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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Outside the comfort zone

Grandson Zach's life revolves round soccer. I'd never seen him play in an official game since my life revolves centrifugally away from soccer. Yesterday VR and I made an almost fatal decision to rectify this omission.

Fatal in that we risked our lives. Theoretically it wasn't all that cold (6 deg C) but the wind stripped us of all body heat and then seemed set to separate the flesh from our bones. I watched Zach anxiously as the colouring departed from his face, leaving only his nose and the area round his lips a healthy pink.

At half-time I photographed him in case one or all of us didn't make it to full-time. I haven't captured the colours terribly well but there's compensation in Zach's monomaniacal stare as he waits for the second half to start. If his teammate, Euan, (on the right) looks less uncomfortable it's because he's only just been brought on, having spent the first half suitably anoraked.

The events of the game matched the meteorological heroics. The pitch sloped alarmingly and Zach's team initially played uphill. At half-time they were 3 - 1 down. Downhill they showed their class and won 7 - 3. Zach was easily the smallest player yet he was playing defence ("Because he tackles," said his Mum, Occasional Speeder). He showed no interest in wind chill.

We returned home where the central heating was roaring and there was soup (shredded ham with peas), bacon sandwiches, and, for those of an age, the remainder of the cooking brandy.


  1. Your final paragraph completely sums up my attitude to all team games. I will steer well clear of all of them (spectating or playing), but the warmth, comfort, good food and drink - I'll take them all please!
    Paired games like tennis, snooker and chess I enjoy though.

  2. I have slight empathy, it's been -20C here regularly since Christmas, and we're due a foot of snow tonight and tomorrow. The North Atlantic, while harrowing to ride, serves you land-lubbers as an eider down quilt. It's Super Sunday here in the States, so team sports avoidance requires switching from passive to active mode. I'll probably wallow in more IOM TT docu. films. No controversy about under-inflated balls on the IOM

  3. As I remember it weather plays an enormous part in teenage football. Dry pitches were hard and aided the fleet of foot. Soggy pitches helped those with strength and stamina. Rain required sheer bloody minded determination. Judging by the score line, Zack's team has got all three of the above in abundance.

  4. Avus: I took things a stage further. Paired sports where I played against my lesser self, with Nature providing a neutral environment. Thus rock-climbing, ski-ing and swimming contre le montre. Plus a tiny bit of golf. I was never a team man, journalism doesn't encourage it. Nor did I care for sport or games which ended in some form of artificial arithmetic known colloquially as "a score". Since I was equally insufferable whether I lost or, much more rarely, won, solitude was indicated.

    MikeM: Yes, you must have thought me a wimp at a mere 6 deg C. I have of course endured Pennsylvania winters which combined cruelly with a driveway gradient of 1 in 1 at my last residence in Pittsburgh. I have watched Super Bowls here in the UK but my tolerance for commercial breaks has withered over the years despite the fact that I now have a remote with a Mute button. Also the times are unfavorable. An hour before I read your comment I read a Guardian preview which dwelt on the nationwide anti-Patriot backlash. Tom Brady being regarded as something of a parody of the all-American boy.

    I shall now check with Google to see whether the score means anything at all to me: no it doesn't though I do have a sentimental attachment to Seattle (Boston too for that matter) and have seen the Mariners play in their gigantic stadium. Or should I say I saw tiny dots move to and fro and was reliably informed they were the Mariners and that the game they were playing was baseball.

    American football tends to be thought of as a blood sport but, as you hint, it's a walk in the park compared with the IoM TT.

    Lucas: The other team (Quedgeley Wanderers if it helps) seemed all-conquering during the first half and their average height was significantly taller. Playing uphill they seemed to shrink, visibly, and rarely got within shooting distance. I found that the cold interfered with the hinge action of my lower jaw and made speech difficult. My brain too, probably.