How Much to Distract a Writer?

I’m trying to write. No really. Seriously. Don’t look at me like that. I know it may not look like it but, inside this lump of bone, plots are being sketched by my gelatinous gloop of neurons, characters developed and moved around by neurotransmitters and synapses are firing with story arcs. Oh that was close! No, I can multitask. (I can’t, no one can, of any gender, they just do everything badly) I mean it’s only football isn’t it?

I don’t even like football and its 10 o’clock in the morning for goodness sake, but my son (let’s blame him, he can’t argue on here) has put Switzerland vs Cameroon on the television. I’m like a cat with a ball of string, it knows it can’t eat it but it still can’t ignore that prey response. Moving object plus thin dangly bit behind equals mouse, never mind it smells wrong doesn’t squeak and tastes horrible. I don’t know what mice taste like by the way but my cat seems to like them, at least the faces which appears to be the bit he eats mostly.

I like rugby union, well I did before the changes in the game to accommodate professionalism moved it increasingly towards a low attention span game, like rugby league or basketball. But football never got me. Or I never got it. Being sent off at school from flattening my mate who kept going past me probably started the rot. Frustrating. When I went to senior school and was introduced to a game that positively encouraged knocking down people with the ball, I was a lot happier.

I still played a bit of football, training for rugby, work five asides, kickabouts with mates, that sort of thing but my heart was never in it. The most fun I had was with my son in the park playing football, long after I had given up rugby, but that had a different vibe to it altogether. He’s my son; I’d have done synchronised swimming if he’d been into that.

But World Cups bring out something else, and the sheer unpredictability of what is supposed to be a bit of a breeze for the big teams in the group stages has been intriguing this year. Saudi beating Argentina saw me doing triple takes when my son told me, and I confess I reached for the internet to check it wasn’t a massive windup.

Rugby seldom does that. Occasionally in the past a team few had heard of like Western Samoa emerged to cause an upset, it felt like usually to Wales. Think what the whole of Samoa would do boys! Well we found out and it wasn’t pretty. Unfortunately for Samoa, economics kicked in with the professionalisation of the game and Samoa is back to being an also ran team as the rest of the rugby world pits its South Sea Islanders against everyone else’s South Sea Islanders. Can’t blame Samoans, Fijians and Tongans for wanting to exchange physical prowess for family security but the diaspora has shown vividly what happens when Capitalism drives labour migration. Teams like Cote d’Ivoire in the past and Portugal coming up may entertain for a game or two but mostly you fear for their safety and a repetition of Max Brito’s horrendous injuries in the 1995 World Cup.

But I shouldn’t be bothered about rugby or football. I’m supposed to be writing about an eighteenth century retired British Army officer pompously recounting his memoirs in comedic fashion. Maradonna’s ‘hand of God’ aka cheating bastard handball is going to be difficult to work convincingly into that narrative. Although cheats and chancers abound in eighteenth century military affairs.

Distraction is easy at the best of times, but wall to wall football seems to be impossible to ignore. It’s that rolling ball effect that snags the cat’s attention. People running, chasing a little rolling object seem impossible to ignore. I like watching Wales, sort of, though why they only played for half a match last time out defeated me. They are on again at 1000 tomorrow but there are four games televised between now and then.

It will be the nineteenth century by the time I return to the comedy Battle of Minden at this rate.

Hey ho, what’s the score?

About $229Billion. Billion! At the last count. That’s a lot of dosh to distract a writer of an homage to Brigadier Gerard.


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