Monday, 16 July 2012

It's not the taking part that counts...

Yesterday I reluctantly decided to support my son's decision to be outside (YES! without a small screen inches from his eyes!) and went to join in a family game of football in the back garden. Football is not a sport I excel at. Or even know much about. I was secretly praying for the rains to come...would you believe it! They didn't!

None of my family are very good at football, but we are competitive. There is no way I was going to let my husband win if I could help it.

My son decided on the goals: ours was a fence panel; my husband and daughter aimed for 'the wall between the windows'. My heart lost a beat every time they attempted a shot at goal.

My husband would get the ball, then my daughter would shout, 'Pass!' and tackle it from him. We had to explain that 'passing' meant actually kicking the ball to another player.

Due to an extremely muddy walk with the dog earlier on I only had my best shoes to wear. I slipped and slid all around inside them. Occasionally I could co-ordinate enough to kick the ball, though usually to a rather grateful husband rather than my teammate son.

Well, the game ended when my latest husband's tackle (grabbing my arm and holding me back) meant I fell to the ground in agony, having strained some muscle in my shoulder. That's not where you're supposed to get injuries in a football game, is it?

Never mind. Whilst I was lying on the grass in extreme pain my son took the ball and scored repeated goals against our fence panel. So we won!

And that's what counts, right?

Monday, 9 July 2012

The problem with an excellent education

Many moons ago I had the privilege of studying O-level (that's to date me!) English Literature. I'm not sure the exam board were thinking totally straight when they chose the volumes to be read. I think their thinking went like this:

We need 5 books.

Poetry. Let's go classical and choose some narrative verse. Ah, here's a book [with extremely small print] that will do, choosing eight [lengthy] poems from it.

A classic novel. I know, we could choose Dickens or Austen, but lets go for something from the Brontë sisters [after all, we were in Yorkshire!] Jane Eyre? Wuthering Heights? Oh, nothing so classic or well known as that - let's set The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Ann Brontë .

Shakespeare. Of course we have to do one of his plays... but let's not choose anything obvious, such as Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, The Tempest... oh no! Let's do a history play. Henry IV. Part I.

And the final two? Perhaps something more contemporary? Something that'll please a bunch of teenage boys? [I'm not sure it did, btw!] Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household: that's World War II based adventure.

And the final choice? Thomas Telford by LTC Rolt.

You may have spotted my cynicism slipping through my description of their choice. I may be the only person who got truly excited that Henry IV Part I was to be screened last Saturday night, only for the Wimbledon Men's Doubles to overtake it! But this last book really took the biscuit. It was the ultimate insult. For a teenager (particularly a girl?) this was the most boring book in the entire universe. It chronicled TT's life and engineering prowess: the Great Western train line, Ironbridge, the canals... in all their detail, with dimensions and structural information, and a splash of historical setting.

Five books that I have carried around with me ever since studying them, clogging up more removal vans than I can count.

Yet now, as I come to write about our canal holiday and the wonderful design of the Shropshire Union Canal, I'd like to have a flick through and learn a little more about the man who built it and the men who laboured at it. The canal largely avoided the need for locks by the creation of numerous embankments and cuttings, changing the landscape forever. Nowadays, covered with mature trees, you wouldn't know it had been anything different.

"Ah!" I think, "I have a book about that!"

Can't find it. Grrrrrr.

Photo credit:  Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston in Henry IV: Part 1 Photo: BBC

Monday, 2 July 2012

Rush hour traffic

There is no doubt that I have lots of words inside me; but at moments, like rush-hour traffic at the mouth of a tunnel, they jam. 

John Updike, writer (1932-2009) 

Thanks to AWAD for this quote last week. It is how I feel about writing and - in particular - this blog at present. It is all so jammed up inside me that it isn't coming out, or at least in nothing more than a trickle. 

Maybe today will be different. There are always new leaves to turn, resolutions to uphold and  good intentions to enact, leading me away from that paved road to hell. Maybe.

Then again, I had this great idea this morning of not snacking between meals but have already opened the cookie jar. *Sigh* Sometimes I just can't get beyond first base, stuck in the traffic of life.
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