Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sport talk – 'the language of those with nothing to say.' Discuss.

Now, that might sound a little bit harsh and, if the truth be known, it probably is, but being one of those people who, for whatever reason – I can't think of anything specific – doesn't particularly like 'sport' (and I've put the word in inverted commas because I mean all sport) it's a subject worthy of discussion.

Gooners – another name for Arsenal supporters
Fortunately, I'm not alone. Phil appears to feel the same way, although he started the conversation going by asking me if I'd been watching the golf. In all honesty, no, I hadn't been watching it because if there's one thing in this world I can't stand (there's more than one thing) it's watching sport. I'm simply not interested. Although, having said that, I'd picked up snippets of information about the golf (currently playing out in the USA at Augusta, but don't ask me the name of the tournament, I don't know, although it might be called The Masters) and I'd picked up that the guy in front was called Jordan Speith and the current runner up somebody called Justin, possibly Justin Rose. So I made the big mistake that all sports-hating people make when confronted with the question 'did you watch the [enter name of sport]' and brought into play the names of Jordan and Justin. Immediately I sounded as if I knew what I was talking about, part of the clan no less! Had it not been Phil who had asked the question I might have been forced to brazen it out by saying something phoney, like, "Yeah, I reckon Speith will go the whole way, just look at the way he's playing, he's at the top of his game." Pure, utter bullshit, but when you're 'talking sport', especially if you're a bloke (and let's face it, 'blokes' are supposed to talk about sport. We're supposed to be sick with sport us blokes) a sentence like that will get you out of jail free, but the problem arises if the person who asked the original question, "Did you watch the...?" comes back with something that requires a little bit more knowledge. In which case you can't beat a bit of history. Delve deep, mind, as, you're now in the thick of it and the only other alternative is to say something like, "Oh, bollocks! Listen, I know fuck all about golf, I can't stand it, don't try and hold a conversation with me about golf!" So, go for the historical approach, "For me, Jacklin's the best golfer I've had the pleasure of watching. Remember that hole-in-one?" The truth is, I do remember the hole-in-one, but at what tournament, what year, I couldn't begin to tell you.

Fortunately, I didn't have to go through any of this because Phil admitted that while he had been watching a bit of the golf at Augusta, he too wasn't really a sportaholic, much to my relief. But what is it about sport lovers? Oddly, I've never heard a woman engage another woman with the phrase, "Did you catch any of the [add sport of your choice] last night?" Perhaps it's because women are quite comfortable in their own skin and don't necessarily feel the need to enter into a challenging conversation of any kind, unlike 'blokes'. Sport, Phil said, was the language of those with nothing to say, and I know just what he means. Men feel they have to engage their fellow man in boring, shallow 'did you catch the rugby last night?" conversations just for the sake, perhaps, of not having to endure an awkward silence. Bring on the awkward silence, that's what I say. Bring it on! For a lot of men their entire conversational repertoire is based on bullshit-based sports chat and some men seem to know a lot of it: they know all about every team in the Premiership, the personalities, the goals, the name of the ground, "Good result at Loftus Road, the Gooners will be celebrating tonight." What? Loftus Road? The Gooners? Isn't that something to do with Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers? Or was that The Goons? The Gooners? If somebody said that to me in a lift I'd think they were crazy. "Sorry, where's Loftus Road? Who are the Gooners? Are you mad? Somebody call the police!" And the most refreshing response would be, "No, not mad, just a little sad. In all honesty, I'd rather give you the impression that I 'know my sport' rather than just bid you good morning and comment on the weather." How refreshing, but no, it would never happen. And my expected response to the Loftus road comment is supposed to be, "Yeah! Amazing result." In fact, knowing nothing about football and having no desire to know anything about it, that would be a good retort as I would know now that the Gooners (who are they?) are celebrating so they can't have lost and I'm giving my adversary the impression that I might be a Gooner myself. Result! He might then provide the score, "Yeah, 4-1, brilliant." To which all I need to say is, "Yeah, nice one!" and then move on to another subject – or hope and pray that whoever started the conversation has reached his floor and exits the lift.

And the thing that's really annoying is that people who are 'sick with sport' – remember Radio 1's Andy Peebles? – seem to be ruling the roost... and the airwaves! They've gone and given Clare fucking Balding her own sports-related chat show! As if Sue Barker's A Question of Sport isn't enough!

And then, of course, there's cycling. The fact that I ride a bike leads loads of people to think that I'm a cyclist! I must be up there with Bradley Wiggins, they think, and I must, of course, don Lycra and those awful luminous orange shoes and ride a sleek racing bike with dropped bars and I must take a keen interest in the Tour de France and be saddened by the antics of Lance Armstrong. Look, get it straight: I never watch the Tour de France or any other cycling event, I have no sporting aspirations where cycling is concerned OTHER than reaching my destination with enough time to spare to enjoy a slice of cake or a biscuit and definitely a cup of tea. I care nothing for 'precious grams' either – I just like riding my bike in the fresh air and sitting with Phil and Andy and whoever else might tag along and talking rubbish for half an hour. Period! Nothing more! Hopefully it keeps me fitter than I would otherwise be if I didn't ride out every weekend.

I could go on and on about this subject, but I won't. Instead, I'll refer you to something I prepared earlier, an article all about 'the beautiful game' – now there's a contradiction in terms. Anyway, check out this link, hell, just click here, for the article in question.

To the Tatsfield Churchyard – for a healthy breakfast!
This weekend involved just one ride. Saturday, Andy planned to ride to Brighton but instead rode to a pub on the outskirts of town and then cycled back (53 miles in total). I should have gone out alone, but I dithered, as I'm prone to do when I have no motivation to go out. The annoying thing is that had I gone out at 0700hrs and riden to Botley Hill I would have been home before it started to rain. But no, I didn't go out and I resigned myself to getting no exercise until Sunday when Phil joined me and we rode to Warlingham Green to meet Andy.

Forest fruits, natural yoghurt and granola...lovely!
Phil normally brings sausage sandwiches with him, which are always much appreciated, and if it's not sausage sandwiches it might be a Bakewell tart or a Christmas cake, but today he bucked the trend completely and brought something healthy, but kept us in suspense until we reached our destination, the Tatsfield Churchyard. The surprise? Well, not sausage sandwiches and nothing remotely similar. Phil brought out four dishes followed by natural yoghurt, forest fruits and granola... and it was fantastic! Another 'respective is due' for Phil!

The weather was fantastic, as was yesterday's. Saturday saw just one burst of rain around 0915hrs but then there was sunshine. This morning was very pleasant too and as the day wore on the sun shone brightly even if there was a cool, occasionally blustery breeze. The weather people are saying our weather is going to rival Spain.

The churchyard is on a hill and is quite high up so there was the odd chilly moment this morning but, by and large, it was pleasant and so was the ride and it was all made a lot better by Phil's breakfast, Andy's Belvita biscuits and, of course, my flask of hot water and accompanying Twinings teabags.

A good ride was had by all and we're all together again next Saturday, weather permitting.

L to R: Matt, Phil and Andy at the churchyard

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