Monday, February 22, 2010

The Sporting Life

Writing as a sofa spud, it occurs to me that sport is attracting less of my attention every year. I’m now becoming more satisfied with the odd glimpse of colliding bodies on the highlights shown on the television “news” programmes.

I cannot remember the last time I sat and watched an entire rugby game, beginning to bloody end, or even went to a one-day cricket match (once my one true love of live sport).

A lot of my flagging interest has come about, of course, by the fact that watching sport on the tele has become difficult and / or expensive. So much is now shown only on satellite TV, which is out of our budget, that I have been forced to replace sport-watching with a different leisure-time pursuit.

Naturally, I have opted for the manly endeavour of reading poetry.

I cannot, for the life of me, write poetry. I have neither the skill not the aptitude. I read Shakespeare’s sonnets, and marvel at his casually perfect placement of words – much like Ewan Chatsfield’s metronomic placement of a cricket ball, frustrating and teasing the batsmen into making an error: usually an error exploited by the Hadlee boy.

I am about to go and look for Walt Whitman, and the ever-worthy Wordsworth. Poetry may never become a spectator event, but it certainly can be spectacular.

Speaking of sports: 18 tries in one footy match? I can understand a game in which one team scores 9 tries… but not one which sees both teams score that number. Usually, if you let nine ball-carriers over your try-line, you’re being beaten to within an inch of your life. I wish I’d seen it: to see two teams that are so strong on attack, and so weak of DEE-fence (as our American second-cousins say) must have provided a comical spectacle.

And major thumbs-up to the Phoenix. A soccer game, with a crowd of 25,000+, in New Zealand? Old Satan must be wondering about the blizzards in Hades right about now.

And a cautious “on ya, boys” to the Black Sticks, for their fortitude in proceeding with their World cup attendance. Logic tells me they’re doing the right thing. If my son were one of them, though, I’d be shitting myself.

READING: Bernard Cornwell's latest, "The Burning Land". Anyone who knows my bookshelves will know I am a great B. Cornwell fan. This marks the first occasion he's released a book and I haven't gone and bought it. Yep, it's a library copy, and I've been waiting 5 months for it.

LISTENING TO: Led Zeppelin, "Mothership". The boys were all right.

TODAY'S WORD. Patience. Waiting five months for a book??! And you tell me I got no patience??! Hah! Bumbug!


Twenty times stronger than steel, the strand of web could cope with the sudden shocks of the shots as they reverberated through the rifle's frame.
His body had settled into the day's work. He was spot-welded to the rifle, and his concentration was total. He was in that zone of existence when it seemed as though time itself had slowed down, marching through the day like a river of cold molasses. Decisions that should take a week's thought we remade in less than an instant. He could identify his targets, anticipate their movements, decide on whether to fire or not, and have a fresh round in his rifle's breech before he knew what he was doing. He could stay in this state of utter concentration for up to a half-hour before his body started protesting. He'd then put down his rifle, stretch, drink some water, and pick up the rifle again.
Movement. An officer: he recognised the sleeve markings. He sighted more quickly than he could think, pulled the trigger, and sent a bullet through the men's wrist, effectively amputating the hand.
Another German who wouldn't be back at the front line for months, if ever. Arthur had been at his station for less than twenty minutes, and he'd already done a good day's work.
Arthur Tomlinson had been a sniper on the Western Front for four months, and had, to date, killed a huge number of rats, and crippled 97 German officers. His great secret would stand for another day: he was yet to kill a man. It was his aim to never do so, and Arthur always hit the target he aimed at.


  1. I'm a huge Cornwell fan myself. I just finished Sword Song, so I need to go out and buy Burning Land with a gift card I have. What's your favorite series by him?

  2. I think the Arthur trilogy: he tells the tale well, and treats Lancelot, that scurvy bastard, with the contempt he deserves.
    But I started a zillion years ago with Sharpe and Harper, and have trudged across India, Portugal, and Spain - and then into France with them. A never-ending story, it seems.
    The man does give good battle, doesn't he?