Writing On Literature

  • Bad workmen blame their tools. In South Africa there have been three major goalkeeping howlers after four days of matches.  England, Algeria and Paraguay have all seen their keepers bamboozled by what most people would think was a familiar sight to the man in goal: an approaching round object known as a ball. Apparently the official 2010 World Cup ball, the 'Jabulani',  deviates unpredictably in the air.   Some have blamed the manufacture, others the effect of altitude at some of the South African stadiums.  A football is not a technologically tricksy idea.  There is only so much that can go wrong, and most people have rightly assumed that the complaining goalkeepers have other 'issues'.  Like not being very good at keeping goal.  Or

    Jun 15,
  • As a sportsman, I am a member of the ' -y' family.  I'm related to Straussy and Backy.  In our small sub-species, Homo Olympiens, there are three primary families.  We are joined by the '-o' family (Wilko, Johnno) and the '-ers' family (Aggers, Athers). We get along famously, because these sporting nicknames are names stripped down.  They are names in the dressing room in their jockstraps.  They're no respecters of names.   On the team-sheet nobody escapes - the system is automatic and egalitarian, and amid the mud and studs everyone is quickly allocated to one of the families. The same does not happen in individual sports.  One of the horrors of golf coverage on the TV is the smarmy use of first names -

    Nov 09,
  • I'm trying to find out about the new place I've come to live.  One way is to walk about.  I've done a bit of that.  There's also jogging.  I'm now a familiar sight along the Thames, tripping over mooring lines and dodging courting couples.  Courting doesn't involve much talking these days, it seems, and you can do most of it with your eyes shut.  The Thames on a summer evening is the longest Lover's Lane in England, with boys and girls in their late teenage taking another last chance to grow older without regrets. For the broader view, I've also taken to my bike, and yesterday I rode from Slough to Oxford.  Somewhere outside Henley I took a detour into

    Aug 31,
  • Choke Chain In the absence of James Campbell’s formidable memory, a view of College sport over the last sixty years becomes dependent on the club pages of the Pembroke Gazette. Fortunately, at least in its sports section, the little blue book can be made to yield to statistical analysis. Since 1945 in all sports except rowing, as recorded in the Gazette, Pembroke has managed outright Championship or Cuppers wins on thirty occasions. I include the unbeaten cricket season of 1947, even though that year’s cricket team professed themselves ‘free from the anxieties of competitions.’ Nevertheless. Over a sixty year period the maths couldn’t be easier: we have a habit of being the best in at least one University sport about

    Jun 26,
  •   From Esquire, Jan 2007 So why do the Australians enjoy seeing us grovel? In the Australian Book of Life, the British drop them in it.  One way they can climb back out again is by smashing England at cricket.  In the twentieth century this ambition was occasionally thwarted, sometimes by individual genius (Dennis Compton and Ian Botham), at others by brutal acts of pre-meditated cheating (the Bodyline series). In the 1990’s, however, the Australians finally achieved outright dominance in the Ashes.  They then triumphed in two Rugby World Cups, consecutive Cricket World Cups, and the Davis Cup.  Lleyton Hewitt won Wimbledon, and between 1991 and 2000 Australia were world champions in 12 team and 21 individual sports, including eight-ball

    Jan 12,