Yesterday was the kind of day that keeps kicking you to the floor, every time you get up. It started with a room-to-room battle with our two younger children after we discovered that the promises that their football kit was ready for the morning were actually not entire true – or more accurately, not true at all.
An hour later – after a thirty mile journey into the back of beyond, we arrived at the first of two muddy fields on windswept hilltops – because of course it wouldn’t be as simple as both children playing football in the same place. While I was dropped off with Miss 12, Miss 11 continued on with her Mum (and the car, and the money) to another football ground a few miles away.
Everything was going fine as the rest of the team arrived – right up until I realised that I was the only Dad that had turned up in support of our team *at all*. Normally this would be fine, and I made conversation with the three Mums that seemed to have transported the entire rest of the team between them. But then our 12 year old ran up to me with a big smile, shouting “I told the coach you can be the linesman”.
Here’s the thing. I hardly ever watch football (soccer, to those in the US wondering what on earth I’m about to talk about). I of course know that what the linesman does, and I know the off-side rule, but there’s one thing the linesman does that completely blew my tiny little mind. When something happens, you have to raise the flag to one side or the other – in the direction of the team who are going to kick or throw the ball next. It just so happens I have spent the last few years watching Rugby matches – and the flags are thrown in the OPPOSITE direction. So guess who spent half his time trying to make sure he threw flags in the right direction…
If anything, running up and down the touchline like a lumbering giant kept me warm. It was a bitterly cold morning. It probably didn’t help that our team got absolutely thrashed, and that my daughter (who is the goalie) let 6 goals through. On her way off the pitch at the end she was almost in tears. But then something really quite extraordinary happened – the whole team ran up and hugged her – telling her how well she had done. Suddenly tears turned to a smile, and she actually felt like part of the team, rather than the one that gets the blame.
After returning home from football, throwing the kids in the direction of the shower and bath, and racing from chore to chore around the house, I headed off to the nearest big town with Miss 12 to buy her new rugby boots (yes, she plays football, rugby, and hockey – it’s a bit insane – she’s also in rehearsals for her school production of Grease). Of course the rugby boots turned into new boots, new socks, new hoodie, new leggings, and all sorts of other things. Girls are a law unto themselves when they take their Dad shopping.
After getting home again, and racing to get a few more chores done, I finally escaped to a friend’s house for a long-planned night of beer, pizza, and video games. He lives about fifteen minutes walk away.
I think I managed to get through about five pints of beer in the end. I also shocked everybody present with the results of a mis-spent youth playing video games. My friend had bought a new car racing game which looked spectacular, and I insisted it would be more fun if we turned all the realism options on. I still have a moment burned into my memory of a co-worker’s car cartwheeling along the track, showering bits and pieces of itself in all directions while the rest of us roared with laughter. Everybody laughed at everybody, until I discovered the Monaco track was in the game, and set off around it in some sort of idiotically powerful car. For the single lap I managed to concentrate for there was almost silence in the room – and then of course the affects of several pints of beer kicked in, and that was the end of that.
I think I finally got home at midnight, and woke this morning with little or no ill-effects from drinking. Let’s chalk that one up to blind-luck.
And no, I won’t be buying a Playstation 4, or the video game we all played last night, because quite apart from being able to afford a new video game machine, when on earth would I find time to play it ?