Wednesday, April 30, 2008


So this is what you been up to on your lap top, this is the reason for the inward smile, and the defiant stare, not to mention the finger pointing and sniggering I currently endure on my tours of the Parish. Well Mrs Smarty-Pants Soccermom, I’m gonna be doin a little bit of telling it like it is! First up, for someone so smart, if you want to keep this kind of thing to yourself don’t click the “remember my password” box…......... .........or did you do that on purpose? ...........….Hmmm .........
Stop Stop! There you go again, filling my head up with self-doubt. You’re all the same you ladies, you say one thing but mean the opposite. You tick a box, but should it be ticked or not? Oh good grief what am I saying? Look I haven’t been snooping; I went to close your laptop, moved the mouse and discovered you had not shut down correctly. Your soccermom “thing” was still displayed on the screen and I was drawn in; believe it or not, it’s the truth.

But as I’m here there are a few things that I would like to pick you up on. Firstly Dancing is not a sport, and Football is. It also happens to be very popular with a huge proportion of the Earth’s population and, surprisingly enough, is even played by ladies in some parts, although that does take some getting used to.

My involvement in football is not something that is negotiable. Both our son and I (and you and our daughter if the truth be known) get an awful lot out of playing and watching the game, it may make us come across a little one dimensional at times, but there you go, we are a simple sex, where yes means yes, and no means no.

The vast majority of our actions are well intentioned, any mishaps that may occur entirely due to getting caught up in the moment, or being too tired to think; wearing football boots around the house is a genuine oversight and not some anti female conspiracy cooked up as part of a football fathwa.

It is a simple black and white world for the footballing male, sometimes with your efforts to introduce your “shades of grey” you try and make us into something we are not, or are ever likely to be. Yes, I like a dance, a gentle jig with some waving of hands is fine now and then, but I am never going to be Anton Dubeck. Neither am I ever going to be that Scottish man on Dragons Den that you keep pointing out to me. I don’t have his ambition, ruthlessness or Scottish accent and never will, despite the huge heaps of turnips you pile on my plate, followed by a grilled Mars bar (just because you grill it rather than deep fry it, doesn’t make it a healthier option). I thought we had learnt our lesson from that disastrous six-month attempt to turn me into some Tom Selleck clone. I am what I am, and am determined to stay that way. I like my tea from Yorkshire free from any witchcraft or infusion. My tuna, I like in tins from Tesco, not fresh and cooked on something we used to know as a sandwich toaster plugged by some American ex boxer.
I will always go to bed on a pickled Onion, they do count as one of your “five a day” despite your insitence otherwise, as does a large glass of red wine.

I do take an interest in the garden, one of the chief worries of the forty something male is his lawn, and is a popular topic of conversation during the football close season. I am not the only male who cuts the grass in only his dressing gown, and neither am I the only forty something who goes to the shop in his slippers.

I don’t like American TV comedy, nothing can hold a candle to Porridge , Rising Damp or Ken Dodd, and neither do I see the point of films that make you cry. I do like films that are true stories and feature submarines somewhere in the plot, and "The Guns of Navarone"

I don't need "Healing" mentally or physically by some new age mystic, neither am I "damaged goods" in need of some form of psychobabble from an earnest young man on a sofa.
I am full to the brim spiritually with my weekly dose of "Songs of Praise" and the only inner soul that I feel a need to get in touch with are the odour-eaters that you keep putting in my trainers. I can't talk to trees or give them a hug, I can however, appreciate a well grown Leek.

I will never buy a candle that smells, or order something from a catalogue that I don’t particularly want. I don’t like to talk for the sake of talking, especially during sport shown on the TV, and will not wear shoes that are very shiny, very long and very pointy. I will not pay for a haircut, and am happy to wear clothes that I have had for many years. I am comfortably understated and always will be.

I do like football, I do like Cricket, I do like Gherkins, and pickles in general, but can appreciate the need to moderate my intake. I do like your support when we go to a match, and your inane comments about the game going on in front of you or sometimes behind you. I do like that the fact that you keep trying to get us to do new things and despite obviously finding me very trying continue to try. I don’t like it when you wear my football tops in bed, snuggling up to someone with Gerrard written across their back gives me strange “male dominated” dreams often ending with a nightmare scene in the shower. I much prefer snuggling up to you wearing far less and am willing to try and talk like Anton Dubeck or affect a Scottish accent, but not to go down the Tom Selleck route again.

We are both very different. Sometimes your way is right, sometimes my way is right, it would be very "Howard and Hilda" if we agreed on every single thing

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Shall we dance?

As I mentioned several weeks ago, I have booked myself and himself onto a course of Latin American dance. Held in a college hall of our local town, a small group of us are treated to wise counsel in all things Latin American, by tight trousered Guido, and his “tits and teeth” wife Stephanie. Now I have not been to a dance class since primary school, where I was mentally scarred when asked to portray a dancing light bulb in some bonkers amateurish production dreamt up by the loon of a teacher who happened to be taking the class.

I love to dance, and will willingly dance with anything that moves at parties, sometimes even my husband. Although the period when he is actually able to dance sensibly is all too brief, and is closely linked to the speed at which he is chucking wine down his neck, moving from a sober measured shuffling, to a slightly tipsy gentle shaking; a short five minute period where I think we may be getting somewhere follows, which is quickly overtaken by leery arm waving, an unbuttoning of the shirt and a fixed gaze at the nearest cleavage that happens to be on show. This lasts for roughly an hour before he announces that it is time for us to go home. I reply that I will be over after one more song and direct him to the nearest comfy chair where he will be fast asleep within a minute with his head rested up against one of the DJ’s speakers. I continue to dance well into the night, with whomever I want before carting him home.

It was with some form of marital reconciliation in mind that I had booked us onto this course of lessons; a shared interest, nothing to do with sport, an activity in which we would have to make physical contact with one another, and one that would keep us fit.
Husband was gently informed that trainers and football shirts were not suitable for dance, he must wear shoes that slide, and a shirt slashed partly to the navel. I would be wearing heels, an irksome item for Sir as they make me ever so slightly taller than him, tight black trousers and a flame red frilly open blouse revealing an eye-popping d├ęcolletage.

Arriving early, we crossed the road to a pub, where, despite being sited in such a hot bed of the dance world, where thirsty hoofers popping over for a pre dance livener must be a common sight, we drew admiring glances from all at the bar. After preventing my husband from making a getaway through the toilet window we crossed back to the college hall, to find the rest of the class already in place. Guido stunning in shiny black, Stephanie a vision in Fuchsia; the remainder of the class drab in sports gear, and at least ten years younger than ourselves, one way or another we were going to make an impression on this lot.
Today we were to start the Pasodoble, a lot slower than originally intended, but nevertheless a pucker pasodoble. Guido and Stephanie guided us through the steps, and then set us off to music. My husband was getting quite carried away by it all, the technicalities of the dance, the positioning of the feet, hands and back, the careful movement across the floor, it all had something of the dreaded football about it. After a short while Guido and Stephanie, who had been working with each couple, moved in our direction and started to add a little polish to our performance. Guido took me in his arms and began to take me through the next few steps of the piece, holding me close and tight with his leg thrust through my thighs, I could feel my performance reaching a crescendo, when a huge crash behind my head broke my Guido induced trance. All eyes in the room fell upon my husband grappling with Stephanie, as a defender would a striker at a corner, a lighting unit lay smashed on the ground, and my husband, stunned by the focus of attention meekly mouthing “I was never any good at twirling capes” Grabbing my bag and apologising to Guido we hastily left the room to start an argument in the car.
My husband explained that Stephanie had whispered in his ear something about being hung like a bull, and suggested he have a go at some teasing and twirling with the cape. He had backed away to do some solo cape twirling and taken out a lighting rig, all at Stephanie’s suggestion. Of course I didn’t believe him and accused him of not trying, he replied that dancing was for girls and if he wanted to do sport he would stick to football and cricket, and so it went on, finally resorting to a tis, tisn’t debate over whether dancing is a sport or not. As he ranted on, I drifted away at the wheel, fighting back mentally as I selected a football team entirely made up of dancers, who would beat any team he could put out on a football field. In goal I immediately selected Rudolph Nureyev, a man who could leap the width of the goal and tip the ball over with the greatest of elegance. The entire defensive line would be made up by the cast of Riverdance, linked at the arms kicking and flicking at any ball or player that came close to the eighteen-yard box. In central midfield I would couple the experience of Bruce Forsyth with high kicking Rosemary Ford. Babs from Pans People could do her best on the left of midfield and may even cause the opposition trouble with some unexpected moves that no one would see coming. The Christiano Ronaldo role on the right would be filled by the Lord of the Dance himself, and possible Lord of the stepover– Michael Flatley; while the striking partnership of Ricky Gervais in his MC Hammer role and bad boy Brendan Cole, would give any defence problems. Fabio Capello look-alike - Lionel Blair would manage the side, Angela Rippon as assistant, Anton Dubeck would provide emergency back up on the bench, alongside the boogey babies. I would be Chief Executive with Irene Cara as my technical director. Side selected, my husbands rage had moved away from football, and was directed at what he called the smug grin on my face, putting it down to Guido being a little too “hands on” during the Paso.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Reiki referee

A few weeks ago, my son’s team were drawn to play a cup game against a team from another league in a distant part of the county. They had never before played against this side, let alone visited the ground. This of course throws up all manner of new obstacles to be surmounted by my son and husband. Endless nights worrying about the colour of the opposition’s strip, what formation they are likely to play and on what standard of pitch. Several hours of searching the internet will throw up a series of past results, these will be printed off, and the two of them will pore over the stats like two old crones reading runes, in an attempt to second guess the quality of the team they are about to face. On the night before the game the standard routine of counting carbs and the correct hours of sleep was undertaken and a detailed plan of how to get to the ground, integrated with contingencies covering everything from road works to meteor strike en route.

Meeting the rest of the team, at the appointed hour before the birds are up, we followed a very straight road half way across the county for twenty five minutes, eventually taking one left turn to arrive at the ground several hours before the opposition.

After an hour or so, the home team began to arrive, and searching the faces for a kindred soul who may share my disinterest in football, I recognised one of the Dads entering the changing rooms, a tall thin man, full head of hair and possibly a little older than me. My thoughts invaded by my anxious husband banging on the car window shouting “I’ve forgotten the bloody cones” Climbing out of the car, I berated my stupid husband, who was by this time doing little hopping movements from foot to foot, and suggested that he would have to use the items in the boot that we were going to recycle on the way home. Realising he had no choice, he set off to warm up his charges in squares and oblongs set out with plastic margarine tubs, various wine bottles and cereal packets; The opposition groundsman, charging across from his shed to give him a lecture on litter and the youth of today.

Eventually the teams lined up for kick off, and I noticed that the man who I had earlier recognised was refereeing the match. And in a flash it came to me, the way he seemed to glide across the ground, the bringing together of his hands after every decision made, the all round peacable air that he bought to the game of football, this man was a Reiki man. Many years ago, during what my husband witheringly terms "my second new age phase rising" , I had attended a Reiki class in a nearby town. This man was the Reiki master - third dan no less, and what an effect he had on this game of football.

Reiki is touted as the simplest form of natural healing, positive energy is transmitted through the hands, and simply by shaking hands with each player and parent before the game he bought every person there into his Reiki bubble. Not one decision was questioned, or hardly a foul commited. He moved among the players, oozing positive universal life energy, spreading his divine wisdom and instilling the virtues of the five principles of Reiki, which from memory are, Don’t get cross, don’t worry, don’t tell lies, count your blessings and be kind to every creature (except spiders and crabs) The game moved serenely through to half time with no goals, hardly a tackle, and very little for any one to take issue with or comment on.

My husband, much to his later embarrassment, had been completely initiated by the referee, and instead of a half time team talk was informing his team of the need for each and everyone of them to find their own unique vibrational tone, by humming loudly, and to put their shorts on inside out to try and bring some balance to their Chakras.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first. The opposition goalkeeper fell to the ground as he walked into the goal post in a daze, only to be swiftly resurrected after some skilful laying on of hands by the Reiki master. The game progressed with very little action, every tackle was met with the shaking of hands, every shot or save with a pat on the back; the referee reinforcing the harmony with regular clasps of his hands. With two minutes to go, and with neither my husband or his team seemingly bothered about the result, the game took a dramatic turn. Suddenly the opposition were charging up the pitch with the ball, full of intent and aggression. A ball crossed into the box was met by my son, who, with a head full of all things Reiki laid his hands on the ball; The ref who seemed to have lost his ability to glide and also a little of his serenity pointing to the spot. Step up opposition striker to blast the ball past our blissed out keeper and secure a place in the next round of the cup for his team. My son’s side, still deeply relaxed, full of inner peace and keen to please, allowing them to score twice more in the remaining minute.

The Full time whistle blew and by this time my husband had snapped out of his trance and was making his way over to the referee, with accusations ranging from witchcraft to smouldering herbal corner flags. The Reiki master, composure regained, held my husband’s gaze, laid his hands on his shoulders and proceeded to teach him of the importance of the various Chakras. He was a Reiki Master and was able to identify various Chakras that may be out of balance within an individual. On shaking hands at the start of the match it was apparent to him that my husband had two unbalanced Chakras, the first was in his kidney, indicating that he had a lot of pent up anger and frustration, the second was in his buttocks, soft buttocks indicating a tendancy to become powerless in certain situations, he was not sure if this refered to his private life or his football team, but felt that my husband’s team would never get to the cup final if he didn’t sort his Chakras out. My husband at this point boiled over, informing the Reiki master that for a party trick he was able to crack Walnuts in his buttocks, and that if the two teams ever met on a football pitch again, his side would be wearing plastic gloves. Turning on his heel and climbing into the car, pausing on his way out of the car park to tip all our items for recycling through the window of the Reiki Master’s Rolls Royce.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mama Mia

One of the definite plus points of having to endure so many boys' football matches, is the chance to catch up with various other mums and friends who share a complete lack of interest in the game being played out in front of them. Often there will be a chatter of six or more of us, ignoring the action and enjoying the safety of numbers when asked the score - one of us is sure to get somewhere close.

On occasion, often when playing away from home, you can find yourself a lone female presence. If the ref is not much to look at I will often lose myself in my mp3, and my old friends Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni Frid, the mighty Abba. I have been a fan all of my life, have every song they recorded, have seen the musical – Mama Mia many times and have let myself down disgracefully at several “Bjorn Again” concerts over the years. Rumours of a reformation abound, if any of them can’t make it, give me a call. I could fill in for any one of the four.

It was while watching a particularly dull match in some far-flung part of the county, lost once more in my lone Swedish Odyssey, that I began to set out the game being played in front of me to Abba’s music, my own Matcha Mia.

It started with a goal being scored to the sounds of SOS, the goalkeeper left exposed by his defenders just as Agnetha was belting out the line “now you’re gone, how can I even try to go on?” The striker’s celebration played out to the tune of Lay all your love on me
Shortly afterwards, my son’s team almost equalised, the ref singing in his testosterone fuelled baritone Take a chance on me as he turned down the defender’s appeal for offside.

Half time and contrasting team talks from the respective coaches, the home team coach serenading his leading team with I have a dream the away team coach plaintively soothing his side with The Winner takes it all before realising that the softly softly approach was not working, switching to one of the Swedish greats more upbeat numbers Under Attack
The second half resumes with a rendition of Knowing me Knowing you by both teams, before the game/musical builds to a finish. Star opposition striker, strides down the wing with some fancy moves to the sounds of Dancing Queen telegraphs a pass to his fellow player to Ring Ring who is felled by a defender on the edge of the box singing Fernando Lots of pushing and shoving by a melee of players harmonising Does your Mother Know, before the ref steps in with a soothing rendition of When all is said and done and theatrically awards a free kick. Lots of debate as to who should take the free kick by a trio of players singing Gimme Gimme Gimme before the keeper saves the free kick while singing a Castrato version of Super Trouper.

The drama moves to the touchline and takes a dramatic twist. One of the parents, angry at the ineptitude of the olive skinned boy who conceded the free kick, questions the boy’s parentage, berating his Ginger haired Father while singing The day before you came. The flame haired father replying with Knowing me knowing you, before revealing that he may be the father of the irate father’s Dancing Queen son, following a dalliance with the man’s wife who works at the local school; instigating a moving solo of When I kiss the teacher. Both men coming together for a show stopping touchline version of One of us, before the ref calls time on the game and brings the house down with a storming version of That’s the name of the Game.

Lots of clapping, an encore by whole cast/ teams who come out to perform a boogie version of Honey Honey, with lots of wiggling and wriggling; followed up with a barnstorming version of Thank you for the music

I then come on to further applause to receive flowers from suitably tanned, toned and muscled males in swimwear, and give my own special version of Eagle …….….

What! What! “I can’t hear you with these ear plugs in”

“You won? That’s great”

“You scored? That’s great”

“We can go home? That’s great”

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Vive le France

The Easter break, no boys football arranged, the cricket season not yet begun, so as we have done for the past few years it is off to France for our “summer” holiday. Not for us the decadence of a day by the pool, sangria in hand, flicking through a magazine while gazing idly through shaded eyes at any passing Greek god. No, wellies must be packed, anoraks ironed, and bodies braced for a week’s fishing in some remote part of the continent. Days of driving to some far-flung outpost, where Madame evolution has only recently dished out the thumbs. Paris, Bordeaux, Biarritz or St Tropez, all have bits of water that he could sit beside as he attempts to redefine his hunter gatherer role as supposed head of the family, but we have to end up in some godforsaken mud puddle light years from civilisation.

One blessing is the football free environment that presides for the best part of a week. After four to five days we are usually back on speaking terms and there is an essence of a spark about to be rekindled, which is normally safely extinguished by the six hundred mile drive home.

This year, despite rigorous planning, disaster struck. The second leg of the chumpions league game between his love idols Liverpool and Satan’s Chelsea fell during our week away. All avenues of viewing the game where explored, including a preposterous attempt to fix the sky dish to his fishing umbrella, before it became apparent that his only method of keeping in touch with the progress of his team was via mobile phone.

The day of the match dawned, the signal to his mobile disappearing when I accidentally dropped the phone in the lake, and suggested we could perhaps spend the evening at home together, instigating panic and mayhem not seen since the opening of Primark in Oxford Street.

Under a black cloud we stopped at the small local supermarket on our way back from the lake. A rage developed over the absence of marmite from the shelves, leading him to call into question the French and their opinions about food, finally haranguing the lady at the checkout in staccato English, as to the location of a local bar with the Canal sports channel on which he could see his match. The lady in question smiling, and scribbling on the back of the receipt a small map with directions to what look liked an out of town bar.

Placated by the hope of seeing the game, my husband’s mood lightened, leaving the shop with a cheery “bonjour” we headed for home to don his football shirt and lucky shoes. Full of Bon homme he waxed lyrical about the entente de cordial, as I drove us to the bar. The directions were superb, my husband insisting that the bar was near an ICI plant, until I assured him that it was the French word ici and that the bar was in fact a truck stop in the middle of nowhere.

We entered the bar, and I was surprised and delighted to find a beautiful room, with dance floor, glitter ball and superb quality soft furnishings. Most of the inhabitants were male, well turned out, as most French men seem to be, and indulging in polite conversation with the occasional display of affection. My husband sought out a seat in front of the television, while I headed to the bar to get drinks. The bar man was a dish! manicured hands, tight shirt, jeans and thick wavy hair, not at all like the florid faced French fishermen I had been stuck with all week. As he complimented me on my hair, I swooned and struck up an instant rapport, only to be forced away from our conversation by my impatient husband seeking out his beer. He was a little concerned that the Canal Sports channel was not on the television yet, especially as kick off was only five minutes away. He was receiving attention from several of the men, who, he assumed were also interested in seeing the game but also kept asking him questions in French about Lorraine Kelly. The darling barman informed my husband that the match would not be shown tonight, instigating a resumption of his earlier supermarket assessment of the French character, peaking with a tirade against French football: they who were not fit to lick the boots of legendary Liverpudlians such as Fernando Torres, Sammy Hypia and Pepe Reina (when your every room has a poster of the entire squad you tend to remember a few names).

The barman informed us that this was not a sports bar, apologised for our wasted journey, and suggested that when we had asked for directions to a bar with Canal Sports, the lady had not heard him pronounce the letter C; my husband red faced and gasping, charged out to the car.

Unwilling to insult our charming hosts I stayed on for a few turns around the dance floor, choosing to leave when the shapes the chaps were throwing became decidedly less non-contact. Returning to the car after a thoroughly French night out, to find my husband asleep, mumbling about marmite, gay trucker bars and Lorraine Kelly.