Friday, 8 December 2017

Snooker

I love Snooker. It's by far my favourite sport. I'm not into team games. As the bloke in Snow Angels says, 'I am Collingwood's.' He is the shipyard. Okay so behind every successful person lies a whole load of other people propping them up but to see the snooker players at the table is just bliss. They are so clever and yet so unworldly. That sounds awful and patronising but it isn't meant to be. That's what I'm like. All I know is my trade and I understand how it works and how when the book is finished or when you are facing the camera you have to be the best  because people are sitting there taking pot shots at you. Luckily they are all former snooker players so you stand it.
There is nothing more delightful than a mind against a mind. The commentators are stars, they really are. Even at their most critical they are calm and soft voiced and just, well, the sort of men you'd have a drink with.
And there are all so different and they all seem to be married and to have children. Maybe I'm glazing this over a bit but the whole world of snooker seems encapsulated in what we see on screen. I know it isn't, I know I'm rose petalling it but the tension is just so exquisite. You play the table and it's a game of nerve and skill and endurance of every kind and there is nowhere to hide, just like when your book is published and people pour scorn on it. I know, I do it. I criticise books and television. I don't criticise sports stars, I just marvel that they do it. How do they do that?  How do they come back again and again?
Two of them this week, Ronnie O'Sullivan was the first and the implication was that he doesn't care about the politics any more. He has a good life, he has made it for himself and he doesn't have to worry about the money and so he plays and he enjoys it and he has a life.  And then Mark King. They are so frank and he said on camera that now he has made enough money to pay his hotel bills he plays differently and yes, of course you do. It takes tremendous character to get to that stage, huge guts and then they can concentrate better but it's different than when they started out and were all enthusiasm and couldn't see the pitfalls. The joys of being young. You don't worry, you just want the prize so there is joy and problems in all of it. Some people live for this.
Ronnie O'Sullivan said, 'you drive your own car.' Well I just hope his car is a Ferrari, at least one of them, just for the hell of it. There is nothing more elating than watching a good snooker player work several steps ahead so that they know what is going to happen. It's one of the joys of life watching people perform magic and it happens all the time in so many different places. Sport is the top of how things should be. Men and women competing instead of fighting, it's gladitorial in the best possible sense, and that's how it should be. Always.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Extra Post. Don't read it if you have something better to do.

Fed up!! Fed right up!!  Internet goes off. Email goes off. Edits don't go off when they should and I worry in case they are dreadful so that the book which I have spent the whole year writing will be appallingly awful. The bills are huge and it"s nearly Christmas. Rats and all those other things.  It's too icy to go out in case I break a leg for Christmas. I don't want to have to be grateful for having a downstairs loo. Can you imagine?  Six months of ready meals and having to ask Waitrose to bring a hundred bottles of wine with my order?
I try to think of other things I can do so that I don't have to sit here hours a day trying to think of something to write!!!  I can drive so I could work for Domino's except that I can't see in the dark and have no sense of direction.
I can walk dogs. Well, not very well any more, since I have a knee which keeps collapsing. I kid you not. I fell off a stool in the kitchen the other night while standing on it, scouring the cupboards. I know I shouldn't get on stools but with no other bugger here to do it I had to look for bay leaves. I couldn't get the outside door open because of the bloody ice and although there are hundreds of bay leaves out there they were of no help. I cannot eat risotto without bay leaves. It would be, well I don't know what the hell it would be but it wouldn't do. Luckily, after having done no more damage than sitting on the floor with bruised knees I found some slightly dried up bay leaves which were lurking on the window ledge in the kitchen.
Note to self. Must move things down from top shelves but no more getting on stools so perhaps not.
I could work on the checkout at Sainsbury's except that my daughter who has worked in food retail for years says they wouldn't have me. I mean, would you?  I can chat to you about literature, history, nuns, feminism and Weardale. Not what you really want for conversation. My specialist subject is the industry of the north east. Boy, I'm good at it. Shipbuilding, house building, mines, iron foundries, steel foundries and also keeping hens. And goats.
I could teach creative writing. Oh, not again. Hard work. I could write short stories. Dear God, groans from all over the area. I'm not good at short stories and talk about a flooded market.
I could sell my beautiful house and move to -  God knows where. Everywhere is so expensive. Even places you don't want to live.
My friends, knowing I am fed up say, 'ring me' and I think how can I when they have real problems and my problem is just that I should have gone away this autumn and didn't. I am a very lucky woman but I don't feel like that right now so if you are reading this and you think how stupid, yes, you are right. I am stupid.
Worst of all I see myself in a cottage with a fire up in the dale or by the sea with lovely cats and dogs. How dim is that?  Think of the cost.  Think of hauling all that wood into the house and where to get it and who would pile it up? Think of the cats tearing my sofa to pieces. Think of them getting old and having to be put down. Believe me, I am the expert. I've put down more animals. Well, let's not go there. Think of them howling all night and throwing up and doing other disgusting things. Dear God. You see I am lucky. I don't have to do anything but put up with me.
Sometimes, believe me, that is no picnic. I keep telling people I used to be a nice woman but no, I'm afraid not. I was always a cantankerous cow and am getting worse so pity the people I am seeing this Christmas because they have to be nice to me while I complain about the dreadful telly they watch and get drunk every evening. Pity my daughter. Bless her little heart, she has to put up with me.
She organises Christmas, she plans everything, she buys the presents and then she has me, swilling back the wine and criticising everything.
I shall just have to keep on writing as long as somebody keeps on paying but I must go away next autumn. I cannot bear the soul I am when I sit here ranting. Awful.
And anyway if you are reading this poor you, and how kind. Don't you have Christmas cards to write, and Christmas presents to buy and wrap and even a tree to put up.  I hope you have a lovely Christmas. Pity my poor daughter who has almost a week of me. Ah, the joys of  having children.