Tuesday, 1 March 2016


"We nearly broke up on our first date!" Although I was born blessed with 2 attributes compatible to love football - the love of Art  and of running very fast.
At 5 years old, I appreciated the beauty of the human form in motion that is evident in every sport, in dance, even falling off a horse. 
With boundless energy, I loved to run really quick, then suddenly stop, to look back and see where I'd come from and if my shadow had caught up with me - it was like time travel. 
I was so speedy that I would switch to running backwards in 100 yard dashes to laugh at the panting efforts of my competitors trying to beat me as I crossed the line.
They matched me against older kids until a girl nearly 6 years older than me managed to pip me on the line - she became my first crush, my Eartha Kitt cat woman.

Like in many romances,the celestial alignment has to overcome obstacles before true love is formed - I nearly rejected footballs attempts to seduce me from the very start.

My dad had a few workmates around watching a game on TV, they all seemed agitated, shouting , arguing , pointing and using curse words that I didn't understand.  
Our family lived up a hill in a suburban house in Wembley at the time - slightly intimidated with no place to sit but the laminate floor, I absent mindedly wandered out the front door and down the street. It wasn't long before I realised that something very unusual was happening around me - outside was a strange silence with not a single person, animal or car moving in the street, or in gardens, all the way down it into the town, a ghost town, not one sound apart from a distant roar like listening to seagulls through covered ears.

I kept walking further towards that invisible boundary were adults ask what you are doing unaccompanied if they discover you, but close enough to Billy Whiz back home in minutes. Still. Nobody. Not a milkman, not a street cleaner, no taxis or waiting prams outside a shop, or an old lady feeding pigeons - nothing, no-one, I became apprehensive, unknowingly scared as only an innocent child can be, paralysed with fear of the unknown I stood in the middle of the street in this formerly bustling town until the seagulls became a roar. 
Hordes of people started streaming out from everywhere and screaming was heard behind curtains, spilling out from front rooms, out the doorways, everyone seemed  just plain mad if not drunk - sheer shock shook me into action! I had to get home to warn my parents and my little sister that they were in imminent danger. 
Terrified, I ran straight home without pausing. The steep hill didn't matter - they had not even noticed that I had gone, and before I could warn them I found out that England had just won something called World Cup, and I thought 'if this game makes people act this crazy - I want nothing to do with football'- placing it below 'avocados' in my childish list of dislikes.

Until Mr. Bateman, a red faced , track suited , sporting school teacher and proud Welshman (who constantly referred to the Rhonda Valleys, so much so that I was compelled to visit it in adulthood) barked at me 'Your quick Edi. You'll be the sweeper'. I didn't know what that was but it was the first time any teacher had shown confidence in me. Pride got me out on the field before anyone else was ready. Unfortunately neither was my tender ankle or the frozen leather ball ready - kicking it powerfully without knowing how , I heard a starter pistol crack and my ankle was severely fractured. 'Stupid boy!' Mr. Bateman said 'You're relegated to full back until you've walked it off!' 

By the end of the game I could barely walk at all. The team trudged off and I was stranded.
Up to this point in my life I didn't know what my sister was for; other than being under orders to protect her by my parents, a heroic job I cherished, I was her 'big brother' after all, no-one dared to harm her for fear of my flying fists;  but this injury humbled me, a short journey home averaging 30 minutes became 2 hours, with my little sister supporting me every inch on the way, showing how she could be strong for me too - and I realised how deeply I loved her.
For almost 7 weeks my leg was in plaster, I learned that injuries were not just something John Wayne would mop and staunch with torn cloth from a shirt, tie it off , put jacket back on showing bullet holes - it meant somebody helping you in / out of pyjamas, helping you upstairs to the toilet and waiting outside to get you back down again.
I vowed that I'd never play again. Stick to athletics - with no late tackles; or how about long jump? Doesn't involve heading frozen leather balls.

So there it is, although I hated football it had already taught me some very important things about ambiguity - that there was a beautiful place in UK called Wales / that I could experience 'feelings' for another person that was both powerful yet undermining / that I could love and respect my sister for who she was / that people could be passionate without causing danger and celebrate / about mortality and fleeting moments of creativity and that Healing is like tomorrows - always possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment