Sport is mostly a dull thing to me. I was your typical specs ‘n’ textbook brainiac in school, and PE lessons rolled around on the timetable like a twice-weekly Room 101, performed in bri-nylon hotpants. The only time I ever threw a javelin, it went backwards. Hurdles, being at the approximate height of my armpits, were a bit of a challenge. I did make the school hockey team, but as goalie, a position where the only skill involved is intimidating the opposition by wearing really enormous clown shoes. Watching sport therefore tends to reduce me to a pimply-legged shivering 14-year-old, attempting to do cross-country half-naked through the streets of my home town to the sonorous hooting of passing cars.
But not rugby. It’s not a sport in Wales, not really: it’s a fandom. You buy the shirt; you argue about the team selection, favourites, past glories; you bellow like a loon at the telly, as if volume alone can spur your heroes on to glory, and then dissect and revisit and delight. It’s like Doctor Who, only with really muscular thighs.
For me, too, there’s a whopping chunk of nostalgia: going into Cardiff on match days to mooch round the shops and soak up the atmosphere, then home to line up on the sofa and holler (with a half-time cake to soothe nerves). The real joy is that I grew up watching the 80s, when we were mostly crap. And now? Well, look at Ryan’s face. 😀
I keep failing to babble properly about Scarlett Thomas’s The End of Mr Y – partly because I’m not sure I can describe it. It’s a university novel: Ariel, impoverished student, is writing a PhD on ‘thought experiments’ in philosophy and literature while conducting an inappropriate affair and trying not to starve to death. It’s a book within a book: The End of Mr Y is a deeply obscure Victorian novel, said to curse anyone who reads it. It’s a sci-fi fantasy with bonus time-travel: the cursed novel isn’t fiction, but a key to a parallel world. It’s a thriller with evil agents and death threats, a romance, a genuinely complex and thought-provoking reflection on relationships, on time, on selfhood. It’s twelve books at once, and yet it never for a moment feels muddled or overstretched. Fascinating, intelligent, witty, brain-breaking – all the good things. I loved it. (I’m told by several that her PopCo is equally good: one for the Big List Of Things To Get Round To Reading.)
Biscuits & Lies progresses in lurches rather than leaps and bounds, but progress is progress. I’m still having fun with it, anyway (it’s reached the ‘Susie makes herself get some work done by coming up with stupid jokes’ stage, which is quite fundamental to my working routine). Publication of Big Woo (April 7th! That’s actually quite soon!) continues to impend. I’m still working on The Website, but all will be unveiled once there’s some ‘all’ to unveil. In the meantime, the US bound proof (a pre-publication version they send out to drum up interest) has already got a few bloggers Stateside talking, and in glowing terms too. Woo!
Suspecting my house is trying to kill me (ceilings falling down, microwaves on fire: Coming Soon: LOCUSTS!); watching Sunshine (an interesting take on the ‘people trapped inside a spaceship’ genre – but what the hell is the glittery gold spacesuit all about? Did no one tell the costume guys that the official colours of space travel are white and silver?); painting my fingernails Incredible Hulk green.