UNEXPECTED SPORT

(For those living under a rock/on the wrong continent, that’s Ryan Jones, Captain of the Welsh rugby team, celebrating our glorious grand slam in the Six Nations. He looks quite happy, y?)

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.

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11 thoughts on “UNEXPECTED SPORT

  1. Yay for your team! Impressed with your fangirl knowledge. If you feel up to a celebratory coffee tomorrow, let me know.My team went to the TOP of the Premiership. Soccer, don’t you know…

  2. Congratulations to your lot too, then (even if they are playing with the ball that’s the wrong shape, poor lambs).Coffee! Yes! You know the new Starbucks has opened? I feel we should christen it. Let me know when’s good for you.

  3. Susie, you’ve written a wonderful, warm, thoughtful, funny book, which made me cry and laugh a lot. In some places at things that made me laugh in the first draft, which shows how good the jokes are.Once again, read while SP was sleeping, though she wasn’t crooked in my arm this time. Mostly while camped out in a corner of borders, hoping she wouldn’t wake and also that no-one would notice quite how long I’d made that juice last…Oh well done you, you are clever. Can we have some links to people who say nice things about you, please?

  4. Thank you, petal: tis lovely to hear it can still raise a giggle even if you know it rather well already. And how odd to think SP was a very Small P back then.Cursory google throws up a few people reading the US advance proof: here and here. Someone’s got it listed on their DevArt profile as ‘current reading’ too. It’s quite nice being someone’s ‘current reading’. 🙂

  5. Did you notice that they’re both also reading ‘Freakonomics’ (I know you don’t ‘do’ nonfic, but you should try this, it’s really interesting.) Do you think they got mailed out together? Are you on some publisher’s, ‘If you enjoyed this…’ list. I’m struggling to see the connection, other than ‘being good’.

  6. Susie you are obviously v fabulous and that should be you with the big silver cup. I don’t do any kind of men with balls of whatever shape, but living in Cardiff I can’t really escape all the hoopladoodle that went on over the last weekend. What’s with the ceiling? Maybe you’re living in the Hammer House of Horror? Coffee sounds good but mine will have to be virtual. I’m going to be in Foyles in London on 3rd April, are you doing anything?? What about an April Talents get-together?

  7. It’s also worth mentioning that Cardiff City is also in the running for the FA Cup, if they can survive against Barnsley, that is.

    I can never watch Wales play Rugby. If I do, they lose. If I go home from the pub at half-time in a sulk because Wales are playing appallingly, they pull it together and win, usually in the last four minutes or something. This always happens when my eyes do not watch them. I am obviously cursed.

  8. Josie: love the book promo! You’re so confident on camera – will have to ask you for tips. 🙂 And I’m definitely living in a Hammer horror house, crammed with teenagers wandering dopily into the cellar to get bumped off one by one…(not by me, I should probably add). What are you doing in Foyle’s? Would love to catch you but I’m working that night. We really must organise a proper get-together soon though: three books to celebrate, who’d have thought?

    Rarg: I’m never watching a match with you again. Well, not an important one, anyway.

  9. I think I’ve read bits of your copy, actually: isn’t that the one with the brilliant chapter about how the name you’re given affects your future, and the stats on which names are most popular in different decades? Twas ace.I think they’re both involved in the ‘Red’ book, which is a collection of teenage essays and stories: have my amazon order in so I can pick their braaaaains.

  10. You never watched a match with me anyway – apart from that one where Canada played Wales in the half-finished Death St… er… Millenium Stadium. And that one wasn’t important, which explains how Wales won.

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