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Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?

I’ve been boring the pants off everyone I know for the past two seasons about how I’m going to retire from Saturday league football. Part of the reason for that is that I haven’t really enjoyed my football recently, and I’m finding running a lot more enjoyable. Also, I run when I want or when I have time, whereas my football time is dictated by the fixture list.

That said, in the past month or so, I’ve been playing at a higher standard and the challenge has been really enjoyable. It’s great having better players around me but it’s also great having opponents that demand a higher level of concentration. The results have been better, too, so the grind of weekly defeat contributing to my dark moods has abated. Even the defeats are more enjoyable, which is weird.

Going against all that, I played in a veterans’ game this morning and enjoyed it so much. In the veterans world, I’m a youngster (our vets’ team starts at 35, some other leagues start at 40 years old), which means that I’m at a fairly high level of fitness compared to a lot of people on the pitch as well as suddenly looking like I’ve got a fair amount of pace. So I’m more relaxed on the pitch which contributes to me playing better and therefore enjoying it so much more, even though the standard isn’t as high as the normal Saturday game.

Contradictory, moi?

I’m still undecided on my retirement date anyway. The sports masseur I saw the other week convinced me that I was focused too much on my age as a deciding factor and I should listen to my body. Right now, my body’s giving me mixed messages…

Post title lyric taken from The Beatles – When I’m Sixty-Four, but quite frankly you should be ashamed if you didn’t know that.

If I made a proper start, would you take me seriously?

Surprisingly affecting piece by Michael Owen in The Guardian about his dad’s influence on him when he was making his way as a footballer: Michael Owen: ‘My motivation was to please Dad’ | Life and style | The Guardian.

I often get asked for advice from aspiring young kids and their parents, but if I were to look back on my career and single out one thing that stood me in good stead, it would be the environment in which I grew up.

In a way, it seems such an obvious thing to say, that the support you get from your family and the opportunities you’re given contributes to your success. But the important thing I took from the article was that it was the parental guidance and presence that was the most important.

I was talking to a friend the other day who had recently become a dad and, being middle class and all that, we started talking about schools. He assumed that sending his daughter to a private school would ensure that there wouldn’t be any ‘horrible little scrotes’ around his girl but I put him right on that score. Just being able to afford to send your kid to private school and not have to worry about money being an obstacle to taking up opportunities isn’t enough. The home has to be right, the guidance, support and love has to be properly there. And you get the sense from Michael Owen’s article that his dad knew that. He didn’t just buy his son football boots, sign him up to the right clubs or whatever. He was there for him.

He even changed jobs to one he hated, but he did it so there was more flexibility in his working hours. He did not want to miss a second of anything I did.

I don’t pretend it’s easy. I know I’m extremely lucky to be in a position that allows me to be around for Amélie a lot more than a typical dad. I, too, quit a job because of the effect it was having on my home life but I also have certain skills and experience that allowed me to do that. But if I didn’t, I like to think I’d still find a way to be there for Amélie.

Post title lyric taken from The Reindeer Section – Will You Please Be There For Me

The way that we talk, the way that we walk, it’s there in our thoughts…

Remember that riddle that goes something like this?

A boy and his dad are involved in a horrific road traffic accident involving a giraffe, a kangaroo, a 12-string guitar and Biff Byford. They’re taken to hospital and the boy’s just about to be operated on when the surgeon exclaims, “This is my son!” How is this possible?

The riddle used to be – and may still even be – classified as a ‘lateral thinking puzzle’, the idea being that only lateral thinking will get you to the answer that the surgeon is the boy’s mother. Except it’s not linear thinking that would prevent you from working out that the surgeon is female; sexism, pure and simple, would make you assume that the surgeon is male.

I don’t proclaim to be an absolute angel on this, by the way. The other day, I said to Amélie that I might take her to the doctor because of her cloth ears (to be fair, she’s had a cold that’s blocked her ears up a bit). She asked what the doctor might say, and I said, “He might make you take a hearing test,” to which Amélie responded, “He? How do you know the doctor is going to be a man?” We’re fortunate enough that we simply don’t visit the doctor enough to have a regular GP who we can name, so it was a fair question and a fair cop. And inwardly I was proud that Amélie challenged me on it.

Anyway, I digress. I was reminded of the ‘lateral thinking puzzle’ when I read this post on hellogiggles, the title of which pretty much tells the story: I F-ing Love Science Facebook Run By A Girl, Stupid People Respond With Their Outside Voice. It’s a rant and a funny one and worth reading for the final line.

Post title lyric taken from Girls Aloud – Biology

I’m gonna slice a lemon in two and when the charcoal’s burning bright, we’ll be there, in heaven…

I usually have an aversion to the word ‘infographic’ but let’s not go there today. Instead, take a gander at the results of a survey done by Great British Chefs as part of their ‘Get cooking with kids’ campaign. I have to admit I don’t cook with Amélie as much as I should do, and certainly not enough with anything outside of baking. It’s not through a lack of willing on Amélie part. I think the main problem is the control freakery I exhibit in the kitchen which means it takes a lot of restraint not to take over if, for example, Amélie is taking too long kneading the dough.

Another resolution to add to the list, then: get Amélie more involved with the weekend cooking.


Cooking With Kids - Survey Results

Post title lyric taken from Salad – Motorbike to Heaven
Infographic courtesy of Great British Chefs