I believe this summer is a bumper one for the sports enthusiast – in that, added to the usual roster of annual, summer sporting events we have both the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. My interest in all sports is limited at best – a few I can watch for 10-15 minutes and be mildly diverted, but then my attention drifts and I feel the need to wander off and do something more interesting. This is much like my view of spending time on a beach, unless combing or twitching. I fear I have a rather specialised form of ADHD which only affects me when involved in activities that can absorb many others for long periods.
I am not wholly uninterested in sport – there is definitely some interesting ethnography, anthropology and sociology to be done in the sphere. I’ve also enjoyed playing tennis and 5-a-side football (both badly) over the years and have had great fun at both Worcester cricket ground and Portman Road where the sport was accompanied by some corporate hostility (I don’t see much hospitality, so I make an effort to enjoy it when I do). Looking back on it, all of these examples of enjoyment might be traceable back to the pleasant company as much as to the sport or any associated alcohol. Perhaps I should try watching sport in a more communal setting?
Any way, I seem to have wandered from my point – yes, there was one. The reader might think that with our television schedules chockablock with events of little interest to yours truly, I would be bemoaning the tyranny of the majority (or at least, the more substantial majority) – but no, I say bring it on! It is all too easy to vegetate and allow the haunted goldfish bowl to provide my entertainment – but this summer, I have a positive incentive to go out and do something less boring instead (to paraphrase the title of a somewhat suicidal kid’s TV show of my youth).
This all sounds a great – if somewhat middle class – plan for self improvement, or at least some potential for future blog fodder. However, it doesn’t seem to be working out quite as intended. I do rather seem to be filling the void in the TV schedules with the siren call of Netflix and its novel content – all available at my beck and call.
Readers will already know of my White Collar habit, though I believe this is under control. I’ve also watched all the available episodes of Grimm – which is quite entertaining. Oddly, the hero is rather less appealing (for some reason) than the supporting cast who are much more fun. It has also driven home the importance of Health and Safety when dealing with the occult. Twice now our hero has knowingly tackled villains who can hurl poison into the eyes, but despite access to an impressive array of medieval weaponry and potions he has yet to invest in a simple pair of safety glasses. I’ve lost count of the number of characters in action-based series and films who could have had a much easier ride if they had taken even basic precautions – or frankly, mastered their vanity long enough to wear a pair of specs rather than contacts. My putative superhero (who as we know is already short, gay and ginger to shake up the genre norms) will also be myopic and will sport a stylish pair of glasses. I will admit this will place him at a brief disadvantage when entering warm buildings during the winter months, but this is a small price to pay for the eye protection (and will often save him from buying the first round in the pub!). When time permits, he will also work on at least a basic risk assessment before going into bat against his fiendish foes.
After Grimm, I have progressed onto Hemlock Grove – which is very strange but I rather liked (and the Telegraph didn’t – which is often a good sign). It has a very strange dynamic and not an entirely satisfactory end, but does have what I imagine are rather more realistic 17 year olds than most US drama. As it was made by and for Netflix, the teenagers are allowed to swear, smoke, drink and do all the other things which I’m pretty sure they do in the real world, but you never see on television. This does rather add to the realism, which probably helps to ground the supernatural elements. Also, I think Famke Janssen may be the natural successor to Carolyn Jones: Ms Jones, for those who have forgotten, played Morticia Addams in the black and white TV series of the Addams Family – and for me is still the yardstick against which all other femmes fatales are measured (well, her and Lauren Bacall). Actually, seeing photos of Morticia as part of the research for this post, I’ve realised that Victoria Coren-Mitchell has something of the same look facially – which might explain quite a lot (and save me several months of therapy). I wonder if VCM could be tempted into a similar black frock?
Any way, before this post becomes any more revealing, perhaps I should move on (to spare my blushes, if no-one else’s). I will also blame my book habit for some of the “lost” time – and I can certainly recommend The Humans by Matt Haig (so good that I rationed the chapters to prolong my pleasure) and the Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman (very odd and not at all what I was expecting – which is a very good thing). Both of these were acquired from real bookshops on the off-chance – I think both had staff recommendation attached, which are so much more effective than the automated nonsense perpetrated by the on-line booksellers of the world.
So, I’m rather enjoying this summer of sport so far – though probably not in the way I am supposed to! Vague guilt does suggest I really ought to do something of a little more moment or import – not just abuse Netflix and my library (and the UK’s physical bookshops). Still, while it remains vague I shall probably continue to ignore it – and I do have the explosion of “going out” that is Edinburgh looming large on the horizon which will provide a truly prodigious amount of alternative culture. So, I shall assuage these tendrils of guilt with the argument that my current activities are providing some vital pre-emptive balance to my life. (As you can see, I was a sore loss to the Jesuits!)