Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 64: The circus comes to town

There is nothing else that I can turn my thoughts to today, other than the feast that lies ahead of me/us over the next four weeks, a banquet that I will try not to gorge on, but will prudently browse at and pick over in a healthy and sensible manner.....yeah, sure?! Welcome to the World Cup of Football, Le Coupe du Monde, the jogo benito (beautiful game).

I already know that, barring acts of God, at midnight next Tuesday, I’ll be up watching Japan vs Cameroon on the TV. Why? I have no personal or ancestral connection to either country, neither stride the global game like footballing colossi these days, but here in lies the prudence. I can’t just head to the smorgasbord and load my plate with cakes and ale, there must be unusual fruit, maybe even a plain vegetable or two, it can’t just be a diet of Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands.....can it? How will I know the beautiful game when I see it, if I don’t have it’s footballing antipode to measure it against?

Let me take a step back. The World Cup offers us 64 games in four weeks and, as I live in the southern hemisphere, nine or ten hours in front of South Africa on the world clock, those games are going to come at odd hours of the night and morning: 9.30pm, 12.00am and 4.30am. This requires planning. Unless I’m going to put my diurnal activities on hold and turn into some footballing version of a character from the Twilight series for 28 days, I won’t be able to watch everything. Believe me, I’ve worked it out and colour-coded it in the diary on this Mac already: Japan vs Cameroon has it’s colour-coded slot.

My first memory of a World Cup granted me and those fellow-countrymen of my generation, a false sense of a footballing security. It was 1966 you see and the tournament was held in England and, we won. Ergo, ever since, I/we have always expected to win and never have. Anyone Englishman of my generation can name the eleven that won the day for us on Wembley’s hallowed turf(there’s my one football cliché for the day). King Hal (Henry V) may well talked to his men about where they would have been on St Swithin’s Day, if not at Agincourt - “...gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accurst they were not here...” - but I/we all remember where we were on that Saturday afternoon in 1966. For the first part of it (not all), I had gone shopping, with my mother, in the seaside town of Bournemouth.....looking to purchase a Dalek. I was very young and obviously enamored with Dr.Who (that didn’t last long).

Most of this World Cup I will watch on my own. That’s not strictly true, my cat, Chaplin, is a great football fan.....I’d go so far as to say that he’s an aficionado (a word that originated in 19th century Spain for devotees of bullfighting). Hopefully Chaplin’s diary over the coming few weeks coincides with mine....I’m not sure that I want him keeping me from sleep if he’s up watching Greece and Nigeria on the midnight shift and making a hullabaloo, especially if I’ve got a 4.30am appointment to keep.

I can’t watch football in groups, I just can’t. It’s way too important. I’m sorry but I have to be able to concentrate on the ebb and flow and I need space to think, this is meditation for me. I can perhaps watch a game with someone who is mute and I’m am prepared to exchange a finite number of text messages with a friend or two. I have no idea why the hoi polloi congregate en masse at “fan sites” and watch the games on “the big screen”....what’s the point of that? Why people would gather in pubs and bars or hold parties is as foreign to me as anything you care to name. That said, I’m sure that I will be watching the odd game here or there in company, but I shan’t be making a habit of it and it might just be impossible if England are involved in any such games and there will be re-game tests to check a guest’s likelihood to chatter and/or ask questions.

But when all is said and done (and I think I’ve already said too much) footballing largesse is called for on my part. I know that once the party in South Africa is over, the rest of the world will return to their other sports (whatever they might be) and us, the cognoscenti, will pick up the litter after everyone else. Please, avail yourself of my footballing passion during the next four weeks, I have plenty of opinions, plenty of passion to go around and a wide love of the game, enough to share the banquet with all who care to sit down at the table to eat.

Day #64 Tip: For Love of the Game
Why else are you writing film if not for love? “Money” is a pretty good answer I’ll grant you, but surely not the real one? I mean, for many of us, our films might well never see the light of day so the guaranteed payday is not a high probability. The Australian Writer’s Guild have, in their annual awards, a category for the best unproduced screenplay. To me, that sounds like a contradiction in terms. I don’t really know that I’d want to win that award, isn’t it a bit like that idea of a tree falling the forest.......? A screenplay needs to be produced otherwise it’s not a film, is it?

I love film, just as I love football. I love when the lights go down in the cinema, I love when I hear the stirring opening of a film’s theme. There are moments and moments and moments in many films that I just love - the moment when Omar Sharif’s camel, jingling with bells, appears out of the desert mirage in Lawrence of Arabia; the reel of censured kisses spliced together by Alfredo the projectionist, bequeathed to Salvatore that he watches at the end of Cinema Paradiso. I love it as the camera dwells on Ingrid Bergman’s face when she sees Rick (Humphrey Bogart) for the first time, in Casablanca, since she abandoned him in Paris. I could list a thousand moments like these and long to write a thousand of my own.

Love your writing and love every character in equal measures. Thomas Harris would have loved Dr Lechter as much as he loved Clarice Starling and JM Barrie (possibly) would have loved Captain Hook more than he would have loved Peter least I would have. I will love Japan vs Cameroon as much as I will love Portugal vs Brazil...maybe not.

Love of film, love of football...can there be higher callings, richer feasts? How can one possibly be hungry?

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