Due to silence on line from some time earlier today (Google being down, I believe), this post vanished almost without trace! Damn shame: I enjoyed writing it, and I don’t think it should have been silenced (albeit inadvertently)…
To my complete amazement, and considerable pleasure, I found myself in a bar, in Bristol, last night, with friends, watching highlights from the second week in this season’s NFL battle – to be precise, the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Cincinnati Bengals!
And I, Alienora Browning, the ultimate unsporty person, was completely gripped!
Now, let me explain: I am a lifelong non-sportswoman! Loathed PE and games at school, was utterly useless at Netball, Rounders, Hockey and Tennis (didn’t play Lacrosse at my school, thank God, otherwise I am sure I’d have been cretinous at that too!) and, frankly, had no interest in matters sports-related. I only watched Wimbledon for the gorgeous blokes on abundant view!
When Son started Fencing at the age of seven, I immediately became fascinated by all things Foil, Sabre and Epee-related.
Ten years ago, I fell in love with Rugby (the game, not the school/town!) after the Lad joined a local squad for three years or so. Something about the ferocity of it all appealed to me enormously – and, though I almost never watch television these days, I do make an exception for The Six Nations’ Rugby.
Going back to South West watering holes last night: The sight of hordes of well-honed, muscle-bound hunks charging across the pitch brought out my inner warrior (or something!!). The atmosphere, so redolent (even via the huge screen) of testosterone, sweat and simmering violence stirred my depths…
Of course (and as was true of both Rugby and Fencing initially), I had absolutely no idea of the rules, positions, penalty-awarding offences and so forth – but, by God, this was enough like Rugby to keep me completely riveted!
My friends told me various bits and bobs as we went along, enough for me to know roughly what was going on without causing my brain to leak out through every available orifice. I was even, get this, able to put name to player (in two or three cases) by the end of the game!
And, do you know what? I had a fabulous time! Really enjoyed it! Was so immersed in the world of the game that when the Bengals scored a touchdown (had no idea what one of those even was twenty-four hours ago!!) towards the end, and appeared to be catching the Steelers (who won) up, I was groaning away like the rest!
I surprised myself! Ye gods, I could well become damn keen on this kind of thing! Bristol bar today; Twickenham tomorrow!
I could soon find myself peppering my speech not just with Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Ritchie Gray, Alun Wyn-Jones, Jonathan Sexton, Leigh Halfpenny (et alia), but also with random members of the huge number of American players in the various teams in the NFL.
You are never too old to learn new things, I say; never too old to find new enthusiasms, or to greet new experiences with excited delight!
So, as my pals and I wended our way back to the car, laughing immoderately at the notion of men built along Sumo Wrestler lines, yet with Olympic type sprinting speed, rushing towards the opposition – like, as I said to myself this morning, a collision with an elephant on Speed – it occurred to me that I have come a long long way from that sports-loathing teenager!
Now, worry not: I am not going to try out for the local Ladies’ Rugby Squad (though I have the tonnage and poundage to make a bloody good Tighthead Properina!), and the local Fencing team is also completely safe from incursion by Sabre-rattling Alienoras! If there is a female American Football team in this area, it, also, will be lacking one Browning, A.J!
My enjoyment is strictly that of the observer – but the observer who secretly, and not so secretly, rather enjoys the spectacle of well-fit guys kicking the shit out of one another, trampling one another in the mud, colliding in a clash of helmets (American-style) or skulls (this side of the Pond!) and letting all that aggression be channelled into a totally engrossing game!
Besides, some of these chaps are extremely fanciable, even plastered in mud, with blood running down their faces and the odd limb hanging at a most unnatural angle!
Be still, my beating heart, is all I can say!