13 September 2007

C'est la vie

I can't help it. The cry comes out. It's not a roar, it's too shrill. It is, perhaps, not even a cry, but a squeal. And it's coming from my throat. The air, that is. Air is travelling out from my throat, through my mouth, and outwards, producing the resonances that reverberate around the house. The tongue starts under the palate, as air starts its journey outwards, and the apporximant formed gradually changes into a vowel. The tongue then moves, almost touching the alveolar ridge, but leaving enough of a gap for air to pass through turbulently, and the vowel turns into a hiss.

"Yyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssss!!!!!!" I squeal. Where the high pitch comes from, I can only guess. But there it is. I repeat the cry. Again, and again, I repeat it. Then, beamed onto a small, oval mesh of metal, just 45cm in diameter, on the side of my house, then carried through wires to the screen before me, the image is shown again. The ball sails over the Frenchman, and lands in the net he was meant to protect from such incursions. The image also displays what was thought to be the unlikeliest of captions: "FR 0-1 SC".

Then the tension starts, I retake my seat, a creaking, unstable recliner. But I do not recline, I lean forward. I grip the arms. I hold on to the chair for dear life for the next thrity mintues. Then, finally, an Austrian in the middle of it all takes a whistle, puts it to his lips and exhales. I exhale as well, sinking to the floor, and roaring this time, actually roaring not shrieking. And in my mind, at that time, nothing else exists. There is the screen, relaying images of James McFadden launching a ball beyond Mickaël Landreau, there is the sound of the crowd, drowning out the voices of Bill Leslie and Davie Provan. Nothing else can be processed, only that.

With one shot, landing in the right place, and a favourable result, the exhaustion of a troublesome day is erased. A day which could only be judged a success if the sole criterion for success is getting to the evening without losing the plot suddenly becomes a day memorable for McFadden's goal. The day's tribulations vanish into thin air. While a day like today, which has also been troublesome seems easier to deal with.

It's only a game, they say. Clearly "they" do not follow it: however irrational it may seem, emotions have been stirred. And yet, the joy is qualified...

How good it would have been, not even to be watching it in France, but at the very least, to be watching it in Scotland, anywhere in Scotland, surrounded by huge numbers of people as excited as I was. I was, of course, with my family, and this match was one of the rare occasions where being with them seemed enjoyable rather than exasperating, but the evening was dampened by a visit to an empty pub at the top of the street. It seems that while I was watching a small miracle unfold in Paris, my neighbours were all at home, watching England do exactly what was demanded of them. This was a match not even worth going out for, to share the experience.

Regular readers know my background, and will be aware that I can, technically, choose whether my priorities lie with England or with Scotland. It's fairly obvious which one I've chosen, and last night, as I walked through a deserted village, into an empty bar, my choice seemed vindicated. I shared the excitement, the passion, the joy with just two people, but last night, I could have taken the other path, and experienced the same feelings, but I would have shared them with two people fewer than I did.

And knowing that makes me feel like even more of a stranger here. But then the image of McFadden's goal returns, and once again, nothing else matters.


Alwyn ap Huw said...

It's a plastic bag full of wind, for goodness sake!

Why does the way it's kicked (or thrown in the case of Rugby) arouse such passions?

The idea that my country is better than your country just because a dozen or so of my compatriots can throw, kick or bat a ball better than a dozen or so of yours can is just bloody pathetic!

I doubt if I'll ever understand why people get so het up about sports.

azzuri said...

It's time to come home Will. ;)

Even today, you couldn't take the smile off my face with a shovel.

Glasgow was buzzing on Wednesday night, the streets were deserted and the pubs were full. When that final whistle went, it was party time. Everywhere. Pubs, houses, hospitals and pretty much every other building that contained people. Phone calls were made to nearest and dearest all over the country.

In Gaelic, you don't ask, "Where are you from?", rather, "Where do you belong?". Seemed apt on Wednesday night for many.


Will said...

Alwyn... it's baffling, I'll be the first to admit. Is it petty? Perhaps. Is it childish? Probably. Is it tribal? Definitely. But that seems to be the point... for 90 minutes (80 for rugby), we belong. We're part of something bigger than ourselves, we're members of the tribe and it stirs feelings in us that go back so very far. I don't understand it, but it just feels right, somehow.

Azzuri, you're right. It is time. I'm going to have to start working on that again.