Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fabrice Muamba

In case you went to Neptune for the weekend and missed this story, Bolton Wanderers' midfielder Fabrice Muamba is currently unconscious in hospital after a sudden cardiac arrest on the pitch during a cup game against Spurs.

You don't have to be a Bolton Wanderers fan to feel for him, but my goodness it helps. 

Only Bolton fans have seen how much he has developed since he arrived three seasons ago and will have speculated how good he'll be in another three seasons. Only Bolton fans will have regularly seen just how much work he puts even into games that everyone else seems to have abandoned.

Only Bolton fans will be aware of just how fit the guy was. In better teams, the defensive midfielders are often spectators - Yaya Toure at Manchester City could get his iphone out and check his email during some of their one-sided games, so little are his skills needed. It's a different matter when you're in a relegation dogfight and your job is to stop the likes of David Silva from doing what he does well. For a full 90 minutes. Running over 7 miles in the process. In other words, Fabrice was properly fit.

Much has written about his role as a defensive rock, but my favourite Fabrice moments are when he goes on the attack.

You see, the opposing players recognise him as a big defensive midfield "enforcer" and he runs like a big man in a hurry -  so they don't expect him to rush forward. When he takes advantage of the element of surprise and barrels past them, I love to see the look of panic on their faces and maybe the thought going through their heads : "Oh. Er. Is he actually allowed to do that ??" There have been quite a few poor Bolton performance rendered watchable by Fabrice-moments such as these.

But you don't need to be a Bolton fan to be stunned close to tears by what has happened to him. Just think that he's 23 -  talented, literate, funny and professional in a sense that isn't common in "professional" footballers. Think that he's a new father with an enormous amount to give to the world and his young family.

I'm not a believer in jinxes, but I couldn't bear to write any of this piece in the past tense. Here's hoping that I'll have a lot more to write about him in the present and future tenses real soon.

Meanwhile, I hope that he and the people close to him realise just how many people who have been touched by his work are now cheering him on.

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Year's Resolution Update

Gym : decided against it after really not enjoying their free taster session. Maybe I'm getting old, but the music's too loud, there's not enough air and it smells bad. Decided instead that I would get my exercise walking everywhere - which has been a massive success. On a good day I'll walk the four miles from Waterloo to Marylebone with my two laptops in my rucksack and then walk back at night. On a very good day I'll do that and also walk the three miles up Primrose Hill and back in my lunchhour. Costs me nothing and calms me down. Result.

French : coming to the end of the set of classes I started in January and I've enjoyed clearing the tumbleweed from my mind and I am now nearly as fluent in the language as I was at school, which isn't saying a great deal. In fact, in some ways I'm better off because for one thing I actually understand the difference between the imperfect and perfect past tenses now. The teacher is excellent, the teaching materials are perfect and the fellow students are an entertaining bunch that includes a legendary journalist, a South American diplomat, a satellite TV sports presenter and such a varied range of others that you would accuse me of having made them up if I told you.

In other news, I've been snapping up the cheapest possible tickets for whatever's on at the theatres in London. Highlight of this would be the £10 I spent on a side-on bench in the Gods at the Old Vic to see "Noises Off". Even with a restricted view (and the kind of stress-position popular with interrogators) it had me literally doubled up with laughter (and I'm a stickler for using "literally" correctly). I'm not usually a fan of farce or any kind of physical comedy, but this play just hit me right on the funny bone. Worth splashing out on a full-price ticket when it transfers to the West End.

Life is good - enjoying my time in court, learning to love London, and Mrs Stan and Stanetta are doing well. The only thing that would improve my quality of life would be for BBC4 to screen some more of those uncannily brilliant Danish drama series - I'm utterly hooked. Længe leve Birgitte Nyborg! Længe leve Sarah Lund!