Monday, June 28, 2010

416 Days In - The World Cup

I don’t want to talk about the football.

Lets leave aside the fact that if I tried to talk about the football here I would be looked at quizzically and then corrected on my terminology. Do Americans never wonder why the rest of the world call their sport American Football?

To be honest I never really did want to talk about the football. It isn’t really my kind of sport - all that overpay going to whiney little boys who cry when barely hurt and feel it is ok to argue with the powers that be if things don’t go their way. And because they are actually men (not boys) this is done in an aggressive, ugly manner.

I just don’t get enjoyment from watching that.

What I do have, though, is national pride; and this helped me somewhat towards mustering enthusiasm for upcoming matches.

It began with this was through a slightly smug smile and me playing my role of: Brit who knows the American’s are clearly no match for the English team. Unfortunately this did not create the rises that I had hoped, and most US citizens seemed pretty complacent in their knowledge that this is not America’s sport and well done their boys who have managed to make it into the group stage.

And then the shame - why did it not continue as it started - those first four minutes. After a while I retreated into the kitchen and baked a birthday cake. Time much better spent.

So came the overall group places; of course we lose out to America - a country that was bottom of its group in 2006 and has very few fans who even watch the sport (we outnumbered them by about 8,000 at our match).

At this point I could be nothing but glad that I don’t have emotional invested interest in football as a sport. But I have to say that the number of yellow cards and subsequent good behaviour was endearing me to it a little.

Watching the disaster that our team seems to be, it was easy to work out that soon we would be matched against Germany.


Well, as far as I am concerned it is our own fault for not getting through our gift-of-a-group in first place, and avoiding the inevitable clash with the Krauts.

Not a favourable history here, and both sides alike (in my experience) love to engage in this football rivalry (there is even a Wikipedia page dedicated to it) .

And while the Americans I know who do watch the world cup are weighing up the different players and their performances so far, and working out that, really, Germany are the better side, and, really, they do deserve to go through; on our 6am drive into the city to join fellow Brits in an LA “pub” all I have in my mind is the 1996 European cup penalty shoot out.

So I don’t want to talk about it. Life goes on, right?

At least we beat Australia in Rugby on the 19th.

Monday, June 21, 2010

409 Days In - Babies Babies Everywhere

We have got to that age when everyone we know is having babies. Babies are literally popping up all over the place.

Two days before we left England for the sunny Californian coast, I held my niece. My brother’s first. One hour old.

Since we arrived here, five of my friends have become mothers for the first time, and one for the second time.

The latest arrival to the family came a few weeks ago to Chris’ brother. A little girl. Already about as computer competent as my mother, thanks to the wonder of Skype.

There is nothing quite like children - the arrival of new babies, the change in their parents’ lives, the delight from new actions and words - to highlight what you are missing.

And it is my own, all too keen, knowledge of how it feels to be watching the lives of those you love take place without you, that led me to me wondering how this new addition to the family might manifest itself in soothing parental advice aimed towards me and Chris.

As well meaning as parents are, they just cant help themselves when they hit “grandparent age”. Even my mother, who has three grandchildren already, and is not really one to tell me what to do, announced in April 2009 (grandchild number three still in the womb - just) that I must hurry up and have children soon because “I want all my grandchildren to be around the same age”.

Our escape to the U.S. moved us in with Chris’ parents. His mother then had plenty of opportunities (during breakfast, over dinner, at tea-time) to mention casually that women don’t get any younger. Every now and then she would just give in and announce “we want grandchildren, here in the US”. And Chris’ dad, reclining in his chair, cup of tea in hand, would nod and grin his concurrence.

Isn’t it wonderful how people will fulfil their own stereo-types; how you can check with your friends and ninety percent of them will have had the same conversation (not that conversation is a probably the right word) with at least one set of parents.

So you can understand my concern, now that there is a beautiful, pristine little cherub to stir anew the “grandparent need”.

Please don’t mistake me for being totally self-centred here! I do not expect this to bubble to the surface for a good while yet. Discussions of another visit are filling the air, and it is a true delight to watch the new arrival sleep or peek at us over the computer videos, or to receive pictures of her in the gaze of her doting older sister.

But all too soon, when the next holiday has been and gone, and the house is once again void of little-girl chatter and baby gurgles, then, I expect, the question of my age might once more be addressed.

But rather than bewail these moments of grandparent lunacy (that, let’s face it, I will probably have myself in a few decades) I use them as an opportunity to deflect attack onto my easy-going husband. “Poor me, Chris doesn’t want children yet, Chris moved me out to America, I can’t make any decisions myself”. Yadda yadda yadda.

And then I watch him squirm, fully under the gaze of his mother, not sure whether to defend himself or just to try and retreat from the subject matter as quickly as humanly possible.

That, in itself, is worth any amount of parental advice.