Reading VS Football Part 2.
It was the game that had all English football fans dreaming, said the BBC, then the co-commentator Martin Keown launch a bizarre attack on book-lovers.
The former Arsenal defender took umbrage at people who preferred to read rather than watch the England-Sweden quarter-final of the World Cup.
‘There might be someone back home reading a book,’ he said, apropos of nothing. ‘They need to get a life.’ Uproar ensued.
So, I’m in a beautiful villa in the heart of the Majorcan countryside, I have Matthew Sweet’s book ‘Chaos’ on my Kindle, the cicadas are buzzing, the goats are tinkling their bells, and the wind rises and falls through a valley of olive trees, making the leaves whisper.
And every few minutes I hear eight people yelling at a television. Because on this amazing day they have chosen to pull the curtains and huddle around a TV. Which of us, I wonder, has got a life?
But of course you can do both – enjoy the footie and relax with a book. I have no beef with football fans, but I hate the pressure to conform that requires book-lovers to be given the wrinkled-nose treatment by people who, ultimately, are not participating in a sport at all but making mooing noises at a television.
When you read you actively engage with the writer in a complex exchange of emotional intelligence. If there’s such a thing as militant reading, I feel radicalised when someone insists I should watch a match in order to ‘join in’. Conformity was never my strong point.
I’m joining into something much bigger and more involving by reading, but if England gets through to the finals I’ll watch the game. And Martin Keown can try to read a book.
(Picture shows the labyrinthine ‘Fine Books’ secondhand bookshop in Palma where I purchased an early edition of Dorothy L Sayers’ ‘The Nine Tailors’ for €3 – visit it for incredible book bargains!)