Reading A Book? You Loser!



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!)

34 comments on “Reading A Book? You Loser!”

  1. Martin Tolley says:

    Joining in… has always been overrated in my view. Especially when accompanied by the command to “feel” in a particular way – “happy…. it’s Christmas” etc. Maybe it was Marcus Aurelius who said in translation – The greatest revenge is not being numbered amongst the rest.

  2. J F Norris says:

    We live in a world where ignorance is now celebrated and individuality is mocked. To quote the current reigning King of the Ignorant and oh so eloquent twittering President of the US: “Sad.”

  3. J F Norris says:

    Ugh! mistyped my email address. Here goes again:

    We live in a world where ignorance is now celebrated and individuality is mocked. To quote the current reigning King of the Ignorant and oh so eloquent twittering President of the US: “Sad.”

  4. Denise Treadwell says:

    You don’t have join in, you have to be true to yourself. I never feel compelled to join , it is about choice. I don’t think anyone should be demarded to something they don’t want to do. So its perfectly alright for you not want to see the footy .

  5. Diane Englot says:

    Can I get an “AMEN!” Some folks, I think, are intimidated by people who read and love books.

    Sports people…stop trying to make me watch something that I find totally uninteresting. I know it’s a big deal for you, but I hate competition. So, please enjoy yourself. I hope your team wins.
    Now, go away and let me finish this chapter.

  6. John Griffin says:

    I’m a sports person, but rugby, athletics, orienteering – just not football. So be happy and travel lonely motorways on the Wednesday of the semifinal, go shopping in deserted supermarkets, enjoy an hour of solitude in a nice TV free cafe – I’ll be having a semi-private Pilates session at 7pm, since most of my Pilates class won’t be there.

  7. SS Drake says:

    The high v low culture debate always depresses me.l love books with every fibre of my being. I also love Grazia magazine, have an unhealthy ( and expensive) Cos habit and almost cried when Chanel discontinued their “Berlingot” nail polish. You can adore Balenciaga and Giuseppe Di Lampedusa with equal fervour without it making you a bad person. As Ava Gardner once said, deep down I’m pretty shallow. There’s room for all our passions, especially right now when it’s way too hot to argue…

  8. Brooke says:

    Mental endomorphs like Martin Keown are going the way of dinosaurs. Ticket sales have long been in decline and now sports broadcasting (TV/radio) contracts, revenue, are declining. Sports broadcasting desperately needs new audience segments. I.e. Keown and his like see their lucrative jobs in jeopardy.

  9. Peter Tromans says:

    Is it very different from racism and other isms and phobias? Something or someone is different, so attack. As J F Norris wrote, it’s very sad. What would Mr Keowan say of Brian Glanville, that is if knows who he is?

  10. Jan says:

    Super Numpty here didn’t twig the game kicked off @ 3 p.m. yesterday. I got into my head it was 4pm. I thought Bridport was very quiet when I went in to town after an early.

    Saw both goals. Can you believe it we are about 90 mins away from the final?

    Unbelievable if we can get past Croatia – IF.

    The second game of the day Russia v Croatia wasn’t great. It was the penalties that were well weird though. It really seemed to get to the Russians a couple of them just seem to have suffered from a real loss of nerve. Must have been massive for them scoring a late goal then penalties in front of their own end supporters. Bottle gone big style. Even the late goal scorer.

    Another early today. Off now till next weekend. I like working weekends with five days off wish I had sussed this earlier. The weekend in reverse (+ more than 2X as long )

  11. Jan says:

    I know I am probably proving I am firmly within the mental endo-moron classification but does anybody else reckon that Harry Kane looks like some 17C painters idea of Jesus?

    He seems to be getting to look more Christ like as the tournament progresses. Oh hang on not everyone( hardly anyone perhaps) knows wot he looks like. Oops.
    Sorry Helen no offence. But he does.

    Come on England!

  12. Roger says:

    Unfortunately I wasn’t there to tell Martin Keown “People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.”
    When people say “Get a life” they usually mean “Get a fuck” or “Get drunk.”

  13. Brooke says:

    Jan– what 17th c Christology images are you thinking of, please?
    Enjoy the games!

  14. Peter Tromans says:

    Who is Harry Kane? A footballer in the mould of Ronnie Allen, the greatest of all centre forwards, with dashes of Bobby Charlton and Roy of the Rovers. That name, Harry Kane, it resonates: hurricane, Harry and Meghan, Harry Hotspur, and Henry V ‘Once more unto the breach …’. If we play in the final against France, can it be delayed to St Crispin’s? And now Jesus! We know little of Christ as a footballer, though Liverpudlians believed him to be a centre forward, supporting Jan’s observation.

    Is he, Mrs May or Rees Mogg, or pure chance the source of recent success? Personally, I think it’s the Southgate waistcoat (gilet), a brilliant garment, especially when it has large, inside pockets.

  15. Ian Luck says:

    My mindset is firmly of the: ‘Whilst I’m reading this book about Orford Ness, somebody, somewhere, is watching the football. What a loser.’ I was asked, by someone at work, why I wasn’t following the football “Everybody else is” (they really aren’t – none of my family, or any of our friends are) “That’s your answer. Everybody.” I’m not a sheep, and have never given in to peer pressure. You enjoy what you like, but don’t ask me to take part, and we’ll get along just fine. Someone made the mistake of calling me posh, recently, as I dismissed football as ‘boring’. Being posh has nothing to do with it. I liked the delightfully waspish Brian Sewell, and liked him even more when I found out what his favourite pastime was. Opera? Musicals? Lapidiary? Not even close. Most weekends, if not busy, Brian Sewell could be found enjoying an afternoon’s racing… At a Banger Racing circuit. He knew most of the drivers, and had visited most of the tracks in the country. It was his favourite pastime, bar none. For non-British readers, Banger racing is like ‘Destruction Derby’ but much, much faster and better to watch. Run on oval or figure-8 tracks, the cars can (and do) get up to speeds of 80+ mph., and crash into each other. The safety factor is so high, and the cars reinforced so well, I have seen cars smashed into jagged cubes from which the driver has emerged without a cut. It’s a great afternoon out.

  16. Ken Mann says:

    The viewing figures for the UK show that for every person watching the match two people were not.

  17. Jan says:

    Brooke I will have to go to the library to pick out a name for you of a likely artist. I haven’t got a name to supply you with. I am not that well read. But unless I have become significantly more delusional recently (possible – can’t be ruled out) I know I have seen the Christ / Kane picture. More than once, pictures.

    Artists in the past seemed to create a Christ in their own image – bit like God in reverse -Therefore the blonde blue eyes Christ created by a Northern European artist was to them just as likely as the large eyed dark skinned Greek orthodox version of said chap. Though to us now the Orthodox version is probably a much more accurate representation if a young Jewish gent.

    Am off to Winchester on Wednesday big libraries there will attend.

    I will leave the debate as to which position the Lord played in his original team( consisting of his good self 10 others and two reserves ) till another time. Wonder who the goalie was?

  18. Jan says:

    Here Ken how do these viewing figures work out then?

    If the tv’s + channels monitored show one tv in 3 was tuned to beeb 1 and two more were say QVC viewers or watching Poirot repeats on itv 3. Surely they cannot accurately measure how many people were Sat in front of each telly? . Or watching in park, pub or other public space laid aside for such purpose? Listening on 5 live. Or watching/listening sneakily at work – as many were.

    No matter if you are bothered about the tournament or not it did seem to be quite popular on the day.

    Now just in case it’s me last chance or I get locked inside a library in Winchester searching for religious Flemish artists of long ago
    “Come on England!”

  19. Helen Martin says:

    I can knit and watch the telly, including football (was cheering for Croatia, but not against England) , but not read except in the interval. I know what you mean, Jan, about Harry Kane, there’s something soulful about the way he lifts his head in moments of repose, although it could just be a sinus headache I suppose.
    I didn’t see the England Sweden game and I don’t know if we’re getting the same commentators as you did, but I’m glad I didn’t hear the comment about the reader. (Just the sort of low class thing a footballer would say) As posters here show you can have a variety of enthusiasms. My nephew was startled that I could follow their baseball game with comprehension. I don’t like ballet (it does horrible things to dancers’ bodies) do like art exhibitions, fascinated by archaeology since I was 12, am totally ignorant about music, although I sing not too bad an alto, or did, and am currently teaching calligraphy.

  20. Jan says:

    Tomorrow Helen the big semi final day. Come on England!

    When you hear Mr. Kane talk it’s such a contrast to his sort of soulful look! Comes as a right surprise his voice! I see what you mean about the way he lifts his head at times. Yes I can see what you mean there.

    This England team features lots of Tottenham Hotspur players and HK is their lead player. Think it was Martin Keohane who said the dopey thing about the book reading. Which probably proves not every good footballer makes a good pundit more than owt else.

    This high and low culture thing has always been a bit of a mystery to me surely you just like what you like it’s doesn’t need to be measured against some sort of yardstick to assess it’s relevance, seriousness or importance. What’s all that about really? “Oh I am proper clever me I don’t use my time thinking about trivia”

    The more you listen to intellectuals the more you realise that being “intellectual” doesn’t guarantee much depth or any originality of thought. Not at all. Maybe the very mindset which clings to being of an intellectual outlook is by its very nature seeking something rigid a sort of safe framework to supply certainty and support to it’s operation.

  21. Peter Tromans says:

    Jan, Christ (like HK) is also apparently something of a goalie, ‘Jesus Saves, but St John knocks in the rebound.’ Looks like centre forward for Liverpool, but goalie against?

  22. Brooke says:

    Jan + Helen: are you thinking perhaps of Albrecht Durer’s self portrait? Which he then turns into Christology portrait. If so, good catch as Durer almost invented rock star self promotion.
    Enjoy games.

  23. Margo wheeler says:

    I have been “saving” the latest Bryant And May to bring with me to England this summer. I have brought 5 of my university studentships to work for a month. I know nothing about English football (the American version is my passion). But I been reading my book and laughing out loud while the lads are cheering on their team.

    I have finished the book and as ever have many new B&M London landmarks to visit when I get there after cheering on the Three Lions to the cup.

    It is a wonderful world where interoperate joys can be experienced.

    Signed, an American Anglophile

  24. Helen Martin says:

    Nope, Brooke, not Durer. He’s looking straight ahead at you, no soulful lift at all. You’re right about the self promotion.
    I don’t know about this intellectual business. Do we mean people who think more about theoretical analysis of situations or systematic organising of them? Abstract ideas? We all do it at least occasionally. Some people go straight for a “how to control” or “how to get things going my way” type of thinking. The theoretical form isn’t much help if there is a short time line and the go for a solution style hampers long term planning.

  25. Wayne Mook says:

    It was Martin Keown ex-Arsenal centre half, when I heard it I thought, diminutive of Richard. It was done as a throw-away joking remark, so I quickly forgot about it. Sad to see it got so many people riled, but then both sides can be very dismissive of each other. I think he would know Brian Glanville, football writer and life long Arsenal fan who wrote a history of Highbury. Glanville wrote for The People at one time as well as The Guardian & Times. The book came out soon after Keown left Arsenal, in his 2nd spell there he lasted over 10 years, so I’m sure their paths would have crossed.

    Jan, I think it’s the eyes that do it for HK, they do look very soulful. I will refrain from making cross jokes.


  26. Martin Tolley says:

    This class and culture thing reminds me of the ruffle that was caused when the late Duchess of Devonshire was invited on to the radio programme Desert Island Discs where people choose 8 recordings to take with them if they were shipwrecked on a desert island. She chose mostly Elvis Presley. So many folk were (not too strong a word) shocked by what they thought was her unusual (transl “common”) taste…for a member of the aristocracy living in an historic stately home.

  27. Martin Tolley says:

    Ooops above comment should have been in the next thread. It’s the heat don’t you know…

  28. Ken Mann says:

    Jan, I believe that figure is estimated from a sample of televisions turned on, so the two not watching includes people watching other channels and people not watching television at all. Good luck to all who are enjoying the football but I do wish it wasn’t taken for granted that this means everyone. Figures suggest that in the UK the world cup is less popular than Morecambe & Wise but more popular than Wallace and Gromit – so roughly at an Only Fools and Horses level.

  29. John DLC says:

    Currently re-reading ‘El fútbol a sol y sombra’ by the late, great Eduardo Galeano. Of all the unimportant things football is the most important.

  30. Ian Luck says:

    I have never understood how 22 neonate imbeciles running aimlessly after a kid’s toy could, in any way, shape, or form, be considered ‘Important’. Cancer research. That’s important. Being a member of an RNLI Lifeboat crew. That’s important. Railway Signalman. That’s important. Playing a pointless game, the outcome of which, may result in property damage and injury to people? How the hell can that be construed ‘Important’? And what numpty decided to call football ‘The Beautiful Game’? 22 hairy Australopithecines hoofing a lump of dead cow about is not beautiful, no sir.

  31. Helen Martin says:

    Oh, tell us how you really feel, Ian. I don’t lose any sleep over outcomes, but the competition is fun. It’s bread and circuses and not even in the same area as any of the subjects you listed but as a momentary amusement in the summer it’s considerably more nearly innocent than a number of other subjects one could overheat about.

  32. Wayne Mook says:

    Well as to the argument about what’s important, all the Arts & sports can be lumped into the same argument, and here we are posting on a site that champions 2 aged, fictional detectives who deal with the peculiar. As to the name calling why not just label it low culture.

    I’ve just been reading some Cornell Woolrich, cheery stuff, ‘…nothing really mattered. At all. But the suffering.’ Well in the end does anything really matter? I guess we could go down the full existential crisis route, not much point but at least it’s fun.

    Oh by the way, it’s the Italians who call it the beautiful game.


  33. Ian Luck says:

    The country that gave us Da Vinci, Botticelli, Tintoretto, Bronzini, Raphael, the Lamborghini Miura, the De Tomaso Mangusta, the Maserati Bora, Claudia Cardinale, Sophia Loren? These are beautiful, or the creators of beautiful objects, and yet they refer to football as ‘beautiful’? That is definitely wrong.

  34. Chris Everest says:

    I like books – I like Sheffield Wednesday – I loathe Martin Keown, Steve Bould, Tony Adams and every other ex-Arsenal player. Reading is alien to them. They missed that day at school. If they read books they might be better pundits too.

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