IN WHICH WE PONDER THE DEEP MYSTERY OF WHAT IS OR IS NOT COMING HOME, AND CONTAINED WITHIN THIS POST IS SOME SWEARING, SO IF WE’RE ALL COOL WITH THAT, LET’S CRACK ON, SHALL WE?
Look. If this whole ‘it’s coming home’ business has passed you by, that’s probably not a bad thing. What’s coming home, I hear you ponder? I mean, most things come home. In fact, for many of us in a normal week, it’s a daily occurrence. And lately, quite a lot of us haven’t left the fucking house for ages! So it would be fair to say we can’t really come home because we never left…
Apologies for swearing. It seemed fitting. And swearing in the right place is always acceptable.
So, for the uninitiated, it’s football that’s coming home. And to be more specific, it’s English football that’s coming home. To England. The words come from a song, and here’s a hot tip for you now, for future pub quizzes (if we ever get back into the fucking pub, that is…): the song title is ‘Three Lions’. It’s not ‘It’s coming home’ or any variation on that theme.
It was written by two English comedians, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, with music by the Lightning Seeds. It came out in 1996 in the run up to the Euros which were held in the England later that year. So now you can see why it is often referred to as ‘it’s coming home’. For many English folk, football is the quintessential English game. If you fancy watching the official video, check it out here (and add a few more to the near 34 million views to date). It’s still about the best ‘football’ song ever written as it’s taken from a fan’s perspective, and for most fans, your team doesn’t win. It languishes in the lower divisions. It rarely has glory days in the cup. It doesn’t have big name signings. Such is the way for most of us. Unless you choose to follow a modern ‘franchise’ of course, where the team is carefully hand-picked by experts and paid for by multi-billionaires. This is not really sport, of course. Which is exactly the sort of thing you’d except to hear from the fans of Scunthorphe United when they watch Manchester City win yet another title and sign yet another superstar who’s wages alone are worth more, per month, than the whole Scunthorpe squad. I should also point out that England did not win the Euros in 1996. They lost to Germany on penalties in the semi-finals, a fact that still makes grown men cry in many part of England to this day.
Of course, England did win the World Cup in 1966. You knew that, didn’t you? I mean, they still talk about it. And from an Irish football perspective, you can be damn sure we’d still be talking about it too, if we had won. But we didn’t, and we don’t. And so we get to whinge and moan about our neighbours across the pond when we hear ‘Three Lions’ on the radio, and all that talk of ’66. And it’s coming home. It may well indeed tomorrow evening, at Wembley, which is the spiritual home of English football. For Irish folk, this will be close to unbearable. For me, as a half-English, half-Irish bloke, it will be a fun spectacle. I will be shouting for England; no point denying it. I reckon the Italians have the beating of them, so it may well come down to how the England team manage the massive expectations. If England score early, it will make for a horrendous match. It could then be an hour or more of Italian possession leading to a goal, then extra time, then penalties.
That would be one hell of an emotional rollercoaster…
That’s enough of football for now. It will all be over tomorrow anyway, and we can go back to whatever passes for normal around these parts. But I will leave you with this one funny image. It’s from an Irish guy I follow on Twitter, and I think he was quite surprised when this went viral. In his own words, he’s a classic shitposter, with double-figure likes for most of his posts. This one, as it stands, has 26,400 likes and nearly 10,000 retweets. You know it’s gone big when people start sending it to you from abroad, as my brother did to me, from Italy. Anyway, it refers to a penalty incident in a game of football, so again, it does require a certain knowledge of events, and I won’t get into it now.
There is running, of course. Gym work continues, and I believe it’s starting to show some dividends. Not that we are aiming for washboard abs or buns of steel. But I do want to build a decent core, and there are a variety of exercises in there for arms and legs too. Five runs this month so far, with some pace work and one long run this morning of about 18k. I trained so long with four hour marathon pace beaten into my head that it’s been a fun challenge to reset the clock and start running at a faster pace. My official programme starts next week, which is just in time for my week of annual leave. And when I realised this the other day, I also recalled that this seemed to be an annual occurrence. Which is not unusual really: a marathon at the end of October. A 16 week schedule. The chance of overlap with holidays? Yep, that’s a given.
On my long run this morning, I tried out this hydration pack from Decathlon. They’ve just opened a store in Dublin and I dropped over during the week. It’s vast. It’s catering for just about every sport you can think of, but needless to say, that means it’s not really going to specialise. So not somewhere for your running shoes or bike, but for other bits and bobs like this pack, it’s certainly going to be able to offer good value over the known brands in these areas. For trail runner folk, that would be CamelBak. This offering is their smallest, at 5 litres, with a 1 litre bladder. It cost me €20, and if it had a famous brand name on it, I am sure the price would have trebled at least.
It worked well. I have another one of these packs. It was dirt cheap online, and it does the job. But this one is comfier, with a few little extra touches, like a whistle, and a lanyard to hold the plastic strip that locks the bladder up to prevent leakage. The tiny buckles across the chest are not filling me with confidence, but they held up fine today, and there are two pockets at the front which will hold your phone and gels, etc. There is also an inner zipped pouch, but as this is hidden away with the bladder, I am not sure what the purpose is really. I suppose if you had stuff you needed but not whilst on the move… anyway, this is not supposed to be a product review. If you are a serious trail runner, you will probably already sport a decent CamelBak or similar. But if you are just getting into the idea of it, this is worth a punt.
In my last post, I finished off talking about a feather, so in keeping with the time-honoured cliché of ‘you wait for one post about bird feathers, and then two show up together’, here is another one.
This is a Buzzard feather. As you can see, it’s a foot long, so most likely a primary wing feather. Considerably larger than last week’s offering.
And finally, here is Bonnie. When your wife owns a few wigs and other assorted hairpieces, it’s odds-on that one will find its way onto a greyhound’s head. It’s a gimme.
We have a couple of days away early next week in one of the nicest parts of the country, and no doubt the next post will have a few pics from County Clare. You can expect a few more orchids and some limestone pavements.
It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming…