Pride Comes Before a Draw

April 02, 2014

Manchester United and Bayern Munich had a match last night. Apparently it was an important game. I paid no attention to that. I’ve never heard a football fan refer to any match as trivial. They can always come up with a reason as to why it is actually a very important match.  The game presented me with a dilemma because my brother, Dennis, is a fanatical Man United fan while my brother-in-law, Wolfgang, from Munich, is an equally fanatical Bayern Munich fan.

My duty of loyalty to my brother is, quite rightly, higher than that owed to an in-law.  However, I have enjoyed some very glamorous holidays with my sister, Wolfgang’s wife, in Italy and France and Spain during the last few years courtesy of my brother-in-law’s extraordinary generosity. He is not remotely aware of the extent of his generosity to me but that doesn’t mean I appreciate it less. So, I called Wolfgang to wish him good luck in the match. I almost heard him shrug through the satellite waves.

            “There is no need for luck. It is for certain that we will win.”

That set my teeth on edge, well, maybe not on edge, I mean how would that work anyway, we’re not canines, but I did begin to grind them. I immediately hoped that Man United would bring Bayern Munich to their knees by crushing them in a 5: Nil defeat. I texted my brother, volunteering to join him and his mates in a pub, to watch the match. He didn’t reply. I’m often bemused by articles that complain about boys/men being poor communicators. That’s never been my experience. My brother’s silence was a crystal clear communication: No. Go away.

            I wasn’t offended. The last time I took interest in football was the summer when I was nine. My sister and I concocted a game using football cards; you know the ones that have the names and pictures of players in the British league with statistics like goals scored etc.  Whoever held all the cards at the end was the winner. We forced Dennis to play with us which he didn’t enjoy very much because the game was all about guessing what cards the other players held – but only on the basis of the players’ heights. That might have made some sense if we were dealing with basketball players. Still, I hope that one day my stored up knowledge will prove useful: Glen Hoddle 6’ 0; Lou Macari 5’ 6”; Kevin MacDonald 6’ 4”. 

            I sauntered into the living room where my Dad sat in his armchair, about to watch the match. He seemed surprised and quite pleased when I joined him. He gave me a commentary on stuff like strategies, managers, various players’ strengths and weaknesses. I didn’t take a lot of it in but I nodded my head now and again and tried to look intelligent. Then the game started so I picked up my book. It was an oversized, bright red copy of How to Train Your Dragon by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, authored by the mega-talented Cressida Cowell.  “It’s work-related. Ish,” I said a little defensively. Dad almost managed to hide his disappointment. At least he tried, which says a lot about him. I did glance over the cover of the book at all the exciting bits in the game. There weren’t many. But I almost dropped the book when Man United scored but then, Munich equalized.

Ah, Wolfgang, I thought smugly when the game finished with a 1:1 score: Pride comes before a draw. Oh, Come on, you come up with something better then. Let’s see what you’ve got.

I am almost looking forward to the next match when the teams met again in Munich. But I will probably be busy on my blog tour of my book in the U.K.  The photograph is of the banner of the tour. At first, I wasn’t sure what a blog tour meant. It sounded suspiciously like something fake and cheap that Lily Allen would write a song about. But I’ve come to appreciate the many advantages of a blog tour.  You don’t have to sit at a desk in a book shop with heaps of your own books piled in front of you while parents dragging kids, stop by to ask you things like,

 “Where is the baby changing room?”

“Could I borrow your pen?”; or

 “Where can I find David Walliams’s Demon Dentures?”

That last one was at least interesting. “It’s Demon Dentist -- it’s not a sequel to Gangsta Granny. It’s on the top shelf on the left, see over there, where all the people are, but here’s a tip:  it’s two Euros cheaper if you buy one of David’s older books. Try The Boy in the Dress. It’s brilliant. . . .  Em, God no, I wasn’t implying anything about your kid, not at all, as soon as I saw him, I thought how masculine he looks in that dress. You could tell he’s a boy a mile off. OH, sorry, it’s a girl!  I was just joking, would he, I mean, she, like to have a look at my book; it is about …. Oh, sure, see you later.” 

Blog tours are good things! They cut down on humiliation and bus fares. I am looking forward to mine.

My heartfelt thanks to the many students and passionate young readers that I met over the course of the past week. Special kudos to the fantastic Paula at Near FM for having me as a guest on her radio programme, Cover to Cover. She told me that I didn’t actually have to wear the huge headphones but I did anyway to get into the spirit of it. It is a pretty cool experience to be in a radio studio. Next week, I am heading to Limerick to visit schools, including, Our Lady of Peace primary school, Salesian primary school and Scoil Ide.  I will also be signing books in Eason’s and O’Mahony’s on Friday afternoon. If you live in Limerick and you want a book signed, drop by. It doesn’t have to be my book. I’m not fussy. I will sign any book. I’ll write a report on my trip to Limerick next week.  

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