It’s the hope that kills you, they say but really it’s what sustains you, even in the face of all the evidence to the contrary. Without hope, what’s the point? When Dai was ill – very ill – he used to call me his “ever-optimistic wife” and I’d say, “That doesn’t mean I’m not realistic…” And it didn’t. Deep down I knew he wasn’t going to do but…you never know. Keep hope in that heart of yours until it stops beating.
The start of a new football season, important though it is to many people, is not in the same league but it does matter and it’s lovely because you’re still able to dream of glory. Aston Villa, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, were crushed at Newcastle in their first match but they’ve bounced back with two big wins of their own and, who knows, they mightn’t lose again for months. But they now know there’s a lot of work to do to become as good as they thought they were…
Years ago, thanks to Rachel Heyhoe-Flint, who was a big cheese at Wolves, we took Dad to Molineux to watch his beloved Sunderland. They were 3-nil down within 15 minutes and his head was on his knees for the rest of the match. “Thanks for reducing my expectations for the season,” he said, meaning it. He was resigned to a ho-hum campaign but Sunderland didn’t lose another league game and ended up promoted!
My sometimes beloved Totspurs (I can be a fickle fan) managed an excellent draw at Brentford on the opening day and I admit I took the train down to London last Saturday more in hope than expectation. We were playing Manchester United, who really aren’t much better than us but should be much further on in their rebuilding, so I hadn’t a clue what would happen. Usually they beat us at our place (now Tottenham Hostspur Stadium but still White Hart Lane in our hearts). We were 3-nil up at half-time in one match and Fergie had a go at his lot, saying, “For God’s sake, it’s Spurs….” United won 5-3….And no Spurs fan was surprised.
Well, happy day, this time we won 2-nil. We could just as easily have lost but we rode our luck and the atmosphere was terrific. We were very, very noisy – not a given because we’re a bit picky and do have an unfortunate tendency to tut if we don’t like what we’re seeing – and the away fans were unusually subdued; perhaps they’re not happy with what they’re seeing, they have very, very high expectations.
Train down, car home because my fellow Spurs tragic Essie had driven from Wales – she said it was more than worth the detour – and then drove us home. Above and beyond.
The next day, I cycled to Whittington to watch the Women’s World Cup final in the pub. It’s only three miles but I hadn’t been on the bike for yonks and puffed my way rather pathetically up a hill that would hardly register as a pimple to a proper cyclist. Then, in a turn of events that would have come as no surprise to Dai, I got my 50-50 chance wrong.
There are two pubs in Whittington and I plonked myself in The Bell just before kick-off, wondering where my footie friends were. Turns out they were in The Dog, a few hundred yards away. I had a pot of tea and watched the first half of England v Spain, then headed up to the right pub for a pint or two. I was cheering for the Lionesses but they were outplayed by Spain, who overcame assxe3w – this was written by Alice, who can’t understand why we’re up so late, so put her nose on the keyboard and took over the typing.
What I was trying to say was the Spaniards overcame all sorts of off-field rows and shenanigans to perform amazingly and their captain, who scored the winning goal, found out after the game that her father had died. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
The sainted Alice is staying with me for a few days and apart from her dibopis tut[[;;jg Society (dubious typing skills) she is the perfect guest. I have a list of instructions that even I can follow and so far so good. We’ve avoided the picnickers in the park because as one of the parkies put it: Alice puts nic(k) into picnic. That’s a labrador for you, they never know when they’ve had enough; in fact, they’ve never had enough! Apparently it’s all down to a gut hormone called ghrelin – some humans have it as well, so we shouldn’t be too quick to judge the overweight.
On the golf front, Europe’s Solheim Cup team has been announced but Stacy Lewis, the US captain, still has some thinking to do. Playing is one thing, being the boss quite another, much less straightforward and simple, not least when it comes to deciding who makes your team and who doesn’t. Perhaps after that the match itself is relatively stress free….