This is a special week for me. Not because the Premier League has come back to enable the emotionally stunted, and not because Mindhunter Season 2 arrives on Friday, though I will be accepting no attempts at communication this weekend as I cower at the sight of Cameron Britton. Again.
No, this week is special for me because these are the few days of every year when nobody I speak to hears the words coming out of my mouth, or understands those words, choosing instead to impose their own meaning on every utterance.
Example. I say, “I don’t have any tickets.”
But when I say this, people seem to hear me say, “Why, yes, I have plenty of cardboard access-vouchers for the sports occasion that interests you, flimsy guarantees of Nirvana! Step right this way and allow me to retrieve the large sack of tickets under my desk! Happy with this one? Take another couple, you can’t be too careful.”
This is not me being antisocial (you do that one week a year? — everyone who knows me). This is a plain statement of the facts, the plainest being this. I don’t have any tickets.
It may come as a surprise to you to read this, but I don’t wallpaper my home with spare tickets to sports events.
I don’t spark up a fat cigar and rest my feet on my desk and decide who I’ll favour with a place in the luxury skybox, and who I’ll demote to the groundlings on Hill 16.
I don’t have any tickets. If I had tickets I’d give them to you. Absolutely. Guaranteed. Why wouldn’t I? We’re pals, aren’t we? Friends?
We say hello when we pass in work and you’ve never tried to push me down the stairs when I pretend to check my Twitter feed rather than asking about your kids. To me, that’s friendship.
So why are you still asking me for tickets?
I don’t have any tickets.
This is not strictly true. I have a stub in my wallet from the musical Hamilton.
But that’s different. I logged onto a website and paid for it.
I didn’t say to one of the dancers in the chorus in a kind of creepy passive-aggressive way that I’d love to be able to get a ticket while that dancer was having a ham and mayo roll in her canteen.
Correction: I didn’t say that loudly to someone else in the canteen while the dancer was etc. etc. You know why? Because I know how that dancer feels. And I know what that dancer would have said, right after taking out a restraining order.
I don’t have any tickets.
I’m not accusing you of being a day-tripper or an event junkie, a fair-weather fan or someone trying to impress their in-laws.
I’m not suggesting for one minute that this great-uncle you’re particularly close to — the one you keep saying over and over is on his way back from the Bronx with just one burning wish in mind — doesn’t exist. I’m sure he does.
As a measurement of my good faith, I am not even describing you as an influencer.
I just don’t have any tickets.
If you want advice, it’s simple. Go to Dublin. Take a punt. You’ll probably turn something up on the Saturday, particularly if you head out to the Kilmacud Sevens. You’ll definitely turn something up if you head out to Copper’s, but whether it’ll get you into Croke Park is another matter.
But I don’t have any tickets.
Not even for Cameron Britton, and he’s a serial killer.
Because I like droning on about things I know very little about, I was intrigued by the recent appearance of a controversy in lacrosse.
Specifically, a controversy about protective headwear, and whether this should be mandatory or not. I’ve written here before about the Boston-based sports radio programme, Only A Game, and they recently focused on the back-and-forth in lacrosse about protective gear.
The full report is well worth a read. Those who do will clock some interesting parallels to camogie and hurling. Men’s and women’s lacrosse are also similar games, but games with subtly different rules, with the latter seen as less physically dangerous.
Parking that assumption, there are other specific issues (initially in lacrosse girls wore youth ice hockey helmets because there were no bespoke lacrosse headwear).
The segment left this reader with at a philosophical conundrum: If protective headgear makes sportspeople feel less vulnerable, thus inducing greater risk-taking, what’s the point of that protective headgear in the first place?
Tomorrow night RTÉ broadcasts another episode of The Game, the hurling documentary which aired last summer.
As a friend of this column says in similar circumstances, I’m compromised on this every way ’til Sunday, having been the consultant for the series.
But if you’re reading this corner of the newspaper you’re probably interested in sport, and if you’re interested in sport you need to watch it.
Not just because it’s about hurling, and this is a hurling week. And not because — as the kids say — you ‘won’t be able’ after seeing a couple of the scenes.
No, because some of the lessons from the episode cut across every sport. Babs Keating on realising it’s all over: “A wet day and young fellas passing us out, young fellas hitting us and you can’t hit back. Everyone has that realisation, that their day has come.”
“You think you’re still that young kid started out in the street pucking ball,” says Seán Óg Ó hAilpÍn on the same topic.
He doesn’t say that the day comes when you fall off the horse. He doesn’t have to.
The Game Episode 4 is on tomorrow on RTÉ One at 9.35pm.
I mentioned I was looking forward to George Packer’s new book a few weeks ago.
Well, I picked it up over the weekend and it certainly lives up to expectations. Packer wrote The Unwinding, a book that’s simultaneously brilliant and terrifying in its multilayered depiction of America falling apart. (It’s better than that sounds.)
His new book, Our Man, is a biography of Richard Holbooke, the US diplomat. (Again, better than it sounds.)
You know a biography is good when it states openly that it doesn’t want to linger on the childhood before getting to the good stuff (but doesn’t mention JD Salinger in doing it).
Didn’t think a book with the subtitle The End Of The American Century could be as entertaining as this.
For lacrosse helmets and George Packer buttons mail firstname.lastname@example.org