Small victories? We’ll take them all.
Kids being allowed back to play sport next week is not a small victory by any measurement, of course. For their mental health as much as their physical well-being, letting kids out into a field to run around like crazed dogs — in a good way — is a great milestone on the route back to some kind of normality.
The absence of that sporting outlet has surely led to a heightened sense of awareness of what’s owed to the people who give up weekend mornings to help my and your kids play sport.
If not, then it should, because when you have to take a step back — as necessitated by a pandemic — you realise it’s an everyday miracle that on Saturdays or Sundays there are thousands of people all over Ireland who decide not to make a cafetiere of the ‘good’ coffee as they peruse the property section of their paper.
Instead, they pull on tracksuits and past-their-best runners and head to their local club, whatever code it plays, and wrangle kids into lines and circles and teams and get them acquainted with their own fine motor skills.
Park your cynicism (ahem — ed) and show your appreciation. Or better yet, become one of those people yourself and help out.
It seems strange that only 12 months ago we were wondering about the chances of the Tokyo Olympics going ahead in 2020. Does that make it more or less strange that we’re still unsure about it happening in 2021?
Last week there was an interesting intervention on the Olympics from one Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party (the ruling party in Japan): “If it seems impossible to do it any more, then we have to stop, decisively.” He added that in the case of a surge in infections caused by the Games, “there would be no meaning to having the Olympics”.
Nikai backtracked somewhat later, and his boss, the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, stated there was “no change to the government position to do everything to achieve a safe and secure Olympics”.
The observant may detect an escape route in Suga’s comments — as in, “doing everything” to achieve a safe and secure Olympics may not quite achieve that aim — but for athletes building towards a lifelong dream of competing at the Games, it’s hardly reassuring.
Factor in situations like that of Irish pentathletes Natalya Coyle and Sive Brassil having to withdraw from a recent event in Sofia, because of positive Covid-19 tests there — an event that would have been valuable prep for the Games — and you get an insight into the lack of certainty being faced by athletes.
Geoff Dyer has a new book out: good news. When saying See/Saw: Looking at Photographs should be worth your time I’m going on the evidence of Dyer’s past work, which is widely varied and hugely entertaining, two attributes which aren’t always mutually inclusive.
I came across him first with But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz, one of the best and most innovative books about jazz I’ve ever read, and one crying out for an accompanying Spotify playlist. I’m also saving one of his more recent efforts for the holidays (fingers crossed).
After all, if you’re a man of a certain age, how could you possibly resist a book entitled Broadsword Calling Danny Boy: Watching ‘Where Eagles Dare’?