Saturday, June 12, 2004

Middle aged boy

It’s not often you meet a Viz character in real life. OK, so you’ve probably seen a few Fat Slags stumbling around provisional towns after closing time, but there aren’t too many half-men, half-fish goalkeepers outside Fulchester.

Last week I met a middle aged ten year old boy. Oliver is in Emma’s class at school, (Emma being a teacher, not an eleven year old girl, that would make this a very different site indeed). As part of some kind of national initiative they held a sleepover in the school hall.

The girls and boys, completely through their own volition channelled themselves down the gender stereotypes. The girls had a make-over with face packs and make-up, the boys played football. I went along to help out with the football (apparently my face pack making skills weren’t needed).

I wrecked my ankle, again, turning on it innocuously and feeling the unnerving crunch of the ligaments stretching in ways god never intended. So whilst Gareth dribbled his way through a forest of four foot tall Patrick Viera’s and Thierry Henry’s, I sat out and talked to Oliver.

The first thing he said to me was “I know I’m young but my favourite comedian is Lee Evans, he’s always got a joke to lift things when things are quiet” he followed that by telling me his favourite male pop star is Michael Jackson (I resisted a reaction). When I ventured that my favourite pop stars were Busted – figuring that Public Enemy, Depeche Mode, or even Polygon Window would be greeted with a blank face – I was told they were ‘so over’.

Hmm, it didn’t take long to get the conversation going again. Oliver scored two goals (his first for a year). I asked him why he didn’t keep playing to get his hat-trick. OK, here goes…

“I used to play for a boys team, years ago, but at the end of one game I got home and threw my stuff on the floor and said ‘I quit’. That was it; I didn’t want to play anymore. They wanted me to train all the time, but I practice with my brothers and I didn’t want to football to take over my life. I needed more time with my family.

You suspect he meant the wife and kids. Later he was seen wearing his dressing gown over his clothes, clearly resisting the temptation to bring his pipe and glass of cognac from his wood panelled bedroom at home.


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