It’s odd how things make a mark on us in strange ways.
For as long as I have been exposed to it I have deeply hated listening to people talking about football. It might have been two of my bosses, father and son, talking near my desk at the engineering company I worked for, or an interview with a flat voiced pundit on the radio, it has always made me feel very sad. I could never explain my response. Yes, I could see why it annoyed me; I had no interest and the ego fuelled “they didn’t want to win” or “the manager has no idea what he is doing”, but where did the deep sorrow come from?
One day I was driving to work listening to BBC Radio 4 and, as always happens, the sports news was again on not long after I left home. As usual the interviewer was speaking to some football expert or manager and the sorrow hit again. As I drove I chose to follow its root to find where it came from, and I pictured a regular moment in my early childhood.
I grew up in an introverted house. I didn’t understand it at the time but my parents are not social people. They’re not antisocial, but there were never sleep overs, friends visiting, or tea parties. I never really learnt how to make friends from them and, living in a cottage that was next to the main trunk road between Northampton and Oxford, very few children were allowed to cross the road to visit. This meant that there was many a lonely weekend where the TV was my only company.
I would sit and watch the kids programs on a Saturday morning and then my very gregarious and confident older brother would head out to his friends and I would be left alone, to watch Grandstand…. I remember that opening theme tune and a lump comes to my throat, I felt so very alone. Later on that day the football results would come on and I would desperately wait for it to end so the Saturday afternoon programs would start… again I had to listen to boring men talk about something I could not relate to while feeling very alone.
It’s funny, when I remember those moments I gather up the younger me in my arms and I hug her, telling her she is no longer alone… but I don’t think I will ever learn to love football.
So, if you have oddly strong reactions to seemingly random things, go back, look at where you first encountered it… you may just find trauma or sorrow that needs to be healed.