Saturday, July 12, 2014

My brother's ordeal, and one eternity to go

Today I sold Julie's Nissan Micra that she bought new in early 2009. It's a classic grannymobile. I don't know what colour you'd call it. Peach? Shocking pink? I felt ever so slightly silly as I drove it to the car yard. At first they would only offer $6000 - it needs some work on two panels and the colour could be a turn-off - but when they came up a thousand Julie eventually accepted on the phone. It'll be interesting to see what price they put on it at the yard. I wouldn't be surprised if it's ten or eleven grand. Julie's just found out that she might be moving from her Newtown rest home to a retirement village up in Napier next weekend. She doesn't think she can drive anymore, with her arthritis and neuropathy, so she was desperate to offload the car. This whole Napier thing has come out of the blue after a conversation Julie had with her niece. If it does happen, I won't be too disappointed that she's moved away, but I probably will go and see her. Any excuse to get in the car and well away from here.

I phoned my parents last night. They'd just got back from three days in London. They saw two shows and visited the Maritime Museum (which has changed a lot since I went there when I was 16) and a lot else besides. Today they depart from Newcastle on a two-week Nordic cruise. Where all this appetite for cruising has come from I have no idea. Maybe appetite is the word: you can stuff yourself silly if you want to.

This weekend my brother - a reservist in the British army - is embarking on a two-week SAS selection exercise in the Brecon Beacons. I have a hard time even thinking about what he'll be going through in the coming fortnight. Three people died from dehydration in last year's exercise - it was all over the news in the UK. With just a map and compass, you really are on your own there. I guess that's the whole point. But some of the soldiers involved, like my brother, have survived combat in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. That they should put their lives at serious jeopardy in a training exercise just seems so wrong. I'll be keeping a close eye on the weather forecast.

Kevin knows the date I want him out by (well actually he doesn't, because that date has long gone). But he knows the date I told him, and assuming he's gone by then, I'm now half-way to having this place to myself again. It already feels like an eternity, so I've just got one eternity to go. At work yesterday I was doing a fairly menial task, but it was strangely therapeutic too, and the last thing I wanted was to come home to 24/7 Kevin and nonstop TV.

On FiveThirtyEight they were trying to get a measure of the off-the-mapness of Germany's 7-1 win over Brazil, largely by comparing it with famous blowouts in American football. But they missed one crucial fact: gridiron isn't on the global sporting map to begin with. No result in that sport, however shocking, can reasonably compare. You can say the same about rugby, although the All Blacks are a global icon, and if they were beaten 70-10 by Australia in a World Cup semi-final (heaven forbid), that would send out some pretty big shock waves. Only two sporting events in my memory come anywhere near Germany–Brazil. The first was Michael Johnson's 19.32 in Atlanta, when he obliterated his own world record and the rest of the field. That second 100 metres was stupidly fast. The other one that sticks out is Isner–Mahut. Not the same sort of achievement of course, but tennis is a global sport, and that match even overshadowed the last football World Cup, as well as the Queen's visit to Wimbledon, while it was happening.

Had Holland won that shoot-out against Argentina, their passage to the final would have been unsatisfactory (a dodgy late penalty to beat Mexico, followed by two consecutive wins on penalties). With Argentina getting through, I know the result I want on Monday morning: a convincing win for Germany, or failing that, any win for Germany. Before the final we've got the third-place game, which has a bit more meaning (and intrigue) this time than it normally does.

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