For some, including me, the end of the summer comes as a blessed relief. The capital, such an endless hive of activity at other times, becomes a desert with nothing to see, do or say. Everyone just waits until we can begin again with a programme of politics, culture and activity that oils the wheels.
There are one or two consolations. Holidays are one. The second is unparalleled in its joy – Test cricket.
While I am not immune to the excitement of T20 it is but a McDonald’s Happy Meal compared to the Feast of Beasts that is an England Test match, with its over-arching narrative, its infinite variety, its mind games, its heroes and villains.
Is the ball spinning? Is there swing? What will the lights do to the pink ball? Third man or silly point? I can listen to the debates endlessly and never tire, despite hearing nothing new.
In a world of frenzy, there is something joyful about the languid ordeal of a long stretch, an investment of time that tests the patience but pays off. Like a long novel that you fling to the corner of the room in frustration and later embrace like an only child.
If I am to sit and wait for the capital to come to its senses, a Test match is the most pleasurable way to block out the days.
Opposite of cricket
Basketball always struck me as the polar opposite of cricket. Point-scoring so easy and liberal it scarcely has value. You-score-I-score. Excitement over substance.
But apparently basketball isn’t fast enough. It also needs the T20 treatment. And netball. Two events are coming to The O2 that intend to put pizzazz into sports not necessarily bereft of the quality in their original forms.
Barry Hearn’s Matchroom Sport has teamed up with the organising bodies to come up with the All-Stars Championship. Fewer players, shorter matches, rolling substitutions, multiple point shots and power plays.
All this reminds of the abs war. Remember nine minute abs? The six pack in 540 seconds. Then the competition comes up with eight, then a rival offers seven and so on. Nine minutes seems like eternity compared to the one and two minute abs programmes now on offer.
If everything is available to suit, no effort required, how do we get a measure of its worth?
Nightmare of indecision
I wonder if why that’s the reason I can rarely find anything satisfying to watch on the TV despite dozens of channels and shows. With linear television you watch “because it’s on”, a passive arrangement requiring no emotional commitment.
A decision to choose – “on demand!” – requires a higher threshold of quality. A deal is struck – if I’m choosing you for the next hour, you’d better not let me down. The whole thing requires a decision based on a whole series of unknown unknowns. What a nightmare.