17th December 2020
As we move towards the end of the calendar year, let me refer back to a couple of the television sports programmes which I noted in the previous blog (“The Icing and the Cake”, 10th December 2020).
They generated the occasional memorable line. Two examples.
The weekly NRL Try Time programme of Australian rugby league highlights produced by Fox was actually quite a hard watch. There was no introduction or summary and no context was given to the action in a match, for example by showing player dismissals or crucial drop goals. Instead, it was just an unrelenting diet of tries: perhaps 70 or 80 (plus replays) in 50 minutes of airtime.
In August, the build-up to one score was when James Tedesco, the Sydney Roosters full back, made a break down the centre of the field. As he was halted in a despairing tackle by his West Tigers opposite number, his shorts and jock strap were hauled down, thus exposing a bare backside. As the play continued, the commentator – uncredited, unfortunately – remarked: “That thing’s broken… It’s got a crack in it“.
Absolutely brilliant. Moments later, a sweeping Roosters move produced a superb try in the right-hand corner for Brett Morris.
The second example – from Gary Imlach during ITV4’s excellent coverage of the highlights of one of the days in the La Vuelta a Espana in November – was probably less spontaneous. In the usual way, at the individual time trial towards the end of the race, the day’s current leader took his seat in a makeshift studio in front of a camera – with a backdrop of the sponsor’s logo – until someone else finished the course in a faster time and moved in to take his place.
Imlach’s commentary covered the moment when the time of the Australian cyclist, Alex Edmondson, was beaten and he was about to leave the seat: “He’s about to vacate it for the next leader…[pause]… unless he refuses, of course”.
This was on the day of the US Presidential Election.
Finally, another line – not from a sports commentator, but from a poet: the Northern Irishman Derek Mahon, who died in October at the age of 78.
The obituaries referred to Mahon as “truculent” and “troubled” and the details of his personal life – estrangement from his parents, alcoholism, illness – make for sad reading. It might be expected, therefore, that in our present circumstances – approaching the depth of winter, dealing with the coronavirus and its various implications, wondering when the light might shine again – we would find little in Mahon’s work to comfort us.
Not so. His reading of his short poem – Everything Is Going To Be All Right – was broadcast by the Irish television channel RTE at the end of its news bulletin earlier in the year and this has been widely shared on the internet. The poem acknowledges that “There will be dying, there will be dying…”, but goes on to state that “The sun rises in spite of everything…” and concludes with its title line “Everything is going to be all right”.
I am determined to end the year on an upbeat note. Everything is going to be all right.