57 Mt Pleasant Street (part 4): it’s the fun, stupid

What a big summer it’s been here in the south east corner of this Great Southern Land, with Test cricket, T20, tennis, I think they played golf, there was that Tour Down Under cycling, there’s been horse racing, let’s see, and plenty of other bits going on. To take us through the highlights of the past couple of days, it’s a big welcome to former Davis Cup hero, former Football Federation of Australia Chairman and former welterweight contender for the Asia-Pacific, Slippery Stan Archer. How did you see it all, Stan?

 

Look BJ, thank you very much. I was at the pub on Saturday night watching the Asian Cup Final. Others were also there. They can identify themselves if they wish. It’s not my business. The place was heaving with Australian football supporters and others, most of them a good part Adrian, as the clock approached the 90th minute.

 

Yes?

 

Yes. And one of those ‘others’ chose that moment to wrap her arm around my neck, ask me how old I was, and warn me not to tell her brother (“that big guy just there”) that this covert conversation was even taken place.

 

Did she?

 

She certainly did. This sort of thing happens all the time. “Outta the way! This is a big moment in Australian sport!” came a voice of reason from behind, and that was that. Happily we never saw her again.

 

Well said, that voice.

 

Yes. But riding home in the torrential rain (and isn’t there something wonderful about riding a bike home in the pouring rain, water gushing down the nose, jeans saturated?), it all got me thinking of the why.

 

Did it?

 

Yes, BJ, of course it did. Why do we watch an Asian Cup final? Why do humans queue and pay to watch Novac Djokovic hit a tennis ball? Why does Serena, herself, keep coming back? Why do we invest so much in the performances of Glenn Maxwell?

 

Why do we, Stan?

 

Well, I’ve thought a good deal about this and I’ll tell you, BJ. It’s for fun.

 

For fun? It can’t be that simple, can it?

 

It can. Look, take my Charlene. She has spent the summer on a re-viewing of The West Wing. Episode after episode, series after series.

 

Has she?

 

Yes, we all have our vices. But as you know, BJ, that program drips with urgency. An urgency nowadays almost matched by political commentators of our real world. And yet, overhearing snippets of the show all these years later, it’s clear that the urgency never really matters. It’s pointless.

 

Is it?

 

Pointless, BJ. The needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along like before…

 

What are you saying, Stan? Are our summer days on a loop?

 

In a way, BJ. In a way. And not just summer. Look, things do change, of course. We get new jobs, lose old ones, we find love, we meet with death and its consequences. It all happens. But then, for a brief moment, we’re back with Djokovic v Murray, which might as well be Sampras v Agassi, or even McEnroe v Borg. It doesn’t matter. It’s just there.

 

Yes.

 

Offering what? Offering predictable unpredictability. Entertainment. Fun. There’ll be a tennis court, serving and receiving.

 

Yes.

 

There’ll likely be some tension, some unfairness, some gamesmanship/ cheating. There could be physical and psychological limits reached. And that’s it. Fun while it lasted. Tune in again next year.

 

Yes.

 

(Unless you’re them, of course, and then you’ll live the whole scenario several times this calendar year, in a different city/ from a different hotel room each time).

 

Yes. For fun, you say?

 

That’s it. It’s just for that moment. That’s it. I’ll watch GJ Bailey smile his way around a cricket field all day. And look, I don’t want my entertainment spoiled by brats or inconsiderate fools. If I wanted that, there’s the world of motion pictures to explore.

 

Yes.

 

Or the news. That’s where sportspeople need to lift their games. They’re entertainers, and if we don’t like their product, there are plenty of other options.

 

How are you going with Minecraft, Stan?

 

Well, BJ. I’ve found coal. No, look, what I want from sport is some good old-fashioned enjoyable competition. Humans testing themselves. I don’t give a rats about resting players for the cricket World Cup. I’m only interested in the now. The moment.

 

Yes.

 

And don’t try to sell me this idea that soccer is the new football in Australia. We’ve heard it all before. Remember Aloisi? Just enjoy the bloody win for what it is, Australia. It’s great.

 

Yes. Happiness is all about the moment, Stan.

 

Too bloody right. It starts and ends here.

 

I see, Stan.

 

It’s never as good on replay, is it? Something is lost even watching on delay.

 

Yes.

 

See BJ, it has to be about the moment. The shared moment.

 

What about frustration, Stan? Is that also a moment-to-moment proposition?

 

Ahh, slightly different, BJ. A slow brooding is best for building frustration. Builds best with intermittently-spaced peaks of incredulous wonder, too, such as may occur between court cases.

 

Ahh.

 

Yes, but for those kernels of joy, for those eyebrow-raising moments of what-in-the-heck-just-happened-then; that’s why we keep coming back.

 

Like the finish of the Super Bowl just now?

 

Well no, that was plain foolish. I don’t care what odds that Seattle coach was quoted, a Super Bowl is too prominent to be fiddled like that. I mean, really.

 

High risk, high reward, Stan.

 

You’ve lost me. Bring in that footage of Cadel Evans again.

 

Ahhh, yes. So what should we be looking forward to, Stan? What’s in your diary?

 

Blank pages, BJ. Look forward to every bit of it. Just turn up. This is life.

 

Yes, and so on that cheery note, it’s goodbye from 57 Mt Pleasant Street for now. Happy sporting.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. I’m all for the now.

    Cheers ER.

  2. Watching the replay of the 2011 Grand Final is almost as enjoyable as the moment. Almost.

  3. JTH. me too. That’s all there is. And you don’t know what you’re going to get.
    Dips, 2011? Had to Google that. Trawled from the recesses of history. An example of the healing and restorative powers of the brain (now setting to work again to re-forget it).

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    All about the moment. The shared moment. Fantastic perspective ER. Always enjoy using the ‘Adrian’ line, but only with people older than me!

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