Matilda, Boyle, Ranieri, Murphy: On playing, criticising (when I grow up)

(Tommy)
When I grow up
I will be tall enough to reach the branches
that I need to reach to climb the trees
you get to climb when you’re grown up.
– lyrics to “When I Grow Up,” from Matilda the Musical, by Tim Minchin.

Matilda

We dream.
We all do.
We aspire.
We hope.
“One day.”
“When we move to the country.”
“When I win Tatts.”
“When he stops drinking.”
“When my team finally wins a flag.”

 

(Tommy & Reginald)
And when I grow up
I will be smart enough to answer all
the questions that you need to know
the answers to before you’re grown up.

 

And we grow up.
But still we dream.
Still we yearn for the next thing.
Still there’s another prize somewhere.
Something we don’t have. Out there.

 

(Eric & Alice)
And when I grow up
I will eat sweets every day
on the way to work and I
will go to bed late every night!

 

Maybe we are driven by dissatisfaction.
Maybe aspiring for something better is innate.
But then again, maybe it’s not.

 

(Tommy, Reginald, Eric & Alice)
And I will wake up
when the sun comes up and I
will watch cartoons until my eyes go square
(All)
and I won’t care ’cause I’ll be all grown up!

 

Many things have contributed to a line of thinking in the past fortnight:
-Becoming transfixed and awestruck through a stunning performance of the musical Matilda.
-Nodding in agreement with the Sunday Age article by Timothy Boyle.
-Wide-eyed head-shaking wonder at the Player’s Tribune article by Leicester City coach (manager) Claudio Ranieri.
-Bob Murphy’s speech on being made an AFL Life Member.
-Meeting some young Tasmanian cricketers.
and
-Reading several variations of Team X beating Team Y in Competition Z.

 

When I grow up!

 When I grow up, when I grow up
(When I grow up)
I will be strong enough to carry all
The heavy things you have to haul
Around with you when you’re a grown-up!

 

Matilda is a classic.

A classic in that is based on a brilliant child-centred book by Roald Dahl. And a classic in it’s musical score of soaring wit and brilliance by Tim Minchin.  I laughed and cried and everything in between. And the story is essentially one of sticking up for yourself. Of having a go at bettering your own circumstances (for nobody else is going to do it for you).

 

And when I grow up, when I grow up
(When I grow up)
I will be brave enough to fight the creatures
that you have to fight beneath the bed
each night to be a grown-up!

 

Timothy Boyle writes thoughtful and thought-provoking pieces regularly. In this most recent piece (HERE), reflecting on reaction to the closing passage of the Collingwood v Richmond game in Round 2, T Boyle makes the point that on a footy field there are lots of moving parts. And everyone out there is trying. Monday’s experts later use hindsight to appear wise, pouring forth on what should have happened, or what Player P should have done differently immediately after the freeze frame. But the critic doesn’t count. The article carries echoes of Roosevelt’s man in the arena speech. It’s a timely call.

 

And when I grow up
(When I grow up)
I will have treats every day.
And I’ll play with things that mum pretends
that mums don’t think are fun.

And I will wake up
when the sun comes up and I
will spend all day just lying in the sun
and I won’t burn ’cause I’ll be all grown-up!

 

Claudio Ranieri is the manager (coach) of Leicester City.

The Leicester City players have surprised almost everyone this season. Who would have thought them capable of winning the English Premier League? The odd match, sure. Possibly a knock-out tournament, such as the FA Cup. But surely not the months-long grind of a Premiership.

 

When I grow up!

 

They won away at Sunderland on the weekend. But prior to that, on April 6, Claudio Ranieri had this piece published at “The Player’s Tribune.” (Link with the photo below). It is in insight into this man, who has coached big clubs (including Chelsea, Valencia, Juventus, Atlético Madrid, Inter Milan, Monaco and the Greece national team), but who now stands with his players on the edge of a remarkable achievement.

We Do Not Dream

 

 

(Miss Honey)
When I grow up. I will be brave enough to fight the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed each night to be a grown-up.
(When I grow up)

 

And Bob Murphy. Well.
The speech (HERE) was already a classic of humanity and perspective before his serious knee injury last week.
Reading it again in the wake of his trevails brings his words a kind of poignancy.

  

(Matilda)
Just because you find that life’s not fair, it
doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it.
If you always take it on the chin and wear it
nothing will change!

(Miss Honey)
When I grow up

 

Young sportspeople, including Tassie cricketers, are doing their best.
In every field.
They have expectations of parents, coaches, mates, others riding on them.
But they are also living a life.
A life of ups, downs, adventures and mistakes.
Some win, some lose.
Some are injured, some are not.
It must be.

And really, players in any game, students in any class, children in any family, people in any relationship, act best when valued.
Supported, embraced, encouraged, nudged when required, and supported again.

 

(Matilda)
Just because I find myself in this story,
It doesn’t mean that everything is written for me.
If I think the ending is fixed already,
I might as well be saying
I think that it’s OK!

 

Did Leicester City win? Yep.
Did Collingwood lose? Yep. Losing doesn’t make them pathetic.
Did Sydney win? Yep. It doesn’t make them tough or fierce or deserving.
Did England’s T20 side lose a final? Yep.
Is any of it outrageous? No.

 

So I’ll support these people (Ranieri), with awareness that nobody acts in a vacuum (Boyle), knowing that people are doing their best (Murphy), to achieve their dreams in spite of it all (Minchin’s Matilda).
…when I grow up.

 

And that’s not right!
And if its not right!
I’ve got to put it right!

 

 

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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. Keiran Croker says

    Thanks Dave.

  2. Thanks ER. If there is anything I have pondered in my life it is this. Where does success come from? What inspires us? What limits us? Where does excellence and achievement come from?
    I recall a Charles Handy book on interviewing high achievers. At the end of the process he found 2 commonalities. In their early lives or careers, they had a major setback when they and every body else expected them to succeed. And they had a person in their early lives – not a parent, but perhaps a teacher, partner, boss or mentor – who gave them the belief that they could succeed when logic and experience said they would not. What Freud called “the golden seed of self confidence”.
    Combined they engendered persistence, resilience and ultimately success – however we each personally define that in our lives. I love the Jason Day and Col Swatton story because it epitomises those 2 elements, and the way that Ranieri continues to inspire his garnets that they are really uncut diamonds.
    I constantly find myself saying to people that “you can achieve anything you want in life, just not everything”. The opportunity cost of a million distractions is easy to succumb to in a rich society like ours.
    And that “only you can do it, but you can’t do it on your own”. Most of us are limited by the doubts and fears shaped by early experience. We are the elephant still tethered to the stake of our childhood. We don’t ask for help, because we fear failing again or being labelled lazy or stupid.
    The Avenging Eagle always says the best thing that she ever did as a teacher was refuse to read kid’s school reports from the previous year, or engage in staff room stories about “what a little so and so Johnny X was’. She had few behavioural problems because she always expected the best for and from her students.
    Life is a process of unlearning our childhood conditioning to find our true selves. My favourite quote is TS Eliot:
    “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

  3. Dave Brown says

    Most enjoyable ER. On a related but very much asidey aside I was thinking about the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn and self-doubt and how it is perceived as a weakness because it is seen as an impediment to winning elite level sport. Conversely, I generally don’t understand nor trust people who do not entertain doubt. Not sure why we have a tendency to so tightly constrain our definition of success and hence the absolute virtue of its determinants.

  4. Steve Hodder says

    E.R,
    isn’t that Minchin clever with words? Boyle and Murphy are two of my all time favourite newspaper columnists, not just footy writers. Boyle captures a moment or an idea with his words as good as anyone I’ve read. Bob Murphy wrote a piece about riding trains once; I still smile when I think about it. I read the Caudio Ranieri piece too and I smiled again.

    You’re not bad with a keyboard yourself. Keep it going.

    onya

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Swami Regnans,
    You make too much sense for this bathetic Magpie. Love the perspective of what success means. I did my best to defend Bucks in my piece, but Collingwood were often pathetic during this performance. Imagine going to see ‘Matilda’ only to have actors continually fluff their lines, lack intonation, expression and generally be dismissive of their audience?

    You piece got me thinking about fans ranting and the power relationship involved with in this case footy. Fans are ‘entitled’ to call their club, coach, players pathetic because they don’t really have the gravitas to change anything. Imagine if Buckley called Collingwood fans pathetic for their lack of support. Now that would bring out an army of outraged keyboard warriors.

    Matilda sounds like an uplifting production. Good stuff.

  6. Ahh, go well K Croker.

    PB – The great imponderables. I met a young woman tonight who won world championships for Australia in Karate. What sort of disciplined mind (and body) is required for that? Who knows? But some of it would be taught and not all of it.
    Love your thinking.

    D Brown – I think doubt is essential for a questioning life. A Socratic life. I can see that “in the moment” a player may need to act with some level of certainty, but of course nothing is certain. Interesting scenario.

    S Hodder – I am very much taken by that Claudio Ranieri piece above. Brilliant. Very kind.

    P Dimitriadis – blowing off steam, scoring cheap points, getting a laugh, appearing wise-after-the-event all happen. That’s the industry. Some are paid to do it. Some even target click-bait -style topics and headlines at the expense of player and club welfare. I don’t think it’s right. I’ve been wondering about this for a few years.
    I reckon it’s not funny or smart. I think it’s mean-spirited and probably hurtful.
    These are people, under all this marketing and fluff.
    The Matilda performer analogy doesn’t stand up, I think because the idea would be to avoid upset with a sloppy performance – and to recognise the humanity of it and wish them better luck next time.
    I don’t know about this argument of “I paid my $ so I’m entitled to treat you as sub-human.”
    An attendee pays their money to be entertained.
    If they don’t like the entertainment, they can leave. Easy.
    They should not vilify or abuse the performers.
    I wouldn’t be hurling abuse at a sloppy character. At least they had the gumption to be out there trying it.
    Roosevelt’s “man in the arena.”

    Indeed Matilda was uplifting. And remains so via the soundtrack.
    “Carn dad – let’s put Matilda on.”
    Cheers Phil. Good one.

  7. Can i add these two songs, one by Springsteen the other by Tom Waits that attempt to understand growing up?

    Growin’ Up

    Well I stood stone-like at midnight suspended in my masquerade
    And I combed my hair till it was just right and commanded the night brigade
    I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch
    I strode all alone into a fallout zone, came out with my soul untouched
    I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, when they said “sit down” I stood up
    Ooh, ooh, growin’ up

    The flag of piracy flew from my mast, my sails were set wing to wing
    I had a jukebox graduate for first mate, she couldn’t sail but she sure could sing
    And I pushed B-52 and bombed ’em with the blues with my gear set stubborn on standing
    I broke all the rules, strafed my old high school, never once gave thought to landing
    I hid in the clouded warmth of the crowd, when they said “come down” I threw up
    Ooh, ooh, growin’ up
    Lookin’ back, now!

    I took month-long vacations in the stratosphere and you know it’s really hard to hold your breath
    Swear I lost everything I ever loved or feared, I was the cosmic kid in full costume dress
    But my feet they finally took root in the earth but I got me a nice little place in the stars
    And I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car
    I hid in the mother breast of the crowd, when they said “pull down” I pulled up
    Ooh, ooh, growin’ up
    Ooh, ooh, growin’ up

    “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”

    When I’m lyin’ in my bed at night
    I don’t wanna grow up
    Nothin’ ever seems to turn out right
    I don’t wanna grow up
    How do you move in a world of fog
    That’s always changing things
    Makes me wish that I could be a dog
    When I see the price that you pay
    I don’t wanna grow up
    I don’t ever wanna be that way
    I don’t wanna grow up

    Seems like folks turn into things
    that they’d never want
    The only thing to live for
    Is today…
    I’m gonna put a hole in my TV set
    I don’t wanna grow up
    Open up the medicine chest
    And I don’t wanna grow up
    I don’t wanna have to shout it out
    I don’t want my hair to fall out
    I don’t wanna be filled with doubt
    I don’t wanna be a good boy scout
    I don’t wanna have to learn to count
    I don’t wanna have the biggest amount
    I don’t wanna grow up

    Well when I see my parents fight
    I don’t wanna grow up
    They all go out and drinking all night
    And I don’t wanna grow up
    I’d rather stay here in my room
    Nothin’ out there but sad and gloom
    I don’t wanna live in a big old tomb
    On Grand Street

    When I see the 5 o’clock news
    I don’t wanna grow up
    Comb their hair and shine their shoes
    I don’t wanna grow up
    Stay around in my old hometown
    I don’t wanna put no money down
    I don’t wanna get me a big old loan
    Work them fingers to the bone
    I don’t wanna float a broom
    Fall in love and get married then boom
    How the hell did it get here so soon
    I don’t wanna grow up

  8. Lovely, e.r.
    I found myself watching that doco on Tim Minchin and Matilda the other week, even though I had no intention of doing so. What a talent he is.
    Re Bob Murphy: what a guy. He had every right to tell newshounds to f*** off when leaving the doctor’s, but spoke to them with grace even though it was the last thing he would’ve wanted to be doing.
    Re T Boyle: he is compulsory reading, and I took all the points in Sunday’s piece, but some of his stuff grates with me a little. Is he not a part of the media circus which he decries?

  9. Rick,
    Jack Gramski did a fine version of “Growin Up” at the most recent Stereo stories gig.

  10. Like Smokie I happened upon the Tim Minchin doco on ABC last week and really enjoyed it. Would love to see the musical. Mrs Trunchbull is a great villain, and I’d be especially interested in seeing how she’s portrayed on stage and in song.

    I follow Tottenham in the EPL. Normally, if they were second and in with a sniff, I’d be extra keen for them to claim the premiership as it would mean knocking off a Man U, Chelsea or Arsenal. However, in some ways if Leicester triumph this will be a win for all, and I won’t mind because it will enliven the most boring football league on the planet in terms of predictability within the top four. And I like that anecdotally a Leicester local plonked fifty quid on them to win the league at 5,000 to 1.

    Grand stuff David.

  11. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Brilliant OBP I don’t quite agree re the mondays experts angle of the tigers loss v the pies many of those exact plays where the tigers fell down it is such a complex area while in general in sport there is to much praise of the winner and damning of the loser in a tight contest this 1 was preventable if mentally the tigers had been ok if the hawks had been presented with the same opportunity they would have done it on auto pilot.If Leicester manage to win the league it is arguably the greatest ever sporting achievement.

  12. Very interesting read ER. When I was growing up I promised myself that I would keep my life simple. I considered complication and awkwardness to be evil. I was here and I wanted to get there – in a straight line. Of course it didn’t work out that way. And neither should it.

    “All you critics sit alone.
    You’re no better than me
    From what you’ve shown.”
    – Neil Young.

  13. E.regnans says

    Thanks R Kane. I knew the T Waits song, but not B Springsteen. Will dig out a YouTube.
    Seeking Wisdom-via-music is a popular pastime in these parts.

    Smokie- like you I reckon T Boyle to be well worth reading. His perspective as a former player is valuable, but so is his understanding of the human condition. Some bits sail past me.
    Is he part of the media that he decries? Probably yes and no. Yes in that he’s there, with a slot. No in that he uses his slot in a different way.

    Mickey – I too was very keen to see The Trunchbull on stage. She didn’t disappoint.
    The doco to which you & Smokie refer is on iView – probably for another week or so. Here:
    http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/matilda-and-me/AC1509H001S00

    There must be a lot of reasons for Leicester’s season. Finding cause and effect impossible. But I thoroughly enjoyed Claudio Ranieri’s piece (above). And so would yer local Leicester man there.

    Thanks OBP – the Monday’s expert idea I think, is that no one ever knows the truth about a contest, except the players themselves. Only they know what their instructions were, what their preparation was like, what the ground surface was like, what mood the umpire seemed to be in, the team dynamic in the face of injury, tiredness, etc etc. And that’s probably right.

    Dips – I found Claudio Ranieri’s theme of “we don’t dream” very interesting. Simplification through doing.

    Cheers all.

  14. And re: PB’s comment and Matilda, one of many themes running through the story is (school principal) Truchbull’s history as English hammer throwing champion 1969.
    She is painted as a rule-following unimaginative beast.

    Raises good questions about what it takes to be a champion athlete.

    She sings:

    “If you want to make the team
    You don’t need happiness or self-esteem.
    You just need to keep your feet inside the line.”
    “And if you want to teach success
    You don’t use sympathy or tenderness
    You have to force the little squids to toe the line”

  15. Seeking wisdom via music:
    “I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now” – Bob Dylan
    “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” – John Lennon

    And my man Jason Isbell’s recent ode to growing up and responsibility “If it Takes a Lifetime”:

    “I been working here, Monday it’ll be a year
    And I can’t recall a day when I didn’t want to disappear
    But I keep on showing up, hell-bent on growing up
    If it takes a lifetime

    I’m learning how to be alone. I fall asleep with the TV on
    And I fight the urge to live inside my telephone
    I keep my spirits high, find happiness by and by
    If it takes a lifetime

    I got too far from my raising, I forgot where I come from
    And the line between right and wrong was so fine
    Well I thought the highway loved me
    But she beat me like a drum
    My day will come, if it takes a lifetime

    I don’t keep liquor here, never cared for wine or beer
    And working for the county keeps me pissing clear
    The nights are dry as dust, but I’m letting my eyes adjust
    If it takes a lifetime

    I got too far from my raising, I forgot where I come from
    And the line between right and wrong was so fine
    Well I thought the highway loved me
    But she beat me like a drum
    My day will come, if it takes a lifetime

    A man is the product of all the people that he ever loved
    And it don’t make a difference how it ended up
    If I loved you once, my friend, oh, I can do it all again
    If it takes a lifetime

    We got too far from my raising and we fought ’til we went numb
    You were running up a mountain in your own mind
    And I thought that I was running too, but I was running from
    Oh, our day will come, if it takes a lifetime
    Our day will come, if it takes a lifetime

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