Writing prompt – Taken from The Fiction Class, by Susan Breen
Make a list of your five obsessions.
Now write a few paragraphs about one of them.
1. The State of the world.
2. Clean hands. Actually, cleanliness in general. And tidiness, too.
3. Being on time.
4. Apple pie.
5. Football. Footie. Soccer! (Especially Manchester United, and the German Men’s National Team.)
I enjoy a good rant, don’t you? One of my favourites is The State of the World. It’s a handy sort of rant, because a discussion of nearly any topic can segue to All the Things That Are Wrong in the World Today.
You, too, can participate in ranting about the decline of the western civilization as we know it. Here’s how: as often as possible, drop into the conversation – say, about cell phones in the Sudan – certain key phrases like monopolies, government control, and reality tv. Reality tv is one of those all-rounder phrases – it takes the blame for any societal ailment, in any situation.
Whenever possible, bring up declining literacy, delayed adulthood, rights verses responsibilities, and government spending. From there you can branch into test score-based education, the crisis in masculinity, violence in entertainment, or how the liberals are to blame for everything (unless you are a liberal, in which case, clearly, you’d mention how clueless conservatives are.)
Then, for good measure, if you’re Catholic like me, your next rantish step is to delve into post Vatican II Catholicism and the horror of guitar music at the Saturday five o’clock.
Most importantly, do not let opposing viewpoints slow you down or distract you. Don’t apologize for repeating your favourite grievances. Good ranters gather steam and keep on going until no one else is talking. That’s how you know who won.
I’d love to hear back from any of you readers who may be so inclined to share: what are your obsessions? Can you tell me something about them?
I immediately went to obsession number five, because I really do love football... but it was too easy. Plus, I’ve written heaps about The Beautiful Game here at The Lighthouse and it didn’t seem fair to subject you all to yet another dissertation. However, I had already written the bit that follows before my conscience kicked in, so I am including it anyway.
Football, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love you river deep, and mountain high. My love for you is like oxygen. You lift me up where I.... well, let’s just leave it at: I really like football, and for several complicated reasons.
One of the things I enjoy most about the game is the drama, both on and off the pitch. I just love how vitally important a match can be, for pride, for gloating rights, for war and peace on a national scale (for real! The Ivory Coast National Men’s team appealed to warring factions to put down their guns so fans could watch one of their matches and sure enough, fighting stopped for the duration.)
I love how invested the fans are in their club, singing songs for their favourite players, bequeathing season’s tickets from father to son, and rabidly following every detail about clubs and players (my brother-in-law has entire seasons of Liverpool games saved on disc). The history is fantastic with some teams going back to the late 1800s -- and some rivalries are just as old.
A long-running and hotly contested debate is whether association football should go high-tech by allowing referees access to instant replay footage. Granted, one bad call can alter the course of a game. There are historical matches that still spark dissension in pubs and cafes around the world: the ball was in! It was a hand ball! There’s no way that was offside! Yelling at the officials and muttering about questionable calls is one of the great pleasures of the game for me, so I’m happy with things the way they are.
A loss for the club you love above all others (I was going to say “above all other things” but that might be taking my affection too far) can be devastating, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, depression-inducing. Likewise, a win, particularly over a bitter rival (Man City, say, or Italy) can set you up for a week of vacuuming without a grimace, because you’re floating on air. Yes, it passes, but there’s always the next fixture to look forward to, and that’s what keeps us interested in The Beautiful Game: It’s never really over.