• Henry Michael

Writer's Block 5 - Sports

With international Rugby season starting this week, it’s that time of year again when most men are reminded of their shortcomings as human specimens. While we all hope to be like those guys you see on the front cover of Men’s Health, laughing at their own abs, it only takes one look at a man like Jonah Lomu to realise that most of us are contributing very little to the national testosterone average.

Indeed, like a lot of people, I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable in a sporting environment. My only foray into the world of competitive sport was me taking part in a kickboxing tournament last year, which I only entered to win the affections of a girl, but actually ended up doing so badly in that halfway through the first fight, the referee started to give me advice. “I think you should kick him more”, he offered politely, which felt a bit like advising someone on life support to “not be ill”, and filled me with about as much confidence as if he’d signaled for a medic. I realised there and then that God intended some of his creations to hold up Golf Sale signs, and vowed forever to stick to activities that I’m much better suited towards, like doing up zips, or failing to get the attention of waiters. The experience also taught me that having another man thrust his body at you for a round of 90 seconds is distinctly unpleasant, and in an instant I felt an increased sympathy for my ex-girlfriends.

Of course, many of us associate sport with the compulsory PE we used to do at school. Far from helping you get fit, it provided little more than a welcome sideline for geography teachers, and was the only lesson of the week where turning up without your clothes didn’t lead to you being put on ritalin. It was also a very efficient way to highlight those who were at most immediate need of bullying, as there’s no fun quite like watching the fat kid try to complete the PE syllabus - unless that kid is you, and I can still remember the class looking on in awe as 6 PE teachers worked in unison to force me through a backwards roll, a process which resembled a cross between removing a beached whale, and forcing antibiotics into a cat.

This is all particularly relevant for me this week, as the med school has revealed its plans to send me to Rural Wales for the whole of June and July, a process which I welcome about as much as accidently catching my testicles in a car door. Unfortunately, other than faking a mental illness or getting married to someone on a ventilator, the only way I’m allowed to stay in Cardiff and avoid this trip into Deliverance is if I play sport internationally. So, trying to improve my odds, I’ve spent the last few days looking up the most obscure sports played in Wales, and have now started training towards becoming the next big name in either ‘Korfball’ or ‘Spludunking’. I also tried one session of ‘Full-Contact Greco-Roman Wrestling’, but am unable to talk about the details of this experience without a close friend holding my hand.

While I carry on training, I feel a final word this week should go to the untimely death of Paul the World Cup Octopus. Over the summer Paul become a lone figure of inspiration for South Africa, a bit like if Nelson Mandela could fit into jars - delighting public and press alike with his successful prediction of 8 world cup matches, the competition winners, and where Gamu’s mother will be spending Christmas. He will be forever loved, and while we may miss his bright spirit, we can all rest assured that he’s in a better place than I will be this summer.

Letters to the Editor – This Week: Concerns and fears

Dear Henry,

I went and got a tattoo while drunk but didn’t tell my boyfriend about it. Was it wrong not to let him know?

I wouldn’t worry. Everyone has little secrets; my uncle’s involved the seizure of his computer, and I once had a Saudi-Arabian friend who liked cross-dressing - a habit he managed to conceal for years until his parents came home early and caught him wearing a burka. Indeed, even my mother confesses that there are some things she’s kept from me in the past. I’m not quite sure what she means by this, but it might have something to do with why the milkman keeps kissing me on the forehead and telling me that he’s proud of me. Either that or why Dad doesn’t live with us.

I was born with an unusual allergy to irony. I can’t look at contemporary art, and was once hospitalised after spotting a group of midgets wearing shorts. What should I do?

There are some medical conditions in this world that are so rare, all you can do is laugh. This was literally the problem with my brother, who for medical reasons found it impossible to stop giggling, and was eventually fired from his job as a domestic abuse counsellor. My advice is to always look on the positive side - at least you don’t live in Peterborough. And it could be worse, you could suffer from the same congenital defect as my friend Terry, who was born looking exactly like Jimmy Saville.

Whenever I go to club toilets, I’m constantly barraged by men who shout “no spray no lay” at me and charge me for soap. Is there any way I can get them to leave me alone?

Follow them home, perch in their fridge for several days and force them to pay £1 every time they want to use some milk, then ask them repeatedly if they’re ‘having a good time’. They’ll quickly come to realise why this is quite annoying. Failing that, you might like to try intruding into inappropriate moments in their private life whilst shouting out snappy catchphrases, like “family funeral, no fun at all,” or “fffrreshen up fffrreshen up, it’s the fifth anniversary of your divorce”. They’ll soon come to appreciate that this isn’t a service people want to pay for, even if they do get a lolly.