Soccer, Summer, And Fish

It’s more frightened of you than you are of it. You have a knife.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I actually liked soccer, but I hate it. I’ve always hated it. Like so much in childhood, it was something you had to do whether you liked it or not. To add a sadistic twist though, you were expected to enjoy it. It was a treat.

I hated it because I was no good at it. So no good at it. When picking sides, captains would pretend they couldn’t see me. As a child I was breathless, thin, unathletic. But that wasn’t the problem. The reason I was really bad at soccer was that it couldn’t hold my attention. You stood in part of a field. After what seemed like hours, another boy would run past you with a ball. Then your team mates would shout at you. Really, whose side was I on? That of all these angry people calling me names, or the perfectly harmless passer-by? Soccer was long periods of boredom punctuated with confusion and insults. Like school really, except in mud.

But if a nine year old boy comes up to an adult man – a middle-aged one, yet – and asks him to come play soccer, for some damn reason he agrees. Is it because I’ve finally been picked? Maybe, but I think it’s more that I was asked. Not told. Not shoved out in the rain in baggy shorts and stupid clumpy boots. Asked, by a boy who wants to play with me just because he loves playing. Now I can enjoy it.

I’m still no bloody good though.

But not being good at soccer as a child is humiliating, alienating, dispiriting. Not being good at it as an adult is no big deal. The one real danger is that I’ll break my stupid bloody neck trying. Or in this instance, my spine. All right I didn’t actually break it, just bent it a bit. I’m only a tadge debilitated. And hey, it’s a proud masculine sports injury.

I tripped over the ball.

Bruising aside, it was a great day. I was asked out to see the Kinvara Farmers’ Market before it moves from its wonderful location (next month is the last chance to see, go if you can). Got some good fresh veg there, and even fresher fish. So fresh in fact that the thing in the picture above crawled out of it.

This is by no means a sign of bad fish – in fact it proves that it hasn’t been frozen. Such parasitic worms are actually far more common, especially in cod, than most fish-eaters realise. They’re… almost completely harmless, if the fish is cooked. (One reason that cod isn’t used in sushi.) You’ve probably eaten them many times without ill effect.

Except of course for any nausea you may be feeling, now that I’ve told you you’ve been eating worms.

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