The Tennisman who Loves Cyclism

Bonne 14 juillet! Yes, it’s the French national holiday, known in English as Bastille Day though in French it’s normally just called le 14 juillet, or La Fête nationale. As French is one of the only two languages apart from English that I’m relatively competent in, I’ve written about it here quite a bit, so I won’t repeat myself. I just want to look at two French words that seem like they really should be English words, but aren’t.

Continue reading

Anyone for Tennis?

The beginning of Wimbledon always feels like the real start of the summer to me, regardless of how rainy and windy it is outside. I used to enjoy playing tennis in the summer as a child, and it was always enjoyable to play in the morning and then come inside when it started to rain and watch the professionals play on TV. I think I also enjoyed the aesthetics of Wimbledon, all those nice bright whites and greens, though now I’m a little put off by the whole poshness of it all. I mean, curtsying? Really? Anyway, even if I’m too busy to watch it during the day anymore, I like to keep half an eye on how things are progressing in the tournament. Did you ever notice though, that there’s one strange thing about tennis in general: why do they use such strange words for the scores? Continue reading

Only the Winningest

There are many clear differences between American and British English, particularly in terms of spelling and vocabulary. It’s natural enough, and I’m loath to say that one is better than the other. They both work for the people who use them, and that’s what matters. Recently though, I’ve been thinking about one area in which British and American English are very different: sport.

Even that word itself shows the beginning of the division: if you’re American you probably use sports when referring to the general concept of sport(s) (when I hear the word I always hear Homer Simpson’s final line from this clip:) Continue reading

Pass Perfect

Are you watching the football?

Many of you living in Europe will hear some variation of this over the next few weeks. Actually, now that I think of it, those of you in the Americas will probably be asked that too, with the Copa América on, but perhaps not so often in the USA!

Football does tend to take people’s lives over during major tournaments. I’ve lost a lot of interest in football in recent years, mainly due to my perception that roughly 99% of professional footballers are arrogant, petulant manchildren, but I do love the atmosphere of major international tournaments.

Partly it’s because they signify summer to me, and partly it’s because I’m lucky to have some great formative memories of football tournaments. My first ever sporting memory is of Ireland beating England at Euro ’88 thanks to Ray Houghton’s legendary header. I had no idea what it meant, but I knew it was good!

Continue reading