Gareth not Gareth.

I’ve been looking after the grandchildren while their parents were away on holiday.  They live in a lovely Edwardian semi with all the original fireplaces, halfway up a mountain in Wales.

Mountain is not an exaggeration.  The first day I crept down it to deliver the children to school but had to stop eight times on the almost vertical way back, for my heart rate to return to nearly normal.  I had stimulating conversations with breathless locals doing the same thing.  By the end of the week I was down to two stops and a lot fitter.

This got me thinking about sport, of which I know little and care less.  However the prevalence of the Euros (which are football matches, you may have known this, you may not have known this) has caused me to invent a game.

I am able to recognise Gareth Southgate, whom I believe to be the manager of the England football team (usually present in the midst of people shouting ‘IN ger LAND, IN ger LAND’ for some reason, though this may be a helpful aide memoire, footballers not being selected for geographical knowledge, at all.)  I can, without a crib sheet, recognise him by his face in most circumstances.  Yesterday I recognised him with his back to the camera, within about three seconds.

I can now identify people on television as ‘Gareth Southgate’ and ‘Not Gareth Southgate’ with great facility.  I have adapted this into a game which you may emulate, at no cost.  If I am able to speak my recognition within a couple of seconds of the man, or some other man, appearing on screen, I award myself a point.  We are now up to the semi finals and I have seven and a half points (he went off screen but I think it was him.)

I am mostly able to distinguish footballers from the rest of humanity.  Footballers are the ones who have paid their hairdressers too much money.

Identification of individual footballers is beyond me.  I might manage one or two if they stood still a bit longer.  There is one called Harry, I think, but that might be a pop star of some sort.

I did  quite a bit of gardening at the grandchildren’s house.  It needed it.  On the return of the parents I was able to warn them of several species of plant obscuring the paths or rooting into the brickwork, their habits, growing season, methods of self propagation, and ideal methods of extermination.

And now, as the rain has stopped temporarily, I shall get out into my own garden and do a bit of weeding, only stopping en route through the lounge to identify Gareth Southgate, or not, depending.  If he is out of mirrors, or in any way having an identity crisis, I’m his me.


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