Vive Les Chats !
Paris is a truly wonderful city. There may be none more beautiful or with more character in world. However, as an Aussie, one vital ingredient tragically lacking in host of entertainment this city has to offer, is real footy coverage, which does not exist at all.
The "Frogs" don't know what they are missing! I'm not talking about world venerated soccer variety or those super-padded, over-paid, U.S. gridiron heroes and especially not that "throw yourself at turf" game they call rugby. I'm talking real footy here, great Australian game which is without doubt best spectator sport in world by a mile and a half.
I shouldn't have read Buddha's biography I suppose. It has only made my thirst for footy and Cats' brand of great game in particular, more intense. Though I was grateful when David (one of my five brothers living in Geelong, who I keep annoying for Cats replays) brought it over to me in Paris a few weeks ago from "Sleepy Hollow," along with some videos of recent Cats games.
While I was intent on watching videos our "free-loader" visitors wanted to get out and see sights of Paris, magnificence of Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, grandest of all worlds' Grand Avenues and Saint Chapel, where glorious tall stained glass windows surround you. But hey, I had my priorities sorted out; I just wanted to settle down with a baguette, a bottle of French red and watch footy.
I needed to update my memory banks with a "footy fix." I needed to get to know players again, catch up on all excitement, skill and raw talent. Follow those super-fit and dedicated sportsmen, playing most skillful game on earth. But no, Wendy dedicated shopper and very dear sister-in-law that she is and Denise my supposedly Aussie, but footy-apathetic wife wanted to go shopping in Paris. Women. As someone once said, we sure do love them, but who among male species can ever understand them?
Denise and I had been living in Paris for almost two years. While experience had been fantastic and we were thoroughly in love with City of Light, enough is enough mate.
French cable TV carries endless, absolutely dead boring, English cooking shows (ye olde BBC) plus a plethora of even more mind-numbing house and garden decoration shows, news and...darn little else.
CNN repeats same old, same old, hour after hour and on French TV they speak their exquisite language at a zillion miles an hour and detest English language with a passion. They would never understand complexity of footy anyway.
My memories of growing up in Geelong with footy as Welsh family staple diet were triggered by Bhudda's writings. Like so many other Geelong kids, we played footy every chance we had. At school, for local club, in street and back lane, anywhere we could. Our six sisters often made backyard team as well - just to make up numbers, mind you.
We lapped up all footy culture we could and it will stay with us all our lives, no matter where we are. It is something that resides in my bloodstream along with a fair dose of Bordeaux by now. Hey, this is France after all !
I was at "G" with dad and a hoard of other Welshes in '63 when mighty Cats beat Hawthorn, and I cried with sheer joy. I was also there at Kardinia Park on Sunday morning to bury hawk. I cried again. Great times for a twelve year old.
These fond memories came flooding back, when I eagerly watched those tapes in Paris and read Bhudda's story. I realized yet again what a great tradition we have in this game and what heroes dedicated guys who play it are. I also realized just how much these traditions mean to me and what I have missed out on over years we have lived overseas.
I wondered how many people in Geelong really appreciated what they have. A lifestyle most people in world would envy, in a country still seen as at least a lucky country, if not THE luckiest with a sporting tradition and sense of fair play that reverberates around world.