I was given a yellow card on arrival. And a red one. I have a dreadful suspicion neither colour is good when it comes to football, and rugby is probably no different. Please tell me a yellow card in rugby is good! (I’m a disgrace to the formerly rugby-playing Son who at 11 had to be got into the one school where he could play.)
Sunday’s Manchester Literature Festival event was practically an all boy event, seeing as it was about rugby. Very nice to see so many boys, and only a token girl. Tom Palmer is famous for his football books, and now this Leeds United fanatic (I suppose someone has to be) has written a rugby book, which is so pc as to feature both rugby league and rugby union. (I almost understood that.)
This male event took place in the new BBC headquarters in Salford Quays, and let me tell you, it was not easy getting in. I was given a badge on arrival, and even that took a lot of thinking about before I could attach it to myself. Twirly doors had to be twirled for me, and lifts had to be started. But I got there.
There were big boys and small boys. There was also BBC rugby editor Carl Hicks and Sale Sharks prop Andrew Sheridan. I almost know what a prop is. (Son was a prop. I think.) It’s funny how much of a rugby player this rugby player looks like. Had I met Andrew in the street, it’s the one thing I’d have guessed.
Tom kicked off (sorry) by describing his new book Scrum! to the boys. It’s about a boy whose parents divorce and when his mother remarries he has to move, and it also involves a move from playing rugby league to rugby union.
We had a sports quiz, and some boys know a lot about their beloved sport. The one behind me spouted stats as if there was no tomorrow. Did you know Welsh rugby was at its very best in the 1970s?
Before half time Tom read a short – far too short – piece from his book. And then it was time for the penalty shots competition. Indoors. No windows were broken. The only thing that collapsed was the feeble goal Tom had arranged. (I believe it came from New Zealand.) A medium sized boy won Tom’s trophy.
The second half of the event was a chatshow style discussion between Tom and Andrew and Carl. It’s very easy to be a snob. Which is why I was surprised to find that Andrew writes songs in his spare time. It makes for a nice hobby. I’ll say! Carl, unsurprisingly, decides what goes into his bit of the sports news.
Tom enjoys his life, travelling, watching sport, talking to football players and writing books about it all. He is just back from Tromsø in Norway where he did research for his next series The Squad, which apparently is about spies.
Asked what other sports they like, it turns out Tom loves fell running, Carl plays cricket and Andrew likes watching athletics. Best ever sports event for Andrew was the World Cup final in 2007. (That’s most likely the rugby one he had in mind.) Tom was very pleased when Leeds United won whatever it was they won about 20 years ago. And Carl was tremendously happy when Widnes became World Club Champions in 1989. Rugby league.
If you really want to know, the day after a match Andrew feels like an old man. It’ll be all that jumping on top of each other. Carl’s hopes for the Olympic Games is that they will inspire the young. Tom reckons the best thing for an aspiring writer is to write about what you’re passionate about. It seems to work for him.
And I only had a tiny bout of vertigo here. My broomstick tends to go lower down than the fifth floor.