Sports fan abroad

Last night I dreamed I was explaining the basic tenets of historiography to a man who wanted to prove the existence of werewolves in fourteenth century Sicily.


I'd been looking for somewhere to watch the Australian grand prix, so when I passed an 'English pub' (no, really. It's called the Wembley Crown) yesterday evening in Nara that claimed to show sport, I nipped in to buy a 600 Yen half-pint of Heineken (that's, like, £4. For Heineken. There's devotion for you) and asked whether they were showing the race. After a bit of time working out what I was talking about, the lady behind the bar checked the TV listings and said yes, 2.50pm the coverage started. Brilliant, said I. I'll be back tomorrow. And I was. It was only after the race was over and I was on the street again that I noticed their opening hours are actually 5-11pm. I think they opened the place early just me for me. Because I'd asked. Nobody said anything, and the woman hadn't batted an eyelid when she told me the time, but still. I honestly think they opened the bar to give me what turned out to be a private big-screen viewing.

This country is fucking astounding.

The race itself? Don't worry, I'm not going to talk about the race (except to have a brief exult over Button winning. Ah, Jenson Button; one of the residents of that niche corner of my psyche reserved for lusting over strawberry blond men. Generally it's brunettes all the way for me, but there's something about a Julian Rhind-Tutt or a Steve McManaman that… sorry, I seem to have drifted off there).

I like watching sport abroad. It's a genuine test of your knowledge, to follow a race / match without the crutch of commentary you can understand. With F1 there's a slight element of cheating because all the onscreen graphics are controlled centrally so they're in English; but on the flip side, you can never see the whole picture during a grand prix so you do end up relying on commentators to fill you in. For example: this afternoon Button was the first to go onto dry tyres – the first by a long way. At home, Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle would have been keeping a close eye on the lap times and analysing what that indicated about the conditions. Here, I had to work it out for myself. And I took extra pride because it's only the second race in the season and I'm still getting to grips with the new teams / drivers / switches. When I'm watching a car at this point in the year I'm usually never quite sure who I'm looking at. At home, I get filled in. Here, not so much.

Although, did you know that the Japanese for engine trouble is 'engine torouble'? Stuff like that helped.


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