AS children, we found this hilarious: What is the definition of a snail? A ball of slime with a crash helmet. This is currently my state of being, except for the crash helmet.
There is practically nothing positive about the flu. But if it knocks you down for seven days or so, at least people regard you with sympathy rather than displeasure if you lie around and watch sport on TV all the time. As a perplexed housemate once asked: Could it be that there is always something to watch?
At least there was something to lift my spirits somewhat during the first Sunday when I was flat on my back: our own Kgothatso Montjane won the women's doubles (wheelchair) at Roland Garros with her Japanese partner, Yui Kamiji.
Montjane has reached six Grand Slam finals but this was her first title. This was also the first time I watched wheelchair tennis attentively. If I had been healthy, I wouldn't have. And I was pleasantly surprised — it has its own grace and context. And best of all, a South African champion.
I'll definitely tune in again.
Tour de France, Netflix-style
But from Monday I started realising that there was not always something to watch.
And then I made this discovery on Netflix:
And all was almost well again: last year's Tour de France filmed in typical Netflix style, with camera work in the peloton that makes your head spin. A must for cycling fans, especially since this year's Tour is due to start next Saturday.
At the time of writing, it wasn't clear if Netflix would repeat the programme at this year's Tour, but I sincerely hope it does.
What the puck?
By Wednesday I had finished watching Unchained but a friend had piqued my interest in ice hockey.
The Stanley Cup finals series (best of seven) went to the fifth game. The Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Florida Panthers on the famous Strip and it made me realise once again that the Americans do things on an extraordinary scale.
Florida and Nevada are among the hottest states in America, but they are playing in the continental final?!? This should make the men in Detroit and Canada hot under the collar.
Ice hockey has a lot of allure — after all, how many other sports have a specialist fighter in the team? But it takes a while before you can spot the puck properly. The secret is to follow the players' movements; after a while you start picking up the puck in the corner of your eye.
The Golden Kings are Las Vegas's first full-time professional sports team. They were founded in 2017, having already collected more than 13,000 season ticket deposits for a stadium that can accommodate only 17,500 spectators.
A scant six years later, they won the sport's most important cup and 200,000 people attended their honour parade. Ice hockey looks like great fun — see if you can spot the puck!
The US Open golf tournament started on Thursday, but I didn't watch. I just wonder what Tiger Woods, who remained loyal to the PGA despite an LIV Golf offer of $800m, is thinking after he forfeited so much money only to be sold out by the PGA.
If I were him, I would at least have soiled a few PGA directors' golf bags.
As much as I enjoy most sports (but rarely golf), I also enjoy most music, apart from the crooners, so Bing Crosby is probably appropriate:
Death on live TV
I usually watch cycling if it is available, and in this case it was the fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse. The finish line was at the bottom of a steep descent and they pedalled ferociously, which always causes something of a knot in my tummy.
The Swiss Gino Mäder and the Yank Magnus Sheffield miscalculated and rolled down the hill — a terrible accident. Sheffield was relatively unharmed but poor Mäder died in hospital on Friday morning.
At this point the flu had not subsbided at all and I was sad to boot. It was the second time I'd seen someone die on live TV.
The first was in 2007, when I relaxed with a bit of Spanish football after a work shift. Sevilla back Antonio Puerta suddenly collapsed and started convulsing: a fatal heart attack.
Lo and behold, the commentator complained that it was the most outrageous tackle he had ever seen in football. I suspect he was even more depressed afterwards than yours truly.
Everyone wins with the Ashes
On Friday, even before I heard the sad news about Mäder, I vaguely realised that the Ashes cricket series between England and Australia was due to start at Edgbaston. I don't know if it will be me or Test cricket that will die first, but the Ashes series is still bringing in the big bucks and arouses a lot of interest.
Just after tea, Joe Root hit a reverse scoop six against the formidable Scott Boland. When I started watching cricket, nobody would have dared to execute such shots. But with the ever-present T20 events, the sport in its original guise has undergone so much exciting renewal that it has been fatally wounded.
The Ashes is guaranteed fun. Someone you don't like is going to win and someone you don't like is going to lose. The loser's snot and tears provide more fun schadenfreude than the irritation caused by the winner's hubris. Everyone is a winner.
Missing the Cheetahs’ jol…
By Saturday, I realised I'd been useless to man and beast for seven days. And I still didn't feel much better.
The Cheetahs, everyone's second favourite team, ensured that tomorrow's Currie Cup final will take place in Bloemfontein. I was slightly jealous, because finals weekend in Bloem is a very underrated jol.
Darts is about the most joyous sport to watch when your head hurts too much to figure out tactics. And the contestants all look like nice guys or assholes, so it's pretty easy to pick a side.
And South Africa were in the World Cup quarter-finals in Frankfurt! But unfortunately that's also how far they progressed.
…and missing Bafana’s best
Late on Saturday night I started to feel a little bit better, but goodness knows why, I didn't even watch. After all, few people watch Bafana Bafana from a sickbed in case it causes a trip to the hospital.
And then they did nothing less than beat a (slightly weakened) Morocco 2-1. I had to rely on the rebroadcast. It was good enough to start allowing myself some optimism once again.
I hope to be healthier when they tear my optimism to pieces soon by losing once more.
A tune from the days when Bafana Bafana still often made it in the big leagues; one of our best kwaito groups and one of our best soccer players:
PS: If you haven't yet had this year's flu, I recommend an immediate vaccination.
♦ VWB ♦
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