Monday, June 30, 2014

First Word: Pamela Yorston: Cup

When I was 12 I used to wrap elastic around my chest so that the other girls would think I was wearing a bra. I didn’t actually need one until I was fourteen, and even then it was a modest A cup, my natural attributes augmented by a sock or two.
            Having my first child was glorious. I flaunted a cleavage for the first time. By then I was a B Cup. In my grandmother years I’ve graduated to C, no padding and counting.  I’ll have to take measures. 
            There’s nothing quite so aging as big boobs in an older woman.  Brazilians believe in universal breast reduction. The fashion there is for miniscule breasts. The focal point of the female body is the bun bun - that’s Brazilian for bum. I’d have done quite well as a young woman in Brazil.  Plenty of bun bun and no boobs. 
            Perhaps my increase in Cup size is due to Detol soap. I read in the Mercurio this morning that antibacterial soap wrecks havoc with the endocrinal system. It contains hormones which are dissolved in fat and absorbed by the thyroid.  No question my thyroid is out of whack causing me to gain weight in the chest. And a few other places.
            That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

First Word: Suzanne Adam: Sequin

The knock-out dress I’ve yet to own would be made of lace, not sequins. Lace – feminine, seductive without being flashy, and black.
            I can picture an elegant floor-length dress from long ago. It had been my mother’s, but found its way to my trunk of clothes for playing dress-up. Gauzy, a filmy soft material, multi-colored delicate stripes set on a pale blue background, the dress flowed and swirled. It had a full bow of the same cloth at the neck. I try to imagine what my mother looked like in that dress and where she wore it. Did she feel beautiful?
            Our childhood ballet teacher, Mrs. Wall, sometimes had us over to her house in San Francisco, where she revealed to us a magical closet of retired costumes and mounds of wisps and lengths of soft scarves we could drape over our small bodies to swirl in grace and elegance. I remember one in particular: blue and green chiffon I could wear as a veil or tie at my waist, its softness an invitation to daydreams of a gracefulness I longed for.
            When old enough to dress to dress up for real, I wore a rhinestone tiara to the Junior Prom and the Senior Ball. I’ve no recollection of sequins, but only of a gold and white brocade sheath I wore with shimmery gold nylon stockings and matching gold heels for a night of dancing aboard a tour boat on San Francisco Bay, where I felt like a princess.
            Those days are long past. Now I’m a queen mother with a crown of silver hair – and a shelf of filmy scarves: turquoise, pink, ruby red, and midnight blue. My granddaughters know where to find them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

First Word: Ellen Hawkins: Football

Five empty buses motor by; a sixth carries a single passenger. This is unheard of in this city of six million but Chile is playing Spain in the World Cup.
            I am out for a walk on this warm sunny afternoon. If the streets are empty they are not quiet. The game is being broadcast from radios and televisions in homes, shops and high-rises. Car horns vie with whistles, barking dogs and the rapid-fire voice of the commentator who has not taken a breath since the game began. So far, I’ve heard two outbursts of jubilation. That could mean anything; I will hear only silence if the Spaniards score. A school bus hurtles by, toddlers and driver alike cheering and waving flags. Chi-le! Chi-le! Chi-le!
            I ask the concierge as I enter our condominium. Chile is leading 2-0. In my study, I turn on the television and mute the sound. Figures move across the screen in a lazy pantomime. It is a humid 27°C in Rio; the players must be running on low. Or maybe the game is nearly over and they’re letting the clock run down. A player trips and falls. He lays still a millisecond then grips one knee and writhes like a stuck python. Yet when they show the replay, it’s obvious that he merely tripped, which means the rest was for the benefit of the referee, or the spectators. Minutes later, someone from the opposition treats the public to an equally grand performance. He is not hurt either, nor is any penalty given. 
            For a brief moment, the game comes alive; there’s a shot on goal. The Spaniards are awarded a free kick. The Chilean goalie deflects the ball. The crowd roars! The goalie collapses on the pitch, totally spent. Is he faking too? What’s going on here?  
But wait. Surely I, though a mere spectator, am also playing a part. What real aficionado would even think of going for a walk at such a time? It’s not that I don’t like sports. Baseball now, there’s a game. I can watch baseball and tennis, and even golf, having been indoctrinated by my husband. But given a choice, I’d pass on football every time. Yet here I am, cheering for the home team.  Chi-chi-chi! Le-le-le! Viva Chile! And I’m not even Chilean.

Monday, June 23, 2014

First Word: Tessa Too-Kong: Football

A young Scotsman named Charles Miller came home from boarding school to Brazil in the late 1800s carrying two footballs under his arms. He became the founder of Brazilian football, his memory revered and his grave a shrine. I wonder, did he have any idea of the consequences of importing his favorite pastime, introducing a whole culture to a life-changing new religion…and what did football replace,  or was it the vessel that gave form to a national identity? I am told polo was a Mongol game introduced by Genghis Khan which they played with the heads of their enemies —well, there aren’t many human bits that are circular and can roll with relative ease—and that makes me wonder about the origins of golf… . 
            Cricket was played throughout the British Empire in those days and now the British Commonwealth, and shrewdly served as a means of diversion uniting diverse religions and cultures. It’s a more civilized kind of one-upmanship, going to war for spoils that bring kudos to your flag. Football players are become like racehorses, million-dollar investments in flesh (of another kind) that can earn multiple returns. Their legs are their fortunes, sir, she said. No wonder every bright-eyed boy wants to be a footballer – fĂȘted, photographed, getting the beautiful girl, driving the spectacular car, living the glamorous life. So, who needs an education anyway…?

Friday, June 20, 2014

First Word: Danette Beavers: Football


I pass the toot to my man Sam who blows a quick trill,
punts it

Larry on guitar Djangos it in and out,

until Doo, lockadoo, lockadoooo
rolls and thumps it all the way down

the field where it’s I who catch it from the air
and high b-flat it

for six more points
and another win.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

First Word: Charmaine Pauls: Football

Round white with honeycomb black… a contrast that screams, “I don’t fit!” Opposites are supposed to attract. Like black on white. Logic. Yet, it makes no sense to him why he is here at all.
            He’s sitting in his seat, a paper cup of beer in his hand, and cheering for a sport he has no understanding of. His friends stand and shout, a fist in the air, an angry curse, a happy whoop. Everyone’s up, so he gets to his feet, too. Someone elbows him in the ribs and he spills his beer. The stadium closes in on him. He shouldn’t have come.
            A slap on the head. “Will you look at that!?”
            Who is the man next to him? Does he even know him? He has to. He drove here with him, in his car. He sits down slowly, and is surrounded by a sea of denim, bouncing and roaring. Quiet descends like a blanket of mist. Spectators turn to each other, their attention away from the field. The animated talking continues. He is unable to connect himself to the crowd. He tries, focuses, looks at the field… His fingers tighten on the cup of cheap booze. The wave comes. Everyone stands, except for him. The crowd sits again. He jumps up, an orange beacon in the blue ocean.
He doesn’t know his name. Nothing has meaning. He climbs over knees, knocks over cartons of junk food.
            “Dan! Dan!”
            He wants to get away from the calling, the faces, the voices, but arms hold him back, words make him stumble. He breaks free on the metal stairs and tumbles to the exit, his hands exploring the walls, pushing, pushing, until he gets to the gate and falls out into the street. Empty, empty. He shoves his hands into his pockets and ducks his head. He walks down the street, the sounds of his steps alone at last.

Monday, June 16, 2014

First Word: Pamela Yorston: Football

Hooray!!!  Football!
            I’ll have 90 precious minutes, every day this month, to shop in peace. No crowds, no lines, that is, if can find a shop attendant.
            My son, Richard has been up all night coordinating the spreadsheets of our private family betting pool called the Polla. He and son Chris are the technicians in this venture, designing complicated graphs and tables which work with hidden formulae, recording everyone’s bet, for every match. The system takes into account the winners, the losers, and those who draw.  Every score, every red card, every hiccough is automatically translated into points, which add up as the championship progresses.  Gordon is the treasurer, who tries to control the money flowing in from home and abroad at $20 a go.    Anthony is the sales executive who has his scouts out gathering in last minute bets - 165 at the last count. I don’t know what Michael is doing but his title is Office Manager. It all comes together at 3.00 o’clock on Thursday the 12th of June and continues interminably.
            With five men in the family breathing Football, I’ll have time to create new menus, clean out my cupboards and take up taxidermy. It won’t really matter what I do.  I could pole dance in the living room with a live cobra on my head and no one would notice, as long as I didn’t block the TV. 
            What is it about kicking a sphere, or worse, watching others do it, that so satisfies the deepest desires of the hearts of men? I watched my boys from tiny tots. Their eyes always lit up at the sight of a ball. 
            Of course, spheres occur in nature. Who is our first ancestor who comes out of the cave and happens upon a grapefruit?  He picks it up and rolls it around in his hands, and then he tosses it in the air. Of course, he drops it - catching is something you have to learn.  
            Now, thousands of years on, we gather in stadiums to watch the descendants of the caveman kick the grapefruits. And we lay bets, cheer till we’re hoarse, spend millions and even fight wars over it. If grapefruits were square we’d have none of this bother this month.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

First Word: Larissa Higgins: Football

Tomorrow afternoon Chile will play her first game in the Copa Mundial - Chile versus Australia.  Chileans are rather passionate about fĂștbol, and I am Australian.  Tomorrow afternoon I plan to hide.
            Chile? Spain? The Netherlands? Australia?
            It's not exactly contentious that FIFA is as bent as a nine-bob note. Most right-thinking Aussies are presuming that the grouping Australia got put into was the result of someone at FIFA HQ being given lots and lots and lots of lovely money. 
            My husband's office is running a pool for how many goals Chile is going to win by tomorrow. The listed options run from 6 to eleventy-billion.
            Can't they let us go down with dignity? On the basis that Australia's chances have been officially calculated at less that those of a snowball in the Sahara at mid-day in the sun, I'm not going down with the ship.
            Chi. Chi. Chi. Le. Le. Le. Viva Chile!