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THIS MUCH I KNOW.

Byline: Lynne Barrett-Lee

O, it seems there's a world cup on. And I don't give a tinker's cuss. Which, in and of itself, is hardly newsworthy, I know.

SBut, just occasionally, the thing you don't give a tinker's cuss about is such a very big thing, such a voracious gobbler-up of airtime, column inches and collective attention, that to not give a tinker's cuss about it creates a vacuum.

And what a joyful vacuum I aim to make it, too. It wasn't always so. Back in the five-mile-aminute days of my children's childhoods, I embraced world-cuppery, albeit reluctantly, as an excuse for a party - a sort of 'can't beat 'em join 'em', ball-centred, month-long bacchanalia.

While the fathers of our children regressed to nylon shorts and max banter, we women (with the exception of Rachel - the only woman I know who genuinely, mysteriously, inexplicably, enjoys football), would gather in each other's kitchens to drink wine and make popcorn, and a very jolly time was had by all. No matter that our assembled offspring ran amok, high on Haribo. As long as no-one walked in front of the television all was well.

Times change, however. Children grow up. Shrewd couples involving partners who don't give a tinker's cuss about football facilitate multitelevision, multi-room situations. And with no requirement to make the best of it, much less 'make an afternoon of it', I have oodles of free time to indulge.

And I shall. In Cymru-noir. In Poldark. In painting. In knitting. In clearing out cupboards. In batchbaking. Herb-growing. In marching against Brexit. In (not unrelated, this) achieving a zen state of being via the conduit of quaffing artisan gins.

I shall continue the project I started this very morning, to correctly identify (no small task, this, believe me) all the beguiling little alpine wildflowers I snapped in the meadows above Lake Montriond last weekend - an activity (and I wonder what strange alchemy has occurred. Could it be an age thing? A nanny thing?) increasingly delights me beyond description.

I shall step outside my comfort zone. I shall push the cultural envelope. To which end I shall mutiny against my self-imposed edict and binge on Love Island till my eyeballs start to bleed.

I shall exercise. Exfoliate. Get a manicure AND a pedicure. I shall take a toothbrush to my skirting boards. My summer wardrobe to task. All the stuff I have bagged up over a period of many months to - FINALLY - the recycling centre.

I shall indulge my new grandson. Indulge IN my new grandson. I shall (this, again, despite a strict self-imposed edict) replay the little video of him smiling and gurgling to anyone who dares to ask how he is.

I shall dare everyone to ask how he is. I shall take a trip to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, solo - something I've been meaning to do for years. I shall travel to Nelson, to Llancaiach Fawr Manor and spend a day browsing stalls selling Blas Lleol produce and where, as night follows day, it's a copper-bottomed certainty that I will be able to buy artisan gins.

I shall work like a demon on my two-thirdsdone novel, to allow max time, before the thing I don't give a tinker's cuss about is finished, for gazing into the middle distance in a fug of anxiety about whether, now it's done, it's any good.

I shall spend a week (possibly more) in the selection and procurement of a new outfit for the Harper Collins summer party. And after careful analysis (does this frock truly encapsulate the essence of authorliness slash edgy creative slash free spirit slash lone confident wolf among all the wannabe literati glitterati who are certain to be there?), I shall wear something else.

I shall engage in conversations over drinks with fellow females to discuss the important issues of the day. I shall ask, 'whither group G?', 'whither Russia?', 'whither Putin?' And, possibly, at some point, 'whither Hayley 'what's-an-earlobe?' Hughes, off Love Island?' too.

No, scrub the 'possibly'. With the nation's collective IQ now apparently in jeopardy, that one's already on the spreadsheet.

Mostly, however, I shall ponder the question asked at such times by bemused women everywhere. Which is not why a sport which is run by men, played by men and watched by men (at least, mostly) so totally dominates the schedules. D'oh. The clue's right there already.

No, it's 'can you imagine?' Can you imagine what it would be like if a sport (a game, a pastime, an enthusiasm, a SOMETHING) that was run by women, done by women and watched mostly by women, dominated everything in quite the same way? And all the men scuttled off to amuse themselves instead? Nope. Me neither. I'll be up for air presently.

@LYNNEBARRETTLEE www.lynnebarrett-lee.com
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 16, 2018
Words:798
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