the state of things

 

And On The Sixth Day The Lord Created Football

by Douglas Lindsay - 09:03 on 24 November 2008

Two of Two had a football tournament yesterday. He regularly plays in football tournaments, so this wasn’t unusual in itself. The odd thing was that this tournament was presented by agents of God.

Everything seemed to be fairly normal before the start. Hundreds of kids on the charge, coaches milling around, parents gathering by the thousand and settling in for the duration with large flasks of coffee, huge mounds of cake and enough general provisions to see them through a long winter. And then into this scene of sporting anticipation, walked two nuns dressed completely in white.

Everyone stopped and turned. An instant silence descended upon the hall as the two White Nuns - does it denote Virgin Nuns? - walked slowly through the crowd. Having been a giant hall of cacophonous noise, suddenly the only sound was the steady footfall of two pairs of Doc Martins.

Then a lone child started whistling the theme tune to The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, and the spell was broken. Kids went back to charging around, coaches returned to charting sporting greatness and the mums and dads returned to their coffee and in-depth discussion of the previous evening’s PTA event. The White Nuns took up their position.

There was some discussion on whether or not they were there for security. Were they perhaps packing machine guns underneath all that white material? Perhaps the colour of the cloth depicts some sort of modern day Nuns Templar organisation, a shadowy group working on the periphery of the Catholic church.

The eight teams of over-excited boys were assembled in the middle of the hall. And then the true meaning of the White Nuns’ presence was revealed. They were to be the celebrity guests at the opening and closing ceremonies. The White Nuns stepped up. One of them was a slim and spry wee thing, who may well have played for Poland when they won at Wembley in 1973. The other was a bigger lady. She may be deprived of boyfriends in her life, but she has full access to the doughnuts.

They made a speech, the meaning of which was lost without translation. Perhaps they thanked God for the gift of football, perhaps they threatened the kids with divine retribution if they didn’t play fair. (Certainly the biggest trophy at the end didn’t go to the winning team, it went to the kid who had been the most saintly.) Then the White Nuns led the teams in a song. I think it was this year’s Polish Eurovision entry.

The games were afoot. The White Nuns drifted into the background.The tournament went on so long that at some point they changed shift, although the over-the-top changing of the guard ceremony they carried out seemed a little unnecessary.

Two of Two and his pals gave up an equalising goal in the last ten seconds of their first game, but thereafter they dominated, cruising through the tournament to ultimate glory. Two of Two himself wasn’t the goalscoring behemoth of the week before, but he played his part. And when it came to the closing ceremony and the White Nuns were dishing our the prizes, the second biggest trophy went to our school.

As they ran around like eight year-old wee boys, for all the world like they were enjoying a sugar rush, I suddenly thought of Springsteen’s Glory Days, and wondered if this would be the only thing that some of them will ever win. Maybe in thirty years’ time they’ll all be sitting in a bar, somewhere in the world, talking about the time they won the White Nun Cup, forgetting to mention that it happened when they were eight. Or perhaps it will become the first of many trophies, all memories of the White Nuns lost to an illustrious future.

At the end of it all the noise quietened down and the crowd dispersed. The White Nuns walked out of the hall into the snowy day. And maybe it was a trick of the light, or an optical illusion caused by the snow on the trees, but as they walked down the long straight road leading away from the hall, they seemed to disappear into thin air...

As we stared along the road wondering what might have become of them and feeling the peculiar weight of melancholy, Two of Two looked up at me and said. ‘Dad, who were those two mysterious White Nuns?'

‘Two of Two,’ I replied, ‘we’ll never know...’


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