Saturday would usually be a day I spend thinking about, if not necessarily watching, football. It made me think of a blog I was planning to write before this whole coronavirus business kicked off, (if you’ll pardon the pun). It was going to be about stories, how we’re always desperate to know what happens next, so the most addictive stories are those that never end. I was thinking about football and other sports. My interest in sports has waxed and waned over the years, but I’m always going to be at least a little interested in what comes next especially for the teams I follow. Will the new manager work out? Will x player realise their potential? As Mitchell and Webb famously pointed out, football never stops.
I was also thinking about soaps. I don’t really watch soaps, nowadays at least, but when I get really into a TV show, I’m desperate to know what comes next in the story as soon as I can. This can mean binge watching. It can mean actively seeking out spoiler. I even read all the Game of Thrones books because at the time they were ahead of the show in the story. That show, of course, came to a (disappointing) end. If I were a soap lover, that desire to know the next twists in the story would always be there (which is why those magazines which reveal what’s coming up in the future in soaps sell I suppose).
I was thinking of professional wrestling, which is somewhere between sport and soap. I was even thinking of comedian Richard Herring, who writes a blog about his life every day, much as I am doing right now. His life is undoubtedly more interesting than mine to read about, but not every day is a thriller, as he would be first to admit. Once I started reading it, I felt I had to know what happens the next day, another story that doesn’t end (even in death, I am convinced he will get his wife or children to carry the blog on).
Then coronavirus came along, and some of these stories which were never supposed to end, just stopped. There is no more football, pretty much no sport of any kind. The soaps are still showing, albeit less frequently in some cases, but production has stopped, so episodes will come to an end. Wrestling, weirdly, still seems to be going ahead, albeit in an empty stadium, but I guess will have to stop soon. Richard Herring’s blog at least is still going strong, and presumably will continue to do so unless he himself contracts coronavirus.
The first weekend there was no football (only 3 weeks ago, but it feels like months), I went to check the latest scores on my phone from time to time before remembering, but by the next weekend I barely thought about it. Today, it was almost like football never existed, apart from the occasional news story about players flouting lockdown rules. It got me thinking about how we follow these never ending stories out of habit, out of compulsion, addiction even. How, if the habit is broken, even if just for weeks or months, it may never return. There are a lot things we can’t do, places we can’t go, stories we can’t follow during this lockdown. When it ends, will we return to them with renewed enthusiasm, or will we realise they didn’t matter so much after all?