|Cricket the National Sport of Time Wasters|
|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/02/27 16:37 《英语学习》|
I understand that England recently lost a game of cricket. Good. The more we lose, the more our interest in the game wanes and the less it will dominate our newspapers and television screens.
Cricket - and I will not take any argument<注2> - is boring. Any sport which goes on for so long that you might need a "comfort break"<注3> is not a sport at all. It is merely a means of passing the time. Like reading.
Of course, we used to have televised reading. It was called Jackanory. Now we have Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is much better. Things have moved on, but cricket has not.
I'm not sure that it can. Even if Nasser Hussain, who is the captain of England, were to invest in some new hair and marry Council House Spice<注4> (aka5<注5> Claire Sweeney, the ex-Brookside actress turned Big Brother contestant<注6>), it wouldn't make any difference.
Nobody is quite sure how cricket began, though many people believe it was invented by shepherds who used their crooks<注7> to defend the wicket gate to the sheep fold. This would certainly figure<注8> because shepherds had many long hours to while away, with nothing much to do.
The first written reference to cricket was in 1300, when Prince Edward played it with his friend Piers Gaveston. And again, this would figure. Princes, in those days, were not exactly rushed off their feet.
Cricket was spread around the world by British soldiers who found themselves marooned in godforsaken flea-bitten parts of the world<注9> and needed something to keep them amused, not just for an hour but for week after interminable week.
Today Australia dominates the game - which furthers my theory. Of course they're good at it. They have no distractions. And the only way we can ever beat them is to round up the unemployed and the wastrels and give them all bats.<注10> Certainly, they'd feel at home in the pavilion. It's exactly the same as sitting in a bus shelter all day.
Let me put it this way - is there a sound more terrifying on a Sunday afternoon than a child saying: "Daddy. Can we play Monopoly<注11>?"
Like cricket, Monopoly has no end. The rules explain how you can unmortgage a property<注12> and when you should build hotels on Bond Street but they don't say, and they should, that the winner is the last player left alive. And what about Risk? You make a calculation, based on the law of averages, that you can take the world but you're always stymied by the law of probability<注13> and end up out of steam,<注14> throwing an endless succes-sion of twos and ones in Kamchatka.<注15> Still, this is preferable to the modern version in which George W Bush invades Iraq and we all die of smallpox.
Happily, my children are now eight, six and four so they're way past the age when board games hold any appeal. Given the choice of mortgaging Old Kent Road or shooting James Bond on a PlayStation, they'll take the electronic option every time.
Then there are jigsaws<注16>, which I once had to explain to a Greek. "Yes, you spend a couple of weeks putting all the pieces together so you end up with a picture."
"Then what happens?" he asked.
"Well, you break it up again and put it back in the box."
It's not often I've felt empathy with a Greek, but I did then. And it's much the same story with crosswords. If scientists could harness the brainpower spent every day on<注17> trying to find the answer to "Russian banana goes backwards in France we hear perhaps", then maybe mankind might have cured cancer by now.
Crosswords, like jigsaws and cricket, are not really games in themselves. They are simply tools for wasting time. And that's not something that sits well in the modern world.
We may dream of living the slow life, taking a couple of hours over lunch and eating cheese until dawn, but the reality is that we have a heart attack if the traffic lights stay red for too long or the lift doors fail to close the instant we're ready to go.
Answering-machine messages are my particular bugbear.<注18> I want a name and a number, and that's it. I don't have time to sit and listen to \where\ you'll be at three and who you'll be seeing and why you need to talk before then. And even if I do pick up the phone personally, I don't want a chat. I'm a man. I don't do chatting. Say what you have to say and go away.
British film makers still haven't got this. They spend hours with their sepia lighting<注19> and their long character-developing speeches and it's all pointless because we'd much rather watch a muscly<注20> American saying: "Die, m********r." Slow-cooked lamb shanks<注21> for supper? Oh for God's sake, I'll get takeaway.
Cricket, then, is from a bygone age when people invested their money in time rather than in things. And now we have so many things to play with and do, it seems odd to waste it watching somebody else playing what's basically an elaborate game of catch.<注22>
Please stop watching - then it will go away.
2. take argument:卷入争论。
3. comfort break:让人"如厕"的间歇。在美语里comfort station指公共厕所。
4.invest in some new hair and marry Council House Spice:耗资做新发型，娶市政厅的"辣妹"。此处影射英格兰国家足球队巨星贝克汉姆。
5. aka: = also known as。
6. Big Brother:英国一家电视台推出的"真人秀"节目之名称。该节目收视率颇高。
9. marooned in godforsaken flea-bitten parts of the world:被困在偏僻、遍地跳蚤的世界里。
10. to round up the unemployed and the wastrels and give them all bats:把失业者和浪荡子召集起来并给他们发球板。
11. Monopoly: "大富翁"游戏(由2-6人参加，按骰子所掷点数走棋，以筹码币进行房地产交易，赢得房地产多者为胜；源出商标名)。
12. unmortgage a property:解除财产的抵押。
13. be stymied by the law of probability:被概率法则弄得进退两难。
14. out of steam:精疲力竭。
17. harness the brainpower spent every day on...：约束每天在……上花费的精力。
19. sepia lighting:深褐色的灯光。
21. lamb shanks:羊腿肉。
22. an elaborate game of catch:一种接飞球的复杂游戏。
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