John Vane: Roy’s Summer of Sport (Saturday 16 June 2012) Home and away

John Vane: Roy’s Summer of Sport (Saturday 16 June 2012) Home and away

The phone, at 8:10 am.


“Hi Daddy.”


“Yes, it’s me.”

“Where have you been?”

“Phnom Penh, mostly. What do you mean?”

“Did you get my email?”

“I got two emails, I think.”

Roy, lying in bed, rowed back from irritation. With Lucy, it had never got him anywhere.

“I was just wondering how you were,” he said.

“I’m fine. I’m in Malaysia with Mum and Leila and the kids and Grandma and Grandpa.”

“You’re actually with them, now?”

“Yes. Do you want to talk to anyone? We’re by the pool.”

“Hold on. When did you get there?”

“About an hour ago. I thought I ought to ring because of your emails.”

“Were they, ah, expecting you there? Was this planned?”

“No, I thought I’d surprise them. It’s only 600 miles.”

“Is it safe, flying from there?”

“Yes, Dad, of course it’s safe!”

Roy imagined too easily the exchanges of eye-rolls and smiles around the perfect blue water as Lucy brought his anxiety to a wider audience. He saw them there, feet up, cocktails to hand, grandchildren Tom and Ella bobbing in armbands.

“Can I speak to your mum, please?”

“Yes Dad, I’ll get her. Bye!”

There was a lull, into which Roy poured a reflex resentment.

“Hello, husband!” Here was Kristie, continuing the shared joke at his expense.

“Having a good time, then?” asked Roy, neutrally.

“Yes, very relaxed. Lucy bowled in at lunchtime, bold as brass.”

“I’d been trying to contact her.”

“She said.”

“She said she got my emails, she didn’t reply to them though.”

“She’d been traveling, and, you know, bad signal, whatever.”

“Yes, I suppose,” said Roy, ashamed of the hint of hangdog in his voice, even as he inserted it. “Never mind.”

“She’s a big girl now, you know.”

Roy didn’t bite. “Everything going fine there, then?”

“Yes, all fine. How about you?”

“I’ve made a good start.”

“Did you see the football?”

“Yes, I watched it,” said Roy, with what he hoped was the right degree of casualness.

“Exciting, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, yes, very exciting. How is everyone?”

Kristie told him with minimum detail, neither rushing nor detaining him too long. She’d done her teasing, and her softening tone told Roy that the attention of her audience had faded, shifting back to sun block, infant breaststroke, the next meal.

Roy stayed in all day.

That evening, Poland lost by the odd goal to the Czech Republic, a match they might have won, while Greece beat Russia by the same score. And that was the end of Group A, leaving the Czechs at the top and the Russians, who’d begun the tournament by thumping those same Czechs, in third and packing their bags for home.

The Poles finished last with two points. They’d deserved better, but such was life, thought Roy, who dwelled on its disappointments into the small hours with one eye on the second round of the golf.

All previous instalments of Roy’s Summer of Sport are HERE.

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Categories: Culture, Roy's Summer of Sport

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