After you send your kid to private school and put them through university, you’re not that keen to see “blogger” on their business cards. It isn’t normally top of your list of things you’re hoping they’ll be. If I’m being brutal, maybe it’s third place, after doctor and astronaut. I can’t imagine that in a hundred years’ time we’ll be discarding Shakespeare and teaching our kids about some guy that lost 100kg, can now do the lotus position and wrote about his journey.
Blogging can be a tough gig. I’m still grateful when someone sends me a handful of abuse and the occasional death threat – at least I know someone is reading. I’ve invested thousands of hours into this site and I still can barely push out 30 posts a year. That either says that I type at the speed of a stunted snail, YouTube is highly addictive, or the entire blame lays with my parents. Always best to blame the parents.
However, now and again it pays off.
Let me summarise some of them for you.
- A complimentary comment
- An email talking about their great trip because of my advice
- Getting stopped whilst on holiday, with people wanting to chat with me. I think that’s called stalking, but it’s sweet
- Friendships. During my recent trip to New York I had meals with four people I knew directly as a result of writing snarky reviews about hotels; two of them attended our wedding in Park Hotel Vitznau.
Then, there’s a reader that became a friend, who happens to own an NFL team. I was already in New York for the new Aman, so managed to wrangle an invite into the Owner’s Suite at the Philadelphia Eagles. Shame on the rest of you that just invited me for food.
I decided to take this seriously. How many Philadelphia Eagles fans would sell their own children for this opportunity? I went to Google to get a glimpse of their fans and concluded 100%. So like a montage scene from Rocky, I got to work, but instead of humiliating a dead cow by beating it and continuing to ensure it knows it’s dead, I followed a great American tradition: laying down, watching TV.
You see, I had zero understanding of American Football. The fact that the crowd goes crazy with excitement when someone doesn’t score, seemed the equivalent of ripping your shirt off and high-fiving every man in the bar when a lady allows you to buy her a drink. Each game is also about 19 days long. My knowledge of American Football began and ended at Janet Jackson’s nipple.
After extensive YouTube research, starting with “WTF is American Football and why do they call real football soccer?”, I got enough understanding of the rules to watch some games, highlights and, most importantly, a load of movies. Invincible, Remember the Titans, Silver Linings Playbook, Man in the Area: Tom Brady, All or Nothing: Philadelphia Eagles. I was going to do everything in my power to avoid doing work. As luck would have it, my newly born daughter loved watching American Football – at least she never verbally told me otherwise.
As I wish someone had explained to me when I was younger: anything can be interesting with an interesting teacher and an open mind. Well, Denzel Washington and Bradley Cooper taught me well, as within a few weeks, remarkably, I found myself enjoying the sport. A game called football, where you kick the ball with your feet less than 1% of the time, suddenly made some sense to me. Not the naming, that’s insane.
Not once did I hear anyone throw out the cliche that the Brit had brought the bad weather with him, but it was pissing it down. Personally, I think god was still angry over Jurassic World Dominion. How can such evil exist in the world? With my clothing not really being suitable for anything less than blue skies and 20C, but no higher than 21C and definitely no moisture of any kind, I found myself trying to outrun mother nature to get into the stadium. Regrettably, amongst all the chaos, I didn’t get a chance to go pitch side before kick-off and watch the team train, which was offered. Instead, I made my way directly to the Owner’s Suite.
Speaking of cliches, American stadiums are notorious for food ranked on “Top 10 Tips to get Diabetes” lists that Buzzfeed probably still create. This was my first trip to an American sports stadium and in between the chef, a delicious buffet of healthy food, and an unlimited supply of chocolate and popcorn, I couldn’t find anything to complain about. You guys will find anything to grumble about. It was definitely a step up from watching Cambridge United, where you have to fight someone to use the bathroom, and a good meal is something that only makes you ill for 48 hours.
Cheerleaders, national anthems, high-fiving. That’s just the first few minutes. Over half the people reading this blog are from the US, so you’re quietly nodding along right now like this is normal, but for this Brit it was a bit different to real football matches, where mostly you just chant how shit the opposition is, in the freezing cold. Quite frankly, the entire experience was awesome. I don’t just mean the chef, nor the warm, indoor seating, or all the amazing people I met, or how kind everyone was when I had to ask for explanations on the rules, nor the privilege of watching the game with the owner, but the game itself. I could not fathom how anyone could go along to a sporting event that lasted longer than a Liz Truss government, but whilst being there my only wish was that it lasted longer.
The game was brilliant, the experience was brilliant, and quite frankly, my support is brilliant, as not being one to boast, but ever since becoming an Eagles fan they’ve won every game. You’re welcome.
So as a special treat, I include, for once, an actual picture of me, living what I imagine is the actual, modern-day American Dream.
So there you go, kids. If you want to get somewhere in life, just spend your life savings going to hotels and shitting all over their best efforts.
P.S. I’m free for the Qatar World Cup, if anyone happens to own a country.