Filling The Void by Matty Hayward

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Matty Hayward – @MattyHayward96

FILLING THE VOID

What day is it? Frankly, goodness knows. It’s felt like a Sunday for the past three weeks – or, has it been four weeks? Or two? I simply do not know. I don’t know what time is anymore, I just measure how long stuff takes by the lengths of TV shows. The clocks went forward an episode of The Chase a few days (48 episodes of Emmerdale) ago, which means that the sun goes down during Eastenders rather than just before the start of The One Show (which, may I say, has really come into its own during Lockdown).

Another way of measuring time, which has exposed itself lately, is how long a Zoom call is allowed to last without paying for the upgrade. Around the country last month (which apparently was still March until yesterday, I find it difficult to accept that), conversations between people who would ordinarily converse once in a blue moon have been cut off abruptly after “forty minutes” (an episode of Peep Show if it’s on Gold so they build in adverts).

I’ll nail my colours to the mast, here. Zoom is my video conferencing app of choice. It’s simple and relatively effective, which is crucial in this hour of need where it’s not just the tech-savvy who want to stay in touch with friends and relatives.

 I’m absolutely certain that by June there will be turf wars about people’s favourite video conferencing apps. Facetimers are the natural favourites: they’ve got the financial high ground. Skypers are extremely well-equipped for this sort of battle, they’ve been video-calling for years, distant lovers and home-workers alike. Still just about clinging onto their supremacy, the Pep Guardiola of the video conferencing app world, soon to be overtaken by the cool, fun, new alternatives.

That’s when we come to the newbies: Zoom and HouseParty. Before Lockdown, I had only ever done one Zoom call, and that was a “webinar” with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, in the heady days of November where free Wi-Fi for all, nationalised railways and a properly funded welfare state were being derided as crazily unaffordable pipe-dreams proposed by radical champagne socialists. But it’s March 2020, two of those things are (Tory) government policy, the other is being adamantly proposed, and Zoom is very much in vogue. This weekend, I had two Zooms: a family one (which, to be fair, was mildly chaotic) and a Cricket Club quiz one (which was more ordered and ended in victory for the Haywards). Zoomers have state-backing and, frankly, have a strong chance.

Then there’s the HousePartiers. Blimey they’re cool. They’re so blooming hip. They’ve read me calling them “cool” and “hip” and laughed – they’ve got a word for cool that I’ve never heard of. They’ve been tested by this app, that’s for sure. The recent privacy policy/possible hacking scandal saw some moderate HousePartiers defect, but the hard core remain and they’re real scrappers. They’ll lose the turf war, though, because they’re never out of bed before ten. The Skypers will see them off.

Finally, the dark horses of our completely fabricated war, the Google Hangoutistas. These fellas are slick, they’re clever, they’ll deploy guerrilla tactics to upset the more established forces. Unfortunately for the troops on the ground, their Google overlords will sell them down the river in return for immunity in the ensuing inquests and a tax break when the whole thing settles down.

Dual Purpose

Time for my main discovery of the week: Dua Lipa’s new album, Future Nostalgia, is ace. If you were looking for an accompaniment to your parliament permitted exercise, this album is the answer (and at 37 minutes – that’s slightly longer than an episode of University Challenge to you and I – it’s the perfect length for it too). Here are my two favourite things about the album:

Thing One: about halfway through dancefloor filler Hallucinate, Dua appears to sing the words “you’re my one, my favourite, my Adebayor.” Rather than researching the actual lyrics, I’d prefer to continue pretending that the part-Kosovan popstar is actually a huge fan of Togolese centre forwards who have a penchant for shithousery when celebrating.

Thing Two: I’m really going to miss Eurovision this year. Aren’t we all? If you’re not going to miss Eurovision, you ought to visit your doctor and ask for a sense of humour transplant. (Don’t actually, the health service is very busy, see if you can get it done privately when all this is over).

The beauty of Future Nostalgia is that so many of the songs sound a bit like Eurovision songs, to such an extent that if you close your eyes and imagine a jaunty, occasionally culturally insensitive, Graham Norton introduction before them, you almost feel like you’re watching the Great Show. The best examples of this are the tracks Levitating – which is somewhat reminiscent of Italy’s entry last year – and Love Again – which you can definitely imagine a central European nation putting forward and unjustly losing out on the title due to some very suspicious voting patterns.

Sporting Chance

I should probably move on to the actual brief of this blog: how I’m filling the sport-shaped hole in my life. I guess we should begin with live sport that is still going on. Firstly, I threw my teabag straight into the mug from One Richard Osman away this morning. I’m deadly from that range; like Reidy from 20 yards or Scott Rendell from 2.

Despite my trailing of a fixture in the Burundi Premier League last week, the association decided to postpone fixtures by the weekend. Rest assured, I shall look out of Inter Star Vs Ngozi City when all this is over and I’ll bring you the result.

But fear not. There is still live football knocking about this weekend. Evidently, the decision-makers in Belarusian football have Jack Grealish levels of recklessness and are carrying on. Last weekend, Slutsk lost 1-0 at home to Dinamo Brest. I imagine they’ll have left with pumped out chests.

The headline fixture this weekend sees league-toppers FC Minsk remain in the capital city to face local minnow Energetik-BGU’s at their 1,500-capacity “stadium”. The hosts just survived relegation last season and you’d expect they’ll be in for a battering, but we have to support the underdog and Energetik – nicknamed The Students – are now, officially, my favourite Belarusian club.

My officially second favourite sport, cricket, has been doing a lot of heavy lifting for me in this time of need. Yesterday, I watched two hours’ worth of highlights of England’s victory in the 2015 Ashes, followed by the fantastic Crossing the Line documentary (available on YouTube here) about the 2018 South Africa Vs Australia series (yes, the sandpaper one). A comprehensive summary of an abrasive test series, the film is keen to highlight the positives (Morne Morkel signing out of test cricket with a 5-for; some great knocks from Dean Elgar and Aidan Markram; Kagiso Rabada’s mercurial bowling performance throughout) amongst the controversy.

It’s about time the TV companies really stepped up and put on some classic sport in its entirety, if only to give me something to write about in a week’s time (that’s a test series plus two ODIs).  
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