Last week it was Wimbledon, my very own little booth on Centre Court watching the greatest final of all time – this week it's ... rounders. My little girl has made the rounders team and was playing her first away match and really wanted me to come along. She gave me that eyelid-fluttering, crossed-leg, smiley face that I can't resist and so I found myself in the car following her school minibus to Cheltenham.
At least it was a lovely day and I could listen to the Ashes in the car, so things weren't too bad. We pulled up at a school cricket ground and I ambled over to watch the "Roundersdome" being set up. I was the only dad there – I was surrounded by the enemy and they were all mums.
I hadn't felt like this since I took my girl to mini-music when she was about two. A whole room of Notting Hill earth mothers swung to stare at me then as I walked in – "a man ... here in our domain ... domain of the woman". They didn't actually say this but I could see it in their eyes.
I sat down and pretended to be an aficionado of the game. This was a big mistake as nobody could be an aficionado of this curious game and I was instantly singled out as some form of predator.
I had to make a big deal of shouting encouragement at my girl and letting everybody know that I had a reason to be there – they were still suspicious but left me alone for a while.
I couldn't get the Ashes on my iPhone so I was forced to try to concentrate on the game in front of me. I tried to work it all out. There were three bases (posts) and a home base, very like baseball. The batters hit with a short stubby bat that looks more like a policeman's truncheon than anything else. They have to hit one-handed – this only adds to the impression of tiny policewomen attempting to club a flying hippie in a demonstration. The bowler-pitcher-thrower launches the ball underhand and, as far as I could make out, it had to go roughly between the knees and chin to be a valid ball. My girl was the bowler-pitcher-thrower and really wasn't bad. She's developed a nifty little Jonny Wilkinson-style hand-pointing thing before chucking and it seems to put the batgirls off a bit.
Where the game really doesn't work is the fielding. Any time a ball was hit it was mayhem. Little girls stumbled around trying to stop the thing unsuccessfully and then, when it rolled to a halt of its own volition, there was the attempt at throwing it overhand to a base.
I know that I'm going to get into trouble here but girls just can't throw. I don't know if it's a genetic or physical attribute thing ... but they just can't. I once set up the "Dom Joly Academy For Teaching Young Ladies To Throw" for a spoof documentary that I made and I got loads of hate mail.
The problem is that it's the truth. Girls throw as though they're shot-putting and it just looks really ungainly. I don't think that I've ever come across a girl who can really throw – I knew one who was an ace Frisbee chucker but that's a different thing. Anyway, this is the main problem with rounders and why it will never be anything but a sport played in schools for girls. Once the ball is hit, a home run (sorry, rounder) is pretty inevitable.
I really should set my academy up for real. If I could teach seven little girls to really throw a ball, we'd be unstoppable. I could take them all the way to the Olympics and they'd make a film about us and Madonna would play me... Back in Cheltenham – my girl's team won and we all retired for a match tea.
I love match teas – simple orange squash always tastes really good there, I don't know why. In the car on the way home my little girl grilled me about the match. "Did you enjoy it daddy? I told you it was better than that rubbish cricket..." I nodded and smiled into the rear-view mirror but my mind was elsewhere – the Olympics ... the medal ceremony ... a bunch of tearful girls weeping and waving at me in thanks. The crowd roaring my name until I walked out and accepted their applause. I need to get help and soon.
Pietersen's big mistake is the bad hair days
Am I the only one who is slightly annoyed by Kevin Pietersen's absolute refusal to admit that he ever makes a mistake? Surely he could just start easily and talk about those early blue hairstyles and dodgy home-made Mohawks?