European football makes its return.
After more than 4 months, European football returned this week. The remaining games of the Round of 16 were played this week before the two competitions enter a frenetic period for the remainder of August, as UEFA desperately rush to finish the European competitions for the current season before the new domestic ones start across Europe. To do that, they’ve scrapped the traditional two legs of the knockout games and have moved to a single game true knockout style mini tournament. Of course, for Rangers, who went out against Bayer Leverkusen, their domestic season for 2020-21 has started.
While it is good to see the European competitions finished properly, there is the same feeling of it all being a slightly empty spectacle, as we’ve seen ever since football returned behind closed doors. No matter who’s playing, a game is elevated by a crowd. That is true at any level of the game. And to see Europe top club competition become a diluted product makes this football fan a little sad. European nights can be some of the best you ever experience as a football fan. They can also be some of the worst, most heart-breaking nights of your life. European club football has been graced by some of the greatest goals ever scored in the history of the game. It has also been sullied by some horrendous cheating and referee gaffes. It is the pinnacle of club football.
The lack of a crowd doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to play for. The prestige of winning the Champions League stays with you forever. It’s something that can never been taken away from a club, to win arguably the best club competition in the world. Winning it immortalises you. Even the Europa League has incentive to win these days, as winning the trophy grants you a spot in the group stages of next year’s Champions League. Being competitive in the Champions League is what all major clubs aspire to be. Even when the fans aren’t there to cheer their team on, the competition still has some of its draw. It won’t be fully back until the terraces and stands are packed again.
Coronavirus creeps back
A number of localised lockdowns have gone into effect in the last week or so, even as the country experiences record temperatures that have driven many to beaches. Meanwhile, the r rate, or rate of infection which is one of the key indicators of the spread of the virus has in many areas crept back up to one. To combat this, the Westminster Government has announced a local lockdown in Manchester, Preston and West Yorkshire while the devolved Government in Scotland has imposed a lockdown in Aberdeen. As much as we may balk at the thought of going back into lockdown, it is so necessary to stop any potential second wave.
A nationwide lockdown would very likely cause massive harm to hundreds of thousands, even millions across the country. More jobs would be lost, less people would be shopping, restaurants, pubs and cinemas would have to close again and the small amounts of progress we’ve made as a society towards getting things back to normal would be lost. More people would be in financial ruin, uncertain about their job future, struggling to feed their families. It is absolutely crucial that the people in the regions subject to these localised lockdowns discipline themselves and keep reminding themselves that this is an imposition on them, but their adherence to the rules of the lockdown will help to prevent the renewed spread of the disease; more people having to be made redundant, losing their livelihoods, having to hear a loved one has died over the phone, being unable to hold a funeral.
The joys of audiobooks
I’ve recently gotten into listening to audiobooks. Now some people might see it as being lazy and why don’t you just read it if you wanted to, you know, read it. But I think audiobooks are a wonderful thing. The narrator can help you to envision the characters by giving them a voice and a manner. Stephen Fry did the audiobooks for the Harry Potter series for years and millions of children learned about J.K Rowling’s world through his narration and characterisation. On the subject of Stephen Fry, he once said that one of the main factors in him losing a lot of weight as he did after one of his trips across America, was listening to audiobooks and going on walks. He would walk for hours, listening to audiobooks. It also works for when you’re relaxing, not doing anything. You can close your eyes and better imagine the world you are looking into, with the narrator’s voice filling in the blanks.
Audiobooks don’t just work for fiction either. Maybe, you don’t learn very well by simply reading information or instructions and you learn better through listening. Then listening to audiobooks will be perfect for you. It helps you utilise your stronger learning skills and you can apply what you’ve learnt quicker, rather than staring at a book for 20-30 minutes not understanding what it was you were trying to learn. Basically, having something read to you can help expand and broaden your horizons, or it can take you away to a new land. I think they are great.