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August 2002 - Latest Scores

Now then, if I start by chastising you all for the fact that I haven't received very much mail about last month's stupendous edition and that it just isn't good enough; then I expect my more expert devotees out there will quickly realise that in order to be aware of that small fact, I have to be writing this one right up against a tight deadline again.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I seem to be back to bashing fingers to keyboard on the day before publication.

I don't quite know what happened to the last couple of weeks, but it certainly didn't end up including the planned time to sit down at the keyboard and compose another exciting episode of Nick Harvey's Comment for your interest and delectation.

So here I am again, thumping away at the keys, with only a few precious hours to go before you're due to read these wonderful words of wisdom.

In fact, I don't think I'm even going to bother to try to explain my literary tardiness on this occasion; I'll just stick with the phrase "unforeseen circumstances" I think, because it's such a lovely general purpose phrase in itself, isn't it?

Let's face it, if it's good enough for the BBC when some clot feeds the wrong reel of videotape into a machine, then it must be good enough for me.

Although, looking back at previous viewing figures for months when I ramble on about nothing much at all except being late in writing the piece, perhaps you enjoy the off-the-cuff editions rather more than the terribly professional ones that you're normally in receipt of.

Now, that's a subject you could write to me about, isn't it?

If you were of a mind, you could also write about the strange ways in which the scores are calculated and presented in various sports. I mention this, purely as an oblique way of introducing that subject which I wish to discuss with you good people this time round.

Yes, dear readers, sport scoring is the subject for in-depth analysis in this month's exciting edition.

And, talking of months, having just glanced at the calendar I see that it's one of those times of year again.

It happens a couple of times each year, you see; around about Christmas and around about now.

It OUGHT to dispose of the problem of hastily written editions of Comment, but for some reason, it doesn't I'm afraid.

I refer, of course, to the grouping of adjacent thirty-one day months at certain points in the calendar.

Well, you would expect the edition for the beginning of March to be rushed onto the streets with little or no proper preparation, as my poor brain only has twenty-eight days in which to concoct it; but when the full thirty-one days are available for concoction, then a slightly less hurried portion of prose ought to be available.

"What the heck's he sidetracked onto now?" I hear you quietly mumbling to yourselves. And "What ever happened to scoring in sport that he was supposed to be on about?" Sorry madam, minor digression here, back to the point in a minute.

No, it's just that when I had a quick peek at the calendar, I suddenly realised that there are TWO thirty-one day months in a row at the moment, which means that this, like its counterparts in September, January and February, OUGHT to turn out to be one of the more splendid editions of the year.

Right, meanwhile plot at the back, as they say in all the best circles. Shall I get on with the subject in hand now; rather than wandering all around the place and getting nowhere?

Well, it wouldn't really be a proper edition of Comment if I didn't digress once or thrice would it? I know you all enjoy me wandering off the subject really!

It all started in the early hours the other morning when I was rather foolishly breaking one of my cardinal rules and watching the sports bulletin on a well known satellite television news channel.

They were giving the scores in some golf tournament from somewhere in the world; must confess I wasn't watching with enough interest to remember exactly where it was.

Anyway, the location isn't at all important to the plot; if I spent a few paragraphs trying to work out where the tournament was being held, I'd get accused of digressing again, so I won't.

It was the fact that this particular chap was said to be leading by one overnight that caught my interest. And, before you ask, no I don't remember his name either.

Anyway, the name of the chap isn't at all important to the plot; if I spent a few paragraphs trying to work out what his name was, I'd get accused of digressing again, so I won't. Funny, haven't I heard that bit somewhere before?

It was the fact that he was ahead of the rest of the players by an overnight that intrigued me about the dear fellow.

Now, apart from checking out the locker room of the local clubhouse for dark corners in which to hide and have a quick cigarette, one wet and windy afternoon when we'd been sent there from school to see if we'd be interested in taking up the game; I've not had anything whatsoever to do with the sport of golf.

That's why I don't even pretend to understand the scoring system.

I know just about enough to follow the fact that in a lot of sports the scores are counted in goals, or wickets, or other strange units of measurement, but I'd never realised that in golf the unit of score measurement is the overnight.

It's also a little odd that the word overnight is very much like the word sheep, in that it appears to be both singular AND plural.

As I got more interested in this particular sports bulletin, they later reported that another fellow was leading by three overnight.

Note please, that it wasn't three overnights with an "s", but three overnight without the "s", thus proving the point that this odd measure of golfing prowess is most definitely plural as well as singular.

By this point I was becoming totally confused.

But this is my point, you see folks, all sports scoring systems seem to be a total mystery to me; aren't they to you?

I was once invited to try a game called tennis, but couldn't manage to get my brain around a game where in some circumstances the numbers one to four, six to fourteen, sixteen to twenty-nine and thirty-one to thirty-nine don't seem to exist.

And what, I ask you, of the lovely number nought? In tennis they seem to call it love most of the time, but zero at certain strange points in the match.

Part way through the proceedings, and for no apparent reason, they suddenly decide to have something they call a tie breaker. Now, as the blokes in tennis all wear open necked shirts, I'm none too certain what this is all about.

I can only assume that the object of the exercise is to hit the ball at the ends of the net with so much force that it falls on the floor when you break the ties which hold it suspended between the funny post things at each end of it.

Anyway, it's during this strange ritual that love becomes zero and the numbers like one, two, three and four reappear.

But then there's ice skating! In every other test and examination you take in life they give you marks out of one hundred, but not these stupid people. It's obviously something to do with the fact that ice skating judges are totally thick, especially when they're drastically undermarking some poor skater who dares to be British.

They only seem to be able to count up to six!

Perhaps they ought to get some darts scorers to help them out. Even if they do have this totally strange system where they start at 501 or 301 and score downwards to zero, nought, love or nil; at least they're pretty good at maths; well, subtraction at any rate.

The best system, however, has got to be the method they use for rewarding horses which jump over things, or don't, as the case may be.

Have you ever wondered how odd it is that if a horse manages to jump over one of those wall things that they build out of loose bricks, they don't give him any points at all.

If the horse gets over the thing, but kicks it to pieces in the process, they reward him with four points; but if he just goes round it and misses, then they give him three points instead.

It's ever so easy in one respect. As they only use the numbers three and four, even a simple ice skating judge ought to be able to grasp the principle, but I doubt if he'd be able to cope with the adding up once the horse had refused twice.

All in all, I think it's best that I go back to taking no notice of the television sports bulletins at all. That way I won't get too confused.

Perhaps I could use the time better by getting the September edition of Comment prepared well in advance, so I don't end up in another last minute rush.

On the assumption that I'm not busy with litigation from an ice skating judge, I'll catch you again at the beginning of September. Right, I'm off, where's me balls?

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