Little things I learned in January and February

5. Learn about a new topic every two months.

I had planned to learn more about Greek mythology, but I kept remembering at the wrong times and time itself went awfully fast. So much so that the original title of this post was ‘Little things I learned in January’ because I’d forgotten that February was over too…

I will squash another topic into the next couple of months, but for the moment I’m trying to think of what I did learn so far this year. Reading the book Still Alice and similar storylines in TV shows I was watching at the time led me to do a bit of research on dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease. However, I think it’s too big/serious a topic for me to attempt to write about.

Many of the others things I learned are related to the non-fiction I check as part of my publishing job. I learned more about true crime in Glasgow and infamous prisoners than I ever wanted to know, but I also read a book about Billy Bremner, the footballer. I had heard of him, of course, but I didn’t really know anything about him, and to be honest I wasn’t looking forward to checking the book.

I don’t get football. I don’t believe anybody should earn a doctor’s salary in a week, and the fact that the talent to kick a ball accurately wins greater reward than being able to try to save lives is a sign that we have our priorities wrong. And while all footballers are undoubtedly great athletes, I have far greater admiration for tennis players, who have the stamina to play two-and-a-half-hour matches without ten others to fall back on. Frankly, the sport itself is a bit dull. You spend the match hoping for a goal, and there’s maybe one, even none, in a game. And if there are seven, you’re disappointed because at least one of the teams was obviously playing terribly.

Anyway, for those of you who know as little as I did, Billy Bremner was a guy from Stirling who signed for Leeds when he was seventeen years old. He soon made it onto the first team, then was part of the club’s golden era with Don Revie as manager. A slight build meant that people often underestimated Bremner, but the team was branded ‘Dirty Leeds’ because he and other players were deemed to have such an aggressive playing style. He went on to become captain, and Leeds became one of the best teams in the league. Bremner was voted Leeds United’s greatest player of all time in 2006.

That is the basic information covered in the book. There was little reference to his personal life, or anything other than his football career. And yet, I really enjoyed it. What, perhaps, made the book slightly different was that it was written from the point of view of one of his fans, who met him as a boy and was fortunate enough to keep in contact with him over the years as a journalist. Perhaps the author’s enthusiasm for the subject was contagious.

Or perhaps it’s another little lesson – well, a reminder: everybody’s story is interesting. Sometimes you just have to make an effort to start listening!


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