It was inevitable. When every angle on the world cup has been done, an article about the football widower is going to get a run with fifteen minutes before time, that is, if there are no penalties. Sure enough, one of the English Sundays had a widower world cup story.
A week before I was having an email dialog with a writer about stories and TV. He gives a nuanced interpretation of the Master Chef franchise across three continents, their national differences, the characterizations deployed, the clothes, food differences and the language used in various parts of the Anglo sphere. Roland Barthes meets Gordon Ramsey
In one of our threads I offered up a pastiche of a world cup widower story.
How I hate being a World Cup widower
Every four years I dread the World Cup because my wife, Hayley, (Her name has been changed) turns into a single interest very moody football bore. She is a loving mother of our three children: Jacinta, Kelly and Stanley. After two girls she wanted a boy to play for England and she named him after the great English footballer, Stanley Matthews. Naturally, she supports England and anyone who can beat Germany; she still hasn’t reached the acceptance phase over the 1990 penalty shootout…
As it turned out, it was close to the real article. My writer correspondent suggested: I thought you were going to say Hayley, the footy player, had named the daughters Pelé and Ronaldo.
Those are good names if she lived in Belo Horizonte, not Birmingham.
I suppose when two writers are interested in a TV reality show and tabloid journalism it’s about narratives.
There’s an axiom that goes around that there are only seven stories, a demonstrably false notion, but one that is perpetuated, and from which a set of formal principles are advanced as though storytelling is physics. Regrettably it’s soaked up as a guide on what should be, or even, can be.
In the media those seven stories, with their rehearsed variations, are the meat n’ potatoes of story form. Eventually the form will get refreshed for the current major story. In one of our emails we discussed why this is so fixed.
We learn these stories as children and internalize the form and as it produces a reward it is quite satisfactory. More of that form is desirable but also very easy to convey other material on the architecture of the form. Football tournaments and cooking contests – same thing really – are the ideal coat hanger.
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