Last year at a Boxing Show. Paid gig. I turned up promptly, did the schmooze, then took a ringside seat and began to scribble bullet-point notes in awful handwriting that I would copy up the next morning then file for publication. I was feeling a bit unwell, but I’ve been at these Shows and done these tasks before. It would be easy….yeah?
Here are those notes word for word, no omissions:
– Under jilted badly-swung lights.
– Quiet, expectant fighters mosey in in dribs and drabs.
– Sitting far too early for anything useful except for watching the mismatched champagne glasses. There aren’t enough.
-In the end there are not enough…..
-A fighter from Kent arrives smartly dressed and quiet, his huge misshaped nose the only giveaway as to his occupation. Last time I saw him he was playing to the crowd, face covered in his own blood, losing heavily.
-I’m not likeable enough for this gig. Bad interpersonal skills. I’m not a do’er. Not nice enough. Full Stop.
-Don’t stress about the weigh-in. Everyone is skinny. Checked again to make sure there is no cheating; it’s small potatoes.
-For all the obvious details: my clothes, my sitting here writing in this notepad, phone on to the stats, it’s never been any clearer to me that this is not my calling. I’m out of my depth
-I’m not in the ‘in’ crowd. Never was. I don’t get it at all. I want to be alone. There are too many subtle pieces to like. I hate writing. Hate it. No good at it. The End.
-Lots of productivity everywhere.
-All I know is I want out.
-Sick of me. Sick of my bullshit.
-Nerds everywhere: covered in cables for the TV cameras and head torches and ear pieces.
-I’m a weak man.
-A thousand toothless cats. Feels like being at school: pointless
-Upwards of a million…
-Stats, man, that’s where I should be at. My mind isn’t capable of stats, or bats, or fucking anything.
-Enter Spit Buckets, stage left. Yellow.
-Nervous Ring Girls.
Capacity to write dwindling. Fucking brain dead. Press Pass Moron, that’s me. This is NOT good. Smells of Sandlewood and piss in here.
-Ultra professional security in here. ON time.
-Promoter garbling conversations into his mobile: calling in favours and giving out vicious tirades at somebody.
-Security: a real high-on-the-agenda topic tonight. Ironic all this fighting at the fighting.
-I’m suddenly asked to run the Twitter account for the promoters: making it all up as I go along. Will anyone notice?
-I’m hungry, but I’m overweight and still hungover.
-‘Viktor’, he’s the key to this evening. ‘Fifth best super-welterweight in Latvia’. Was it him I saw puzzling at the pay machine in the car park?
-Heated instructions – Security PARAMOUNT. What is expected tonight? What kind of madness and violence is going to happen outside of the ring?
-Grappling with the lightbulbs…..point?
-Eyeballed by the other Press: blackballed too. Good. Better alone anyway. It’s the only way.
-Tiny dresses on the Ring Girls before they even get changed into the small stuff designed to whip up the punters when the lights are on.
-Is there food?
-Rumours about food only being available for the Top Tables.
-18.50: First punters are in. The smell of food might drive them to riot when they realise they can’t get any. I understand the heavy security presence now. Nothing can promote ugly feelings like alcohol and the denial of access to a basic human right.
-The attraction of Boxing to young women: Not at first as obvious as it appears. Some good old fashioned simple support for a guy they know outside of the ring. They are dressed like Ring Girls…. They are not as drunk as the guys they are with. Weird nights entertainment for anyone, coming here.
-19.18: Bad attitude young guy. Talking shit to the security, trying to get ring-side. He tries to punch the security guard….leaves quickly, but that walk was the motion of a guy coming back…maybe not alone next time…
-The Music volume has increased. I caught myself nodding along to the beat…. You idiot.
Fighting now. Punching. Bleeding. Three feet from my face. Sweat flies off and sprinkles me. One of the ring doctors sits beside me – right here and now – playing pool on his phone. Noise….shouting….. Vicious crowd, this one. Testosterone and Adrenaline flowing like the Zambezi down the aisles and across the ether.
-Someone lost. They helped him up off the canvas. Who was he?
-Disaster for the local boy. Crowd like baying dogs.
-Fight after fight. Blood and punching and grunting and sweat and all up close and personal. Can’t recall who’s doing what. Noise.
-Got to get out.