Kids Love Balloons – Episode 28: Gideon Haigh

@ Stroke of Genius book launch
@ Stroke of Genius book launch

“A girlfriend once dumped me because she didn’t like how enthusiastic I was about…”
I love this quote from Gideon. This level of enthusiasm, as long as it’s not criminal behaviour of course, should be celebrated! Sharing your enthusiasm and is the reason for this podcast and Gideon Haigh is as passionate as they come.

Once the footy season ends, the Australian sporting focus turns pretty sharply straight on to cricket! I love this time of year. The smell of fresh cut grass, the extra daylight hours, and people everywhere wearing all white clothes that will, by days end, be covered in red, green, brown and who knows what other coloured stains.

No man articulates everything cricket means better than Gideon Haigh. A master of the English language – what blokes drinking at the bar may only exclaim as “GOT HIM! YES!”, Gideon is able to contextualise and describe that moment’s significance in far greater detail with supreme use of words. His latest book, Stroke of Genius, investigates the myth behind Australian cricketer Victor Trumper – and the shot that changed cricket. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Gideon’s managed to get 315 pages from this one.

"That" image. There's so much to it!
“That” image. There’s so much to it!

Stroke of Genius was launched at Gideon’s cricket club, Yarras, a few days after recording this. Tim Rogers of You Am I fame was on hand to lead the launch and had some real inspiring words to say. In this photo, Tim is imitating the viper-like bowling pose of the great Dennis Lillee.

Tim Rogers launching Stroke of Genius

Gideon pains to be thought of as simply a cricket writer, but 21 of his books have been somehow related to cricket! He explains this in our chat. “I think it changes your relationship to something when you rely on it for your livelihood. I always want cricket to be something that I go back to for solace and reinforcement and joy and satisfaction; not simply because it pays the bills.” His principals are spot on.

In this chat I’m reminded of my own passion for cricket. The summers spent glued to radio commentary outside or the TV inside. Playing. Watching my dad play and learning how to score. Playing and not really excelling but still loving it. Being part of a community, a club and an association of similar clubs. Contemplating history. Seeing my name on honour boards. Inspiring my own travel to the West Indies.
Of course we have a quick preview of the upcoming Australian summer and what we can expect from our Test opponents, South Africa & Pakistan.

When asked to name three songs that make him happy, “I’m not sure about joy…” was his initial response, but the songs he chose bring feelings of excitement, vitality, enthusiasm and other fantastic reactions. When I stopped the podcast recording, Gideon and I continued chatting. He took out his ipod and scrolled through the entire menu, naming every artist on it. We discussed many, I wrote many down of who I wasn’t familiar with, and have been schooling myself deep into the world of post-punk born and spread from the second half of the 1970s. In that world, Gideon definitely out nerds me. The passion was and is infectious.

What caught my surprise was Gideon’s passion for music! The quote at the top of this page was related to his love of music. “If someone stole my ipod it would be of no use to them whatsoever; it’s so totally contoured to the interior of my head.”

Music, writing and sport all things we discuss in great detail and I really enjoyed recording this episode – I hope you also do. Please share your thoughts with me @TheSongNerd.

Feedback, banter or recommendations @TheSongNerd!

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