Posts Tagged ‘Sport’
I haven’t blogged in over a year. There was no conscious decision to stop, no one moment where I became bored or lacked the words. In fact there’s been many a time I’ve been frustrated to the limitations of Twitter to get a point across I feel passionate about. I don’t know if this post will be it for another year or until next week. But tonight, as I start to type this on Sunday 3rd August I almost have too many things to say.
That recently I had to take a very long and critical look at myself in the mirror and face up to weight gained, health not quite up to scratch (some of you will be familiar with my blogs on suffering from Tinnitus, add to that a pesky and painful foot injury I’ve not been able to shake this year). I’ve always stated exercise is the hardest routine to get into and the easiest to fall out of. But I’ve recently made it to the gym after bad work days when the devil on my shoulder has been telling me to go for pizza and a bottle of wine. Jumped in the pool when I want to be lying in a park finishing my book. Chopping up a rainbow of lettuce, beetroot, tomatoes instead of boiling the kettle to put the pasta in. Showing myself Tough Love.
That during Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games I’ve thought back to the lows I went through during 2012 which culminated in the high of The Olympics. Those days, I still confidently state, were my happiest in a decade of living in London, and will remain the most inspirational until the day I die. I think it changed me, for the better. This past week, watching amazing athletes like Lynsey Sharp set such a positive role model for young girls everywhere has been a complete joy. I type this waiting for the inevitable montage to round-up the games so I can cry the just as inevitable sports tears.
That today I went to Shuffle Festival’s Day of the Dead, set in the beautifully calm and serene Tower Hamlets Cemetery (my Dad and I can’t be the only ones who find cemeteries peaceful instead of eerie)? I sat listening to a crowd of old east-enders relay their tales of what can be best described under the title of “back in the day”. Complaining about all these retro shops in Brick Lane, thinking fondly on the colourful Sari shops of their youth. How when one of them moved to Somerset the first thing he had to do was learn how to say good morning to people, “do that in the east end people would class you as a loony”. How all these kids are moving to Hackney now because they can’t afford Islington anymore (I had to bite my lip, I wanted to tell them we can’t afford Hackney either). It was like listening to my parents and their friends talk, and because of that, behind my sunglasses I cried happy tears. I sat there until the old nana in her wheelchair finally piped up and said “I wanna go ‘ome”.
So this has been a bit of a montage post I guess. To say look after your health, find inspiration in the people and acts that move you, and to cherish your family. Life is fleeting.
I’ll sign off with the words of one of those lovely east-enders that made me smile so much today. Last cockney to leave turn off the lights.
Each time I’ve sat down to write about the Paralympics I’ve struggled. Struggled to find the right words that convey the respect, admiration and awe I feel towards every person involved, from the competitors to volunteers. Impossible to sum up how inspired I feel. If the Olympics propelled me to start swimming and running then the Paralympics have rocketed me to show more commitment and push that little bit harder, and not just in the pool but in all areas of my life. It’s also made me feel more positive as a person, maybe I’m caught up in the hysteria of it all. I was lucky enough to get tickets for a few events, the support and roar in the venues is deafening. If I could replace the drone of my Tinnitus with it I’d be the most motivated person in the world. Still, none of these words seem like a fitting tribute to what London 2012 means to me.
Then I overheard a conversation on the train and I wanted to tell people about it.
Six typically teenage boys were on my carriage. All of them were clutching KFC bags, the grease seeping through the brown paper. All of them using words I am clueless about. All dressed as if they’d ran through JD Sports like an episode of Supermarket Sweep and finished the ensemble by taking a forward roll through New Era.
All of them discussing Oscar Pistorius and how fast he can run, all of them questioning whether Jonnie Peacock can beat him. Talking about the blades, whether the runners feel the impact on their limbs, if they feel sensation, if technology gives advantage. A conversation that is taking place only because of this great event and these super humans. A conversation that sparked debate and got them all wondering the hows, whys, whats.
During the opening ceremony for the Paralympics Stephen Hawking told us to “be curious”. Conversations like this prove the message was received. Their questioning was done with respect and wide-eyed wonder. This small moment during my Paralympics experience made me smile and warmed my cockles. ♥
The 2012 Olympics are frequently producing utterly inspiring images that I believe will be burned into my memory for the rest of my days. Gemma Gibbon’s mouthing “I love you Mum” to the skies as she defeated Audrey Tcheumeo to take her into the Judo final. Andy Murray’s leap in the air as he became the first “Brit” to win the Tennis singles gold in 104 years. Peter Wilson sinking to his knees as he wins the Double Trap, a long way to reach the ground given his 6ft 6″ stature. Katherine Copeland’s face of sheer disbelief as they won the lightweight double sculls, mouthing “We won the olympics” to partner Sophie Hosking. I could go on and on and on and on… Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, our wonderful gymnastics boys, Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton, Big Ben. You get the point.
In amongst all these brilliant athletes that are making Britain so very, very Great again there is Sir Steve Redgrave, Patron Saint of Rowers. The enduring images of him being at the riverside, helping the emotionally and physically exhausted Alan Campbell, Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter from their boats, bearing the weight, have moved me as much as those competing for Team GB. These moments, this man who has lived and experienced what they have been through helps to shoulder the burden with a quiet kindness. Katherine Grainger being interviewed on Sunday spoke of how generous he is with his time and knowledge, how much he means to them all. He truly seems to be the nicest person in the universe.
Granted the closest I will ever get to climbing out of a boat is getting out of the bath, so the chances of this calm and strong man being there to gently encourage me and nudge me along in the right direction are non-existent. But that’s not to say he hasn’t inspired me. When I nearly bailed out halfway through a run on Saturday it was Steve Redgrave and all our rowers that popped into my head, that made me put one foot in front of the other.
The tagline of the games is, quite rightly, Inspire A Generation. I blogged last week mentioning all these golden role models the younger generation will gain from London 2012. But I have also found a voice to drown out the annoying swarm of bee’s sound of my Tinnitus. Without pausing for a breath this new voice tells me “Have you found a swimming club you want to join yet? Are you going for a run today? *Lets not drink for a whole month, see what a difference it makes!”
Yes, a hundred million times yes to inspiring a generation. But don’t forget the difference it can make to us older farts too. ♥
*I haven’t quite agreed with the part abstaining from alcohol. In fact as I type this I have a bloody awful hangover, caused by some very boozy watermelons at Ruby’s pop up Chariots of Fire.
Friends, Londoners, Countrymen…
It has been a week since Danny Boyle sparked a Ready Brek glow in the pits of our stomachs.
Everyone, and I truly mean every single soul, that I have come into contact with over the past week seems to be holding onto this rare, unheard of level of loveliness. I haven’t once tutted, wagged my finger or rolled my eyes. Instead, I have laughed in the face of the well taught stranger danger and chatted away to people (especially those beloved purple and red volunteers that have popped up like very human wombles, laminated labels swung round their necks). I even had fun in the Post Office yesterday, that usual pit of hell we suffer. Staff and the usually mardy customers all chatting excitedly about Bradley Wiggins. And I can’t even ride a bike.
I know it’s exhausting, it’s not our natural state of being, especially as London dwellers. But my days, we are doing enthusiasm really bloody well. It’s almost like the Olympics have unlocked something dormant in us. At some point we all started grumbling and found it hard to snap out of it. We lost faith in this little Island of Cheddar Cheese, Real Ales, Mods, Rockers, Cockles soaked in vinegar, rain and Shakespeare.
Danny Boyle gave us an utterly bat shit and bonkers reminder of all that is Great about Britain. Our beloved NHS, Branagh as Brunel, our rich and diverse music history, the suffragettes, this green and pleasant land we have all been so cynical of. Then the games started, and these super human, brilliant sportsmen and women have fuelled that glow further than I ever anticipated. I am watching ALL the sports. I don’t know the rules and regulations, sometimes I am confused, but I am always proud and hugely excited to be part of this.
As I type this we have won fourteen medals in Cycling, Canoe Slalom, Shooting, Equestrian, Gymnastics, Rowing, Swimming and Judo. These superb new role models who are surely inspiring the young generation watching them. I have high hopes that children will put down the games consuls and want to swim like they have gills, row like there’s a pot of gold at the end, swing up onto bars like they were born a creature of the trees and cycle like they’re powering the national grid.
As for all of us. Keep it up, this loveliness. At the end of the Olympics, when your cheeks are aching from being pushed up to your eyes from the smiling, no one will begrudge you for slipping back to your old ways. I will probably revert back to taking down the number plates of people who run zebra crossings (and do absolutely nothing with the information). Or maybe we won’t.
Maybe things will just remain better than they were before. ♥
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