While washing up wasn’t my favourite pastime, as my mother would have told you, in comparison to jumping over one of those ridiculous vaulting horses or running for the umpteenth time around the playground, I took to it with relish. How I managed to make it last a full forty minutes or how the PE teacher let me get away with it I’m not quite sure. Maybe she was relieved that she didn’t have to watch me spread eagled over that damned vaulting horse yet again.
But even my furtive imagination couldn’t work out a way to get out of Friday afternoon sport. Pleading a dose of Bubonic plague did cross my mind. I don’t know which was worse, Tunnel ball, Captain’s ball, basketball or softball. I didn’t fair much better at throwing the javelin, shot-put or discus and the spectacle of me, legs and arms flying in all directions as I landed very short in the long jump, wasn’t a pretty sight.
Golf fared a little better, I loved the green of the fairways and after we passed about the third hole, we would hide in a bunker until close to home time then rush back to the clubhouse breathless from all our hard work. Not that I avoided the game completely. Once on about the second hole I hit the ball so hard it went out of the course, across the road and into the garden of a nearby house. It was then I thought it was probably safer for everyone if I just relaxed in the bunker. Not sure what we did about our scorecards, probably made them up to pass the time away.
In my entire sporting life I only ever succeeded at one thing, hurdling. I have no idea why or how but I was able to fly over those hurdles with a certain degree of grace. I must say I wasn’t the only one surprised!
But after lunch the nightmare began when I saw them getting our beanbags and ties for the three-legged race and of course the egg and spoon race. I was always grateful to the same elderly ladies who hardboiled the eggs the day before, otherwise I hate to think of the mess I’d have made each time I dropped the egg.
I must have been a great disappointment to my father who was a superb athlete, excelling in many sports, but if he was disappointed, he never showed it. He cheered me on in every endeavour and accepted me just the way I was. He loved me as much when I failed as when I succeeded, which gave me a great sense of freedom to try and explore and discover my strengths and talents.
I didn’t realise at the time what an enormous gift that was – life-changing in fact, to know I wasn’t defined by my failures and inabilities. He believed in me and helped me believe in myself and that anything is possible.