Monday, 22 February 2010

And the crowd goes wild

So, I'm laid in bed listening to the curling in Canada. There's no need to point out the absolute pointlessness of listening to a sport that in itself has got to be the most pointless example of a mis-spent youth. If you're not even watching the Olympic awkward-lunge-and-letting-go followed by the maniacal Olympic ice sweeping in full flow, the sound of one stone hitting the other stone isn't going to tick many entertainment boxes.

But I didn't have the energy to sit up and watch, so I listened. With raised eyebrows. I had the energy for that at least.

And then I noticed something. The man whose job it was to let go of the stone with an obligatory expression of unbearable seriousness (yes, I could hear it), was then screaming instructions down the ice to his Olympic domestic brushmen to scrub harder, longer, softer, in a more sportsman-like manner... I don't know what, but the urgency and anger in his voice was quite alarming. Was he really taking this so seriously? Was he really so angry?

It’s kind of odd that we Brits like curling, and I don’t mean for the obvious reasons that it’s no more suitable as an Olympic sport than hoovering. The thing is, we’re quite good at it, aren’t we? And don’t we hate it when other people are good at things? Isn’t that the true definition of Britishness, ‘to be of a disposition of perpetual resentment and distrust of anyone who can achieve, and to only have a natural leaning towards the under dog, [caveat: until they start to achieve]’.

So, we like the curlers, even though they’re pulling off their second Olympic medal winning sports page domination. We fell in love with them as underdogs in 2006 and in 2010 we’re still lovin’ it.

But, anyway, it’s ok after all, because even if we don’t follow the book with our love of curling, we certainly do in defeat – our state of mind of choice. So the final British curl is about to be cast down the ice, and the over emotional Canadian supporters started singing the national anthem. Theirs I mean. And our guys couldn’t concentrate – but most importantly the sweepers couldn’t hear their instructions. That’s the actual factual explanation of our subsequent failure. After four years of practice, pre-breakfast broom training, late nights studying their instruments and endless cancelled family holidays in the hope of Olympic glory, the sweepers couldn’t hear Mr Angry shouting ‘sweep’ so they didn’t. Or couldn’t. So, the match was stopped, everyone had a nice cup of tea, and the crowd was calmed. But the seeds had been sewn, and our skipper chucked a bad ‘un and we lost on the final stone.

I know this isn’t the kind of thing I usually choose to dwell on, but I felt a huge sense of national pride in the whole sorry episode. My kids enjoyed watching the curling almost as much as they enjoyed watching the bobsleigh team coming down the run on their heads. A friend once quoted someone perceptive and told me 'If ironing's all your good for, you better be damn good at ironing.' If it works for sweeping, I might have found my answer to navel gazing.

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