Memoirs of a
Ever since my mother made me get into a potato sack, hop up and down
like a drunken kangaroo along a field of cow pats towards two geriatrics
dressed in white, wearing pith helmets and holding a piece of white
tape, I have loathed exerting myself. I think I came in second.
No sooner had I finished the event, that I found myself hung by my legs
by some lanky moron who insisted in me paddling down the same field
on my bare hands as fast as I could go. I remember ending up with my
nose and upper teeth dug deep into the mud grovelling for worms. This
time we won. My parents were thrilled.
I continued my primary school sporting days by playing rugby and cricket.
We were not allowed to play football. That was a rabbles game. When
I scored my first try, some bloody fool trod on my hand as I grounded
the ball. I got up, finger bleeding, feeling sorry for myself only to
have my jubilant team mates hug me to death because we had won the match.
My try had done the trick. From that day on, I hated rugby!
Being in a boarding school, we were all classified into mythical houses.
You either belonged to the house of Sparta, Corinth or Athens. Little
did I know at the time that this had something to do with the Greeks.
You know, Gladiators, Vikings, Olympians and all that jazz! I was a
Corinth boy. After my first year, I had survived the winter rugby season
only to be confronted with the opening of the summer cricket season.
We were all clad in whites, although being only ten years old, I was
naturally in short pants. On this my first game I was sent out to what
was called the boundary. I had no idea what to do. There were these
two other boys, I think they were from the opposite house, Sparta. Each
were with their so called cricket bats, poised, at either end of the
section of the field known as the pitch. To me, it seemed miles away.
A lot of ball throwing went on without much happening until suddenly,
one of the Spartans hit the ball and sent it in my direction. I ran
for cover as fast as I could.
I loved cricket because they never let me play again.
Skinner (the bright looking one)
came athletics. Once we had finished with rugby and cricket, the
whole school now turned out to compete in running, jumping, throwing,
tossing and generally spinning around the race track to ones hearts
content. This was the real McCoy. Spiked shoes, numbered shirts,
shot gun starts, and plenty of mums and dads to cheer you on. I
thought that I would like this until I realised that you really
did have to run, and jump, and throw and in general completely and
utterly run yourself into the ground until you could hardly breathe.
By the end of the day I was limping and sweating and generally feeling
bloody awful. I had won the sprint events and the long jump and
everyone thought I was a hero. All I wanted to do was to go to bed.
I hated athletics more than anything.
I finished school and went on to college to study engineering. First
day briefing was quite simple. We were shown our quarters, the washrooms,
the restaurant, the allotted classrooms and were told about our weekly
pay. We were given a briefing on what to do and what not do and about
weekend leave. What I was not told was that the college had all the
sporting ingredients that I had left behind at school. Only this time,
if you did not oblige and participate, you could be ostracised. You
could be black balled, literally!
Being an absolute coward, I volunteered for the ones I knew something
about such as rugby and athletics and also tried my hand at a couple
of new ones tennis and squash. I liked tennis doubles. You could
get away with murder by just pretending and doing bugger all, and letting
your partner do all the work. We never won a game, and I was never invited
to play again.
On the other hand, squash was something else. I kept bouncing off the
wall, falling flat on my face and doing contortions with my wrists in
order to connect one racket to one wretched little black elusive ball.
I made the college team and everyone thought I was great. For me, it
was the pits as no other game had ever left me so exhausted in my life.
When I completed my academic studies and was sent into the working world,
I had left behind me a curriculum of sporting successes that would have
given any college dean an everlasting memory of his term prodigy. As
far as I was concerned, good riddance. I could now proceed to a life
of everlasting leisure and forget about breaking my neck for no reason
Apart from a bit of golf, which is not a sport but more a way of life,
Im glad I no longer need to exert myself in order to win more
medals similar to those tucked away in my attic. To be honest, I really
couldnt give a monkeys about sport!
© James Skinner
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