Friday, 27 November 2015

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In tears over the rowing? You’ve got to be choking

From her hot foreign holiday hideaway, friend Twinkle was getting a bit teary. “I don’t believe myself,” she said in a whimper suggesting either she or the mobile line was cracking up... on account of excessive sun-drenching perhaps.

“I’m getting all emotional about rowing.”

I didn’t believe her either. It’s hard to imagine she’s ever rowed in her life. In fact, to my knowledge, the only time she’s seriously taken to water was when she occupied a Caribbean cruise liner’s stateroom.

But emotional was right. She was definitely choked. She’d not sounded so upset since she heard Hoopers was closing – thereby limiting her immediate supply of Mulberry bags.

“Well, I suppose The Olympic Games take people in different ways,” I said, trying to sound sympathetic. And failing miserably.

“I felt the same when Carlisle lost Jaeger and the slowest roadworks in history started on Caldewgate – feels like, what, three years ago now?”

Had I seen but a glimmer of sunshine in the last three months, I might have been more generous. Less cranky. More understanding.

But envy can be a terrible thing and to my shame, envy of her hot holiday hideaway was getting the better of me. That and trench foot were making me feel less than charitable.

“What’s the crack from Cumbria?” she asked.

“Rain,” I said. “Even the ducks are waddling for cover.”

“It’s red hot here.”

“And you’re watching television? And crying?”

This, it should be pointed out, was a full day before those clever girls took gold for Team GB. It was ahead of that inspirational triumph which had every woman and her mother declaring: “I could do that!” And booking a boat on Talkin Tarn to prove it.

A little weep on that ‘oarsome’ occasion (sorry) might have been permissible. A dab of the eyes with a lace-edged hanky, during proud medal ceremony with national anthem and accompanying Union Flag would have been forgivable. But routinely weepy over boats? That’s just unaccountably weird.

It was, similarly, 24 hours ahead of Bradley Wiggins’ outstanding victory – which I fear must have rendered her comatose.

Still, it wouldn’t do for us all to be the same – crying unaccountably over all the same things. Weeping in unison; drawing shutters against blazing sunshine, in order to watch sport on TV. Best not go there. A searing sob is building – on account of sun-drenching starvation, no doubt.

Engagement with the Games in Cumbria has been pretty full-on in some quarters – in an idiosyncratic Cumbrian kind of way. Perhaps I should have mentioned that to Twinkle.

Not much evidence of a weeping and wailing in the streets of Carlisle, of course. Not too many people in the streets at all – it’s too wet.

But some hardy, if visibly unfit, souls have been out cycling, running, leaping off walls in synchronised partnership with best friends into puddles. Quite impressive really.

I, on the other hand, have been too busy to indulge in such ambitious athleticism. The parents celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary this week. Both still laughing and out-to-lunching after 60 years, which is immeasurably lovely for a doting daughter lucky to have them – and a good excuse for a happy little tear or two.

I reminded my brother to remember – text being the chosen nudging medium.

“Oh shoot!” he replied – or uncouth words to that effect. How comforting it was to know his Olympian absent-mindedness hadn’t diminished.

And then there has been this hankering after an escape from a summer that has been no summer. A touch of glamour would be good.

That’ll be Penrith then, advised Lonely Planet, which has ranked the Eden Valley town along with Florence in the top 10 summer destinations.

I had been thinking Uffizi, Medici, Ponte Vecchio, Prada shoes, Chianti. But it’ll be 38C there this weekend – which is no darned good for trench foot – packed to the rafters with tourists and queues to make any Olympic venue’s look like the line at Berti’s for fresh chips.

Change of plan. Lowther, Dalemain, Toffee Shop, wellies and a pint of Jennings it is.


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