Man About County
I’m in mourning. Usually it’s every July when Wimbledon comes to a close. But once in every four years – and thus all the more devastating – my sense of loss multiplies 20-fold. Just six weeks ago you see I was happy – really happy. The kind of happiness you rarely experience and only acknowledge when gone. And now...? Well, despite it being April, I’m still picking up the pieces one small step at a time.
The fact is that if one ever needed proof of a divine architect, a glance at the Winter Olympics calendar clearly illustrates the work of a merciful almighty intervening to stage the Games during February.
Any other time of the year and it just wouldn’t have that same biblical frisson. Holding them in July or August would still have proved popular but not life-saving. I know some believers awake of a morning to discover mouths boasting gold teeth but I would argue that awakening to see Clare Balding and Hazel Irvine broadcasting live for two weeks is even more miraculous – and so it was that I managed to not only get through February but most of March too on the afterglow.
Now, April is clearly nowhere near as deadly as the first quarter of the year but when it comes to choking the very life out of your soul, it’s frankly not far off.
Sure, people are now talking about lambs and bluebells (grandparents, Sunday drives) and last month of course hosted the Winter Paralympics (a ‘cold turkey’ restorative that was, for many days, the light at the end of my tunnel) but it’s still proved a tough grind. And although it’s not sport, the Oxford International Literary Festival proved a very welcome distraction too. Still, I guess the one great thing about April is that it promises the start of May (and the city’s not-to-be-missed May Morning celebrations) and doubtless the first tentative signs of fledgling summer foreplay. Plus there’s the start of the Commonwealth Games, the Grand National and the Masters in Augusta.
The irony about all of this however is that I hated sport when I was young and not surprisingly, there was no merit to this antipathy; just a fumbling, butter-fingers inability to conquer even the most basic level of physical competition. To my family who had silver cups and plaques engraved to honour their prowess, I was nothing short of a disgrace. But now? Well I like to think my lack of camaraderie with the sports jocks has been superseded by a fervent and, in the local community at least, highly respected grasp of luge, skeleton and snowboard. Yes, I do miss it, terribly, but what’s four years in a lifetime? Oh yeah, 1,461 long, long days...