Mute

images-1I have tried hard.
I have.
I really have.

I have honestly given it my best shot but for some reason I just cannot get excited by the Paralympics.

Every time I turn on the television I find myself faced with a depressing autumn schedule bursting at the seams with lowest common denominator programming. In an attempt to avoid watching two annoying Geordies and the humiliation of dense people from a strata of the population I don’t recognise I find myself channel hopping and pretty soon I am sat watching the Paralympics. It’s packaged the same as the normal Olympics, it’s using the same locations as the normal Olympics, everything looks the same but it’s just isn’t. It isn’t otherwise I would watch as enthusiastically as I did a month ago.

The problem I find is pretty soon after tuning in I find my hand edging back towards the remote control. I get bored quickly and find myself trying to guess red or black along with the rest of the population with my brain resting in another room.

I really like sport, I love playing it and watching it so what is it about the Paralympics I just don’t get? Is it the various disabilities? Is it the need to classify and grade the disabilities to ensure a level playing field? Is it the implausible events ranging from the rather pedestrian sounding seated volleyball, through the improbable blind football right up to the laughable, whatever could go wrong, visually impaired javelin?

Honestly I don’t know why it is, it could be that if I am watching someone run 100meters I want to watch the best in the world, not the best of a particular segment of the population. I want to see the best, the fastest man on earth, the highest or longest jumper the best football players, the best swimmers, tennis players etc. I am simply not interested in the fastest man on earth with a particular disability or within a certain age bracket. Sporting endeavor is and should be Darwinism in its purest form.

Please don’t misunderstand, it’s not the disability which turns me off, I feel the same about watching ‘senior’ competitions, the over 40s or 50s or for that matter the under 21 competitions. Frankly I don’t care about them either. Why not go the whole inclusive hog and have a tournament for people with a BMI of >30?

In fact I would probably tune in and watch that, but just because it would be laugh.

I’m not against it, far from it, good for them for competing but I for one am going to watch Ant and Dec eat rhino turds in the jungle instead.

So why is it that I uncomfortable about the above?

A good friend of mine is a huge cricket fan and I have no issue whatsoever stating the obvious to him that cricket is a seriously dull game played at the speed of a koala on weed by a bunch of fannies in stupid clothes. That fine and he normally just nods in an accepting way without taking offence, as he should, because it’s true. But if I was to say for example, the Paralympics are shite the reaction I would receive might not be quite so accepting.

Maybe I should keep my opinions on such matters to myself to be on the safe side. In future when asked did I see the S2 dwarf hurdles last night I should respond with ‘yes, wasn’t it fantastic?’ and hope the conversations quickly shifts to I’m on X-Factor get me out of here.

But it does feel like I cannot say what I think or worse what I think or feel is horribly inappropriate and out of touch.

Bad sexual etiquette was George Galloway’s way of describing Julian Assange’s alleged rape charges recently and of course the reaction to his statement was predictably vitriolic. If some people could have their way he would be hung by the neck from the nearest lamppost and Mr Galloway himself knew this would be the reaction. He did it because he enjoys the infamy and the publicity this type of outburst gives him.

Regardless of his motivation though is he so wide of the mark to justify such a strong response? I would argue not, it’s more the subject matter which has become almost unmentionable. Opinions on the subject are so strong that most politicians of a serious bent steer the hell clear. Don’t touch it, it’s a minefield and you are guaranteed to piss one section of the population off if you do. Ken Clarke fell into the trap a couple of years ago and was castigated for suggesting there should be different degrees of rape, i.e. a 16 year old boy having consensual sex with a 15 year old girl is very different to the violent type of rape. I accept the age limit is there to ensure consent is given with a mature mind but it is different no matter how you look at it. In the same way that Julian Assange’s alleged crimes are different.

So what is so wrong with saying so?

What is wrong is there seems to be a culture where people cannot speak their mind, even if it is just to bring a healthy dose of common sense into the discussion.

Race and religion are another two topics which are untouchable and we have seen some ridiculous cases recently where applying a bit of common sense would have resolved the issues before they even became an issue and probably saved millions to boot.

It is almost as we continue to pursue our insatiable desire to protect people’s religious, sexual or racial freedoms we are losing our ability or the inclination to speak our minds on such subjects. We are too scared. We are losing the freedom to say what we think and I would counter this is something much more dangerous and definitely worth protecting.

If we lose sight of this we could very easily find ourselves sat at a mad hatter’s tea party, mute.

Anyway, enough of the soapbox.

I don’t like the Paralympics and that’s ok.

Citus, Altius, Fortius

imagesI have couch sores all over my back and a remote control button shaped dent in my thumb. My skin is the colour of grey milk and I have reached gold status on loyalty points at Mustapha’s kebab emporium.

Why? I hear you ask.

What cataclysmic event has occurred which has lead me down the hazardous path of becoming lazy, fat or a little bit Greek? What has happened to me to precipitate a tornado of doing nada? A maelstrom of doing knack all has taken over and I need to move, I need to eat something green but most of all I need to stand up.

And I will in two weeks.

Personally I blame the BBC, ITV, SF1, some dodgy Albanian streaming websites and the various sporting bodies across the world for my extreme, and temporary, state of health.

They decided in their infinite wisdom to schedule a bonanza of televised sport this year and it seems there has been hardly time to catch breath, go to the toilet or wash between the conclusion of one and the start of another. Aussie Open Tennis, football league, champions league, French Open, Euro 2012, Wimbledon and now the Olympics. All have arrived with a flurry of flags and expectation and some have even lived up to their pre-tournament hype.

The finale this year is the Olympics and so far it seems to be going to plan, the French are winning nothing, the Americans and Chinese are battling for first place, we have some doping and for the first time, after the appearance of a female swimmer with huge hands and feet, the mention of genetic manipulation.

It’s impossible to tell if her size 20 flippers and webbed snow shovel hands are natural or the result of some form of genetic jiggery pokery as science stands today but I have heard she does a cool slithering party trick if you throw her at a window so make of that what you will.

Genetically developed freak or not the question of genetic doping as it is known will become more and more prevalent in the future and the governing bodies really need to start developing tests before we start seeing mermaids lining up for Fiji in the 200M backstroke.

For the most part though the athletes appear to be living up to the Olympic ideals of fair play and good competition and as I sit on my couch watching these athletes in prime physical condition battle it out I marvel at their single minded determination. They have trained every day for 4 years for this moment, they are totally obsessed with their goal. They have sacrificed everything, they get up at 3.30am to train, eat raw eggs and rabbit food all day, every day. They haven’t seen their families for years and have to lift heavy logs in the snow, probably.

As I munch on my Mustapha spicy special I find myself wanting to be one of them. If I am being honest, I am a little jealous.

I too want to be an Olympian.

I too want to compete at the pinnacle of my chosen discipline.

I too want to walk proudly around a stadium carrying a flag.

I too want to cry live on telly like a little girl.

I want all this, I want to be an Olympian but as the old guy out of the Indiana Jones movie, the one with Sean Connery and that weird Nazi lady said, I need to choose wisely. My discipline that is. I wont age horribly and explode into dust if I choose poorly but if I was to opt for the 100M sprint or marathon I might find it a bit of a struggle.

So choosing my discipline is important but there are other variables other than fitness, age or ability to wear spandex which I can use to increase my chances of success. I will use my 42 years of acquired wisdom and cheat.

Great Britain has a population of approx 70M people, most of them are far from Olympic standard but with a population this big, the competition for places is going to be fierce. To increase my chances I am going to take citizenship elsewhere and after using the power of Google to help me, I have determined my new adopted country will be the Vatican city (pop 1000).

The application form was in Latin and had some odd questions like How did Mary get pregnant? and St Peter? Discuss? but these are minor obstacles in my quest. And once I have my passport it doesn’t really matter what discipline I choose, surely I will be able to run, jump, ping pong, horse ride or shoot things better than a bunch of holy drunk old guys?

As an aside I did actually Google ‘how to become an Olympian’ and hit upon a website called fabjobs.com. Their advice is a ten-step guide to becoming an Olympian starting with ‘Choose your sport’ and ending with ‘Qualify for the Olympics’.

Thanks fabjobs! Yes, it really had that sentence; Qualify for the Olympics.

So my sport doesn’t really matter, my country is chosen, what next?

Fabjobs have another good suggestion, a couple bullet points down from choosing your sport, they advise me to ‘Get really good at your chosen sport’

I am feeling positive now, I can almost see myself entering the stadium carrying a flag.

I have four years to do this.

will do this

will become an Olympian.

The motto of the 2012 Olympics is ‘Inspire a Generation’ and I for one am inspired.

My training regime will be brutal, I will have to give up everything I love in life if I am to walk tall in the stadium. I will have to sweat blood and will cry a lot. I imagine myself doing it to stirring music, running through city streets, over mountains, straining as I struggle to lift random heavy objects, a park bench, a letter box, a homeless person. I will fail of course but as my training increases, as my strength and stamina grow, the bench will become less and less of a challenge until eventually, the day before the opening ceremony I will hold it aloft as the orchestra reaches its crescendo.

will do all of this.

Starting in two weeks.