Soggy plod


Does anyone else feel perpetually on the back foot when it comes to family matters? I’m an aunt and a godmother, and I’m plagued by an uneasy sense that there’s a whole world of duties out there that I should be fulfilling. Educational treats, cosy chats, spiritual welfare boosting, that sort of thing. Ulp. My report card is conspicuously bare of such achievements. I’ve always told myself that my role is more to step in in the event of adolescent torment/appalling behavioural difficulties. Although my friends/family seem to be managing this parenting lark so well that none of the heirs and spares are betraying the slightest sign of going off the rails.

Still, I’ve pulled my finger out a bit and am heading off to my niece’s sports day, which starts, improbably, at 8.30am on a Saturday morning. This in itself is sparking a certain amount of unwholesome self-congratulation on my part, but when I reveal the depths of loathing with which I have ever regarded The Sports Day, my attendance (entirely voluntary) will be seen as nothing less than heroic.

God, I was shit at sports. All those effing track events. Horror! Swimming and netball I was ok at, but they never featured. It was just running, throwing stuff or jumping over some sort of obstacle, which, as I was an egg-shaped youngster, clearly lay outside my natural habitat. Indeed, to this day my ‘friend’ Susie chuckles reminiscently over my solidly ovoid build. This meant that I was regularly pushed to the more ‘character’ contests – three-legged, sack, egg&spoon – which I nonetheless took EXTREMELY seriously. Mine was a cruelly composed emotional make-up: intense competitive streak yoked to profound incompetence. Never once in my whole school career did I clear the vaulting horse. Not once.

So off I go tomorrow to cheer my niece on. It’s strange how the wheel of life turns. When I left school I marvelled at the thought that never again would I stand on the brink of sports day and wish for such torrential rain that the event would be cancelled. And yet here I am. And now, all these years later, it looks like God might finally grant my childhood wish. Thanks, God!


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