Posted in Writing

Putting the Great Back into Britain

my daughter and her friend at the village partyBack in the spring, with the calendar dominated by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics, I expected our lives would feel a little empty, come September. What on earth could we look forward to after all that summer treasure: diamonds, gold, silver and bronze?

Yet with the Autumn Term upon us, I’m still remarkably buoyed up by all the excitement. The Olympics have left us a wealth of unexpected legacies, quite apart from the planned regeneration of East London. Here are some of the things that the Young household has gained. My nine-year-old daughter Laura’s points first:

  • A greater awareness of the world beyond the Cotwolds, its many countries, nationalities and ethnic diversity
  • An encyclopaedic knowledge of these country’s national flags
  • A keen interest in – and mostly, but not always, the ability to spell – numerous sports that she’d never heard of before this summer
  • An awareness of history being made all around her – she’ll have plenty of memories to share with her grandchildren, beginning every story with “I was there when…”

This is what I have gained from the London 2012 Olympics:

  •  The totally new experience of wanting to read a newspaper backwards rather than forwards. Previously the most use I’ve had for the sports section has been to line the cat litter tray.
  • A huge sense of relief that our beautiful national flag has been redeemed from dodgy punk rockers and right wing fanatics, to be flourished now with unremitting pride.
  • A renewed respect for the Royal Family. If that fabulous double act by the Queen and James Bond doesn’t soften the hearts of the hardest Republican, then nothing ever will.
  • A passionate longing to have one of those long-legged swimsuits that triathletes wear – and the figure to go with it. Watch my personal space – I’ll be taking up less of it from now on.
  • A genuine conviction that the main role of British athletes at international sporting events is not to provide comic relief, but to win medals and inspire generations to come with their talent, dedication and single-mindedness.
First page (of two) of the sheet music to &quo...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even my husband, a proud Scottish republican, gained from this summer’s outpouring of British pride: so that Laura and I could enjoy the festivities unrestrained, we gave him free rein to go off and climb Scottish mountains all summer, Munro-bagging, as it’s known north of the border.

I know I’ve always been a bit of a Pollyanna, ever able to irritate gloomy friends with my “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” attitude. But now I’m sure there’s a much broader optimism afoot – a national conviction, in fact. We may no longer rule the waves, but boy, do we know how to make them. It’s been a truly Great British summer. I’ve forgotten and forgiven the rain.

This post was written for the Tetbury Advertiser (September 2012 edition).

If you liked this post and want to make the Olympics last a little longer, you might like to read some of my other posts about the Olympics:

Which New Olympic Sport Would You Choose?

The Olympic Spirit Meets Britannia

Sharing the Olympic Glory – or How I Learned to Love the London2012 Logo

Posted in Uncategorized

Which hour will you Spring Forward tonight?

(Photo: Wikipedia)

British Summer Time will be touching down on these shores tonight and I’ll be first in the queue to welcome it. I love Daylight Saving Time: this kickstart for  the annual countdown to the midsummer solstice. To optimists like me, it seems to bring the chance of  sunshine and warmth that little bit closer. But it irks me that the national timeshift takes place when most of the nation are oblivious in sleep. If we’re going to lose an hour of our lives, wouldn’t it be better if we could choose precisely which hour  we want to sacrifice?

Every autumn, when the clocks move in the opposite direction (“spring forward, fall back”, as they say), I kid myself that I’m taking advantage of the hour we gain by staying up an hour later than usual. I then get stuck into a good late-night film or a book, inevitably lose track of time and end up going to bed far later than originally planned. As a result, I wake up groggy and tired, and far worse off despite the supposed hour gained.

So this spring I’m taking control. I’m going to consciously choose the hour that I’ll be foregoing – and it won’t be an hour of much-needed sleep.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

My plans for today are a mix of treats and chores. This afternoon there’ll be lunch at my mum’s followed by a family theatre trip to see the stage show of one of my favourite  Fred Astaire films – “Top Hat“. Topping and tailing this outing will be: tidying the house (again), ironing, laundry, cooking two meals, blogging, and a routine training run for the Bristol 10K in May.

If I lived anywhere near a take-away, that would be the obvious means to cut out an hour of chores. But in these rural parts, getting a take-away or buying a supermarket ready-meal takes far longer than cooking from scratch. So that’s out.

I really need to run – I’m way behind in my training schedule, delayed by coughs and colds in February.  (Thanks, BBC Sport Relief Mile, for livening up yesterday’s training. I did it twice, but two miles is not a patch on 10K.)

And I’ve really neglected my blog lately, so updating that’s a must. (Oh, and I’ve nearly done that now, haven’t I?)

The laundry basket’s overflowing, waves of dirty clothes ebbing across the bathroom floor. If I load the washing-machine a few times, that will also count as tidying up.

Manufacture of self-sealing gas tanks, , .
Is it me, or is she gritting her teeth?(Photo: Wikipedia)

So there we have it: a new, creative and indisputably rational excuse to avoid the ironing for another day. It’s just a shame the opportunity only comes once a year.

Which hour will you choose to skip today?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read: How to Cut Down on Your Laundry