If I could apologise to Seb Coe, I would. There, I’ve said it. For the five years I’ve sneered at the whole Olympic shebang, out on cold, windy tracks and in empty early-morning swimming pools, young athletes have ignored me and battered on with their training to pull off an event that has left a nation gobsmacked.
Of course, the nation in question is Australia, which is apparently in a right old snit at being Pom-thrashed.
Sadly, my Paralympics were endlessly sabotaged by my own inability to stop crying. Every time the camera panned to someone’s proud mum/dad/trainer/random Cockney in an ill-fitting London 2012 T-shirt weeping tears of pride, it was time for a snivvle and sniff.
Every time a lithe, fit athlete graced the podium, waving at crowds sometimes they couldn’t see, a watercourse of salty tears ruined my make-up. I can’t be the only one. The sales of mascara must have gone through the roof. It was like painting the Forth Bridge. Slap it on, oh look – we’ve won another medal – off it comes.
Even when someone came in last, it was bubble and weep time. Thank heaven I didn’t get tickets to go. I would have rushed the track to hug every last one of them. I can totally relate to the last runner on the track. Why sometimes during school sports days, it took me so long to complete the three laps round the track that Mr Thompson, the janitor, got overtime for a late lock-up.
In fact, even when they panned the camera round the massive crowds, I was off again. It was sheer joy to watch people support athletes who have been dealt a bad hand at the card table of life triumph over challenges that would have left most of us crumpled in a corner.
Suddenly, whining because you’ve got a bit of a sniffle, moaning because you hurt your back or whingeing because you’re a bit busy – when you have all your limbs, your eyes work and you can hear your own kids clamouring for dinner – seems just a teensy bit self-indulgent.
Will the Paralympics change our attitudes to disabled people? I don’t know. But this is our chance to be heroes, too. Let’s keep that image of Ellie Simmonds blasting through the water like some sort of Dambusting apparatus being tested by Barnes Wallis, the blade runners tearing up the track and blind riders controlling their horses with a breathtaking skill in our minds.
People with disabilities are just that. People first. The problems they face are just that. Problems. And don’t we like to help someone with a problem? C’mon, we are a nation that revels in a meddle if we think we can help out. Let’s be a helpful nation. Don’t add to the problem of people with a disability by taking their parking space – not every amputee can do 100 metres in ten seconds, especially if it’s raining and the doors to Asda are far away.
Help the visually impaired, if you can, by holding a door open, or asking politely if they need a hand crossing the road. God knows the roads in Edinburgh defeat the able-bodied.
See the person first. If they have a wee problem and you see the solution – help.
AMONGST my own particular Olympic highlights was the women’s shot put. Who knew large women from Belarus could be such a riveting watch. And listen, of course. My word, those ladies like a grunt. What sort of noise do they come out with hefting a particularly large bag of frozen chips in Lidl, I wonder?
He was Osborne to be a villain
WHERE there are superheroes, there must be a supervillain. And so there was. Like so many nemeses of all masked caped crusaders, this villain, too, has his dark disability.
Let’s not forget, Joker was not just off-the-wall evil, but also heavy handed with the make-up; Two-Face was a victim of a terrible acid accident; and Doctor Octopus had a run-in with technology and wound up with eight arms, which seems to have annoyed him. Although, to be honest, I’m a bit baffled about that, since I have days when eight arms aren’t enough.
Blasting his way into the Paralympics with the sort of wolfish grin that graces the face of only the most heinous of supervillains, we have George Osborne. A man born without a heart or a sense of decency.
The 80,000 booing people were, indeed, George, all in it together.
‘Motorised’ Simmonds goes like bat out of Ell
ABOUT the only time I didn’t blub was watching Ellie Simmonds swim. At least I think it was swimming.
I swear she didn’t even touch the surface. I completely forgot to cry, just watched in jaw-dropping awe. Now, I hate to cast aspersions on Ellie’s incredible achievement, but did anyone check that gal for a hidden outboard motor?