Square Eyes

After a day spent staring at a screen as I start on my tax return, an unispiring experience where I am shocked at how little I earn, this evening I have turned to the slighter larger screen in the corner of the sitting room. It’s been mainly Channel 4; the news, the Paralympics, The Last Leg, shortly the Paralympics again and I’ll be watching until Ellie Simmonds races just after 11.30. But I had a bit of a break on ITV remembering how much I loved Cold Feet all those years ago, and finding that this return series is again reeling me in.

I didn’t watch the first episode last week. Call me a coward, but I didn’t want all those wonderful memories spoiled by a crass revival. However the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, so tonight I decided to give it a whirl. It is rather wonderful to find that your memories are not rose-tinted, that the writing is tight and the performances warm and convincing. Hermione Wotsit (not her real name, but I can’t think of it at the minute) is great as the buttoned up Karen, now estranged from her husband David, played by Robert Bathhurst as an overgrown prep schoolboy who functions well in high finance but badly everywhere else. Born into a different class he’d could have been Arthur Daley. Widowed Adam has a new much younger wife, who despite the misgivings of his old friends turns out to be a good sort. Pete is crumbling into depression, struggling to make a living and working as a cabby and a carer. His client is a crabby James Bolam, obviously enjoying himself in his role. At the rate I am acquiring TV programmes I want to watch, going to Australia is going to be a bit of a wrench. Continue reading

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Amazingly This Summer

It was just like the summer. The two women across the aisle from me on the train were talking about the Olympics. At a guess, I’d say they were in their seventies. One was hoping that the Christmas television schedules would give her the opportunity to see some events once more, and to catch up on the gymnastics which she had mostly missed. Both agreed they would happily forgo seeing Macca’s performance again. “He’s past it,” said one. “Yes,” agreed the other. “Why didn’t they have Robbie?”
Names of Olympic champions littered their conversation; the excitement; the buzz of those wonderful weeks. Only one presenter got a mention, the new national treasure that is Clare Balding. What that woman has achieved for gay respect is incalculable, and it would have been unbelievable twenty years ago, even fifteen, probably ten, maybe five. Continue reading

Legacy

The Closing Ceremony has begun. The Games are over. David Weir blew our minds this morning when he won the wheelchair marathon. I have a host of new heroes after these last ten days, but David Weir is the one I admire the most. And tonight he is one of the flag-bearers of Paralympics GB with Sarah Storey. When I wrote about the opening ceremony, I said that I expected we would become as familiar with the Paralympians as we had the Olympians. So it has proved. Yes I knew about Oscar and Ellie, David and Sarah. I even had a passing acquaintance with Johnny and Hannah , but it wasn’t like it is now, where I feel as though I have been on an exhilarating and unforgettable journey where they have lead me to highs I never knew about. And I have a hero on the French wheelchair rugby team, Riadh Sallem who kept my attention riveted with his determination and competitiveness. He has star quality, by which I mean you have to watch him, he radiates such energy.

Sallem Makes a Break

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Arena Love

I was feeling a bit low today realising that I had no more tickets for the Paralympics, so late afternoon I went online and managed to get a day pass for Friday. I shan’t be able to go there until afternoon, but I am hoping to get into things I haven’t seen so far and enjoy the atmosphere one last time.
I have heard some stuff said about Paralympians that has made me pause. You can’t watch these people and doubt that they are first class athletes. This isn’t some lesser hobbyist event.
I am able-bodied. I am not an athlete. Put me in a race or contest with anyone of these Paralympians and I would lose.
Anyway.
We were walking about yesterday, bumping into people we knew, chatting, shocked at the queues for the water fountains (there were none on Thursday), when there was a huge roar from the Aquatics Centre. Everyone looked at each other and started smiling. We knew Ellie Simmonds had just got gold. We celebrated with a beer £4.30 the bottle, so for a frugal person like me with boat bills to pay quite a statement.
We needed to get into the Arena. I fell in love with the Arena at the Opening Ceremony and when I saw it on Thursday inside the Park my heart beat a little faster.

Arena Love


Even grey skies couldn’t diminish my love. Actually, my heart started beating faster on the way to the Park. You know the expression about your heart swelling with pride? Well, I know what it means now.
I took various photos of it in daylight ad after night had fallen.

Arena and Wild Flowers


Arena at Night

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

Libby Clegg Wins her Heat


You might wonder what is so free spirited about this picture. Libby Clegg is an athlete who is visually impaired, just as all the competitors are in this heat, the Women’s 100m T12. The guy on the right in orange is her guide, Mikail Huggins. Read more about how it works on her site.
The final is tonight. All four finalists run with guides. Don’t miss it. You’ll probably hear me cheering from my sofa.

For more challenge entries, click here.

Paralympics People, Places and Dog

At the Paralympic Park yesterday there were lots of wheelchair users. People in electric chairs, self-propelled with muscle power, pushed by attendant. A few people using sticks. But no assistance dogs.
Then I saw Cody. He was lying down, so I approached the man with him and asked if I could stroke him.

Cody the Assistance Dog


I got the go ahead. Cody was one of the most relaxed dogs I have ever met. He settled his chin onto my arm when I spoke to the man with him who turned out to be minding him while his son, Cody’s human partner, was enjoying one of the attractions close by. Cody is a fetch and carry dog, sponsored by Dogs for the Disabled which just happens to be one of my favourite charities. He’s three years old and was due to be filmed by, I think, Sky, later in the day. It turned out I wasn’t the only one surprised at the lack of assistance dogs in the park. Cody’s minder had only spotted two others, both guide dogs for the blind. I hope if more dogs start turning up they won’t be met with the same lack of water bowls that Cody faced.
The Games Makers have been singled out for praise many many times during London 2012. The friend I went with yesterday interviewed people from around the world who applied to be volunteers. The system seems to have worked really well, but we were especially pleased to see this cheerful chap with his megaphone as we headed for the Aquatics Centre as we had just passed a trio of lads who should not have been given the uniform. They looked like Games Makers turned bad, huddled together, making negative comments about passers-by, they made me wonder aloud if they could possibly be doing community service. I certainly wouldn’t have been happy to approach them.

Cheerful Games Maker


Inside the Aquatics Centre we climbed to our roof level eyrie. The place was full. And the crowd was predominantly British. We could see ParalympicsGB’s poolside presence from where we sat.

ParalympicsGB Swimming


We cheered everyone, but there was a definite partisan roar for Hannah Russell. We yelled ourselves hoarse as she swam a very tight race, claiming the silver. I love the way the crowd just takes to its feet as one when excitement grips it.
Here’s Hannah diving at the start of the race. Continue reading