Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Last Leg

Not quite up to Hannah Cockroft's speed

The summer holidays are over. I feel like I am on my last legs, but more on the past few weeks another time. This post is of course a reference to Channel 4's quite brilliant paralympics coverage. This time from Rio it's less about the ad breaks and more about the achievements of Team GB as they bask in much deserved glory. It's about learning people's amazing stories. And about what we Brits do best - irreverence. The Last Leg's now well-established team of Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker have cheered up my evenings for the past week, and made the world seem a better place. Their unparalleled enthusiasm and passion for the event is infectious, and their ability to turn zany into cult status is sheer genius. The Brookworm dance. Jonnie Peacock in a tutu. Jody Cundy finding his inner Zen against all provocation. Shower caps for the Zimbabwean rowing team. Swimming coats. Johnny Vegas powerlifting. Johnny Vegas just about everywhere. Never has sport been so funny, so powerful, or so inspiring. I'm also very grateful for the nightly round-ups as so much of the "action", to use Clare Balding's favourite word, happens overnight. During the Rio 2016 Olympics I missed all the swimming and athletics as most races were on around one in the morning and the BBC completely lacked an evening highlights programme so I could catch up the next day. Yes, I know that technically it was all out there online, but sometimes I just need someone to do things for me. Here, I get the more earnest view with Clare for half an hour, then The Last Leg take the piss for an hour, and then a bit of live stuff happens before I crash out in bed. I feel informed, involved and enthused. What's more, I feel proud.

Compare this to the Last Night of the Proms, which this year I had to turn off in disgust. (Or rather turn back to the Paralympics.) I am so not in the mood for jingoistic nonsense and flag waving when it's about Rule Britannia and Land Of Hope And Glory. (And as Alex Brooker pointed out, these things have no place in the Paralympics either - why sing a national anthem about God saving a multi-millionaire when there are all those disabled people out there?) To me, all that smacks of UKIP and the Tories trying to turn our country back to the days of Empire, when we had no National Health Service, purely elitist education, sickly air in our cities, no European Union to listen to, and hanging and smacking were allowed (although not necessarily in that order). Frankly, they have almost succeeded.

I don't often prefer sport over music, but this year, we are living in very different times. Thank you, The Last Leg, for reminding me that there is something to love about being British after all. And it seems it took an Australian to do it.

Our family's medal haul for the summer. My daughter got one for reading.
My husband got one for running. I got one for a bike ride I didn't do.

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