Singlespeed bikes, Japan, getting out of Streatham, trying not to bang on about multiple sclerosis

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ambient noodling

I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. - Stephen F. Roberts

I guess my aversion to religion springs from having a headmaster of the "muscular Christian" persuasion - keener on sporting thickos than on weedy smartarses like me. He was also keen on North Wales, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I guess his God took advantage of this enthusiasm for healthy walks in the mountains to let a rock fall on his head the last time he was there. It was the last time he went there because the rock killed him. I didn't actually laugh when I heard, but I did giggle.

By this time I'd developed into something of a muscular smartarse. I'd hated sport all the way through school, but at Oxford I suddenly learned that you could do sport for fun rather than for the sake of suffering. So I got into rowing, like everyone else, and rowed lightweight in 1993 (in the inglorious Nephthys, which never gets on television). I moved on from there to London Rowing Club, and much later to Furnivall, achieving absolutely zip, finally bowing out on what should have been a high note: my first ever attempt at Henley, in the Wyfolds. On paper we weren't bad at all, stroke being an ex-GB junior and ex-Ox Poly superstar, bow being a superb steersman, a big oaf called Geoff at two and me sitting at three looking undistinguished. We were only together for a couple of weeks before the event, and didn't have time to do a full course. We did a practice start against the London crew who went on to win that year, and hosed on them so thoroughly that they gave up after one minute. So we felt pretty relaxed when we were drawn against a crew of pluggers from some club whose name I forget. We had a crap start, and couldn't get more than a length up on them. Couldn't get our rhythm, and just as I was thinking to myself, Jesus this course is long, at least it'll be easier tomorrow when we're relaxed - we swerved across the river in front of the oppo, and I heard a shriek from Jon at bow, "Hold your finishes in! Geoff, that means you!" And I realised that the swerve in front of the pluggers hadn't been a piece of evil gamesmanship intended to send our puddles and wash down on them, but a result of Geoff blowing up completely and simply stopping. So the pluggers went right through us as we came into the Stewards.

Anyway, I was diagnosed with MS a month or so later, and that pretty much ended my rowing career.


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