A view backstage at Beverley Minster

Post Olympic progression

Neil Pickford plans ahead

As I make my way home from the Minster in a golden mood after Team GB’s medal successes I see that I am not alone. Wobbly cyclists weave awkwardly from kerb to crown and back again as they attempt to emulate Bradley Wiggins and prepare for Brazil 2016.

While at the Minster I’ll swear I’ve been able to hear huge waves splashing in the Leisure Centre as Olympic hopefuls try to emulate Beverley’s own backstroker Lizzie Simmonds – who only missed out on a medal by the width of a much-chewed fingernail (ours, not hers, I hasten to add).

On the pavements beside Champney Road I narrowly avoid Mo Farah wannabes, eagerly pushing themselves nearer and nearer to the 10,000 metres mark while future uneven bars competitors swing wildly from convenient branches and scaffolding above me.

Swiftly dodging an obviously misdirected javelin and resisting the temptation to head a passing shot that has been putt (joke) too close to me I finally reach safety. There I discover my younger son, fired by the news that rugby will be a team event in four years time, attempting to scrum down with anyone he can find. No wonder our cats are stressed.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m not doing my bit towards overhauling the Chinese medal total in future either. No sirree, I’m as committed as the next person. After all, it’s not my fault that chair-stacking or steps-climbing aren’t already Olympic events in their own right because I’m sure I could win gold in those.

I suspect that transept floor-washing is more suitable for the Generation Game than international competition (although John and I would be very willing to host the qualifying heats, I’m sure), but I am convinced that, at the very least, we could make the Minster available as a training venue for future sporting heroes. After all, inside it’s 101.5 metres from east to west so that could be really useful for training sprinters. The churchyard would be great for hurdlers while the Great Transept, at 50 metres, could house shot, discus and javelin undercover, although I concede that we’d probably need to cover the floor with something a bit more bouncy than flagstones. Actually, that last suggestion is probably a bit daft, now I come to think about it.

However, with 19 metres from floor to vaulted ceiling we’d have plenty of room for the high jump, and they bring their own mats, don’t they?

Or perhaps not.

It’s been interesting how people have reacted to Team GB’s progress over the last few weeks. It almost seems a lifetime ago when we went for several days during the swimming finals without a medal. Do you remember how we got all excited about the first bronze one?

Fast forward one week and suddenly we’re picking up so many that we don’t know where to look. Flick your TV onto a completely different digital channel and there’s another – and another. Look, racing brothers have got one each! Yorkshire itself has won more golds than major league countries like France or Germany.

“Easy! Easy! Easy!”

Except, of course, it isn’t, as all those wriggling and wobbling wannabe Wiggins are finding out. There will be pain involved and, of course, most people will decide that the gain isn’t worth it. It’s easier to be a couch potato than a competitor.

Yes, over the last few weeks we’ve watched history being made. Hats off to that tiny minority who will be inspired by this and strive towards new achievements but there is also virtue in sitting back and commemorating the past.

We virgers opt for the latter approach: John and I are delighted to share the glory of our own gold-medal building, proudly showing it off to visitors who come to marvel at this world-class achievement in stone and glass, However, we don’t treat it like a sterile museum-piece – oh no. We’re constantly changing things, moving things around, accommodating new displays, shifting chairs about…. I guess you could describe us as “gold meddlers” (geddit?)



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2 thoughts on “Post Olympic progression

  1. Jane Bailey on said:

    Interesting to read your blogspot Neil, you always could tell a good yarn…… I have tried to befriend you on Facebook but you have either ignored me / don’t check it !!! Would love to keep in touch …Jane ( slightly deranged, fat, middle aged woman)xx

    • Sorry Jane, don’t do Facebook so it’s nothing personal. Love to chat again some time and meet – Beverley is a darn good place for a visit bytheway if you’re ever brave enough to travel north of Cheltenham.

      I’m not deranged, I’m not, I’m not, but I admit to fat and middle aged. Male with two very good sons (thank goodness – younger one is bigger than me and plays rugby very, very well so I’m glad he’s still my pal).

      I’ve started having flashbacks about Dursley over the last few months, which is a bit odd because I’ve tended to blank most of it – wasn’t very happy until the sixth form, by which time it was too late to fall in love with the place again. But there are some nice memories starting to emerge, and you are one of them, so hugs and kisses and all that sort of thing until we meet again.

      All the best to your family – and thanks for getting in touch.

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