Thursday, 10 March 2016
353 Commonwealth Games 1978
First viewed : August 1978
The Commonwealth Games normally pass me by completely unnoticed. Even when they were in Manchester I tried to have as little as possible to do with them. I've no real interest in the Commonwealth as a concept ( and it was being exceptionally embarrassed at this point in time by the genocidal thug Idi Amin's membership as President of Uganda ) and little more in athletics. I get that not everybody likes football but I think anyone could spot the qualitative difference between a Barcelona- Real Madrid match and a Sunday League fixture down your local 'rec. Not so with running ; a dozen or so guys running round a track looks exactly the same whether it's in an Olympic stadium or Leverhulme Park in Bolton. Unless you've some investment in a runner's personality or nationality it's a totally boring spectacle.
So why does this one in Edmonton, Canada feature ? Well because 1978 was payback for 1976 in weather terms. In the six week summer holiday period it pretty much rained everyday. In the first week I'd been on my second youth hostelling holiday with the school which was an enjoyable experience despite the decidedly iffy weather. I came back on the Friday then on the Saturday I was off again on a family holiday ( minus Dad who'd opted out of family holidays much earlier in the decade ) to Lytham St Annes.
This was the first since 1974 due to my mum's health problems mainly but we were staying in the same place , a self-catering holiday let called "The Sharon" near the railway station at St Annes. For me it was always going to be anti-climactic after the fun in the Lakes but the weather put a real dampener on it for everyone . Activities had to be snatched between showers ; I think there's a photo somewhere of my sister and I glumly sat on a see-saw amidst the puddles. Often the day ended early with us hurrying back to the house and this was usually on the TV.
I remember a lot of the focus was on a young British athlete called Steve Ovett so it surprises me to look up the records and find he didn't actually win anything at the tournament. Other than that I can't recall anything specific about it.
By the Wednesday we had decided to call it quits and return home early. The "official" reason was that my gran was feeling unwell but that was only half true. The weather had defeated us all . And so our last family holiday came to a disappointing end, with scuttling into a taxi and heading for home early. My mum kept sending the landlady Mrs Bower a Christmas card for years afterwards but we never got one back. I didn't visit St Annes again until 1990 as a pre-match meal venue before a game against Blackpool. Years after that I wandered down the same road with my wife and I think I identified the property but it was clearly just a nameless private house now and looked pretty run down.