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.

1 comment:

  1. I do relate to your indifference to athletics... I do watch the 100m sprint as I always thought being the fastest man alive is something worth noting.

    And I used to keep half an eye on the high jump, as it was the only sporting event I was ever an good at as a youth, being tall and thin, thus the ideal shape for it. I would have kept at it, but at the age of 14, music entered my life...