when the Olympics are over? Is it wrong of me to not care in the least if Downunder wins no medals? (Don't misunderstand me - I feel sorry for all the participants who don't win medals. When they are on the world stage like that coming last must be particularly embarrassing.) I am just not interested in this giant sports day,
I know one of the problems is that it reminds me too much of school sports days.
I don't really remember too much about the very first school sports day. I know we had one but apart from vague memories of teachers trying to organise small children into a line to run to a tape and mothers making sure we all had drinks on a hot day that is about it.
When I moved school the following year the school sports day was held on a nearby oval. Everyone had to walk over there and back. The Senior Cat was teaching in "the big people's school" upstairs from "the little people" so he carried me on his shoulders. I spent the rest of the day sitting on the grass getting more and more bored by the proceedings - almost all of which I couldn't see. The same thing happened the following year.
The Senior Cat moved on to another school. I stayed where I was - but promoted to the "big people". Someone else took me over. It probably didn't take that long but it felt as if it took me all the morning to get there. That year I had the good sense to take a book in my lunch bag. My teacher tried to confiscate it but someone intervened and I was left to read in relative peace.
I was not so lucky the following two years. I was expected to "sit there and watch". Nobody realised that I couldn't actually see what was going on if I sat in that particular place.
We moved again after that...to a tiny country school. They had an area sports day. We were taken to a school in a somewhat larger place which had an oval of sorts. (It amounted to a sort of dusty paddock marked out for the occasion.) That year was the first year I participated. I was told to "throw the ball to.... and then get out of the way". Fine with me. I also started to do important things like hold the tape at the finish line. Well, it was something to do.
I remember that, in that far off place, there was one school with just eight pupils. They were given quite a few points to start with. I don't suppose anyone took it too seriously. I was just a nice day out of the classroom for most of the children.
Then we moved again. This school was bigger. I was one of the first in the new "secondary" section. "Sports Day" meant being in our house divisions and everyone had to participate. I had to be in there to "make up the team" for things like "corner spry" and "tunnel ball". I was totally hopeless at these things of course. It meant that my house team would always lose. It wasn't in the least bit fair on them or me. Is it any wonder that any sort of sports day was an event I dreaded?
But, these events were also fundraisers for the school. The house I was in was fortunate enough to be given the sweets stall. Oh yes, the sweets stall. We saved our pocket money for that - and so did all the other children. We didn't see sweets very often. There was no school canteen and a very limited supply at the only shop in the little township.
Even my mother somehow found time to make "peanut brittle". There were all sorts of other things too. Caramels in soft, chewy squares, pale pink squishy marshmallow in square ice cream cones, toffee in "patty pan" (cupcake) cases sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, "Russian toffee", little meringues made to look like snails, slabs of peanut brittle, almond clusters, and more. And, of course, there were toffee apples. The apples would come from someone's tree and would be coated in a thick layer of toffee dyed with cochineal so that it appeared a bright, luscious, shiny red. We all wanted one of those.
I did get one of those toffee apples once. Once I had done my bit and helped my house lose the team games I had to participate in I went off and stood behind the trestle table and sold the sweets. There was always an adult to help of course. We would do brisk business throughout the day. (The goods for sale would be put out gradually.) At the end of that first sports day though the mother I was helping handed me a toffee apple she had "saved" for me. I dutifully paid her for it...and ate it slowly the following Saturday afternoon while I learned my Latin vocabulary and wrote my English homework.
I have never wanted another toffee apple but that one was good.