Another Thursday, another Sporting Memories meeting. Mr B and I travel in style by the Dial-A- Ride bus. It really is the Way To Go.
Unfortunately, the bus is what is commonly known as a “bone shaker”. When you are travelling in a wheelchair, strapped into the back of the bus, it is even more so. Mr B has been known to express, quite forcibly, his discomfort on our weekly
journeys to and from the Worthing Football Club where our meetings are held.
What I didn’t know until last week was that the Dial-A-Ride drivers who so patiently
load and unload us into their bus, transport us to the football club and help me wheel Mr B into the clubhouse, run a weekly sweepstake on just how many exclamations of “Bloody Hell!” their not-so-compliant customer utters in the course of
a journey. If he had been unusually restrained and the tally is lower than expected, one of the drivers confessed to me, he might well be tempted to take an alternative route along a road beset by speed bumps, in a bid to win the weekly sweepstake…
The Sporting Memories gang were thrilled to hear this. Mr B basked in their acclaim - anyone would have thought it something to be proud of. Which, in some strange sense,
it was. The fact is, as we get older, so we become less constrained by the custom and practice of what passes for normal - and just a tad more anarchical. I remember my Little Sister telling me how she once visited a Welsh gift shop with our dear mum
- the most gentle and placid of women. Looking around the shop, our mum caught sight of a display of tea towels bearing the message: “Keep Wales Tidy” - followed by the damning instruction: “Throw your litter in England!” Without a
word, our mum went round the shop, turning every tea towel round so it wasn’t possible to read the annoying message. The expression of satisfaction on her face was, apparently, a sight to behold.
Mr B, of course, was never one to be tied down by the niceties of polite behaviour. He is always, but always, his own self. I spend half my life apologising for him and the other half hiding my laughter. Take his latest gift
from Sporting Memories - a kit bag full of useful things to keep his mind and body active. The box arrived a week ago and we haven’t yet got beyond opening it to see what is inside. I am far more excited than he is.
The contents are as follows: one pale blue kitbag; one pale blue stress ball; one white plastic beach ball (deflated); one pump for inflating the deflated white plastic beach ball; one 2m red resistance
band “for a better you” - this is latex free, odourless and powder-free plus it is available in six different resistance levels from extra light to extra extra heavy; an exercise guide; and an Activity Handbook. For good measure, there is also
an exercise video and a sporting reminiscences guide.
The Activity Guide is full of useful exercises which can be carried out in a sitting position. I am,
however, rather more taken by examples of Sporting Trivia in the Logbook. For example, did you know that, according to research in 2008, football teams wearing red shirts have an advantage thanks to our deep-rooted biological response to the colour? Or that
if American swimmer Michael Phelps were a country, he’d rank 35 on the all-time Olympic gold medal list ahead of 97 nations?
I decide to try to inflate
the plastic beach ball using the hand pump, trying to recall when I last pumped up a bicycle, a football, a lilo. I can’t remember, it’s that far back. It is possibly due to my less than adequate pumping technique but it seems to take forever.
Mr B watches me with barely-disguised lack of interest.
“Catch!” I shout.
I should of course have warned him before I flung the ball in his general direction. The ball bounces off his head and onto his chest before rolling onto the floor where it lies, looking decidedly deflated.
“Bloody hell!” says Mr B. Predictably….