Row Z edition 32; dateline 29 May 2009

Life in the sea lane
We are indebted to colleagues at the estimable Coast magazine who have interviewed Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie so that we don’t have to. He speaks of things nautical and Cornwall and then waxes philosophical about the growth of sailing in Britain. “I think the success of the British Olympic sailing teams and the likes of Ellen MacArthur has encouraged more young people to get involved. But there is still this misconception that it’s elitist – in reality you can go to your local sailing club and crew for someone and it won’t cost much, if anything. Or you can get a second-hand dinghy for around £200 – as much as a set of golf clubs.” Or a polo pony for the day.

Bring the car round, Parkour
Nothing, but nothing, gets Sideliner more riled than supposedly new supposed sports swanning up and making out they are anything more than children’s games made large. Frisbee. Table tennis (our leader has a long memory). Boccia (and the oblivious approach to political correctness of the very old). And now Parkour. According to the ancient one, “When we were kids we jumped off garage roofs, shinned up drain pipes and walked all the way to school with one foot in the gutter. Nobody gave us a grant or applied for Level One 1st4Sport Certificates in Coaching Foolhardiness to tell us how to do it.” [see News in Brief]. At which point our leader challenged the new apprentice to a game of “coofles” and they left looking for a “burn” to vault. Scottish education: can’t beat it.

Right away m’lady
Dame Kelly Holmes’ continued search for relevance beyond the track continued in May when she took on the role of president of “Commonwealth Games England” which, we suspect, is some marketing man’s idea of a hip, new branding for the Commonwealth Games Council for England formerly led – and still led on its website – by jolly old buffer Christopher Chataway, the man who did the pace-setting on Bannister’s four minute mile. The ennobled one adds this influential post to her roles as the national school sport champion and leader of Team B&Q.

Tuffers; meet Ralph?
Did you all see the ISRM’s inimitable chief executive Ralph Riley being interviewed by spin-meister turned TV presenter Phil ‘the Cat’ Tufnell on the Beeb just recently? For those who missed it, the One Show – a Nationwide de nos jours – was interested in the iconic ‘Will Patrons Kindly Refrain…’ poster copied from an American idea during the second world war and beloved of people who were young in the seventies. Which brings us to soon-to-be-retired-we-hear Riley who played a dead bat to every one of Tuffers’ attempts at ribaldry. Well done, Ralph; don’t let these whipper-snappers take the rip out of an august institution. The great man, resplendent in what must be his demob suit, looked no older than young Tuffers, although it must be said the latter is known to “enjoy life”. Question is, Ralph, where is the attic with the picture in it? The nation should be told.

Lost your livelihood, your future and your self-respect? Join a gym!
Some may consider Fresh Start, Esporta’s wheeze to target the recently redundant, to be a tad opportunistic but from the back of the stands it seems doomed to fail on a far more fundamental level than just tactlessness. Glenn Timms, their chief executive, seems to believe that “very advantageous rates” for three months will tempt people whose lives have imploded into the chrome and Lycra world of ladies who lunch. Sideliner thinks it unlikely and suggests, gently, that the sentence: “To qualify for Fresh Start, prospective members are required to offer evidence that they have been made redundant” might not be very helpful.

Drawing a veil
This month the only column with its own column will be pointedly avoiding drawing attention to: Sean Long’s extended contract negotiations; the on/off Oxford professor of poetry, Ruth Padel; Alex Ferguson’s inability to answer questions civilly at press conferences; the CCPR’s column-inch chasing bit of doom-mongering about community clubs going bust; the end of Danny Cipriani’s international career; the Toon’s chances of surviving the second division; the short, fat Twenty20 bat named after a rodent; and the Sport Council for Wales using £140,000 on drop-in sports sessions in Welsh; Dduw!


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