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Fallen Arches & Frankel

If you look at the word fallen for too long it looks odd, like we should pronounce it with a short ‘a’ sound like in cat.

And I suppose one automatically thinks of feet when thinking of fallen arches. That’s fair enough, apparently twenty-five percent of the American population suffer from them. In some African countries though, it’s a rare phenomenon, that scientists link to the wearing of shoes (bad) not wearing shoes (good). Shoes with arch support paradoxically allow your arches to simply collapse; rather like what happens to one’s middle if you never wear a pencil skirt beyond the age of sixteen and have no need to hold your stomach in…

When I was reading all this about fallen arches, I started getting other imagery coming through.

Destroyed ancient cities with marbled smashed arches crashed to the ground
The broken rainbow I saw last Saturday with the high arc section of its arch missing
A day when the golden arches of McDonalds are a forgotten brand of yesteryear
The American racehorse who was not quite out of the top drawer
Triumphal city architecture to make us shudder
Those unnecessarily sharp comments that we live to regret

And so on.

Saturday is a quiet day for blogging and I imagine there are not many that will read this post so I will also allow myself a fallen arch of narrative thread.

Frankel is due to make his last appearance at Ascot today, but connections report some slight concern about the state of the going. It is currently: soft, heavy in places. He may make a late withdrawal on account of it. I know some people who are going, people who will be devastated if the greatest horse most of us have ever seen is taken out of the race. My own heart prefers that we do not run our national treasure if the ground will be more than a minor inconvenience.

We do not want any fallen arches for the beloved Frankel. It will be an anxious wait.

The fallen arches of a double rainbow, Pawnee Grasslands, Colorado

Original image can be seen here

The Olympics: a critic’s viewpoint

I read this interview with Wilf Self on www.thebrowser.com and I have pulled out this extract where Self labels the Olympics as horseshit. Some of his points? Well it’s hard to not agree in parts, particularly about the role of corporate sponsorship, but what intrigued me most was his assertion, that I have put in bold type, where he states that winning and losing are essentially functionless human endeavours.

Philosophically, I might end up agreeing, but I would need a long time to think about it. However, biologically and evolutionally speaking (is that a word, or did it just evolve?), winning and trying not to lose have been physically and mentally hard-wired for our survival.

In the world of Will Self, would we then become, ideally, brains in boxes, or, is there still something to be said for celebrating the possibilities of whole humans: body, mind and soul?

Not sure, just asking.

    From street games to the Games, will you give us a cynic’s word on the Olympics?

I’ve been a constistently outspoken critic of the whole thing. I object to my tax money being wasted on it, and I object to performance sport in general. I think it’s horseshit. Why don’t you just go run in a field, with sheep? It’s meaningless that some guy on a bicycle gets given 20 million quid. And the way the Olympics exist in a grotesque linkage or synergy with the international finance capital is so obvious. Both are arenas that exalt an essentially functionless and useless human performance of winning and losing, and use that as the tail that wags the dog. That’s why the Olympics feed so enormously into the collective psyche.

    When it comes to London’s financial sporting performance, at least, we’ve seen recently that we all cheat and dope.

Exactly. The anology continues. HSBC has its doping scandal, as athletics has its own. The two of them are mirror images. No one should be shocked that there is corruption in the Olympics – that tickets are sold through foreign agents, that athletes are taking drugs and have huge financial contracts, that sponsors refuse to let people wear T-shirts with other corporate logos on them, that Macdonald’s makes you fat, that the infrastructure built in Stratford is useless to anybody, and that the Olympic legacy will not be fulfilled.

Schadenfreude is an unpleasant attribute, but if I were prone to it I could tell you that in a month or two’s time, the cost will come home big time, and people will start getting pissed off. The government couldn’t raise the money for the Olympics through the private sector, so the taxpayer had to put the money up for it – was forced to do so, undemocratically. And we will have nothing to show for it.

Katherine Grainger & Anna Watkins earlier today

And then I must just give a quick shout out to the grammarians who are raging about like rampant bulls, thoroughly hufflepuffed by approved Olympic nouns transmogrifying into new, and non-groovy Olympic verbs like medalling, to podium and skyrocketing. They aren’t the most elegant sounding, I’ll admit, but, ’twas ever thus linguistically I’m afraid, ’twas ever thus. Google it if you don’t believe me…

Natural selection shakes a leg

Today I was a spectator at my daughter’s (not sports day) inter-school championships. Only the elite Key Stage 1 pupils were selected to attend (those being 6 & 7 year olds in case you were wondering). The setting, an athletics track with proper infield, was fine. What unfolded in front of us was somewhat bewildering, appearing to be the bastard one night stand progeny of The Krypton Factor and It’s a Knockout. Not a nick I would recommend incidentally.

I spent an awful long time feeling smug I had remembered both my glasses (for distance) and the digi cam (posterity), and just as long squinting across the track trying to locate my own flesh amongst the myriad of throwing, hopping, jumping and counting, yes counting, challenges the teams were facing. This took well over an hour. I have no clue what they were doing. I interrogated my daughter this evening, she had no clue either.  During this lull of confusion there was a lot of murmuring in the crowd about running, where was the running??? It seems, not unreasonably, if you attend an athletics track, you want to see some track and not just field action.

So I thought about this a bit and seemed to me to be a deep-seated need to see some 6 & 7 year olds running, not just a bit of a spectacle. Then I thought about how I spend a lot of my time thinking about, or trying to watch horses racing and I wondered why I do that and how it makes me feel. I don’t mean gambling either, I can still separate the two out! After I while I concluded that running must form some part of our genetic inheritance way back, for it to arouse such gut responses. At which point I cannot organise my thoughts further other to point you in the direction of this excellent article which suggests that “running is one of the most transforming events in human history”. It summed up eruditely what I was vaguely pondering anyway.

http://www.runtheplanet.com/resources/historical/runevolve.asp

Olympian Jesse Owens in 1948 staged one of his races against a horse to raise money. Credit: Associated Press

Olympian Jesse Owens in 1948 staged one of his races against a horse to raise money. Credit: Associated Press