'The only athletic sport I have ever mastered is backgammon' Douglas Jerrold
HAVE you heard of Beth Tweddle? Shame on you if you haven't. She has just carried the Olympic torch on its journey through Flintshire. There have been less worthy torch-bearers and none more suitable.
For Beth, now 27, is our most successful British gymnast of all time and, as three times world champion, one of our greatest athletes ever. She runs a company called Total Gymnastics which aims to give children throughout the country the opportunity to have a go at gymnastics. With a sports science degree she plans to become a physiotherapist when she retires. Some years back she came third in the television sports personalty of the year competition.
If you have not heard of her I suggest that sport coverage in the media is 'glamour' obsessed, as concerned with what goes on off the track as on it, more interested in what goes wrong as what goes right and with the right 'look' as defined by superficial appearance.
Already we see in the coverage of the Olympics an airbrushing of our potential athletes. The pretty ones are at the front, with advertising deals and cheeky shots, and as fake tanned as any wannabe. A newly published report says that we are way ahead, not in sporting achievement or anything else, but in a national obsession with appearance, our own, each others and everyone else's. We strive for perfection.
This isn't confined to the young or the beautiful but affects us all. People are immediately defined, not by their personality or achievements, but by how they look. The striving for an ideal is made all the more difficult because no-one quite knows what that ideal might be. The result is that as a nation we are increasingly depressed.
If I ruled the world I would ban all media articles which contain reference to a persons weight or appearance. Celebrity built on weight loss and weight gain would be eliminated and all elective cosmetic surgery would be outlawed.
The two great celebrities who fascinate me at present, The Queen and Banksy, do not disclose their weight. While the Queen has never been overweight we cannot tell about Banksy. His fame as one of the most popular artists lies not in his appearance. Far from it. No-one will tell what he looks like. Though there are rumours that his first name is Robin which, if true, would be more harmful to his street credibility than being obese.
Go to see the exhibition of the Queen's portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, my favourite place on earth. And look at Banksy's contribution to the jubilee... a clever drawing of a child labourer sewing bunting.
In this section
- 'Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.' Lewis Carroll
- 'When I use a word,'Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.' Lewis Carroll 'Through the looking glass, and what Alice found there.'
- 'Being thick isn't an affliction if you are a footballer, because your brains need to be in your feet.' Brian Clough
- 'The British are not good at having fun. I get overexcited if there's a pattern on my kitchen roll.' Victoria Wood
- 'The trouble with the French is they have no word for entrepreneur.' George W Bush
- 'There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.' Winston Churchill
- 'How on earth did Gandhi manage to walk so far in flip-flops? I can't last ten minutes in mine.' Mrs Merton
- 'Ma always said that without tea the British would have lost both world wars.' Michael Bentine
- 'Visitors young and old will be amazed when they arrive at your home and see a larger than life fully lit outdoor reindeer complete with bells and sleigh.' A Christmas catalogue
- 'You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.' Norman Douglas