I was crap at PE. Not only was I crap at it, but I hated it as well. I hated everything about it down to those horrible scratchy pants we had to wear. Having been blessed with the coordination of Frank Gallagher after a few hours in the Jockey, it’s safe to say that sports were NOT my forte!
This post sums up my sporting achievements and woes (mostly woes) throughout my school life.
~ Infants ~
Lets face it, It’s OK to be crap at PE when you’re five.
Gymnastics – Once a week we went down the local drill hall to do gymnastics. The smell of feet was overwhelming along with the whiff of sick where someone had barfed up their Spam fritter after doing a forward roll. Mum bought me a black leotard, which I spent a lot of time extracting from up my bum! My one and only BAGA award was for a near perfect bridge. GO ME!
~ Juniors ~
The ante was upped in the juniors. Suddenly sport got serious and we were placed into houses, like in Harry Potter, only, shit. I was in yellow house, so in Potter world that would be Hufflepuff..
Rounders – The rounders kit came out and we were picked in teams. Fully expecting to be crap at it, I amazed myself by not being totally crap.
For every few miss-hits, the bat would connect with the ball and I would wallop it across the road. I even managed to win my team a game or two which ensured me being picked by choice the following week instead of being picked last, which was the norm for me.
Things were relatively bearable until we moved across the other side of the city. It was a new house, new school, new people and I was a walking mood, having just started my periods. The new school was big on sports. It had a massive brag cabinet with trophies and row upon row of team photographs (with some hilarious hairstyles) taken over the years.
Dance – All legwarmers and leotards with a really annoying teacher who fancied herself as Lydia (the dance teacher) from Fame. We didn’t pay with sweat. We paid with detention. She soon realised that I looked shite in a leotard and was about as coordinated as a fly after it’s been blasted with Raid.
Hockey – I knocked a girl’s tooth out the first time I played.
Javelin – I gave myself a nasty clout round the back of the head first throw and nearly impaled one of the teachers with the second.
High Jump – Spent more time face-planting the safety mat than I did in the air.
Long Jump – First (and only) attempt required first aid.
Hurdles – After knocking them all down (and bleeding all over the PE instructor) it was decided that my talents did not lie in hurdling.
Shot-putt – Hand to eye coordination issues nearly rendered a fellow pupil unconscious.
100 metre sprint – Feeling thoroughly dejected by this point, I found myself back on the track (plasters on both knees) with the PE teacher (lets call him Teach for simplicity) shouting ‘For crying out loud, just run when you hear the bang, OK?!!’
Teach fired the starter gun and I ran like my mother had just caught me with one of her fags. Seconds later I was rolling around on the ground trying to get my breath back (I genuinely thought I was dying) when he sprinted over in his obscenely tight tracksuit bottoms and slapped me on the back saying. ‘1st place! You’re in the athletics team!’
I momentarily basked in the glory of actually winning something. But as Mozzer from The Smiths so eloquently puts it…
I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour But heaven knows I’m miserable now
Because within a short time, I found myself racked with anxiety as I was loaded onto a bus on route to the local athletics stadium to run for my town and county.
I didn’t want to be in the athletics team, truth be told. I was agoraphobic even then and the thought of running in front of hundreds of people had me dry heaving for weeks before the events. In his infinite wisdom, Teach put me down for the 4 times 100 metre relay race as well as the 100 metre sprint because, well, he was a bit of a twat. I was still having baton issues in the practice runs before the race. Hadn’t I already proved that I was rubbish at relay?
In the event, it was a fumbled baton exchange. On seeing my team-mate sprinting towards me (all red faced and jowly) I assumed the position, stuck my arse out and prayed that I wouldn’t drop the sodding thing. Somehow I managed to keep hold of it and pass it on to my teammate. I think we came fourth and I can’t remember where I came in the 100 metre but it’s safe to say I didn’t win or even come a close second. Teach (NOT a happy bunny) was sulking away in his X rated track suit.
The euphoria of my sports day win had turned to a misery worthy of a Smiths song. Here was something that I was genuinely good at but my useless brain wouldn’t allow me to take it further without sending my anxiety levels through the roof. So I gave up.
It isn’t just about confidence. It’s about having a brain that doesn’t cope well under pressure. All my life, this is how it’s been. Maybe if I’d have persevered I would have found a way to cope? But the truth is that I didn’t even enjoy running because I was self-conscious of my Brad Pitts and the fact that I wasn’t allowed to run in my cardi.
My sports life consisted of a series of excuse me notes (thanks to Mum), a near drowning incident, a nervous twitch every time I heard a starter pistol and a phobia of batons for life.