Monday, 26 July 2021

Sport? Medals. Extreme weather. Wasps!

I always thought of scooters and skateboards as toys for children and pre-teens. I’ve never quite understood the attraction for young men (and it is mostly young men, very few young women) of hurtling up and down ramps on skateboards, turning dangerous somersaults and flips in the air.  And suddenly skateboarding is an olympic sport! How did that happen?

As for scooters, when I was a child I regarded scooters as somewhat inferior to bikes. Scooters seemed appropriate for those children who couldn’t ever manage to get their balance on a bicycle. And now we have big discussions taking place about the scooter as a viable means of transport within cities. So far nobody has suggested that you could travel from Manchester to London, for example, on a scooter, not to my knowledge anyway. And now otherwise quite sensible friends are telling me about countries where scooters work as a means of transport because they have proper cycle lanes. Goodness me!

There’s also synchronised diving! Who knew that was even a serious sport let alone one in which team GB could win a gold medal: 

“On a day of vertiginous pressure at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre, Tom Daley and Matty Lee took the gold medal in the men’s synchronised 10-metre platform by one point from the Chinese world champions Yuan Cao and Aisen Chen.

The British pair took the lead with three dives remaining, producing a performance of relentless high scoring as the Chinese, who had led from the first round, cracked unexpectedly.”

But at least they don’t have to wear waterproof make-up and flowery bathing caps as happens with synchronised swimming, an aquatic version of Busby Berkeley’s formation dance routines! 

It’s sport and transport, I suppose, but not as we know it.

The weatherman on the radio had been promising some rain later this week. Today will apparently stay fine. This is all to the good as a neighbour and I have filled our washing lines with wet washing. 

They’ve had floods in London - underground stations flooded and cars driving slowly and carefully along roads turned into rivers. In Sardinia they have frightening wildfires, destroying 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres) of forest and forcing 1,500 people to be evacuated from their homes. In Utah they have had sand storms, causing a twenty vehicle pile-up. I have no idea whether that last example,of extreme weather has anything to do with climate change. Maybe they have always had sandstorms but it sounds a little suspicious. The planet does seem to be protesting!

It seems that an American based woman has been saying that we are softies to complain about the heat here in the UK. This has led to a host of people replying about how much more difficult heat is to deal with in the UK because of humidity and because we don’t as a rule have air conditioning in our homes. 

As for us personally, in our house we have a very cool bottom floor, a sort of semi-cellar kitchen-dining area - the ideal place to be on a hot day. 

We did have a small problem with an invasion of wasps yesterday, the result of leaving the backdoor open. I say an invasion of wasps but in fact it was only one wasp, or at the most two but I suspect that one might really have been a worker bee. The problem was that one rather aggressive wasp threw our 18 year old granddaughter into a panic by buzzing around her too closely and for too long. Suddenly “I am a grown up” was reduced to “I am a terrified child - help me!”. The situation was not helped by her older sister insisting that we should not kill the beast because, she assured us, they send out pheromones that attract other wasps to come to their defence, or at least to avenge them! My daughter also declared that my collection of wild flowers on the kitchen window-ledge was not helping. All in all, a little bit of panic as I served dessert!

I was taken back to classrooms of sixteen year olds with girls squealing in panic and then complaining when I squashed the little beasts - cries of, “Oh, miss! You’ve killed it!” before we could get on with the lesson in hand. 

But wasps are simply a fact of life. Unless you have an allergic reaction a wasp sting is not too bad. Some years ago I sat in the shade near an open air swimming pool in Pontevedra while Phil played chess in a nearby building. A mean wasp stung me twice on the inner thigh and I had done nothing to annoy it! Immediately several people offered me Afterbite, a standard treatment for insect bites and stings of all kinds. We were all prepared for battle against the beasties!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

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