Sunday, 14 July 2013

I Could Have Been An Athlete.

Every time there is a big sporting occasion (this time it's Wimbledon) I think back to my childhood days and think 'I could have been an athlete.' It's a similar situation to the grandma in Billy Elliot: 'I could have been a ballet dancer'. It's endearing that she thinks she could have been a ballet dancer, but being a 'Billy' does that make me the ballet dancer? I think so. But whenever the words'I could have been an athlete' slips out of my mouth, I am quickly humbled with a snort from Annie and a high pitched hyena laugh from Ashwin followed by a: 'It's funny cos he's fat' Mr Chow quote. Cheers then.

At primary school we were forced to undertake lady like activities on a Tuesday afternoon, these consisted of sewing and ballet. Whilst the boys partook in more gentlemanly sports such as rugby...and crocheting. Baring in mind I was six, fat, had a football shaped fro and one of the few Indian girls in my year how was I ever going to be the next Darcey Bussel? For starters I didn't have the conventional tutu, probably because it wouldn't fit over my rotund frame. I dreamed of having a pink fluffy tutu and the perfectly tied sash shoes but no instead I had a tutu made out of curtain fabric and a pair of black plimsols (wide fit ballet shoes - now there's one for Dragon's Den). The odds were already heavily against me. Despite practicing my demi plies to bend down in order to snatch a biscuit from the tin, that elusive graceful air seemed to be lacking. And I wasn't the only one to pick up on this (deftly astute for a 6 year old), the other girls seemed to clock on that I wasn't the full ballet ticket either. Three terms I tried my hardest to progress from baby Dawn French to baby Black Swan but alas fat kids can't plie and we certainly can't leap. School reports were the highlight, smatterings of As and A+s - I clearly peaked far too young - were tarnished by the ballet slip report that snuck in every term. It stated without fail each time: 'Kiran is not a natural at ballet but tries very hard.' The report is somewhat similar to life today if it were to read as a ballet report: 'Kiran is not a natural Beyonce dancer, but tries very hard and when smashing jaeger bombs has an incredible amount of self belief.'

So clearly the Darcy Bussel dream is over but does the Laura Robson dream live on? I may not have Harry Styles tweeting more or perfect pins but I did have a cracking forehand. It all started on a hot sunny summer's afternoon when baby fat Billie and baby skinny Annie embarked upon a summer of tennis coaching. This story is regaled very frequently when BBB has had one too many and wants to reminisce over days gone by. So BBB and his pal Goz had come to collect Annie and I from tennis and were sat in the car watching to see if either of us possessed any talent. It was a very simple tennis lesson - the coach fed us the ball and he had to hit back over the net into any part of court. Up tottered delicate, little Annie... the ball was hit to her and all simultaneously a little squeak was let out, a leg was popped and the ball was hit straight into the net. Being a £20 an hour tennis lesson, the coach liked to give us feedback after every shot...'try and aim to hit over the net Annie'. Enlightening.  Off she ran to the back of line, with a look of 'what did I do wrong?' slapped across her face.Determined to show her how it was done, next up was me. THUD. THUD. THUD. Thinking I was already Sampras I stormed to the net, my racquet pretty much wrapped around the back of my head my back and whack straight over the net and out of the court. With a smug smile I plodded back to the line, whilst the coach shouted to me 'in the court please Billie'. Pfft whatever coach, crushed it.

So tennis it would appear was out the window too as I to me it was a contest of how hard can this be hit? Not a contest of how hard can this be hit and still be in. I finally settled with squash. It seemed to hold all the necessary requirement: there was only a limited amount of space I could be forced to run around, I could hit it as hard as I could and it would most likely still be in and the squash club stocked crunchie bars. When the other 8 and 9 year olds went for water breaks or to talk strategy with their parents after the surprise whopping from the fat Indian kid with bad bed hair, I went and perched on my bar stool, ordered a fanta and kit kat and wondered what mum was cooking for dinner- breaks of champions. The only time I ever reconsidered my break strategy was when at 16 I got beaten by a 12 year old boy, but then it struck me he must be one of these child prodigies and who was I to stand in his was of stardom.

I was all on track to be an athlete and then I saw the training regime and thought 'nah rather not.'

What a shame, I could have been a great.

Fatty BB xxx

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