Friday, 18 April 2008

Thinking of title posts is the hardest part

As I got off the train last night at London Bridge, I passed a man crouching down in the corridor, minding his bike, who was wearing an age-softened polo shirt that had the words 'Great Britain Team – Sardinia Cup 1990' printed somewhere over his heart. This biological detail had to be significant, otherwise why would he be wearing a shirt that was nearly 20 years old? (Apart from poverty – but if things were that bad, he'd surely have sold his bike…) I'm not making any judgements – until recently I was still sleeping in T-shirts I'd bought at various gigs I attended when I was in sixth form, which was scarcely more recent.

I think it's fair to say that history has not been kind to GB's 1990 Sardinia Cup team. We wouldn't, for instance, mention them in the same breath as the England football team of the same year. We wouldn't actually mention them at all. It is only through the medium of the internet that I have learnt that the Sardinia Cup is something to do with sailing. But perhaps The Man In The Shirt cleaves to the belief that if he keeps the faith shirt-wise for long enough, the cult of the 1990 Sardinia Cup team will grow and blossom into immortality years later, like Nick Drake or Van Gogh or Emily Dickinson. And everyone will claim that they were actually there, in Sardinia or wherever it was, when yachting's equivalent of Lineker did that really awesome thing with, oh, some sails or something.

Maybe TMITS was trying to say yes, I'm hutched up in the lobby of a filthy commuter train now, but back in 1990 I used to be someone. I was a panther on the water. I was the best in the country. Still, my friend Colin represented England at American Football some years ago, and he doesn't go to work in gridiron padding. Although I suspect he would like to. As I carried on with my journey home, I realised TMITS had reminded me of the time a couple of years ago when I saw the former rugby international Mick Skinner getting on a rush hour train, protected against the uniquely grey London Bridge microclimate in an England rugby cagoule, a good 10 years after his sporting retirement. Perhaps he was still involved with the game, of course… or perhaps he too wanted everyone to know that maybe not today, maybe not yesterday, but not so very long ago, he meant something more than just being a fellow commuter, to more people than the number who shared his carriage that day. It was the kind of random spotting I felt excited about reporting to my dad, in the split second before I remembered that I couldn't. And yesterday, when I thought about that – about how many things float away that we can't hold on to – I  couldn't begrudge the alumni of the 1990 Sardinia Cup his way of keeping the dream alive.

1 comment:

hislordlylordship said...

I have only recently dispensed of my first piece of free work-wear: A red baggy t shirt that said STAFF on the back and Cherwell District Summer Sports Roadshow 1990 on the front. The text was in a circle around a fake Fido Dido slam dunking a basketball. To paraphrase Bobbie Gentry: Lord, it made a man out of me.

Good blog BTW.

CT