In the shadow of the superstuds

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The Independent Online
WELL, I don't know about you, but after months of slaving away, watching sport on telly and occasionally writing a piece about it, I'm exhausted. Time to start planning the summer holiday - two weeks of sun, sand, sea and lots of other things beginning with 's'. Except, you would have thought, sport. No chance of taking part in anything vaguely sporting on holiday, surely? Isn't that what we're trying to get away from?

How naive. For, as we all prepare for joyous fortnights of drinking too much at lunchtime and discovering on day two that you forgot to bring the Arrets, we set ourselves up for some of the most vicious and unforgiving athletic challenges of the year. It's pathetic, really.

Take water-skiing. Everyone you know who has tried water-skiing tells you that they mastered it within two lessons and can now do it backwards, lying down and picking their nose. These are lies. Only after years of hanging out on the beach for 16 hours a day and chatting up English girls can you become truly adept at this ridiculous sport, which is why all such people become water-skiing instructors. Failing utterly to master the basics, you fall over 11 times in five minutes and never try again.

Instead, you opt for the more peaceful pastime of beach cricket. This should be much easier than real cricket, as the ball is a tennis ball and your opponents are small children. Wrong again. Small children cheat, and besides, you don't need to be Shane Warne to make the ball turn alarmingly on this surface. As you feel obliged to hit every ball out of sight, you are soon bowled, and the small child then plays like Geoffrey Boycott, grittily defending his wicket until the luncheon interval. In frustration you take a breather, sit on a wasp, and return to the bar for medical treatment.

Next it's frisbee-throwing. There are two sorts of frisbee-throwers: young hunks who float the thing at a constant five feet above land so that it comes to a stop, still floating, an inch from your outstretched hand; and you and I, who throw the thing straight up in the air or make it veer miles off to the right into a patch of wasteland protected by barbed wire. Or mines.

On to mini-golf, the pastime that separates us from our fellow Europeans. They love it, while we, with our common sense, call it Crazy Golf. And indeed, you do need to be severely unbalanced even to contemplate playing it. With only 10 feet to the hole, and only a life-size plaster model of General de Gaulle in the way, it's a game that ostensibly requires no skill at all, but actually requires more skill than you have to offer, like Rubik's Cube or darts. Only children can play this game - the rest of us would have more chance of winning the US Masters.

And that is before you try windsurfing (impossible), parascending (brown trousers), table tennis (blame it on the balls) and, of course, pretending to the lovelies that you really can dive off the top board without killing yourself (you can't).

Did I say I was thinking of nothing but my holiday? Is it too late to cancel?

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