Sport: Stress of the born sufferer

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The Independent Online
GOOD AFTERNOON, and welcome to another Great British Summer of Sport. We've got a packed programme for you today - cricket, tennis, golf, horse racing, athletics and a few clips of the British Lions we taped off ITV earlier this morning. Best of all, all these vital and prestigious events are taking place at exactly the same time . . .

Not, of course, that the Sainted Des would ever admit that, but as we all know, that's the bottom line of the so-called Great so-called British so-called Summer of so- called Sport. For, as that strange yellow orb appears in the afternoon sky, and fat people everywhere take the opportunity to don skimpy shorts four sizes too small, we are approaching the dedicated couch potato's most stressful period of the year. This is when Grandstand Stress Syndrome, or 'Grass', truly takes root.

Though as yet unacknowledged by the bulk of the medical profession, this worrying condition is rapidly approaching epidemic status. You are sitting watching a sporting event on television. You have taken all reasonable precautions to ensure that you will not be interrupted (phone off hook, tinnies in fridge, door barricaded etc). You are suitably gripped.

And then Steve Rider pops up on screen to say it's time for the 3.15 from Chepstow.

When you have finished screaming, Julian Wilson is explaining that Lager Lout is now

7-2 favourite, with Incontinence Pants a non-runner. 'It's a beautiful day here at Chepstow,' he fills in pathetically.

What of the event you had switched on to watch? No news, I'm afraid, although Intimate Deodorant has now moved out to 6-1. Only after an hour or so of pure agony, followed by a steward's inquiry, a chat with the winning jockey, a chat with the winning jockey's mother and replays from 37 different cameras, do you go straight back to whatever you were watching in the first place.

Except that you don't, as it's now International Croquet from Trondheim, where the plucky British team are flourishing in a very commendable 67th place. By now you're desperate for a pee, but you cannot move, just in case Steve pops up unexpectedly and takes you back to your preferred sport. To be caught in the loo at such a moment would be too appalling to contemplate. What you don't know is that there's another race from Chepstow and an unscheduled interview with Nick Faldo yet to come, by which time your bladder will be the size of Kent.

Needless to say, every fan of every sport thinks that he or she is worst affected. Wimbledon fans go purple whenever you mention the words 'Test match'. Golfers get hot under the collar about those news bulletins that pop up every hour, whether or not anything has happened in the preceding 60 minutes. And I go bananas whenever cricket is superseded by, for example, Royal Ascot. England are fighting grittily against the Australians, and then it's off to Berkshire, to watch middle-aged women in ridiculous outfits craning their necks to catch a glimpse of Princess Michael of Kent. We hear all about this season's colours, and then after half an hour there's a race bunged in for good measure. It's good of them to fit it in.

Is there any cure? Well, you could always go and see these sporting events live, although there are strong arguments against this - the most powerful being that you cannot be bothered. No, there's no choice. The sports fan was born to suffer. Get those beta-blockers in now - it could be a long summer.

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