Just back from the annual ordeal that is school sports day. I'm being unfair in some ways: my kids' school is beautiful – lovely grounds, happy children. The problem, as ever, is me, because I suffer from overly competitive parent syndrome.
I can't help it. It just takes me over. I start all calm by the long jump. I just lie by the pit and occasionally make faces at my daughter's main competitors, nothing that bad... certainly not a police matter. But then we have the picnic lunch and I announce to everybody how much I love picnics as I steal their bottles of everything fizzy.
After a boozy hour, I find myself sitting on the front row of the track events next to my wife who is rigid with tension at the thought of what I am yet to do. The races start and I am up screaming and shouting like a lunatic. I'm not just hurling encouragement, I'm abusing other competitors.
The moment a race is finished, I sit down and pretend that I was being ironic and that it was all a joke, and people actually buy that, for the first couple of episodes. The trouble is, I know that I am becoming a parent monster.
As I try to restrain myself during the next event, it must look as though I have been given a huge dose of laxative and am battling with my bowels for inner control. Finally I can contain myself no more, and I'm up again, actually running along by my poor offspring urging them to "feel the burn" and "dig deeper".
I am fully aware that the only digging they want to do is the hole in which to bury me. But I am out of control and not a little tipsy.
I sense that the headmaster is talking about me in a not entirely flattering manner on the public address system but I cannot make out much because I am making so much noise myself. I start to notice that other parents are moving away from me as I approach, stumbling down towards the finishing tape, desperately trying to get a blurry photograph on my iPhone of somebody who might, or might not, be my child.
I am now moving fast, very fast. I don't want to miss the climax in case it's a dead heat and they need my photographic evidence to prove that my child won. I speed up. I'm really moving now; I am an Olympian myself, every toned muscle working in beautiful conjunction as I power on. I marvel at the perfection of the human body... suddenly everything is upside down, the sky is blue and calm but I'm looking straight at it and my legs hurt, a lot.
I move my hand towards the pain and it gets all sticky. I am bleeding. I look around. I seem to be in a completely different field. It seems that I have collided with a fence and gone arse over tit and landed in a place of many cows... at least I think they are cows. One of them seems very big for a cow and is very near my face. I can see every detail of the drool on her/his nose. The nose is pierced... only bulls and Evan Davis are pierced, I think.
My head hurts a lot, and I can hear people laughing and shouting nearby, but I can't really focus. I try to stand up, but the bull/cow doesn't seem to be comfortable with this, and neither do my legs. I fall down again, and feel people picking me up and carrying me towards the main school building.
I cannot see my wife – I am fairly sure that she is not proud of me. I hear myself asking who won the race? My girl won, I am told. I don't care if it's ambulance-speak. I fall back into semiconsciousness, superbly, gloriously happy.Reuse content