Katy Guest: Gloriously gritty, we Tykes...

The highs - and highs - of our life-changing Olympic Games

Related Topics

In my top drawer at work, in an old Harrogate Toffees tin, there's a handful of Yorkshire grit that was sent to me many years ago by my dad. He collected it himself from The Strid near Bolton Abbey and posted it to me while I was going through a tough time trying to do journalism in That London. He got the idea from Lesley Garrett, another woman of the Yorkshire diaspora, whose mum sent her an envelope full of it during a career low point. There was a note that read: "I thought you might need some of this." Instead of an envelope, my dad cut out a label reading "Genuine Yorkshire Grit" and stuck it on the tin, which made me wonder why no enterprising Yorkshireman has yet to package the grit of God's Own County and make a killing flogging it to lost sons and daughters of the North. It must have worked for me, because I'm still surviving in That London, and writing about it.

Now would be the moment to found the Genuine Yorkshire Grit Company, with the Olympics medals table showing that an independent Yorkshire would be riding high in the top 15 thanks to, among others, Jessica Ennis (Sheffield), Nicola Adams (Leeds), the Horsforth-born brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee and, of course, Otley's Lizzie Armitstead, who pedalled Britain to its first medal with a gritty sprint to the finish line and a fine Yorkshire name. Mick Hill, Ennis's javelin coach, puts the success down to "something in the water", "Yorkshire pride" and "Yorkshire bitter", but if you could bottle it, southerners would be queuing up to buy some of that glory: where there's grit, there's bronze, silver and gold.

On the other hand, maybe it would be wise to keep the grit mines closed for the time being. If the secret of Yorkshire Grit gets out, the French will only start calling on the International Olympic Committee to ban it. And that's nothing to what will happen if Lancashire finds out.

Où est le pub?

London is still in the grip of Olympic spirit, I'm happy to report, with good deeds happening even on public transport. Last Sunday, a bus driver used his intercom to keep passengers updated on Andy Murray's progress in his gold medal match. Midweek, I saw a harassed commuter dredging up her schoolgirl French to help a visitor with directions. A friend of mine met a 19 year-old Texan tourist who hadn't realised that he was legally old enough to drink in London. One Soho pub crawl later, he knew all about it. The good deed was that my friend limited it to four pubs – we do want to send our visitors home in one piece to tell the world about this strange new happy London that's appearing before our eyes.

And hair's to you, chaps

If London 2012 ends up being remembered as the Olympic Games that taught us that real men do cry, will it also have a lasting impact on attitudes to male body hair? So far, we've seen butch cyclists with silky smooth legs, swimmers admitting that they shave each other's backs, and gymnasts who range from baby smooth to the guy who looks as if two members of ZZ Top are hiding under his armpits. It's all about "marginal gains", fellas. Just think how much faster you'd get to that pint if you waxed all the hairs on your drinking arm.

Tourists, take the Boris bypass

Spoiling it for everyone, though, we still have Boris Johnson, who took a breather from claiming all the credit for the Olympics to give us his twopennorth about sport in schools. Children should do two hours of it every day, he said. He did at Eton, and look how he's turned out. I hope and believe that PE teachers are much better now than they were for my generation, for whom two hours of sport would have put them off exercise for twice as long as one hour did. And if any foreign visitors are reading this, please believe me that Boris Johnson does not represent the people of Britain, most of whom are really OK.

Bolt bumps off Rover

Amid all the gold medal celebrations in the past week, it was easy to forget that humans were also celebrating a pinnacle of intellectual as well as physical attainment, with the "touchdown confirmed" of the Mars Rover after many frustrating years of failed attempts. Naturally, one of the Rover's first acts on Mars was to tweet a picture of itself. If it had feet, it would have stamped them when its images were bumped off the front pages because they didn't have Usain Bolt in them.

One for the record books

In other good news you may have missed: it's summer! At least at Fairport Convention's Cropredy Festival near Banbury, where I'm told that the smell of sunscreen is nearly blotting out that of the toilets. Also last week, a "cash mob" hit the bookshop Pages of Hackney, not far from the Olympic Park, and dozens of people, summoned by social media, each spent a tenner on a book. "We sold six books yesterday and five the day before that," said the owner. "We'll sell at least 100 today. It's going to turn around a dead August." And a woman in Perthshire has been supported by art historians in her claim that a painting on her bedroom wall is a forgotten Leonardo Da Vinci worth £150m. Yeah, right – next you'll be telling us that Andy Murray won a final on Centre Court …

You can't count on Osborne

Did George Osborne think that he'd chime appealingly with Britain's Olympian spirit when he promised last week to focus "110 per cent" on the economy? Or can the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury really not count up to 100?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Ed Miliband's conference speech must show Labour has a head as well as a heart

Patrick Diamond

To hear the Yes campaigners, you’d think London was the most evil place on Earth

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam