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Sloop of This Day #177: See How The Mainsail Sets

May 14, 2012

Conyza bonariensis seed heads and flowers
Fleabane (Conyza bonariensis). It’s not a rose by any other name – Photo: Rickjpelleg, 2005. Rickjpelleg is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I have a writing block thing going at the moment. There are some reasons behind it but I’m not of a mood to discuss them yet so I figured I’d just try and churn out a simple post and publish it. Sort of an attempt to just push through.

It might not be good.

I’m not saying that any of my posts are that good but this 1 might be verse.

See, it’s got bad puns and all.

It has no starting theme – no vibe that I can kick-off with. I tried going through my scribbled notes and all I have picked out is 1 from the weekend:

‘Memo to neighbours: Your roses are shading out my fleabane. I will be overrun by fleas because I have nothing to bane them with.’

Which is nice, if not terribly accurate. It’s also not really about sport and I’m struggling to make a link. I’m normally pretty ok at that – I can segue from Harry Potter to badminton to horses. I just have nothing on fleabane bar that it is variously known as horseweed or butterwort.

It may or may not be a problem for fleas.

For the record, the sport of badminton apparently derives it’s name from Badminton House, near Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire, South-West England. J.K. Rowling, who penned the Harry Potter novels was born in Chipping Sodbury and spent the 1st few years of her life living there.

In Horse Street.

Badminton was a favoured sport of mine as a kid. I played it and I’d like to think I was ok at it. That’s not to say that I won much as a badminton player – Mostly I did ok without threatening the better players. In the annual boys championship tournament I was twice knocked out in the 1st round, beaten handily by the eventual winner but not in a way that was embarrassing. It helped that on both occasions I went on to win the Plate Final.

The Plate competition was for those singles players knocked out in the 1st or 2nd rounds of the main competition. It was kind of a consolation tourney that helped to keep disappointed kids occupied if their Championship was done after just 15 minutes of hurt. So in winning it I was the best of the bottom tier.

I’ve never quite worked out whether to be insulted by that or to be happy – Obviously I was coming out of the whole deal better placed than a kid who was knocked out in the 1st round of the competition proper and then unceremoniously dumped from the 1st round of the subsequent Plate. I tended to be a bit of a high achiever though and so I mostly emphasised the negative aspect of the Plate.

As such those 2 trophies aren’t my proudest accomplishment in badminton. That honour goes to a doubles trophy that I got because my partner played some kick-ass shuttlecock down the stretch of the Junior Boys Doubles Final.

Our opposition featured 2 of the top 3 players in the singles comp, including the guy who had booted me out in the 1st round. Twice.

I didn’t like them.

Not because they kept beating me at badminton. I’d have ruled out a lot of potential friends if that was part of the criteria. Nope, it was because they were from a different social group – They represented the Jets and I was part of the Sharks. Or the other way around – I can’t tell because honestly West Side Story isn’t for me so I’ve given it a miss. Since I don’t dig Shakespeare and musical theatre isn’t my groove that’s not about to change.

So this would have been a straight grudge match except for 1 complication. My playing partner was 1 of them.

Yep, in the lead-up to the match he hung out with them, joked with them and spent a fair amount of time pointing at me and laughing at my cheap Dunlop Volley sandshoes with them. It didn’t bode well for a harmonious relationship on the court – Certainly it didn’t seem like a winning formula. That neither of us was in the top echelon of singles players wasn’t moving the odds in our favour either.

And for a fair chunk of the match the bookies looked to be on target with that prediction. We scrapped hard but our best was only enough for us to be losing 8-13 in the 1-set decider. Given that it was 1st to 15 our opponents could be forgiven for being optimistic that they could close it out comfortably from there. In fact they were more than optimistic – They were un-quietly confident – I couldn’t handle the back-court and I was struggling at my usual strong point – The net. Even if my team-mate was on fire (He wasn’t) we were handicapped by my slump in form and so the other guys were seriously confident. Dismissive even.

Which was their mistake.

My team-mate was part of their crew but he wasn’t some mindless henchman out the back of the rumble. He had pride and it turns out that he had this thing about backing his team, even badminton outfits comprised of himself and a guy that he probably didn’t much care for.

So he took the strutting and the crowing and quietly set about rendering it meaningless.

He served and volleyed us to 9-13. And then 10-13. And then 11-13. 12-13. 13-13.

Suddenly it was all square and the strut was gone. Desperation had set in on the other side of the net as they struggled to find an answer for the fired-up dervish occupying the mid and back-court on our side. My role in all of this was just to keep each exchange alive by pinging the shuttlecock back as deep as possible if they played short – I managed that barely, leaving my partner to hit the winners. At each point we had nothing to lose – I don’t know about my new buddy but I never expected to win. Not when we were down by 4. Not when we were level.

Not even when we took a 14-13 lead, setting up Championship point.

It sunk in though around the time a forehand smash sealed a 15-13 triumph for the underdogs. It was, to borrow a phrase from Bill Murray in Caddyshack, a Cinderella story outta nowhere, and that trophy is 1 that stands out for me as a lesson in how sport should be played – To the end and for your team-mates.

I’m going to finish this post up with a segue that I’ve just thought of. It’s tenuous I know, a real shot outta nowhere:

Last night I watched a fair bit of the Spanish GP. My wife watched a bit too and at 1 point she asked about something that had got me wondering as well. Periodically you could see something drifting across the camera shots. These somethings were in reasonable numbers and were light coloured and fairly insubstantial – They seemed to be drifting on the breeze. My wife at 1st thought snow but that isn’t likely in late spring in Spain. So not snow and the next best guess is some kind of blossom. And this is where it gets a little tricky…

I have absolutely no way of substantiating this but I reckon it was fleabane. So I have my segue and since Pastor Maldonado piloted his Williams to his 1st ever F1 win (and the 1st by a Venezuelan driver) I reckon I have a 2nd Cinderella story outta nowhere as well.

Two wrongs don’t make a right but three rights make a left.

See How The Mainsail Sets

2 Comments
  1. My posts have slowed down as well. The ebb and flow of priorities…

    • Yep – Ain’t that the truth. So much sport but so much life to live too.

      As always, thanks for reading.

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