Friday, 21 February 2014


Fantasy Bob has been enjoying the thrills and spills of the Winter Olympics.
But his attention has only been truly engaged by the the classical events of the Alpine skiing programme - and the slow burn of curling where Scottish players are showing the world a thing or two. (If I had a hammer...........)

He is not greatly excited by the endless list of made up events that seems to have grown up over night and pad the programme out.  He admires the skills of those who undertake these circus tricks - somersaults and flips, axles and salchows.  But it is pretty much axiomatic with Fantasy Bob that any activity that relies on judges' verdicts cannot really be considered a sport. It nears the axiomatic that any activity in which the contestants - male or female - wear spangly tops with cut outs and slashed sleeves cannot really be considered a sport.  And activities that require musical accompaniment?  He is not sure what the difference between these activities and Masterchef or the Great Sewing Bee is.  So he looks forward to their inclusion in the next Olympiad.

But perhaps FB is just being too stick in the mud.  Perhaps cricket should learn from these circus acts.  Style marks, degree of difficulty and artistic interpretation could all be used to evaluate FB's bowling action.  The degree of difficulty of a spell up the hill against the wind would be considerable.  But he would draw the line at wearing a spangly top and eye liner - the East of Scotland leagues are not ready for such developments.
Harlaut showing his skills
But it is clothing that has caused one of the highlights of the games. The Swedish circus style skier Henrik Harlaut, who sports trailing rastafarian curls behind his helmet, had a classical wardrobe malfunction during the final of his event when his fashionably low slung ski pants responded to gravitational forces and descended below his knees.  Flashing his undies at the judges did not gain him additional style points and he finished well down the field.

FB has never been such a slave to fashion that he would imperil his performance on the field of play in such a way.  Which is not to say that he has not in his day experienced his share of wardrobe malfunctions.  But compared to Harlaut they have been the relatively modest splitting of seams as he assumed his athletic posture in the slips only to feel a sudden draft where there had been no draft a moment before.

He has also had to guide some of his young charges through distressing incidents.  He recalls the trauma of a young bowler whose cricket whites had lovingly been purchased by his proud parents sensibly allowing for the expected growth of their blue eyed angel.  As a result the young man's bowling run up was more staccato than the coaching manuals recommend, as he stopped every three paces to hitch up the offending breeks.  He eventually worked out a novel action in which his non-bowling hand was clutched to his waist through his delivery.  Embarrassment was avoided.  Regrettably so were the stumps at the other end.  FB had to resort to feeding the young man additional empire biscuits in a vain attempt to bulk out the space between where he started and the trousers stopped.  While line and length returned,  FB may thus have unwittingly exacerbated Scotland's obesity crisis.

FB also recalls the pleasure of working with even younger charges.  Young charges who despite their piercing treble voices responded with enthusiasm to the requirement to wear a box.  What could be more adult?  A sure sign that they were growing up.  A rite of passage similar to those recorded in many bush tribes by social anthropologists.

FB would remind his charges the evening before their matches 'Make sure you wear the right pants.'  It was in vain, for there was always someone who forgot this important instruction and found the box so proudly inserted into his trousers only moments before slipping down one leg and lodging securely behind the knee roll of his pad.  A St Vitus dance of squirming and wriggling would restore it to its proper place, but it was precariously balanced and any attempt at movement would see it plunge down one trouser leg or another.  The young man would face the delivery with one hand grasping it to his groin and running became adventure beyond FB's powers to describe.

'Make sure you wear the right pants.'  One of FB's better coaching tips.  If only Harlaut had had FB on his team things could have been so different.


  1. If he does not fancy donning the spangly top and eyeliner, FB could try the 80 mph hi-tech teatray known, appropriately, as the Skeleton Bob. Suitably attired of course.

    1. A fine suggestion but on reflection, maybe the spangles and eyeliner aren't so bad after all.