It is an axiom of life that one man’s – or indeed woman’s – meat is another’s poison. One might say this state of affairs makes the world go around – how boring might it be if was not the case?
A while back one of my father’s carers, who in a former life had been deputy headmaster of a secondary school and had also studied psychiatry amongst other disciplines, told me that as regards humankind it was important to register that there was no such thing as ‘normal’.
The fact that I cannot for the life of me understand why the likes of airplane and train-spotting, fishing, naturism, origami, bird-watching, big game hunting, rock climbing, rambling, flying model aircraft, deep sea diving and building sculptures out of smooth rocks or stones by defying gravity in balancing them on top of each other – never mind probably another couple of hundred examples I cannot be bothered to list here – become the life-long obsessions of otherwise perfectly intelligent solid citizens of impeccable decency and taste probably says more about me than them.
When it comes to sports and games, nobody is ever going to convince me that darts, snooker, korfball, professional wrestling, speedway, stock car racing, archery, synchronised swimming – still less BMX bike racing and (what I believe are about to, or have already been admitted to the Olympics) freestyle football juggling and break-dancing – are activities worthy of being featured in any sensible global festivity of sport.
Furthermore – and there’s no rational reason for this I can think of other than personal preference – whilst all my life I’ve been surrounded by family and friends devoted to either horse racing and/or Formula One, neither have ever interested me beyond perhaps the occasional curiosity-value of witnessing a major sports event (e.g. the Derby or the Grand National in the former example, perhaps the British Grand Prix in the latter) as it happens.
All of which brings me to my purpose today.
In my relative youth (I’m talking the era encompassing the 1960s to about 1980 max) I was broadly aware of the goings-on in what is called Formula One today, partly because my brothers were nailed-on fans to the extent of taking the trouble, together or separately with pals, of occasionally travelling across Europe to the well-known tracks that the Grand Prix circus visited each year.
It is inevitably that all sports and games move on and develop as time goes by to the extent that – with perhaps the exceptions that might prove the rule – any modern elite individual or team would almost certainly prevail over their counterparts of former decades.
Simply because things were so different then.
I was reminded overnight of the vast chasms in technology, approach, attitudes and safety in Formula One between “then and now” by a fascinating piece written by Giles Richards on the former world champion Sir Jackie Stewart that appears today – see here – upon the website of – THE GUARDIAN