Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Winter Olympics in Turin are set to end this evening and two weeks of sporting endeavour is at an end.

I think these have been an excellent Games that have provided great entertainment for viewers, even if Shelley Rudman proved to be Britain's only medal. The top three highlights for me.......Antoine Deneriaz's gold medal run in the men's downhill two weeks ago, the only man who could deny long-time leader Michael Waldhofer..... Giorgio di Centa tonight - the last gold medal of the Games presented to an Italian at the closing ceremony - and even better, presented to him by his sister, also a gold medallist. And finally, the appearance of Katarina Witt as a pundit on the women's figure skating. A dazzling champion with golds from Sarajevo and Calgary, she still looks absolutely stunning at the age of 40, over 20 years after she featured in this particular teenager's dreams. And she can still dance - much to Robin Cousins' amusement. Or was that bemusement.....

There have been those who have questioned the quality, and even the point, of the Winter Olympics. But sport, in all its guises, is such a wonderful manifestation of the human spirit. How many medallists have said in their interviews that this is what they have dreamed of since they were a child and first saw a sporting event, in whichever discipline? How many other fields of endeavour, worthy though they are, can encapsulate the fulfilment of those dreams, often in such a dramatic way? What else can bring such pleasure to those playing and watching, regardless of whether it be Olympic level or a Sunday league? From all those hours of lung-bursting, sinew-straining preparation to the final dash for the line, nothing else quite has the camaraderie and spirit of sport.

I love it and will continue to do so until the day I shuffle off this mortal coil, having bowled my last ball, hammered my last boundary and scored my last goal. It's a poor cliche and it's not fair to others but....I never trust anyone who doesn't like sport!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A rally in Belgrade today in support of General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military commander. Rumours have been flying around for days that he's on the verge of either being captured or giving himself up. Until his name is cleared in an international court of law, it will always be inextricably linked with one of the worst peacetime atrocities of the last century to have taken place on our continent.

I don't pretend to be an authority on the Balkan conflict of the mid-90s. Neither do I know whether the blood of over 7000 men and boys from the town of Srebrenica lies on Ratko Mladic's hands.

But innocent or guilty, he must be able to provide some answers - and that, surely, is the very least that the victims and bereaved of Srebrenica deserve.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Continuing my reviewing of the debut novel of my good friend, the wonderfully-named S.P. Faulconbridge. Up to chapter 25 now, and it has grown on me, I was undoubtedly critical about the feel of the first few chapters but I've definitely been drawn in now.

S.P. seems grateful that I haven't been too sycophantic and that I've tried to question where I genuinely haven't understood what he's getting at. The one thing that it has brought home to me is that writing a novel is by no means an easy task. He's been writing since September and hasn't been hindered by work commitments during that time and is still a long long way from the completion of a full first draft. I'm going to have create mine while working full-time and having a number of other interests and responsibilities away from the office.

Not deterred though and I know that I'll always feel slightly unfulfilled if I don't do it. Threats and bullying from Calliope tend to have an effect as well!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

First day of the new blog. A chance to put down all my thoughts, hopes and dreams.

More, much more to come.