We have moved the television into the house. This only happens once every four years. Normally it lives out the back in the shed (I like to think our children are more intelligent as a result of this draconian measure). But it is Olympic Games time and we are Australian. We take our sport very seriously.
My friend Jane was the first to comment on the elevated status of our audio visual equipment. She comes from England and, despite having the recent privilege of citizenship conferred upon her, is sometimes mystified by local cultural practices.
‘Why have you got your TV in the house?’ she asked on a recent visit.
We looked at her dumdfounded. ‘It is the Olympics!’
My workplace sent out an email prior to the commencement of the Games, telling employees where television screens would be located during working hours. In my branch of the council library service the television is in the tearoom. We have been asked to consider non-sports enthusiasts (as if anyone would own up to it), and to be responsible with the amount of work time we spend viewing.
For my own part, it is always a shock to be exposed to commercial viewing after our Spartan diet of selected DVDs. Every advertisement during the Olympics is nauseatingly patriotic. Every possible link to sport is construed. Carine (who has been staying with us these past weeks) said this intense nationalism in relation to sport, is a novelty to her.
‘What,’ I said. ‘Don’t the Dutch go all sentimental during the Olympics?’
‘Not like you,’ she informed me.
I am not an avid sport watcher (I am more of a couch potato kind of girl). But I do love an event – and let’s face it, sports lover or not, the Olympics is an event. I can’t help but enjoy it. I like watching the agony on an athlete’s face give way to jubilation. I like the colour of the gymnastics. I like seeing people standing on the podium. I like the flags. I like the anthem singing. I also look forward to wheeling the television back to the shed when it is finished.
My favourite comment regarding the Games of the XXIX Olympiad comes from an online book group I belong to. The group is currently reading Race of Scorpions by Dorothy Dunnett. I am not following the reading schedule but I like to eavesdrop on other’s comments. This week someone wrote a plaintive message to the forum saying: ‘Can we please postpone this discussion for two weeks? I am not a big sports fan. But I can’t compete with the world.’
That pretty well sums it up for me.