Hoist by my own PE-tard...again

13th July 2001 at 01:00
I was the badly co-ordinated wee boy. In two years of PE, I only managed to get the ball through the hoop once at basketball. My teacher was so pleased he gave me an ice-cream cone. I missed my mouth with it. OK, so I made that last bit up, but you get the idea.

All knees and elbows, I ran as if operated by a drunken puppeteer. Thus, I completely sold out my younger self when I voted in favour of two periods of physical education for all upper school pupils at a meeting a few weeks ago. I even said it could be a chance for pupils who did not normally excel at school to boost their self-esteem.

Little did I know at the time that the train from Come-Uppance City, Arizona, was heading my way and I was about to buy myself a one-way ticket.

One of my fifth-year kids wanted to go on a charity expedition to South America. She needed to raise some money and consequently approached the school.

The pupil committee decided that a sponsored staff obstacle race would be the way to go. So naturally Mr "I swim a kilometre most Wednesdays and am bound to be better co-ordinated than I used to be" Steele was among the plucky band of volunteers.

The event began with the head of PE collecting a shoe from each participant. "Is this like one of those parties where we all put our car keys in a pile?" I asked, then wished I hadn't.

The head of PE ran off with a sack full of shoes, we hopped after him and scrabbled for our own footwear when he dumped it. I was the last to get my shoe.

Then I couldn't put the hoop over the pole. My skipping rope was ludicrously small (what were they trying to tell me?). The burn we had to wade through was deeper than I anticipated and I got stuck temporarily in a tyre.

As I peched my way along the final stretch, a tattie-carrying spoon in my hand and a gunpowder taste in my mouth, I had only two consolations. I wasn't last and I hadn't cheated, unlike one of the techie boys who shoved the head of hame eekies down a grass banking.

At school I was good at almost everything save sports, art and music. By S3 I was able to ditch all three of those subjects. Would I have been a better person had I been obliged to fail at something on a weekly basis? Or would I have convinced myself that the things I wasn't good at weren't important?

More pertinently, will I have the nerve to enter the obstacle race next year?

Gregor Steele tried to resurrect his image by coming to school in an open car the following day.

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