For some silly reason when I couldn't sleep, I was pondering the whys - no wherefores, just whys - of cross country running at secondary school.
I went to a half decent secondary school in Northallerton (North Yorkshire), with a chuffing AWFUL bridge to cross every day from one side of the split site to the other - how I loathed that bloody bridge, especially in winter when it was icy, windy and slippery.
Many times we had 'crutch envy' (not to be confused with crotch envy) because those who hobbled with broken limbs were allowed to cross via the road with a teacher instead of that bloody bridge.
Did I like secondary school? Dunno - some of it yes, when we moved up to the Grammar School yes I mostly liked it, not so much at the split site one. Am I alone in not being able to remember most of the people I went to school with? My memory is shot, I don't remember much really, odd snippets.
Anyway, the single most awful thing about school was cross country running - in winter - followed by the dreaded showers. When I took my daughter for a look round the same school when she was about to start, the smell, the yukky smell of the gym and the showers, eeeewwwww! Horrid memories!
Cross country running would be banned today on grounds of 'elf and safety, human rights, child cruelty, trespass, the lot. (I don't actually know if it would but it bloody well SHOULD). It was always in the middle of winter - this was before fab trainers and trackies, we all seemed to have a variation of the same white plimmies (went mouldy green if you left them in your PE bag, shove them in the washing machine then spend ages using that messy whitener with a sponge tip that clogged up the laces eyelets). Those who were posh had green flash plimmies. Trackies were in either blue or red with white stripes, that awful stretchy synthetic stuff - you either sweat like a pig in it or shivered. And none of it fit properly.
Sometimes we just ran it - and I use the term 'ran' extremely loosely in my case - in shorts (stretchy bottle green) and sports top, red PE socks and plimmies. So we had those attractive corned beef legs and mottled blue knees before we even started. Nothing like stretchy tight green shorts to boost a pubescent girl's self confidence ....
The 'run' went the length of the sport's field, over fences, down a road, through fields, through / across a small stream etc etc. Most of it I don't remember - I blame shorts induced trauma - always when it was frosty, usually when rainy and often through ice and snow. I don't think I ever managed to reach the end of the field (ie the starting part) without wanting to cry. I certainly did cry many times whilst 'running'. My sister cried. We are not natural born athletes.
There were the front runners who shot off and stormed through it, coming back triumphant covered in mud and glory. They were strange runny fit folk. Then there were the middling ones who jogged on and on but didn't seem to mind it all that much. And bringing up the rear were the lame, the deranged, the smelly and the simply useless.
I was one of this elite group.
Athletic prowess was not my forte.
Absolutely no idea why I felt the need to write about this - I blame Tramadol.