It's such a pity I rarely listened to the advice given me by my wise and saintly parents (well, fairly wise at most times, when it counted, and not too saintly at any time).
'Procrastination is the thief of time.' So said Dad.
'Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.' That was Mum.
I ignored Dad when he was procrastinating with the thief of time. This was not because I didn't wish to take his advice. It was simply because in those distant years I had no idea what procrastination meant, let alone how to spell it.
Mum's do it today, which I discovered much later was more or less the same as Dad's procrastination but dressed up in different linguistic clothes, was easy enough to understand – but didn't prevent me from putting off things until tomorrow wherever and whenever I could. As I still do. Mum's advice was sound but it clashed with one of my super super-sized genes – the lazy gene. Or as some folk would put it – the manana gene.
It's procrastination, to put it politely, that has prevented me from getting a new event accepted for the Olympics in time for the 2012 Games. Much too late for 2012, or even the 2016 and 2020 Games, the Olympic powers that be said in response to my application a month or so ago. Such slowness seemed peculiar to me when one considers the Olympics are all about speed.
The Olympic PTB advised me that my proposed new event, the the Store Wars Gold for Hop, Skip and Scream could not be included before the 2024 Games, although they did not hold out much hope for success even then – pointing out that the very first application by Australian Aborigines to have boomerang throwing included in the Games is lost in the mists of Never Never Land time. That's the equivalent of Once Upon a Time in the West or Mukashi mukashi sono mukashi in Japan.
What, you may ask, is the Hop, Skip and Scream Store Wars event?
For one thing, the Hop, Skip and Scream times will be the fastest in Olympics history. Indeed, they will be faster than anything in human history, apart from my own record setting times. Hop, Skip and Scream events, when they occur, so my own senses tell me, are faster than the speed of light.
Scientists are spending billions of dollars on matter smashers in miles long tunnels in an attempt to prove Einstein was wrong about light being the universe's gold medallist when it comes to speed. I've proved old Albert wrong on a number of occasions – and my research costs have only totalled my weekly shopping bill.
How? Supermarkets are increasingly a danger zone, especially for the less nimble of foot, as the elderly of both sexes use their motorized wheel chairs to do their shopping and seem to believe that when it comes to speed limits in stores anything goes. It is these motorised chairs that are at the heart of Hop, Skip and Scream – and it was at my 17th or 18th encounter with one of these 90-year-old demon speed kings that I thought the events worthy of a place in the Olympics.
A key element is gout. My gout! For greater comfort I wear sandals wherever and whenever I can. The trade off is that my inflamed toes are at permanent risk of assault from a variety of sources – the most dangerous of which are cats, dogs and small children screaming and racing in every direction. The sound of screaming children near-by has the same effect as an air raid siren – it gets me hobbling to the nearest foot shelter.
My introductory gout incident, so to speak, happened many years ago while I was suffering from my first attack. I was alone, seated in my living room, naked foot rested on a pouffe, staring at the great red inflamed toe that was the source of so much recent suffering – and brooding with much resentment on those ancestors whose port and brandy swilling habits were most probably responsible for my gout. I've always thought this added insult to injury – me paying for the excesses of a Regency port drinker.
Why should a life-long teetotaller, a man who had never indulged in anything stronger than a glass of lemonade, suddenly be cursed periodically in late middle age with a huge throbbing red big toe accompanied by pains as great as anything found at the seventh gate of Hell.( It's not as though men inherit their beer bellies from 18th century ale house tipplers. Beer bellies are the product of one's own excesses – months and years of jollification in local pubs and clubs go into the making of a good sized beer belly. That's a fair trade off!).
It was as I sat brooding about the unfairness of it all on that long ago silent summer afternoon that I caught sight of our cat, it's tail erect, padding in the direction of my foot. Before I could move my leg out of the way, the tip of the swaying moggie's tail gently, as gentle as a fairy's gossamer wings, brushed against my swollen toe. It was the briefest of contacts, a mere one millionth of a second. But it was enough!
The echoes from that scream, bellow, howl of rage and anguish that erupted during that one-millionth of a second are still probably bouncing around the planet's hills and valleys .The window was fortunately open, for the poor terrified cat, singing high soprano to my tenor, went hurtling through it and out into the garden. The sound of its screeching faded as it disappeared into the distance. The poor beast has never been seen again, although judging from the speed of its take-off it might one day be seen heading out of the solar system by the first settlers on Mars.
My frantic leap from the armchair was not as spectacular but I still believe I set new world record for the high jump from a sitting position. Keen eyed observers may still spot the hair line crack in the ceiling where my head made contact before returning to ground zero.
Since then I have survived without major incident – until recent times when the menace of the Hop, Skip and Scream raised its head and is now put forward as a new event in the Olympics. This danger to life and limbs – particularly limbs – is be found now in major stores and shopping malls in many countries around the world, especially where there is an ageing population.
The danger points are at the corners of the main shopping aisles and the side aisles – where motorized wheel chairs come round the corners at a brisk pace, without so much as a ring ring of a bell or a honk honk on a hooter to announce their presence.
It was as I stood in silent reverie in my local Asda, at one of the corners of the main shopping aisle, examining a great pile of canned Italian tomatoes and dreaming of the sunnier climes where they had ripened, that I had my first encounter with an in-store mobile menace – with no warning I came face to face with the vehicle, it's driver, a tiny white-haired lady hunched over the wheel. Her main facial features were a pair of large glaring eyes.
The vehicle came to a sudden halt inches away from where my gout stricken feet had been – but before that happened my survival instincts had already kicked in. (That long vanished cat has never been far from the surface of my mind!). While the vehicle was still coming to a halt I did a hop that took me half way to the roof, or so it seemed, a skip to rival that of a kangaroo, and a scream that seemed to shock the store into silence.
As I stood quivering, recovering from the unexpected encounter, the old lady drove around me, heading down the aisle for the wide open spaces of the roads, where all pedestrians are fair game in the eyes of some drivers. She uttered not a word to me – but the scowl on her face said it all.
That was the first and the worst of a number of similar encounters, but by keeping a wary eye in both directions at the aisle corners in supermarkets meant that for me there is less need for evasive action of an Olympic class. But I still witness others engaged in Hop, Skip and Scream events that are equal to any Gold Medal performance. I must say that when I witness them and it is not my gouty feet that are at risk, I find the encounters highly entertaining. And so I conclude with the point that I made at the start – lets bring an entirely new sport into the Olympics – one that combines athletics with comedy. Something the original Greek founders of the Games would have appreciated. A belly laugh to go with the wow factor!