The Day Sport Wasn’t Scary
Last week a gaggle of old university pals got together to celebrate our chum’s birthday. The facebook event was made (I really miss those old school party invites with the bit you had to tear off the bottom to RSVP by the way. Another thing bloody waxy old Zuckerbeg ruined) and upon reading the venue choice, a host of eyebrows were raised. Our chum had chosen…a ping pong bar. Now, we’re quite an arty, groovy, creativey kind of gang. We are the type of people who excel at CULTURE but fail miserably at SPORT.
I am actually actively anti-sport. I think it’s great that other people do it but to me, people that ‘do sport’ are even more intimidating than the women who work on the makeup counters in John Lewis. I just DON’T GET IT. People who are like, “ah yeah, I just love the gym, that post-workout rush is just the best feeling!!!!” and I’m just standing here like, “yeah. You know what feels even better than that? Gin. And bacon. And gin and bacon won’t mess up your hair.”
I think my deep fear of sport came from an encounter during Year Eight. At my school, taking part in Sports Day was compulsory, and no matter how hard I argued, my form tutor put her foot down and signed me up for the relay. Three other girls and I drew straws to decide who would do the dreaded last leg, since that was the stretch of the track where the entire school would be sat eagerly watching like vultures. OBVIOUSLY I lost, so on a grey, muggy summer’s day, I found myself lining up in a pair of unflattering shorts with corned beef thighs, next to all the long-limbed, sinewy girls who ‘ran for county’. The race began, the school started going berserk and our slightly bonkers Welsh PE master started hopping and doing an overly enthusiastic commentary. The baton got passed on, and our team was doing ok. Maybe it won’t be so bad I thought!
As a protest at being forced to join in, the girl doing the third leg of the relay decided to walk. A strong, bold statement no doubt, but it meant that by the time she passed the baton to me, all the human-gazelle hybrids I was up against had already finished. I was about to sidle off the track and then some dulcet Welsh tones BLASTED out over the tannoy, “C’MON KATIE! ALL THE WAY NOW!” So I had to run, aged 13 (let’s be honest, an awkward age at any rate) on my own, in front of the entire heckling school. I’m still not over it aged 25.
My argument was, that for all the girls who were jolly hockey sticks fantastic at sport, running in front of people was no biggie. For me, someone who is good at music, singing in front of people was no biggie. But ask the sporty gals to belt out a showtune in front of everyone and they’d have found it as deeply painful and humiliating as I did relaying. IF WE HAVE TO DO SPORTS DAY WE SHOULD HAVE TO DO ARTS DAY AS WELL. Anyway, after that my PE career generally consisted of continuously being in trouble during netball because I used to stuff the ball up my jumper and then pretend to give elaborate and difficult births in the middle of netball matches. It was deeply dramatic. The netball court was like a Call the Midwife-Grange Hill mash-up.
So, the thought of having to ‘do sport’ in front of a bunch of friends was alarming to say the least. I was early, so thought I would find the bar and just prop it up for a bit. The door to this place is just that. A door. And then a dark stairway. It felt a bit ‘clubby’ at which I really was AGOG AND AGHAST because the thought of clubbing these days fills me from my toes to my hair follicles with dread. But no, I found myself standing in a HUGE room with ping pong tables set up everywhere, with a big bar curving around the middle of the floor. I quickly realised I was not wearing the right thing. It was all blokes after work with buttons casually undone and cute hipster girls in cut off levis and big specs. I had come straight from an audition for a Victorian play, so looked like a slightly wonky 1900s prozzie in can-can boots and ringlets.
BUT I turned out to be pleasantly surprised by the entire experience. The beer was good, the food was tasty, if a little pricey (I can really recommend the half roast chicken. It was so moist I wondered whether it had been cooked in KY jelly) and I actually got really into the ping pong side of things. After a few beers for courage, I plucked up the bat and realised that everyone around me was actually as bad as me! I BELONGED! Honestly, at one point it was like having an orgy with One Direction- a lot of very enthusiastic balls flying at you from a lot of different angles. I got really into it. My friends did mock me slightly because I couldn’t help but do Broadway poses every time I did a serve, but I think this was my sub-conscience doing a Mufasa on me, going “REMEMBER WHO YOU ARRRRE”. And actually I got a bit cocky at one point and did a particularly adventurous and powerful serve, and nearly decked the bloke playing next to me in the face. He didn’t love it. But he was comforted by the cute waitresses who bring beer to the tables for you with iPads slung round their hips. They also have chaps whose sole job it is to walk around with big nets picking up all the lost ping pong balls- honestly- a ball picker. Hahahaha balls. HAH! Sorry. (HAH! BALLS!)
So yes, I can thoroughly recommend this place. I think it would be a cracking place to come on a date, so if any men do want to take me then shout. I can’t promise to have sex with you but I WILL buy you at LEAST two beers. C’mon, beer, chicken and ping pong- what’s not to love?!
P.s sorry for saying balls a lot. (HAHA! BAAALLLLS!)
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