Monday 2 April 2012

B is for Ball Games

I have never been any good at ball games. As a child, I simply didn't see the point of a ball. If you couldn't stroke it, eat it, read it, ride it or climb it, it was of no interest to me.

The other problem was that my brain interpreted a ball coming towards me as a missile. Not friend, but foe. Run or duck, it told me, but do NOT go near it. This fear was hard to overcome.

And then there was the sheer discomfort. Freezing days on the hockey pitch, my (then unprotected) shins an easy target for that wickedly hard ball, Miss Brown, in her cosy royal blue track suit, yelling at me from the sidelines, my thighs purple with the cold. And all this followed by the humiliation of being the only flat-chested girl in the communal showers afterwards. Tennis was almost as bad, if warmer and less dangerous, and as for rounders, I don't think I once managed to hit that tiny ball with that silly little stick.

So, in my teens, I was relegated, with two equally incompetent friends, to the far end of the playing fields, to throw the discus. Of what possible use that was ever to be in future life I have no idea. Health and safety would have had a ball (ha) as we could easily have killed each other (accidentally, of course; we were best friends). In the event, we lay in the grass and talked about boys and made daisy chains. We made a lot of daisy chains. No-one ever came to see how we were doing.

But at least I have never been asked to play the Mayan Ball Game. Apparently, the winners are heaped with accolades, but the miserable losers are put to death.

Perhaps I should have counted this small blessing, and tried harder at the discus.


  1. so true! This might be my childhood you are describing. The best advice I ever received for catching footballs is that it is easier if you keep your eyes open. My thoughts on that? But then I can see it as it hits me in the face . . .

  2. Both the interpretation of a ball thrown in my direction as a missile and being the only flat-chested girl in the changing and shower rooms mirrors my personal experience.
    There was one good thing about my running and ducking from the ball, though (which, by the way, in my case had largely to do with my specs; I was afraid they'd get knocked off and break): I was very, very good at those games where the intention was to avoid being hit by the ball, and usually the last one still "alive" at Völkerball.
    As for being flat-chested - well, when I look at my former classmates now, none of them are able to still walk around without a bra AND look good. I can! (Although I do wear a bra most days, if just out of decency towards my fellow humans, and also because I like nice undies.)

  3. I love your description of the absence of reason for the existence of a ball.

    I too never enjoyed sport of any description as I was pretty damn useless at it.

    Oh the humilation of coming last in every sports day event teachers gleefully insisted I take part in ...

    Anna :o]

  4. Must confess I played hockey and netball in the school teams and I loved tennis. But my daughter was the opposite!

  5. You could be describing me, Frances. I felt exactly the same, as did my husband and all my three daughters.
    I kept my towel round me in the showers if I could possibly get away with it. Although my mother provided me with a mere hand-towel (other girls had gigantic bath-sheets) there wasn't much of me to cover up.
    I also ran away from the ball, terrified it would smash my glasses, which I desperately needed to hang on to, being saddled with a short-sightedness problem of minus thirteen in both eyes.
    Balls, nets, sticks, bats and PE teachers all terrified me.
    They still do!

  6. Your experience with games mirrors mine except that the teacher was a bit more sadistic and used to make us write out the rules of hockey. Still, it was better than freezing on the pitch and dodging those balls!

  7. Some of us have to move all the time, some of us like to sit quietly with our nose in a book---me. I am happy to have met you through your blog.

  8. Very amusing! One of my least fond memories is of having to stay late after a softball practise and having the teacher pitch ball after ball toward my fumbling glove for what felt like hours. It took a good forty throws before I was able to catch the darned thing. She stopped there. I think her arm was getting tired and she knew better than to try and make it two in a row. :)

  9. Jessica, Librarian, and Anna - we seem to have a lot in common!

    Rosemary, I can only stand by and admire...

    Joanna and Jenny - I think we artistic types have better things to do than play sily games (Rosemary,of course, is the exception...)

    Loveofwords, I'm very happy to meet you, too!

    Kern - you too! Did it do you any good?

  10. Oh so many can identify with you.

    I was flat-chested in the showers too: probably a Good Thing in my case!

    Perhaps rather too much information for the delicate ears of the male readers, Librarian.

    Seriously though it was only when I was 15 that it was discovered why, in cricket, I could bowl perfectly well but could not hit a ball nor catch one unless it was coming directly at my centre body. Nor could I hit a moving tennis ball. Then it was discovered that I only had one usable eye and all was explained.

    I have to admit, though, that a cricket ball hurtling at one met your description absolutely.

    As someone who disliked academe and was indifferent to sport schooldays were not my happiest days. I did like the bees though!

  11. GB, I have two good eyes, so no excuse at all. But I'm pleased you have/had bees in your life.