Friday, 11 July 2014

Why does it matter?

Suki Brownsdon
Anyone who's been within 10 yards of me over the past month or so will know that I find it very hard to talk about anything other than the Commonwealth Games - but why does it mean so much to me to be a part of it all?  Well, when I was a kid the main things I remember watching on TV were sport (not football but athletics, gymnastics and, usually, swimming).  I swam competitively and June Croft, Jackie Willmot and Suki Brownsdon were the people I looked up to.  Names not familiar to everybody - but they were people who inspired the teenage me as I ploughed mile after mile up and down our local council pool.

The Olympics and Commonwealth Games were, therefore, required viewing in our household - along with Star Trek and Blakes 7 - and I dreamt of being a part of it all.  Sadly my swimming talent wasn't enough to get me there but I have remained an avid fan.  When the Commonwealth Games came to Manchester in 2002 I was beside myself but, sadly, I had one of those years when the wheels came off my life a little.  But still I followed it on TV.

When London got the Olympics I had signed up as a volunteer within hours but, again would you believe it, my life took another sharp left and I was unable to be a part of it.  I watched it on TV, and on my phone app, and whined pitifully at the screen.  Work took me to London a week after the games finished and I made my way to the window in John Lewis that overlooks the park and pressed my nose to the glass, the closest I had managed to get...

So cue Glasgow 2014 - I gave life a very stern warning not to mess me around this time and signed up.  We were invited for auditions at Film City in Govan Road and neither hell nor high water was going to keep me away!  I'm no dancer but somehow managed to do enough to convince them to let me be a part of the closing ceremony.  The day the email came through I danced around the house - badly, but I danced.

Film City

So that brings us to now - the 3 pre games rehearsals are now, unbelievably, done and dusted and we resume activities on 25th July - which should just about give my aching limbs a chance to recover.  We're being pushed really hard in rehearsals and rightly so, but it is fantastic fun and I shall be rehearsing at least once every day until the 25th.
I *will* find you...

I'm also conscious that the media will be judging our efforts and they can sometimes be a little less than kind, so as a warning to any journalists who may take it upon themselves to say anything less than glowing about the closing ceremony (or the opening - they're our team mates too), let this picture be a gentle warning to you... 

And what of Glasgow?  Well I spent the entire day hopping on and off the bus tour and learning a whole bunch of stuff about the place - here's just a few bits that I picked up along way:

  • The bloke behind Liptons Tea was from there
  • As was the bloke who invented the macintosh
  • To get off "Scot Free" comes from the fact a criminal can be tried and found "unproven" in Scotland
  • Chicken Tikka Masala was invented there
  • They have the biggest KFC in Europe
  • They have more parks than any other city in the world

It's a big city - everything about it is big - the architecture is immense from the ancient to the modern.  The necropolis has to be seen to be believed and offers magnificent views of the cathedral and outskirts of the city.

Modern architecture

Botanical Gardens - one of many, many green spaces

Cathedral from the Necropolis

The tourguide on the first bus also told me to go and explore the university, so I did, what an amazing place (4th oldest in the world behind Oxford, Cambridge and, erm... I forgot - sorry!)

And then there's The Lighthouse where you can find an amazing if eversoslightly scary to ascend staircase and some superb and far less scary exhibitions - including a detailed one about how the Commonwealth Games came to be there and how environmentally friendly they will be.

From the bottom looking up.

From the top looking down. Blurry cos I was scared!

They also have a great sense of humour - this statue in George Square is adorned with a "hat" most of the time - and if you're arriving by train watch for the mural alongside the tracks as you approach Central Station - it shows the city skyline and notable features, including this chap who has been painted with his "hat" on.  

So, that's why all of this means so much to me - I know it sounds dramatic but I have been waiting for this opportunity my whole life and I will absolutely be giving it 110%.  I'm loving meeting new folks, making new friends and learning new skills and if I don't lose at least half a stone doing this then there's no justice in the world.  The only downside is that after most rehearsals I have this tune buzzing around my head.  Can't think why, but if you're in the cast, you'll probably understand...  :-)

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