Monday, March 21, 2016

One small leap for man. One giant leap for womankind!

The final Inter-school Athletics Meet of 2016 was held at Chispite Senior School, and my daughter had been selected to take part by virtue of having, quite accidentally and unintentionally, won an Interhouse competition the previous week.

Never one to do things by halves, she had managed to find some white oxide and in true Celtic fashion (for she does indeed have Scottish blood in her veins) had applied warpaint and battle make-up:

My daughter was not the only one who had prepared for all-out war, and several of the senior Peterhouse girls had readied themselves for the rigors of battle. They spent quite a lot of time practicing scowls and other fearsome facial contortions:

There were lots of track races, high jump, javelin, shot putt, discus and relays, and each event was competed in 5 different age groups. This is the starting bend of the 400m - and though I am not sure which age group this was, I can tell you that, for a middle-distance race, these kids were flying:

My attention was drawn to a small patch of the Kalahari Desert that had been specially imported and which now masqueraded as the the long jump pit. 6 competitors readied themselves for battle in the 'Open Long Jump', mentally preparing for the duel ahead, while studiously ignoring their fellow Leapers.

What then of the competition arrayed against my poor daughter? Scary or not? Well, to be perfectly honest, they were indeed a little scary, and even had pink shoes with nails sticking out of them. The opposing competitors looked all athletic, wiry, and perfectly capable of jumping a thousand feet - either up or along  . . .

Or both.

The looked like rabbits, and even screamed out loud as they jumped with the exertion of it all:

So . . .  who was the winning competitor in the Inter-schools Open Long Jump ?

Well, incredibly, here is the leap that won First Place - sans shoes, sans spikes, sans shouting, and sans gravity. But with warpaint!

Victory - thanks to technique, paint and attitude!

Well done for a magnificent 'Boooyinnnng'

Have a great day, all.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A superb example of British understatement!

At the end of last year, I went to England for a short visit, and while there I went to The Tower of London with my Aunt. It should actually be a criminal offense for anyone to visit London without seeing the Tower of London - so much history and heritage maintained for exactly the right reasons. And pretty much told as it happened (which is often not quite the case in Africa!)

Here is the Union Jack fluttering proudly over the Tower beneath yet another wonderfully overcast English sky:

This is one of the entrances to the Tower of London - and you can see where the moat was - though now grass has replaced the water. They have scattered around several metal sculptures of the animals that were periodically kept at the Tower - in this case African lions. (Interestingly the animals on the English heraldic badge are not lions, but leopards).

And don't you just love the 'arrow slits' through which defenders would fire their arrows at attackers.

The White Tower - distinctive because of the 4 domes at each corner, is located pretty much in the Centre of the complex, and was where workmen uncovered bones during a restoration - possibly of the Princes in the Tower. It is also close to the place where executions of nobility took place (mostly by beheading), while lesser folk lost their heads or were hung-drawn-and-quartered on Tower Hill (for the entertainment, edification and 'education' of the general population!)

One of the features of the Tower is the displays they have, detailing life as it was way back when.

This is a very small part of the armour display:

And, yes, Henry VIII was indeed a man.

When we were there, it was the 600th Anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, and they had a marvelous tableau detailing the battlefield, and how the battle progressed. I had just finished reading a superb book on the battle called "Azincourt" - apparently the correct (French) spelling of the place, and so I already had quite a good understanding of what had happened, and the reasons behind the English victory.

They also had lists, taken from payrolls and other records, of the names of the archers, knights, pikemen, serfs etc who had fought in the battle. Quite amazing.

Unfortunately they forbid the taking of photographs in the display room which was a shame, as it was really interesting, but I did manage to snap a photo of the sculpture they had erected in order to advertise the fact that they had a special display on.

Can you spot it in the picture below?

Maybe my little camera battled a bit, but you can just make it out.

This is a slightly closer view of the advert - flip back a pic and see if you can spot it now?

Here, then, in close detail, is the advert for the 'Agincourt' display. An iron sculpture of an archer about to release an arrow tucked away on one of the parapets shooting through the crenelations. That's it - nothing else! No fanfare, no illuminated signs, not even any writing.

Isn't English understatement such a wonderful thing?

Of course, this being England, it cannot possibly be a permanent display, so you had better get along and see it as soon as possible . . . . .  before it rusts away in the perpetual rain they are so fond of over there!

Have a great day!