April 20th 2006
Atkins Down The Road, a man always up for a bit of fun, joined me for my Throwing the Walking Frame training session this morning at ten. Ever resourceful he already had his own walking frame, having picked it up at a charity shop some time ago in readiness for when the time comes that heâ€™ll need one, and employed in the meantime as a support for his climbing strawberries.
When we arrived at the park the man who I met yesterday, Mr Jeffs, was accompanied by two of his friends, who were also interested in training for the Throwing the Walking Frame event. Like Mr Jeffs they were aged about seventy. One was introduced as Mr Barnaby, the other, a Scot, was Mr Ross. It turned out Atkins knew Mr Jeffs, who used to be his milkman at one time.
Straight away Mr Barnaby pointed out that he didnâ€™t actually use a walking frame â€“ the one he had brought along was his wifeâ€™s â€“ and inquired if it was in the rules of the competition that a competitor had to be an actual walking frame user, as he didnâ€™t want to waste time training up if this was the case. I confessed that I didnâ€™t know but asked him who was to prove otherwise? I also pointed out that the Paralympic Games were over six years away and by then he would in all probability have the genuine need of a walking frame, as might the rest of us. This seemed to satisfy him.
Before we got down to some serious training I added a refinement in the shape of an 8 feet diameter circle which I painted on the grass with some white emulsion I had left over from decorating our bedroom ceilings.
The training went very well; the only problem being that Mr Ross, who is a genuine walking frame user, fell flat on his face every time he threw his walking frame. I assured him that this wouldnâ€™t lead to disqualification as the rules stated that provided the competitor didnâ€™t step out of, or in his case fall out of, the circle, it would be deemed a fair throw.
In fact it was Mr Ross who threw the walking frame the farthest distance. I wasnâ€™t surprised by this, because of his country of birth, the Scots traditionally being very big on throwing things, hammers, cabers, tantrums, uppercuts and so on. Mr Barnaby wasnâ€™t far behind and it will be interesting to see which of them eventually turns out to be the best thrower. Atkins Down The Road was hopeless, but this was probably because it took him all his time to keep his face straight, let along throw his walking frame.
We ended the session by having a chat about the way ahead and decided to put in for lottery funding, to be taken up by Mr Barnaby. On the way home Atkins and I decided there is no way we can continue without cracking up and resolved not to go again, or if we do, to view the proceedings from the cover of the trees.