Let the games begin

Ed
Ed Smith
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A sizable portion of you think I'm about to talk about the Olympics. Well, I am to a degree but not much. At this point, the first Monday of the Olympics, there isn't a whole lot to talk about.

Perhaps the majority of you Townies (St. John's Townies as opposed to Corner Brook Townies) are still buzzing about the Regatta, the oldest continuous sporting event in North America. Perhaps I should say second oldest continuous sporting event.

The view from here - A sizable portion of you think I'm about to talk about the Olympics. Well, I am to a degree but not much. At this point, the first Monday of the Olympics, there isn't a whole lot to talk about.

Perhaps the majority of you Townies (St. John's Townies as opposed to Corner Brook Townies) are still buzzing about the Regatta, the oldest continuous sporting event in North America. Perhaps I should say second oldest continuous sporting event.

The oldest is arguably the weekly meetings of the St. John's municipal council. Does anyone know what happened to them, by the way? Are they still there? Do they still meet? Have they each taken a vow of silence?

Not the same as it once was

Since Andy Wells was traded for a councillor to be named later, the municipal chambers have been quieter than Her Majesty's Liberal Opposition. There's more news coming out of the Tilt Cove town council.

Although I'm opposed by nature and by principal to violence in sport and politics, I do miss the frequent bloodbaths and carnage that marked the average St. John's municipal council meeting. It was bad enough when the Fog Devils pulled out. Now, the St. John's entertainment scene has shrunk to watching fog roll in over Signal Hill.

Question: what's the difference between the Regatta and the 2008 Olympics? Answer: 1.5 billion Chinese and 10 million commercials.

I've only been watching two or three days, so I'm not altogether familiar with what's been happening. I do know the only boxer Canada had in competition had the pee pounded out of him by someone from one of those ex-Soviet Union states. And a fruity piece of gum can hold a high musical note significantly longer than a fake opera singer.

I've also learned Chevrolet is the official car of the 2008 Olympics, whatever that means. And every vehicle that's advertised is the best vehicle ever created, except for the one that comes immediately after.

I have this terrible confession to make. I'm quite partial to the citizens of St. John's. That isn't the confession, although much of my reader mail comes from there. In fact, that's where most of it comes from.

The two areas of the province from which I get fewest responses to this drivel is the North of the Northern Peninsula, where I was born, and the Green Bay-White Bay area where I live. Interesting. Perhaps they're more discriminating. Perhaps it has something to do with a writer, like a prophet, having no honour in his own country.

That's not the confession, either. What I am confessing to is an almost total lack of interest in the St. John's Regatta. I know there are boats. I've heard of the Outer Cove Fishermen. That's about it. And I have a young friend who rows, but where or why I couldn't say.

While you're busy gasping and muttering "How could he?", ask yourself how many boats there were in the Great Springdale Regatta held yesterday.

You don't know, do you, because you weren't here and you weren't interested.

Fair enough for both of us.

The Springdale Regatta was held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of what used to be the new swimming pool. The races were held in the pool. As far as I know there was only one rule: the boats had to be made of cardboard and it was expected that the kids, rather than their parents, would make them.

Nicolas and Robyn took up the challenge with a will. They confiscated a cardboard box from their grandmother, who saves cardboard boxes the way Scrooge saved dollars, and a roll of duct tape from their father.

They begged empty milk and Tropicana cartons from all and sundry, including one Peter Fenwick, although I don't mean to include him among the sundry. It's just that they were staying at his B & B on the Port au Port Peninsula while their father was looking at alpacas in the area (don't ask - something to do with the value of their wool).

The empty cartons were used as buoyancy. The different sections, including the cartons, were held together with tape.

Impressive craft

It was an impressive craft for pre-adolescents. Their father proudly announced that they came from a long line of shipbuilders. My view was that the thing would go to the bottom as soon as they stepped in it.

We were at the pool for the race. There were craft of every kind. One of the most inventive was a young fellow who had two holes in the side and two more in the stern. By lying flat on his stomach, he could use his arms and legs for propulsion.

Came the big moment. From having been there, I know that at least half of the crowd at the St. John's Regatta pay no attention whatever to the races. But every eye around our pool on Sunday was riveted to the start, including those of the kids' great-grandmother on their maternal grandfather's side.

The race was watery commotion. Some craft did come apart. The boat belonging to Nicholas and Robyn didn't, not at first and not completely. In fact, it stayed together long enough to finish a respectable third or fourth. Then it disintegrated.

Someone was unkind enough in this politically charged atmosphere these days, to suggest they couldn't expect much else from a boat that was at least partially constructed from materials donated by the NDP.

The last I saw of the "Maple Leaf," as it was christened by a not-yet disillusioned Leaf fan, Nicholas, it was being lugged off the deck by Robyn in small soggy pieces in a clear plastic garbage bag, as totally sunk as her namesakes.

When cardboard boats become Olympic competition, they'll be ready.

But they'll never have more fun.

Ed Smith lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca

Organizations: Tilt Cove town council, Tropicana, NDP

Geographic location: St. John's, North America, Signal Hill Soviet Union Springdale Northern Peninsula Green Bay White Bay Port au Port Peninsula Maple Leaf

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