Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

En route to my gymnastics training last night I was listening I subsequently learnt to Arlo Guthrie on the radio. I did not know Arlo Guthrie, but he was singing a song about a train in New Orleans. I do know of his dad (I subsequently learnt). So how come I don’t know his son. I suppose it’s reasonable not to know of him.

Anyway there he was singing fresh as a daisy bout a train. At the training session, I was working with a new coach on what they call “drills” trying to link two moves into a tumble, having worked the two moves separately. The coach, a very patient young fella, wanted me to do these various drills before hooking the engine to the carriage. But these drills felt so odd, hurling myself backwards into a pit and having to land one move before the pit started and being at the age of reluctance, this old Missy was having none of it.

We discussed it. I said you know psychologically these drills aren’t doing it for me. He said maybe I thought the drills were boring. I said I didn’t think I could find them boring since I was basically so resistant I couldn’t even attempt them. We debated a bit more. I said I have a funny brain. I like to run before I can walk even if I land in a heap. He explained the drills were to remove the psychological fear that’s inherent in linking two moves. I said hmm. He said he’d look at my first move and based on whether or not it was iffy, he’d decide if he was willing to spot the second move. I showed him the round off, he said it was good. We set up sting mats on tumble run thing, we set the first move up, then I was to throw the two moves with him offering a spot for the second.

I was standing on the tumble run. He looked uncertain and mumbled uncertainty. I suddenly felt a holy terror about what I had just set up as needing to be done, was now actually going to have to be done and neither of the two of us were certain what was going to result. Then I remembered some of my fury this week and said fuck it, and launched into the damn thing, which was as it turns out damn fine! He kept his head without getting clacked, and I couldn’t believe I had landed on my feet.

He said something like ok there we’ve thrown it as in we know you can throw it. I thanked him. We moved into refining it. I was grateful to him for facilitating my arse about face approach. It was a great moment. The link had been tentatively made and will not be unmade only improved one hopes. Then we had a long philosophical discussion about absolutely nothing to do with gymnastics.

Every aspect of that sport reminds me of novel writing. Except the progress is indisputable.

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