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

Those nights… yes them ones

Tonight, I had the moment that had eluded me all these months and that I’ve documented rigorously as eluding me in this blog, I had some small triumphant moments at gymnastics.

I had not expected any. I was so exhausted I was out at the coffee machine chatting about social problems in the city with another of the coaches, who was eating a bar of chocolate. We were having a great auld gab. On my return to the gym, one of the fellas was slagging me for chatting and doing nowt. I teased him back in return.

It helped that I was working with a coach tonight who I haven’t seen since my first night return to the mats back a year and a half ago. It also helped that she’s a Newfie and even has the same name as my mother. (Perhaps I am more inclined to do what she says?). She’s a witty, warm woman and she’d a glint her eye as we negotiated my stumbling blocks. She was ready for my diversions. But “you could do it you see,” she was reasoning with me. She’d examine what I did and then insist … “hmmm you could do this…”

So new eyes, new ideas and new angles. What a great trio.

And a different surface. We were working on the flat floor rather than the tumble tramp. She set up a box arrangement for me to handstand on top off, then snaps legs down and under, push from shoulders back into back handspring. I had such a shock the first standing back handspring I threw for her assessment onto a “sting mat” as they call them. I had expected such a heavy drop onto my wrists, if my arms would even support me that far, instead I barely felt a thing and flipped over with surprising ease! It was almost polite as the plop of a vase of flowers onto the table.

Have I gotten stronger?! I don’t think so. If anything I am reduced in strength. Perhaps the humour, warmth and that glint of “ah but you could” carried me across whatever psychological mound was impeding and holding up the body.

Two other moments of note: at the end of the session a young man, adorned in a most impressive shirt with three penguins on it, informs me he’s a male Cheerleader. A what? Says I. And he gives me the history of male cheerleading and a name, I’ve  clean forgot of some group in Florida who be the best.

Another fella was holding a chain with a jade piece in his mouth, as he readied up for a tumbling sequence. “Is it the mother in me I said but would you not be a bit worried about that chain and your teeth.” No, he says. I’d hate you to damage your tooth. He then takes he hurdle step throws a sequence that included a straight back somersault almost up to the roof (his next was a double,  that was a double straight back! and then another at least a twist and a half). Finally he admits his granny gave him the necklace and the stone. “I knew it, ” I told him. “As soon as I saw it in your mouth, I thought only his granny could have given it to him, but didn’t want to say it.”  I love these little moments of revelation. The body may be coursing through the air like a well positioned kite, but the old mind is underneath it worrying about the luck of or damage of a granny’s gift.

Nights like tonight are rare, and rare is a fine thing while it lasts. As long as it turns up now and again, I’ll be happy to wait on the next innings. And will pay with the aches of it all manana. Good, necessary aches mind.

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