St Hugh’s Epistle to the Olympians
1 Hugh, called to be an apostle of Christus Linford by the will of God and our brother Sebastian.
2 To the church of Sport in Stratford and other places, to those sanctified in Christus Linford and called to celebrate the Union Flag.
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and Christus Linford.
4 Know thee throughout the lands that I have always wanted England to get stuffed at every sporting opportunity that I can remember. Further know thee, possibly based on esoteric ribbings received in two years schooling in a green, coal-underlayed Northumbrian idyll, Pearce and Battyfied FIFA World CupTM penalty misses were right good reasons to quaff pints, the relished relief being of Olympic-sized piddle comparison.
5 Know thee also that in my teeth-gnashed madness I usually, though not always, equate sporting Great Britain and its Americanized (sic) mutation, Team GBTM, as England with a circumspect couple of peripheries placated in patronising pomp.
6 Let it additionally be known that I am far-flung travelled in drained pursuit of sporting success with the SFATM Scotland football team, but again, in my lunacy, more of a Tartan Camp-follower than Infantry Trooper; being weary of woad and finding more solace in the company of the interested native than the bawbag tourist. Indeed, the fondest recalled of all of my journeys is a 3-0 Dutch master drubbing in the nether lands of an Amsterdam back-booschzer coffee schoppsch seen through TV glass darkly, rather than, say, the miraculous McFadden gift from Jinky Jehovah seen in brilliant live splendour from the concrete and plastic heights of Le Parc de Princes.
7 For those who have ears to hear, then hear: when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Witness thee now my deranged progress and my own personal Christus dichotomy: I wish you, the English, Northern Irish, Scottish, Welsh or Islander GB Olympians, Godspeed and success. Yeah! Ev’n at the fitba.
8 And for this transformation, this temporary Christus Linford-induced transmogrification from get stuffed – through nonchalance – to interest, I take thee back, verily, to Barcelona in the summer of 1992. The summer of the Jamaican giant: the celebrity drug-cheat who ran for England and Great Britain, the picnic lunchbox that became corpus Christus Linford.
9 At the set hour, the wee post-gig party in a Drumchapel terraced house came to a halt as man, woman and skank took to gazing at the telly and attached Video Cassette Recorder player. Linford was getting his oxygen fix and pumping his veins before crouching his works into the traps alongside the Namibian favourite Frankie Fredericks. John Walker, the great All-Black runner, was co-commentating with David Coleman and he took time-out to out-Colemanballise Coleman with his fabulous “Linford Christie must be thinking, at 32, can he emulate what Ottey just failed to do?” question. We watched, transfixed in stupor, as Linford exploded out of the box in clichéd ecstasy and horsed his way through the speedy field to claim gold with a triumphant snort at the line and Coleman screeching “IT’S LINFORD CHRISTIE” to the delight of everyone at the party.
10 I remember that delight and the feeling of national triumph. “Good old Linford!”, “He’s such a jolly good fellow!” and other Drumchapel celebratory chestnuts escaped our mouths twixt Red Stripe, Scampi-Fries and Schlitz. Rivals of green and orange took to back-patting and sharing jaggy points like Libertines, as we partied like sex-starved ancient Greek Olympians plunging into post-games conjugal sweat, as you did. Thankfully any murals depicting those events do not survive and a future Fiona Bruce, or marauding Lord Elgin, will be spared the debased memories that are forever smouldering on my front lobes.
11 So to bring me as up-to-date as someone stuck in 1979 could ever be, I’m listening to the wireless from Pacific Quay this morning and two stories took me back to The Drum of Christus Linford from the present of James Forrest or whoever.
12 The first was some wee Scottish 17 year-old’s swimming coach up to high-diving dough over his pupil’s success in getting to this summer’s Games. He said that the bairn’s been improving by more than three percent every competition he’s entered, and has put in four years of dedicated graft to get to where he is now.
13 I thought “Good on ye. Best of luck. I’ll be rooting for yer bairn wi’ the best o’ them. I might even watch it!”
14 The second was Jerome Valcke, the Secretary General of FIFATM saying that the SFATM should forget about their Team GBTM worries: forget about any possibility of a Team GBTM being used to take Scotland’s footballing Separation away.
15 My imaginings changed from speculating James Forrest as the anti-Christus, Auld Nick in shape o’ beast himsel’, to that of a wee happy boy, grafting hard, doing his pan in and looking for reward. Not financial, but spiritual, for who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of James Forrest except the spirit of James Forrest.
16 The rewards of acceptance, the rewards of appreciation, and the rewards of recognition are the spiritual rewards: the altered look of acceptance or appreciation from a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, and the applause of a music fan, or music journalist in print, or of a cd buyer. They are the only rewards I have ever sought. Is anyone so different, not least an already rich boy?
17 To my muse: good luck to all Olympians of any hue. Sport is stagnant TV if ye don’t choose a favourite, and I’ll root for the underdog individuals and nations as always. I’ll naturally yell oot for the Scots taking part and representing the UKoGBaNI, the nation state l live in, whether I hope for a fairer and better and smaller one, or not. Good luck to the Islanders and the Northern Irish and the Welsh, but especially the English representing the same UKoGBaNI. Hosting an Olympics is an expensive honour, and although I’m only paying my taxes by default towards the colossal bill, I will cheer on your victories.
18 To win on home turf will be very special. When the flower of the UK’s bairns step on the podium to collect a wee metal disk I will have a wee tear in my eye: I will only slightly register God Save the Queen being parped o’er the PA, I will only mildly grue when the Union Flag is hoisted and St Andrew is set well behind St George and St Patrick again, to my shame, but I shall greet a mickle tiddler for the wee bairn from Shrewsbury, from Durham or from Southend-on-Sea, who’ll look out at the myriad of faces and say loudly through the mouth of love for their ears only “Mum and Dad! My fabulous, beautiful, supportive Mum and Dad – this is for you and for all of your sacrifices”.
19 The churches of Sport in the province of Muthill send you greetings. Connor Aquafontis and wee Presbytery greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church of Sport that meets at the Highlandman’s Park.
20 All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a shine of yer medal.
21 I, Hugh, write this greeting in my own hand.
22 If anyone does not love the bairns, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!
23 The grace of the Lord Christus be with you.
24 My love to all of you in Linford Christie.