Saturday, 7th August, 2021

[Day 509]

We suspected that it would be fine this morning and might rain a little later in the day and so it turned out. On our way to collect the newspapers, we ran into our University of Birmingham friend whom we have not seen for almost a week (as most days of the week he is off playing tennis) Meg was feeling a little tired so I handed Meg her to our friend to accompany her to the park whilst I went to collect the newspapers. In the park, we met up with one of our park regulars and carried on conversations regarding the Olympics. One thing I have noticed, which has received a little but not an enormous amount of publicity, is the impact of technology on both running shoes and the track itself. The modern running shoes are incorporating some carbon fibre and the effect of this is to add a little bit of ‘spring’ to the athlete as well as lowering impact resistance. Various kinds of technological improvements have also been built into the track. Immediately ‘below the surface’ is a type of honeycomb or lattice arrangement (filled with what?) which has the effect of making the track operate like a series of miniaturised trampolines. The effect of these two technological improvements (running shoes, track) is that world records are being broken quite regularly. In one of the men’s races over hurdles ( I cannot remember which) then the world record was broken in the heats and again in the final. The person who came in second (i.e. silver) would have broken the previous world record whilst not winning the race. Whilst not arguing against the march of technological advance, I am left with a slight feeling of unease that world records are being broken with the aid of thee technological advances as well as the individual efforts of the athletes themselves.

As we made it home for lunch, a little earlier than usual, the smattering rain looked as though it was going to intensify during the afternoon so I made sure that I applied one of my ‘rust-removal’ routines to a spade which I store in Mog’s Den. This is basically a wire brush, followed by a brillo pad treatment and then a sponge off and clean and dry with kitchen paper. When all of this settled down, I will give it (and my other gardening tools) a good spray with WD-40 (or a near equivalent) which helps to build up a degree of rust protection if I apply every time the tools get used and ‘put to bed’. Halfway through the afternoon, an order arrived from Amazon which was a complete collection of hand tools for £17.00 Evidently, at this price it is Chinese made but you get about three different kinds of hand rakes, five different trowels in a variety of shapes and sizes, some secateurs, a miniature garden spray, some gloves, a series of coloured labels, some wire twists complete with cutter and finally. a fabric gardening basket to hold all the tools. All of this lot is destined for the toolbox in Mog’s Den so now there is no excuse for not keeping everything well trimmed and cultivated.

This afternoon, we were generally watching the culmination of the Olympic Games. Team GB seem to be winning medals until the end with a boxing gold for a local Birmingham lad and a gold in the modern pentathlon. This was invented by Pierre de Coubertin (father of the Modern Olympics) and was a variation on the military aspect of the Ancient pentathlon. It focused on the skills required by a late-19th-century soldier, with competitions in shooting, swimming, fencing, equestrianism, and cross country running. I also watched some of the obscure events such as artistic swimming and artistic gymnastics and have to say I was incredibly impressed by the athleticism and gymnastic skills displayed. In the late afternoon, we went to church as we always do early in the evening on Saturday. There we made contact again with a lively Liverpudlian lady who can talk for England but also, at a fairly advanced age makes regular round trips in her car visiting members of her family in Sheffield and Liverpool. We had not seen her for the best part of a year (although she says she has seen us whilst we are walking up and down the road towards the park each day). I promised her a bottle of our damson gin to which, I gather, she might be somewhat partial. Tomorrow evening will no doubt be closing ceremony of the Olympics and I may well watch this as I am sure that the Japanese will stage it particularly well. In addition, I do like to see the faces of the genuinely happy athletes as the pressures of competition are behind them and they can party for the first time in years. I wonder how many cross-cultural liaisons are made during events like these?