View from the Bridge: 46

by John Morrison


46: The Golden Eagle

The Winter Olympics, currently taking place in Japan, have a distinctly ambivalent place in our affections. Scoring very heavily on the 'who gives a flying fuck?' factor, the event is failing to set Milltown buzzing with enthusiasm. It takes someone very bored (our Town Drunk, for example) to care who wins the two-man luge, the biathlon (yeah, skiing and shooting: what a handy combination of skills) or, yawn, curling.

It would be different, of course, if there was any likelihood of Brits winning medals. But there isn't. It's disheartening to think that in a few years time we'll look back to the golden age of British success in winter sports, when Eddie the Eagle tried ever so hard to break his neck on the ski jump. But Eddie has hung up his skies for good, so all we've had to look forward to is the first crop of competitors in Nagano to test positive for drug-taking.

Today we have the poor sap: an American snowboarder who smokes cannabis. Cannabis? This is a drug that has traditionally enhanced the ability to lie on a pile of scatter cushions, listening to Pink Floyd on headphones, and snacking on crisps and sweets. Rather than sliding down a mountain on an elongated tea-tray. If cannabis is such a performance enhancing drug, then why wasn't Timothy Leary a sporting colossus? The snowboarder insists he has never smoked dope, but just hangs around with a lot of people who do. So it's true: we really do judge people by the company they keep.

Our Town Drunk, impressed by this notion, idly wonders whether it's possible for beer, too, to pass from one person to another, by a process of osmosis. Next time he's up at the Grievous Bodily Arms he'll try to wedge himself between a couple of heavy drinkers. It's worth a try.

He's been watching ski jumping on the TV. With the ever-present possibily of competitors wiping themselves out in dramatic fashion, this is one of the few winter sports that engages his attention. Ski jumping is also the sport that presents most problems for the drug-testers, such as how to get the competitors down. TV pictures show dozens of stoned Norwegians circling the skies - like buzzards in skin-tight Lycra. It's a remarkable sight.

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