Posts Tagged ‘uneven bars’

100 great goals


Every night, for months, Robin has chosen, before sleep and after L or I have read to him, to read from a book that describes 100 great goals. A short description of the action is leavened with some information about the scorer or the occasion. There’s also a diagram of the movement of players and ball on its way into the net.

When sleep is about to smother him, Robin tosses the book from his bed. In the morning, it lies on the floor, crumpled. Its hardback cover fell off weeks ago. Its binding can’t hold for long. But even if it does disintegrate it has lodged itself in Robin’s memory. He knows the goals and scorers by number (1 to 100). He can even recite some of the reports if given a scorer’s name or goal number. 


‘My palm has five layers of skin left,’ Eliza explained on the way home from gymnastics. Intensive work on the bars in recent weeks has worn a tear in the skin of her hand. She has been practising a manoeuvre that involves a complete rotation on the higher bar. To achieve this safely while in the learning phase, her hands are bound to the bar. It’s from that friction that the skin on her palms is torn away.


The election result has been welcomed by Gabe. At school, Corbyn is a hero. Gabe is dissatisfied by my position that neither major party leader is a fit PM. ‘What have I got against Corbyn?’ I was asked often during the campaign, as well as, who are you going to vote for and why? On election night, he sat with Lou and I as the TV guests and presenters toyed with the unlikely exit poll. Around midnight, with four GCSE exams the next day, he conceded that is was time for bed. 



A few weeks into his secondary school career, Gabe brought home a letter stating he had been selected for a special class to help pupils develop resilience. It rang true as a need and L & I said we’d contact the teacher to find out more. We forgot. The night before the first class, Gabe’s behaviour – great upset and agonizing – reinforced why he may have been chosen. He went along to the class, which he pronounced rubbish.

Talking to him about why he was selected, gave the stage to another side of his character. It was because of a questionnaire he’d completed (verified as true), in which he’d been too modest: saying he was bad at things he knows he’s good at (unverified, but possibly true, too).

L struck a deal that Gabe should go to three classes before deciding whether to continue. Those classes have now been and gone. It’s still rubbish. He gave the example of the class being asked to choose an animal to represent themselves. He chose homo sapiens. His initial torment at being picked for this class has turned to disdain for the childish way he’s treated there.


At the gym club competition, Eliza completed four disciplines. Her floor routine, once she had got underway and stopped looking lost on the large mat, went beautifully. Her vault was over in a flash. On the uneven bars she performed three fluent practices, but on the effort that was marked she lost her swing on the lower bar and had to restart. The rest was fine, but her face showed she was fighting the disappointment as she went away from the apparatus.

In practice on the beam, she was clearly still affected, but gathered herself in competition, to complete a cartwheel safely, slipping once.

She was being marked in a group of three. For bars, beam and vault she was second or third. ‘You must be jealous,’ the red-haired girl said to her spitefully. But her floor routine won her a medal with a score so far ahead of the other two that she came equal first with her friend for the overall award and six months with the trophy.


Robin is continuing to wake early. On the mornings he doesn’t disturb L or me, he is full of creative energy: writing stories, drawing pictures and designing his own match-attax card.