You think you know someone…

Sometimes you just think “Wow. That was an easy, fun job.” I was asked to attend a fundraising dinner in Guernsey. Sir Clive Woodward was also on the bill. “Great,” I thought. “Interesting podium partner, lovely setting…why not?” If only all my jobs could be like this one. The top man at Leicester Tigers rugby club laid on his private jet. I waltzed up ten minutes before departure, hopped on board (no queues or fighting for a seat) and we were off. The perfect start to a great evening. Lots of money raised, a short hop back to the jet and another simple journey home. Fantastic!

I recently spent a day in the Newcastle area, visiting schools and talking to the children about the fun of sporting competition. I did five schools, one after the other. Lots of lovely kids, all sitting politely and listening to me…but it was a challenge, because after the third one I started to forget what I’d said and not said. My guess is that some schools will have got the message quite well, whereas others will have left thinking “Why did she say the same thing 4 times?”

My mum recently turned 80 and we’ve had a whole series of celebratory events to mark the occasion. She announced a while ago that she’d like to go and see Arsenal play at the Emirates. “Really?” I said. “Yes,” she replied, “I’m a big fan.” OK, I thought; sure. We can do that if you like. I rang up and managed to get some tickets organized.

We got to the ground and my mum was so excited. I thought, “Well, she seems to be having a good time.” It was a great match, actually; we saw the Gunners beat Blackburn 7-1. Extraordinary. But not as extraordinary as my mum. She literally knew all of the terrace songs and she joined in. She knew who all the players were, where they were from, how many goals they’d scored…I was just sitting there, staring at her. I had absolutely no idea she was so in to the Arsenal!

I asked her how come she knew so much about them. “My dad was a season ticket holder,” she said. “In those days, he felt that it was a man’s pastime, so I never got to go, even though I would have loved to have done. But that’s fine. I’ve been now and I’m completely satisfied. You’ve taken me to Wimbledon…so many places. And now I’ve been here to see Arsenal, that’s the end of my list; I think I’ve done everything in my life. Thank you.” Not much you can say to that!

An interesting footnote, given the recent football news…in Guernsey Sir Clive Woodward talked so passionately about the importance of the team ethos, the common purpose and how just one little cog can ruin it all if it’s not right. “It’s one of the very biggest challenges in elite sport,” he said…

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