I am constantly amazed at the brains (or more specifically my brains) capacity for storing stuff that has little or no benefit in my day to day life. I have been reminded of this on several occasions recently, I suppose the first was when Nathalie had to watch 'Life on Mars' as part of a college project and came home and asked if I had heard the song by David Bowie from which the title was taken. Heard of it? I could recite the lyrics I calmly (and boastfully) replied, "Okay," she said, "I'll test you." She took out her college notebook in which she had a printed copy of the lyrics, I took the CD of Hunky Dory off the shelves and inserted it into the CD player. Word perfect, forty years after learning them to impress a girl who was on the school netball team. I even turned the volume up to 11 as the piano faded so that she too could enjoy the sound of the telephone ringing in the recording studio, if you were ever involved in the school disco or end of term party and did that you had to remember top reset the volume for the next track or everybody present would be deafened by the start of the next track.
More recently there was the Maurice Greene moment at Paris Nord on the way back from the TDF. Now Maurice wasn't poking his tongue out at his fellow travellers but I knew that face, those rounded shoulders, that gait of his, the only problem was that I couldn't remember his name. I saw him talking to a young American guy who subsequently stood next to me in the queue for the escalator down to the platform,
"Hi," I said, "I know this sounds daft but was that guy the American sprinter."
"What's a sprinter?" he replied
"Track and field, athletics."
"No idea. We only met because we have both missed our trains. Neither of us knew how this worked and to be honest I'm pretty stressed right now, I've already travelled for twelve hours. I just wanna get on a train."
As the train sped through the French countryside the word, "Greene" appeared, no doubt through the power of suggestion as the fields outside were a mixture of green and yellow depending on the crop. As the train passed through Frethun Calais station I suddenly added the forename 'Maurice' to the surname and picked up my phone to text home and asked my personal researcher, "Can you find out what Maurice Greene is doing these days please." Shortly after sending the text the train went into the Channel Tunnel and I had to wait until we arrived in Kent before receiving the answer, "Retired athlete. Now ambassador for IAAF."
I loved that reply. An eighteen year old completely oblivious of who the subject of my query was starts with 'retired athlete'.
It was another retired athlete to sparked off this post. Switching between channels yesterday afternoon I saw two athletes being interviewed on Sky. Now Sky doesn't have any broadcasting rights for these games but instead of sulking like the kid who hasn't got any pocket money whilst his mates are all in the sweet shop it has been lining up the great and the good for interviews in their own purpose built Olympic studio at Stratford. There have been some cringeworthy questions and some very good questions, indeed the great Edwin Moses responded to one on Saturday morning about how 400m hurdlers could change their stride pattern by replying, "That's a very good question because I never did so I don't know how you would." Anyway without having to change my stride pattern I said, "That's Frankie Fredericks," and lo, twenty seconds or so later a caption appeared saying, "Frankie Fredericks, four times Olympic silver medalist."
I can't even remember the last time I saw Fredericks run, it may well have been Atlanta 1996 because I didn't watch any of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 when he won gold.
Now ask me what I was doing any given afternoon last week, Friday excepted when I was at home watching the Olympics and I'd struggle but old lyrics and ex-Olympians and I'm there.