Sunday, April 26, 2009


I spent an hour or so shopping in Asda (formally Associated Dairies) this morning, amid unexpected scenes of sports-related bewilderment. Remarkably, my home city of Gloucester's GL1 Leisure Centre is hosting the European synchronised swimming championships this week and, I’m guessing, today was the opening ceremony*. Naturally, when young athletes and coaches complete the formal pomp and processes that commence a major tournament, all are keen to explore the exotic surroundings of a new nation and where better (where else?) for the top European artists-of-the-pool to start off their tour of duty in Gloucester than the fabled aisles of Asda? First to catch my eye was a gaggle of Ukrainian womenfolk, bedecked proudly in man-made fibres, gaping wide-eyed at the wonders of the west while static crackled malevolently from their vivid tracksuit tops. A Spanish coach sauntered around clutching a packet of Hobnobs while a German counterpart stood transfixed by the luxuries available in the tissue aisle. As I departed the establishment, the Israeli squad strutted in, focus and professionalism etched on furrowed brows followed almost immediately by several Poles, more relaxed and exuding good humour. What heady and remarkable scenes on the Bruton Way! If you squinted it was almost like being in the Olympic Village in Beijing. But only for a fleeting moment.

*A quick peek informs me that today was the closing ceremony. The athletes were obviously bidding Asda a fond farewell and stocking up on sweetmeats and dainties for the long journey back to mainland Europe or, ahem, Israel.

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