Mature Lady in Blue Quilted Jacket and Younger Man in Joggers with Boisterous Dog go head to head (well, not quite) for Single Lap Social Distancing Sedate Strolling crown
Jon Street, a married father of three, is not going out at home in Parsonage Lane, where the spare bedroom, which overlooks the park and play area, doubles as the press centre for the Parsonage Lockdown Olympiad...
Once again, in these barren times for top-class sporting action, we turn our attention to that oasis of sweaty endeavour, the Parsonage Lane play area.
It’s a light schedule of events this morning in the inaugural Lockdown Olympiad, but I think I can promise you some excitement in the Single Lap Social Distancing Sedate Strolling (Welterweight Division). Conditions are perfect: a gentle breeze, it’s a dry track and there’s no rain forecast, so we could see some exceptional lap times.
First onto the circuit is the vastly experienced Mature Lady in Blue Quilted Jacket and slacks. She knows her way round this path and it’s a surface that suits her. She’s gone for a sensible loafer and that looks a good decision in the conditions. She’s off at a steady stroll and she’ll set the early pace.
Next onto the circuit is Younger Man in Joggers with Boisterous Dog. There’s a lot going on here. He seems to have bought a hot snack – I’m calling it a sausage roll – with him so he may be planning to pit. He’s off, however, perhaps 8 yards behind Lady in Blue Quilted Jacket, but his choice of fashion training shoe will provide plenty of traction on this surface.
Mature Lady in Blue Quilted Jacket is setting a good pace, though. This is clearly her daily exercise allowance and she intends to maximise its aerobic benefit. She heads down the gentle slope briskly, through the Teenage Play Area straight and neatly exits the Park Bench Chicane.
Younger Man in Joggers is going to struggle to make an impression here. He was tentative out of the gate and his current pace is little more than an uninterested amble. If he doesn’t start taking this seriously then Mature Lady in Blue Quilted Jacket could run away with this.
Suddenly, Boisterous Dog seeks to inject some urgency. He’s seen a toddler among the spectators at Park Bench Chicane and he’s off! Younger Man in Joggers senses the danger and begins to move through the gears and powers down the straight. It’s an undignified exit from Park Bench Chicane as he apologetically bundles Boisterous Dog away from Toddler and Stressed Dad as they rapidly seek to retreat the prescribed 2 metres.
The important thing is he’s dramatically closed the gap on Mature Lady in Blue Quilted Jacket and she certainly knows she’s in a race now. They’re just 3 metres apart now as they enter the sweeping ‘under the trees’ bend and at the halfway point the title is still up for grabs.
They begin the gentle climb for home but... wait... what’s this!?! On the far side of the track Harassed Mum with Double Buggy has careered down the famous Parsonage Lane Slope and onto the circuit.
Mature Lady in Blue Quilted Jacket slows to a safe distance and pleasantries are exchanged; good to see that, even when the stakes are so high.
Younger Man in Joggers has slowed right up now. He can see the conflagration ahead, and even though he’s closed the gap he knows his opportunity for passing is slim and that sausage roll isn’t getting any warmer.
As it is, Boisterous Dog makes his decision for him. He’s spotted a flirtatious Labradoodle and is making a beeline for her. With a rueful shrug and a sporting nod of acknowledgement towards Mature Lady in Blue Quilted Jacket and Harassed Mum with Double Buggy, Younger Man in Joggers veers off the track and heads away to retrieve Amorous Boisterous Dog.
Mature Lady in Blue Quilted Jacket knows she’s almost home now. She skirts Harassed Mum with Double Buggy, neatly maintaining a 2 metre radius, and, back on the track, heads for the chequered flag. She won’t be denied the crown now and as she crosses the line she fist-pumps the air in delight – or is it maybe a wave to a friend?
Well, today’s event went with form. Younger Man in Joggers put up a good contest but left himself too much to do in the crucial mid-section and ultimately was let down by the indiscipline of his companion Boisterous Dog. They’ll be back stronger and faster, make no mistake, but in the meantime a powerful lap from Mature Lady in Blue Quilted Jacket has cemented her place at the pinnacle of Single Lap Social Distancing Sedate Strolling.
Join me next time when we leave the track behind and enjoy some dramatic field events including Lacklustre Keepy Uppy and Minimal Effort Child Exercising.
* Jon Street, 52, an IT worker, lives with wife Karen, who works for the NHS at Herts & Essex Hospital. They are enduring... sorry, enjoying being locked down with their three children: Megan, 22, who works for the Department of Health, and Shannon, 18, and Cameron, 16, who are working hard for A-Levels and GCSEs respectively. Hmmm...