Stortford dad working from home unleashes his inner commentator for Parsonage Lockdown Olympiad
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 inaugural Parsonage Lockdown Olympiad...
You join me on a crisp but delightfully sunny Wednesday. The first event in today’s afternoon session is the Middle Distance Formation Frisbee Throwing, often considered the blue riband event of Park Games.
First and, indeed, only contestants – due to travel restrictions in these challenging times for top-class international Frisbee throwing – are local favourites Dad and three sons. This is a tight knit team who’ve recently received generous support from the 'Will You Get These Kids Out From Under My Feet!' Foundation.
The foursome gathers under the goalposts in their crucible of sporting dreams. There’s some half-hearted limbering up. Dad reaches reverently into a backpack and, yes, there it is! Interesting. Very interesting. They’ve gone for a controversial Eurodisc Doughnut design. Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s a Eurodisc Cloud Distresser, 175 grams of pure polyurethane flying ability. It’s had its detractors, particularly with regards to its stability in the crucial 10 to 13 metres range. I hope this isn’t a decision they come to regret, but they’re professionals, they know their Frisbee.
And so Dad gives the Disc of Destiny one last 'good luck' stroke, the boys take their positions and... it’s another shock! They’ve formed up in the seldom seen rhomboid formation made famous by the now disgraced 'Prince of the Plastic Platter', Franklin Phling III, at the 1937 Wyoming Frisbee Open. Well, this promises to be a display for the ascetic, and before you can say ‘I need to trim that conifer, it’s blocking my view’, we’re off.
Dad begins with a gentle loosener to youngest son at first receiver. A flattish trajectory with minimal uplift. Youngest son gathers it in neatly and pivots to face his elder brother, the occasionally maverick middle child. A gentle flick of the wrist and the projectile is launched towards his sibling, arcing to its destination in a perfect parabola. No sign of nerves there and the young man will be pleased with that opening effort. The Frisbee is caught unfussily and moved on swiftly.
But wait, this could be trouble. The final team member is reluctant teenager and he doesn’t look anything like switched on enough. The throw to him is a good one, straight and unerring, there’s no problem there, but can he be bothered? Phew! We needn’t have worried. At the last minute he looks up from his phone and grabs the airborne disc.
Despite the studied disinterest he knows what’s at stake here. Opportunities to podium don’t come along every day and he’s not taking this lightly. With a deft lob he moves it on to Dad, but, hold on… I’m not sure he’s given that enough. Dad’s beginning to move… he’s going to have to work for this… there’s wind involved here… the team’s elder statesman is having to build up quite a lumber. A passing dog looks like he wants to help out but there’s no need. With an almost balletic grace not normally seen in men of his waist size, Dad plucks the Frisbee to safety inches off the ground and it’s safely round for an opening point.
Round 2 proceeds without incident and the team are getting into their stride. They’re working as a unit and there are hints of that relentless efficiency perhaps not glimpsed since their signature performance on the beach at Great Yarmouth last August bank holiday.
Third round now and I’m worried complacency is setting in. Sure enough, middle son goes for power to reluctant teenager and he just was not expecting that sort of pace. Fatefully he’s trying to Insta at the same time and he can’t react fast enough. He’s moving now… he’s realised the danger… he’s broken into a half-shamble, but… oh no! I don’t believe it. It’s down! The dream is over.
Dad slumps to the ground in disappointment and possibly exhaustion. He gives a wry smile but he knows there are no second chances at this level. He surely won’t have too many days left at elite Frisbee. Youngest son throws his hands on his head in despair, but he at least has time on his side.
They console each other, there’s some good-natured ribbing, but you know there’ll be recriminations when they debrief later. Hard questions will have to be asked. Did they Frisbee within themselves? Could they have given more? Did they really leave everything out there? Let’s hope this won’t haunt them.
Next time: Sedate Strolling Dressage.
* 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...