Georgie! Georgie!! No over here!!! Your disabled right?! What do you think of the Paralympics?
Well just because I’m disabled doesn’t mean I’m necessarily interested in the Paralympics! Disability isn’t a club and we don’t all know each other! But…yes…yes I am. Yes I Can in fact! This being the tagline for the Para-Olympics advert! What a great advert by the way! Up there with the Guinness one with the wheelchair basketball player and his mates! Remember that one? Or that digestive biscuit advert with the kittens coming out the packet! Too cute!
I write this with The Last Leg -Live from Rio on the T.V and write between the breaks. Massive fan of the show btw! The humour they bring to disability and also shit in the world is exactly what we need. Now, I love sport. I love sport because it’s home to me. I grew up in a sporty family. One brother obsessed with Liverpool FC and cricket, I have my Granddad to thank for those long, long, LONG days at Taunton cricket ground. I’m sorry Granddad- I just don’t understand it! My other brother who could kick a ball from the moment he could stand and will continue too right up until his deathbed. Then two parents whose youths were mapped by athletics, hockey, the England rugby team and dance…dance for my Mum…not Dad…I don’t think….let me check.
I however, was not only the black sheep because I choose to be a glorified court jester for my career but I was also a total failure at sport. Diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis aged three wrote off most my joints and only having one eye, and the remaining one not being top drawer, didn’t help when catching a ball or shoot for the goal let’s say. So I didn’t even try playing sports. I was convinced I’d be shit. Instead I would sit out of P.E with the other sad wankers. They used to really piss me off because they had crap excuses not to play. Funny tummy or a gammy leg and they weren’t true; they just wanted to get out of physical exercise, which between you and me they sorely needed! I hated them even more because they were total able to play and didn’t even try.
In truth I really, REALLY wanted to play. I wanted to be like my brothers and my parents. Skilled, co-ordinated and celebrated with trophies for your talent. I have always had a competitive streak and loved the idea of being part of a team, not the loner on the bench watching with one eye, thick glasses and swollen knees. I know-reach for the tissues moment! Poor little one eyed George hobbling along. Don’t feel too sorry for me, remember-I’m a one eyed legend!
So I am thoroughly enjoying the Paralympics as much as all the sports I love I want to feel, similarly to the rest of the country does feel, to be apart of something bigger than ourselves and have some escapism from all the bullshit this year has brought in the news. However I hadn’t realized something until this Paralympics. Maybe because I’m older and have a new relationship with my body it’s taken a bit longer. Or maybe I am going into comedy full time and looking at life different. What I realized is the Para Olympics…it makes me… it makes me look like a lazy twat! I immediately dismissed sport as not for me when I was younger. I’m disabled and have the depth perception of an unlucky mole, how can I possibly play! Well bugger me there is only a no armed man nailing it at table tennis on my T.V. There a man with no legs winning races and wheelchair basketball is amazing! Looks bloody dangerous but loads of fun! Yet my rubbish eyes and knees immediately made me think I couldn’t play or be like these athletes. But I didn’t even try. I blame myself a bit as I was not as determined and defiant as I am now which could have gone a long way as insecure prepubescent disabled teen. Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda! Anyone who knows me know I regret nothing…to my detriment in fact!
Having said that though, I look back on twenty years ago and we didn’t have much of a celebrated Paralympics. There was one but not one that had the TV coverage, press and support it does now. We didn’t even have essential disabled access let alone the benefits we have now, although maybe be cut soon! Thank you recession AND Brexit. It’s a shame I never thought I could play sports with my one eye because maybe I could of had this extraordinary sport event been more apparent to me.
Having said that, support a football team. Arsenal. Always did but had to support Man Utd because my Ex boyfriend did. I hate myself for betraying them. For not seeing Freddie Ljungberg through his final season. For nearly missing out on Giroud! So hot despite his questionable haircuts. My god he is lovely…Anyway! I even watch England in the cricket not because I understand this mad game but because it reminds me of a very clever man from Durham and I envy my brother for having such a shared interest with him. (My Granddad btw.) I watch the champion’s league and premiership games with my brothers and their all mates growing up and find it all so funny! I watch the rugby too…. for reason I will tell you the next blog but I’ll give you a clue….Chris Robshaws thighs…shoulders…EVERYTHING! I also watch it because my Dad losing his shit at the TV is comedy gold! I watch the Paralympics and the Olympics because it still blows my mind what the human body can do and I envy and admire them all at the same time. My brothers have taught me which pundits are shit and who is worth listening to. Apparently Neville talks sense but Carragher is inaudible and Thierry Henry…well who cares what that man says… hear me ladies! Stop it! Focus Morrell! I have learnt about the rivalry between Ronaldo and Messi. I went up, as child and got Andrew Caddick’s autograph. He was a famous cricketer once. I may not have tried but thank you to my family for still getting me involved.
I’m not mad at the Paralympics for making me realize I maybe could have been a contender- see what I did there! #Filmgeekreference. I’m grateful to it. Because hopefully there won’t be one eyed, no eyed children with splints on her legs and swollen joints sat on the bench moping but instead be trying at sports in there own remarkable way. Thank god that those athletes may prevent that. What a difference they have made without having to go on and on but simply with action and talent. Just by playing the sport well, despite the odds against them. I respect them even more, as recently several came athletes took a slight distaste to the term ‘superhuman’ being bandied about in relation to them. I love that advert from Channel 4. ‘Yes I can!’ It’s exactly what young disabled people need to hear. It is just as much the responsibility of the disabled community to bridge the gap between those still seeing people with disability as ‘different’ and only offering pity. It’s like the people who say I’m brave. I am not brave. The Paralympians are not brave. They do not want to been seen as brave. They like me want to be seen for talent and the person they are, not the disability. This is the next step too see past it and watching the Last leg we are certainly on our way.
I didn’t realize the other reason I love sport. I’m watching The Last Leg-Live from Rio and the athletes have such great sense of humour. I then remember all the times I have laughed whilst watching sport but it seems to come more from the Paralympians than other sport personalities to my memory. No sex scandals, silly haircuts, gossip or what WAGS are wearing. They are there for the love of the sport nothing else. To do what they do and have a sense of humour to boot, is truly admirable. Maybe like me, a sense e humour, is an essential when you fear your body has failed you to keep getting through the everyday bollocks of disability. Either way I’m so enjoying the humour of these athletes and a show like The Last Leg that is encouraging it and it wouldn’t go amiss in many other sports. Sam Allardyce is rumoured to be bringing in Bradley Walsh and Paddy McGuinness to boost team moral, which I think, is a cracking idea. Get those boys communicating and heads together! That’s what the England team need, and can learn from our Parolympians, a sense of humour can go a long way in sport.
So what do I say when I’m asked about the Paras? My response…’It’s a bloody good laugh!’
Georgie Morrell is a comedian, performer and writer. She regularly blogs for Huffington Post and The New Establishment.
Her upcoming solo shows are back in London.
17th October 7pm. Georgie Morell: A Poke in the Eye is at The Phoenix Artist Club, London. Tickets-https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/georgie-morell-a-poke-in-the-eye-tickets-37954035542?aff=fb event tix
And, Georgie Morell: The Morrelll High Ground, 18th October 8pm at The Star of Kings, London. Free entry/PWYC.
Listen out for her in November in BBC Radio 4 Drama ‘Jayne Lake’ by Matthew Graham.