Last weekend I went to a film premiere. I know, get me. There wasn't a red carpet, unfortunately. No reporters on the way in asking me what I was wearing. Shame really. I would have loved to been able to answer them with a confident "Jacamo. For men who love pies a little too much."
But anyway. The film. It was the latest release from my friend Chris, who over the last few years has done a number of these friend-sourced movies. I have mentioned them here before. They're great fun, even when filming them involves the possibility of injury. This latest one was a selection of short sketches tacked together for the general amusement of the discerning filmgoer. And Chris was generous enough to let me put one of mine in.
The sketch was based on a silly short story I wrote. And as most of you weren't present at the cinema screening on Saturday, here it is. I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote it.
Whenever real sports fans are gathered together the same names will crop up. The legends of athletic history. Coe, Ovett, Redgrave. Thompson, Hoy, that one that goes to the toilet in street. These are characters spoken of in hushed tones. And to that list, that panoply of greats, we could so easily have added one more name.
For I had the ambition. And the vision. Not much in the way of natural ability, or, for that matter, physical fitness. But I was hoping that the ambition-and-vision thing would make up for these glaring omissions.
Because I not only wanted to bring gold back to Blighty; I wanted to introduce the world to a brand new Olympic sport. My name is Phil. And I was going to be the world’s first Sudoku Olympic Gold Medallist.
I was never the most athletic of people, growing up. My idea of strenuous physical exercise involved a game of chess next to an open window. But I thought it unfair that the plaudits only went to those able to work up a sweat. It was my considered opinion that the Olympics should be open to all; not just the grunt-and-jump merchants. And that’s when I had my brainwave.
At first, I’d considered developing Wordsearch as an Olympic event. But then I realised this would be giving an unfair advantage to Chinese competitors. After all, they would already be comfortable with the concept of writing up and down as opposed to side to side. So Sudoku it was.
I embarked on an extensive training session. I would start by learning the numbers. All of the numbers, one to nine. After all, if you’re going to be an expert, you need to start with the fundamental principles. At the same time I got my application in to the International Olympic Committee. Apparently they have to decide on things like this; it’s not as if you can just show up at the stadium with fifteen hundred copies of the Puzzler book and expect to be let in.
My parents were supportive, in the main. “He needs to do this,” my mother said to anyone who would ask. “He needs to achieve. He needs to push boundaries. He needs to win.”
“He needs to get himself a sodding job and stop living in our loft,” my dad would reply from behind the Daily Mail.
Over the months and years my Sudoku skills came on in leaps and bounds. I had a testing regime, practicing for up to twenty hours per day. At my peak condition I was a lean, mean, Sudoku-completing machine. I could do the ‘three lightbulb’ ones in 45 minutes.
But I needed further encouragement. I found out that Sir Steven Redgrave was visiting my town to give a talk on his life and career. I went to see him, and, when he had finished speaking, had a minute or two to explain my plans for greatness.
He had a couple of words for me. I did not understand either of them.
Eventually the momentous occasion arrived when the letter from the IOC arrived. This was it; the continuation of all of my hopes and dreams. A further step along the long and arduous route towards Olympic glory.
I opened it with trembling fingers and read the contents carefully. There were terms I did not fully expect, like ‘colossally inappropriate’ , ‘bringing the Games into disrepute’ and ‘please do not ever write to us again’.
And I’ll tell you something. I’m sure Jesse Owens never had this trouble.