As I was taking the children to the Leisure Centre for their weekly bout of yelling, kicking and punching (martial arts are marvellous for instilling, er, peacefulness and respect), something odd caught my eye, out on the running track. It looked like… but surely it couldn’t be…? When the children’s officially-sanctioned combat had begun, I hastened out to check. Sure enough, the puffing, stumbling figure in a grey tracksuit was Hoxton Mum. I watched, fascinated, because I had only once before seen her move faster than a stroll: when Django, then a toddler, had been on the verge of tipping his smoothie into her Mulberry handbag.
Hoxie rounded the bend and came hobbling towards me along the straight. She clocked me watching and made a pitiful attempt to speed up, collapsing several minutes later at my feet.
“Am I red?” she spluttered, hacking up phlegm like a career smoker. She whipped out a compact from her pocket and scrutinised her face. “Gah, like a Waitrose baby plum tomato.”
“I didn’t know you owned a trackie, Hoxie.”
“Oh, you’re so hilair,” she sneered, insofar as a person hyperventilating can sneer. “This is in fact a Stella McCartney high-performance jacket-and-trouser suit. Sport is having a moment.”
She swigged some water from one of those fancy circular bottles you can grip in the middle.
“It’s. The. Olympics. In. London,” she spelled out, as though to a dim child.
We sat at the edge of the track and watched the proper runners from Lewes Athletic sprint round. I realised with a start that the chap at the back was Born and Bred Boy. I turned to Hoxton Mum. “Did you see…?” but she had a faraway look in her eye.
“Not for the first time,” she sighed, “I’ve a teensy soupcon of regret about our move here. We could have been right at the very epicentre. Who knew, back in 04, that the East End would be hosting the Games? Our house might have had one of those big guns on its roof. Usain Bolt might have bought his chicken nuggets from our local Maccy D’s.”
I nodded sympathetically, knowing how she sometimes struggles with no longer being an UIL.
“Mind you,” she said brightening, “Lewes is a trés sporty place. It’s not just art shows and transition town socials, you know. I’m going to try all the Olympic sports: tennis, horse-riding, trampolining, zumba.”
Born and Bred Boy waved nonchalently as he went past, impressively swiftly considering the twenty-year collection of Harveys stored in his belly.
Hoxie stood up and began doing stretches as pioneered by Olivia Newton-John in the ‘Physical’ video. “Right – I’m ready for the second half of my training sesh.”
“How much more are you doing?”
“One lap,” she said, setting off at the pace of an elderly snail. “I’ve already done one, don’t want to overdo it.”
Beth Miller. Published in vivalewes.com and Viva Lewes handbook, August 2012