Friday, 22 June 2012

Day 48 - Chariots of Fire

Okay - I lied. I didn't resume normal blogging. In fact I've singularly failed to do so for nearly a week. During those six days, however, I've written an exam, finished off an essay and begun another (my last piece for the year!) - all of which amount to about 6000 words, with another 3000 to go before the end of term. So, in spite of its paucity on the blogging front, it's actually been a rather productive (albeit scary) time and even I can't apologise for that. (This is incredibly difficult for me to grasp, as 'sorry' is my favourite word, and I should possess a jar dedicated to that instead of the more popular 'swear jar' - which I don't have.) I suppose, though, that I'm offering you compensation by virtue of the fact that this is a (comparatively) mammoth post - so I shouldn't feel too bad.

During my last visit home, to ensure my head didn't explode as a result of all the essays and revision I was doing, Mama booked tickets to see Mike Bartlett's new stage adaptation of the classic Chariots of Fire at Hampstead Theatre. I was reticent about the hyper-patriotism and the institutionalised racism, as well as the imperialist attitude that both of these aspects portrayed, especially because it confirmed for me that we've actually not come as far as a society as we would like to believe. It was also horrifyingly ironic to see, in the programme, Ed Hall wishing us 'a good race' and emphasising the importance of inspiring young people...when he, as Artistic Director at Hampstead, is responsible for the decision to close the youth company, Heat&Light. It's true that higher bodies are behind the cuts in funding, but it was up to him to determine which departments they would affect. The very definition of hypocrisy, no?

All of these reservations notwithstanding, however, I must admit that I was deeply inspired. The combination of the famous Vangelis music and the clever staging of the production made for a moving opening, as the runners were racing right around the audience. My wheelchair space was in the front row, so I could see each and every stretch of their muscles, and (just like when I watched As You Like It) all I could think was 'I'm going to do that too.' I may or may not have teared up.

The play also stresses the value of hard work, determination and - most importantly - knowing why you're striving towards your goal. I have three reasons - for the children whose wishes you are (with your overwhelming support) helping to grant; for all of the people who have walked beside me for all of these years; and because, like Aubrey Montague says in the play, 'there's only the race'. If we don't do the best we can to achieve our goals now, when are we going to do it?

So I'm going to walk to get my degree not, like Abrahams, to prove myself; nor, like Liddell, for God. (Although there will be an element of the former, proof, in there.) I'm going to walk for Starlight, for my family and friends, and because I want to make the most of my life while I can.

And, just maybe, my friends in the Chamber Choir might sing along with the theme tune that will be in my head, as I leave my 'chariot', and I head for 'fire'.

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