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Mel Stride

To Infinity and Beyond

Wed 5 Sep 2012

By Mel Stride

Well recently I certainly proved that I was human. In a game of cricket – the first I have played since being bowled for a duck in an Ashburton friendly last summer – I came a cropper. I was playing for the House of Commons and had miraculously survived the first ball – a tricky deceit of a weasley-thing that had skipped around mid-flight whilst the sun was in my eyes. No man with any integrity would have conjured such a slippery wheeze, I thought. I had flailed at it and missed but to my relief the ball had then lighted on an earthy indentation and spiralled away behind me missing the stumps by a scintilla. The wicketkeeper shouted something preposterous like ‘we’ll have him on the next one’ and the opposing team captain ushered his comrades in for the kill – the fielders gathering close with their arms outstretched in a frozen display of insouciant pity. I’ll show them I thought. Down the second thundered. I lashed out and to my astonishment I connected. The ball wound away to my left and I lumbered off for the far away crease. This accomplished I noticed that one of the same cocky fielders who had been coaxed in close to administer the coup de grace had himself bungled by allowing the ball to slip his grasp and run on. My chest heaving I bellowed ‘Another!’ and set off for a further run. The problem was my ambition. ‘No!’ came my batting partner’s reply. I stopped, turned and hurried back. The next bit, mes amis, is in slow motion. It goes like this. I lurch towards the crease. Sly-boy’s buttery fingers find the ball. I can see him out of the bulging edge of my eye. In a horrible moment I catch his arm raised stark execution-ready against the line of the trees. One terrible throw and he’ll hit my wicket with me the wrong side of the line. I take that split second decision – there is nothing left for it – but to dive for the crease. The problem is that whilst I take off as a twenty year old I hit the ground as a man of fifty. My right arm, trusty bat outstretched connects with the pitch somewhere around my elbow. My shoulder and my weight pile up hard behind. There is a twist as I impact the unforgiving ground. Then the creak of ripping flesh. From somewhere around my shoulder. A quiet nausea oozes into my guts. I lie there. Perfectly still. My bat is over the line but I am wounded. A moment passes. They crowd in real close – hyenas now curiously calmed. ‘Well, help him up!’ one of them barks and I am raised and clapped off. The shoulder is broken. A sticky-out sling in the style of Buzz Lightyear has now become my everyday friend. ‘To infinity and beyond!’ my 5 year old daughter intones. Well maybe one day – but not this season.

Olympic Pride

The Stride family has been buzzing over the summer. The television a blurry constant - everything from the hockey to the high jump, from the tennis to the tiddlywinks – we’ve roared at it. Even my 3 year-old daughter has asked which one is our runner, jumper, rower or swimmer. My wife took our young girls to see the qualifiers for the hockey and the water polo and even though they will not have fully understood and will soon forget - at least they were there. There to witness what has become a collective national triumph.

Thehigh pointwas Super Saturday when we ran, rowed, leapt and in rather un-British style, wept and screamed our way to an astonishing 6 of the 24 gold medals contested that day. At the time of writing we are third in the medals table and yes I know that the Olympics is meant to be more about taking part than winning – but isn’t it great to be coming out on top? To see our boys and girls on the rostrum and our anthem rising to greet our flag?

And I also got my one and only chance to visit the new Olympic Park - to watch the 400m men’s final. Seeing the park is an extraordinary experience. The stadium packed with 80,000. The spectators on the far side so small to the eye that they barely appear real – like far off avatars in a high-tech movie. I watched the runners, the vaulters, the steeple chasers, the shot putters and the hurdlers. I adored every minute – but most of all I just felt pride – pride in the success of our athletes of course but something greater still - pride that it is our country that has staged all of this for the whole of the world.



Other columns by Mel Stride

Busy right across the constituency - Tue 9 Nov 2021
Investing in local public services - Mon 2 Aug 2021
Corona - A year on - Mon 14 Jun 2021
Supporting our Local Communities in difficult times - Mon 1 Mar 2021
The PM’s first year - Thu 1 Oct 2020
Quizzing the PM - Tue 7 Jul 2020
It’s the economy, stupid! - Tue 11 Feb 2020
Vision for the Future - Mon 2 Dec 2019
Into the Cabinet - Thu 1 Aug 2019
Local Apprenticeships Matter - Fri 3 May 2019
Huge shot in the arm for our High Streets - Thu 24 Jan 2019
Reading - Thu 8 Nov 2018
EU - In or Out? - Mon 11 Mar 2013
Opportunity. - Tue 22 Jan 2013
Where do we begin? - Tue 13 Nov 2012
Working in Westminster - Sun 1 Jul 2012
A Better Balance - Thu 5 Jan 2012
Capital Shame - Mon 7 Nov 2011
Olympic Feat... - Sun 11 Sep 2011
The Coalition - A year on - Mon 11 Jul 2011
Labour Dreams - Sun 17 Apr 2011
Now we really must mean Business - Thu 10 Mar 2011
Freedom and Responsibility - Sun 9 Jan 2011
A leader for Labour - Thu 4 Nov 2010
Education and Freedom - Mon 6 Sep 2010
Tradition and Words - Mon 6 Sep 2010
Mel Stride - Early Days in Westminster - Tue 6 Jul 2010
Mel Stride Conservative Parliamentary Candidate on The Big Society - Mon 3 May 2010
A look back over my years as Conservative parliamentary candidate and contributor to The Cottage - Sun 28 Feb 2010
Building the homes of the Future means giving Power to the People - Thu 3 Dec 2009
Early memories... - Wed 4 Nov 2009
As General Franco lay dying... - Tue 20 Oct 2009


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