Now we're full on OlympicaddicksTM, there's never been a better time to feel shit about yourself because you've not spent the last 4 years running 150 miles a day in the rain with torn ligaments and tears of pain in your eyes. You don't have a xylophone midriff, you will never know glory, and the closest you'll get to gold is a box of Terry's All Gold from your Aunty Pat at Christmas (if you don't like the strawberry creams, I'll have them - ta).
As a result of the sheer emotional drama of the Olympics - which according to my Olympic Emocalculator outnumbers Cowell's singing dogs and the tearful journeys of X-Factor contestants by about 18,000 to one - I've noticed a seismic shift. A large amount of impressionable people have started Ostentatious Running. Whereas two weeks ago they were just running to tick off a lifestyle box and make themselves feel better about eating a large pie, joggers everywhere are pushing themselves, aping The Ennis and getting arse cramp. People with no previous interest in sport are throwing themselves over sandpits willy nilly. My own husband has taken up tennis, which is HILARIOUS. It's like the 'before' bit at the beginning of Casualty featuring cheerful builders putting up dangerous scaffolding as a baby goes by in its pram. It's like an Eastenders party. 'Bad Idea' is written through it like a stick of dangerous pointy rock.
Of course, by extension, the Olympics will also influence parents to force their useless, talentless children to practice a variety of sports against their will. This 'inspire a generation' line, cooked up by copywriters (who do nothing but sit in front of Macbook Pros listening to 'Tea Time Theme Time' on BBC 6 music and making up Lolcats captions) has put ideas into the nation's heads. Soon, children will be marched to velodromes and forced to train for hours going round and round on little Thomas the Tank Engine bikes, to the booming accompaniment of 'The Boys Are Back In Town' - while Paul McCartney waves a Union Jack and gives two thumbs up.
Perhaps before we embrace this whole idea of Inspiring a Generation, we should have a good look at ourselves. We might like pretending to be an athlete when we go running, but we will never possess the skills and commitment to be one. It's a fantasy, a happy fantasy that might create a few good health benefits - or bad ones - but a fantasy nonetheless. I used to pretend to be Tracy Austin by batting a tennis ball against the back of the house because I LIKED HER EARRINGS - does that make me an athlete? No, sir, it does not. (Her earrings were totally awesome diamond ones, by the way, and they went really nicely with her tan). What we really need is more realism. Why don't we just set ourselves a goal we can stick to? How about 'Inspiring a Generation To Do A Tiny Bit More Exercise Before They Go To Greggs.'?
Equally, we really shouldn't get carried away and push our children towards disappointment. Not before we ask them what they think, anyway. My child is by no means swept away by the emotional and physical dramas of the Olympics. His attitude is both world-weary ('not watching the lympics AGAAAAAAIN') and slightly arrogant ( 'I can do that' he shrugged, as he watched Usain Bolt run faster than a comet). Occasionally, I can see a glimmer of inspiration, like when he pretends to go up on starting blocks and runs wildly out of the room and into a chest of drawers. But I'm not going to kid myself I have a Little Mo Farah. Like his Ma, he prefers to watch the telly and make sarcastic comments. It might not win him any medals, but we can still have a good time. As long as he keeps his hands off the strawberry creams.
2 years ago