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Ronan's report

Sunday August 12th 2012

I've just watched Mo Farah win the 5000m, securing his second gold medal of the games in great style. I found myself repeatedly shouting "Go Mo!" at the telly and loudly cheering when he crossed the line. What a star.

London 2012 has been an interesting couple of weeks: much of it spent basking in the reflected glory from Brits with whom I have little in common, winning lots of medals in sports I never do or watch. I must admit it makes me feel a little proud without exactly knowing why.

My natural tendency is to fight feelings of nationalism. Stephen Fry said you can define a patriot as someone who defines themselves by the love of their country and a nationalist as someone who defines themselves by their hatred of foreigners. On that basis I guess I'm a grudging patriot, and about as far away from a nationalist as you can get.

In spite of trying for much of my life to "be myself" and "maintain a sense of individuality" I have to admit that, sadly, I do tend to conform to quite a few British stereotypes: I especially love drinking tea and eating biscuits, I'm rubbish at coping with hot weather, and I absolutely hate it when people jump queues.

The notion of "first come, first served" is almost hard-wired into my psyche. I might moan about the length of the queue at the checkout, or the tailback on the motorway; I might even put a bit of thought into which queue or lane to join to get to front in the quickest time possible but, once I'm in that queue there's no way I'll jump it. In a perfect world, everyone who zooms down the hard shoulder of the motorway to get ahead of those of us patiently waiting in lane would be shot on sight.

The toughest punishment, though, would be set aside for those (they hardly deserve the description "people") who, seeing the queue for drinks and food in a café, reserve a table for themselves while their friend joins the back of the line. Those of us patiently standing in line with our trays in hand (pot of tea, baked potato, and slice of battenberg please) can be heard grinding our teeth.

By the time we have reached the cash register and paid there are no tables left for us and we are left standing there, white knuckles gripping the tray, steam coming out of ears. We look out at a café full of people sitting at tables with no food in front of them and all the chairs covered with their friend's coats and bags. None of these people will catch your eye, no matter how hard you stare; they know they're in the wrong but they don't care. Aaaaarghhh!

I think this may be how dictatorships start. Maybe Stalin had a bad experience in a National Trust tearoom early on in life.

Usually queuing isn't an issue when I'm out fishing. But occasionally things can get a little fractious. I find I can remain calm if I'm fishing a small or busy water. I can zone out and accept the fact that I hear the bloke next to me talking to his mate, and that I may have to skip a few favoured spots or wait a while to fish down a popular pool.

What does make me tense, though, is if someone crowds me out on a big, lonely water. I've been out some huge lochs when there was just my boat and one other. And that other boat has motored more than a mile across the loch to neatly cut off my drift just as it was about to get interesting. So you had ooh, let's say 500 acres to choose from and you decided you'd like to fish the 20 yards just in front of me? Fabulous. Just fabulous.

I really don't like arguments at the best of times, so my usual response in this situation is to leave them to it and go and find a better spot somewhere else. But even that doesn't always work.

Last night I took my float tube out to a reservoir near me. It's not huge, say 50 acres, but it's tucked away in the hills and quite picturesque. As I was tackling up another car pulled up and the chap politely asked where I'd be fishing "so I can keep out of your way". I explained that I was tubing and where I'd like to drift and he seemed OK with that so I launched and patiently paddled out to begin my first drift. The paddling took a while but it was a pleasant evening and there was no hurry. Ten minutes later I'd got myself up to the head of the wind and spun around to begin the drift just in time to see the guy I'd just spoken to striding purposefully into the water exactly in the spot I said I'd be drifting to.

I assumed he'd misunderstood my intentions, shrugged my shoulders and began paddling back across the reservoir to my second choice of drift. This would take me away from the other guy, and had me pointing at a stretch of shore about half a mile (and about half of the reservoir) away from him. I settled down once more and focused on fishing some interesting shoreline features. I'd almost forgotten about him until when I looked up about 100ft from shore to see him purposefully striding across the bank heading directly for the area into which I was drifting. Unbelievable!

On reflection I did wonder if perhaps he was just a lonely angler who wanted a bit of company and conversation. Maybe he was a beginner who was interested in float tubing and seeing how it all worked. That thought did make me feel a little guilty, but only on reflection. At the time I was, in true Brit style, repressing my anger and huffily paddling once more back across the reservoir.

And you just can't get more British than that can you?

Huffy paddling.

I blush.


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