60 years ago today, on the 6th May 1954, much of the country was ecstatic because Roger Bannister, now Sir Roger, was the first man to break the 4 minute barrier for the mile. What I only recently discovered was that he had been the firm favourite for the 1500 metre 1952 Olympic gold in Helsinki, but he had done little training compared to the rest of the field, and when they introduced a semi-final round into the schedule, he was unprepared, and despite qualifying for the final, he came 4th, despite setting a new British record. He nearly gave up running but set his sights on running under 4 minutes for the mile.
For those of you who follow my blog for the writing interest, then what intrigues me about that day is what my Mother thought on that day, because it was her eighteenth birthday. Now I know that in 1954 your 21st Birthday was the Biggie, that was when you got the “Key o’ the Door”! But 18 in my mind was still significant.
She was already married, she had wed on 27th March of that year, and as she told me many years later, it was the only way that she could escape from her mother. How many women back then saw marriage as the only way to leave home? Like Roger Bannister I believe that she was totally unprepared. Her husband, a certain Mr John Smith, yep honestly that was his name, was a scientist I believe. I say I believe because she did not remain married to him for very long, and in true Mummy form, she invented all sorts of stories to protect herself from that period of her life. Trying to untangle the web that she wove has not been easy, when attempting to trace my beginnings, looking for a certain Mr John Smith in archives is not easy, especially when you don’t know much about him.
What I think I know is that she wanted to have a baby and he didn’t! She was unprepared for the repercussions that that would have years and years later, as she was a very determined lady and went about starting a family without his approval.
All of the above was written a couple of days ago, in preparation for today, my Mother’s birthday and the 60th anniversary of the sub 4 minute mile. As is often the case, I start to write a post with no idea where it is actually going to end. So it is the case with this one too, only for quite tragic reasons. I found out today that the eldest son of a friend of mine commited suicide over the weekend.
HOW DOES ONE PREPARE ONESELF FOR THAT?
I guess you might say that that is a preparation that you will never make, because it is something that you pray will never happen to you, and never think about making preparations for. How prepared are we for life?