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Let's just hope the janny doesn't turn up at Sochi with a bag of salt . . .

HEY!

the Glesca snowball fight is a wee bit removed from the slipping and sliding about to get under way at that Russian place.  Picture: AP
the Glesca snowball fight is a wee bit removed from the slipping and sliding about to get under way at that Russian place. Picture: AP

It's the Big Slide. Otherwise known as the Winter Olympics.

I do not know why Scotland does not clean up in Sochi. And, no, I am not making a bid for the refuse collection franchise. I mean I cannot believe the Scots should not be leading the way in winter sports.

This assertion is made for three reasons: first, we once triumphed at Winter Olympic disciplines with rudimentary equipment, admittedly on home ground; second, it is always winter here; and, third, as a result of the aforementioned, I have just had three pints of Benylin and I am very relaxed about the ski jump.

The tradition of winter sport was strong in my youth. One could not sit in one's bedroom playing with one's computer because one did not have a bedroom or a computer. We had a bottom bunk and a compendium of games with the dice missing.

One, too, was only allowed in the house to eat one's tea and then go to bed. This is not because mater encouraged outdoor activities it is because she had taken out a restraining order against all of her brood. We were exiled to the frozen wastes. It was sort of the opposite of house arrest.

Therefore, one ventured into the permafrost in search of entertainment with about as much success as a polar bear looking for a disco on an ice flow in the Arctic, or Old Shettleston road as we called it.

The opportunities for sporting success were restricted by the janny. The Sochi authorities have been forced to draw up strict security plans so that a generation of Scottish janitors does not descend on Russia with a bag of salt that they will liberally sprinkle over all patches of snow and ice.

Deprived of the right to injure oneself seriously on a patch of ice at school, one had to find other ways to ensure that winter carried the necessary Glesca combination of sport and the capacity for harm to oneself and, most importantly, to others.

There were a variety of sports, apart from the aborted slide in the playground. The most aggressive was when the community congregated in the State pictures in Shettleston for what was called "the minors". This consisted of watching cartoons while being bombarded by Jubilees, basically a block of ice impregnated with coloured sugar. The orange flavour was particularly dramatic as it contrasted vividly with the results of the wounds it inflicted.

Outside, one was one of the greatest exponents of the skeleton. This was a result of a lifestyle that left me with an easy access to a bread board (my grannie's midden backed on to Bislands), though not the bread itself.

My body shape has changed and I can now compete in the three-man bobsleigh without team-mates and, indeed, without a bobsleigh.

Unfortunately, Sochi will not feature the most dramatic of Glasgow sports. The first is the Possil biathlon when the competitor slides on a pair of designer trainers and shoots a fellow moneylender in the knees.

The second is the snowball fight. The Glesca version is far removed from those gleeful exchanges much beloved of Hollywood when soft snow is lobbed and the adversaries chortle with laughter. Any gurgling in Glesca was accompanied by a paramedic applying emergency aid as a napper was struck with a snowball so hard it once insulted Jimmy Boyle's maw. The weight of this piece of moulded ice was enhanced by the inclusion of a stone so heavy that nowadays it would be used for curling.

And this brings me to the most diabolical of Winter Olympics in my home town: fitba'. In days of old there was as much chance of the janny postponing a primary school match as General Haig delaying the Somme offensive. The consequences were eerily similar.

It is why the heroics of Sochi will be somewhat lost on me. The competitors will have protective clothing while we braved the elements with a balaclava soaked in nit lotion and a jersey so thin it was placed on a drip. Namely, me.

Despite all this I still yearn for the old days of the Glesca Winter Olympics. I muttered unwittingly this week as a Sochi preview was aired: "I wish I was on the slide."

"You are, you are," came the chorus from the sports desk.

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