John Vane: Roy’s Summer of Sport (29 July 2012) Silver Lizzie

John Vane: Roy’s Summer of Sport (29 July 2012) Silver Lizzie

The landline phone rang. “Hi Dad.”

It was Leila.

“Hello, Leila.”

He waited, hearing her hesitation. This would be bad.

“I’ve got something to tell you, I’ve been talking to Mum and thinking about it and, well….”

“Take a deep breath, maybe?”

“Yeah, well, take a deep breath. I think…I think me and Glen are going to get a divorce.”

A few seconds of silence seemed apt.


“OK. Well, that’s sad.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry.”

“I feel sorry.”

“I’m the one who should be sorry – sorry for you. What about the kids?”

“They know.”

“How are they?”

“They’re sad, but they don’t really understand.”

“What will you do?”

Glen’s moving out. We’ll be OK.”

“If there’s anything you need…”

“OK, Dad, thanks. We’ll talk about it more when I get home. Mum wants a word.”

Roy had an eye on the women’s road race as it went through Surrey, a waterfall of rain descending on Box Hill. Kristie’s voice was low, taking pains not to be overheard: “She told him yesterday.”

“How did he take it?”

“I don’t think it was a big surprise. There’s a friend’s house he can stay at.”

“How will she manage?”

“Don’t worry, we’ll work that out.”

‘Was he seeing someone else?”

“She doesn’t think so. She doesn’t know. It just wasn’t going right.”

“Do your mum and dad know?”

“They can tell.”

“I’m sorry I’m so useless.”

“You’re not useless, Roy. Don’t be useless, please. Leila will be depending on us.”

Kristie said she’d be in touch again later and hung up. Roy shrank a little in his seat. A British rider, Lizzie Armitstead, was in a breakaway group striving through the pitiless downpour. Roy watched the group pelt into the outskirts of London and towards the centre, the peloton unable to gain. The leaders burst into the Mall, there were three fighting for the lead, then just two. A Dutch girl, Vos, edged gold in the frenzied finish line dash. Armitstead was second by a quarter of a wheel width. It was the first British medal of the Games

“It was the most special thing I’ve experienced in my life. It was crazy,” Armitstead said of the drenched and cheering crowds. She seemed in shock and said as much. Roy thought she had an elfin look, a bit like Lucy actually, though Leila had been the one for sport: hockey, ponies, swimming. He’d taxied her everywhere, even through her teens when sport lost so many of her peers to self-consciousness and cigarettes. She was a good girl.

All previous instalments of Roy’s Summer of Sport are HERE. Follow John Vane on Twitter.

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Categories: Culture, Roy's Summer of Sport

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