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Netball and the...

Netball and the Shaking Jelly of a Woman

I am about to enter into a new era. I don’t know if you have ever noticed that in surveys there are a number of cutoff points and one of the key ones, apart from gender, is that those aged forty-four and under are generally grouped separately from the geriatric forty-five and over. Having always mentally classified myself as a “bright young thing,” it is something of a shock to discover I am teetering on the edge of the forty-five to sixty group.

One of my resolves as I get older is that I should try something new each year and step outside that famed comfort zone revolving round a good book in the bath. I can see the danger in this approach as previous efforts in this direction have resulted in bedroom cupboards stuffed with enthusiastically trialed, and now completely abandoned objects. The half-finished tapestry celebrating the marriage of Charles and Diana gives you an example of the kind of timescale of hobbies gained and lost I am talking about here. Other mementoes include knitted scarves in the early stages of germination, basic Japanese grammar books and yoga mats.

Part of my angst on the age front is because I am off this evening to play my first seniors netball match. The first time one is classified as a senior is a somewhat shocking experience. What’s wrong with calling it “In Her Prime Netball” for goodness sake?  

I am in fact completely petrified as I have never played netball in my life. Howling gales and prevailing winds dictated that hockey was the more popular option in my Glaswegian school career. Not only have I had to squeeze myself into a tight-fitting Lycra number with a skirt so short that my thighs have turned pale from fright (and I have visions of spectators having to cover their eyes in horror), but worst of all, I have very little idea what to do with the ball if by evil mishap it is thrown in my direction. Over some years of spectating at the Drama Queens’ games, I have gained some idea of the rules. One of the main areas of concern, apart from my rudimentary ball-handling skills, is the rule that within netball, once you have caught the ball you have to come to a pretty immediate halt, or be blown up by the umpire for “stepping.” I can tell you right now that if I am hurtling down the court at full speed and have the misfortune to connect with the ball, given I am a creature of some momentum, there is no way in the world I will be able to come to a complete halt. It would be like pushing a fridge down a 45-degree slope and expecting it to stop and pirouette.  

You can tell how unnerved I am by the whole prospect in that I have done a complete 360-degree turn on the procrastination front. Usually I do anything else rather than sit down and write: washing baskets get emptied, suppers half cooked, nit checks performed, toenails cut—you get the picture. By contrast, here I am writing when I should be climbing into the netball outfit. Anything to delay the evil Lycra-donning hour. Perhaps growing old gracefully might be a happier option.

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