Family Magazine

Who’s Watching You?

By Girlontheriver @girlontheriver

There are some things that I just can’t do with an audience. Parking. Singing (not that it stops me). And, of course, rowing.

As soon as I become aware of someone watching from the bank or the launch (especially if it’s someone I’m keen to impress), it’s a guaranteed fact that my rowing will go into meltdown. I’ll start missing strokes, fluffing the catch, losing  my rhythm, losing my cool. In an instant, GirlontheRiver is replaced by Mr. Bean.

It’s the same at regattas. Every disaster I’ve ever seen (or been involved in, but let’s no go there) has invariably taken place right in front of the clubhouse, in plain sight of hundreds of people (including the commentators who, let’s face it, aren’t always kind). They never happen out of sight, around the bend where nobody can see. Oh no, if you’re going to make a mistake, it will happen in public.

There’s a story often told at my rowing club that all along the River Wye there are hundreds of Little People who watch us when we’re rowing, even when we think there’s nobody there. Reminding us of this, as the coxes often do, is supposed to keep us on our toes, but it has the same effect on me as having an audience of Big People. In my mind, the Little People are nasty, malicious, mocking imps who are just waiting for me to mess up. And I rarely let them down.

Which is why it was so surprising last night when, out in a quad, we managed a perfectly balanced “easy oar” not just once but twice, right in front of the clubhouse where the men were rigging their boat. And when we achieved a smooth, accomplished piece in front of not only the club captain in a passing launch, but the Oldest Member who was watching from the bank.

You know what this means, though, don’t you? We will pay for this. The Little People are out there, planning their revenge, probably with video cameras at the ready. If you want a laugh, I should keep a close eye on YouTube in the coming weeks. Just search on “epic rowing fail” and you’re bound to find us there.

Who’s watching you?

The Little People lying in wait

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