Why does Mummy take five minutes to get out of the car, my 12-year-old daughter asked me recently. I did my parental duty and helpfully explained. "It's not her fault. It's in her genes. One day you too will go through this paraplegic shuffling before getting out."
As Claudia is conspicuous for snappy exits when the car stops, this did not wash, so I elaborated. "You must remember that as you grow up changes will occur, one being an evolving mild insanity."
She looked sceptical so I asked her to think of all the adult females she knew. After some thought she became highly alarmed. "I will be different," she boldly proclaimed. But she won't and will cause great suffering, for as I said, it's written in her genes. Come to think of it, one of my adult daughters, then in her early thirties, said to me once: "Dad, you're right. We are all mad. The thing is, I'm different as I stay alert to pending outbreaks, then control them." On reflection, that would be fair comment in her case and she's probably managing a 60 per cent success rate which may be a world record.
This got me thinking.
The devaluation of the Olympics by the inclusion of ludicrous activities probably doesn't matter. No one would normally watch 90 per cent of the individual events back home, borne out by their tiny enthusiast audiences, but in the collective it's great fun and especially these Games when, amazingly, the Pommy sloth factor was suspended and not only were they efficient but occurred in an ambience of joyful fraternity uniquely English.
All of which brings me full circle. The IOC always seeks new events so here's one which would attract entries from all but Saudi Arabia, namely a getting-out-of-a-car race for women aged over 25. Each would be given a purse for the passenger seat and in the back, a medium size bag of shopping.
I can see it now, our news media, pre-Games, listing the New Zealand champ, Muriel Smith, Hawera's most famous product, as a distinct gold medal prospect, ranked second in the world. I can hear the screaming clown Sky sent to London, shrieking, "And now we come to the much awaited finals of the getting-out-of-the-car race. Back home the excitement must be palpable with every heart going out to our Muriel. Will Hawera's golden girl soon be the world's golden girl? She won her heat by 34 seconds from the second place-getter and set a new Olympic record in the semifinal. Could these efforts have burnt her out? Has her main rival, Britain's Tracy O'Malley from Belfast, been playing a waiting game, conserving her energy? In 40 minutes we will know."
Then the cameras flash to Hawera where the entire town has assembled before a large television screen. For the past hour, in time-honoured fashion whenever a male New Zealander is given a microphone, the mayor's been shouting non-stop at the assembly, but the mood is joyful and anyway, they're inured to this.
Eventually the contestants step up to the mark and Muriel draws last slot. Then all hearts sink when Tracy sets a new world record. The cameras cross to the now silenced nail-biting and ashen-faced Hawera throng. The Sky shrieker is going hoarse.
"Can Muriel muster a supreme last effort? Can she bring out the Anzac spirit? Very soon we will know."
The nation is on tenterhooks as Muriel nervously steps forward. A steward starts the engine. Slowly Muriel enters and once the steward closes the door the clock starts running. We're all willing on our lass's fight to overcome her genetic forces, turn the engine off, gather the purse and bag, then get out and close the door.
Exactly two minutes and 59 seconds later she's out, the first woman in history to get out of a car in under 3 minutes. Pending a drug test, it's a new world record. The Sky buffoon is hysterical. "It's unbelievable. It's a landmark in world sport which will rate with Bannister's sub-four minute mile." The cameras flash to Hawera where everyone is going crazy.
Fantasy? Not on current trends with nonsense events increasingly being introduced. Over the course of the Olympics, perchance I had a series of lunches with a wide range of male luminaries including QCs, a newspaper editor, two sports reporters, a publisher and such-like. Inevitably the Olympics arose and the only subject discussed was who was the sexiest girl, a debate given much press coverage in Britain. Our news media proudly reported an American newspaper's inclusion of one of our hockey girls in its top 10. To settle the matter I can tell you Britain's Louise Hazel easily takes the honours. She might have been pipped by Denmark's much loved tennis star Caroline Wozniacki but sadly Caroline ain't a modern girl and insists on dressing modestly.
It's quite disgraceful.