GRAHAM CARTER: Locals can’t do enough to welcome you to the party

Graham Carter - the voice of age and experience

Graham Carter - the voice of age and experience

First published in Opinion
Last updated

I DON'T want to make a song about it, but we have taken the high road to Scotland (35,000 feet, according to the pilot), and I’m writing this on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

We are not here for the scenery, however – although, as scenery goes, you could cross 100 borders and not find anything as impressive.

No, we’ve come north of the border to watch the Commonwealth Games, just down the road from the loch, in Glasgow.

We’re here because, in recent years, we have developed a liking for big sporting events and really can’t get enough of them – firstly because there is nothing like actually being there and feeling like you’re part of the show.

It started with the Olympics, two years ago, which gave us the best summer of our lives, followed by a trip to Paris, last year, to see Chris Froome win the Tour de France.

And this year we have already spent an unforgettable weekend in Yorkshire, watching the Tour’s Grand Depart, where a whole county that is renowned for being dour went bananas over bikes.

You really had to be there to feel the buzz, marvel at how they embraced it, and see how much they enjoyed being the focus of attention.

And it’s exactly the same in Glasgow, too, where the Games have been welcomed as a damned good excuse to exercise some local pride. And why not?

We were lucky to get tickets for some athletics, got even luckier when we landed some for the Opening Ceremony, and then hit the jackpot when there was a slight problem with our seats in the stadium and we were upgraded to some of the best in the house.

The funny thing is: we aren’t big armchair sports fans, and don’t worry too much, these days, about who wins.

Sport is only part of the fun, along with the buzz you get from being amidst the action as news is made – and perhaps history too.

But even better is the atmosphere such events create, and the excuse they give to friendly people to practise being friendly.

While those who can think of a thousand reasons not to join in (and are often keen to tell you them) sit at home and waste their time watching telly, at the same time such events have a remarkable capacity to inspire and mobilise proud, happy and open-minded people.

In our experience, locals can’t do enough to welcome you to the party and help you make the most of their event, so you get to meet lots of positive people.

That’s one of the reasons we are hooked on these big events.

But, best of all: they are also about being part of something. Something big.

Ironically, that’s what the Scottish people have to decide, soon, in a referendum: whether to be smaller, or continue being part of big things – the United Kingdom, a united Europe and a united Commonwealth. I really hope they vote to stay in the club.

When you get to my age, you have personal choices like that, too.

Either it’s time to shrink into your shell, bolt the door and moan about what’s going on outside, or step into the sunshine, experience more of the world and engage more with the rest of humanity.

In other words: there’s a high road and there’s a low road, and the choice is ours.

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