In it to win it on sports day

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SCHOOL sports day was always a bit special.

We looked forward with eager anticipation to the sack race, the three-legged race, egg and spoon, skipping and just plain running as fast as you could.

At my old school, Cliffe Hill, in the mid-50s we had ‘house’ colours but when I transferred to Lightcliffe we had house names with colours.

Proud to be representing their team, every competitor wanted to win.

There was the inevitable disappointment for many but we soon got over it and moved on to the next event.

Falling over, bumps and scraps were all part of the day but times did change when a number of schools banned their annual sports day because there were fears that children would hurt themselves.

Then came another change – everyone had to win, no one could lose. It was thought that a child could not stand the disappointment. If only life was like that.

Sports day at St Martin’s Secondary Modern School at the Waterloo playing fields was a bit more serious. Here we were allowed to throw javelins, attempt the pole vault and putt the shot. No-one banned these events for fear of dropping the shot on your foot or sending the javeline flying into the crowd.

What did the authorities think we did when we got home? We climbed trees, jumped off the wash house roof, went sledging down Jasper Hill on the end of Ripley Street and, wait for it, we even rode our bikes on a road. Of course when we were at home our health and safety was not their responsibility.

Now I get text messages saying: “We know about your accident and we can claim £2,750 on your behalf’”.

I know how they got my number but how do they know I had an accident which, incidentally, I never did. I think it’s called ‘flying a kite’.

If the rumours are to be believed the banks have set aside £5 billion for the mis-selling of insurance to us and it has been estimated that one third of that will go to insurance companies claiming on your behalf. No wonder they text me, e-mail me and canvas in the street.

How times have changed. Long gone are the days when the brown- suited trilby-wearing insurance man would call round for your policy money.