Catching Crabs

Those naughty young men at Warwick University Rowing Club certainly know how to perk up a dull day.  Since first getting their kit off in 2009 to raise money for their club and to combat homophobia in sport, they’ve raised over £200,000 in 77 countries. Not to miss a trick, the enterprising bunch have also branched out into posters, tee shirts, greeting cards and hoodies. They’ve dropped their drawers again for 2015 and have just completed a three-week promo tour in the USA. These boys are getting as big as the Calendar Girls.

Believe it or not, back in my old school days I used to row myself. No, really, I did. And I wasn’t the cox. It was infinitely preferable to playing rugby, a sport I loathed with a passion. Paddling up and down the Thames in the rain could be a bit grim but mucking about in boats during the summer months was a pleasant way to pass a warm Wednesday afternoon. I was the Bow in the B Crew and we excelled only at catching crabs.* As if to prove our uselessness beyond reasonable doubt, in 1976, we proudly came last out of a cast of hundreds in the Head of the River Race, an event that takes place between Mortlake and Putney every year. Quite a feat, don’t you think?

Here’s the school boathouse at Barnes Bridge.

Emanuel School Boathouse

Needless to say, none of my crew looked anything like the fit boys from Warwick. More’s the pity.

*A rowing error where the rower is unable to timely remove or release the oar blade from the water and the oar blade acts as a brake on the boat until it is removed from the water. This results in slowing the boat down. A severe crab can even eject a rower out of the shell or make the boat capsize (unlikely except in small boats). Occasionally, in a severe crab, the oar handle will knock the rower flat and end up behind him/her, in which case it is referred to as an ‘over-the-head crab.’ Source: Wikipedia.

Stripping for the Cause

RowersMany moons ago, I nailed my colours to the mast about the scourge of homophobia, particularly hate crime and bullying in schools. I even banged on about it on the wireless when I did a My Pride Life gig on Future Radio. It still goes on, of course. Hardly a day passes when I don’t hear about some pond life picking on the defenceless. Mercifully, I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness. Who listens to me anyway? There are loads of splendid organisations, charities and talented individuals doing their bit. And, if the message of hope is blended with a little harmless titillation, then that gets my vote every time.

Cue the cute rowers from Warwick University stripping for the cause. Oh, to be the cox.

I thought I might take my clothes off in public to raise a few farthings for the cause but I fear people would only pay me to put them back on again.