Not being Norm

Life. Be in it.

If you were an Australian growing up in the 70s, 80s or even 90s (me) then you’ll remember Norm.

In fact, you couldn’t have escaped Norm if you wanted to.

Norm was a morbidly obese adult male who sat around watching countless hours of TV (probably cricket test-matches) and consuming countless ‘tinnies’ of alcohol (possiblyVBs by the 6-pack). He didn’t participate in exercise, or for that matter, in life.

The advertising campaign began as an Australian government initiative encouraging people to be more active and participate in recreational sports or other physical activities.

The campaign was a success. If you weren’t already a sports mad Australian, you were after the ads were pumped out daily and stations played host for back to back sports on almost every channel over every weekend. (I believe it’s the same story today).

I still remember where I was when the announcement was made that Sydney had won the right to host the 2000 Olympic Games. I was at the pool. Of course I was. My life generally bounced between school, the pool and then the surf club over weekends for carnivals or nippers. Sunday night was a dedicated Baywatch night but I can’t be singled out for that. Baywatch was by then, the most watched show of all time. Scary, but true.

The morning of the announcement saw me gathered around with the rest of my young squad (many of them Olympic hopefuls themselves) by the crappy, tiny TV with the poor reception (Norm), to hear those words that meant more than anything at the time…

“and the winner is…???”

Sid-a-nee barked IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch at 4am Sydney time on September 24, 1993. (I was 9 years old). We jumped and danced around the pool-deck.

I look back now with only fond, nostalgic memories. On a simpler time; where goals were set, strictly met and then promptly upped to the next level. For better or for worse, this competitive nature has followed me throughout my life and remains at the forefront of almost everything I take on.

The Olympics of 2000 were a magical time to be in Sydney. People were generally more active, happier and shared stories of heartache and triumph from the televised events the night before on their usually ordinary commute into work. There was an immense sense of pride in the coming together of dedicated athletes from all over the world, each one proudly representing their own respective country.

Conversations would buzz about in the streets as people recalled their favourite events – often egging on the underdog and revelling in the rising medal tally of the Aussies.

So it comes as a great surprise to me that many Londoners are escaping the city during the Games because it’s a huge disruption to their otherwise well timed lives.
I can understand that the diversions of traffic and security risks put many on a negative footing but having lived through an Olympics, I can see only positive effects.

A London taxi driver was interviewed on the news a few weeks ago shouting “Oh I’m getting the hell out of here!! – the traffic will be too awful”.

Really I thought. Doesn’t his work require passengers?

Confusion set in.

Yes there will be drama unfolding and there will be highway pile-ups on the way to the office but get involved because it might only happen in your city once in your lifetime. Mingling with inspired types from all over the world should be something looked forward to and not seen as a hindrance on your controlled routine.

Don’t be a knob head Norm.

Life. Be in it.

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