Let’s face it, we love speed. We like to go that bit faster on motorways, hoping there are no police cars around. We doubtlessly rejoiced when Roman chariots raced around The Coliseum and we glowed with national pride when The Cutty Sark sailed from London to Melbourne in a record breaking 61 days, especially as she had lost the tea clipper race of 1872. This sail powered record persisted as the world welcomed the arrival of steam ships and the route was shortened due to the opening of the Suez Canal.
We were ecstatic when Donald Campbell added the land speed record to his water speed record in 1964. We marvelled at The Flying Scotsman reaching a speed of 100 m.p.h. in 1934 and that The Mallard zoomed from London to Edinburgh, a journey of 352 miles in just 8 hours achieving a top speed of 125 m.p.h. beating the 1936 German world record holder of the day. This summer at The Rio Olympics, we not only want to see Great Britain win gold medals but also see Olympic and world records broken.
Speed is infectious and dominates our lives. We hear boasts of fibre optic broadband speeds amid shameful admissions that our own are pitifully slow and virtually analogue! We may be in two minds about HS2 but we still want trains to deliver us to London an a flash (well, maybe 20 minutes quicker than now). We used to accept on-line deliveries in 48 hours, then demanded deliveries in 24 hours and now “same day” is sometimes not fast enough. There’s even an on-line breakfast supplier guaranteeing your fry up will arrive within 30 minutes. Fast food just got faster.
With all this demand for speed, it’s hugely reassuring that some aspects of life are still slow. There’s the Italian “slow food” school where meals are cooked slowly and eaten leisurely. The Rio Olympics will, for the first time, include golf, a ball sport conducted at a leisurely walking pace. There are other sports that are static (shooting and archery for example) and others where speed is irrelevant such as diving but this Olympic pedestrian sport challenges the Commonwealth Games sport of Crown Bowls for its sheer relaxed pace. There’s also golf’s miniature variant, Crazy Golf, and one of the finest courses is Oddballs on the seafront in Cleethorpes, easily accessible from many parts of Yorkshire in under an hour.
Take a moment for peace, calm and greater tranquility and slow down at home: it’s amazing just how fast you can achieve this if you try.