Writing On Rowing On The Political Pages

A week ago, on Sunday 2 May, you could read a rare thing in The New York Times. The paper actually mentioned rowing, which these days is an extraordinary subject in this paper, ever since they sacked their rowing correspondent a couple of years ago.

I am afraid this does not mean that The New York Times has reinstituted this noble position again. Instead, rowing was, as a matter of fact, mentioned on the political pages, the ‘Sunday Opinion’. The scribe was the Brit, Adrian Anthony Gill, more known in Great Britain as A.A. Gill, columnist for The Sunday Times in London. Gill was writing about the upcoming election in his home country. When he was describing the different party leaders, he wrote about the Conservatives’ leader, “Mr. Cameron, the Tory, is personable – your mother would like him. A fresh-faced character who tries, and fails, with emotionally winning oratory. He always sounds like the coxswain urging the rowing team to pull together and straighten their straw boaters.”

Of course, what Mr. Gill is thinking of is the oarsmen at Eton, the wet bobs, who, at times, wear boaters.

Mr. Gill’s article reminds me of two things: firstly, how I landed a summer job in the 1990s at a fairly large newspaper back home in Sweden to write daily political articles. How I ever managed to get a three-month job trying to come up with well-written and insightful pieces on politics, I have long since forgotten, but I do remember that I made a brave attempt to squeeze in the Henley Royal Regatta in a piece I wrote about then Prime Minister, John Major, who was visiting Stockholm. Of course, I was a total failure at commenting on the political situation in Sweden and abroad, and it was with great relief I left the paper at the end of August; the Political Senior Editor thought so too.

Secondly, Mr. Gill’s article reminds me that Straw Hat Season will soon be upon us. Here in the States I think it is on the 15 May, or there about, that you are ‘allowed’ to wear your straw hat without causing embarrassment. So on the 15th: “Boaters On!”

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