I was eyes and ears pricked for the documentary on Victoria Pendleton, the British champion cyclist, sexy pin up and so on, the other night. She's clearly fabulous, fantastic, and her great crime, her betrayal, to do that most human of all things, to fall in love, and fall in love with the person closest to her, her trainer, so forsaking the team, other trainers, so breaking the sacred bond, so wasting everybody else's time and money, so letting the great cause down, the nation down. How insane are these people? She fell in love! Is this any worse than those tales of soviet athletes, hothoused and deprived of all humanity, pumped with steroids and starved of love at fourteen?
But more than that, and much worse if you can bare to contemplate it, it seems that to be 'great' now, to be truly great, you have to do a whole lot more, and the superstructure is right there to give it to you. You have to overcome incredible odds, come from nothing, beat every addiction, have crawled from the lowest point you can ever imagine, to have thrown it all away, and then to have recovered, rehabilitated and come to your senses. It just doesn't work if you haven't. Nobody can 'just do it', you have to do it 'against all odds'. And you have to time it right.
Victoria Pendleton had to blow it and fall in love, it was imperative she did something of the kind, otherwise they wouldn't be able to make the program, otherwise, there would be no hook line, no built in tears, no melodrama, no sentimentalism, no hero.
It appears, we are not far from the Roman amphitheatre, it just doesn't look like one, it's bouncy.