For months I moaned to anyone and everyone about not being able to get tickets for the Men’s 10 metre platform diving. At the end of the first week of the Olympics I – more in hope than expectation – clicked on to the ticketing website and additional tickets for the preliminaries the following Friday had been released. Moreover, they were in a price bracket I could afford. I put one in my basket, waited 14 agonising minutes for the website to decide whether I was worthy of the ticket or not (I feared that LOCOG may have blacklisted me) and squeaked with joy when the magic payment screen appeared. My hands actually shook as I confirmed my credit card details.
The reason for my excitement? When I said I was going to watch the diving my friends laughed and said: ‘He’s a CHILD Jo. A child’. I protested my innocence until I was blue in the face: I just wanted to pat him on the head; he’s the sort of boy that I’d like the girls to bring home one day; I’m almost old enough to be his mother, all of which was true. Then I SAW him in the flesh (as t’were) and I became a proper 15 year old Tom Daley groupie. The boy had become A MAN.
When I was actually 15 I was a total nerd. Very academic, very geeky, extremely gawky, didn’t follow the crowd, liked to be a bit different. A bit weird. When my friends were drooling over Take That I was listening to Pulp and Blur. Mis-Shapes by Pulp was my anthem. My classmates didn’t understand me; Jarvis Cocker did. I missed out on a whole chunk of my adolescence trying (and mostly failing) to be a grown-up. I didn’t really go through the posters on the wall, screaming, sobbing fangirl thing. I’d liked Bros when I was 8 but by the time New Kids on the Block came along I was, like, so over the whole boyband thing.
On Friday night I became the 13 year old I had missed out on being first time round. Every time Tom stepped up to dive I squealed like a One Direction uber-fan. I watched his dives though my fingers, yelling GOOD BOY! GOOD BOY! as he splashed into the water. He wasn’t diving at his best on Friday (maybe I jinxed him with my presence) and squeaked through the prelims. At the end he went over to the mix zone (I’m up with the lingo, me) and I took the opportunity to get a bit closer and take some photos.
Now, I have this weird thing with celebrities and sporting heroes. I’ll watch them perform, I’ll buy their stuff but the thought of actually meeting them fills me with dread. They do their thing, I do mine but I won’t ever put myself out there and press flesh or exchange words with them. My sister will happily stroll up to any cricketer in the country and have a chat, but I always hide in the background praying not to be noticed. I have an irrational fear that they’ll laugh at me, or be rude and I don’t want to put myself through that. I guess it’s one of the reasons Dh is so secure about it all. I admire from afar but I’d wet myself if I ever actually met any of them.
So, I was hanging over a balcony taking pictures of Tom and I realised that everyone around me doing the same was at least 10 years younger than me. Some of them were wearing glittery t-shirts bearing his name. At one point Tom’s Mum looked up at us with an unfathomable expression on her face. She wasn’t cross, more bemused. I tried to put myself in her place. As a parent, it must be weird for one of your children to be revered and adored by total strangers. I can’t imagine how I would feel if R or G were down there being leered at by a bunch of lusty blokes. Actually, I can and I’d take a shotgun with me…
It felt a bit wrong, so I stopped and went home (not before going to the toilet and practically bumped into Team Daley on my way out as they waited for their boy to finish his media commitments) and resolved to get over myself. Then I got chatting to one of my Mum friends the next day. She’s 45 and when I mentioned that I’d been to watch him dive she went into proper PHWOAR HE’S GAWGUS mode and I calculated that, actually, thanks to being a late developer I’m not old enough to be his mother and that it’s all perfectly fine. As it turns out, there’s quite a cohort of 20, 30 and 40-something women that think he’s rather marvellous so I’m not alone.
My friend and I are already hatching plans to go and watch the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The Games themselves are in Glasgow but the diving competition (sorry, ‘meet’) is taking place in Edinburgh. I quite fancy going up there on the overnight sleeper and making a girlie weekend of it. I just need to get a diamante t-shirt made. Then there’s the British diving championships in 2013…
We asked R and G who their favourite Olympians were. G tends to favour ‘OO-SAIN BOLT’ whilst R likes doing his stance. She’s also fond of doing the Mo-bot, in honour of Mo Farah. They both said that Tom was their favourite tonight as they pretended to dive into the bath. In four years’ time the girls will 8, Tom will be 22 and they can take over the fangirl mantle from me.