With a climatic finale, the Paralympics Closing Ceremonies brought to a rousing conclusion what I suspect many people will look back and say was the coming of age of the Paralympics.
The Paralympics have grown steadily from their more than humble beginnings in Stoke Mandeville, but the 2012 Games will mark the cross-over from mainstream support to mainstream enthusiasm. That enthusiasm is marked and measured by buzz, Tweets, column-inches, attendance, but most importantly money. While the Twitter trolls whinged the obvious moan about too many adverts in Channel 4’s breakthrough coverage, a little round of applause went up in me with every commercial break. The best thing that could ever happen to the Paralympic movement would be for Channel 4 to make shedloads of money. Cheers and tears are great, but like any striving athlete or aspiring dreamer, resources fuelled by cold hard cash are a critical ingredient to success. Hopefully after this summer’s blockbuster performances, more people and corporations will be putting their hard cash where their hearts are.
The sterling BBC Two Drama ‘The Best of Men’ chronicles all the same challenges that disabled athletes faced half a century ago in the genesis of the Paralympic Games – rediscovering self-confidence, gruelling training, adapting rules, fighting scepticism and prejudice, and finding money. And at the heart of this true story is, quite naturally, a tale of pioneering embrace of failure. When the hero Dr. Ludwig Guttman brings in some musical entertainment, they sing the essential theme song for the film “Isn’t this a lovely day to be caught in the rain” (such a lovely ode to embracing failure, I’ve put a clip of the entire song below)
But it wasn’t just the embrace of these failed young men by Dr. Guttman that the story portrayed, but Guttman’s persistent embrace of even more pain and hardship as their path to a ‘better life’…
“Some of you will be fathers and husbands. Understand that. And you will have all the same problems as everyone else. And a few more besides. Rent, tax…I pay tax. So will you. You have a right to these problems. I will not protect you from them.”
The corollary to embracing failure – ‘the death of dreams’ – also features prominently throughout the characters’ journeys (not least of which is Dr. Guttman’s)…
“A hard journey. You and me. A new land. Strange. All we knew…gone. The people we were…gone. The lives we planned. But courage. A new life waiting. Different, ya. But not so bad.
The YouTube piece above is not a trailer, but the drama in its entirety. I hope it stays online forever, but if it might get taken down, try to watch it as soon as possible. An uplifting tale of a super human who lifted up a world of Superhumans.