So with Evesham Head cancelled, I was feeling a little bereft. Happily Evesham wasn’t the only rowing jaunt that we’d lined up for the weekend. Our women’s squad is on the look-out for a fabulous new eight; our existing Janousek is getting on a bit and is distinctly on the heavy side. We’ve been trying out various boats for size – a Hudson here, a Stampfli there, and this weekend it was time to try a newer, lighter Janousek. Llandaff Rowing Club has one, and had kindly invited us to come and see if we liked it.
So off we trooped to Llandaff. I’ve never been to another club outside a regatta or a head, and it was fascinating to see what it was like in Real Life. Llandaff is smaller and quieter than Monmouth, and at first sight appears to have a rather fabulous infinity pool in front of it (on closer inspection it turned out to be a pretty terrifying weir).
Anyway, the point was this. Remember that moment when you were a kid and you realised that other families did things differently from yours? Their house smelled different, they ate different food, went to bed at a different time, had different rules, different jokes, different catch phrases? It was disconcerting, right? Well, it was a bit like that at Llandaff.
We hadn’t been there long before I realised quite how idiosyncratic we are at Monmouth. Do members of other clubs carry their bits and pieces down to the river in a darling handbag, hand-sewn for them by a talented crewmate in a fabric to suit their personality? Er, it would seem not. Do they refer to the compartment under the seat as the wardrobe? Unlikely. When numbering off from bow, does the person at seven always shout, “Se-VEN”, Len Goodman-style? I doubt it. And does any other club make quite so much noise as we do? Definitely not.
Suddenly seeing our squad through the eyes of outsiders, I was unnerved and felt strangely protective of our quirks and eccentricities. I could only hope that our technique, which didn’t feel too shabby, was more conventional than the rest of our ways.
But, you know, whatever. We may be a bunch of noisy kooks, but I love my nutty Monmouth shipmates like sisters. You can’t ask for better than that, can you?