Following on from My Ten Future Lives – Introduction, found on the separate page of the blog, here is the first of the ten future lives ….
Each chapter will work as a stand alone, but also intertwine with the others, so watch this space for the book to start making some sense!!!
(This is the one I’m thinking of turning into a screenplay
Enjoy! And please give me your feedback!
Life One – 2020
‘Good Morning, this is a wake-up call for Mr. and Mrs. McAllister. The time is 4.55. Have a great day!’
My name is Ashleigh McAllister, I’m thirty-three years old, and today my husband is rowing in the 2020 Olympic Finals.
‘Ash, you need to rest, stay in bed.’ Matty murmurs, kissing me gently on the forehead.
I smile back tiredly, then wince, ‘I’m afraid the next generation of McAllisters aren’t so thoughtful, Daddy!’ I race to the hotel bathroom in a burst of morning sickness.
As Matty rubs my pyjama-clad shoulders, I mumble an apology. ‘I’m so sorry. Hardly your ideal Olympic morning!’
He kisses the top of my head. ‘Ashleigh, nothing could ever top London! Besides, I wouldn’t have it any other way!’ He slips a hand delicately over my bump.
I finally pull myself away from the porcelain bowl and unforgiving cold floor, and slip myself back beneath the sheets to reassure Matty that I’ll be fine on my own.
‘Are you sure you don’t want me to go wake Mum?’
‘Don’t be silly. I’m fine! Now, go think of England!’ I wink.
‘And Scotland!’ he banters back. ‘You’re sure you’re ok, Ash?’
‘Girl Scouts’ honour. Now, go show the world those guns, and make the twins proud, hey? Not many kids can say their Dad was out winning a Gold medal while they were still a bump!’
‘I love you Mrs. McAllister!’
‘Ditto, you old softy! Now GO!’
‘Ok, ok, going … just one thing ok?’
‘It’s already in my bag!’ I reassure.
He laughs. ‘No I know you won’t forget that after all these years! Just promise me you won’t run down to the boats, ok? Those steps aren’t safe, and I’ll worry.’
‘I’ve still got three months Matty, I’m not immobile!’
‘Ashleigh Luella …’
‘Ok, ok! I promise … now go! And you don’t need luck!’
‘Of course I don’t, I have you!’
Oh dear, we really are a cringey pair! I can imagine the twins as teenagers, pulling puke faces every time Mom and Dad so much as share a glance, but I love it. Matty knows exactly what I need, and I guess, after twelve years together, I have a fair idea how to tick his boxes too. Silly things, like the way he can’t stand to be wished ‘Good Luck’; a nuance his mother, to this day, refuses to acknowledge, causing rather comic scenes when it sends the thirty-four year-old man into a teenage tantrum!
I remember him at the World Champs, steam practically coming out of his ears because poor old Jane had woken specially at five to wish her eldest son a harmless ‘Good Luck’. To be perfectly honest I think the tantrum has become as much a part of Matty’s pre-race superstition as had my roles – ring-bearer, shirt stand, and wisher of no good luck messages. In fact, that’s probably why he asked whether I needed Jane – an excuse to receive her inevitable tidings!
I drift back off to sleep and rise to a second wake-up call at eleven. The boys wouldn’t be rowing until late this afternoon, giving me more than enough time to prepare, travel to the lakeside, and be settled in the VIP Balcony at least an hour before the race.
I draw a conservative wrap-around dress from the closet. Shrugging it over my swollen dimensions, I frown. It’s difficult not to feel like a lumbering whale knowing how pert and coltish the rest of the VIPers will be.
We prefer ‘VIPers’ to the awful ‘WAG’ term they use to brand footballers’ wives. I guess an allusion to a snake is more stealthy and glamorous than one to a dog! In the early days, when I was still young enough to be affected by the all-girls’ school bitchiness of the balcony, Dad and I used to refer to the other VIPers as the ‘Whinneys’. Good old down-to-earth Dad, always happy to point out when a girl had spent far too much time with her ponies!
Nowadays I’m something of an unwitting Queen Bee. This being Matty’s third Olympics, I’m the most experienced of the VIPers. The rest of the girls are all new to the scene, and in need of a knowledgeable Head Girl to help them through their first days of ‘school’ … and since the media attention at Rio 2016, that particular ‘honour’ has pinned itself to my chest.
But today that chest is unrecognisable. Six months of stretch-marks, swelling and water-retention, and I couldn’t feel any further from the glamorous, educated wife of the British flag-bearer, whom the World had embraced four years ago, when her victorious boyfriend proposed to her whilst still half inside the Gold-winning boat!
I shake myself, flatten down the dress, and pull open the wardrobe door to look in the full-length mirror. A ‘Sport for England’ post-it was stuck in the centre of the glass.
‘You’re NOT FAT, you are PREGNANT, and you are the most FOXY WOMAN I have ever seen, bump or no bump. If I wasn’t on my pre-race ban, and you weren’t in your third trimester ….! I LOVE YOU, M xxx’
I smile at the note, place it carefully in the pocket of my bag, and finish my make-up with a flourish. Who gives a shit what the other VIPers, the press, or anyone else, think? Matty loves me, and his love is genuinely all I need.
Reassured, I decide against the Prada slingbacks I’d been dreading, yet had felt obliged to wear, and slip on a comfy pair of sandals. I’m almost tempted to pop on a pair of Matty’s old boat shoes – there must be six pairs of flip-flops littering the hotel floor – but then I reason that, forgiving as the media and world may be to a pregnant woman’s prerogative to comfy shoes, their style-carte-blanche may not stretch to rubber flip-flops seven sizes larger than her feet!
I can see the headlines now … ‘Ro-Ing Mad, Ashleigh McAllister goes GaGa before her twins do!’ Fun as a libel case could be, it’s probably safer and far less stressful to reach for the bronze slip-ons I’d picked up in Accessorise.
* * *
My phone rings three times between the hotel and the lake. First Mom, checking that I’ve eaten today, and wishing Matty ‘best of’ from her and Dad. Then India to make sure that I’m on my way – by the sounds of things the VIPers are already in full force. After promising that I’ll be there soon, and telling her to go and find Jane and Patrick, Jane McAllister herself rings. She asks whether I need Patrick to grab anything from the hotel for me. Glancing at the seasoned tote-bag at my side in the taxi, its packing as much a part of the race as the boys’ Lycra, I decline and assure her that I’ll be there in two ticks.
Matty’s Mom meets me at the entrance to the family enclosure.
‘I’ve had the team chefs rustle up some plain toast and a spot of porridge, just in case you feel faint? I don’t trust foreigners with simple food – always too keen to throw in cream or herbs or something, but Rory, the Head Chef, is brilliant. And from Edinburgh! Couldn’t ask for more if I tried!’
I giggle as my mother-in-law continues to sing the praises of the browbeaten British support-staff, biting back a suggestion that perhaps Jane could find a nice match for Amy, Matty’s younger sister. Amy’s hyperactive love life is possibly not the best topic of conversation for a woman about to see her two sons take on the world!
As we slowly mount the steps up to the VIP box, I adopt my best interviewer voice. ‘So Mrs. McAllister, how does it feel to have two sons competing in the same Olympic rowing Final?’
‘Do you know how many bloody reporters have asked that?! I’m considering switching name badges with Frau Littleman … rumour has it she doesn’t speak a word of English!’ Jane replies with a sparkle in her eye.
‘Now, now Janey!’ comes Patrick’s warm Scottish lilt. ‘Ashleigh, my dear you look radiant! … You have got the sweater haven’t you?’
I kissed Patrick affectionately on the cheek, smiling at the knowledge of what my husband will look like in twenty-five years time. ‘But of course! I don’t leave the house without it these days!’ I wink, drawing a well-travelled sweatshirt from my tote.
I tie the Cambridge blue sweater around my ‘waist’, smile at my in-laws, and pat the bump. ‘I hope one of these guys is a girl. That way she can take over my sweater-bearing duties!’
‘Don’t let Matt or Toby hear you say you don’t want two boys!’ beams Amy, coming up behind her father. ‘You know they’ve already earmarked the twins for stroke and three at the 2036s!!’
I hug my sister-in-law, and whisper thanks for the expresso, which she slyly passes me as an alternative to the warm milk Jane has set beside my porridge and toast.
The sweater is Matty’s good luck charm – a remnant of our university days, and what he’d been wearing the day we first met. I’d stood freezing on the St. John’s pitches in late October watching the college rugby team play St. Catharine’s in Cuppers. Matty, an avid rugby player, had been sworn off the sport by the University Rowing Club, in an attempt to protect their interests, and so he was passively indulging in his second sport by watching his flatmate Hugo play. As my teeth began to chatter, Matty had silently handed me his rowing team sweater, and in that moment I had met my ‘One’.
Whilst St. John’s had lost the rugby that day, and Hugo had broken his collarbone during the match, Matty insists that the jumper is luckier than anything he has ever come in contact with, and thus, for this race, and every other, as his doting wife and life-long supporter, I am obliged to wear it.
I look around the gallery, eyeing up the other VIPers and indulging in my time-honoured pre-match pastime, ‘Spot The Good Luck Charm!’.
Miranda Tyler-Ellis, Dominic’s wife, is nervously clutching something resembling a rabbit’s foot … how very Countryside Alliance of her! Meanwhile Sophia De Marco, girlfriend of Thom Jagger, is running her hands over an awkwardly clunky pendant hanging from her neck.
Fiddling with Matty’s wedding ring, which is currently sitting on my left thumb, its designated ‘race spot’, I smile wistfully at the stress experienced by a group of women who have no real effect on the outcome of what is essentially just a peculiar means of futile transport. Not that anyone would ever dare to express such cynicism! And so, we twist, clutch, stroke and kneed out charms and idols, mumbling words to ourselves like Shakespearean witches.
A fellow spell-caster shimmies my way, long dark hair spilling down her bare back, ‘India Masters! You look divine!’ I step back to take in the beauty of the turquoise halterneck (Gucci), and her golden five-inch stilettos (Christian Louboutin). Completed with a neat silver Chloe bag, my best friend is the picture of youth. Though, saying that, she really has to be.
India and I have been friends since our very first day in college, when we’d celebrated a common (and rather embarrassing) adoration of ‘The Choir Boys’ at the jukebox in the St. John’s bar. India, one year my senior, yet in my matriculating class thanks to a gap year, is very much involved with Matty’s younger brother Toby, wait for it … six years her junior! Hence the need to look young! And she does, bless her, though I couldn’t help wondering if my doubled waistline is adding to my sense of seniority next to my pint-sized friend.
Jane is beaming. ‘My two good luck charms! With girls like you two to come home to, I can’t see any reason for my boys to delay getting to that finish line!!’ she clucks.
‘Welcome to the clan!’ Amy giggles, clinking champagne glasses with India, and then gently tapping my coffee.
‘Amy, are you sure you should be drinking?’ worries Jane, unable to snap out of the role of mother she has played so well for thirty years.
Before her daughter replies, Patrick steps in, enveloping both ladies in his broad arms, ‘Janey, Janey, Janey … how many times will Amy be able to say that not one, but two, of her brothers were in the winning boat at the Olympics, hey?’
While Jane attempts to hush her husband from jinxing the boys’ imminent success, India, Amy and I gather conspiratorially. ‘So, no pressure Ames, I mean you only have two Olympic medal-winning, Oxbridge graduate, gorgeous older brothers to aspire to!’
Amy grimaces good-naturedly. ‘Thank God I don’t have a small penis!’ she laughs.
‘So ladies … who fancies a bottle of Dom Perignon’, asks Patrick, ‘Ash, one glass’ll be ok won’t it?’ he winks in cheeky defiance of his wife.
‘Sounds heavenly’ I grin back, settling myself in a comfy recliner, and pulling India, who is still rigid with nerves, to my side.
‘Don’t you need to do the Meet and Greet?’ she worries.
As senior VIPer it is my unspoken duty to do the rounds of the gallery. ‘Five minutes,’ I shrug casually. ‘I just wanted to check everything’s ok with you. After all, you are my favourite snake!’
She gives me a relieved hug, and nods, though her expression is more reminiscent of a paralysed rabbit, about to be gorged by a snake.
VIPers. The girls like to think we are all cut from the same cloth. Confident, deadly women in total control of the situation. Personally I find that illusion a load of crap. – the only common feature I’d ever discovered between myself and majority of the balcony is that we are all shagging (or rather, due to performance-orientated guidelines, not shagging) the best rowers in Britain!
Well, that and our role ensuring we do everything in our superstitious power to ensure that the gods are looking favourably upon their boats!
I briefly check over India to find her charm. It’s not difficult – she’s wearing a chunky man’s bracelet, which she can’t leave alone. As if that wasn’t a big enough tell, the bracelet clashes awfully with the only other jewellery she is wearing – a delicate silver locket, which she’d worn since we were at St. Johns, and which I know contains two tiny black and white photos of her late parents.
‘India, I know you think as little as I do of this hive of wasps, but can I suggest you try and relax a little, if only so that you don’t find a snap of you on the cover of tomorrow’s issue of Hearsay Magazine looking like you’re about to get run over!’
‘And there we go! Immediate improvement! Right, go mingle … if anything just so that you can inform Jane exactly how little English Karl Littleman’s mother speaks!!’
My best friend hugs me once more, and kneels near my bump to whisper ‘Your mum’s gonna be fab!!’ to the twins, before loosening her grip ever-so-slightly on the bracelet. ‘Love you’, she mouths.
‘Love you too! Now shoo!’ I smile, realising how similar the order is to the one I gave Matty this morning.
‘Come on Matty’, I think quickly as I push myself out of the chair, shrugging off the three pairs of hands that came to my aid, and begin my rounds.
As I weave my way through blazers of old; proud fathers posting their colours at every infrequent opportunity, and mothers competing for the ‘biggest hat in the room’ award, I hand out smiles, greetings, and snippets of small-talk, remembering just one of the many reasons I adore Matthew’s parents. I turn to look back at them, happily sitting away from the pack, comfortable in the company of their own clutch. Patrick is wearing a simple navy blazer, not even a shimmer of his own sparkling rowing career evident. This is Matty and Toby’s day. Meanwhile Jane is too busy checking the eating habits and general health of each of her brood to concern herself with something as petty as hat one-up(wo)manship! I’m sure that tucked away in some corner is the same trusty powder-blue hat she wore in 2012, 2016, and to our wedding. I can hear her inevitable words. ‘And why should I go to the trouble of buying another Ash? I paid a small fortune for it, have worn it three times, and even then it was on my head for 10 minutes max before it got in the way and I popped it in the corner!’ A woman after my own mother’s heart. At our wedding, three years’ ago, she and Mom had conspired to only wear their hats as I walked down the aisle, and for the photographs. In fact, as Dad had passed my hand from his into Matty’s, I swear I had heard the rustles from either side of the castle as two hats were carefully removed in unison.
‘Ashleigh!’ Catherine Redmond buzzes.
‘Ash!’ Persephone slides stealthily into the group, quickly joined by an over-excited Bianca. We exchange pleasantries, and I answer the litany of questions both Matty and I could now answer in our sleep.
‘October, but with twins it’s normally eight months max … No we don’t know. Matty wants boys, I’d like one of each, but obviously we’d just be happy to have two healthy babies. … Yep, fraternal, no I think there are identical twin genes on Matty’s side – Patrick’s mother and sisters, but the doctors seem pretty certain these guys are non-identical…Yeah a bit, but it’s not been too bad – to be honest I barely knew if it was morning sickness or nerves this morning…Yep the Sports Council was great – Matty’s been able to stay with me rather than in the village accommodation most nights, which has been a real help, and Jane and Patrick have been in the same hotel all week…’
Just as I begin to worry that my eyes are glazing over, I feel a warm hand on the small of my back and Patrick whispers in my ear. ‘Thought you might need saving from the drones, Queen Bee.’
I smile widely to stop myself from giggling and excuse myself from the gaggle of designer dresses. Taking my father-in-law’s arm I snuggle into his shoulder and whisper ‘aren’t drones male?’ Patrick shrugs conspiratorially and we settle ourselves at the front of the balcony.
The buzzer sounds, and we all focus on the big screen. The start of the race is some two kilometres away. I watch as Matty falls into his age-old rhythm, and the British boat pulls comfortably ahead of the pack within the first five hundred-metres. The Canadians are up beside them, but there’s nothing to worry about at this stage. The camera shots cover all six boats in the race, and I marvel at how similar the British boys look from afar, their movements so in sync that they could be the carefully crafted pieces of a simple wooden toy. Forwards, back, forwards, back.
I place a protective hand on my bump, and silently cheer on the twins’ father on their behalf. Come on Dad! I smile to myself. Come on Matty! An aerial view of the race shows Matty’s boat and the Canadians, a full boat’s length ahead of the rest of the pack by the third quarter. Still the boats glide delicately across the surface of the water. It’s funny, I’ve watched a hundred of these races, and yet the peculiar watercrafts still remind me of pond-skaters, moving in such a way, that it’s as if they don’t even touch the water. The boys’ oars spread out like the delicate legs of an insect, and suddenly they hit the fifteen hundred-metre mark and the insect’s legs go crazy.
Matty has upped the pace, urging the boys forward. This is his forte, the final five-hundred metres. I know Matty. I know how he considers a silver medal a failure! This is his moment. Make or break. And I know my husband. He will make it! Back in the day I would have been screaming by this point! I would have jumped to my feet, and be manically gesturing and hollering at the speck of a boat in the distance, as if somehow my actions could add power to their strokes! But I know this race, and I know my husband. I’m all too aware what he’d say about me leaping up and down in my condition. I also know that I have already played my ‘part’ in Matty’s race simply by wearing his jumper and wedding ring. And so, I just sit there, and smile. I smile as the British boat overtakes the Canadians. I smile as Matty’s boat cuts through the finish line, at least a half boat’s length ahead of its nearest competitors. And I smile as the concise announcer declares Great Britain the winners of the 2020 Olympic coxless fours.
The rest of the McAllisters bounce around me. India sits, knuckles still white, her hands melded to the balcony front, her mouth awkwardly frozen, jaw clenched, yet smiling. Eyes yet to register the reality of the moment.
And I just smile.
You see, I’ve known the entire time. I knew it weeks, if not months ago. For twelve years I have watched Matty row, in countless crews, in the whole spectrum of races – Lent Bumps, Mays, BUSA, Henley, Varsity, Worlds’, Olympics. I’d seen the crew dynamics, the personalities that rocked the boat; the boys too big for their footplates, incapable of recognising that you can’t stand out in the crew of four. The minute one rower becomes anything other than the role he’s been designated – Bow, Two, Three, Stroke… that’s when the symmetry is lost – three men pull in one direction while the fourth is at front-stops, waiting for the photo-call.
For that reason I genuinely think it was a godsend that the media picked Matty as the ‘golden blade’ in the boat. He was the unwilling hero, unfazed and disinterested with the media attention. He was a small-town Scotsman, unaffected since the day we’d met. He was the physics geek with genetics that directed him into the boat, but a personality and upbringing that dedicated him to the family and the close clutch of friends that shared his dry sense of humour. He took the media attention in his stride, and blocked out everything other than the movement of the boat, the rhythm of the blades and the voice of his coaches.
With all eyes on Matty, the younger members of the boat focussed on the task at hand, realising that fame and fortune would only come if their career started in the rear of Matthew McAllister’s Gold-winning boat. And so I’d watched them glide – through the qualifiers, the quarters and the semis – favourites of the bookies and the crowds, but most importantly the only crew worthy of the simple title ‘boat’ rather than a fragmented concept of four individuals. They rowed as one – unified and disciplined in their reflection of Matty’s commanding rhythm.
They were the best crew I’d seen Matty with, and now the World recognised that!
I smile again and realise the balcony is awash with movement. I go to grab my bag. I can’t wait to get down to that boat.
“Ashleigh!” I hear Jane reprimand, “If you think for one moment I’m letting you move from that seat!”
“Uh- uh” Amy joins in, “Big brother’s orders – don’t you think he’s briefed us all at least five times that you’re not to go meet the boats?!” I smile inwardly at my husband’s preparation for me to defy his orders! Oh dear!
With three pairs of brown eyes, far too similar to Matty’s own, staring me out, I settle back in my chair. “Can you tell him that the girls are very proud of Daddy?” I grin, only now registering the kicks that had pounded my stomach throughout the race, “and say that I don’t believe for one minute that he’s retiring!”
Patrick ruffles my hair, Jane kisses my forehead, Amy swoops in for a hug and a pat of the bump, and then they are gone, racing down the aluminium steps and down to the water’s edge. India looks at me, clearly torn between her victorious boyfriend and beached best friend. “Go!” I insist. “Hun, I’ve done it before … Toby’s never won Gold before, and never had you there to celebrate it with him. Go now!” She smiles gratefully and takes off in a run for the boat. I shoo the remaining VIPers down to the waters’ edge.
“Come on girls – make sure the groupies know your men are truly taken!” And as the last of the fillies canters off the balcony, I rub my belly and turn to the replays. “Look guys …” I whisper to my over-sized tummy, “that’s Daddy winning the most important boat race in the world!”
I glow with pride for my boy and focus on the slow-motion footage of the four men grimacing and carving the lake into submission. Staring at Greg’s facial contortions in quarter-speed I chuckle, remembering something his wife Sophie had mentioned once about the awful ‘sex faces’ that the boys pull. Oh dear! My eyes flick forward to my husband’s own contortions, and I think gratefully, that at least where Matthew is concerned, the theory is flawed. If my Matty looked anything like that during sex then the twins would most definitely have never been conceived! I look at the other two in the boat – Karl and Toby … oh dear Toby, the thought of him having sex was like imagining a little brother in bed. Yuk!
My stream of thought is interrupted by my cell phone.
“Hi Mom!! Yep, I know, amazing wasn’t it! Yes of course I will! … Yes I’ve eaten – Jane got me some dry toast and porridge. Yep a sit-down dinner … Yes of course they know … Ok, ok, love you too!! Ok … hi Daddy! I know, awesome! But of course. Yep will do, I’ve no doubt he sends his love. What, oh Karl! Yep, German, no, no his Dad’s English! Daddy!! Ok, ok, I’d better go, I think the medal ceremony is about to start, ok will do. Love you too. Bye.”
As I turn back to the plasma screen, the footage has changed to the medals podium – crowds beginning to filter around the empty blocks as the commentator runs through a brief biography of the McAllister brothers, Greg and Karl.
Suddenly everything goes black as a familiar pair of calloused hands gently covers my eyes. Without turning I tuck the back of my head comfortably under Matty’s chin. “Shouldn’t you be off collecting something?” I ask lightly.
The gorgeously seasoned hands slide slowly down my front and come to rest protectively over my bump. “Well I believe you have something of mine!”
I giggle, and put my hands on top of his, “I’m afraid I can’t hand them over for at least two months, gold medal or no gold medal.”
Carefully Matty spins me round to face him, pulling me towards his lycra-clad body, and cupping my face in his rugged palms. Kissing me ever-so-gently with the same gorgeously large lips that had kept me captivated since university, he brushes my chocolate brown hair from my face, seemingly ignorant to the curls of honey that have fallen in his own eyes. As he slips his tongue ever so gently between my lips, and draws me in towards his bare chest, his hands stroke my neck, tickle across my shoulders, and work masterfully down my arms, outwards and slightly behind me, tickling my palms, ever so delicately for a 16 stone giant, and then almost un-detectably he removes his wedding ring from my left thumb.
Resting my head on his characteristically white rower’s chest, my eyes trace the outline of his lycra immortalised by the deep golden tan of his substantial arms, and I slip my hands comfortably into the small of his back, toying playfully with the back of his suit, which is now pushed around his waist,
“Shouldn’t I be returning the favour and presenting you with that in the boat?!” I joke, nodding at his wedding ring.
When Matty’s crew had won in 2016, being the coltish 20-something year-old VIPer I was back then, complete with fully intact waistline and an ability to wear designer heels, I’d kicked off my Manohlos and raced to the boats, with the rest of the fillies. Flushed and panting, I had practically launched myself at the boys … obviously graceful and dignified at all times! Completely oblivious to the thirty-odd cameras pointed at him, I’d grabbed my then-boyfriend, as if I hadn’t seen him in years, and half-in, half-out of the boat, nearly mauled the poor boy! Tears running down my face, hair and dress blowing every which-way in the humid Rio breeze, I’d all but collapsed in Matty’s lap only for him to cough awkwardly over my shoulder. Half-expecting a member of the British team’s security to remove me from the area, I looked up to see a hand (that I later found out belonged to a land-bound Toby) reach over and pass something to Matthew.
Looking at me, and only me, with the same contained and steadfast focus that had got him his place in that boat, he had popped open a small velvet box, and asked me to marry him. Only as Matty climbed from the boat and scooped me towards him, had either of us realised that our private milestone was being translated across the world in every language imaginable.
Shrugging self-consciously, Matty had kissed my hair and held me into his chest, turning his broad shoulders towards the hungry reporters, in an unspoken promise that our world would always remain for our eyes only.
For the two-hundredth time I ask playfully “So what would you have done if you guys hadn’t won Gold?!”
“Proposed to the girlfriend of one of the guys who did!”
I kiss his comically paper-white chest and then look up proudly into his brown eyes.
“I’m sure you’re meant to be collecting a prize of some sort? Egg and spoon race? Sack race? Hopskotch?” I giggle as he tickles my back.
He breathes into my hair, “I’m sure they’re not gonna start the ceremony without the stroke of the winning boat!” He winks comically, and drawls in a mock-American accent, “The world can wait for you honey!”
I wince, and add in an equally appalling American accent. “Golly gosh, my husband, the best ‘stroker’ in the world for another four years!”
“Shall we make a move, Mrs. McAllister, and sons?”
“I guess we’d better, Mr McAllister, and guns”, I reply, and kissing his bicep, I take one of his tough hands in both of mine, and let him lead me out.
As we step down from the VIPers nest, Matty turns to face me, a step below me, and carefully helps me and the bump down the steep steps. The world below goes silent.
Every television camera turns from the expectant medal podium to focus on the shoulders of Matthew McAllister, British Team Flag Bearer, twice Olympic Gold Medallist, World Champion, devoted husband, and soon-to-be father, as he leads his heavily pregnant wife down to collect yet another medal.
I blush self-consciously, realising that for the second time running, Matty and I have inadvertently been crowned media King and Queen of the Olympics.