C.B Fry and a new Dojo

20 years ago, the ninth of September changed the world forever and not in a good way. Today, I realised that I had missed someone massively over the last year. That persons name… C.B Fry.

The morning started out much earlier than Saturdays have typically started for the last year and a half. Climbing into bed last night I switched the 6.30 alarm on and then couldn’t get to sleep I was that excited. Not unexpected, I had my sleep-tea ready, my mindfulness for sleep meditation queued and the windows open to give a light breeze. Both cats, were asleep at my feet and my only remaining challenge…was to fall asleep. At this point you might be wondering why I was missing Mr. Fry.

I’m guessing you guys have never heard of him, but he had an amazing life, with the most amazing standout achievements…not only did he hold a cap for representing England in BOTH Cricket and Football, he made an FA Cup Final appearance for Southampton…. whilst in a completely unrelated field, he was a long jump competitor and managed to equal the world record at the time. More about him later.

I will completely hold my hand up and say that I’m disorganised. This morning however I made a cardinal oversight. No coffee in the house. Well no instant coffee. Out with the cafetière and a mental note to buy coffee asap… and advisory not to drink to much of the real stuff so as not to damage the ability to ride safely.

After almost 2 years, I then realised I had completely forgotten how to pack for training. It took 4 attempts to ensure I had sports underwear, karategi, belt, keys for the bike lock… all relatively easy to sort. Then bike gloves, where the hell were they… I’m now at the point where the “ample” time I had to leave the house was quickly eroding. Then there was the bike… and bloody helmet. (why does so much of my kit require charging) tyres were flaaaat, the viability of braking questionable and I was still looking for my gloves.

Here’s an interesting fact…not only did Fry build a name for himself as listed earlier, he was also decent shot putter, hammer thrower and ice skater, representing Wadham in the inter-College races on Blenheim lake in the winter of 1894–95 and coming close to an unofficial Blue as a member of the Oxford team who took on Cambridge on the Fens, as well as being a proficient golfer. Fry’s party trick was to leap from a stationary position on the floor backwards onto a mantelpiece; he would face the mantelpiece, crouch down, take a leap upwards, turn in the air, and bow to the gallery with his feet planted on the shelf. 

I was certainly caught on the hop as I left my house… you see I live with an escape artist. Tiernan is not allowed out the front door, he walked by showing no interest at all then took off like an exocet missile. Just try catching a kitten who is euphoniously intoxicated with outdoor freedom.

When I finally managed to get everything in my rucksack and get going I almost hit autopilot and headed to the old dojo. No, a new journey was ahead of me this time, a new route with new traffic and scenery. By the time I got to the dojo I had hit a level of excitement that was out of this world. Yes we had a new changing room, but the the banter was the same, yes we had the same people but now we had people with different grades and belt colours, the kids had grown up and yet, we still did the same things. Well, sort of… we had some challenges with the line up. No longer was I standing in my living room trying to stand where the light was the best, no now I had people around me. Real people.

When C.B Fry left sport, he became a writer and politician working for the likes of the BBC, writing books and in 1920 when his friend and former Sussex teammate Ranjitsinhji was offered and accepted the chance to become one of India’s three representatives at the newly created League of Nations in Geneva he took Fry with him as his assistant.

Today was an incredible day. Yes, it might have appeared mundane but it was my favourite mundane day in almost 2 years. In my professional life, I have a saying that I’m known for… “normal is the new good”, usually when I’ve interviewed someone… today, was far from normal if you look at the last 2 years, but it was a normal day that was most welcomed.

So where does all this banter about C.B Fry come from… well, he lived near me. He also believed that life should be lived to the upmost every day and that as many experiences as possible should be sought in daily life. Random fact. He was offered, whilst working for Ranjitsinhji at the League of Nations, in Geneva, the throne of Albania. Whether this offer genuinely occurred has been questioned, but Fry was definitely approached about the vacant Albanian throne and therefore seems to have been considered a credible candidate for the post. I ride by his blue plaque every day on the way back from the dojo…(both new and old). I hadn’t thought about him in 2 years and today, he was back in my thoughts and I can’t wait to be seeing him on an almost daily basis!!

The new dojo is beyond words. I can’t wait to see everyone at training soon! Life might just be getting back to it’s most wonderful mundane. Normal is most certainly the new awesome.

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