End of an Era

This week an important part of my life came to an end when it was announced that the first leisure centre I worked in, The Oasis will not be re-opening when England’s second lockdown comes to an end on December 2nd 2020. The leisure industry has been heavily affected by the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis along with the hospitality and tourism industries. Sadly, many more businesses will find themselves in a position where they simply are unable to survive.  

The Oasis will always have a special place for me, not just because it was my first job after leaving school, but for the many fantastic memories I have working there. What started off as a weekend job in the café while I was in college became my second home for my teenage years and start of my 20’s. I started working at The Oasis in September 2000 when I was 16 and left in October 2005 when I was 21. In that time, I worked as a Catering Assistant, General Assistant, (Cleaner) and Activities Assistant, (Lifeguard). All three of those roles helped shape me into who I am today, and all three roles had their own challenges. While all three of the roles were fun, I would say that the most fun was my Lifeguard role as it was the role that shaped me the most while working there. It did not matter which shift you were assigned too we were all one family, from staff nights out in Swindon to weekend’s away to Newquay we all had fun. If you worked a shift with out one person taking the micky out of you, you would have thought you had upset somebody.

Reading the previous paragraph, you might be asking yourself why I left if I liked working at The Oasis so much? The reason is simply that there were no hours in the gym available for me to work when I qualified as a Fitness Instructor. Some of the Fitness Instructors also worked as Lifeguards so I was able to develop positive working relationships with all of them, most of which have moved on to other careers.

Although I left The Oasis fifteen years ago, some of the people I worked with are still working there. I wish all of them well and am thankful for the memories shared. Working at The Oasis gave me the confidence to move to York in 2005 and to realise my ambition of traveling Japan in 2007. It helped me to begin developing coping strategies for my depression and anxiety which have certainly been tested many times. I also fondly remember the many pranks played on me on my last day working at The Oasis which started as soon as I arrived and did not stop till I left for the last time.

Lockdown Round 2

Once again England has been placed in lockdown. From November 5th till December 2nd, 2020 we have been told to stay home and to only leave for specific reasons such as food shopping and outdoor exercise. Unlike the first lockdown these restrictions only apply to England. Wales is coming out of a two-week lockdown; Scotland has a five-tier system and Northern Ireland has its own restrictions in place.

Politically this lockdown is harder for the government for many reasons. The first lockdown had universal support as the government was doing what it said it would do, which is follow the scientific advice to form policy. This time round they are unable to say this with any credibility. This is because it emerged last month that the governments scientific advisory group SAGE advised them in September that a short two-week lockdown was needed slow down the second wave of infections. Instead the government went ahead with a three- tier system which SAGE said would not work. The three- tier system was designed to deal with rises in Covid-19 infections at a local level. This approach did have some logic to it. I live in the South West of England, which has some of the lowest infection rates in the country, where as the North West has some of the highest, so why should a large increase in the North West force businesses in the South West to close? One of the problems with the three- tier system is three- tier system is that it leads to confusion for many people. Also, Covid- 19 does not care where abouts in the country a person lives or your social class. If it can infect a person, it will.

It is not my place or intention to criticise the Prime Minister on what he should or should not have done. He will have SAGE advising him on the scientific evidence, the Department of Health advising him on how to deal with the medical impact of the virus, business advisors, the Bank of England and the Chancellor of the Exchequer  advising him on how to deal the economic impact of the virus. If the economy crashes there will be no money left to fund the NHS, education systems and everything else we all depend on to live our lives. The Prime Minister has endured a lot of criticism on how he has dealt with Covid-19. Currently he has no good choices, only bad choices to make and he has to do his best to pick the least damaging decision.

I repeat it is not my place or intention to criticise the Prime Minister on what he should or should not have done. I am not here to defend the government or to say what I would have done differently. Until the issues with Track and Trace are fixed and a safe vaccine is found we are likely to be living under some form of restrictions for the foreseeable future. I will continue to do the best I can to follow the guidance and stay safe.

The Legion of Doom

Earlier this month I was saddened to learn of the death of Joe Laurinaitis, better known to wrestling fans as Road Warrior Animal and one half of one of the greatest tag teams the Road Warriors/ Legion of Doom. Animal was sixty years old. Animal was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 1960 and grew up in Minneapolis Minnesota. Animal stood an impressive six feet, one inch/ 185 cm and weighed 285 pounds/ 129 kg. His wrestling career began in 1982 as a singles competitor. He was simply known as the Road Warrior and portrayed a biker gimmick. In 1983 he signed with Georgia Championship Wrestling which was a territory of the National Wrestling Alliance, NWA. It was in GCW that he teamed up with his childhood friend Mike Hegstrand, better known as Hawk and The Road Warriors were born. Managed by Precious Paul Ellering The Road Warriors were part of the wrestling stable Legion of Doom, which consisted of The Road Warriors, Jake the Snake Roberts  The Spoiler, Matt Borne, King Kong Bundy, Arn Anderson, The Iron Sheik and the original Sheik.

Throughout their wrestling career The Road Warriors were no nonsense tough guys who looked like that they could legitimately hurt you. This was not hard for them to pull off, not just because of their size and strength but because they worked as Bouncers before becoming wrestlers. On the WWE DVD about their careers Animal talks about how along with Ravishing Rick Rude and Barry Darsow better known as Smash, Hawk and Animal worked as Bouncers at a bar in Minneapolis called Gramma B’s. It was there that all four were spotted by Eddie Sharkey who trained them all to become wrestlers. All four were very successful, working through the various wrestling territory’s before signing with the then World Wrestling Federation, now WWE. In 1990 The Road Warriors signed with WWE and their name was changed from The Road Warriors to The Legion of Doom.

Tag team wrestling was at its peak in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. It was during this period that the most famous and successful tag teams were together, and all wrestling championship belts were important as they did not change hands as much and there were fewer titles to win. If the wrestling promotor you worked for made you their champion it meant that they had enough confidence in your work to put that responsibility on you. It was during this period that The Road Warriors wrestled for every major promotion and won every tag team title that mattered. For me to talk about every championship The Legion of Doom won would take all day however below you will find some of them:

  • All Japan Pro Wrestling: NWA International Tag Team Championship
  • American Wrestling Association: AWA World Tag Team Championship
  • Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling: World Japan Tag Team Championship
  • Georgia Championship Wrestling: NWA National Tag Team Championship (3 times) NWA National Tag Team Championship Tournament
  • International Wrestling Superstars: IWS World Tag Team Championship
  • i-Generation Superstars of Wrestling: i-Generation Tag Team Championship (3 times)
  • Independent Pro Wrestling: IPW Tag Team Championship (1 time)
  • Jim Crockett Promotions/World Championship Wrestling: NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Dusty Rhodes and Genichiro Tenryu, NWA World Tag Team Championship (Mid-Atlantic version) Iron Team Tournament (1989), Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Cup (1986)
  • Super World of Sports: One Night Tag Team Tournament (1991)
  • World Wrestling Federation/WWE: WWF Tag Team Championship (2 times)
  • New Japan Pro Wrestling: IWGP Tag Team Championship (2 times) Working as The Hell Raisers
  • Toryumon Mexico: UWA World Tag Team Championship, working as The Hell Warriors

In 2003 Hawk sadly died. Hawk had a long and well-known battle with drugs and alcohol. Although he had been clean and sober for a long time when he passed, some people suspected that the long-term effects of his battles may have played a factor. In 2011 The Road Warriors and Precious Paul Ellering took their rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame. They are also members of the Quebec Wrestling Hall of Fame, NWA Hall of Fame, NWA Legends Hall of Fame, Minnesota Wrestling Hall of Fame, and Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Museum.

Animal is survived by his brother, former wrestler, and WWE producer Jonny Ace, three children including NFL Star James Laurinaitis, his nieces Brie and Niki Bella and his wife Kim Laurinaitis.

The Road Warrior’s had something very few wrestlers achieve. That is the ability to simply stand in the ring, say nothing and get a twenty- minute standing ovation. Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin all developed this ability, however, “The Road Warrior Pop” was the greatest of them all. The first main event tag team and one of the greatest tag teams ever. “Oh What a Rush”

Bowel Cancer

In my previous post I wrote about Chadwick Boseman and how he recently died of Colon Cancer, which is a type of Bowel Cancer. www.cancerresearchuk.org have the following quote about Bowel Cancer, “Bowel cancer can start in the large bowel (colon) or the back passage (rectum). It is also known as colorectal cancer. Bowel cancer is divided into different types depending on where it starts in the bowel, and the type of cell that it starts in. Knowing this helps your doctor decide which treatment you need”

Earlier this week British Olympic Champion Kris Akabusi revealed that he has undergone treatment for early stage Bowl Cancer, and that he was urged by his friends to see his Doctor after a discussion about men being slow to seek help. “Our generation grew up being ‘hard as nails, big boys don’t cry, keep it to yourself’, all that stuff. And I’m an Olympic athlete. But another six months and the cancer could have gone anywhere” Kris Akabusi also had a military career serving in Army as a Physical Training Instructor, which may have had an impact on not wanting to seek help.

Signs to look out for:

  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Change in bowel habits, either having more bowel, smaller movements; more constipation (Any noticeable change from what is normal and regular)
  • A change in stool appearance or consistency such mucus in the stools or narrower stools
  • Diarrhoea or constipation that lasts more than several days
  • Gas, bloating or cramps in the bowel or rectum
  • A feeling of fullness in the bowel even after a bowel movement
  • A pain or lump in the rectum or bowel
  • Other symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, and unintended weight loss.

Having one or more of the above does not mean you have Bowel Cancer, however if you have any of them do not delay speaking to your Doctor. Had Kris Akabusi waited any longer it could have been too late for him.

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