Heroes and heroics


A YM reader of 30 years standing, Mr Clive Hall, left me message the other day about the coverage of the Olympics in October’s magazine. He took issue with the fact that we used the phrase ‘heroes’ to describe the team behind the athletes.

He said the phrase should be reserved for Her Majesty’s armed forces fighting a ‘vicious enemy’ in Afghanistan with inadequate materiel.

You did not leave a number Mr Hall, otherwise I would have returned your call to say that I agree with you whole-heartedly. I have to say that the word did not appear in my original copy, but is commonly used throughout all journals to describe sportsmen and women, wrongly in my view.

Of course they are not heroes, they are well-trained, self-disciplined youngsters using their bodies to provide an Olympic human circus we can all enjoy and be inspired by. Many of them will go on to become multi-millionaires as their limbs are used in advertising.

The men and women using their Kevlar-covered bodies to root out terror camps in one of the most dangerous states on earth to help protect us soft-bodied commuters in the great metropolii of the west are most definately heroes.

But I draw the line at having – as Mr Hall suggests – a whip-round for these fighting folks in order to secure his forgiveness. My grandfather Richard Stephens Durham, was decorated with both the DSO and OBE for his wartime exploits as a master mariner in the merchant service. My mother’s partner, Clifford Pace, 88, fought with the legendary tank regiment, The Sharp Shooters at El Alamein. And another family member is currently in Afghanistan working in military intelligence. So – no disrespect to you Mr Hall – but I know what a hero is.