“My whole career is a long revenge against PE. If people know me for anything …. I think children who are not necessarily sporty can take a little bit of heart” – and so said Mark Gatiss at the start of his episode of Who Do You Think You Are? I have to say that when I heard it, the quote is quite relevant to me as well!
PE was – unfortunately – not my favourite subject. I was not the fastest runner, the best netball player or the most skillful hockey player and this generally meant that when it came to being picked for teams, I was one of the last to be left ‘in the pot’. I never really realised it at the time but thinking back, it probably did affect me. Never mind though, eh. I guess that other people in my year at school had the same problem with some of the academic subjects. I loved Maths and Science, whereas other people hated them. The funny thing was though, being more academic made me a ‘boffin‘ or a ‘nerd‘ whereas they were more ‘popular‘ because they were good at sport.
Boffin is not a name commonly found in the records of yesteryear, although there are a few. John Boffin Peckover married Ann Watson in 1872 and clearly, passed on the middle name to some of his children as Lydia Boffin Peckover married Robert Johnstone Lennox in 1899. Nerd is not used and nor is geek to any great extend, though there are several Geekey/Geekie middle names.
Mark Gatiss first appeared on our TV screens (in the UK) in the cult comedy, The League of Gentlemen. He is not the most famous of actors in the world, but his story is fascinating. Well worth a watch! I personally don’t have vampire slayers in my family history – perhaps they may have assisted with my sporting prowess!? I could have used my slaying skills to score goals in both netball and hockey, back in the day. Ah well – it’s all too late now. I have, more recently, developed more of a running ability and a greater desire to be a fitter individual. However, the nerd/geek/boffin in me still prevails.
I hope that the children of today who aren’t sporty take heart from those of us who are successful in life without being the fittest and most popular person in their class. Life is challenging enough without it all being about a popularity contest.