Between Here & Home: Curling my way to sweet dreams

EIGHTEEN days straight may seem a long time to watch people plummet down the side of a mountain. 

But for those of us for whom sleep can be an unreliable companion, it’s a comfort to know there are so many ways a human can slide on ice.

The Winter Olympics are over for another four years, and it feels like a dear old friend has left town.

Already I miss the twizzle and the lutz; the backside air and the crippler; the Randy and the Rudy; putting the kettle on for yet another cuppa, because aerial skiing has suddenly become as important to my wellbeing as oxygen.

And of course there’s that important ice-hockey final between Sweden and Finland to watch. Ah, those crazy, lovable Fins.

But the thing I’ll miss most is the blissful art of “curling” myself to sleep in the wee hours.

Curling – the sport that sounds like it was invented by Michael Leunig. The only pastime to take a broom and turn it into a piece of high-tech sporting equipment.

The cries, grunts and howls of its slippery Nordic combatants make Maria Sharapova sound positively demur.

Dig a little deeper, and it’s no surprise that this weirdest of winter sports has an almost primal urgency. 

Its origins once lay deep within the bowels of the earth.

About 60 million years ago the edges of the British Isles were pitted in a volcanic struggle with what was to become the USA, Canada and Greenland. 

A giant rift developed which slowly started to separate Europe from the American plates.   

The Scottish isles of Skye, Rum, Mull and Arran are examples of old volcanoes that erupted when Britain slowly said goodbye to the American continent.  

But just south of Arran, on the small volcanic island of Ailsa Craig, one tiny quarry produces the fine, carvable granite just perfect for sliding on ice. 

An ancient geological accident that now provides those lustrous blue curling stones to the whole world – even Australia.

The precise beginnings of curling remain a mystery, but I like to imagine the first curler who weighed a smooth, heavy rock in their hand and decided to launch it along a glistening frozen river. 

How intrigued they would have been by the sound of the stone rumbling and shifting across the ice. 

The name curling comes from the Scottish word “curr” meaning a soft murmur – the very sound of the sliding stones – how incredibly beautiful.

No wonder it’s the best sport in the world for lulling insomniacs into blissful sleep.

The Norwegians took it a step further these Olympics, proving that lairy pyjama pants and slippers are just as appropriate for the ice as they are for the couch.

Nighty night, Sochi; you’ll forever be the murmur in my dreams.

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