Get free with a Frisbee

There's a moment when a rotating flying disc is gliding towards you, when it has left the hand of the person throwing but not yet reached the hand of the person catching, that allows for special thought. 

It’s a kind of dwam: not free-form thinking, because you have to concentrate on the disc and its trajectory, but a certain reverie, a contemplation of all things disc-shaped. Flying saucers are the obvious ones, as are all other crafts whose lift is generated by accelerating upper airflow. 

When the disc lands early or too late there’s a distinctive thwump sound of plastic against grass.

At times a misthrow will send the disc careering in the wrong direction before landing on its rim and rolling off into the distance. You chase after it like a dog, ears flapping, tongue hanging out. On retrieval you measure up the distance to the catcher, which is now considerably greater, then fire off your return, which, because of the extra distance, is more likely to curve away at an angle and set the catcher running off through the rye.

Throwing and catching a rotating flying disc is not the most celebrated of sports. I’m not even sure it is a sport. It’s maybe an activity, a leisure pursuit. I can’t think of any rotating flying disc sports celebrities or attendant WAGs. The person that comes most frequently to mind in those golden moments of disc-waiting is Tom Selleck. 

I’m not sure why, but suppose it must have something to do with his role as Thomas Sullivan Magnum in Magnum P.I., the CBS show from the 1980s with what surely must rank among the most uplifting theme tunes in history. But did Magnum ever run through Hawaiian parks in his shorts, vest top and moustache throwing a rotating flying disc to a willing catcher? 

Was the catcher his Vietnam-vet helicopter pilot buddy Theodore “T.C” Calvin? Or is this all a false memory?

Because they happen a lot with TV. I felt gutted during a recent rewatching of T.J. Hooker (series two, episode one) on BT Vision. William Shatner as the veteran police sergeant and his rookie partner Vince Romano were previously filed safely in my brain under “fond childhood memories”, the stars of a police drama that, in its day, seemed as riveting as modern day classics The Shield and The Wire. 

Sadly, it wasn’t like either of these. I was itching to surf the channels by scene three, bored out of my skull by the time the killer appeared. There was sunshine and natty uniforms, but a loose plot, slow editing and wooden acting. And not a rotating flying disc to be seen.

In every round of rotating flying disc throwing there’s a period where both throwers/ catchers are in the zone, away with the bears, catching with ease and unable to miss. You picture where you want the rotating flying disc to go and it goes there; you don’t talk, you communicate solely through the disc and its vertical angular momentum vector.

Before you know it people are watching,perhapsforgetting where they were heading to, transfixed by the rotating flying disc and its immensely capable throwers. If you’re not careful this can ruin everything.

When you become conscious of these watchers your dwam springs a slow puncture. Out go the serene thoughts; in come those old insecurities about your backhand. 

Your brow knits, your breathing goes funny, you overperform, a tad too much spin and: thwump.


First published on Herald Scotland.