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"Let's try to see that again," says Bob, hitting the rewind.
"I'd have been really disappointed if someone had broken the record this year," says David. "Next year, oddly, it won't seem so bad. It has to go sometime."
Oslo is back on again, David's stride light and sweeping, his arms carried high, his grimace of effort seeming from a distance an expression of glee. Though he runs his last lap in a swift 58.04, there seems no desperation to his sprint, just a final release. As he finishes, he raises his arms in thanks to the crowd. Paul again streaks across the carpet to the TV set, squealing happily, his arms up in the identical gesture.
"The sense of privilege has grown," says David. "The night was perfect. There was no pressure. I mean, I could have been entered in the 800 meters."
"Well, you would have gotten a personal best," says the visitor.
"Yes, but it wouldn't have been any 1:40. [Coe's world record for the distance is 1:41.8.] And if I'd broken any records when I was 20, we wouldn't have these tapes."
In the car, the visitor asks David about the point that his mother left hanging, his education.
"We take what we call O or Ordinary level examinations at 16," he says. "I failed them all and was advised that should be it in terms of school for me. I had neglected it for sport. But my father encouraged me. I left school and went to technical college [roughly akin to a U.S. junior college] and did my O levels again, and passed. Then the next year I passed my Advanced levels to qualify for university." In 1976, Moorcroft graduated from Loughborough with honors in physical education and social studies.
Moorcroft takes Paul to their house in Binley Woods, a quiet suburb of Coventry. The parlor is pleasant and warm, with a toy piano for Paul to dance upon. Linda Moorcroft is dark-haired and deceptive, a gentle surface over a sensible, tough interior. She takes Paul off to bed, despite his vocal unwillingness. David puts on a Bette Midler record, in part to cover the ruckus upstairs.
"I love the words of The Rose," he says animatedly. " 'It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance./ It's the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance./ It's the one who won't be taken who cannot seem to give./ And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.' " He is a little self-conscious at this recitation. "Unfortunately," he goes on, "that describes a lot of life beyond running."