I think I can now say I’ve recovered from my week of non-skiing. I’ve focused on all things green and sunny, eschewing anything white and fluffy. The neighbour’s cat has had a hard time, I can tell you. It was a shame in many ways, to miss out, not least that I lost the opportunity to pour scorn on two die hard Chelsea fans for their years of crowing at the trophies their football team won with the help of that Russian’s blood money. Nothing like a little schadenfreude to add a spring into one’s step.
It’s two years, give or take, since we went into full lock down in the UK. One thing that changed then and which has remained a new constant is my loyalty to the exercise videos provided by Joe Wicks. At the start it was to replace the gym that had closed that had me following his PE with Joe You Tube channel but even when that stopped, the cheeky chappie persona, the huge catalogue of different videos and the ease with which one can do them in the privacy of one’s front room kept me loyal.
Some things have changed in my approach. Early on, I gave into the modern idea that we need to guzzle litres of water when we exercise and now a bottle accompanies my grunts and groans. There have been the occasional flaying foot-full bottle interfaces that have postponed that day’s exercise as I scrabble to sponge up the excess. The Textiliste pointed out that there was a spot developing on the lounge rug where my head tended to go during ab exercises and which she thought might be salt from the sweat: a yoga mat joined my routine. The light patch remains, worryingly.
At some point my somewhat mathematical brain had me counting what I was doing. I then began to keep notes in my journal. I can now look back to see what 20 exercises I’ve done on a particular day, how long Joe set us that day, per exercise – usually 35 to 40 seconds with 25/20 seconds to recuperate before the next. And I can also see how many star jumps or sit ups or steps while sprinting or push ups I’ve done. That requires me to use the recuperation period to scribble down the exercises then add a number or a tick for something that you can’t count (like holding a static plank). I’m obsessed but at least it keeps me vaguely fit. I’m not sure, if anyone were to read my journals in future years, what they’d make of these lists.
I’ve kept a journal since I started writing seriously, in 2006. These days, as well as the day and the date and the list of exercises – assuming I’m ‘doing a Joe’ that day – I include the morning’s weather, a couple of news items and a couple of personal diary entries. Currently, I don’t often include the flights of fancy and thought pieces that I once did. They faded with Covid and haven’t returned now we have the Ukraine troubles. My thinking feels facile alongside those events. I will begin any poem in the journal, though fiction tends to begin either on my ipad or another dedicated notebook. Funny how that had become the habit.
I was in the park today, with Dog when I glanced up and two woman were walking towards me, in animated conversation. They were probably 30 something and attractive. Almost as an instinct, having registered those thoughts, I looked down and away until they’d passed me. It then occurred to me how odd that was. I’m fully signed up to the idea that no one, not least a 60 something male with a face for radio and a body that the NHS would probably discourage from being left to science should gawp and ogle anyone of the opposite sex in any way that would make them uncomfortable. But to feel the need to avert my eyes completely, which is essentially an instinctive reaction to avoid being categorised as ‘that type of man’ is equally sad. They’d not noticed me yet why take that chance. Am I being polite or a hypocrite? I can appreciate someone attractive on TV or film or stage without being judged; ditto in a work of art. I can see attractive men without feeling the need to look away. The pendulum has swung, at least for me and my generation with my attitudes. It’s understandable. But still, it’s a little bit sad and in some ways probably makes me look a little shifty.
But there’s always Dog. I feel pretty safe even if he might feel objectified at times…