So, does the title make you more interested to come and see? Or does it make you want to run screaming in the opposite direction? Anyway, yes, the title is a little misleading, but there are a couple of pics of an unclothed body part below, if you’re feeling brave enough to scroll down.
What this post actually consists of are a collection of random thoughts and observations connected to my new (not very impressive, but, hey, it’s a start) exercise regime, which involves me going for long walks in the hopes that I will be marginally less flubbery as a result.
1 – It’s going ok. I’ve extended the walk. Initially each walk was about 10 miles, but it’s now closer to 12. That’s a somewhat approximate figure, though, taken from my pedometer because the extended part of the walk is along paths that don’t appear on computer maps, so I can’t get an official record of distance.
2 – My publicly-declared aim was to do this walk twice a week. My private aim was to do it three times a week. Thus far, I have managed to stick to my private rather than my public aim, though the last walk (on Thursday) felt like it nearly killed me, and I ought to have been out again yesterday, or today at the latest, and haven’t been. Bad, Aethelread, bad.
3 – My faithful old trainers are on the verge of giving up the ghost – all the grip has worn off the soles, and they are very close to wearing into holes. So I decided to buy some new ones. I found, in one particular shop, a pair of trainers that looked ideal. They had an impressive range of stock too: size 11 – 2 pairs; 10 – 2 pairs; 9 – 2 pairs; 8 – no pairs; 7 – 2 pairs. Guess which size of shoe I take. Go on, guess. So, yes, I had to settle for another pair. They seemed ok in the shop, and I took them out for a shorter walk when they also appeared ok (and actually seemed to ease the pressure on my ankles somewhat), but as my feet swelled over the course of the longer walk, it became apparent that they are two narrow.
4 – Relating to point 3, when you are wearing a pair of new trainers, and they are two narrow and thus start to rub your little toe, and, because you have stupidly neglected to take your old pair with you just in case, you have to walk a further 5 miles with the shoes rubbing all the way, the resulting friction can, essentially, flay all the skin off the affected area. This is, to put it mildly, painful, and also messy. Thank god the trainers were black, rather than some colour that would have shown the red…
5 – Despite all my whining, I am already noticeably fitter than I was. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel like I’m dying when I walk up one of the steep-ish hilly sections on my walk, but at least now it’s just a result of extreme respiratory distress without the accompanying feelings of imminent cardiac arrest.
6 – Also, I now have calf muscles. Look! A calf muscle:
7 – I think it may already be having some slight impact on my waistline. Of late, when wearing the recently-acquired and disturbingly large pair of trousers that triggered the new resolve to try and lose some weight, I have been frustrated by the fact that they seem to be getting too long. I don’t want to admit to how long it took me to realise that the reason for this was that they were slipping down. This may just be a consequence of them being new trousers and stretching out, but it may also perhaps be a sign that disturbingly large trousers bought about a month ago to fit are now slightly too big. Time will tell.
On a more general note:
8 – Bad free-form jazz saxophonists should be prevented from busking on pain of…well, ok torture’s a bit extreme, but certainly a good stern talking too. I mean, personally I recommend a robust approach to jazz musicians at the best of times – one that involves the use of a sharpened stick and the words “Play. The. Fucking. Tune.” – but even if you suffered a terrible brain injury a number of years ago and as a consequence find yourself enjoying jazz you must recognise that it’s a form of music that requires concentrated attention, and is thus uniquely unsuited to informal al fresco performance. [Note: trad jazz is permissible in very small doses…]*
9 – What’s the point of ‘living statues’? I mean, covering your face and clothes in make-up to make it look like you’re made of metal, and then standing very still on a box? In what possible circumstances can that seem like a good and positive use of time? And why on earth would you think people should give you money for standing very still? The one who regularly infests the street I walk along has a very belligerent sign in which he shouts ‘THIS IS MY JOB!’ in massive block capitals, and goes on essentially to demand that anyone who even glances vaguely in his direction should give him at least – at least – a pound. This seems…ambitious.
10 – Street preachers are either staggeringly stupid, or are alternatively the great unsung comedians of our age.
11 – Professional charity collectors who try to kid on that they’re idealistic volunteers are the scum of the earth.
12 – Somebody should pay me to be a model scout. Seriously, the number of attractive people I’ve seen while I’ve been out and about (women as well as men). Ok, so most frequently they’re the kind of people who could only realistically work a campaign for JD Sports, but they’re still good looking, and who knows what they’d scrub up like if you put them in something from Armani or…er…[insert name of other fashion label here]?
13 – The coolest person I have seen on my travels thus far was a freakishly tall man with many tattoos wearing a crumpled Sub Pop T shirt.
14 – The least cool person (ok, that’s excessively harsh) A less cool person was a young guy wearing a shirt with a ‘Moog Synthesizer’ logo. Not because there is anything inherently uncool about Moog synthesizers (though Korg were always cooler…), or necessarily about clothes with the logo, but because the version of the logo he had chosen specified the synthesizer bit. What made the Sub Pop guy cool is that you have to know about Sub Pop in order to appreciate the appropriateness of the T shirt for a man of a certain age with a grungy look. What would have made the Moog guy cool is if his shirt had just said ‘Moog’ – that way people who were in the know would have thought “cool”, and people who weren’t would have thought “what’s a Moog?”, and leaving folk guessing is also cool. As it is, I strongly suspect he would have fallen into the “what is a Moog?” camp himself.
15 – My current favourite thing ever are self-conscious guys who are out for a run, but are too embarrassed to just go for a run, and so dress in clothes that are just-about-maybe-possibly street clothes, and will appear round a bend in front of you running, then will abruptly stop and walk past you trying to look nonchalant while breathing like they’re fit to bust. I find it irresistibly sweet.
16 – One time, I saw a man and a dog. The dog was at the top of a steep bank of earth, the man at the bottom. They were playing fetch with a ball. The man would throw the ball to the dog, who would catch it out of the air without moving, and then drop it. The ball would roll part way down the bank, but would inevitably come to rest against a tussock of grass part way down. The man would then clamber up the bank, collect the ball, return to the bottom, and throw the ball to the dog – and so on, and so on. Like I say, they were playing fetch. It just wasn’t quite clear who was playing with who.
17 – I used to be part of a dog-owning family, but I’m sorry to say that I could never have a dog these days (assuming my lease allowed me). None of the nice things that come with owning a dog could possibly compensate for having to pick up a handful of warm, squidgy shit with only a thin plastic bag between you and the second hand Pedigree Chum.
18 – The most flattering thing that has happened to me was when I was walking past the university, and a trendy-looking young black guy handed me a flyer for an ‘alternative dance party’. This was flattering because: a) he thought I was young enough to go to an alternative dance party without looking like I was somebody’s dad; and b) he wasn’t giving them out to everyone, even people his own age, which presumably means that he thought I was trendier than the other people there. This is the coolest I have ever been in my entire life.
19 – I was planning a list with 20 entries, but I think I’m going to quit while I’m ahead.
* – If you are a jazz musician, or are a fan, and feel aggrieved by what I have written, my apologies. But do please bear in mind that I am not being fully serious when I suggest it requires a brain injury to appreciate jazz. If you were not aggrieved, can’t work out why anyone would take such an obvious joke so literally, and think I must be more than a little paranoid to include the apology – well, you didn’t see my inbox last time I insulted some musicians.