My physiotherapist said a rude word yesterday. There I was at full stretch, helpless, with my face down a hole, and pow! Out it came, just like that, with no warning. And she a well-bred lady, too. If she wasn’t stronger than me I’d have been tempted to wash her mouth out with carbolic soap.
If you’re of a delicate disposition, put your hands over your ears – and eyes – now as I am about to share. Ready? The word, if you can believe this, was SPORT.
‘What sport do you do?’ she enquired casually, giving my lower trapezium a vigorous pummelling. Well, I don’t mind telling you I was shocked rigid which considering my current rigor mortis state was somewhat counter-productive.
‘None at all?’ she ventured after a moment’s heavy silence that told her all she needed to know.
‘Nope,’ I muttered to the square inch of pristine tiled floor within focus.
Then, once she’d hoisted me up and we were eyeball to disbelieving eyeball I told her, truthfully, that I’d taken up running three mornings a week round the park – well, more of a slow jog really – until my GP told me to stop in case I did myself any further injury.
Physio-lady wasn’t impressed. ‘Aquarobics?’ she said hopefully.
Quick as a flash I knocked that one into touch. I’ve never liked swimming pools. Too chilly, noisy, whatever. And there’s always a plaster on the cubicle floor. (Well, isn’t there?) Not that I’m averse to swimming per se. A leisurely flap across cerulean-blue water in thirty degrees of Mediterranean sun and we might have a deal.
I was entertaining a nice little dream about this when my physio, now well into her stride and shameless with it, threw out another of those words: GYM. She goes three times a week, apparently. Doesn’t feel right if she misses it. ‘It’s horses for courses,’ I said, or something like that, once I’d made it clear that wild ones wouldn’t drag me… etc. Luckily she saw the funny side.
So then I came round to thinking about me and sport. Not that there’s much to think about, my experiences being confined mainly to cart-horsing my way around the various pitches at school, more concerned about the decency, or otherwise, of my navy blue knickers and the threat of rising frostbite than the game itself. An hour’s detention in a cosy classroom for hiding under the gabardine macs in the cloakroom to avoid this torture was a doddle in comparison.
Anyway, aside from the sheer physical discomfort of all sport known to man, I have another excuse: my hand-eye co-ordination is virtually non-existent. Any unwilling attempts to catch someone out at rounders brought a long groan from my team-mates and my hockey-stick remained stalwartly undented by any untoward contact with that unspeakably hard ball. I tried badminton once, lured by a friend on the promise of eligible young blokes in shorts – false as it turned out – but the dead budgie doesn’t even bounce so I had no chance. And before you ask, I can’t balance on a bike either.
What has any of this got to do with writing, you might ask? Not a lot. Except to say that when it comes to sport, and writing, some of us do and some of us don’t. You’ll never turn a non-sportsperson into Jessica Ennis or a non-writer into Marian Keyes. And why would you even try?
OK, joking aside, I get the message, yes, really I do: MOVE MORE and MIND THE POSTURE. So it’s shoulders back, chin in, no slouching over the keyboard and as soon as I’ve finished this paragraph I’ll be out of the seat faster than Usain Bolt on Senokot to perform a nice round of gentle stretches and put the kettle on. Just you try and stop me.