I had a bit of an accident this weekend. I blame my friend Harry and his constant attempts to get me fit. Let me take you back a few weeks to when we were away on holiday. The day in question started like most others : we were sailing across the blue waters of the Mediterranean and the sun was streaming down like honey (I have stolen that phrase from a song but for the life of me I can't remember which song). Harry was - as usual - doing his daily ration of 35 laps of the Promenade Deck between visits to the gym. Elaine, Isobel and I were - as usual - sat somewhere eating cakes. Harry found us in one of the many on-board restaurants and gleefully informed us that he had just been to a talk entitled "Secrets of a Flatter Stomach" and that all we needed to do was to invest in an exercise ball, sit on it for a few minutes each day, and our lives would be transformed.
The ever-increasing strain on the buttons holding my trousers together indicated that my life was in need of transformation. Later on the cruise - following an evening meal which left Elaine, Isobel and I unable to get up from the table - the three of us decided to lose two stone each before we next set sail in January 2010. Visiting H&E last week I discovered that she had already purchased an exercise ball and therefore I rushed to buy my own. The important thing in relation to getting fit - I read somewhere - is to establish an exercise regime and to stick to it. So I did. Mine was to sit on the exercise ball each evening as I watched Coronation Street. If the claims for the biomechanical ball, as related by Harry, were even half true, the weight would fall off me like honey dripping from a roasted hive (I haven't stolen that phrase from a song, but I feel I should have done).
The problem was within a few days I had forgotten my resolution and misplaced my resolve. Coronation Street was once again viewed from the comfort of the armchair and the blasted ball sat in a corner, unloved. But then it started to follow me around : I am not joking, it moved. On Saturday I was in the kitchen wondering whether to have a bag of crisps or a doorstep of toast, when it rolled across the floor towards me. Spooky. I was instantly reminded of Rover, the patrolling ball in The Prisoner series. Anyone familiar with the series - and if you aren't why aren't you? - will know that Rover used to impose discipline by slowly suffocating those trying to escape the Village. My Gym Ball was telling me something and I needed to obey.
So I sat on the blasted thing. Then I balanced with my feet off the floor whilst still eating my bag of crisps. And then I fell off. The motion of the bloody ball sent me flying into the side of the radiator and exposed me to the most excruciating pain I have felt since the birth of my son (why on earth you women moan, you have no idea what it is like for the father). So here I sit with my arm covered in bruises, with pains shooting where pains should not be shooting. I am going to have to have something to eat to take away the hurt. Exercise and dieting - it's all a load of balls.