Monday, July 13, 2009

All A Load Of Balls

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.


  1. The exercise ball shadowing you is priceless. I think the song you might have had in mind is Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne": "& the sun pours down like honey on our Lady of the Harbor."

    Very enjoyable blog.

  2. Cheers John, glad you like it. And you are right, of course, it was Suzanne.

  3. Alan - I suspect you're meant to drape yourself over the ball (supine) and attempts sit-ups, not merely perch on top of it while scoffing crisps.

  4. Well I got it cheap and there were no instructions with it.

  5. Oh dear. You could steal some kids from a relative and try kicking it around a park with them.


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...