Peaks and Troughs

A chart displaying the state of my health and fitness during adulthood looks much like a chart showing the waves of a pandemic virus. At 18 I was very fit, but two and a bit years into a smoking habit. So the line on the chart was already headed south. At 26 I quit smoking and got fit in preparation for basic training at RAF Halton. By May 1999, I was the fittest, strongest and healthiest I would ever be. Peak Me. But it didn’t last. I was back on the fags by the end of the year, and the line on the chart went south again.

My mid 30s in Mexico City were spent cycling a hundred kilometres a week and running half marathons. I got fit. But I still smoked. So I didn’t get healthy. This peak was a gentle one. And then I came back to the UK, resumed a sedentary lifestyle and ate pies. And chips. With gravy and HP Brown sauce. I have a trouser belt which documented the process of a widening waist.

My recovery from a mystery virus in late 2019 and the permanent kicking of my nicotine habit pushed the line upwards again. It’s been a slow and gradual rise, but it’s been consistent. I go to the gym a couple of times a week. I swim in the pool. I workout in front of the telly at home with Apple Fitness+. I play tennis. I go for a decent walk most days. I close my fitness rings every day, without fail.

I’ve noticed recently that my lungs seem fully recovered from the virus. Finally. It’s taken 18 months. I can take a full breath. The immune system disorder I have that is attacking my digestive system is under control. I am close to reaching the top of another peak. I won’t get much fitter and healthier than I am today. Ageing joints are the limiting factor now. And age means that the line will head south again. But I’ll try and maintain this peak as long as possible. And make the inevitable decline as gentle as possible, over as many decades as possible.

But yeah. I’m at the top of another peak, and that is worth repeating. It took effort. I have pecs. Solid leg muscles. And a bit of a belly because I’m still at the pies, but we’ll let that slide today. I deserved a reward. So I got some gold trainers to rock up at my gym with and to dazzle fellow tennisters at the courts. Because, why not?


Limitless Cinema

What have I missed most during lockdown? Breakfasts on Sunday at Cafe Rouge. The steam room and sauna at my club, which remained shut even after the gym and pool reopened. Museums and galleries. And the recliner seats at my local cinema. Odeon are reopening on 17th May, and are flogging a special deal. Their Limitless all-you-can-watch tickets are £9.99 per month for three months. I’m a little bit tempted, but I suspect the recliner seats are excluded. Which is a deal killer for me.

True, there’ll not be a great many new blockbusters to fill the screens. But there are still a bunch of old blockbusters that would make a trip to the cinema worthwhile. Movies I either missed on the big screen or, as is more often the case, movies that were before my time. Which ones? Ok, as you asked, here’s ten.

I’ve got a few classics at home ready to watch on my television which I’d prefer to see at the cinema. Lawrence of Arabia, Silence of the Lambs, Terminator, Apocalypse Now and Alien. Some of these have new directors cuts to show. I’ve never watched a western, but have been told if I only ever watch one it should be The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. I could probably convince Mrs P to go see Forrest Gump.

And both the Exotic Marigold Hotel, the Painted Veil and the Beach would help quench my thirst for travel, for a few hours at least. I’ve long loved the Beach for reasons which remain a mystery even to myself. Perhaps I have an attachment to it as it came out just as I was embarking on my backpacking adventures.

That’s my ten. If my options are as limitless as Odeon thinks they should be, what movie should be my number eleven? I’m open to suggestions.


The Covidian Reich

It’s been suggested by the lockdown sceptic cultists that over the last year, the U.K. has hurtled blindly into an authoritarian police state, made possible by legislation aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. It sounds genuinely alarming, doesn’t it. And I do share some of their base concerns. But then they lose me with their over use of H words. Not so much Hitler and Himmler, although Godwin’s Law is broken more frequently that the Rule of Six law. It’s the hysteria, hypocrisy and hyperbole that really gets to me.

They will bang on about the wide ranging powers that the police have been given to enforce the new legislation. It is draconian. What they neglect to mention is that there are so few police anymore that you’re unlikely to see an officer in attendance for anything less than murder. And if someone is arrested, it’ll be years before they get to court, if it ever goes that far. Prison? If there’s space, it is a possibility. I suppose. Although even then, it tends to be more a ‘weekend break’ than lengthy sentence.

The sceptics then launch into a tirade about the Stasi-on-the-Streets. The Covid Marshalls. I’ve spotted pairs of them strolling around Bournemouth over the last few weeks. An elite brigade of well armed stormtroopers they are not. Instead, we have a motley crew of gossip-mongers and snitches that patrol our streets day and night looking out for people getting a bit too close to each other. Brown shirted young men with muscular physiques, chiselled jaws, blond hair and sharply polished shoes? No. Mostly fat, bald blokes with green and yellow plastic jackets and a whiff of homelessness about them.

They are clearly more interested in doughnuts and coffee than promoting ideology of Aryan racial superiority. If the Covid Marshalls are the harbingers of the British Reich, then any claim of it lasting a thousand years is likely to be on the optimistic side. I’d be inclined to suggest it won’t last till Christmas. As things stand, these fellas don’t seem to be doing anyone any harm. And it keeps them in gainful employment and out of Wetherspoons.