If you see me walking around town these days, you’ll notice something that looks remarkably like a beeper clipped to my belt. No, I’m not going retro on you; it’s a pedometer.
This was my wife’s idea. She’s trying to save my life (good thing, too, as no one else—least of all myself—is making the effort) by encouraging me to eat my five-a-day of fruits and vegetables, drink more water and get out of the flat once in a while. It’s not that I’m terribly out of shape, but when I arrived on these shores, I weighed ten stone four (144 lbs) and was fit as a dancer (in fact, I was a dancer). However, a decade of office work, as well as the exchange of Jigs and Reels for writing and editing, has resulted in my six-pack somehow becoming swaddled in a generous layer of bubble wrap and me being compelled to admit, albeit grudgingly, that a less sedentary life style wouldn’t do me any harm. Hence the pedometer
I do try, I really do. I even started working fewer hours at my job but, unfortunately, that simply provided more time for me to write. I would be at in my “office” (the end of the dining table) when my wife left for work and in the same place when she returned home, having, during the interim, travelled only to the kitchen to acquire more coffee and the loo to get rid of it. So now I have to show some numbers to my wife when she gets home, which means I’m not getting as much work done because I have to type with one hand while I shake the pedometer with the other. It’s not so bad in the office; I still eat at my desk but the guy who sits next to me runs during his lunch break so I just have him take the pedometer with him.
Today, however, I felt like slacking off; my book is published, the Blog Empire is complete and I hate marketing, so I thought I’d meet up with some colleagues. I figured I could catch an early bus, get a salad and a tuna and cucumber sandwich for lunch at an outdoor café, then meet up with my work mates for a relaxing beverage before finish the afternoon off with a pint and a cigar in the beer garden.
So I caught the bus, intending to do some reading on the ride south. Instead, I fell asleep; when I woke up, it was raining. I got off the bus, huddled against the rain and reviewed my options. The outdoor café was out, but idea of a pint—while sitting snug, warm and dry in a welcoming pub—held appeal. I pulled my jacket tight and marched through the gale.
When I entered the pub, however, I found stacks of boxes piled on the bar top and the landlord sweeping the floor.
“We’re not open yet,” he informed me. “But there’s another pub down the road.”
Back into the rain. The other pub wasn’t open, either. The only open shop along that busy stretch of road—aside from the laundry, money exchange and a photography studio—was an offie. I loitered in there, trying to keep dry, until the clerk started casting nervous glances my way and I felt obliged to buy a packet of crisps and leave.
So now I’m sheltering in a rubbish-strewn, urine-smelling area under an overhang on the side of an abandoned car dealership like some homeless person, eating a bag of paprika potato chips for lunch. Not exactly the day I had planned, but I’m out of the flat, getting some exercise and eating at least one of my five-a-day (potatoes, after all, are a vegetable).
Maybe next week I’ll just stay home and work, and offer the kid downstairs five quid to wear my pedometer for the day.