Monday, 22 November 2010

Feeling the burn (that's the burn of disappointment actually. So it's more of a sting).

So the other night the phone rang, and it was a woman from Sport England who was trying to find out what exercise I did in order to 'plan services in my area'. She had come upon my phone number by getting a computer to choose a random set of digits. This represents the strongest argument I have ever heard for the existence of Artificial Intelligence. The computer, you see, was having a larf.

She kept her identity a secret till the end. On and on she went, asking if I was on any sporting committees and how often I found myself panting. I spent most of the conversation trying to work out what special kind of identity thief would require information on how many children I regularly drove to sporting activities.

When I found out the research was being carried out by Sport England, it all made sense. Her attitude. The way she'd said "Nothing else?" at the end of each question with a mounting despair. Her spluttered "Only two!" when I answered how many continual walks of 30 minutes or more I had taken in the last month. She didn't care about my taking two 15 minute walks a day. She made it very plain that she believed she was talking to the least energetic woman on the planet.

She seemed slightly cheered by the yoga. But then she found out it didn't make my heart rate rise or cause me to pant, and she slid once more into her chasm of despair. At that point I had begun to deeply dislike her, and answered the heart rate question with an incredibly sarcastic "It's yoga."

Did I cycle? Well, I would, but see, my brave green steed has developed squeaky brakes and dodgy tyres and I haven't found the cash to get them desqueaked and undodgied. What would I like to do? I reeled off a list of impressive pursuits including energetic cycling and regular swimming, which I can't even do properly. It didn't take into account at all time or money. It was one of those lists that would find its equivalent in my five-year-old writing the first draft of her letter to Santa: "And twenty Hello Kitty toys, and a DS, and a television in my bedroom and a camera..."

On my desk right now I have a copy of a rather alarming exercise DVD bought in a charity shop, where a camp ice skater in a dance studio full of pot plants springs about whilst holding tins of beans in his hands. This may all work okay in a professional studio with a sprung floor - me doing it at home makes it sound like the whole house is going to fall down.

Despite all my good intentions, I actually could be the least energetic woman on the planet. How about you? How would you fare if the Sport England woman rang?


  1. Here is the sum of my weekly routine:

    1)Rigorous jaw exercises (yelling at squabbling children)
    2)Brief but aerobic jog whilst chasing after escapee dog who regularly does crazed laps of village green
    3)Strenuously lifting hand to mouth whilst holding wine
    4)Thorough epiglottal workout (snoring)

    This is absolutely true. You are Paula Radcliffe in comparison. Who is this godawful woman who rang up to terrorise you? I feel like ringing HER up and giving her a piece of my mind.

  2. ..and now I'm going to bed. All that typing has exhausted me.

  3. Sport? I'm sure I must have done some in the last decade. Does pushing a heavy trolley round the supermarket count?

    My magic word thingummy is torcide, which I'm sure means death caused by torpor and may well be slightly prophetic.

  4. I do absolutely no sport or exercise whatsoever, and even get the 11 yr old to scamper up the stairs and flick on the heating for me when required.

    I live with two running/cycling/swimming/ironman/triathlete mad males and one dance obsessed small girl, so merely feel I should redress the balance somewhat by idling around with knitting and coffee.

  5. I jump to conclusions, run late, and beat dead horse. Sometimes my eyes dance.

  6. I would fare worse than you, that's how. In fact, your 15-minute walks and your yoga make you look like, well, EUROLUSH compared to me.

    But perhaps I should give myself credit for the 8-10 massages I give each week. My forearms? BUFF.

  7. I do believe the Sport England woman would run, screaming, into the night if she dialed my house. And she wouldn't even have to speak to me. Any of us would do.

  8. I too live with four sport mad males (soccer soccer soccer). My husband had a $20 voucher for a sporting shop last year and he used it to buy me a yoga mat, at my request I should add.

    It's still in the corner of my bedroom in its plastic wrapping. On the weekend I noticed it actually had cobwebs on it.

  9. I've been to three spin classes in the last week and they've been such a nice change--and fun. Normally, it's all running all the time. Cross-training keeps things interesting. Now if I could just add in yoga...and swimming...and rock climbing--all of which are available nearby...but require a level of energy unknown in these parts. Ugh.

    PS-This exercise thing for me is a sanity-keeper, believe it or not. Without it, I'd be a wreck.

  10. Last time I did any serious exercise ( a Weight Watchers' dvd) I damaged my shoulder quite badly.

    I am allergic to exercise. No, really, I am, a doctor said so. If I walk for more than about 25 mins my legs begin itching and I get a rash. The itch stops when I stop moving. It is worse in cold weather. Antihistamines can sometimes fend off the itching.

    Exercise is clearly bad for my health although like you I do lots of short walks.

  11. If she ever spoke to me she would immediately phone you up and apologise because I am the baseline from which everyone else is judged.

  12. Well, I run every day and I do power yoga and lift large heavy weights. I have the thighs and upper arms of a twenty year old, and I regularly overtake cycling clubs on their Sunday morning rides.

    Oh, and I lie when it comes to questions about how much I exercise. Oddly enough my doctor sees right through me. I can't understand it.

    My answer to obnoxious telephone people is, "I am sorry, but we are registered with the Telephone Preference System and you are committing an offence by cold calling me." They usually hang up faster than I do.

  13. I have a Pilates DVD. Does looking at it sitting on the shelf count?

  14. A panting based phone call? Lucky you!

  15. Blooming cheek!

    It's only because you're being honest that she was surprised. I bet everyone else fibs like crazy -so her results will be spurious.

    I've decided as I'm getting on in age it's best not to be too thin as it emphasises the wrinkles - just look at Gillian McKeith! Take me to my sofa please!

  16. I'm doing better than I did when the kids were home. I go for a walk once a week. Not sure there's much panting involved.


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