And now for something completely different…


This has been a weekend of firsts for me. Normally, any spare time I can scrounge together is spent reading, writing or figuring out new ways to do household tasks with a cup of tea in hand (window washing is particularly tricky).

Not the most active of pursuits then.

But somehow that all changed this week and, instead of supping back caffeine with a Penguin Classic in hand, I found myself in a variety of unfamiliar situations:

  1. I spent time – and money – in a sport shop without feeling as inconspicuous as a polar bear in a hen house. Never before have I crossed the sweat-lined threshold into that floodlit, shoe-based environment and shopped freely without sensing that the natives know I have no use for Lycra and don’t want my kind around. On Saturday though, I managed to look the tracksuit-clad shop assistant in the eye and say, “yes, my athletic friend, you can help me”. And, you know what… I meant it.
  2. Who knew that anyone with eight British pounds weighing down their pocket can swagger into a local sports centre and hire a proper court for one knackering hour? Okay, everyone – except me. So it came as a complete surprise when, badminton racquet in hand, I did just that on Sunday afternoon.
  3. I’ve heard of the phenomenon of sweet pain, but never before experienced an ache that I actually appreciated. On waking up this morning, however, with sore thighs, shoulders and forearms, I felt a small flicker of pride that I had inflicted this pain on myself through exercise and effort. The pride wore off after an hour or so. The pain didn’t.

In other news, my second badminton lesson went well. I spent much less time swatting air than before and, although the net is still a flame to my moth-like shuttlecock, I definitely feel like I’m making some progress. My lovely teacher was much firmer with me this week, insisting that ‘nice Michael’ only turns up for the first lesson until he spots potential. I guess he says that to all his pupils but it was the first time I’ve ever felt encouraged by a comment on my sporting ability.

Where were coaches like this when I was at school?


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