Some people, I am led to believe, actually achieve some weird [to me] degree of physical pleasure from exercise. I, you may not find it hard to believe, am not in that camp. I am in the "oh honestly, if I needed to lift heavy objects I'm sure I'd either develop muscles so to do, or better still find a job where I didn't need to" camp.
I will admit that I get some small satisfaction from it. Very small. And quite abstract. It's almost an academic sense of achievement, at a distance. Like solving a crossword clue, but not actually a very interesting one. And not in a way that alleviates the aching in my legs.
And yet today I cycled to work. And back again, lest you think I am now marooned there forever. Why would I have done this? What possessed me? Well, with cycling it's possible to commit to a distance before you've really got as far as it hurting, and being a bear of very little brain I end up getting far enough from home before the full horror of an eleven-mile each-way trip begins to bite. Plus the prevailing wind is at my back on the way to work in general, while on the way home I have no choice but to continue. What else could I do? Abandon my bike and traipse home to general ridicule, as opposed to the normal ridicule when I appear red-faced and drenched in sweat...? Actually my point isn't being made too well there.
Today's sense of achievement came even lower than normal, tainted as it was with guilt. Not being dedicated to the cause of 'improving my time' or 'actually carrying on in the face of tiredness' I stop on occasion for some chocolate and some drink. The drink, I should hasten to add, is of a non-alcoholic nature, lest my usual audience get the wrong? expected? impression. Drink and chocolate. Normally that would work well, but not so much contained as they were in a cycling sandwich. On this particular occasion the drink in question described itself as a 'refreshing juice drink', which made me suspicious from the outset and as it turned out wrote a cheque it couldn't cash. I was not instantly rejuvenated. Indeed that bottle was also the cause of my guilt, as its insubstantial lid dropped through my fingers as I sat-on-the-bike-leaning-against-the-side-of-the-bridge [need a work for that, but can't find one, thus proving that bikes are recent inventions, but not 'modern' inventions where people just make up stupid words like 'deplane' or 'twinterview'] and amazingly given that it had seemed larger than any holes below me, the lid fell through a gap in the bridge upon which I was sitting-on-the-bike-leaning-against-the-side-of-the-bridge [word still needed] and into the Jubilee river.
Now, I am aware of plastic's horror when it comes to birdlife, so no sooner had dropped said lid than a swan flew under the bridge, landing where my plastic death-trap must have been floating. It became inevitable that it will eat said plastic object, and will die an agonising death. Its - her - failure to return to the nest will mean her poor mate will pine for her and also die. Of a broken heart. Swans do, you know. And then think of the cygnets. Will no one think of the cygnets? Five beautiful swans will be lying dead tonight, like some Sam Peckinpah version of Swan Lake.
So, in summary, to defer my arteriosclerotic corpse collapsing in late middle-age I have traded the lives of five of the Queen's finest avians for a few years/months/days/hours/minutes? of my own existence on this planet. I am become Death, Destroyer of Swans.
See? Exercise kills, kids. Just say no.