Look At It This Way - April 1, 2015

Women exercising in a fitness center

Women exercising in a fitness center

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Fun run. If ever a term was an oxymoron it’s that one – for me. But there’s no escape. Turn on the telly and warrior women emerge from mud to take on the Race for Life.

Open The Gazette and more are running to save or celebrate lives. Beaverbrooks 10k for Trinity is coming up fast on May 10.

The only thing I’m fast on is excuses... and I’m fast running out of those.

Take Trinity’s medical director Dr Susan Salt. She styles herself the Running Pink Marshmallow – and has just completed the London Marathon.

Susan admits she’s not a ‘natural athlete’. That’s inspirational. It was great to see another local runner run hand in hand with Paula Radcliffe but I prefer to see ordinary people push themselves to extraordinary lengths.

I can’t run. I can just about fast walk. I’ve tried power walking but look like an overweight turkey in a flap trying to escape Bernard Matthews. Nordic walking looks ridiculous.

Most of the time I do the carers’ shuffle, steps slowed to match my mum’s gait on good days, or to push her wheelchair on bad days.

The last time I ran was for a bus when I went to Montgomery School more than 45 years ago. School was less than a mile away but the bus dropped off near the tuck-shop so I could stock up on apple sours to bribe prefects to keep me in out of the rain at break.

I can’t remember enjoying ‘Games’ even at primary school – when we had to vault over a ‘horse’ in gymnastics in our regulation knickers.

At Monty I endured rather than enjoyed sports. I liked rounders but only when batting not running. Netball was good but most of the girls were taller. I loved hockey but my ankle got whacked. In fact there were just three sports I was good at: long jump, badminton and, to everyone’s surprise, hurdling. A couple of belt grades into to judo helped me vanquish one school bully – but I got thrown all over the dojo at the Keidokwai judo club by a kid a third of my age and weight. Today bits of me protest when I do the gardening, paint fence panels or get the winter clothes up into storage in the loft.

This week I got stuck in the loft for half an hour waiting for my back to stop screaming protests each time I tried limbo dancing under the beams to reach the safety of the hatch.

At one point – trapped between winter clothing bagged up and boxes of toys – I tapped out Morse code SOS on the ceiling with my brother’s old Thunderbird Two.

Sadly International Rescue – aka Ma – was one hearing aid down and watching Breaking Bad with the sound up and subtitles off. It must be like living alongside that house in the TV series Inside No 9 for our neighbours – particularly when we’re bellowing ‘cup of tea?’ above the sound of ‘yo bitch’ on the screen.My mini panic attack was a wakeup call. I need to get in better shape. I’ve thought of joining the Goal-den Girls, those formidable and fun over 50s running fundraisers. But even following them on Facebook is exhausting.

I cycle. But it invariably ends in a bacon butty stop at a seafront café. I helped pioneer exercise on prescription decades ago through press coverage – but am not ‘obese enough’ to sign up today. I’m working on it, doc.

Swimming’s good but waddling to the water after a cold shower isn’t.

But there’s hope.

I was strangely drawn to an article in The Gazette about Chair Yoga the other day. It conjured up visions of the sloth in the TV sofa advert in the lotus position. Instead there were pictures of younger, slimmer, fitter women exercising. No chairs to be seen.

Then I saw the article: “Walking Football: gentle exercise for men over 50”. Jimmy Armfield, one of my heroes, explained: “Ladies are very social animals and tend to get involved in societies and clubs … but we men can be a little shy.” Now I like walking, love football and adore men. Would the fellas let me join their five-a-side?

Probably not but Blackpool Council’s leisure services chief John Blackledge is out to level the playing field. John says: “If the demand is there for women’s sessions then we will look at setting them up too.” Come on footy mad over 50s females – could this not be our new goal?

It’s Hooray for Hollywood – but I wish we didn’t have to close parts of Central Prom in order to facilitate filming by director Tim Burton.

I was an extra in a film called Valentino directed by Ken Russell years ago –when the resort had more roads accessible to vehicles (but probably less vehicles on them) than it has today.

I don’t remember a major arterial route being closed for filming then.

Or for when Funny Bones was filmed in Blackpool – directed by Peter Chelsom and starring Oliver Reed, Oliver Platt, Jerry Lewis, and Leslie Caron.

And was there much of an inconvenience when cult TV series Blackpool filmed at the loos on Central Car Park and amusement arcades on the Prom?

You can’t buy publicity such as that afforded by some of the best and brightest stars (Dench, Jackson, Everett et al) heading for Blackpool as the ‘perfect’ location for the ‘crumbling ruins’ of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

But I don’t like putting visitors and local commuters out in the process.

May Day usually signals the start of the holiday season proper; this year it’s going to mean the prom closed between North Pier and Manchester Square for four days, with the potential of a further four day closure if the weather plays havoc with the filming schedule.

I’m sure the gain’s worth the pain but if I have a wish on any star visiting Blackpool it’s this – please find a good word to say for us.