SWING your head and shake your tail . . .”
The quiet instructions of our Tai Chi master blended with a babbling stream. His white robes rippled in a breeze like the lake’s surface behind him.
No, we were not on location in China or even at Stanley Park. We were watching a DVD at Edmonds Towers.
“You’re not stretching up enough!” chided She Who Knows, who thought this a good idea for improving fitness. “Don’t move your hands so quick. It’s meant to be graceful.”
In fact, I have a long association with Oriental arts and their quaintly named practices.
A school pal and I learned judo from library books (we couldn’t be bothered with proper classes). My most memorable achievement was throwing Stan Brown in the cricket pavilion. He was a lanky lad with stooped posture - perfect for a shoulder throw.
The result was spectacular but alarming. Poor Stan landed so heavily on the hardwood floor I feared his back was broken. It wasn’t but I switched to gentler disciplines after that.
Yoga was good for relaxed, deep breathing but took too long and my body, even then, wasn’t supple enough. Also, I hurt my head when attempting to stand upon it on the linoleum floor of my bedroom – stupid boy!
It was also in my bedroom where I practised my next, much quicker exercise routine – the Royal Canadian Air Force’s ‘Get Fit In Six Minutes’ programme.
This daily workout was easy to start. But it became harder as you progressed; building up a sweat with ever more press-ups, squats and twists against the clock.
You finished with frantic running on the spot, broken up by scissor jumps.
This created quite a din downstairs, where my parents were trying to watch TV. Sadly, it all ground to a halt after the ceiling plaster started cracking up and fluttering down in flakes upon their heads.
Thankfully, soon afterwards, I got into tennis.
Later, when working away from home, I joined a rugby club and trained with them. It was a
painful workout but the teamwork was fun – and the drinks afterwards in their late bar.
Abroad in more humid climes I tried jogging, losing up to six pounds in weight from each long run. This staggering sweat loss was my only similarity to a racehorse, which was just as well since road running ruins your knees. Instead of being shot, I had to find gentler pursuits.
So, where was I? Ah, yes . . .“Swing your head and shake your tail.”
n Limited, signed copies of Roy’s books are at Gazette reception for £4.99 (rrp £6.99). Or visit royedmonds-blackpool.com.