My earlier post on the ludicrous nature of sport may have given some of you the idea than I disapprove of exercise. Far from it. I think exercise is just fine. As long as you do it outside, and preferably for free.
Which is why I have taken up running.
Running up and down the River Lea has not only brought me ample opportunity to breathe fresh air and tense previously slack and fleshy muscles; it has also brought me face to face with an amazing array of distractions.
1. A dog in goggles
Sweet mother of canine conjunctivitis. How have I lived for twenty six years and only just discovered ‘doggles‘? As I ran up the towpath, trying not to wheeze, I just assumed that goggle-wearing dog before me was part of a glucose-induced hallucination caused by too much sweat. That, or this dog really loved going to jungle raves in the 90s. But apparently, doggles are a fashionable and functional way to protect dogs from the sun, sandstorms and exotic insects. All of which are a huge problem in Hackney, obviously.
2. A heron vs crow dogfight
It was a dogfight in the spitfires-in-the-air, WWI sense. The crow dive-bombed from side to side at the heron’s head, beak open in a screech, wings in attack mode, as the heron screamed and snapped in response. It was gruesome and fascinating in equal measure. For some reason, I had an overwhelming urge to go punch the crow in the face but, like David Attenborough, I let nature take its course. Which, it turned out, was for the crow to land and the heron to fly off up-river.
It just proves my point that crows are lethal, psychotic and blindingly dangerous.
3. A condom
The thing about discarded condoms, what makes them so brilliant, is the resolutely unsexy places where they turn up. I mean, we were all young once; we all had to stash used condoms out of the house to save our mothers’ blushes. But it’s the idea of sex up against a skip, or under a road sign, or by a dog bin that’s so horribly funny. So, everytime I run past the discarded condom on the edge of Walthamstow Marshes I am comforted by the thought that whoever came here for a spot of al fresco sex, did so surrounded by trees and nice flowers.
4. Twenty seven swans
At once. In a group. In one tiny, metre long, stretch of river. I don’t want to worry anyone, but I’m pretty sure they were plotting something. And if they can persuade the dive-bombing crow and dog in goggles to join them, then we may be powerless to resist.