Monday, 7 February 2011

Across the Tyne seven times

I'm sitting in The Bob Trollop, my favourite vegetarian pub, which is on the Quayside here in Newcastle. I’ve ordered a Ploughman’s Lunch and am very pleased to be inside, as the weather’s suddenly taken a rather massive turn for the worse.

I went on an incredibly long run this morning which involved jogging over the Tyne a total of seven times via various bridges. I have a pathological fear of crossing bridges, but the views are so astonishing that it became something of an obsession to see if I could overcome my fear. The wind was incredibly high, however, and it kept catching my jogging trousers and blowing me off course. At one point I wondered if it was going to push me off the side of the bridge into the burbling Tyne below. If I’d survived the fall, the river was moving so quickly, I guess I’d have been out to sea before anyone saw me!

High Level Bridge: My favourite of the 7 bridges

Last night, whilst I was standing backstage at The Sage, I noticed a little sign with which, I’m sure, seasoned actors and touring musicians will very much identify. It was attached to a pillar in the wings and it read; “This town is called Gateshead. The venue you are in is called the Sage in Gateshead.” I suddenly realised that there are people out there who perform in a different venue every night, and would be more than grateful to read a statement of the obvious like that just before they go on stage! “Good evening, Gateshead!!” It reminded me of a story Nathan tells, of touring Germany with the Rocky Horror Show, and leaving a town early one morning having performed there the night before, and not being able to remember its name. When he asked his fellow performers, he discovered that everyone else in the company had also forgotten where they’d just spent 24 hours!

It’s The Biggest Loser on telly tonight, and I’m hoping I’m back in my hotel room in time to see it. I’m basically addicted. It’s car crash telly at its very best. It’s about a load of morbidly obese people in a fat farm trying to lose weight. They seem to be doing a phenomenal amount of exercise, but last week most of them didn’t lose any weight whatsoever, which, when you’re 25 stone, is a fairly tragic occurrence! The personal trainers are blaming their intake of food, but surely, if this is a fat camp, food is an aspect that should be monitored even more carefully than exercise! I was actually quite surprised to see that the contestants were cooking for themselves. There’s also a rather bizarre event each week, when they stick everyone in a room full of cakes and tell them that the group who eats more will have 4 lbs knocked off their team’s overall weight. I think it’s some kind of reverse psychology, and an attempt by the producers to add a bit of jeopardy to the proceedings, but it actually gives us an opportunity to watch fat froozlers stuffing food into their enormous faces as though they were part of some kind of Bacchanalian orgy. You can't take your eyes off them...

The contestants spend much of their time bursting into tears, throwing up, saying they don’t have “any more to give” and trying to get public sympathy for their inability to stop chuzzling. As a man who balloons up and down in weight, I have limited tolerance for people who can’t keep their weight in control. We all have points at which we feel things have got out of control. I hit mine on about January 10th. But I’ve never felt the need to garner sympathy for my inability to use my own will power. I have a similar view about smokers and drug addicts. There’s only one person who ultimately cares about what you do to your body – and that’s yourself. Anyway, The Biggest Loser is compelling viewing, particularly if you imagine how quickly the contestants are going to pile the weight back on the moment they return to their sedentary lives, where they do nothing but eat take-away meals in front of the telly, and tell anyone who’ll listen that they’re overweight for genetic reasons.

...I didn’t really enjoy my Ploughman’s lunch.

350 years ago, Pepys had his lunch with Lady Sandwich, and the two of them were astonished to be interrupted midway by Lord Sandwich, who'd returned from sea, much to their great surprise. He was full of tales from his voyage, and it seemed he'd got himself into an argument with Lord St Albans, which very nearly escalated into a dual. Pepys dined with some of the men who'd been with Sandwich on the trip to the continent, and all of them said they thought France a very noble and fine country.

We had rainbows all day today as well...

1 comment:

  1. Can't believe you ran across the bridges having seen your panic attack on the Golden Gate! IT must be therapy indeed! x

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