Pedestrian thought


Yeah, what he said. One of the annoying things about being able to read is reading stuff that people have written that, like, puts shit really well, yeah? You’d think I’d be accustomed to that by now – heaven’s sake it happens often enough, I should be match fit. But even so, at least once a day I read something that makes my shoulders slump with the sense that I’d never have been able to phrase anything that well. And in the case of Will Self, it’s that I wouldn’t even have had a thought that big in the first place. Of course, in my line of work I also read things several times a day that make my shoulders slump because it’s so BADLY written. There’s alotta slumping going on round here.

Buddennyway, where were we? Yes. Walking. I love it. Do it every day. Have walked home three evenings this week – a jaunt of some 7.5 miles. It takes two hours, in that not-great time of day – 5.30 to 7.30 – when there’s not much going on anyway. I never wear headphones, believing that the ability to hear a shouted warning is as important as good socks. It perks me up, calms me down, tires me out. It makes me chuckle, connects me to others, recharges my batteries, keeps my brain in my head. And I’m so glad that walking has a champion of the articulacy of Will Self. He’s my ambulant hero. Well, he has to share the glory with my other hero, Rory Stewart (who walked across Afghanistan and wrote a book about it. Less intimidating and way more adorable, he also walked from Marble Arch to Oxford one autumn day a couple of years back, just you know, to see what it was like – the A40 was ‘boring’). I can only look on their walks and feel very very small. The longest I managed in London was Kentish Town to Tooting one summer evening but that was without refreshment or break. It took three hours – and two days to get my hamstrings stretched out again. And God I was thirsty by the end. I used to walk regularly from Tooting to Kew for Sunday lunch at my brother’s house, turning up hungry as a horse and ready to address my sister-in-law’s fantastic cooking with the appreciation it deserves.

One day I’ll walk from London to my parents’ home in Wiltshire. One day. But at least for now I might drop the apologetic tone, stop describing myself as a ‘mad’ walker and finally abandon the craven, hurried follow-up ‘It’s only because I’m too lazy to go to a gym.’

No, let me put my sensibly shod foot down at last. It’s not that I’m mad or too lazy or a bit embarrassed about doing something as old-school as propelling myself about under my own steam. It’s… it’s… um, wait. Look… it’s what Will Self says. Yeah.


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