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Je Nicorette Rien April 29, 2011

Posted by normanmonkey in Single London, Thirtynumbthing.
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The other morning, on my way to work, I was just a whisker away from being run over by a Nicorette delivery van. It was my fault as I was actually attempting to light a cigarette at the time so the irony hasn’t escaped me and I wondered if perhaps this is a way of thinning out the numbers for those of us whom still prefer a puff to a patch. 

Such near-death experiences are a good cause for contemplation about life and how brief and fleeting it all is. My initial reaction when faced with such compelling evidence at the frailty if not of humanity then certainly your truly was to quit my job, sell the house and decamp at once to Las Vegas to eke out my final years enjoying the infinite possibilities to be had in a Cohiba and cocktail haze staring at flashing lights and pestering showgirls.

Yet, that will have to wait, perhaps until next year at the earliest. The present isn’t just about self-preservation, but self-improvement because I’m actually doing my best to fight the ageing process and remain attractive to the opposite sex. What any Thirtynumbthing will tell you is that we are extremely conscious that time is running out. Maybe not our mortal time, but to find someone left who would make a decent partner in daylight, but also that own physical marketability is if not quite on the wane, but coming quite close to its sell-by date.  Meanwhile friends who did precisely bugger all in their twenties then settled down with wives and kids now spend all they free time running, swimming and cycling as far away from their domestic responsibilities as is possible,

It takes only a long shift during the working week and then an idle weekend (these invariably consist of a messy Friday in town with dubious characters and colleagues; a Saturday of Anadin, regret and Sky Sports and and a hearty pub roast and a decent Malbec to round of Sunday) and one can actually feel a girth developing and the lines around eyes setting in to the extent that if you put a stylus in them they’d play the first few bars of ‘Who’s Sorry Now’. There comes a stage where it is all too easy to give up, accept it as fate and one actually finds oneself contemplating for the first time, with no hint of irony, maybe now is the time to invest in a sports car?

A Permanent Partner

A futile gesture in this direction is a weekly visit to a personal trainer. I started seeing James about five years ago when he was only 21 and we’ve been together ever since. If you think that sounds like I’m talking about a relationship that’s no coincidence: I’ve never been with anyone else that long, he’s constantly on my case and, in the absence of a permanent partner, I have someone to argue bitterly with, be a source of constant disappointment to and irritate the hell out of due to my wayward antics. At the same time, I do like and respect him though not sure James would always say the same about me though we both agree that my name won’t be causing too much debate among the selectors for Team GB at London 2012.

There are certain rituals to be observed. Firstly we always start amiably and check each others mood so we know what boundaries we will be working within (there was one session conducted in smouldering silence after we’d both overstepped the mark in each other’s eyes – he by making me exert myself after an excellent weekend and me by throwing an unsavoury tantrum as a result) Second, sessions now commence only after my car keys have been handed over. This is to prevent repeats of an unfortunate lapse on my part saying I needed to go to the loo and promptly did a flit.

Our sessions mostly consist of him telling me what ‘we’ are going to do, him then telling me to do it and me trying to come up with some unfathomable reason why I do not consider this to be possible. The fact that he is younger, stronger and more intimidating than I am and that I have already paid him at the same time as handing over the car keys mean inevitably relent. There follows numerous periods of rolling around on a mat in my own sweat, cursing, panting and making threats that make me look like I’m auditioning for the role of the possessed little girl in a remake of The Exorcist.

One trick he’s also picked up on is when I take a moment to consult him on a matter of nutrition or wellbeing: ‘So what are you eating at the moment? What would you say would be a good breakfast for me tomorrow?’ Impressed at my inquisitiveness he’ll go off down a merry path on the merits of mackerel and kale before the penny drops and my nod and wink gives away that I’ve just stolen a minute. That never goes down well and is repaid in equal measure.

Not that James is always entirely correct, especially when it comes to his penchant for motivational mantras and my aversion to the sound bite. Online one evening I spotted he used the medium of his widely followed Twitter feed as a celebrity personal trainer to state: An active mind never worked in an inactive body’ to which I replied immediately ‘I would like to see you say that on live  national television to Stephen Hawking’. Maybe not a victory for me in the long run, but at least I finally got some points on the board.

In masochistic fashion there’s something in all this because if you actually stop moaning and procrastinating it actually works. There are periods, sometimes stretching for a month where the pendulum swings toward protein based breakfasts, early nights, regular gym sessions and even James admitting he is impressed with my dedication and fitness levels. He even tweeted about me once. The trouble with every working pendulum it does, have a horrible tendency to swing back in the other direction and does so in spectacular fashion. This could be triggered by anything: work, holiday, sunshine, rain, a woman, a man (or a bunch of them), a good QPR result, a bad QPR result, QPR not playing or near death by Nicorette van. It’s just a case of enjoying it while it lasts, dealing with it and when you find yourself again thinking you need a sports car to remain appealing to the opposite sex we’ll try anything – except triathlon.

This post was first published as a Thirtynumbthing column at Blokey.com

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