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Friday, June 5, 2009

London Pride

For years I have been castigating my Brother Paddy about his lack of will power in respect of his diet and training.
He says it is easy for me having a modest life style!!!
Admittedly he does have a point, eating less and using my bike rather than the car ensures that I can save money.
The saving enables me to buy the more important and often vital things that I need, rather than what I want.
Further more I am merely a stones throw from such beautiful and varied terrain where I can ride my bike.
To top it all, I also have a Gym in walking distance that offers a variety of exercise classes, including spin.
When Paddy is at home he is faultless, he eats sensibly and certainly trains as hard as I do.
The trouble starts when he is away, where he collects lbs with the same frequency as airmiles.
Living in hotels he piles on the weight and does very little exercise.
I always say to him. 'Why don’t you just eat sensibly and use the gyms that are usually available too you?'
When my questions are answered with what appears to be an array of excuses, I just used to switch off and think that he was just being weak and pathetic.
In a sanctimonious way I told him that he just needed to be better prepared and to have more self discipline.
The answer appeared that simple!!!!
He politely gave me a unique destination for my opinions.
On reflection I deserved much more, perhaps even a punch on the nose.

This past week I have been on a course in London.
Unless I am on holiday I would never stay in a Hotel for more than two nights, So this was to be the nearest to my brothers life I could get to.
So as well as completing the course, I tasked myself with an additional challenge.
To show Paddy once and for all that travelling should not affect training.
Before setting off I completed some research on the hotel and ensured that I was adequately prepared.
Instead of packing ‘Going out clothes’ they were replaced by Sports Gear.
Next to my toiletries I had placed assorted bottles of ‘slim-fast milk shakes’ and powders to make up hydrating sports drinks. This would be a breeze I had decided.
When I checked in my Hotel on the Sunday evening I was determined to go back to Yorkshire even fitter and thinner than when I arrived and to blow Paddy’s lifetime excuses right out of the water.
In fact I thought I could even call him whilst running on the treadmill, just to illustrate my opinion and give it more gravitas.

On inspecting the gym I was immediately struck by its position.
It was elevated on the fifth floor overlooking London.
Great view I thought.
It had a sauna, fantastic chilled water fountain and TV monitors at every exercise station. Thrilled at my discovery, I decided on a warm up on the tread mill, from which I could call Paddy in Houston.
The treadmill was broken................ and the one next to it, the third was occupied by a plump man walking slightly faster than and overladen snail, and reading the Financial times.
With my enthusiasm tempered I got on the only vertical bike.
The resistance button did not work, so it was like peddling down hill with a gale force tail wind.
The recumbent cycle was no better with the seat lock lever broken.
This meant that my movement was more akin to a rower than a cyclist and messed up my knees before the plump man had got to page 5.
Tactically I decided to delay my phone call to Paddy not wishing to copy those immortal lines of ‘Houston…..we have a problem’.
Having not even broken into a sweat I returned to my room thoroughly disgruntled.
So maybe a week of no exercise would do me good I convinced myself.
Besides there was always the diet.
Having decided to eat in the Hotel restaurant I observed the mouth watering menu and ordered what I envisaged to be a healthy, yet wholesome meal.
When it arrived it looked spectacular, and for a small child it might be considered an appropriate portion. For me it represented something I could eat in three mouthfuls without even having to apply a napkin to the corners of my mouth.
I was gradually getting very miffed.
From my swish hotel restaurant table I could see outside and over the road to the ‘Euston Flyer’ a Traditional Ale Pub.
People were sat outside enjoying the warm evening sunshine and smiling, an expression that seem to be avoiding my face.
They cheeky B******DS were drinking beer and eating food !!!!!!!
Portions that I could easily see from 200 feet away that included of all things chips.
Not those scraggly ones that you get in MacDonalds but big fat ones, with a crispy outer and soft fluffy inner. The sort you might pinch from anothers plate knowing that the outcome could result in physical violence.

Within 30 mins I had crossed over the other side of the road.
To the dark side.
Supping a variety of Real Ales, eating a Juicy Burger and chips I was as happy as a pig in a trough. To onlookers I probably resembled one too.
Paddy I am so sorry.

From my new location I watched, smelt, heard and touched London.
London surprised me.
I used to live in London 18 years ago and It was at least two years since I had last stayed there. When I lived there I used to cycle into the city from Lewisham every day for two years. Then commuter cyclists were a rare site, almost a novelty, and I would wave frantically on the rare occasion that I might see another cyclist.
It was not a warm recollection. I was knocked over six times and would exhaust all the bad words in the dictionary on a daily basis. Ultimately it was one of the reasons I left the city for a more rural lifestyle.
But things had changed !!! I was impressed by the pure number of cyclists especially the fix gear variety. They were everywhere.
People of all ages, shapes, sizes, colour and creeds, forming spoke wheeled processions along dual cycle ways.
Maybe it was just where I was, or my optimistic perception, but suddenly I was uplifted by the progression that London had seemingly made.
I toasted the liberation with my pint of ‘London Pride’
It all went down very well.


  1. Brilliant apology brother Phil, Now you understand why I hate travelling so much. Unless its Perth(Australia)with my disciplined rides around the Swan River,most locations are an Iniquity of Culinary Temptation.

    Ohhh by the way! While you were eating those chips I am training hard in Houston eating things that taste like cardboard.

  2. I feel your pain. I don't travel often, but when I do, beef, beer and potatoes call my name. And I have affirmatively replied more often than is good for me.

  3. Lovely, and I totally understand, as an ex Flight Attendant, we were always in awe of other countries fare....or lack thereof!


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