Talking Rabbish: I used to be very safe, vegetarian and teetotal – who was that anyway?


You are fit? Or would you be good for nothing? I assume that at this time of year, some of you are making resolutions that contain the dreaded words “exercise” and “more,” much as you did last year. And from the year before.

I’m not here to punish you as a slacker, but to give you the wisdom of a man who’s seen everything and done none of it.

After a while, the best you can hope for is to be told you are “fit for your age.” I take it as a compliment, but I know people – particularly ladies – who get upset about it. I guess they see it more than their health as an indicator of their age.

But you can’t avoid age as easily as fitness. In the sci-fi TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Phil Coulson said that “fit for your age” is “something you say to an old person.”

But that’s what I have been having since I was 50. It begins in the middle of age. (Coulson also said, “I don’t sweat, I shine.” by the way.)

I was also really fit for a while, working out three days a week for a strenuous workout that remains my secret, and on top of that, going to the gym. I was a vegetarian and I didn’t even drink. Now I’m looking back at that guy and thinking, “Who the hell were you?”

Then was I happy? No, I wasn’t, of course. I was never happy. Is that where people relax and laugh? I believe I’ve seen this on TV.

You may already say, however, that I was less unhappy than normal. If you workout, you may have noticed this: chemicals start flowing around in your brain and raise morale. I came out feeling high a couple of times when I went to strenuous workouts after a long break.

The funny thing is, the second time, it never works out. You go back to school and you’re back to your old self, even though you’re more adjusted, maybe. I’ve found that gym workers are always good, well-adjusted individuals.

The notion that the physical determines the mental needs to be something. What is to be done, then?

My suggestion is a small one and not very regular.

You are more likely to hold it up for the long haul that way. More is less. If you do too much once, you will find an excuse not to do it at all the next time. It’s too much to ask.

Of course, there are people who don’t feel that way. Although they are very few, some people jog every day, year after year. Their faces are grim. They look mentally ill and should probably be institutionalized. It is not good to become obsessed with activities in life. Try not to have more than a mild interest in anything, reader.

Right now I only go to the gym once or twice a week for an hour, and sometimes I do some weird Chinese stuff in the garden. And no, ma’am, I don’t mean opium. I’m not in top shape.

But I don’t have one of those manly pregnancy bellies either, and I’ve found that wearing a t-shirt with a slogan across the chest can hide the boobs.

If your motivation for exercising is to lose weight, not just to avoid dying, there’s only one way to do it: eat less. Less is less, I’m afraid. That’s just the way of the world: garbage.

In the meantime, I hope you’ve found this advice from my experience uplifting.

Now, go and do some lifting. And remember: you’re not sweating, you’re shining.

A cultured man

For all his snooty classical references, it was popular culture from which Boris Johnson drew inspiration during the Brexit negotiations.

Referring to being free of the EU, the prime minister said the U.K. didn’t want to be “like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times”: being released from prison only to want to go back in after struggling with a life of freedom.

When talks reached an impasse, he told EU leaders, “We need to revive this process like that scene in Pulp Fiction where they put the adrenaline right in Uma Thurman’s heart.”

The prime minister also referred to a Monty Python sketch “where we’re trapped in the car and there’s a giant hammer outside the gates that slays us every time we drive out.”

He might also have mentioned the one with the dance where two fellows hit each other in the face with fish quotas, but probably not the one where the person seeking the Ministry of Argument mistakenly goes to the Ministry of Abuse: “Don’t give me that, von der Leyen, you snotty pile of parrot droppings.”

Five things we learned this week


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