Sunday, 27 January 2008

Race-day psychosis

You would never have guessed I'd missed a week of training and half a week of food - pacing around the changing rooms and club room before boating for yesterday's race, I felt exactly the same as before every race.

Yesterday was a head race, a 4km time trial with the tide, from Chiswick to Hammersmith. Head races are notoriously painful affairs, being far longer than most regatta courses and, without a crew side-by-side to race down the course, far harder to maintain the necessary gee-ed-up-ness to work through the pain. When I woke yesterday, it was with the fear - the queasy disquiet at the thought of the looming, entirely self-inflicted pain - already firmly lodged in my core.

The hour before boating is the worst. Fear of the pain, uncertainty in my fitness, ability, technique. But as we go to get the boat out, a switch is flicked. All of a sudden, my usual calm demeanour slips away, replaced by that of a single-minded, rowing thug. I pace around, I focus inwards, I'm not about to get out anyone's way, and one look at my eyes will tell you that. I transform into a sado-masochist. One of the symptoms of this transformation is that the sorts of words and phrases which appeal to me change from things which I like the sound of, such as:

  • lascivious;
  • kumquat;
  • delectable;
  • gesticulate;
  • onomatopoeia;
  • oleaginous;
to things which raise my stress levels, blood pressure and presumably my ability to perform, things like:
  • kill;
  • death;
  • rip;
  • kill;
  • explode;
  • power;
  • kick-ass;
  • "I'm-gonna-stuff-my-presence-on-the-water-down-the-throat-of-any-passing-norovirus"; and did I mention my favourite psyching-up word...
  • kill.

I'm sure you get the idea - anything aggressive pretty much does the trick.

I get properly psyched up. From the moment I'm in the boat, I'm switched on and hyper-sensitive to every sound, sensation and presence. I sit up taller, set my jaw to super-psyched rower position (very similar to aggressive thug position, but with marginally more gorm...) and block out any other crews on the water. They are not there, and on the off-chance that they are there and intend racing, they will lose. I'm not into making conversation with the opposition. Some people do - they go in for a bit of chit chat with their opposite number whilst waiting for the start, but I'd rather kill my opposite number. But before I stuff it to them out on the course, whilst we're paddling down to the start or waiting for the off, I'll use every inch of my height and reach, and every reserve of technique and composure to intimidate the opposition.

Any other day, I'd be convinced that all this is rubbish, and I'm intimidating no-one. I'm sure it is rubbish, and any other day, I wouldn't want to be intimidating anyone, but on race-day it's a vital part of the storyline forming the parallel reality that needs to run through my head to get me through the race. Yesterday, on top of the normal level of self-delusion required, I had to work extra hard to counter any concept that my preparation for the race may have been less than ideal. In addition to usual pre-race fear of pain, I was deeply worried that I would let rip only to find the tank very empty (thanks to Mr Norovirus and three days without food or adequate fluid intake), that perhaps a couple of minutes into the race I would find I had nothing left to give. But you couldn't have told me that on the start, oh no. By the time we'd got to the start, in my parallel reality I Was In The Shape Of My Life. I Have Been Fit As A Fiddle All Year. (I certainly hadn't spent most of it in close proximity to my toilet...)

The start of a head race always feels good - the built-up nervous energy and adrenalin carries us through our start, into our stride, and the first couple of minutes disappear in a display of real, sexy rowing - controlled power, smooth technique. Eight working as one. It feels fantastic. We're closing on the crew ahead, and the crew behind is disappearing into the distance. We're going to power down this course, and blow the other crews out of the water. The landmarks along the Thames pass by quickly. The pain creeps up more slowly, and more sinisterly.

Five minutes in, we're still moving well, but now my legs feel heavy. My body feels heavy. The rating seems unbelievably high and I have no idea how I'm going to continue to do this for the rest of the race, I just know that I am. I will. Norovirus can go hang. Every stroke I take tightens the noose on the virus. I can feel it. My pain is killing it. Every stroke. Every stroke. More pain. More Pain. Love the Pain. Love the Power. Kill. KILL.

My lungs are bursting for air, my abs are screaming for a rest, my legs feel like lead, my forearms are full of acid. Holding the technique is hard work, but I'm concentrating on the music of the boat, the strength at the finish, the smooth (increasingly ragged) glide up the slide, water trickling off the blades, the splash of the catch, the deep growl of the drive. I'm loving the visual symmetry, seeing the synchronised blades in the periphery of my vision. Forwards and back. Describing symmetric arcs (with a bit of translation and reflection). Nurture the Symmetry. Keeping it Tidy. Holding the Beauty. Loving my Blade. Loving the Crew. Loving the Music. Nurture the Pain. Nurture the Pain. Nurture the Pain. NURTURE THE PAIN.

There's a cheer. We're a minute from the end. The rest of the club is standing on the raft and cheering for us - this really is time to block out the pain and row sexily for the cameras. We're powering through. The finish. We're there.

The adrenalin drains away. We're shattered. We can't speak. It's bizarre how disabling losing the need to compete can be. We can barely move, yet seconds earlier we were firing on all cylinders, tired, but coordinated, and moving pretty quickly. Immediately past the finish, we might as well have been haggis for all the speed we could give the boat. The pain had vanished, but the energy was gone.

There were an awful lot of boats at the finish. It's striking - I had barely been aware of them at the start, and only aware of one during the race (did I not mention there was a bunch of schoolkids chasing us down the course?) They look as wrecked as we feel - no doubt we all look pretty rough. I know I'm a bit broken. Gone are my pre-race delusions of being in the shape of my life, my parallel reality sank at the finish. I don't need it anymore. It has done its job. It got me through...

The transition from wannabe killing-machine to knackered rower is extreme and exhausting. The adrenalin has gone. The competition has passed. I'm not interested in aggression. I no longer want to kill anything. I'm satisfied - it was a good row. As we paddle back to the boathouse, food, water, and sleep resume their customary positions at the forefront of my mind. My race-day persona is put away, shut back in its box, not to be seen again. That is, until the next race. And even as I file away my personal race-day sado-masochist, I can hear her declaring: Bring it on...


Rob Clack said...

Wow! That is an astonishing piece of writing, and beautifully clarifies the difference between those of us who will never achieve anything seriously competitive and those who do. Riveting stuff. More please.

But Why? said...

Thanks. Really, thanks - I was worried parading my inner sado-masochist might send everyone running for the hills.

But seriously, I think it rather more clarifies the difference between those who think doing inordinate amounts of training to have a chance at rowing backwards down a river more quickly than a number of other people is time well spent, and those who prefer a lie-in, coffee, a croissant and a paper on a weekend morning. But then again, I've never had much time for croissant.

DJ Kirkby said...

Yikes...and so beautifully written! I loved reading this. I can not believe you had to row all the way back, I really thought there would be a truck waiting to drive you all back!

But Why? said...

Sadly not! Though I do love the idea of having someone tow us around when we're tired...

Fortunately our boathouse is nearer the end of that course than the start, so we had a long paddle to the start (in psycho-killer mode) and a short trip home (in broken rower mode). I do think it's better that way, but being a psycho is surprizingly exhausting...

Verity said...

Liking it. Even without the shed, it has style ;-)

tpe said...

Oh. That was fantastically well-written. What an exuberantly gripping assault on the senses.

Clearly, you are an absolutely ruthless bastard (when it matters), but that's just fine by me.

I actually came here to annoy you a wee bit and generally cause upset (following our attractive stramash over at the glorious Anna Mr's home), but this just blew me away.

Outstanding, But Why. An utterly glorious piece of writing. Thank you for that.

Kind regards etc....


But Why? said...

Thanks. Welcome. I apologise for the lack of a shed, but do please bear in mind that sheds are strictly optional for rowers: under circumstances of desperate shed requirement, we can hide in the boathouse and make believe it's a shed, using our well-honed powers of delusion to perceive all boats to be garden implements.

Thanks. Welcome. And I must apologise for having evidently frustrated you in your upset-causing ambitions, but I must say, I am rather fond of your splendid description of me as an absolutely ruthless bastard (when it matters). I may have to use it more often, perhaps even put it on my CV...

As for the stramash (I'm not Scottish, you know? I had to look that up...!), I think we're onto round three now, are we not? Perhaps we should reconvene on neutral territory for another exuberantly gripping assault...

Badger said...

Superb! Loved it! I have nominated you for post of the week.. :) (


Kahless said...

The delightful DJ sent me in your direction saying my me on my random blog reminded her of you in many ways.
Bloody hell! If what I write expresses myself a smidge like you here then I am a happy chappie.

Really enjoyed yhis post and was exhausted reading it. *sigh* I'm off for water, food and sleep.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

Glad you are feeling weel enough to go out and race!!!

But Why? said...

Wow - great! Thankyou! I'm rather glad Stray narrowly failed to persuade me not to be so daft as to race last weekend...

Thanks for dropping in. I'm chuffed you enjoyed the post - is there any chance we'll be seeing you out on your local river any time soon...?

Cheers! I could have done with another week before racing, but feel so much better for having shown that virus what for... Are you glad your rowing days are in your past?

trousers said...

I've scan-read a lot of this, since my attention span seems to be lacking. I must rectify this at the earliest opportunity however since the quality of the writing appears to vividly bring to life (if that's not a really awkward piece of tautology...or even if it is) the state of affairs you describe. Not to absorb this more fully will be doing it a grave disservice.

I must say that on what I've digested so far (and I haven't had the norovirus, so no issues as regards my ability to digest), it brought to mind what I go through every day to put myself in the frame of mind to visit my clients ;o)

But Why? said...

Hello, sir. I am heartily glad to hear that you remain Noro-free. I am less glad and, truth be told, rather concerned for both yourself and your clients to hear that you have to work yourself into a sado-masochistic frenzy in order to turn up to visits. That is not a good state of affairs, at all.

In an absolutely appalling state of affairs (which I need to write about somewhere and here's as good as anywhere else, and far, far better than an entire post devoted to whinging), I paid £22 today for two coffees and a pot of darjeeling. It it absolutely the last time I accept the suggestion that doing an interview in a hotel lounge is a good idea - next time, it'll be the greasy spoon down the dodgy alley in the next block. £22 for drinks!?!?!?

Ah, I feel better now.

Thankyou. xx

Rob Clack said...

£22 for 2 coffees and a tea? Jeez, I'm glad I live out in the sticks! Rx

tpe said...

I share your sentiments, Rob Clack. Daylight robbery, really.

Hello again, But Why. I was just saying to Mr Clack there that I shared his sentiments. £22 for tea and coffee seems like daylight robbery, really.

Anyway, yes, sorry about bamboozling you with the word "stramash". I'm such an inconsiderate galoot, sorry, and I do tend towards havering. It's a good word, though, I hope you'll agree. There was once a Scottish football commentator, Arthur Montford, who used this word all the time ("there's a stramash in the penalty box" etc). Now then, because this snippet of information is so freakishly uninteresting, I'm actually going to leave it here free of charge. It's all yours, But Why, you own it now. (You can skelp me with a spurtle later, if it helps.) Okay, enough of such idle flumgummerie - although you'll maybe want to try to reciprocate with an equally dull snippet from the land of Englishers? I just don't know.

You suggest we reconvene on neutral territory. I can only really think of Switzerland, I'm afraid, but feel reasonably confident you weren't suggesting we take a holiday there together. Not yet, anyway. This means you'll likely be stuck with me here and/or in Finland - with the excitingly wrong in the head Anna MR.

But £22? Why? That is astonishingly indecent. I think you should feel very free to moan about that at length, you know.

Right, bed time (up late for tax returns).

Once again, But Why, this was a most excellent post.

Kind regards and happy stuff etc...


But Why? said...

Rob C,
Well, quite. Having said that, I have expensed the ridiculous amount, and as carrying out an interview in a hotel lobby is a cheapskate alternative to booking a room for a few hours, somehow everyone manages to be quids in. (Economics leave me terribly bamboozled and angry, sometimes)

Regardless, it still seems a bit steep to me. I understand it is possible to buy two coffees and a pot of tea in some provincial towns and still get change from a fiver...

As you may have noticed, I too share Mr. Clack's views that £22 for a few light refreshments, however frillyly presented, and however delicately lovely was the miniscule tart which accompanied them (free of charge), is a tad on the painful side.

And, tpe, whilst you are most welcome here, I must insist that in future you do not orphan any information to my less than tender care, particularly if written in a non-native slanguage. It might be dangerous. It may even self-destruct in ten seconds and take the rest of my post and visitors with it. That would be terrible.

And as for encouraging me to moan at length on this exuberantly gripping stramash in my penalty box you seem to be suggesting during a brief sojourn to aphrodisiac-rich Switzerland... well, really, it all sounds astonishingly indecent. I feel compelled to be rather shocked at the suggestion...

Platonic hugs 'n' snogs xx

Reading the Signs said...

You know what, Warum? Smashing post and all, but I feel the same as I did after reading your previous post: grateful that you were doing this so I don't have to but can experience it vicariously. I am a writer of things, you see, and I need to have a large number of experiences, large and small so that when I write a story I can make it sound as though I've been there and done it. My son took up rowing for fun in his first term at Oxford and it sounded like extreme army training, 6am training sessions and all.

You offering tpe platonic hugs 'n snogs? He a bit sniffy about those, just saying (hi teepee). But Switzerland might be the place for them.

But Why? said...

What can I say? Yes, it is a bit like extreme army training - you see, there is so much to learn and so little time in which to learn it before your first regatta (assuming you have been lucky and the river hasn't flooded).

But really, does anyone take up rowing for fun? Or do they take it up out of curiousity and get addicted to the challenge, the cameraderie, the discipline and structure of being a crew, the effort of training, the feeling of actually having worked hard, and of course, the ritual of crew dating. Of course, it is fun, but it's not quite the "messing about in boats" which Ratty loved so much...

As for the hugs and snogs, I wanted to make it quite clear that I wouldn't be going in for any of that tummy-kissing or thigh-squeezing behaviour which was exhibited at higher latitudes, dear me, no. Not on a school night, and not when I have an outing in the morning. It's terribly hard to get adequate sleep with those sorts of things going on.

trousers said...

I've now read it properly. Quite marvellous: the urgency of the description, the brevity and repetition of many of the sentences... it all conveys the subject matter in a stark and convincing style. Great stuff. I shall revise my previous comment: while still reminding me of my preparation for work, that is meant more than ever with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Now, I would say, it reminds me of what it's like to get up on stage with a band and play a concert...

But Why? said...

Pressure. Expectations. Adrenalin. Fear. Having to get it right because this is when it counts, and you can't let the crew/band/team down. Performance. Fun, isn't it?

tpe said...

A "non-native slanguage"? Hmm. We're both British, aren't we? I'm merely using some words that are predominantly found in the Scottish part of Britain - nothing "non-native" or slangy about them at all. I can't help it if you bring a rather narrow definition to bear on what is, or what isn't, native to the British Isles. You are clearly a RACIST, But Why, and I shall, needless to say, be reporting you to The Authorities.

Anyway, before we meet in court, I feel we should sort out this mess with the Swiss box you are stramashingly thrusting down my penalty. Or something. I forget (trauma sometimes does this).

Oh man, we'll end up like those guys who use any sentence and turn it into something leery. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes folk say would-be smutty things that don't actually make any sense, although you can sort of see what they're getting at.

So, for example, woman says to man:

I chipped the ball from the edge of the green and it went straight into the hole.

And the man replies:

I wouldn't mind chipping my ball from the edge of your green and getting it straight in your hole, I'll tell you that for free, you dirty wee minx...

That way lies madness, But Why, and is to be avoided at all costs (sometimes). I can barely hold a decent conversation with Signs, you know, because she does this to me so much. (Hello Signs - good to see you out and about.)

Yes, I once said to her, weepingly:

"Signs, I can't bear watching the shooting and killing on the news, it depresses me terribly."

And she replied:

"I wouldn't mind shooting you dead, Englishman, because you depress me quite terribly."

What a little teaser, isn't she? Pure smut, really.

God, I'm sure I actually came in here to say something, but seem to have become a wee bit sidetracked. Yes. Platonic snogs? No such thing, you can't trick me. My granny used to try that old chestnut on me all the time, and there is simply no way that what we did together was platonic, whatever she may have told me. So ha. Who's laughing now?

You really look kind of silly, But Why, sorry.

I see, incidentally, that you have already written another post. You are clearly going to be too prolific a blogger for me to hope to keep up with, which is a shame, but I'll try not to hold it against you.

Firm regards, bountiful happinesses and tally-ho....

TPE xx

But Why? said...

Goodness me, that's a lot to respond to.

Firstly, on the non-nativeness of the slanguage, perhaps I was wrong in making the assumption that you're not an Essex boy? Feel free to declare your Essex-ness, but bear in mind the impact revelations of this nature have on a man's reputation.

Secondly, as a recent immigrant to London, I am very quickly learning to appreciate that it is, in fact, the centre of the universe. Really. And anything else is just substandard and wrong. Really. I believe that. You only have to look at how right everything here is - the public transport, the free-flowing traffic, the clean air, the lack of gun crime or youth violence, etc. My mind boggles even considering that anyone could think differently...

Next, I think you probably need to talk to someone who's qualified to listen about your non-platonic granny kisses. It's not my line of expertise, I'm afraid.

And as for the looking silly - well, yes, I had one of those unfortunate haircut moments earlier in the day. You probably know the sort of thing - when you realise with a sinking heart and dissippating sense of style that the one who is armed with the scissors doesn't share a first or second language with yourself, and you have to take that leap of faith that your international sign language will see you and your hairstyle right.

It worries me slightly that you already know this, as to the best of my knowledge, that would mean you must have been the guy with the granny waiting patiently for his appointment, the one who was reading the magazine and giving me the sympathetic look of one who knows that a hirsute disaster is unfolding and the victim is powerless to stop it.

Hmm, that'd be stalking, that would. Mind you, you could have been the granny, in which case there's also deception involved... Or, worse, the dude with the scissors, in which case we're probably talking common assault, on top of the other two. Good-o, we'll have plenty to talk about in court. I can't stand the wastage of all that time and energy and money over petty bickering...

On which note, I should retire - it's an early start tomorrow. There are many miles of river desperately waiting to be trained upon.

Sloppy kisses xx

tpe said...

Hey there, I hope you had a good time training on the many miles of water, But Why. You must be one of those horribly fit guys. (Jealous)

It was rather a lot to respond to, yes, and I'm sorry about that. My bad. Anyway......

Are you familiar with the Billy Connolly sketch about a God-fearing dad taking his son to the football?

"Dad, is Jesus everywhere?"
"Yes son, he is."
"Dad, does Jesus play for Tottenham"?
"Do you know what, son, in a funny way he does...."

That sort of thing. As a British citizen (although absent) I feel that I must therefore consider myself to be an Essex boy, too. I am a citizen of the whole island and use the language of the whole island. I am, in short, Jesus. Or, at the very least, deserving of more consideration than to be told that my version of English is either slang or secondary. I'm right - again. (You need to show some respek, innit, and quit dissin' on my Jock-speak.)

Yes, London is the best, isn't it? I long to breathe in the meadow-fresh air of old London town. As you are clearly already aware, every living being outwith the English capital is simply plagued by jealousy. It's tough being a hick. Oh, how we marvel at and concur with the wholly reasonable self-perceptions that Londoners seem to have. You are one of the chosen people now, But Why, and I actually feel slightly intimidated visiting you here.

My three sisters all moved to London years ago, in fact, but, in order to be able to properly stand back and gasp in awe at this most splendid city, they all then quickly moved to Brighton. They stand on hills, you know, gazing longingly in the direction of Londinium.

How's your hair? I'm scissor-tastically sorry for subjecting you to common assault (yes, it was me - you are highly perceptive) and can only really hope that you recover soon. Look, why don't you do what I do, and simply cut your own hair?

Going to visit the hairdresser is one of the most traumatic things imaginable and I simply detest it. Always have. Since starting to cut my own hair, however, I've never been scrappier. Try it.

Sorry for taking such an age to see that you'd responded to me here, by the way (I'm a bit slow, unfortunately). I hope you're having a lovely Sunday and have a most splendid week to come.

Virile regards etc...

TPE xx

But Why? said...

Why, hello. Yes, thankyou, last Sunday was a most splendid training session. Probably the worst water I've ever rowed upon (except for my one and only outing in a Cornish Pilot Gig on the English Channel), but absolutely determinedly and crew-spiritedly fantastic. Our hands may have shredded, but our spirit held firm. It was a quite superb morning.

I am most sorry to report that I am not in fact familar with the sketch you have described, though the implications of it appear to be that you claim Jesus is an Essex boy. It has been a long, long time since I set foot inside a church, but I'm pretty sure the last time I did so, claiming Jesus was an Essex boy would have been heretical. I suppose the church is a little more permissive these days, but perhaps claiming Jesus to be a Londoner may have been a safer bet than holding his origins to be in Essex.

So yes, London. I find it rather intimidating myself, actually, and am heartily glad to have the opportunity to get on the river to get away from the huge numbers of people who seep out onto the streets whenever the sun suggests it may put in an appearance. I have no idea where all these people come from. Can that heaving mass of humanity really be contained in the relatively small number of domestic addresses within the capital? I struggle to believe it myself, and suspect that many of the people on the streets of the capital have come from Brighton and the like for the day. They don't look like Londoners, you see. They have the sort of hairstyles which would look very out of place in a suit...

And so to my hair, which has begun to grow back, covering some of the scars from our earlier altercation. I must say, I really rather like it. I would never have thought a mohican would suit me so well. It certainly doesn't suit my suits - since the juxtaposition of mohican and suit caused many of my colleagues to feel rather faint, I have since been attending work in rather less professional attire. So yes, I must thank you for the change in style - it certinaly works a treat on the opposition on race day!

tpe said...

You added a P.P.S. to your tagging post (02/02/08), I notice. Is that fair? I read that post previously and thought "okay, phew, nothing to worry about here". And now this. Shocking. Oh well, not to worry, I'll get you back just as soon as my mood lifts.

How are you today, But Why? Everything alright in your corner of the world? I hope so, anyway.

You've been out on the English Channel before? Yikes. Would you ever try to row all the way to France - it would be brilliant, surely? You certainly make rowing seem like fun (in a kind of driven and self-punishing way) and like a useful ally, too, in learning to focus one's mind and shut out external distractions (and worries, maybe?)

I like using chess for this purpose, although it doesn't help on the fitness front, sadly, as rowing must.

Now then. I'm an avid churchgoer-into, as it happens. No real time for religion or any of that stuff, but I love the calm the buildings offer. However, I don't think it would be heretical to say that Jeepers was an Essex boy - merely slightly parochial. Jeepers is an everywhere boy, you see, and by default this makes him an Essex boy, too. Genius. ("O little town of Burnham-on-Crouch, how still we see thee lie...." A famous ditty, But Why, and it happily lends itself to proving my point, somehow. Sharpen up.)

Hmm. London is too big - that's just a fact. I'm not really sure how you can bear it, But Why. I quite like the place, really - but have always felt uncomfortable with (the majority of) Londoners themselves. And I simply detest the air.

Like Paris, I would be happy to spend some considerable time browsing all the fantastic things that London has to offer, but I would need the police to clear the streets of people for me, first. The smug chokes me as much as the smog. (No, I'm being slightly unfair, I think. Oh well.)

The mohican suits you. And the thought of a mohican-toting rower splashing violently down the Thames, snarling most swearily at pasty competitors, is very pleasing indeed. It just is.

But Why? said...

I do not understand. Surely there is still nothing to worry about? I haven't tagged you. Unless you live in fear of all the things which might one day happen to you? But surely there are an infinite number of possible terrible occurrences - how could you ever sleep at night?

No, you must surely be joking. Good.

Yes, today, the world is good. I had one mildly irritating encounter at work with a jobsworth who unfortunately does not understand the part of his job with which I have been trying and failing to interact, but that aside, it's been a beautiful day.

Rowing on the channel was absolutely superb fun. I'd managed to persuade the fiance of a pal to take me out in his crew of burly Devonian men for a couple of hours on open water, and blimey, it's a tough, tough sport. Very little finesse is required. Skin like bark is an essential, but clean technique comes in a very poor third place to raw strength and concentration. Exhausting and scary, it definitely was. Fun? You bet. Rowing to France? I'd be up for that. Crossing the Atlantic, on the other hand, is something I'm content to leave to the experts and the airlines.

London? Yes. It is big, isn't it? But it's not very tall, and it's all a bit flat for my liking. A few more hills here and there wouldn't go amiss. The odd mountain, too, would probably lift the place a bit. I suppose you'd have to locate it on the outskirts, but I'm sure it would offer fine views of the capital. Perhaps I should suggest it to the mayorial candidates and then vote for whichever one takes it up?

I'm pleased you think the mohican suits me. I can report that it has lead to some interesting moments of realisation, including why churches standardised on arch-shaped doors...

Jeepers had a mohican, evidently.

tpe said...

Jeepers did have a mohican, yes. This is just a historical fact and everyone knows it.

Hello again, But Why. How are you today? You certainly seem to have been pretty tickety-boo and upbeat the last time I came to see you - which is as it should be, of course.

No, you didn't tag me - I know that, you loony, because, well, I can read.

However, you did make it sound like I was a weird troublemaker who thrives on pointless and surreal confrontation with strangers. The fact that this is true, Doctor, is neither here nor there. I wept.

And who said that I could sleep at night? Without fierce medication this simple pleasure is beyond me. Plus, I do live in constant fear of the innumerable awfulnesses just waiting to happen. It's brilliant. Forget rowing, Mais Pourquoi, and experience real adrenaline for a while. Embrace your fears and take some drugs. Sorted.

Oh yes, I can imagine that rowing on the channel was fun, by the way. For some reason this appeals to me a bit more than the Thames stuff you mention. You're a lucky duck.

Can you imagine the sense of satisfied achievement if you skedaddled all the way to France? It would be epic, I think.

Do you socialise with all your rowing companions, or do you just come together for these marathon slogs? I would have thought that there was a good opportunity for implacable bonding as you battle your limits in company - even if the fight itself is internalised and deeply personal.

Anyway, don't vote in the London mayoral elections, because this would make you party to a crime. I think it's shameful that Londoners are presented with such a risible choice - although it kind of serves them right for voting Ken Livingstone in the first place. That was just childish and stupid. But Boris Johnson? Oh my life.

Get out while you can, But Why. Run. (Or row, obv.)

tpe said...

One other thing, sorry: there is nothing wrong with being in love with a bridge. I think it's a good thing to feel altogether. (Just responding to something you wrote in a more recent post.)

But Why? said...

Whilst you and I are evidently aware that Jeepers had a mohican, I don't think anyone told the hippies (who modelled themselves on the flowing locks that J sports in western devotional art) that this was the case. Perhaps it's just as well - the concept of mohican-topped hippies is a bit much for me to take this afternoon.

Anyhow, yes, I am rather upbeat at the moment - how lovely of you to notice. Life is good. As one of my european rowing colleagues likes to put it, I have had many good sweatings over the last few weeks. I guess the sense of well-being is like spa-plus: on top of all the sweating for the sake of sweating, I've been on the endorphins again. Mind you, I do on occasion maintain that I can explain the post-exercise-high without recourse to endorphins (exercise hurts, you stop exercising therefore you stop hurting therefore it feels a damned sight better - I am right, am I not?). However, I seem to be gibbering slightly.

Your life of getting high on the fear of impending tagging sounds, a little, well, concerning. Meanwhile, I have been thinking about your suggestion of rowing the channel, but I have a few nagging doubts...

For one thing, I would end up in France. Whilst this isn't a massive problem, (I rather like soft cheeses and red wine), I would need to find some way of getting back to my pad in London. I suppose I could paddle back to Kent and up the estuary on a friendly tide, but it seems like a lot of hard work. I could get a ferry back, but then my boat would be on the wrong side of the channel. I have previously looked into the prospect of taking a boat overseas and passing it off as a passenger. It hasn't worked.

Oh, and yes, the crew is also a social bunch. Not only do we rejoice in the shared sweatings and maintaining our unity against the combined oppression of cox and coach, we also have showers together. This is vital in maintaining team spirit, otherwise we would smell as we tuck into our "breakfasts" after Saturday morning outings. Oh, and of course, calorie replenishment after circuit training takes place in the club bar - we wouldn't want anyone to go to bed on an empty stomach, even if it is only fluid replenishment.

And as for those elections, having looked at the candidates, I assumed that polling day was April 1st. It's not. They're being serious.


P.S. I'm sure being in love with a bridge is absolutely normal...

tpe said...

It is absolutely normal, yes. Why wouldn't it be? I'm in love with all sorts of stuff - and no, not in a jokey way.

You've got your facts concerning Jeepers and hippies and mohicans a wee bit mixed up, however.

All hippies, you're quite right, base their hairdos on the style of Baby Jesus. All of them. Jeepers, however, was a keen environmentalist and was, consequently, loathe to use the hairspray needed to keep his mohican permanently afloat - hence the rather floppy look he sported. This was a mohican, Mais Pourquoi, in all but name and appearance.

Hippies, you will hardly need reminding, are tediously environmentally-friendly, too. And, as we have already established, they all follow Jeepers slavishly. By all means sport a mohican, just don't damage the environment whilst you're about it - as it says in the bible.

So all hippies have mohicans - just like Jesus. They simply choose to style them according to biblical instruction. Hope this clears things up for you.

But where were we? Yes, hello. Lovely to see you again, friendly person, and I'm happy that I got it right about your general upbeat-ness last time. I hope your good feelings last.

Your explanation of post-exercise highs must surely be entirely correct, Doctor. I deffo believe it, anyway. Personally speaking, I concentrate on the pre-exercise highs and then, once I have achieved them, it seems pointless and dangerous to jeopardise these feelings by striving for the post-exercise highs. Drugs and fear, Aber Warum, drugs and fear. This regime maybe doesn't keep me fighting fit, true, but it does mean that I get to avoid exercise. Try to contain your jealousy, hmm?

You shower with your rowing friends? Oh God. This thought fills me with horror. I've no problem with nudity in front of other people (sunbathing, nudist beaches etc) but I simply couldn't bear being surrounded by people washing themselves. My girlfriend, sure. Anyone else, no. NO. How can you stand it?

Apart from this startling news, however, everything seems to be legal and above board on the rowing front. Well done.

The trouble now, of course, is that I'm becoming rather enthusiastic at the prospect of you rowing to France and can sort of see myself applying pressure on you to do such a thing. (You wouldn't even row to France to raise money for starving children? What's wrong with you? Jeez. What a cold-hearted, mohicany-hippie-rower you are, Mais. Shocking.)

Oh lordy, this letter has already gone on far too long. I need to calm down here. I was going to leap into your other post - the one with the rank picture of the salty and sweaty hat - but seem to have spent too much time in this space as it is. I have food to cook, for pity's sake, and girlfriends to feed.

I don't think I've left you anything to answer, though, so maybe we'll meet closer to the future next time. Then again, I do have a habit of becoming stuck in the same post. Years can pass and I can still be found finger-splurging in dusty comment threads. Try not to feel frightened.

Do try to feel happy, however. I've a sneaking suspicion that you might actually deserve to feel this way. Jury's still out, though, obv.

Take it easy.


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