As mentioned in an earlier post about Wild Swimming, my wife is a member of the South London Swimming Club at Tooting Bec Lido. whose wintertime activities appear – to the casual observer – to be plain barking mad. Namely open air swimming in water just below 5C.
However in this gorgeous new video shot by a ridiculously fit SLSC member called Jonathan Cowie, his own dolphin-like grace and the beauty of the setting makes the whole ritual look truly graceful and enticing. It seems almost tempting to have a go. Almost.
But then you remember thay on some days SLSC members have to break the ice before they can even get into the water for goodness sake… Fit and graceful or not, these people are crazy.
To be continued…
Having mentioned Egypt and cigarette health warnings in the last two posts, here’s a discarded German Camel packet that caught my eye at Wandsworth Common station recently. The slogan looks even more terrifying in German. As with “Achtung Minen!” in the war comics we used to devour back in the 1960s, you don’t need to know the language to understand the message.
Found this small reminder of earlier times in my swimming kit bag the other day. Back in the 80s, an occasional 20 minute session on the sunbed was a regular part of keeping fit, groomed and healthy. It could be fitted in after a swim at our local council-run leisure centre and flattered my vanity by taking the pallor off my otherwise pasty white skin.
The days of council-run sports centres are now long gone, and the sunbeds have now followed them into history. I stopped using them after my sister had a close brush with skin cancer. But the leisure centres no longer offer UV tanning in any case for fear of getting sued.
Only the goggles remain – forlorn, unused, but kept for old times’ sake – in the bottom of my swimming bag.
Last month’s Wild Swiming post described my wife’s membership of South London Swimming Club, and the propensity of its lunatic members to brave the freezing waters of Tooting Bec Lido throughout the winter.
DC Leisure Centres provide a team of lifeguards who take it in turns to oversee this madness.
Yesterday, it was as if the asylum staff had voluntarily changed places with the inmates – when nine of the team turned up for the annual Lifeguards Race.
Wife went down to cheer them on and photograph the event: sensible rubber wetsuits were, I’m pleased to see, strictly disallowed.
The eventual winner was Jason (third from the right) who’d never swum in the open air in his life, let alone on an arctic January morning. By all accounts the entire event was good wholesome family fun – even Ken and Barbie turned up to watch from the poolside.
Wife has just sent me a link to the photoblog Unusual Love Affair in London – in which Elizabeth Furth documents the early morning activities of South London Swimming Club at Tooting Bec Lido.
The photos are vivid and beautiful – one could only wish for a higher resolution gallery of them somewhere. The club’s activities on the other hand are plain barking mad: open air swimming in water just below 5C. The ground underfoot is so cold that even a damp footprint (bottom left, above) freezes into ice.
To understand why the members – who include my wife – persist in this folly as winter streadily advances, you’ll need to read Elizabeth’s upbeat and entertaining blog.
From National Aids Trust website:
The number of people living with HIV infection aged 50 years or over has seen a five-fold increase between 2001 and 2010 from 2,851 to 14,266. This represents one in five of all adults seen for HIV care in 2010. This rise is due to increased survival as a result of effective treatment in addition to continued transmission within this age group.
The chart shows how the number of HIV positive adults aged 50 and over in the UK has changed over time, sourced from the Health Protection Agency’s HIV New Diagnoses Surveillance Tables: Table 6.
Nearly two-thirds (62%) of older adults were diagnosed late. Adults diagnosed at age 50 years and over are more likely to present late compared with younger adults.
Targeted advertising on Facebook can get just that little bit too insidious – this NHS ad about dementia popped up while I was trying to get some work done this afternoon. On Facebook? Oh alright then, while avoiding getting some work done this afternoon.
Maybe choosing facebook.com/feelingmyage as my homepage was just asking for trouble… See NHS poster…
From Everything London via Twitter [@LDN]:
This is what the London tube map looks like if you can’t use stairs. For more info on step free access to public transport in London see Transport For All.
Twelve years ago an attack acute tendonitis left me hobbling with a stick for at least half a year. No doubt, if God grants me long life, I’ll be hobbling again one day.
According to a BBC Advice page, one in every five adults of working age in the UK has a disability of some kind, with which only 17% of them were born. So, the BBC suggests, maybe the term Temporarily Able Bodied (TAB) is more appropriate for those of us who are currently not disabled.
I’m just saying.
Thanks to Eileen from NotWarAndPeace for posting a link to The Death Clock in her comment on my piece about Dead At Your Age.
Had been putting off weighing myself for some months, but for the website to work you have to let it calculate your Body Mass Index. The reading on the bathroom scale – and disatrous resulting BMI – were a serious shock. A blood test at the doctor’s last week showed raised cholesterol, and now it’s clear why.
An even greater shock came after entering all the info into The Death Clock and asking it for a prognosis. It’s based on averages and all that of course, but still… On present showing the answer is: just twelve years left to live.
A few years ago Child A and I became intrigued by a monochrome canvas we saw at the Tate Modern gallery in London by the French artist Yves Klein.
The name meant nothing to me at the time, but according to c4gallery.com “he is generally considered the progenitor of Minimalism and Conceptual Art. In Klein’s short life he singlehandedly managed to redefine the foundation on which the entire generation of the 1960s avant-garde stood…” [read full article here ]
In 1958 he developed his trademark, patented, colour International Klein Blue which he claimed had a quality “close to pure space – a Blue in itself, disengaged from all functional justification”. Conveniently for dealers in fine art, the colour allegedly lies outside the gamut of computer displays, and can therefore not be accurately portrayed on webpages. That said, international-klein-blue.com gives it a shot anyway. View the page in fullscreen mode on your browser and you’ve got yourself a DIY 20th Century modernist masterpiece right there on your desktop.
According to Tate Modern Klein made around 200 untitled monochrome paintings using IKB and, after his early death at the age of 34, his widow assigned a number to each of them. The one my son and I saw was IKB 79 painted in 1959. [More]
Saw a P.E. teacher marshalling a class of 7 year olds at our local leisure centre a couple of weeks ago. Why was it so surprising to hear him address each individual child with basic human respect and general good humour?
My schoolmates and I took it for granted that all sports teachers were, in the natural order of things, sadistic bullying bastards whose sole mission was to make our lives a misery. The impossible brutality of circuit training, the dispiriting misery of cross country runs, the dull futulity of cricket, the physical terrors of the rugby pitch.
At no point did any teacher ever take the trouble to set out the reasons why we might actually WANT to achieve a basic level of fitness for our own health and enjoyent - and how it might benefit us in later life.
Thanks so much for seeing me yesterday. I’m sure facing visitors at this point must be hugely painful, and the effort you made to receive an old friend was deeply appreciated. Thanks too for the parting kiss. It’s a moment I won’t forget, weed and advancing years notwithstanding.
Also the sudden strength in your voice when you called out as I was leaving the room, and I spun around in the corridor mid-stride to raise my hand in a farewell that turned somehow into an almost Roman salute. At that distance, in the fading daylight I caught your silhouette with your hand raised in reply and Catullus came echoing down the centuries: “et in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale”. Except that poor fucker never had the chance to say it in person.
I guess there are two kind of brother: those we’re born with, and those we acquire along the way. I’m so thankful we acquired each other so early on in our adult lives. Your brotherhood, warmth, understanding, support, friendship and sheer hospitality have been a constant in my life these past 29 years. Whenever there were breaks, we always picked up exactly where we left off. [More]
My neighbour Jack’s knee gave out this morning in the bath. It’s been giving him trouble for a while now. But having been a busy and active man all his life, he’s simply carried on as normal with the help of a walking stick.
This morning his wife Ellie called by our house and asked me to help her get Jack out of the tub as she couldn’t lift him on her own. They’d obviously managed to get him into swimming trunks before Ellie went for help, but when we arrived back at their bathroom he was weeping with shame and frustration. Which of us wouldn’t feel the same in Jack’s position?
And having had to haul my own Dad on and off the lavatory in his final couple of years, it’s clear that sooner or later - if we’re lucky enough to live that long - all of us will be.
My first encounter with amphetamines was in 1973 when my friend H slipped me a small tablet which I stowed in my wallet for later investigation then promptly forgot. Two weeks later an ill-advised night on the town left me feeling like death at work next morning. Having crawled into the office at 9:29am I put in what felt like five hours’ gruelling work before realising it was still only 9:35. Another eight hours later the 10am tea trolley arrived – and then I remembered the little pill in my wallet. Washed it down with my morning cuppa and two minutes later it was lunchtime. Result!
The next was in the late 70s when a kindly private doctor prescribed me a particularly pure form of medicinal amphetamine designed, he told me, to help airpline pilots stay awake on longhaul flights. It was brilliant stuff – no gabbled speech, racing pulse or grinding teeth – in fact no noticeable side effects at all. You just stayed alert and awake for eight hours. Result!
With my thirties came a cocaine habit. Coke was pretty much the reverse of the Pilot Pills. All side effect and no noticeable benefit. Since so many people around me were doing it socially, we all kind of took it for granted that we were having fun. It was a buzz of course but bascially a waste of the little spare cash I had. After stopping in 1986, I’ve never felt the urge to take it again. A result of sorts…
But over the last three decades any pharmaceutical drug with even a hint of recreational possibilities has become minutely regulated. No doctor, however amenable, will risk getting struck off for the sake of helping a patient stay illicitly awake when tired. Now I have a freedom pass, keeping awake and focussed at work – or even when out in company – requires copious cups of high octane espresso plus more cans of Red Bull than can be good for anyone… And that’s no result at all.
No pain no gain? Decided to try a Thai massage to sort out my back yesterday. Once you’ve paid your money, gone into the cubicle, taken off your clothes and been smothered in stinging Tiger Balm by a person who doesn’t speak English very well, it’s a bit late to find out she’s a know-nothing out-of-control psychopath. A crap massage usually involves an inexperienced therapist who lightly rubs the surface of your skin without ever digging into the muscles where you need the relief. In this case the woman spent the best part of 60 minutes pushing the pointy ends of her elbows up and down the knots around my spine and shoulders with the full weight of her body. The pain was excruciating – only a fool or a masochist would have put up with it in the hope of feeling better afterwards – and clearly, I’m both. Today my back is a mass of agonising bruises and the mobility’s worse than ever.