I mentioned some weeks ago that I was going to give you a round-up of my sporting prowess or lack of it in various fields, and now the time has come. But first readers, before we head back into a mythical past where I was a young sporting superstar, we must look at the present day.
I have to say I am not totally happy with my current state of fitness. Being overweight I can cope with - I always have been, but I always felt if I was working out and keeping fit, I could carry the excess weight reasonably well. But in recent years my level of activity has dwindled to virtually nothing.
Now I am not one of those writers, or people in general that feels sorry for themselves or utters "oh woe is me", quite frankly it is no-one's fault but my own that I have reached this spectacular level of non-fitness but there are plenty of excuses I could use.
The most obvious one is that I have the kids and it is not an excuse - it DOES change your life. Not that I have got any regrets, of course, but as I've hammered home time and time again through this parenting blog (which it is occasionally), having children has an effect on your whole life.
Let's go back to the period from say 2003-2007. During that period I spent lunchtimes from work at the swimming pool. Later, during a single period in 2006, I went off to the gym after work several nights a week. I was still overweight, but I had the freedom to do it. Now I am looking after kids, I don't have the freedom to head off to do that sort of thing whenever I want to. But not only that - even when I do have the opportunity I don't have the inclination. Having and looking after kids, especially when you suffer from a sleep disorder as I do means that the last thing you want to do when you have an hour or two to spare is to go off and expend energy in the gym. All I want to do is grab myself the luxury of a rest.
Perhaps there is an age thing too. We naturally slow down as we get older. In 2003-2007 I was aged 33-37 - there are plenty of professional sportsman plying their trade at that age. But by 43 most are finished. There's no-one in the Premiership at 43, don't think even Teddy Sheringham managed to go on that long?
What's the answer? I don't know. I had hoped that as the kids grew older I'd find opportunities with them, and I do to some extent - we spent plenty of time in the swimming pool on holiday and running around. But I wish we could do more. I've got my bike sitting in the shed and would enjoy nothing more than to take the boys out for a nice healthy bike ride, but one of the problems with having a child on the autistic spectrum is that he is absolutely terrified to even attempt such a thing as riding a bike. I have never managed to get him on to so much as a scooter. It is very hard work and very distressing for Ollie to attempt any new experience, he shakes with fear and panics. I understand him, I know how his mind works and work very hard with him to try and help him overcome these fears but it is very hard work, and I think a lesser parent may well just have given up. But I never will. For some dads, probably getting their son on to and riding a bike might be a proud moment. If I ever achieve this proud moment it will have been many times harder for me than for the average dad to have got to that moment, but I can't and won't give up.
So what of my own past sporting "achivements". Well believe it or not, frequently in the local papers back in the 90s there were many match reports about "Jason Ayres" the star of the Nielsen football team scoring yet another hat trick and wowing the crowds! My dad was very impressed. Sadly whilst "Jason Ayres" was scoring these hat tricks on those Sunday mornings, the actual truth was that I was more than likely actually sat at home on the sofa nursing a hangover watching the Doctor Who omnibus on UK Gold. How was I in two places at once? Well a work colleague of mine with an extremely similar name was in fact playing the league under my name. This colleague was a rather gifted but temperamental player, rather like a local version of Luis Suarez. Despite scoring lots of goals he was also sent off rather frequently for a variety of offences which I need not embarrass him with here. In the end things came to a head and he was banned for a season, Cantona style, but his way around this was to play in the league under my name. So thank-you, Jason Byles for making me an unlikely football hero for a year!
One of the reasons I was hopeless at football is that we did not play it our school. Being a private school we did not play football - that was a "poofs game". Not my politically incorrect words, but those of my P.E. teacher in 1981. No, it was rugby all the way, or organised thuggery as I prefer to call it. If you think that scene in Monty Python's Meaning Of Life film where they have the rugby match was humorous fiction, think again. That is exactly what it was like. I hated it, and so did various parts of my body that got mashed in the process.
Rugby was the autumn term. In the spring term we played hockey and I was actually reasonably good at that, though I've still got dents in my shins from playing it to this day. In the summer at school we played cricket which must be the most unutterably boring game ever invented. Out of 22 players only about 3 are actually doing anything much at any one time, the rest is just a lot of standing about. At least it wasn't too physically taxing. When I could escape from cricket there was tennis, which was much more my thing. In fact racquet sports are just about the one thing I have ever been any good at - I even ran the Nielsen squash club for a year or two. I was also a member of the Bicester tennis club, and often wistfully look across at the courts when I am wandering back from Garth Park with the kids. Will it ever happen again? I hope so, but I do sometimes feel middle aged sloth has crept up on my over these six years when I have been raising these young children. If anyone offered me a game, I'd probably make an excuse, quite simply because most of the time I am just too tired.
I guess I am pinning all my hopes on the kids to want to do things and motivate me. Ollie wanted to try ten pin bowling on holiday so we had a game but it is hardly a sport. But we've plenty of time. I took him round the pitch and putt course with me in Cornwall but he didn't actually play. But at least he is showing an interest, and I think Jamie will do much more, in time. I hope so, I am not about ready to give up yet. The mind is willing, but the flesh somewhat weak, so please kids, come along and save me from a life on the sofa.
There are loads of sports I have not even mentioned yet, perhaps I will have to save them for another time. I've tried most things at one time or another.
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