IN two days’ time, I’ll be going to the gym. Do not be alarmed on my part.

I’ve been to a gym before. Before lockdown, I used to go every week, even if mainly for the sauna and steam-room afterwards. Alas, though my wee local village gym reopens on Monday, the steamy, hot bits remain closed.

Both governments – the proper one and the one at Westminster – declare themselves unsure of the possibilities for Corona in the sauna. Extreme heat supposedly kills the wee radges, but our facilities are tiny, and you’d be sat right next to someone who might be contagious, ken?

Even the politest exchanges of sweat might be inadvisable. That said, more often not that you had the place to yourself, and maybe now we could be let in one at a time, cleaning the place before and after.

I was never sure if the sauna or steam-room did me any good, mind. Sometimes, I’d trouble getting into my T-shirt afterwards, making me think I must have expanded in the heat.

I put this to various authorities and friends at the gym. Half thought there could be something in it, and half asked me to stay calm and remain seated while they summoned a psychiatrist.

Certainly, any such phenomenon would have had nothing to do with putting on muscle at the gym. I could lift weights five hours a day, seven days a week, and still have smaller biceps than Madonna’s. I have the wrists of a tiny child. There’s just nothing to put any muscle on.

Still, I keep what I’ve got fairly toned and, throughout lockdown, have worked weekly with weights and contraptions retrieved from the garden shed where previously they’d languished unheeded.

My big problem is that I’m not awfully aerobic, ken? Beyond walks, and a skipping rope on which I sometimes get up to three without tumbling in a tangle on my bahookie, I don’t do much dynamic moving and, indeed, get out of breath on the most gentle of hills. It’s a great relief when I get to the top and can have a fag and a tin of super-lager.

So, the aerobic machines at the gym – cross-trainer and treadmill –will be a boon. There are static bicycles, but I don’t use these on principle.

To be unusually honest, I’m not a big fan of the treadmill either. It’s so boring, and I dislike finding myself next to one of these men (always men) who insist on going right fast and making big thumpy noises on them to give the impression that they’re the Mighty Hulk working out.

That said, there are only two such machines at our gym, and I don’t think one will be in use under the new arrangements. Only four pre-booked punters are to be allowed in at a time, which is three more than are usually in, and seems somewhat excessive.

The place is tiny. I hope I don’t get stuck with one of these sweat-spraying baldies who hog the machines because they’re too bovine to get bored on them.

Another hassle is not being able to use the changing rooms. That means I’ll have to turn up in my athletic trousers. I still receive medical treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after I was walking to a city gym in my athletic trousers many years ago and a passing carload of youths shouted that I was a “ned”.

I’m sure it was a neighbour’s son and his friends being funny but, nevertheless, the incident left me deeply distressed and unwilling to go to or from the gym in athletic trousers again. As the village gym is a 45-minute drive away, normally I’d make a day of it. That is to say, after the gym, I’d pick up whisky and pies from the supermarket.

But I couldn’t go there in athletic trousers, particularly as there are still swanky tourists swanning provocatively the wrong way down the aisles with their mysteriously tanned legs and entitled air of superiority. So, I’ll probably drive straight home.

Indeed, I’m beginning to think I might cancel this whole gym business. More trouble than it’s worth. Perhaps, instead, I’ll just remain seated all day and conserve my energy so that I don’t get out of breath.

Chips are down

IN other disturbing health news, this time for people in England (ha-ha!), a new decree declares that portions of chips must be cut by a quarter.

Now, while I love chips more than life itself (not difficult), even I must admit that, sometimes, you get too many with your fish supper.

However, I cannot see how they plan to police this measure. Perhaps they’ll have chip wardens like these misfits who persecute motorists. Imagine having that job:

“Let me see that fish supper, sir.”


“But I need to inspect it.”

“Procreate with yourself in an unloving manner.”

“The smell is getting to me.”

“Well, yir no’ gettin’ any o’ mine.”

“Nae matter. Ah’ll get ma ain. Fish supper, my good man, and don’t stint on the chips!”

‘Plonkers’ is fair enough

I DON’T want to be controversial, but I’m not sure I agree with that Extinction Rebellion intellectual who said newspapers were like Nazis.

If we’re not careful, everyone’s going to be a Nazi at this rate, and that could lead to a marked decline in manners.

Oddly enough, shortly before everyone started calling everyone else a Nazi, the trendy trope was that, as soon as you deployed that word, you lost the argument.

Now, it’s out before the argument starts. I kinda get where young folk deploying this ultimate insult are coming from (though the juvenile saying it in this instance was 61).

I did it myself when young. We were so appalled by the Holocaust that we set ourselves determinedly against anything that might send a society down that route again. Everything was suspect.

The approach lacked nuance, and for sure we deployed the word liberally. But today? Anti-Semitism with genocidal tendencies: feasibly correct. Immigration worries, openness to different perspectives: not so much.

The worst aspect is the disrespect to people who suffered under actual Nazism. So, careful with the over-reaching insults. If folk must insult newspapers, try plonkers or poltroons. These are arguable accusations.

Hell’s teeth

TEETH are a pain in the butt. I’ve often thought that one of the many awful things about being an animal is that, when they get toothache, they don’t have any dentists to sort it.

Mind you, at least animals don’t have to brush their teeth morning and night. What a hassle that is for the busy columnist. Still, at least I don’t floss. A man in my position cannot be seeing sawing a wee bit of thread back and forwards in his mooth.

Lockdown has led to many people trying to whiten their own teeth, according to the Association of Dental Groups. What’s wrong with these folk? Do they want to be mistaken for Americans?

My dad, like many of his generation, got all his teeth out at once. Man was an idiot. Here was a typical conversation between us in my youth:

“Get your hair cut!”

“Shurrup, ya dentured bastard.”

“You look like a lassie.”

“At least I’m not literally Hitler like you. And it’s impossible for me to sit on my own teeth.” Game, set and match.

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