Grumpy Old Man Part 3

October 11, 2007 at 10:27 am Leave a comment

Five Grumpy Old Men

 I am in pain. I ache all over. I particularly ache in my shins, my knees, and my groin. Why? This weekend was the annual reunion of my best mates from university, plus another masochist who joins us on our annual pilgrimage to pain. The Lads’ walking weekend.Morecambe and Wise used to do, but this time at least they had twin rooms. There were no sunken mattresses resulting in a shock coming together in the middle of the night. Nevertheless, the morning conversations often referenced competitive farting (especially after the Friday night curry) and snoring. Even Oxford-educated forty-something males regress quite easily! If they weren’t discussing bodily excretions they were complaining about the other’s untidiness or similar misdemeanour. 

This year we were in the Malverns. We all arrived on Friday night and checked into the Abbey Hotel in Great Malvern. I would recommend the hotel. It is ideally located and the rooms are modern, clean and comfortable. Despite the fact that the hotel was full on both the nights that we stayed there it was quiet, but the total exhaustion and the last couple of brandies may well have contributed to that. The hotel has quite a heritage. The Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (and the black Christ of Rastafarianism) stayed there during his exile, which followed Mussolini’s invasion. My neighbour, J, is also a regular but for somewhat different reasons.

There were five of us. There were three rooms. As much as I love these guys, I love my privacy more. So, I had opted for a room on my own, at great expense, while the other four shared. In the past there have been times when they have been forced to share a double bed, much like

We started our Saturday walk at about 09.30 having bought provisions of fresh fruit and water in the local shops. We finished the walk around 18.30 having taken in such places as St Anne’s Well, the Worcestershire Beacon, the British Camp (Herefordshire Beacon), the obelisk on the Eastnor Estate, the Wyche Cutting and Midsummer Hill. In reality, M and I finished about 18.30. The three others finished somewhat earlier.

It is quite a hard lesson to learn that I am not as fit as I once was. Indeed, I was never a great fan of training, keep fit, or the gym. I liked to consider myself a kind of natural athlete, with a sort of genetic tendency to a level of fitness that meant I could cope with most physical challenges that came my way. Well no longer. Today I feel my age. Indeed, this morning I feel considerably older than my forty one years. I now accept that a couple of quick spins around the flats of Cheshire on my bike is inadequate training for a fifteen to eighteen mile ridge walk.

It was the steep climb and sharp descent over Midsummer Hill that did for me. My left groin began to feel the strain, and my left knee. And both shins. Midsummer Hill was, of course, the furthest point from the sanctuary of the hotel bar. The return trip was somewhat agonising. Especially the down bits. And the up bits. To be honest, there weren’t many flat bits. Just down bits and up bits. Up bits and down bits. It hurt. At points, I felt quite nauseous with the pain.

I was very grateful of M’s company. He was suffering a little with his knees too and the fact that his thousand mile socks (google them) kept falling down and his boots squeaked. Our hardier, fitter, uncaring adventurers abandoned us around the lower part of the British Camp to go in search of higher peaks and ice cream, while we limped back. Despite the pain I kept going. I kept going because there was no option but to. I focused on the prospect of the first cool pint and of killing my mate, P.

P is somewhat fitter than the rest of us. He is in training for a 300k cycling event in the Pyrenees this summer, having completed something similar in the Italian Alps last year. He is also somewhat unsympathetic towards those of us with more sedentary lifestyles. It was P who decided that climbing Midsummer Hill would be a good idea. P would never make a good member of the SAS though. He is not exactly a team player and he has a Darwinian view of most things, which also includes leaving stragglers to their own devices. I only jest. He is a top bloke and I am only jealous of his fitness. And, it is my own fault. These were the mates that clubbed together (with my wife, C) to buy me a bike for my fortieth to encourage me to keep fit. Guys, I promise to do so from now on.

Despite the pain, the tears, and the gritted teeth I actually really enjoyed the walk. The weather was beautiful and sunny if a tad windy. The views from the ridge of Herefordshire to the west and Worcestershire to the East were stunning. The forested areas were carpeted with blue bells and wild garlic. Beautiful.

As we walked we talked. We put the world to rights. Boy, have we turned into Grumpy Old Men. Sports Utility Vehicles and Chelsea Tractors of all kinds came under attack. Or, more precisely their owners did. It was concluded that unless you were a farmer, you had to be inconsiderate to own such a vehicle. You see we are all very aware of our carbon footprint these days. They walk nowhere. They drive like morons. They take up two parking spaces. Their sexuality is questionable. My mate, E, can get quite a good rant on if you wind him up well enough. And, over the twenty three years that we have known each other, we have become expert at winding each other up. We know the buttons to push. So, E was encouraged to rant about owners Chelsea tractors and owners of small dogs and later, over dinner, P was hurling abuse at N (our resident champagne socialist) about Labour’s foreign policy and strategy towards Iraq and why we weren’t doing the same in Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, Israel, Somalia, Sudan, Darfur, Rwanda, etc. etc. etc. But we all kissed and made up (metaphorically speaking only of course) over a pint or two and a brandy.

As an interesting aside, we also discussed books which had had most impact upon us. The Lord of The Rings got two votes, including one of mine (Holy Blood and Holy Grail got my second vote). There were also votes for The Wind in the Willows, and, for A Dragon in a Wagon (M doesn’t read much, but he does have a young family).

Top weekend Lads. See you next year. Hopefully somewhere nice and flat like Norfolk. Now, where did I put those cycling shorts…….


Entry filed under: Health, humour, middleman, rant, travel. Tags: , , , , , , .

Grumpy Old Man Part 2 Grumpy Old Man Part 4

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