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It started with a noise

Yesterday I did myself proud, rushing out on a trip to collect my laundry, buy some food and drink – take it all back home – and then go out again to a wholefood store in my neighbourhood on foot, all before 9.30am.

On top of that I then bought a DVD online via Amazon and selected ‘free next day delivery’ deliberately because I shall be setting off for lunch in the country, hopefully taking the DVD that is intended as part of a Christmas present for the main host, at the crack of dawn tomorrow (Saturday).

This purchase later appeared to be a potential disaster: I subsequently received two emails from Amazon in the afternoon, one confirming my order and the other giving me an update upon the progress on my delivery – now revealed to be “Saturday between 7.00am and 2.00pm”.

That (of course) is no bloody use to me. As I said, I have to set off for the depths of the countryside at the crack of dawn on Saturday in order to arrive in good time for lunch.

Ah, modern life. Even when you go along with it and use this new-fangled internet thingy, they cannot jolly well deliver what you’ve bought when you requested (and they agreed) that they would!

You just can’t get the staff these days …

So exhausted was I by my morning exertions that, immediately I had consumed my lunch in front of the BBC’s One O’ Clock News, I had to retire to my bedroom pit for a snooze – and finally ‘came to’ again at about 3.30pm.

It was nearly an hour later before I made it up to the gymnasium in order to get the blood flowing by thrashing about and taking some exercise and maybe ten minutes in the steam room.

I had just moved from my stepping machine to the floor mats (in order to pretend to do some sit-ups in the cause of reducing my well-padded waistline) when a familiar face arrived in the form of a regular at the gym named Simon. We tend to chat idly whenever we turn up at the same time, though at my age I suffer from the affliction that in about 50% of the instances we meet and start chatting I cannot remember his Christian name, whereas he always knows mine.

On this occasion he had been walking and jogging on one of the jogging machines in the row in front of me. Now at the mats, we nodded at each other, exchanged “Howdy-Doo-Dees” and then got down to our respective business on the floor after swapping news on where we’d be spending the Christmas holiday.

As is my habit, I began by adopting and holding a ‘plank’ (a technical term that I would use to describe adopting a position at the ‘finish’ of a press-up – legs together, extended, and hands placed upon the floor with the body raised above them and staying there until it becomes too tiring to do so) and then flipping on my back in order to flex my legs and back muscles in a vain attempt to ‘free them up’ from the rigid stiffness caused by forty-five years’ worth of sitting at a computer desk.

Simon, meanwhile, was already on his back, two mats away from me. He was waggling his feet about and swaying from side to side, presumably in a similar effort to exercise his back.

His next move was to begin holding his knees (legs bent) as close to his face as he could for a period, after which he began rocking back and forth as if trying to get his legs to go back over his head.

His general scheme at this point seemed quite impressive, I felt, as I watched it of the corner of my eye.

Suddenly there was a sharp report. He continued his swing back and up over his head. And then another report whilst simultaneously saying in a soft voice “Sorry, Gerald …”

I said nothing and continued my exercising without giving any indication that I had heard either the reports or indeed Simon’s comment.

A minute or so later we both stopped our exertions.

As we recovered, Simon turned to me.

“Sorry about farting in front of you, Gerald.”

“Don’t worry about it, mate … “ I replied, “… what’s a bit of broken wind between friends at the gym?”

Somehow this exchange, on a cold Thursday evening at about 5.20pm, gave me a welcome and healthy shot of bonhomie and festive spirit.

Simon had caused himself a slight embarrassment, apologised to someone in whose company he was at the time … and I had responded by effectively suggesting he should think nothing of it as far as I was concerned.

All’s well with the world and Christmas Day is only three and a bit days away.



About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts