For some time now I’ve done my 50-minute gym sessions to the sound of the ‘Today Program’ and ‘Any Questions.’ I’m a news junkie, and in some ways it helped take my mind away from the utter tedium of pounding treadmills and stuff. It also actively encouraged dangerous levels of exertion. My blood pressure is a passionate beast, and hearing weaselly obfuscations and obvious untruths from the self-serving and corrupt, I pound cross-trainers and treadmills even harder, imagining their heads beneath my trainers, their tongues and brains pulping under my feet.
Afterwards, usually in the shower, I feel some Christian remorse, pull them to their feet and brush them down . . . until the next time.
Just recently I’ve discovered a new and more satisfactory way of passing time in the gym, one everyone else has known for some time, everyone but me with my fixation on ‘news.’
Music—and with the added virtue that no politician gets hurt in the process.
It’s my new iPod touch, and large Bose headphones that unfortunately make me look like Nanook of the North. A small sacrifice.
Since my entire music collection is now on the iPod, I’m discovering albums I haven’t heard for years. My obsession with ‘news’ is one of the reasons for this, that and the fact I can’t listen to music when I’m writing. Some authors can, and to me that is mystery. I can write or I can listen to music. I can’t do both since each have competing demands and my brain has very small processing power.
It doesn’t need much processing to punish your body; then distraction is everything and music a godsend. I feel like St Paul on the road to Damascus telling everyone the news years after everyone knows.
There is though music and music. ‘Dancing with Mr D’ (Rolling Stones Goatshead Soup) is particularly good on the Cross-Trainer. ‘Not Fade Away’ fabulous for fast running on the Treadmill, along with ‘Radar Love’ and most anything by Chuck Berry. ‘Emotional Rescue’ is also quite versatile – useful for the Exercise Bike, Rowing machine and the various Weight Machines that bugger your muscles. Ocasionally Hildegarde de Bingen comes on, but she’s no bloody good at all.
There are pitfalls. You are in your own world, oblivious to anyone else there. A few times I’ve been caught out singing – and the gym quickly empties. Worse though is the occasional Mick Jagger strut from machine to machine. Truly sad. A fourteen year old boy in old man’s body. Me—not Mick.
Then there’s the swim. No music just chlorine. The sauna that follows almost makes it all worthwhile. If I could find some way to listen to Hildegarde de Bingen in the Sauna, that would just be icing on the cake.