Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tim Wilson on press-ups

The 86th in this occasional series of reprints from Quote Unquote the magazine is from the January/February 1994 issue. The seven-page feature “I Get a Kick Out of This” was a collection of brief pieces by Brian Turner, Jacqueline Fahey, Owen Marshall, Elizabeth Smither, Barbara Else, Colin Hogg, Iain Sharp, Nigel Cox, Mary-Louise Brown, Brian Boyd and others – booksellers, painters, publishers, journalists – writing about more cheerful stuff than most books magazines did at the time: motorbikes, daughters, dogs, poker, haircuts, guitars, ice cream, roses, science, shoes and more. The intro read:
There’s more to life than books. . . For a start, there’s chocolate. Here are another 20 of life’s extraordinary pleasures.
Yesterday was Barbara Else on romance, aka lust. Today: Tim Wilson, who is now a novelist and TV star.

Twice each week after night has fallen I retreat to my bedroom, draw the blinds and spread-eagle myself on the floor. I check my shadow to ensure my spine is perfectly straight. Then like the Big Bad Wolf I huff and I puff. The house does not fall down. Instead, I descend and rise above the carpet. I am doing my press-ups.

Don’t get me wrong. A press-up is not my idea of a thrill. That I complete 160 of them each week must be the result of something – personal vanity, I suspect. Yet the value of these physical jerks is almost nil. Some men are built like brick outhouses; I am built like a corridor and I rest too much between exercises to get that endorphin rush which fitness junkies live for.

My rush comes when I take a break at number 60, and I am at the mirror, T-shirt discarded. Suddenly I appear fuller. Swollen with excited blood, my upper body looks like someone else’s, and I move close enough to the mirror to crop out my face – that too is pumped up. I preen and strut. I affect poses stolen from the inhabitants of aftershave commercials.

Inevitably, boredom overtakes me, so I hunch. Thrusting my stomach out obscenely, I conduct salacious experiments with my image. I permit my ruddied face to enter the glass. Do I look a fright!

You may think my little ritual strange, or that I have let you in on it perversely. Probably. But I have discovered a pleasure denied those who choose to exercise publicly. For a true narcissist, the only thing more rewarding than making yourself look good is making yourself look worse.

No comments: