Run, TSA, Run
It was a combination of factors, really, that made me decide to take up running. I have run before, of course. For buses, away from the responsibilites of adulthood, even away from a gun-toting Adolf Hitler in a particularly vivid childhood dream.
But real running - with times and distances and some vague structure or plan - a confluence of reasons.
First was, with February - a month I like, despite, or maybe because of its can't-be-arsed brevity - drawing to a close, the ghost of Christmas pudding past still clung to my midriff; this long, long after even the last Peanut Cracknel had left the Quality Street tin and life's moderate norm should have restored reasonable abdominal tautness.
Second was some friends are training for a marathon. Normally, the flights of folly of friends raise nowt but the quizzical eyebrow and doleful head-shake in TSA. The marathon is, quite obviously, alongside sexual acts with young boys, the worst idea the ancient Greeks have given us.
A chap called Pheidippides - clearly a clown of the highest order - was so cock-eyed with excitement by victory for the Athenians over the Persians, that he ran all the way from the town of Marathon to Athens to impart the news, and then proceeded to drop dead. For some reason, this act of questionable wisdom is celebrated the world over, often by people wearing gorilla costumes and tutus - the traditional battle uniform of the ancient Athenians, of course.
But still, hearing about the training and the striving, the sweating and the chafing, the pain and the fatigue, all from the mouths of quintessentially sedentary modern males, whose lives are in every other way as cosseted and comfortable and air-conditioned as my own....it kinda got me to thinking.
There was a certain nobility to it, I grudgingly conceded. The wracking of the body for no point other than, well, because it was there. Like an old cat sitting in the corner getting fat on easy Whiskas, sometimes you need to kick the body out the back door and tell it to "go catch a frigging mouse."
Thirdly was - and linked with reason number one - the desire to do something notable in the exercise genre while age still permitted it, before the slow death of golf club membership began to loom.
The first thing you have to do is buy good runners. That's what they all say, all the websites and the experts. Seems to me you can position yourself as an expert in running for beginners armed with that information alone. "Buy some good runners, and then, er, run!" is the pleasingly spartan doctrine.
So not only did I buy proper runners (Asics, the doyen of the running shoe, they're even perched high up on the sports shop display, peering superciliously upon the Nikes below), but also - and this is the crossing of the Rubicon, the moment of truth, after which there is no turning back - proper running shorts. Short shorts with briefs like real athletes wear. The kind that wiry distance runners pull over their bits and bobs, so minimal, barely there, and in pointed contrast to the baggy, self-indulgent sort worn by footballers.
So with these shorts, not even the fragrant enticements of the chipshop will stop TSA. Watch me go!