More mundanely, am trying to stick to the WeightWatchers regime: which when you’re away is quite hard, even though they give you a little booklet so you can look up things in restaurants and shops and count the points (they give you a little booklet for everything). It all seems a bit obsessive for my liking, so mostly I just guess. Last week (my second) I got on the scales: “Good. Well done! You’ve lost half” says leader Ruth encouragingly. “Half a stone! Wow, that’s fantastic!” I reply. “No – half a pound. But that’s excellent, it really is. The main thing is you haven’t actually gained anything!” Sorry – the main thing is that after a second week of bean sprouts and black coffee I’m still tipping the scales at 12 and a half stone. So I decide that the only answer is – yes, I hate to admit it – more exercise.
So I walk Charlie to riding lessons, down and back up a very steep bank, a round trip of probably two miles. Then I walk into Newcastle (two miles) and back – twice in two days. The route takes me down some back alleys and across a tree-lined park, and I realise all this stuff about being more at home in the city is a load of old codswallop. No cows or rampaging sheep in the Newcastle suburbs, but I’m still convinced it’s a dangerous place to be. I mentally assess every man I encounter: “He looks a bit scarey. Oh relief – he’s carrying a Sainsbury’s bag.” “Watch it – two of them coming up this alley, both wearing hoods. Obviously up to no good. On second thoughts they’re both Chinese. Must be engineering students and brilliant at maths. They won’t hurt me.” Two more coming down the street looking very suspicious – ’til I notice they’re throwing a rugby ball to each other, so that’s all right. (Didn’t the Ripper play rugby?) A skinhead appears on a tree-lined path, but he’s wearing pink earphones (no threat there, obviously) and then, horror of horrors, a gang: six or seven very dubious loud males. I’m a vulnerable lone woman, and I imagine trying to reason with them as they circle round me demanding my pin number and bank cards, asking if they’re got grannies or sisters or aunties, and how would they like it if somebody threatened them? As they get nearer I realise they’re all talking French. Or maybe it’s Latvian. “Phew! Foreign students.” And so the internal dialogue goes on until I arrive home, unscathed, and aware that whether in field or suburb the really scarey stuff is in my head. People do get killed by cows – someone did this weekend in Gayle, sadly – and some get knifed in the streets of big cities by total strangers. But the reason it makes the headlines is because it’s so rare. I know that: it doesn’t help.
Anyway, I must have walked off at least 3 points and the worry probably did for another 2
Here are some more pics – it’s amazing what you notice when you’re walking instead of just travelling on the bus and trekking round shops. Bits of Newcastle I never knew existed. Oh yes, and an Iranian demonstration about their recent election. Why aren’t we on the streets protesting at a government we no longer have any faith in?