The sun’s come out in anger for the first time this year and as I am British I have a cultural responsibility. Rising to this I took to the garden with a deck chair and a tight vest in order to burn its shape and outline into my pasty body as soon as possible. I pinged at around 3pm on day one. Job done. Laid out with my top off, I now look like the beginnings of a helicopter landing pad dug out of raspberry jam.
Sunburn has made me grouchy. The children haven’t noticed a marked change in my mood but they do now look up when I walk into the room. This is not for any reason of concern, it is more that my skin is now so dry from the sudden change in temperature and my disdain for the advised protective products that I sound like a walking crisp packet. They only look up because they think I’ve opened a bag. Their interest wanes the moment they realise I haven’t. So off I walk. My discomfort has required me to adapt my stride so my legs don’t rub together, while also holding my arms out from my side for the same reason. The result is a movement that is stiff-limbed and clumsy and to reflect this, my wife has nicknamed me ‘Forky,’ in reference to a character in Toy Story who is made out a fixed plastic fork, goggle eyes and some pipe cleaner.
This name has lead to some misunderstandings when shouted.
We are still on Easter holidays of course. The depressing thing about this is that it would appear we have been for a couple of months now and still we are not actually at f##king Easter yet. This weekend is a bank holiday weekend apparently. Even the calendar is mocking me.
The woman over the road is tallying. By this I mean she is keeping a tally of people walking past her house, making sure they are taking their one walk a day and no more. I know this because she is making sure everyone knows it. Whenever someone passes she bangs on her window, points at her tally chart and puts up her finger to denounce this is walk number one mister. The world needs people like her right now: diligent, determined and a stark reminder that it is all of our responsibility to keep each other safe.
But also I am a little bored, I have some time on my hands, I like a little challenge and I have a number of outfits for a number of occasions…
The first time I walked past her is just me. I waved. She put her finger up to denounce ONE! So I know that was it, my one walk for the day.
It has begun.
The next time I walked past I used the Bee Gee slash sex-offender look from a previous diary entry. This time I needed a wig but I was still very capable of finishing the look with back-combed belly hair and you-can’t-tell-where-I’m-looking-pervert-glasses. I even did a little disco dance past her, mainly in celebration when I, again, get one finger raised to confirm that the disguise had her fooled.
I’m getting into this now. The next run is a little off-the-shoulder number, kitten heels, hairy legs and a single finger that I press to my lips like I have been a very naughty boy. This time I got no response, she just seemed to step away from the window and I was left with my arms out, stood in the middle of the road, my handbag dripping from my open palm, legs shoulder-width apart demanding an explanation - like it’s 3am outside a Thanet nightclub and the date I’d been buying drinks for all night is pulling away in a taxi.
By the time I was changed into the inflatable dinosaur suit for my fourth pass the police had arrived. A separate neighbour believes the chase that ensued is the funniest thing he has ever seen.
And for the record – in her police statement, little-miss-tally-over-the-road states that this was the first time she had seen the ‘hairy-legged burns victim in a dress’ walk past her house. Chalk that one up as a win for Gallagher.
I’ve been having really weird dreams. One was so far-fetched that I was actually out of the house, in a coffee shop, the bastard kids were at school and someone else’s responsibility and I didn’t have to know any maths at all.
A big event recently was putting the clocks forwards to ensure it is now harder to put the children to bed. The lighter evenings are not all bad however as they have presented me with an opportunity to spend some time on myself… to get in shape, to be the best me I can be.
So yesterday, at around midday, while sat in the sun with a Hazelnut Magnum on the go, and, having lost a bit of the cracked chocolate to the cavern that is now my belly button, I made a decision. My wife was sat next to me. I looked at her and poked my bulbous, isolation-fuelled pot belly and announced to the wife that I am going to start that 60 day fitness DVD programme I have always talked about doing ‘when I had the time.’ The one that cost me £100 six years ago.
She didn’t engage. Part of her was doubting me, I could tell that. So I gave her a rousing speech: I told her that when it comes to getting in shape the essential ingredients are willpower, determination and sheer guile. You have to be able to put your mind to something to get it done and, fortunately, these are all things that I have in abundance. I would have proved that six years ago when I bought it too, but the cellophane wrapper on that DVD is an absolute joke… ridiculous, far too tight round that case. I do remember giving it a good go but some things are just insurmountable...
She looked me up and down and then said… ‘yeah, you like starting stuff don’t you.’
So I thought, right then, that’s only made me more determined! The cellophane this time was short work with the aid of a pair of scissors (time must have weakened it see) and I set up the DVD player in the garden, I figure if I’m going to do a workout, I might as well inspire those who can overlook me. In my mind, as I emerge from my house with pop socks and my leotard from the nineties, I look like Jane Fonda (for a moment I consider another pass on tally-woman but I was lucky to get off with a warning). But it is during the first few star jumps of the warmup where I catch my reflection in a distant window that I realise I actually look like someone has shaken up a sweaty lava lamp.
That cellophane wouldn’t go back on either.
Laters yeah. Stay in, stay safe, protect our wonderful NHS and have a wonderful bank holiday weekend. Indoors.