Just as God was supposed to have created the heaven and the earth, then so it was that one moonlit night, some years later, life was breathed finally into the creature and it became a fully fledged operational deluxe cross trainer. In other words, the screws that had been estimated to arrive within 7-10 working days (but actually took 14) were in place, and I was ready to be off like a whippet from a trap… or if I’m honest more like two donkeys in a three-legged race – well, the sentiment was there.
With a bit of hindsight, my partner might have thought to assemble it in the bedroom in the first place. But as it was, it couldn’t stay in the lounge a moment longer. Its bulk blocked out nearly all of the light from the French windows, and left us with only a partial view of the lower half of the telly. It wasn’t easy to determine the owners of the long skirts and breeches of ‘Downton Abbey’ as they scuttled about, but within two weeks we’d become so adept that we could have picked out Hugh Bonneville from a police line up purely by viewing his knees.
Then, to top it off, the window cleaner almost fell from his ladder when I inadvertently opened the blinds, and he was unceremoniously introduced to the beast.
Getting it through the bedroom door was a feat which can still wake me in a nightmare-induced sweat. Negotiating the gap saw my partner vacillate from unadulterated rage to abject despair. I’d felt helpless when, for the third time in as many minutes, he’d swooned onto the settee in floods of tears, banged his fists against the scotchgarded dralon and screamed, ‘No, no!’ with the pitifully, whining cry of a broken man. I never realised he knew so many expletives… including one or two I’d never even heard of before. Wood shavings were all over the carpet as the metal monster had chipped the architrave on its way through – it brought to mind a butcher’s shop after a slaughter. But eventually it was ensconced in its new home, by the side of the bed.
Adopting the traditional stance of the boxer, I punched the air a couple of times before adorning myself with the uniform of the fitness brigade – baggy sweatpants, a vest and the obligatory towel draped around my neck to wipe away the expectant sweat. And so I started my journey to a healthier me (that’s if you can call a couple of steps a journey).
My future self beckoned as I squeezed past the bed to step up to the plate. Unfortunately, my first determined movement was halted mid-stride as the duvet caught up in the mechanism. Thirty minutes later and having rescued a now torn duvet awaiting repair, I tried again. This time I stubbed my toe on the bedstead, collapsing onto the mattress in agony. My cries of anguish fell on deaf ears as he, who shall be known from this time as ‘that git’, blatantly ignored me from the lounge.
‘I rubbed your shoulders reassuringly when you needed me!’ I wailed, but he slammed the door shut and turned the telly up so he wouldn’t have to listen.
A few days later and despite a greater degree of success, I was becoming dispirited. When I looked down at my naked torso, Jessica Ennis’ abs were nowhere in sight. (I don’t know whether I’ve ever mentioned before but staying power isn’t my forte). And then just like that – a light appeared at the end of the tunnel.
An article celebrating the merits of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) made me realise I was going about this exercise caper all wrong. HIIT involves short spurts of intensive exercise followed by a rest, then repeated – my kinda activity!
The first 30 second stint went remarkably well and the next four minutes spent staring out of the window was even better. The problem started after the next half minute session of intensive exercise.
My heart rate had begun to climb but instead of stopping at an acceptable Snowdonia-like peak, it continued upwards, heading for the very pinnacle of Mount Everest itself. I thought it best to lie down and close my eyes.
Everything went black.
As I teetered on the precipice of life, ready to relinquish my mortality, a rustling noise dragged me back from the brink. I opened one eye and perceived a dark shadow looming on the wall before me. It had all the hallmarks of The Grim Reaper… scythe an’ all.
This is it. I’m going to die.
Everything went blurry… and then I remembered that I didn’t have my glasses on; they’d fallen off when I’d swan-dived onto the bed.
The shadow lunged forward as if to rip the very soul from my near lifeless body and I felt a heavy weight on my chest. It was then that the overwhelming odour of rancid fish acted like smelling salts to bring me round from my stupor. I had heard of the ‘smell of death’ but I’d never thought it could be this pungent.
Ready to heave, I opened my eyes only to find another pair of bright green orbs staring back into mine. A pink tendril emerged from the blackness and grazed my cheek with the texture of sandpaper. I wasn’t expecting that from the Angel of Death. I had no idea he had a tongue like an emery board. And why was he padding my chest? Had he decided to give me another chance and started CPR?
Gathering my last ounce of courage I reached for my glasses to look Death squarely in the face, but instead found myself peering into the pleading eyes of the cat, hungry for its dinner.
It’ll be the death of me that cat… unless this metal monster gets me first.
By the time ‘that git’ had come home from work, I’d made up my mind. There were tears and tantrums again as he re-negotiated the doorjamb and exiled the metal monstrosity to the confines of the balcony.
I now have the most expensive clothes airer on the block. The neighbours are in uproar at its ungainly presence, and the window cleaner has resigned.
Image credit: stokkete / 123RF Stock Photo