Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Ah, yes, games. 

We all do love them, don’t we? We all play them, and many of us often pay a fortune to watch them, especially if we are past that stage in our lives where we can hobble onto a playing field or be wheeled sedately into the nearest casino.

I now class myself as an armchair-sportsman. Or rather, I should say, a park-bench sportsman.

There is nothing more gratifying than watching twenty-two or thirty or so physically magnificent young men or women thrash the living daylights out of each other from the comfort of your favourite armchair. Or even, as I now find myself, neatly tucked up in newspapers on the pavement outside a television and hi-fi store’s window.

I find team sports more enjoyable to watch than one-on-one contests. This is strange because in my youth I was a reasonably ranked league squash player.

How, you may ask did I manage to play this highly physical and strenuous game.

Well, inter-twixt my marriages and divorces of the fifties, sixties, and even the seventies I had a pretty impressive physique.

You titter? 

Yes, it’s true. The gymnasium was always the second port of call on my daily routine. Even if I found myself in unknown surroundings after my previous night’s exploits, my tactical military training gained at the Royal Academy sprang to the fore.

Tea for the Missus-of-the-time in bed; the sprogs up, teeth brushed and a weaving drive to the nursery or primary school. That was my standard routine for many years of my early life.

The return home was the ominous part of the daily habitual journey.

Was the Missus-of-the-time still in residence? This question was of supreme importance as all my “Ladies-in-wedlock” have disapproved of my indulgences both in alcohol and in nicotine, so preparations always had to be made. Peppermints or “Fishermen’s Friends” in the vehicle’s cubbyhole and deodorant under the car seat. I highly recommend both to any husband-to-be or even to a bride-in-waiting.

Another jobbing actor’s golden rule stolen straight from my lifelong hero’s manual - Lord Baden-Powell’s scouting hand-book: Be prepared!

I digress, my apologies.

Where was I?

Ah, yes, the gymnasium. 

The derivation of this now yuppie-stock-in-trade word “The Jim” is in fact from the Greeks. Their word “youvoc” literally translates as nude, that’s bollock-naked to you less-educated Philistines.

So it’s not surprising then, is it, that a handsome young man in his prime should make the gym his second port of call on a daily basis? It also perhaps makes you realise the hidden depth of my fellow knighted businessman’s astuteness in calling his health-gaining conspiracy Virgin-Jim-nasiums?!

Now, it may seem strange that at these dens of supposed iniquity I always had the inordinate pleasure of meeting the common man. “The Civilian”, if you recall my monologue on the relation of the armed services to the acting profession. The Civilian is anybody who has either the fortune or the misfortune not to be involved in the entertainment industry.

And what an entertaining bunch they were. The plumber with a prosthetic arm, Kevin; the high-wire electrical engineer, who’d had a knife jammed through his larynx, Fennel. Prince, an African bricklayer who was in love with his Pedi tribal rain queen, Modjadji, and a well-endowed-with-glandula-mammaria Justine, who was the personal assistant to a local coffin manufacturer.

These civilians were part of my daily life for a good seven or eight years.

It is amazing what wonderful titbits – excuse the pun – of information you can glean from such a diverse crowd of people with whom you grunt, moan and sweat on an almost daily basis. Topics of conversation in the sauna ranged from the mundane hedonistic to the spiritually rewarding. In the seventies the late Bertrand Russell was the order of the day, and when we’d polished him off we still had John Lennon, Nixon, Margaret Thatcher, Castro and the ailing Breshnev to chew on.

Word association. Now, that’s a game, isn’t it?

Every child and actor has played it and, believe it or not, it’s still a game that I greatly enjoy, because in my present decrepit state it’s the only game I can still actively participate in. The great Bard himself summed it up very succinctly, as he always does, in his masterpiece Hamlet. When Polonius asks Hamlet what he is reading, the perplexed scholar and juvenile delinquent of his day, Hamlet, replies, “Words, words, words.”

So, a word of advice for you younger readers. The next time you are “googling”, “sms-ing”, “blogging” and annihilating the vermin from your most up-to-date downloaded PC game, give a thought to us armchair sportsmen who can still knock together a word or two.

Perhaps give a thought to the fact that life is not all about the nude-asium!


Anonymous said...

hahaha! great stuff!!!

orla said...

Very entertaining!

Anonymous said...

Entertaining as always. Living the experience

Mags said...

Great read. I am a follower of Cess and look forward to all of his postings.

Spindrifting said...

SIr Poole was, Indeed, very good with the sprogs (missus at the time here). Other than oddi sprog sleepIng under pool(e) table In MelvIlle, perhaps. that noted, step aside Flashman. And Henry Root for that matter Your race is run.