I've been making soap these last few weeks.
The first rule of ... is don't talk about … The second rule of … is you do not talk about ...
October 12th 2019. Age 49, Weight 10st something. Height, short. Reach, not very far. And if that doesn't give the game away nothing will!
For the last four weeks I've been hitting the gym with about 20 other folk every Tuesday and Thursday in the hope of preparing myself for 6 minutes of exercise, that's all, just six minutes in the schooling of Queensberry Rules. On Saturday, 12th October, I, like many of the people signed up to do this event will enter a boxing ring for the first time in their lives. They will probably be the fittest they've ever been and spurred on by the soundtrack from Raging Bull (which most of this blog content is), to Creed to the ever present Rocky.
Perhaps one or two of you might be chuckling at the thought of this tubby little git pulling on a pair of boxing gloves and getting in to a ring with anyone. When I entered almost 2 months ago, I thought much of the same. I can almost see my best friends laughing at the ridiculous notion of 'Big Nose' getting his head caved in. As ever though, there is always a reason for doing something a little different. I'm scared of heights but I've not ruled out the idea of completing a sky dive. The challenge of doing something out of the ordinary, of pushing and properly punishing myself in the most raw, open, conspicuous way possible was too tempting to refuse.
It is quite laughable really, I'm squeamish and weak at the best of times. My chin is probably as fragile as the local antique shop's crystal. The 'wings of a butterrfly' right or gentle caressing jab of my left, limp, underworked arms, labouriously pump like the piston's on a misfiring Stevenson's rocket, only with less power and will probably be as devastating to my opponent as being hit with a duck down pillow. Of course, I'm worried, nervous and scared but this has to be the epitomy of taking yourself out of a comfort zone. All I want to do is last six minutes, just 360 seconds in a ring with my opponent who has not been chosen as yet. We all get paired up nearer to the date of 'fight night'. It's like Blind Date, minus Cilla, the retractable door and the daft questions. But, I suppose the title of the evening could still be 'Take Me Out'.
Coming up in the next few weeks is the birthday party of one of my oldest school friends, he'll be 50 (followed by several more of the class of '86). Ancient, at least that's what we thought 35 years ago, even 25 years ago and 15 years ago well, 50 still seemed an eternity away. Admittedly this might be a mid-life (upper mid-life) crisis thing, but then I've had tons of those, so no drama there, the only difference with this one is that no drink was consumed when signing up for it. Blame Facebook they advertised it. True White Collar Boxing. Anyone can do it. You don't need experience, the training is free, you just need to raise £50 for a charity of your choice and sell entrance tickets for the event. Any takers any one? It'll be the best giggle you've had in a long time, perhaps funnier than the comedy night I'd organised which had a line up of some fantastically talented individuals but had to be cancelled due to the poor job of advertising I'd done. The difference here is that three month's ago you had the chance to see real talent, now you've the opportunity to see the opposite of talent, but in shorts and carrying padded gloves over his hands.
As I'm writing I reminisce about the last 'fight' I had, just getting off the school bus directly opposite my Mum and Dad's house. A lad in the village, Richard Heinz (I think) and I always used to argue and it always ended up in fisticuffs and he always ended up getting the better of me too, this was probably the last 'fight' I was in. Not counting, of course, the time I went out on the town to celebrate my 18th birthday (the day I start paying for dental charges) with several of my mates, including the coolest handsomest dude (now bald) we knew. After a night out, as ever, I was left alone, simply because all of the lads had managed to get signed up for other much more attractive options (with the better sex), especially when you consider the alternative was sharing a donner kebab with me. And so, at about half past midnight whilst waiting by the burger van for my second munchie portion of the night, I was approached by a couple of youths, one of whom suggested I had called him something in the vernacular indicating a part of a female's biology. I was alone, naïve, scrawny and armed with a punch-able face (which incidentally I still possess) I replied in the negative. Did not matter a jot, since the protagonist of the story heard my reply and still swung an aggressive right hook towards my face, connecting directly with my aghast open mouth. I spun round, spat out my left incisor and decided in the briefest of sober moments to follow in the path of the Monty Python knights and 'Run Away, Run Away'.
The next morning, covering my mouth, my mother - the somewhat formidable Mrs Evans, Nursing Sister, Grade 1 football referee, Marathon Runner and all in all, hard as nails and sturdiest 4 foot 11 inch woman I've ever known - asked why I was talking with my hand over my mouth, as she shuffled me out of the door preparing to drive me in the family car to take me to football. 'Nothing' was the teenage reply. 'Show me your mouth' was her response. Removing my hand I smiled revealing the gaping hole left by the absence of my pearly white enamel. These stories are not covering me in any glory are they? Certainly not demonstrating any pugilistic prowess. Protect yourself at all times, I'm working on it.
As one of the other lads wrote on his twitter feed 'all the gear, no idea'. One of the brilliant things about this has been the training. It lasts one hour, it is brutal. The trainers are taking lads and lasses from standing start to the point of near collapse each and every week. This weekend I signed up for an hour's personal training. Liam gets me skipping (I've never skipped in my life before August), I'm sure it's hilarious to watch. Six year old girls (in the balance of being PC) and boys, both with pigtails, are peaking in through the windows from outside, pointing, guffawing and crying at this old chap trying his hardest to co-ordinate the flick of the rope over his head, followed by a leap into the air, then an attempt to guide the rope backwards and up over his head again. Surely it should be one smooth elliptical movement, yet for this one, it is a three or four stage process and I'm labouring after only four turns of the rope. We are supposed to keep the rope turning smoothly with little jumps or steps for three minutes. You are joking. The most revolutions I've twirled it around my head is 38 for an eternity of almost 30 seconds, after which I'm spent. Haven't even got in the ring yet or had seven bells knocked out of me. Who am I kidding? Yet for the last four weeks I've turned up religiously each week to gratefully accept the training and give it my all. I've been called honest. Not a bad thing and even if I look like and box like Danger from Million Dollar Baby, I'm still going to give it a whirl. What's the worst that can happen? It's only six minutes...
If you feel sorry for me feel free to flick over to Just Giving and help me bleed for Brathay. Cut man anyone? By the way, I'm sure there are a few people out there who would still like to caress my face with their fists? You know who you are, especially when I do that 'smirk' thing (which incidentally is because, I'm uncomfortable and not because you think I'm being a smarmy so-and-so), but please form an orderly queue, or do something constructive and donate even a pound so that a vulnerable person out there gets a shot at a better life.
Almost forgot, if you want to buy tickets for the event - 3D glasses are available - please throw me a right hook or better still drop me ...a line!