Monday, July 17, 2006

The Circle Of Life

In a previous post, I told the story of the very first movie I'd been allowed to go see by myself.

Yesterday I was surfing the tv channels - even though I have the excellect digiguide software loaded on my laptop - and whaddyaknow, I came upon that very movie, Swiss Family Robinson. It was part way in of course but I started watching nonetheless.

I'd like to report that I watched it to the end and that it somehow rekindled the youthful excitement I'd experienced all those decades ago. I'd like to, I really would.

But I can't. I gave up after 20 minutes. It was painful to watch. I'm sure there are movies that can stand the test of time but this wasn't one of them. I watched the part where a young girl concealed her hair under a scarf and that was enough to pass her off as a cabin boy to fool the pirates on the island. After escaping from the pirates, he/she ran off with his/her 2 young male rescuers who were also completely taken in by this clever disguise. And to think that they had to spend millions to show Tom Cruise peeling off a face mask when he wanted to fool everyone in MI2. I guess we expect more of our disguises these days.

But back to this simpler age of subderuge and from now on I'll refer to the girl as 'she' - or it'll get very silly. But remember, only WE know this truth. Exciting isn't it ??? Anyway, the trio came upon a water hazard and 2 of them decided the best way to cross it would be to strip off their tops and, holding their clothes over their heads, wade across as the water would only come up to their necks. I'm still not sure why it didn't seem to matter that after this they'd have dry tops but soaking wet bottoms - maybe a total striptease was not something to even be mentioned in a Disney movie back then. And being a 60's Disney movie, guess which one didn't quite fancy this idea of a topless wade ? Yep, our friend, the cabin girl. I distinctly remember being very glad of this myself as I was a Catholic 8 year old boy and I didn't think I could've borne the mortal sin of seeing Janet Munro topless - confession or no confession. I also wasn't aware at that time that she was a boxum 26 year old and not the young teen she was playing in the movie. Now THERE was a much superior subderfuge for ya.

So she says she'll cross further down river and when they insist she does what they want to do, she tries to run away. Our lusty youthful male hero proceeds to throw himself upon her and you could've heard the massed tittering in the cinema and whispers of "oh is he in for a surprise now". In the scuffle, the scarf came off, the hair was released and voila, our hero immediately became a stand up actor, if you'll pardon the expression.

After that, it was amazing how she was treated and expected to behave. The hero lad actually said......we'll make things easy for you !! She was suddenly relegated to domestic duties round the place and was never involved in any decision making or fighting. Sigourney Weaver was only 11 at the time but I bet she'd have kicked some pirate booty. You go girl.

Watching favourite childhood movies 45 or so years later is more of a social challenge than anything else. Back then men were still men and women were glad of it. Woman's Lib and Posh Spice were still years away and the best an actress could expect from an island adventure role was to fashion a working kitchen out of bamboo and vines and frequently get her clothing wet despite there never being a cloud in the sky. Times have changed. Now she could order the kitchen in flat packs using her Blackberry but I fear she'd still get somewhat damp if only from the steamy sex scenes with her fellow actress.

You're well out of it, Mr. Disney.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Walking Back to Happiness

Funny but it's true.....................

These are the opening words of a 60's song by UK singer Helen Shapiro and they were very appropriate today as I was deep in thought when on my daily walk. I was thinking of the good effects my walks were having on both my body and mind..........but, hey, I'm getting ahead of myself.

I like to walk. I always have. Thankfully it's still one of the things I can still do. Considering I've never had any formal training, I'm pretty good at it. It's mainly a solo thing (yes I know people can walk in pairs or in a group but it's good to generalise now and then) which is just as well for me ! It's not a fast way to get around but in this day and age, it's often nice to slow things down and actually SEE things around us. As I've mentioned before on this blog, I'm fortunate that the countryside is only mile or so from my house but even before getting there, my preferred route takes me along tree lined avenues and the beautifully tended gardens of the rich (and not so rich but who have the time and patience to look after their gardens).

I also love listening to music and with the invention of the mp3 player, I can combine these 2 loves and walk to the music, so to speak. I'm hopelessly stuck in the 60's when it comes to musical tastes and I find it somewhat amusing that I'm using modern technology to enjoy listening to what were relatively basic and simplistic recordings from over 40 years ago. You can hear the drums, the bass guitar, the lead guitar, maybe the organ on the odd track. You can hear the vocalist breathing between lines and I'm sure I've heard the clink of the tea ladies cups as she sneaked into the recording studio with afternoon refreshments on her trolley. The simple setups in those days recorded everything and we get the benefits of it now. The lyrics were as simple as the recording techniques and I love them all. I don't understand them all, but I love them anyway. I'm guessing LSD and other goodies were mixed with the tea trolley refreshments from time to time and the results are some of the weirdest and most wonderful songs of all time.

But back to walking. There aren't many exercises I can do now to help with my need to lose weight and be healthy, so I decided to walk daily and walk further than ever before. I devised a few routes which take me away from traffic and into the nearby countryside as soon as possible and then drove them to get accurate distances. My usual route takes me 90 minutes and is 5.5 miles long. I've done it so often and can keep it to within a minute or so every time - which is very useful as it means I know that in 90 mins I can walk 5.5 miles anywhere. This can be very useful when on holiday or just out somewhere for the day.

Last night I downloaded yet another compilation album onto my mp3 player. It was called The Greatest Sixties Party and I suspect it was just made up by someone and isn't a 'proper' album at all. Nevertheless it contains 85 fab, groovy tracks and I sang my way along my route today like a released inmate from the straightjacket union. The sun was beating down, I had a nice sweat going on and I felt great. My mind wandered and I was thinking of what it takes to make me happy. Not much actually. I'm easily pleased.

In February a friend rejoined WW in America and I went online and discovered the WW community through their daily threads and posts. I tested the water and although I'm not a WW member, I found great motivation and encouragement there. I was welcomed by a wonderful bunch of people and I now post regularly in my group thread. At the end of June we raised a walking challenge to encourage everyone to do more exercise - be it a few miles a day, several miles a week, so many miles on so many days a week and so on. Each to their own. I set myself a challenge of 100 miles in the 33 days before the end of July when I'd be leaving for America. It seemed a reasonable and achievable challenge of 3 miles per day even though I guessed there would be days I'd need to walk more to make up for the days when I'd not want to, or be able to, walk at all.

It's now 16th July, the 18th day of the challenge, and I've walked 93.5 miles ! I'm pretty amazed myself and not so much because I've walked so far but mostly because I've enjoyed almost every mile. I've not missed a day either and WANT to walk. Has it helped with my weight loss ? Well when I started in February I was 190.2 lbs and today I'm 171. My initial goal was 168 lbs as that's what I was in 1989 and the only weight I can remember being in my life with any certainty. I don't plan on stopping at 168 but I'll be happy to get there.

So that's what I was thinking as I walked today. Walking my way to happiness. And then something quite amazing happened. That song came on my mp3 player. I almost stopped dead in my tracks as I heard the familiar and youthful voice singing...........

Funny but it's true
What loneliness can do
Since I've been away
I have loved you more each day

Walking back to happiness
Whoop-pa, oh yeah
Said goodbye to loneliness
Whoop-pa, oh yeah

Well I did say that meaniful lyrics weren't a strong feature of sixties music ! It's a chirpy little song though (despite the lyrics about loneliness) and it certainly sped me along on the final part of my walk. I took it as a message, some sort of celestial pointer that what I was doing was right for me.

A mile into my walk on Tuesday I'll reach my challenge target - with over 13 days to spare. I'll keep on walking though as my lifetime challenge is more important than any monthly one. With or without Helen, and with God's will, I hope to walk back to many more years of good health and yes, happiness.

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