I’ve been thinking about them lately.
As I struggled to fight my way up and down the pool yesterday afternoon, I realised I was getting more and more stressed. It was about 4.30, when at the shallow end every child in Portishead was exercising its lungs and its muscles, as doting parents looked on clearly considering it their darlings’ right to lunge after whatever had been flung by their friends without looking to left or right. Courtesy to other swimmers was definitely for sissies.
Meanwhile the (mostly) male adults steamed up and down doing the crawl – but today their arms didn’t slice cleanly through the water, their legs pump below the surface with barely a ripple. Oh no, they thwacked it with palm entering the water sideways, sending sprays of water in all directions, while their legs produced a wake of which a powerboat would have been proud.
Young girls verging on puberty congregated in rings round about the middle of the pool, too busy talking to swim, excitedly casting sidelong glances at the flushed, acne’d boys nearby whose hormones were raging so madly from being in close proximity to nearly nude babes, that believing themselves to be cool and aloof, they shouted and cavorted around them.
The bored teenage lifeguard sat on his very high chair, tanned and resplendent in his scrambled egg coloured uniform, carefully tousled curly black hair occasionally tossed back in seemingly casual manner, his jaws exercising remorselessly on chewing gum. Every so often to bring a little variety into his life, his whistle on its long lead was spun round his index finger. There was no danger of it being blown to bring any bad behaviour to the attention of the perpetrator – unless it had in fact been used earlier and the previous morsel of chewed gum had got firmly stuck there, rendering it useless.
The waves crashed about my head; my breast stroke was more like my best choke, and I only managed 20 lengths in the end – being angry is so exhausting. As I was changing back into my clothes a thin stream of something trickled into my cubicle from the next one where a child was being nagged by his mother to hurry up and get dressed. It may have been muddy water, it may not, but I couldn’t wait to get out of the bloody place.
All the while I tried to think about other things – for example, some of the sad blog posts I’ve read recently; it’s been humbling to learn how some bandits are striving to understand what has brought them to this, the greatest endeavour of their lives – to shed the baggage of the past and the excess baggage on their bodies, and with the help of a piece of plastic prepare themselves for a better future, for everything will be better if they can only feel normal and have the choice to be either invisible - or gorgeously visible.
And this applies to me too of course, though I don’t come close to some of the terrible past situations endured by other bandits. I admit I’m frequently not on top form for various reasons which I don’t feel I can blog about, and the hardest thing to come to terms with has been the fact that comfort food simply can’t be an option any more. Food (seemingly) offers instant comfort, and there’s no substitute.
The only solution I’ve worked out for myself is the knowledge that the comfort will come in the future, if I only apply the rules now. I know that for every stone I lose I will feel much better, and more importantly, physically and mentally stronger. I must have faith, and patience.
I’ve also read Sandy Lee’s recent posts in which she explores the difficulties of self-control in eating habits, when a fill is the only solution.
As I swam up and down this afternoon, reflecting on these things and trying to leave the anger behind (unsuccessfully, you may have gathered), I thought about mantras, and how I have a few which I try to use in stressful moments – and the fact that sometimes they work. (Although repeating over and over “You will all get out of the pool NOW”, conspicuously didn’t).
I thought I’d share them with you, and ask you if you have any yourselves. (The showy presentation of them, by the way, is just an excuse to use more of my own pictures, and to see if I could do it.)
I look longingly at the high calorie foods I love so much, and I tell myself
My (still highly unsatisfactory and depressing) image in the mirror –
Having eaten too big a meal –
And the one I use most these days when I’m feeling low, and is therefore the most important to me – I whisper it to myself many times a day, particularly the final sentence. I’ve always thought of it as being in the third person, as if it was someone else telling me this:
Photo Finish –
From Lonicera’s non-digital archive
This is a selection from thousands of pictures taken at rugby matches over a five year period when the teams were Bristol, Bath or England at Twickenham, plus whichever team they were playing. At Twickenham it was the New Zealand All Blacks (England won the particular time in the early nineties when I was lucky enough to take pictures from the front row). At local games I was always allowed a privileged position by the touchline because the pictures were destined for the programmes, and I knew the printers.
I'm a bit of a girly photographer - you won't find me taking pictures of the engineering works or machinery which so seem to fascinate the men, and here with rugby I take action shots as much as possible of course, because it's all about drama and following the ball. However I also love candid portraits, or a study of what makes a typical rugby player. And - er - if they're handsome or rugged, so much the better, as you'll notice.
There are some extremely grainy - almost impressionistic - images, and I make no excuses for them. I feel they convey the physicality and the struggle that the game represents, and give the effect of being frozen in time.
Bristol vs Northampton
Bristol vs Harlequins, taken by yours truly
when she spotted a Harlequins player losing his shorts
(well, wouldn't you?)
A juniors game before the main event.
I just love the looks of struggle on their faces.
England vs All Blacks, Twickenham
The "Neanderthal" look - classic rugby...
Simon Shaw, Bristol and England player
who was a junior at Bristol in those days.
I've got a lot of pictures of him...
Phew. Pass the smelling salts someone.