Thursday, 1 May 2008

The Wind Beneath My Bingo Wings

I had another warm and fuzzy internet moment this week when a reader of this blog – let’s call him Frank – got in contact, observing that my fitness regime seems to be falling by the wayside and offering to help me out. ‘I’d be happy to take you out running,’ he wrote. Obviously, I was a little hesitant. When a strange man writes to you out of the blue offering to get breathless and sweaty with you, you do well to be a little circumspect. So first of all, on Tuesday evening, we met for a drink.

Tall like a tower block and bald like a blade, turns out Frank is actually a rather splendid chap. A splendid chap who happens to have the body of a Greek god. Now I’m not what you'd call a gay man, but I do know a top-notch piece of masculine ass when I see it, and Frank just happens to have a bod to die for. Happily, he didn’t get that bod by chance – that would just be annoying. No, Frank works hard to keep himself in shape, playing football and squash, and going to the gym three times a week without fail.

But there’s more to Frank than just his height, pecs and glabrousness. Here, let me break it down for you.

10 Frank Facts

1. Frank drives a mint condition Lancia Fulvia.

2. Frank wears very expensive suit, but no tie.

3. Frank looks a little like Neil Strauss of The Game fame, but unlike Neil Strauss, he is not a complete tool.

4. Frank gets up at every morning at 6am, meditates for 20 minutes and then prepares breakfast for himself, his wife Emily (beautiful) and his little girl, Abbey (precocious), before driving to work, where before he does anything, he spends an hour pumping his body into a state of masculine perfection in the office gym.

5. Frank has run 12 marathons, including the London marathon last month, which he finished in exactly three and a half hours.

6. When he was 15, Frank became a Satanist and frightened his friends by speaking in tongues and etching an inverted crucifix into his forehead. He is now half-Buddhist, half-Zoroastrian.

7. Frank rarely watches films or reads books because ‘Life’s too short. I could be wind-surfing!’ (Actually, I’m tempted to take back Frank Fact #3.)

8. Frank has six hearts.

9. Frank was born in Bermuda.

10. Frank has a minuscule penis.

OK, this last fact is not literally a fact. It’s actually more idle conjecture, inspired by ugly, ugly envy. (Oh, the heart thing isn’t true either.)


So we met again yesterday in Brockwell Park, and we went running together. Now I usually run for just 12 minutes before collapsing. I have a little circuit around the park worked out and I’ve been running that same route for three months now and nothing has changed. It hasn’t got any easier and I haven’t got any quicker. Frank said, ‘It never gets any easier. But you have to push yourself. It’ll still hurt – it’ll hurt more in fact, but the more you do, the further you’ll get, the quicker you’ll recover and the fitter you’ll get.’ We were already running at this point. I had started wheezing, which is customary around the three-minute mark. ‘Today you push yourself,’ he said. And he sped up.

I was in quite a bit of pain by the time we finished, and it took me a little while to recover. I’d definitely run a lot faster than I do on my own. I felt well pushed.

Frank said,’ OK, let’s go.’

I said, ‘I beg your pardon?’, genuinely curious to know what he could possibly mean.

‘One more time around,’ he said. ‘That was just the warm-up. Now you need to start burning some calories.’

I laughed in his face. ‘Ha ha ha.’ Like that.

‘Come on,’ he said, unimpressed, and off he went. I suppose it was a lot to do with pride, which is apparently not a good thing, but I couldn’t just give up. I had to give it a go. So there I was, running again.

Probably around halfway through the second lap, the rain came, hard and cold. It mingled with my sweat and stung my eyes. As I half-ran, half-stumbled along, I found myself grabbing at my sides in an attempt to hold off the stitches which were coming now in gangs, like a girdle of pain. I stopped, bent double, gasping, ‘Stitch. Stitch.’

Frank stopped and said, ‘Catch your breath. Then we’ll carry on.’ He said, ‘Breathe into the stitch. Deep breaths. As deep as you can, and guide that breath to where the stitch is.’

Then I was running again. A minute later, desperate to slump to the wet earth and die, I began to wonder how anyone could possibly run non-stop for three hours. ‘They push themselves,’ said Frank. Whoa, that was odd. Had I said that or just thought it? I looked up at him as we ran. He was looking straight ahead. Did that actually just happen? I thought. Or did I merely imagine it? ‘You merely imagined it,’ said Frank. ‘Keep going. Sprint the last stretch.’

I did as I was told, to the best of my ability.

Lying on my back in the mud, I felt a strange sense of achievement. If I survive this, I thought, I’ll probably end up feeling better for it.

I survived it. And today I can barely walk. My calves are bleating like Christians.

But it feels good. It’s a healthy pain.


So as may be obvious by now, Frank is my new hero. He is also my adopted Life Coach. I’ve never had a Life Coach before, as the whole idea is anathema to me, but what the hell. Frank is perfect Life Coach material because he says things like, ‘You can do anything you want to do, be anything you want to be’, and he really seems to mean it.

He means it because he's one of those self-made swine. He was a bank manager in his 20s, but then he got bored, so he changed direction. ‘When I first started out in banks, it was different. Banks were banks in those days and customers were terrified of them. Then it all went soft and people realised they had rights and dignity.’ He spat the last word out like a fishbone that had been trying to choke him.

Frank is either deliberately outrageously amusing, or he really is a ginormous arse. At the moment my money's on the former. But we'll see.

‘Today, technology is the new religion. Still fresh enough, and powerful enough to be feared by the ignorant. So I learned technology. Now I’m a member of the digerati.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘I’m a digital strategist,’ he said, ‘and I’m one of the best.’

He explained what he actually did. It sounded like marketing to me. And we all know what Bill Hicks said about marketing. ‘No, Stan,’ said Frank. ‘It isn’t marketing. I’m a digital guru.’ He said it like he meant it too, which I really admired, and he even pronounced ‘guru’ so that it chimed not with ‘voodoo’, but with ‘Baloo’. The man has balls of reinforced concrete.

So I asked him, ‘Why did you get in touch with me, Frank?’ And he told me, ‘Because you’re putting yourself out there, you’re trying to make a difference to your life, and I like that. Plus I like what you write. And I think I can help you. And that’s that. Isn’t that what life’s all about?’

I just stared into his steely blue eyes and nodded, like a big breathless simpering gay freak.

(I'm not gay.)


Now I find myself seriously considering joining a gym. I’ve always hated the idea, and instinctively loathe the kind of people that go there, considering them horrible, vain, vacuous vermin. Ab rats. I’ve always thought that they have their priorities in life all wrong. But look at Frank. He might not watch as many films as I do, or read as many books, he might work longer hours on the whole and spend 10 hours a week stuck in traffic, but just look at his biceps.

I want biceps like that.

I’m going to look into it.

(Ugh. Tip: never do an image search for 'weightlifter'. Unless of course the sight of giant hernias is what you're into.)

Now I must lie down and eat chocolate. Adios.

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Thomas said...

Frank eh? I hope he doesn't end up being like the Blue Velvet character of the same name!

I think he sounds like a good idea. If you're serious about 'being the change you want to be' then you need some big arrogant bastard who can grind you down and mould you into something beautiful.

I could have done with a Frank of my own when I was at my lowest ebb, or a Sally for that matter. So count yourself lucky!

Maybe this is the start of you emerging from your chrysalis to become a big ballsy badass butterfly!

Anonymous said...

Wow this is great! Frank sounds perfect! Just the right mix of compassion and arsehole that will get you onto the next level. Go Go Go!
I'm putting this on to cover up the fact that my diet has stalled a bit and my fitness is below floor level. I need a Frank too - does he care to commute?

Anonymous said...

So, who wants to run a book on this? Obviously, Stan will undergo a complete volte-face on the subject of Frank. But when? I'll give it 2 weeks, max.

Wisewebwoman said...

Oh, I'd give it less, maybe 10 days.
Coaching is finite by its very definition. All power is from within. Everyone's power is very different, you can't latch on like a tandem bicycle to another's forever. Much as you'd like.
I'll shut up now.

Artful Kisser said...

Damn it! Why can't a Greek god find me via my blog and offer to whip my arse into shape? Good for you, Bete. Who knows? Maybe it can be a two way street and you'll inspire him to open a book that isn't Arnie's autobiography?

Roszs Bif said...


You are so going to try and kiss him.

Ariel said...

Frank... F like Figment... of your wondrously creative imagination? Anything that can help motivate you towards a healthier lifestyle has to be a good thing, but bingo wings can be nice too when you want to keep someone warm on a cold winter's night.

curly said...

Feel quite ill after reading about all that activity. I don't like Frank. He sounds like a charismatic pile o'shite that talks an inspirational pile o'shite. Why can't you buddy up and go running with a flipping Asda Check-out assistant? The only way I would reverse my decision on this was if he was prepared to 'enable' me to transform my life and blobby bits.

However I do hope you enjoy and it's good to hear that he's had such a positive effect on you (Am trying to be nice and not at all Jel about it). Have a wunderbar weekend - Please could we have a lovely meaty blog ready for tuesday morning?

PS Loved the post for your sort-of-date at the BM. I LOL at my desk spraying coffee-choc over the keyboard. But it was great to hear that you had such a fab day.

La Bête said...

Hey Thomas. He is a big arrogant bastard, you’re right, and it’s like what Penelope says, ‘compassion and arsehole’. He’s like the bastard hell-baby of Bill Cosby and Jeffrey Archer. Anonymous, I don’t understand what you mean but it sounds like you’re having a pop. Are you having a pop? And WWW, I’m not really ready to sign up to forever, so that’s fine by me. I’m quite excited by the idea of someone to push me really, because I’m getting lazy. Kisser, you can! Keep hope alive! Bif, you make me think of Swingers! Was that deliberate? Ariel, how dare you. You hurt me. I’m not Donnie Darko, for crying out loud. Curly, you complete me.

Anonymous said...

Hello - are you still reading comments all the way back here under these very old posts? Maybe I'm writing words which nobody will ever read. How terribly poignant, eh?

Anyway, no, I wasn't having a pop. Why would I? I'm not the popping type.

I just thought, come on, he doesn't read any books or watch any films, for cocks sake. Need I say more. For how much longer can you tolerate such a goon?

Funnily enough, whenever I'm windsurfing, I always think to myself, "this is all very well, but I could be reading a book".

Funny old game, innit.

La Bête said...

Hey, Anonymous. I'm glad you're not the popping type - some of your fellow anonymy are, however. Yeah, I see what you mean, but I think that I kind of need someone like that to help me. I want to achieve a kind of balance. I've always been a bit more like you, inasmuch as I'd generally be rather reading a book, which is how I ended up obese - so I reckon someone the other way inclined will be able to balance me out. That's the plan anyway, but he's quite difficult to pin down in reality.

Thanks for popping back!

Anonymous said...

I've recently realised that the two things aren't mutually exclusive. It's possible to read books and take regular exercise.

You say you've always been a bit more like me. But actually, I'm not as much like me as I used to be.

I used to lead a very sedentary lifestyle; books, films, drugs, booze. All the kind of stuff which didn't require too much movement.

Then I accidentally discovered running, and everything changed. Everything. I wish somebody had told me years ago that this is the best drug of all. I could have saved myself an awful lot of time and trouble.

La Bête said...

I think you’re probably more into the old running than I am, Mr Anonymous. How did you accidentally discover it by the way? I am intrigued. Were you running for a bus one day and you suddenly experienced a glorious rush of adrenaline, ran straight past the bus and into a new way of life? Is that what happened?