I read somewhere recently – no doubt Twitter, now that I’m terrified of Facebook, with its Orwellian-style Big Brother reputation (yes, yes, irony acknowledged if this is where you are reading this) – that every time you get dressed, remember that when you die, this will be your ghost outfit.
This is the sort of throw-away remark I’d love to be able to perfect for Twitter so that loads of people re-tweet it and it goes viral, and I become famous, and have a million followers, and…sigh.
Anyway, I digress.
My point is that this comment has stuck in my head, so that I now assess myself in the mirror every morning and think do I really want to be a jeans-wearing ghost? Or would smart-casual be more appropriate at my age? Will I need my reading glasses? Do my shoes matter (aren’t ghosts usually wispy below the knees)? Full make-up or not? And is it protocol to go with something that’s fashionable now, so that terrified witnesses will be able to identify my era of death?
Disturbing thought - what if I slip and have a fatal fall when getting out of the shower and end up as a naked phantom – surely a doubly traumatising vision for future hauntees?
I sometimes think I have too much time on my hands.
Kneegate is nearing an end; after my over-enthusiastic foray into Couch to 5k left me hobbling for two weeks, I have decided to get proper running shoes fitted. There's a store in Peterborough where you can get yourself properly checked to make sure you’ve got the right trainers, and, as I still seem to be keen to get my fat little bottom off the couch as soon as my knee injury will let me, I’m going to do just this.
It’s unusually sensible for me.
(I think the idea that I might die when getting out of the shower has got something to do with it, but I don’t think a few jogs round the block are going to make me a more appealing naked ghost. I hate to break that news to myself just yet though.)
A woman called Claire who looks as if she probably sprinted out of the womb, bounds over to me when I arrive at Advance Performance, and I explain my situation.
She understands immediately; in fact she nods so quickly, that it’s clear she sees a constant stream of middle-aged customers, all of whom hobble in because they've taken up running without wearing the correct trainers.
First of all, she makes me run for ten seconds on the special treadmill while she films my lower legs from behind; then we do what she refers to as a gait analysis.
Basically, this means that she examines the way my feet land, while I gape in horror at the rear view of my chubby little tree-trunk calves and cankles stomping up and down. It’s no wonder I injured my knee, I think. It’s just amazing I didn’t injure Peterborough.
“Your left foot is coming down perfectly squarely, but there is a little bit of over-pronation with your right foot,” she says, pointing out the way my right foot wobbles indecisively mid-air before landing. “You could do with shoes with more support.”
I try on three more pairs, and we go through the same process, with my right foot landing more and more evenly each time, until both feet match; i.e. both sides of the treadmill receiving an equally brutal hammering.
Claire is probably relieved when we find the right pair.
It’s a heavy-duty piece of machinery, but there’s probably only so much abuse it can take.
Mr Young is looking extremely handsome these days.
“I don’t know what it is, but you’re looking very good at the moment,” I tell him.
He smirks and makes a non-committal noise.
“Have you lost weight?” I ask. “Or is it because the sun’s shining?”
He smirks again. “Maybe it’s my beard,” he says.
“Your beard?” I say, peering closely.
“I’ve been growing a beard for three weeks,” he says.
This is embarrassing. “Have you?” I haven’t actually noticed. I could dissemble, but I have to admit it. Honesty is my middle name. (It’s not, it’s Jane, so there’s irony for you. Again.)
“Yes. I knew you hadn’t noticed.” He’s still smirking. In a devilishly handsome, bearded sort of way, though.
What a horrible wife I am for not noticing.
On the other hand, what a lovely wife I am to pay him compliments.
I hope he realises how lucky he is.
Two reasons that demonstrate why I am really, amazingly stupid:
I have been sneezing a lot lately, cursing this wretched mild cold, then remember today that I suffer really badly from hay fever, and have done every year for the past forty years.
I’ve been thinking how strange it is that my eyebrows have been bleached by the sun when we haven’t had any over the winter, then realise this morning – with the aid of a magnifying mirror and an unusual flash of logical thought – that they are going grey, just like my hair.
Staying with Lucy in Birmingham tonight; we are doing a bit of shopping, then having a drink before she is treating me to dinner. I usually get the train, but decide to drive.
“Drive carefully,” says Mr Young, at least fifteen times, as if my plan is to race along the M6 like Toad of Toad Hall, careering from lane to lane, and breaking speed limits with wild abandon.
Silly Mr Young. Silly solicitous Mr Young.
He tucks me up with a blanket, a water bottle, Google maps, a stick to beat off carjackers, and tells me to be careful again, then I set off for my ninety-minute drive to the metropolis.
Three hours later (I inadvertently push the iPhone off the dashboard, pick it up and my thumb turns off the sound on Google maps without realising so I get lost for a while), I arrive in Birmingham. Lucy and I stroll about, have a cocktail, then go to the new Ivy restaurant, where I apparently feel it is my duty to eat as many calories as possible.
At night, I sleep on Lucy’s sofa. For a while, I companionably share the space with her very adorable cat, Hector, but then he disappears to her bedroom.
I dream that I have a pet with my sister Rachel; a big black spider (he doesn’t seem to have a name), who we love very much, and who we play with by letting him crawl over our faces (yes, I know, in retrospect, this is gross) but suddenly she takes against him and just throws him out of the window. I am furious, and shout at her; “Why did you throw him out of the window? I loved him!”
I’m so upset, I wake myself up and find Hector lying my chest, gazing intently at me, his paw on my chin. He leans forwards and licks each of my eyelids in turn. This probably explains the spider dream, I realise.
He’s a very odd cat.
Not so odd, Lucy tells me this morning. Apparently, he was trying to wake me up, in a very logical way, so that I would give him breakfast.
“It was four in the morning!” I say.
“So?” she says. “He doesn’t care what time it is if he’s hungry.”
So he’s not odd. He’s actually a very bright cat.
We are going to something called Hot Yoga this morning, as Lucy belongs to a local yoga club. Apparently, it’s a normal yoga class, but done in a high temperature, so it’s a cardio-vascular activity because you sweat a lot, and your muscles are extra-warmed up as well. And I guess you get rid of toxins and other scientific-type stuff.
Not surprisingly, it's a very hot room when we arrive, and there are a lot of people so we are all squeezed in together. To my right is an impossibly slender and flexible girl who is literally half my size when I look in the mirror, and directly in front of me is a large man; I get to know the soles of his feet very well when we are lying down.
I know I am sweating a lot when we are doing the downward-facing dog because large drops of moisture drip onto the mat and saltwater stings my eyes. Even though the lighting is dim, I can see that my face is as red, glossy and round as a Mediterranean tomato as I attempt the upward-facing dog; mine, incidentally, is a hulking St Bernard compared to the greyhound in leggings on my right.
There is ninety minutes of this, and I do pretty bloody well up until the seventieth minute when the instructor announces that we will start balancing positions.
I improvise with my own balancing, which involves going into the corpse pose and balancing on my back, and I manage this perfectly.
Lucy impressively balances on one foot without falling over for about ten minutes and does lots of things with her other leg; I try and ignore greyhound girl, who is just showing off now, and twirling about on her big toe and attention-seeking.
Surprisingly, at the end of the class, I do feel tremendously invigorated; relaxed and tingling all over.
But I’m not sure it’s for me.
I just feel sorry for whoever has to mop up all the toxins I’ve left on the studio floor.
And what if I had a fatal accident immediately after a class?
I am a terrifying sight whilst still breathing, so goodness only knows how scary I would be as a sweaty ghost in lycra.