Work hard and be kind


Work hard and be kind is one of few life rules I try to live by.

Both move you forward.

But when life gets hectic, one of them can fool you into feeling it’s the only force you should feed.

Be strong to be useful. For sure. For that I have to work hard.

And being useful is many things, one of them being kind.

But why is it when you have all the time in the world, no one is there to procrastinate with you? And when you have a strict time limit with a set target, everyone wants to hang out and chat.


I have an hour and 10 minutes to train. 10 minutes to “venue” with a light run, 50 mins of stuff, 10 minute run back.

I don’t mind training on my own- it may look weird, but I am weird. So are you.

On today’s menu is a whole lot of monkey walking, Shirley’s WOD (which was 30 precision jumps on a railing), a long ass cat balance, then balancing forwards and backwards on the same railing. All doable in 50 minutes, given I focus. I have a delicious play-list to feed me but am mildly frustrated having headed out an hour later than planned. The sun is about to go down and soon my local park goes from a yummy mummy space they air their yogafied kids in, to a drug selling hot spot. It is on!

Monkey walk starts to Labrinth feat Tiny Tepmah, and I AM an Earthquake. I know the rule is not to get up in between completing the lapses, but after doing monkey walking forwards and backwards down the length of a basketball court twice, my iliopsoas forces me to unfold. Mistake.

Queue Cute Little Lady.

Cute Little Lady, referred to as CLL from now on, is quite short, in her mid to late 60’s, sportily dressed, has small, but kind eyes through which she peers curiously at the world, and has a gentle Northern accent.

CLL: “What is that you are doing there it looks really interesting I used to be a dancer you see but then I injured my foot and I can’t do it so much anymore and I walked passed and I saw you doing that and I thought oooh that’s a bit different and looks quite fun so I thought I’d come up and ask what you were doing because I thought I could try it at home as I used to dance and would like to be more active but am restricted with my injury?” (note there are no commas or punctuations. They didn’t exist. Questions did)

Me: (saying the word ‘injury’ to me evokes an automatic robotic reaction in my brain: ‘problem located, must solve’. CLL says the word twice and I am like a heroin junky who hasn’t seen a needle for a year, forcing myself to ignore it. I reluctantly pull out the headphones and leave Breakage playing in left ear. Of course I am going to answer, I can never resist interaction, I just plan to keep it brief this time. I have only 43 minutes left)“It is called a monkey walk”

CLL: “Oh…whose walk?”

Me: “Monkey walk” (No follow up explanation from me means I am focused. Normally I would explain a lot more)

CLL: “Ah because you are walking like a monkey forward like that on all fours and what does that do then? I used to be a dancer you see (does little dance gesture)but then I hurt my foot and now I can’t do it so well anymore and it hurts a little in my knee as well so I can’t really do much and it is so boring really but that looks like fun and maybe I could try it at home which is why I came up but what are you doing it for?

Me: “It is part of my Parkour training” (Breakage has gone into Nero and by the mention of this word I know I am not returning to my play list anytime soon. But it’s fine)

CLL: “Park…no I can’t say I have ever heard of that what is that is that a form of dance or something similar to that I have never heard of that it sounds fascinating”

Me:  “Parkour is moving as efficiently as you can within your own environment, amongst other things” (noticing CLL preparing more questions as that made no sense to her, I hurry to place it within some media reference) “It is jumping buildings and stair cases, fences and railings like you might have seen on TV, James Bond” (yes, cheap shot but M.I.A is a Bad Girl in the left ear, I am a frustrated girl in real life, so I take the quick shot)

CLL: “Hmmm, no I have never seen that I don’t think” ( I think I am about to get back down on all fours, but…)“Ooh no my dentist or former dentist he used to work down on the blablablsomethingortheother ( I can never remember the names of roads), do you know which one I mean round the corner where the… “(I am shaking my head a lot just to show that she could probably take me there and I would still not know where it was)“well he had a son he has moved to Dorset now not his son but the dentist and his son did it yes I am sure he did do that wonderful he was used to jump all over the place oh that is really good that is great I walked passed you see and it looked so much fun so I thought I’d come over and ask” (I start to make the ‘I am fading you out smile’ to see if I can get back to monkey work, but…)“So how would I do this at home if I was going to do it then would I just get onto my knees and hands and go forward maybe I would have to move some furniture just to find the space?”

Me: (…and I am back) “No, never on your knees” ( Damn the teacher in me. But I WON’T ask her about her injury)“but you do it like this” (do a quick demonstration and give some pointers. I get up and draw that sigh you do with raised eye brows that says: it was lovely, but not lovely enough coz College are singing that I could be A Real Hero, which I would love to be, but for that I need to complete Shirley’s WOD out so…)

CLL: “Oh great thank you that is lovely I will try that when I get home I hurt my foot quite badly you see and I had to stop dancing and it was so sad as I like being active I think we should all be really active it is very good for us it makes up happy and I thought it was so great seeing you doing that monkey business on your own as it is really quite brave and when I hurt my foot I had to stop (see, she is really sweet and this is a story I have heard many times as a Pilates instructor. Movement is so important to have and to be able do, and you are all lucky to have the freedom to have and be able to do both, so now I have my sympathy face on, diffusing that robot in my head NOT to ask about the injury and how she is now)I hurt my foot on the tube a while back you see I was in Leicester square coming down the staires and I saw Jeremy Paxman on the other side of the platform do you know Jeremy Paxman he is a lovely newsreader I think the one with the long face (I do an overly demonstrative head nod to show I know who he is and don’t want to dwell on his looks)and I saw him on the other platform when I came down the stares and I was so gobsmacked I forgot to look where I was going and I fell down the stairs quite silly really had to have an MRI scan and everything (laughs an endearing laughter. I tug at my jacket as if to say ‘ yupp, quite silly but I am ready to do something now’ cos my foot is fine’….ahhh)So what is that then is it a special Parkour jacket that you have to use when you monkey about maybe?”

Me: “No, this is just a Nike windproof thing as the weather is quite horrible today” (deliver short smile. I want to get back to Coldplay’s Paradise and forget this grey so I make an other ‘ I am ready to move on’ gesture and fiddle with my ipod)

CLL; “Oooh and what is that then is it a special Parkour device that makes you move faster maybe?”

Me: (laughing a little. Not at her, but the sheer thought this device would make me move faster. Well when it plays good music it actually does make me move a little faster, and indeed there are certain songs that can make me feel really strong and…aargh!! See, the CLL way of an endless stream of words is quite contagious)“No this is just an ipod”

CLL: “Oh…a pod whose pod did you say it was what does it do?

Me: “It’s an ipod. It plays music, anyone can have one” (being an Apple marketing consultant is not my favourite role at the best of times, let alone when mine is running out and I am realising I am not going to be able to complete today’s training by any stretch of the imagination)

CLL: “Oh that’s great so you have it right there in your ear oh music is great I used to love it when I danced but I can’t do so much of that anymore but I try to keep fit anyway I just walked all the way down from Willesden as there is a fire on Scrubs lane do you know where that is it is up that way did you see it loads of traffic anyway I walked all the way and it does feel quite good to be active I think it is really important but now my back is a little sore I have to admit so what other things than Parkour do you do then or do you only do Parkour perhaps?”


CLL: “Oh Pilates I love Pilates I used to do it a lot when I was dancing and I would love to get back into it as it is so good for you and I with my back should do it much more often after this foot that silly Paxman so where do you do that then?”

I explain in brief where and who, what and some more but am stuck between a rock and a hard place, have been here for most of my playlist now, and I really REALLY want what is left of my 25 minutes of training. But who is she to know that things are so busy at the moment that I can’t have a normal chat with a sweet passer by who is just genuinely curious and enthusiastic about seeing someone walking up and down on all fours, and that if I don’t get to do at least Shirley’s WOD I am going to break something when I get home. Or not as it were. I am just going to suck it up and feel shit inside and outside and maybe eat a chocolate instead. *!!*ing Paxman. It’s his fault if my Parkour never improves and I am found chained to my sofa underneath a heap of empty Galaxy, Lindor and Cadbury wrapping paper…On my last sentence I am actually slowly bending my legs and trying to come down to the ground in way I am hoping shows a pleading “please don’t take offence I just have to do this for my sanity and if life was calmer I would chat much more and I feel bad that I can’t- or won’t as it were-it’s not you it’s me as you are just sweet but I am on a mission running out of time, a little bit like Tom Cruise” (come on, you must know this move…ok then, maybe there is no way of expressing all of that in just a knee bend)

CLL: “Well I will let you get back to your monkey business as I can see you are quite eager to get on thank you for showing me how to do it I will try that when I get home do you live far from here well wherever you live just don’t take the way up to Willesden Junction as there is lots of traffic up there Parkour I will look out for that buy now, bye and I am sorry I took up so much of your time”

Me: “No worries at all and thank you for the information about Scrubs Lane” (what else is there to say?)

Work hard and be kind.

Sometimes it is hard to be kind when you want to work hard.

Sometimes it is difficult to work hard when you are kind.

But I think you should be kind first. And second. Then there is no saying what you can be.


Ps. There is a pause in my stretch blog; this post was going to be on the calf muscle. But I have run into a shin thing that I am investigating and I thought that what I found could perhaps be useful for the calf blog, hence this blog about the Cute Little Lady while I investigate.