Old Dreams: New Days

Yesterday, I stumbled across a ghost. It was me.

In preparation for my return to the gym today after a five year hiatus, I’d slipped down an Amazon wormhole. I’d only gone into Amazon to buy Steven the new Benny Anderson CD for Christmas. (I do think it’s wonderful that a man in his late seventies has managed to get primetime TV advertising for his latest album). Anyway, whilst there I thought I’d check out the gym gear and came away with some boots, three pairs of workout bottoms and five sweatshirts. It’s been an expensive few days as I’d already done a bulk Holland and Barrett order on Friday.

My other job for the day was sorting out our online photo albums. Steven loves looking at them but has an uncanny knack of moving photos from one album to another. It was while sifting through the Somerset 2011 holiday collection, I saw the ghost. It was a photo of me taken at the end of a three month bulking session. The biggest shock was that it was taken 10 years ago in 2007. I know it’s a sign of getting old and time speeding up but I thought it was more recent than that.

I remember the plan well. My trainer at the gym had the idea that I should enter a bodybuilding competition. I was 48 at the time and he was convinced that with two years hard work, I’d be more than ready to enter an over 50s contest. I wasn’t convinced at all but he persuaded me to try an experiment – to do a three month bulking programme so that I could see what could be achieved. I had to follow his every word – train how he told me to train; eat what he shoved down my throat. And much to my surprise, in amongst the pain, I actually found myself enjoying the experience.

I got much bigger than I was in the photo but we never took any more snaps. I never did the competition. I damaged my shoulder in 2008, so everything got put back a few months. Then one day he came into the gym with the flier – an open bodybuilding show in High Wycombe in April 2010. A month after my 52nd birthday and a passport to the Masters category.

Regular readers will know where the story is going by the date. In the midst of my contest prep, Steven was taken off to the ATU. And that was that. My mind went. I couldn’t find time for the training as I was in and out of multi disciplinary meetings. The times I could have been devoting to a monster leg workout, I was having to have a monster phone workout, trying to find a solicitor. By the summer, I’d stopped training altogether. I was exhausted from the fight and had no energy for anything else.

I did go back to the gym when Steven came home but six months later, Whistler’s Mother pulled another stunt and cancelled the contract with the support agency at a moment’s notice. For two weeks I had no support at all and couldn’t go anywhere – work and the gym went out of the window.

Fast forward 10 years from the photo. This is the little seed that got planted in my head yesterday. “You missed out on the over 50s. How about you aim for the over 60s?”

After all, if Benny Anderson can still do what he loves and does best at 77…..


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