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IMG-20130104-01416It was when my working life seemed to be virtually over that I finally came to terms with my own body. I had been diffident about it from my young days, seeing myself as ungainly, but convincing myself that that was of no account since it was primarily intellect that counted, and that I felt I had in abundance. At Oxford indeed one made a fetish of such matters, affecting to look down on the hearties, the footballers and rowers and rugby players.

In fact I was rather fond of them, the captain of rowing who would spend ages in my room worrying about the fact that we were not going to do well on the river that year, the football hero who was candidate for Treasurer on my ticket when I ran for President of the Junior Common Room. It was largely because of him I think that I won with a thumping majority, against the captain of rugby who had been the favoured candidate. And I remember being impressed at how elegant even rugby could be when well played, when the Senior Tutor took me to Twickenham for the Varsity Match. He ensured beforehand that I got myself a heavy coat at the Army Surplus Shop, since the light jacket that I had made do with in my first year was clearly insufficient for two hours in the stands as the game swept from side to side.

IMG-20130104-01624But none of this persuaded me to take up any sport, except for a brief stab at fives when I failed completely to hit the ball except I think just once. I did enjoy the joke matches where I led a JCR team, against the Dean’s team at football and the Senior Tutor’s at cricket, but it was only at bridge that I represented the College (playing with the Dean, so we had to ensure that we were knocked out before things became serious and it was discovered that he was in fact a don).  But it never occurred to me that exercise was something either desirable or necessary.

All that changed in 2013 when, at the annual check up I engaged in, ever since sugar and cholesterol and pressure went up, the stress ECG was stopped early, and I was told that my heart was not quite what it had been the previous year. The doctors who comment on the tests at Sri Jayewardenepura have all been marvellous, sympathetic but firm. This time I was told that, while the decision was mine, it would be sensible to start taking exercise regularly, since otherwise I would find my heart not coping very well when under any strain. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rajiva Wijesinha

July 2019
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