Wednesday 21 January 1998
Like our baby's keep-fit class. They said PE kit was not required. Dress in your usual clothes, they suggested. Come before work and play along with the music. Sounds good. However, I leave my suit at home as a precaution. Cords (tie scrunched in pocket) are best for crawling around. And I keep my pager, that badge of office life, clipped on belt. So everyone knows that this isn't my whole world, that another life could at any time claim me back, that Something Very Important might need my attention.
We're sitting on the mat, me and toddler, trying to keep up with the others. It all feels very familiar: hall with wood-blocked floor; tall windows you swing open with a big pole; the start of a new class where everyone seems to know what to do; the whiff of smelly feet. I remember being somewhere like this as a child, the panic of falling off the wooden horse, landing winded on my back. And then there's that old self-consciousness - when asked to remove my shoes, why do I always find a hole in my sock?
"Heads and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes" sings a very nice, very brisk lady. But I keep putting my hands on my head when they should be on my toes. Child looks lost and bemused. And before we've got the hang of that, we're on to the next verse: "Eyes and ears, mouth and nose, mouth and nose..." Oh dear, I think, here I am, a grown man with his own pager, still uncomfortable about not keeping up with teacher.
It's meant to be fun. What could be more innocuous than singing "Row, row, row your boat/ Gently down the stream"? But I know it's a sneaky abdominal exercise (or "abs", as grown-up gym aficionados always call them), designed for developing a washboard stomach.
Suddenly, we're out of the boat, standing up and bending over. "I'm a little teapot/ Short and stout/ Here's my handle/ Here's my spout." Aha - here comes a sideways stretch: "When the kettle's boiling/ Hear me shout/ Lift me up/ And pour me out."
But our child isn't interested. She's not conforming to gym culture, not bothered about being a teapot. Up she gets and wanders off to the trampoline. That's my girl.
Life & Style blogs
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 North Korean prison officers 'cooked prisoner's baby and fed it to their dogs', more horrific accounts from UN report reveal
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 4 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...