I will probably spend most of the upcoming off-season doing push-ups and eating dust salads. I will watch those around me gorge themselves on calorific summer fare, all the while feeling lean, professional, superior. I will begin each day with a mittful of assorted pills and will resist the evils that lie behind every cupboard door. After all, the best trick saturated fat ever pulled was convincing the world it didn't exist.
Any of you who might have seen me play and, therefore, the jersey I have to wear (right), might even suggest this summer diet plan needs ratcheting up a notch. Well, sorry to disappoint, but I think my reality might be a touch more relaxed. It won't be much like the summer of '99 when George Chuter, Matthew Powell and I headed to Faliraki for what can only be described as a week of bodily abuse. We live and learn in this game and the moment we walked back through the front door of our shared house in North London we swore that we would never go back.
The signing of a confidentiality agreement post-holiday prevents me from disclosing too much detail but, suffice to say, George and I were unusually popular in one nightclub in particular; recommended by the seemingly omniscient Powell as "somewhere fun to go" while he had a night off (wimp), where it took us a good hour to realise there were no females in the building. None. There was no need for George to start dancing with his top off, though.
Nor will my six weeks off be too intense. If you are thinking Rocky Balboa training in the Russian snow in preparation for his fight with Ivan Drago, you'll find you're a way off. Of course, this job requires one to be in some sort of shape and we do all have targets to hit upon presentation for pre-season training. My instructions from the head of fitness were relatively simple: "Rest the bones and don't get fat." I think "fatter" might have been the adjective he was looking for but I didn't bother to correct him; he knows best, after all. No, I intend to keep relatively active by mowing the lawn now and then, walking to the car most days and, if feeling especially energetic, knocking a tennis ball around with Ignacio "Nacho" Fernandez Lobbe. We'll have to go for a long lunch afterwards, mind you, recovery is everything these days.
The nicest thing about the summer break is the absence of pressure. For the family men it is a real treat to have so much time to relax and play with little ones but, in truth, we get a good amount of time off during the season anyway. Arriving home mid-afternoon is a luxury afforded to few in full-time employment and it's something we all appreciate, but it means that afternoons in the sun – while lovely – aren't quite so novel. No, for me, having no game to prepare for and no opponent to smash into in front of thousands is, for a month or two, a nice feeling.
There will be some lovely weddings and some less lovely associatedstag trips to attend over the coming weeks so the party/peace balance ought to be just right. Mind you, looking at some of the names on one particular group email for the stag trip of Lord Michael Tindall, there will be some intimidatingly well-sculptedbodies on show by the pool.
Perhaps I'd better get training after all. Either that or just pay for Duncan Bell to come too and book the sun lounger next to him.