Why is it that when you get older you have to start doing all the stupid things that you used to laugh at when you were younger? I've lost count of the things that I swore I'd never do that now form part of my daily routine. I now make weird disapproving noises to myself whenever I spot a chavvy-looking youth wandering past me on the pavement. When said youth turns back towards me and sticks a horrid little knife up to my face I find myself meekly handing over whatever gadget I've just bought. Buzzing from the adrenalin of this experience I drive home at over 30 miles an hour and decide to do some gardening to clear my head.
Just when I thought that things couldn't get any worse, last Thursday I actually watched myself, in a curious out-of-body experience, ask Stacey whether she had the number of "that yoga teacher as I think I'm going to book us weekly lessons...". It was like watching the very moment that you finally go mental, a spectator to the sight of yourself being pushed off down the driveway on a trolley towards a waiting ambulance.
I have honestly no idea why I wanted to do some yoga. I'm not even sure how I knew that Stacey knew a yoga teacher. Normally the very word puts me into an instant catatonic state. Alea jacta est, however, the lessons were booked.
On yoga day I staggered out of bed with five minutes to spare. I desperately searched what I laughingly call my "sports drawer" for something yogic. All I could find were some very short shorts and an old polo shirt. I then had a quick look in my "travel drawer", and briefly thought about wearing this ethnic garb that I'd picked up in India but decided that it might look as if I was taking the piss.
The doorbell rang – she was here. I tried to look suitably spiritual and hid my cup of coffee. We wandered over to our gym building where the "session" was going to take place. I got a brief introductory chat about what type of yoga this was. I had had no idea that there was more than one.
Fortunately I seemed to have stumbled on a type that was not that meditation/spiritual heavy. She taught me about breathing in through my nose and exhaling in my chest. I then nearly asphyxiated three times before managing to fake it by making weird, bear-snuffling noises. We started the first "exercise" and I realised why people don't wear short shorts when doing yoga. I was now trying to contort my reluctant body into curious stress positions that wouldn't have seemed out of place in an American interrogation centre, while keeping my acorns in their shell, so to speak.
After 10 minutes of unbearable pain I wondered whether this might have been what was going on at Guantanamo. Maybe the neocons were telling the truth? Maybe they were lovely people who thought that it would be nice for the detainees to do some yoga? So the yoga teacher turned up at the camp and started a lesson. Inexplicably, within five minutes the inmates were screaming for mercy and claiming that they were being tortured.
All I know is that if I had to describe what I went through to Clive Stafford Smith, he'd have an arrest warrant out on my teacher before she could say "bumshanka". Sadly, there was no legal relief for me, just more and more pain and humiliation as I twisted and hummed and groaned my way through an hour and a half. Then, in the final act of mid-life madness, rather than calling the police I wrote her out a cheque. In the words of Edith Wharton, "There's no such thing as old age, there is only sorrow."