Getting Wii-ly Fit

Last week I awoke, at 0510, to some rhythmic but ominous thumping noises coming from downstairs. I was instantly transported back to the Eighties and my old student digs in Edinburgh’s New Town where similar sounds could often be heard (for only a couple of minutes mind you ha ha) leaking through the floorboards from my handsome flatmate’s love parlour as yet another nurse succumbed to his droll Fife patter (translation: the usual shite). “Lucky bugger” I’d mutter, and roll over as the sun came up.

Back to reality, and the present. Where was my wife at this critical moment? I wanted her to go downstairs and chase the intruders (I’ve insured my face so obviously couldn’t go…..)  But she was nowhere to be seen.  So, protected by my fluffy M&S dressing gown and armed with a fully loaded Blackberry and the mini Dyson (which does look like a Flash Gordon ray gun) I set off to make a citizen’s arrest.

As I got nearer the living room the banging got louder and I could hear grunts. Perhaps my wife was snogging him to death. There are worse ways to go.

But of course there was no intruder. She was alone and she was playing with a vibrating piece of technology (pervs, you can log off now, it’s not what you think) which had been dusted down and plugged in after six months hibernation behind the DVD rack.

The Nintendo Wii Fit, so simple and yet so brilliant. With the dark chilly foggy mornings on the rise, and winter not only just around the corner but coming down the drive,  the summertime 0500 walk with a friend and the dogs has been replaced by a 45 minute workout on the Wii. Like so many aspects of fitness you get out what you put in, and boy oh boy she was going for it this morning. The iPod was on, she was ‘glowing’ (women don’t sweat apparently) as the on screen avatar tackled a challenging road circuit in bright sunshine with lots of cheery other runners joining in the fun.  The clock counted down and finally it was over. The machine worked out the timings, assessed her run against previous efforts and declared she was a ‘roaring fire’ or something equally daft lost in translation. She was delighted. (However I remember in the early days she returned to the bed chamber with a heavy heart having been called a ‘wilting disappointment’ or similar.  “Bloody machine’s broken” she pronounced. And that was it…..back in the box for three months.)

And so  my message to the circuit boards in the Wii Fit is a straightforward one. If you want to stay active, remain ‘front of house’ and not behind the DVD rack, then behave yourself and call my wife nice names. And if I ever do decide to stand on you, do not emit smoke and  remark ‘no coach parties porky’. Or else you’re up in the loft with the burger maker, bread machine,  fondue and other duff technology acquired on a whim. You have been warned.


Do You Know What A Sugar Lump Is?

(Picture posed by model before you ask)

With diabetes being ailment of the moment at the NHS, I found myself spending a couple of afternoons last week at some awareness clinics in Bishop Auckland, the Lourdes of the North.

The course was called DESMOND, an  acronym so convoluted I simply cannot remember what it stands for. I’m pretty sure the first D is diabetes and then it all becomes a blur. Perhaps the M is mindless and the final D despair. Who knows.

Two lovely nurses- Brenda and Pat- took the sessions. At one stage I started searching for hidden cameras around the room as I became convinced they were really Victoria Wood and Julie Walters playing an elaborate NHS funded corporate joke. As a double act they were a bit dodgy on day one. Brenda kept losing her place and Pat had mislaid the plastic chicken breast we had to put on plates with other healthy ingredients. By the second day they had warmed up nicely and were even ad libbing off piste from the heaving DESMOND folder dished out by the Health Ministry. Brenda had a cold but would “struggle on” while Pat tackled the section on ‘erectile dysfunction’ with unhealthy enthusiasm. It was around this stage she took one look at the veins in my arm, admired their size and uttered  “ooh Brenda I wouldn’t mind sticking a needle in one of those”. I’m hoping this wasn’t a nursing euphemism.

This was no six hour lecture. The worthy wordy sessions – usually including rib-ticklers such as  ‘gangrene’ and  ‘possibly fatal’- were counterbalanced by practical sessions which to any passer-by would assume we had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Well you just imagine three food deprived diabetics standing in the middle of a room holding plastic bananas-  while being observed by two nurses with clipboards-  trying to work out which plastic food went on which plate. And I’m surely not the only person who thought  ‘well I know its synthetic but at the moment it’s all there is. Anyone got ketchup?’  

Ten people were invited to the sessions. Only three turned up. This didn’t surprise the nurses. Pat said she could tell by our medical records we’d be the ones most likely to attend. Why? The fat gets who have diabetes  can’t be bothered to switch off Jeremy Kyle, put their nachos down and enjoy being educated for an afternoon. Lazy? Definitely. Scared of the changes they’ll have to make to their lifestyles? Guaranteed.

As the DESMOND sessions have to appeal to all ages- and social classes- it is one step up from childlike in terms of the pace and approach to education and awareness. At one stage Pat looked us in the eye and said “you do know what a sugar lump is don’t you?”  Tempted to say “no, but can I guess”, we accepted the dumbing down with good grace, just thankful to be out of the house for a pleasant afternoon with nice people, albeit in the same building as the sexual health clinic. This made life interesting in the reception room as everyone tried to guess who had the worst case of clap. Any itching was quietly observed as we all pretended to read four year old editions of Hello!

All in all the diabetes afflicted seemed to enjoy the sessions and the feedback forms seemed to have lots of ticks. We felt good about it. And that made Pat and Brenda feel good. Did we learn anything? Diabetes is progressive so we’ve got it forever and it’ll probably get worse. Progress can be slowed, not stopped, by a mix of diet, exercise and generally looking after yourself.  And  have the odd treat, and don’t feel guilty about it. Now that’s my kind of health clinic. I can’t imaging a sexual health nurse ever saying that.

What We Both Really Thought At The Health Check

“Come in”

(God he looks rough)

“How are you?” 

(Bet he says he’s fine)

“I’m fine”


“This should take around 20 minutes”

(I’m dying for a pee and I’ve got to nip to the Post Office)


(Please don’t drop my pants. It’s very cold in here)

“It’s going to be thorough”

(Oh nooooo….she is)

“Just a few questions really”

(….and relax)

“How many units of alcohol do you consume a week?”

(probably 40 looking at those eyes)

“Oh….um…around 25”

(thought so)

“I need to take some blood- roll up your sleeve”

(start to take great interest in picture of Sydney Harbour Bridge on wall)

“It’s just a small prick”

(hang on I thought you weren’t going to ….ah I see)

“I’ll send the results off. The Doctor may want to see you”

(even money certainty)

“Any advice?”

(here goes, draconian lifestyle changes ahoy)

“Look after yourself”

(and a good haircut wouldn’t go amiss)

“Am I going to die young?”