Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The life unswum

Finding an activity which replaces the two vital elements of length swimming – exercise, zen-like absorption – was never going to be easy. And while I appreciated the sympathy and the suggestions I received I was never in the market for a transformed way of life. Immersed in the late autumn, if not the mid-winter, of my expectations, I devote my day predominantly to writing.

Pro. tem I am back on the exercise bike in the shed, surrounded – ironically – by garden tools. Pure drudgery but it’s over quickly. However, drudgery erodes the mind and some divertissement is necessary. In the past music from the MP3 player worked but now I’m not so sure. Perspiration interrupts continuity. HHB has suggested downloading Melvyn Bragg’s radio programme and I’ll look into that.

As an alternative I have acquired an unabridged audio of “Ulysses” (22 CDs, £85) and a portable player (£10.50) - glad to see the two items correctly valued. But there’s a snag. The tracks are 6 – 7 min. long and the player has no facility for resuming where I break off.

Trying to resolve this I downloaded all 22 CDs to the MP3 player only to discover it “shuffles” the tracks. Many would say how could I tell the difference with Joyce but I’ve read the book three times and I don’t approve of Molly turning up in the Castle of the Winds. The lost ripples of the South Wye Leisure Centre continue to plague me.

Novel progress 10/4/10. Ch. 19: 3016 words. Chs. 1 - 18: 82,369 words. Comments: Hatch and Clare - a conversation starts, continues, ends (for now).

15 comments:

Occasional Speeder said...

Firstly - in the privacy of your shed - you can get away with a headband. It is vital to stop electrical interference and - much worse - stingy eye syndrome And yes - it gives you a touch of the McEnroes but you'll be none the worse for that.
Secondly - you can "deshuffle" your mp3 player - there will be a button. I promise.

Barrett Bonden said...

The MP3 player is not just playing the tracks out of sequence, it has renumbered them. Thus Track 01, when selected, plays the real Track 12. I was aware of the de-shuffle function (in the case of the Zen selecting "Normal"). In any case Shuffle, when selected, chooses tracks from the whole repertoire of 1000. This discrepancy is limited just to the Ulysses tracks.

Plutarch said...

I wonder that the presence of the garden tools and their play on the imagination, as Autumn progresses into Winter, does not in itself provide a good subsitute for exercise.

marja-leena said...

I watch TV when on the exercise bike. The only problem is that if I happen on a good movie, I stick around to watch the whole thing (not on the bike two hours tho') and feel like I've lost an afternoon of productive time. Takes self-discipline to exercise, self-discipline NOT to watch too much TV, sigh.

Rouchswalwe said...

Okay, so here's my idea. With recorder in hand, tape the sounds of the South Wye Leisure Centre and then listen to them whilst pedalling. I know, I know, it won't be the same, but it may take away a bit of the edge of the pain. When I was in Japan, I taped the evening sounds of the frogs singing and in the summer here when it hits me really bad, I put that tape on and listen.

Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: For a time I used to clip the MP3 player to the blade of a hanging spade, a pleasing use of something I had no affection for. Now, as the photo shows, I have created a little table between the bike's handlebars which is somewhat safer. You may be right; the inside of the shed is alien territory.

M-L: From which I assume your bike is in the house. I'd have difficulty with such a set-up. At the time I exercise the TV only shows programmes for children or those with learning difficulties. And whereas I'm having difficulties learning to be humble I am not well-served.

RW (zS): Now that is an imaginative suggestion, but with one fatal flaw. The South Wye Leisure Centre was the locus of all my fears and I have no desire to re-create it. What I would like to create is the sound of a pool containing no other swimmers - silence, in effect. You see how awkward my problems are?

Hattie said...

I exercise on the elliptical in the early evening, a time when I can listen to the news.
And I'm taking up hooping, which is a renewal of the hula hoop fad but with more pizazz. Not that I personally have much pizazz as an exerciser, but there is nothing that works the "core" like hooping. And it is not monotonous, like using a machine or (sorry) swimming laps. Serious hoopers custom make their hoops out of plastic pipe and electical tape, in all sizes and colors. Many routines may be seen on You Tube.

Barrett Bonden said...

Hattie: You may view swimming lengths as monotonous, I see it as a practice enjoyed only by the elite. Most people, by my observation, can't swim more than 50 m. using crawl, for reasons I have already explained. There is therefore a snob value attached to it. I have enjoyed being an intellectual snob as long as I can remember; this was a rare form of endeavour where I was entitled to regard myself a physical snob. I salute your status as a serious hooper but it is a path I do not care to tread and my reasons would take a 1000-word post to explain.

Lucy said...

Shuffled Ulysses reminds me of a showing of 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' at a friend's house, where she inadvertently put her DVD player on shuffle, so that the scenes appeared in no particular order. Surprisingly, it took us about an hour of watching before we sussed what had happened.

I used to try to read on the exercise bike. To no avail, it was still atrociously boring and went the way of all exercise devices. We have vowed 'never more', though we did subsequently give in and buy one of those walking machines you put your feet in. God knows why, why not just walk? It didn't cost much and went to Emmaus shortly after.

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: Emmaus - the never-reached source of cheap furniture in Nantes (because of their ridiculous horaires d'ouverture).

The ex-bike has had an intermmitent but useful life. Its initial application was to beef up my thighs prior to the ski-ing season. Then I used it as a summer alternative when the pool was far too crowded. Now it is a churning trundling accompaniment to the wonderful Irish actor who reads Ulysses. I am well aware that what I should be doing is going on mind-expanding walks like you, Plutarch and others. That way I'd have more raw material for the blog. But ever since I resumed the novel I am far more conscious of time's winged chariot and although exercise is necessary to preserve some type of physical well-being time spent away from the keyboard makes me fidgety. The blog has - and is - suffering I fear. As you know I did ask Plutarch's advice on whether I should drop it when I decided to pick up the decade-old MS. I've got another Blogger's Retreat meeting coming up in four weeks' time and so I'll consult the oracle again.

Avus said...

Mayhap a real bicycle and some lightweight all weather, breathable, cycling clothing, plus a rigid determination to get out for an hour each morning, every morning.......?
Must beat sitting in a shed, watching the wall with headphones on - you could view the progression of the seasons.

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: At 74 I am a writer who needs to engage in some exercise, not an embryonic cyclist willing to push writing into the corner. Arguably the criticism of my shed cycling could just as well be applied to doing the novel but it's the latter that counts. In the race against Alzheimer priorities have to be established - which is why I've managed nearly 80,000 words since last September. And don't forget, when it's finished much will have to be rewritten. Hope this doesn't sound too churlish; I appreciate the interest.

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: Over 80,000 words, in fact. Already I'm losing it.

Julia said...

In preparation for Bloomsday this June, I'm working my way through Ulysses bit by bit as well. Do you prefer to hear it or read it?

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: A request too tempting to turn down. See most recent post.