The Lost Art of Ski Pole Walking (Updated)

Added on 25 March 2010

We live in a quiet wee place in the west country, overlooking the town recreation ground. As you can imagine with a town recreation ground, all human life is there. (Except when it's raining a lot.)

People walk dogs, play frisbee, sit around and chat, play football, kids get their first cricket lesson from their dad. Life. The Doctor (as in David Tennant, soon to be Matt Smith) would think it's one of those glorious things that marks the human race out as being wonderful. This, of course, is because in Dr Who, the human race is always working together to fight aliens, rather than doing all that really horrible nasty stuff they do to each other in real life.


So, human life being what it is, on the recreation ground out back, when people play football, the air is filled with the most colourful and educational invective; when they sit around talking, they leave behind great piles of litter and empty beer cans; occasionally they light fires on the grass; of a summer's evening, one occasionally catches a whiff of what can only be an illegal substance; there's the odd discarded condom wrapper to be found on a Sunday morning.


All human life... Maybe some nights the Doctor might come down and think, Well.... maybe we'll just leave it to the Cybermen...  Or that might just be me who thinks like that.


Anyway, just to prove the all human life argument, out on the field at this very moment is the weirdest thing I've ever seen in my life (or what further investigation reveals to be Nordic Walking...) One middle-aged woman - who one can only assume reads the Daily Mail or the Express - is teaching another middle-aged woman - who one can only assume reads the Daily Mail or the Express - how to walk with ski poles.


I just sat and watched them for ten minutes. It was like watching live Monty Python. The How To Walk With Ski Poles sketch, from series three, with Cleese and Jones dressed as women.


The instructor would walk up and down with her ski poles, while the other looked on attentively. She would then walk with ski poles, under the watchful eye of her ski pole Jedi master figure. Then they walked the length of the field, together, with ski poles. They then laid down the poles, and practised walking without ski poles, working on their technique. (This is obviously a handy beginner instruction tool, in case the novice should inadvertently stab herself in the throat.) Had this been an actual Python series 3 sketch, walking without ski poles might have been seen as something of a reprisal of the Ministry of Silly Walks.


(I do believe that no man would countenance such a thing as to be instructed by another in how to walk with a ski pole. A man, should he decide that a ski pole was required, would just pick it up and head off into the wilderness. If lacking in confidence, he might watch a video on YouTube. He certainly would not take ski pole instruction in public.)


Perhaps there's a certificate to be had at the end of it all. Walking With Ski Poles Class 1. Before being awarded one's certificate, one must pass an exam, which includes a multiple choice written section.


When walking with ski poles, the ski pole walker should hold the ski poles with her:


a) hands

b) feet

c) nostrils

d) copy of the Daily Mail


Even though it's taken me two hours of precision writing to expertly craft this blog, they're still out there, marching up and down, perfecting walking with a ski pole.


Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe one day when I'm middle-aged - next month or so - I'll confidently pick up a pole to go walking and will promptly stick it in my eye, or whack myself on the testicles. Only then, perhaps, might I begin to understand the ways of the true walking with ski poles master...


Emergency update: Sitting in a cafe this morning with TPCKAM, with One of Two and Two of Two safely dispatched to school, I was browsing through the Somerset guide to courses available in the region for the coming months. Gardening Without Chemicals, Gardening With Chemicals, Gardening With Ski Poles, that kind of thing. And then, there it was, courses spreading out for more than two pages, the most popular course in the whole of Somerset by a mile: Nordic Walking.

Holy crap. Thousands of people are being instructed on how to walk with ski poles, all over the country. It's a thing. There's me lambasting the poor women for reading the Daily Mail, when in fact, it's me, with my closed mind and yearning for The Old Ways (when people just did stuff, rather than get a course in it) who is acting like a Daily Mail reader.

It is, at the very least, a metaphorical ski pole to the testicles.