I bought some socks today. I know, hold the front page. I don't write anything for over a week and when I do, it's all about the hosiery action. I'm like Hemingway with toe seams, me.
These were not ordinary socks. Oh, dearie me no. I went to a specialist for them. Not one of those back-street sock merchants, you understand. Those shady characters who entice you in, get you going on real wool and silk, then when you're hooked, raise the price until you're in a spiral of depression and darning.
I'm being silly now. Sorry.
I went to a place I hadn't been for a very long time,Go Outdoors. You may recall I spent a little time at this place last year. And no small amount of disposable income, come to think of it. I was ordered there by She Who Must Be Obeyed, who wanted some socks for walking. As opposed to the socks she has in which she's not allowed to walk.
As I entered the store, I realised that I hadn't been in since last year. Last year, when I could be regularly found stepping out across the country. Up hill and down dale. Once someone explained what a 'dale' was, of course.
I walked past the serried ranks of waterproofs, the settlement of tents, the army of boots marching across the far wall. I regarded the socks, with the traditional cry of: "Christ on a bike! You could get five pairs of normal ones for that much."
And I realised that I missed this. I missed being out on Pipers Hill near Bromsgrove, looking down from the church while my lungs ached from the climb. I missed Dodderhill Common, dodging the suicidal sheep. I missed stopping at the edge of a farmer's field to glug Gatorade from a bottle before carrying on. I even missed the relentless trudge along the canal towpaths. Rain or no rain.
This last few months has been hellishly busy.As a result, the walking has gone for a burton. My rear end has become too accustomed to sofaville, with the result that it can now be seen from orbit.
It's not just my leg muscles that have lacked what I laughingly call a workout. The one in my head has gone a bit flabby, too. I've been pushing words around on a screen at work for months, so I haven't really felt like doing the same when I got home. The two of you who are still reading have probably noticed this.
(Although I did write something a little different the other day that I'm actually quite proud of. Go have a look, if you like.)
When I went to pay for my superannuated socks, the cashier rang them through and asked for my Go Outdoors loyalty card.
"This is about to expire," she said, "do you want to renew for another year?"
There's a thought. Do I want to halt the downwards slide? Shall I let things hang, not move forwards? Or shall I pull myself out of the rut?
"Renew it, please. I think I'll be using it this next year."