I smiled benignly, indulgently, but thought
Did you see me at five, tearing down the drive
on my scooter?
Or at eight, rollerskate like a demon?
Winning ribbons in swimming comps
Engaged in vigorous childhood romps
With my sister?
At thirteen I was a wreck
Putting my all into weekend discotheque
And at the same time studying fiercely, fervently
All the way to glandular fever
I’m no deceiver
I did it!
Uni then, no gap year
Signed up for Saturday Night Fever and ballroom
I was quite a diva – believe it or not
I care not a jot
You might think
I think you stink
Rowed stroke in navy blue
Up and down that effin river from five till two
In snow and ice, sleet, hail – it wasn’t that nice
And for four years I rode a bike round town, from lecture to seminar
And back again
It was a teenager’s bike
That a friend won in a competition
With Kellogg’s cornflakes
No gears, I pedalled like a fury
So listen up, You are NOT my judge and jury
I was fit as a fiddle!
From there to work
Going beserk, typing so fast my fingers
could have fallen off
From there through moving house twice to babies
Four, to be exact –
Four times as many as you, mate
And in between, Saturday jobs at Christmas
Lugging toys from basement stock-room to shelves
It was me, weren’t the Elves!
After that, running around with push-chairs
For years, and laundry and shopping
Cleaning and mopping
Sweating till I was sopping
And travelling, lugging rucksacks and cases
Wiping sticky faces and drying tears
Then teaching, always reaching
Two bags on each shoulder, weighed more than a boulder
And a box of marking in my hands
While you were boasting of half-marathons
Weight lost, circuits completed
I was grafting, lessons drafting
No break for me
At last at fifty, feeling ragged to the brim
I joined a gym
Three times a week, cross-trainer, keeping trim
Until the hip bust, and then the knee
And so you see
I do not need you saying
‘Cause I’m more than paying
For my mad and frantic life of exercise.
I am not going to spin class, or sixty-plus zumba with you!