Last weekend, my right ear thought it best to stop working, as highlighted – highlit – in Week 10. This continued and by Tuesday I was thoroughly browned off with it all. With a lobe completely blocked, all I could hear was my own worryingly wheezy breath and the cogs slowly turning in my clockwork head. Eardrops merely made my existence like being underwater but next to a submerged house that had an alarm bell ringing.
I booked a place at the local ear hospital and for £80 had a technician stick a camera down my lughole to ascertain what the problem was. It’s a bizarre thing to see a waxberg clogging up your ear drain. Had I been pushing Wet Wipes into the aperture? Getting your ears hoovered is not an unpleasant feeling and half an hour later, after the remnants of the stubborn berg had finally been smashed with a deluge of pumped water, I was a new man – ears refurbished. The cause: earphones. Don’t use earphones, people! Your ears think they’re being invaded and react accordingly.
You wouldn’t want to be deaf for karate. You need to listen. Thursday duly brought Activity Day and when you can hear, you can do anything. Tennis felt easier than usual. Did I detect a slight extra fitness creeping into my sinews? I wasn’t so tired chasing after Mrs Gale’s drop shots. I think I’m feeling a little more sprightly.
I was borderline concerned about karate tonight after my white-out last week. White-outs, if you remember, affect older people taking part in vigorous exercise when the temperature is high. As the day wore on the mercury rose, and with it the possibility of another white-out. My winter joggers don’t help in this matter. With eight kids alongside me in the class tonight, we got the ball rolling with five press-ups… Five press-ups for everyone in the room tonight: 9×5=… 45? Huh? I managed 40; possibly 39.
So the new kata… Having pretty much sorted kata kihon, the new kata – kata shodan? – isn’t too far removed, apart from a hammer blow move and upwards blocks rather than downward blocks. It’s no good feeling like a wally doing these shapes. It won’t wash. And all the arm-raising and blocking has a purpose in combat.
Now, being 37 years older than the next-oldest student in the session, it’s to my utter frustration that I lag behind in getting the information to sit in my head while everyone else seems a natural in minutes. I get annoyed with myself for not understanding things more quickly. But then it must be nice for the other kids to know that they’re not the worst in the class.
Kata shodan is basically an Adam And The Ants “Prince Charming” video. On current form Adam Ant would tell me to get the hell off the set and never to darken his doorstep again. I was average at best tonight. I struggle. They must know they have a job on their hands with me. Even so, we learnt how to break free of an aggressor’s grip and break his/her nose with that hammer blow movement – which was good fun. And being shown how to block a punch to the face and follow up with an arm to the windpipe seemed, also, to be useful knowledge. And you start to think… be good to try this out!
I walked home repeating, “You’ve got to do better, you’ve got to do better.” Which is not a bad mantra for life. Can I practise for a short time every day? I make excuses not to. But could I “do better”? Come on, Lee – step up. You need to nail the kata shodan. A link to the Middlesex Shotokan Karate website sent to me earlier might help with this.
My gi is ready – my karate outfit. I’ve got to nip round to Sensei Amrit and Harry’s house nearby to pick it up over the weekend. I’m wondering if I’ll be allowed to decorate it with a few non-karate badges… a northern soul patch maybe? No white-outs AND I CAN HEAR AGAIN! Be seeing you!