Over his head? Maybe not

13th November 2009 at 00:00

My PE teacher had the air of a lazy buffoon whose job appeared to be to stand beside a muddy field watching 20-aside football games. Actually, the "lazy" tag may be unfair. It is possible that he turned out every Saturday, unpaid, to supervise a school team, but I won't retract "buffoon".

Poorly co-ordinated and uninterested, I was glad when the subject was no longer compulsory beyond S2. Curiously, this coincided with me becoming reasonably good at some physical stuff - swimming, hillwalking and so forth.

I rarely sat down in front of a class when teaching. Indeed, I rarely stood still. Perhaps this was an instinctive behaviour pattern stemming from the fact that a moving target is harder to hit. When I moved into education support, I feared that I might become Toffee Apple Man, obese but with skinny wee legs. And until we foolishly machine-washed a pair of Homer Simpson slippers, I thought I'd succeeded in keeping fit despite spending more time sitting down than previously.

The stuffing came out the slippers, blocking the drain on the washing machine. Floating socks stared impertinently through the transparent door.

No problem. I'd watched the repair man take off a panel, twist a cover and withdraw a filter when something similar had happened before. Off came the panel and there was the cover. I tried to twist it, an action that had caused the service engineer no problem. It didn't budge. I tried again. Nothing. Attempt three involved a damp cloth, but still nothing happened.

Beginning to feel ratty, I tried pliers. Nope. Running out of physical aids, I tried swearing, which didn't even make me feel better. I then went into a frenzy of trying, retrying, cursing, standing up, calming down, then trying, retrying and swearing again. What the hell was wrong with me? I was back in PE, feeling useless compared with everyone else. For ****s sake, I'd really let myself go, stupid ******* useless ******* that I was. That's what I got for spending too long sitting in front of a ******* computer.

Computer. I stopped swearing, went to another room, googled the make of washing machine and the fault, to discover that the cover was secured by a very small screw that had to be removed before it could be rotated. One minute and no swearing later and the filter was off. Sodden Simpson stuffing removed, everything went back together beautifully and another cycle could begin. So the moral of the story is that sometimes it pays to be geeky, but probably not on the periphery of a central Scotland school playing field.

Meantime, I've started swimming for fitness and pleasure again. Look! There I go, covering length after length of Carluke's pool, immaculate in freshly-laundered swimming shorts.

Gregor Steele won a voucher for three and sixpence for being runner-up in the sack race, his only sporting triumph.

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