Occasionally, after a particular hard day on the rooftops, my father would return home, take a bath, and a most peculiar smell would drift throughout the house. The only other place I smelt that particular smell was in rugby changing rooms. The smell, for those of you who have not smelt it, is a bit like a cross between menthol and nerve gas. For those of you who have smelt it you will of course know what I'm describing. Deep heat.
Now 'Deep Heat', as deeply engrained in our culture as it is, sadly doesn't have it's own webpage (that I can locate) though it has entered the blogosphere and there is a wikipedia entry, which I think proves beyond doubt that people who contribute to wikipedia are now getting desperate.
(This takes me off down a strange line of thought. Can I think of anything that doesn't have a wikipedia entry? I mean, obviously the biography of Johnny Banks, my best mate from primary school, isn't in there, but from The Battle of Maldon to Jif (now Cif) cleaning product wikipedia has it covered. Hell, even Stanway, the village I grew up in, has an entry and I can't think of anything that happened there. A Google of "Things that aren't in wikipedia" comes up disapointing)
But I digress.
Why am I talking about Deep Heat? It appears that the reason is simple. I'm 32.
When I was 12 I wondered, what was this strange substance that emanated this unearthly smell? Why was there an enormous can of it in the bathroom cupboard? Rugby players, and my dad seemed to live off it, but I never saw the point. In the intervening years of my young adulthood I forgot all about Deep Heat.
Last weekend I went out to play a simple game of Ultimate Frisbee. For those of you who've never played, it's a bit like American Football, without tackling. Two teams. Two end-zones. Throw the fisbee to a colleague in the end-zone. They catch it. You've scored.
What I wasn't expecting was a coach. What sort of frisbee club has a coach? And training drills? And practices tactics and 'plays'?
After two hours of this I was feeling pretty stiff. But I didn't make the mistake of going home and sloughing on the sofa. No sir! I went for a big long walk with friends and warmed down properly.
Monday morning I was in moderate agony. Pain and stiffness followed, as expected, on Tuesday. And irritatingly on Wednesday, slightly alarmingly on Thursday and by Friday I was downright embarrassed that I was still walking around like the tin man from Wizard of Oz.
Yesterday I went paintballing for a friends birthday. It was the first time I'd been, and in the excitement my stiffness was forgotten. Until I can under sustained fire, ran pell mell for cover and pulled up in agony as the FUCKING FIRES OF HELL shot up and down my hamstrings. I mean, OW!
This morning I woke up covered in paintball bruises, stiff and sore legs, and most crushingly of all, the realisation that at the age of 32 I can no longer do exercise whenever and wherever I want, and be feeling fine a couple of days later. Either I'm going to have to stay fit, or avoid running and jumping type things altogether.
In the meantime I'm off to Boots for a can of Deep Heat.