“And honestly, I had him desperately running round the court in the lunchtime heat. You should have seen him after that.”

“So what was the score then?”

“He won by two sets. But I was the moral victor. You should have seen him. Honestly. I was.”

I am on the telephone to an old friend.

“Do you think,” he ponders, “what with your writing about tennis, running and bowls, that you’re – well – giving people the wrong impression a bit?”

“What do you mean?” I stammer.

“Well, let’s face it. You weren’t the most sporty person in the world at school, were you? And you’ve hardly got a Daley Thompson physique now.”

I chuckle at his complete wrongness. “I am very fit now,” I inform him, “and the womenfolk readers like to know that.” I think some more. “Plus they know I’ve got a sensitive side what with writing about my Gran an’ that.”

The subject is changed and we talk some more. But I am troubled. Sometimes you think your friends know you, then find out that they don’t know you at all, or anything about you. Your lives have drifted apart, and they haven’t kept up with events, e.g. your new super fit body and fitness regime. They are lost within their own preconceptions of you. In fact they’re just fucking ignorant. I expect he had actually got the wrong number and thought he was talking to somebody else, probably another friend of his who he went to school with and was fat and unpopular and no good at sport and couldn’t get a girlfriend and had a really bad haircut.

That is quite easy to do with modern mobile phones.

I am a bit cross so I go for a run to calm down.

Run! Run! Run!

Up past the duckpond then right, past the spooky disused church. I pound the lanes joyously, like my hero Mr Singh, the 93-year-old marathon runner.

I get to the top of the hill, but something does not feel right. I have a horrible pain in my back, like something to do with my nerves. With each step it tightens up until I am in agony. For the first time ever, I have to stop.

I do some toe-touching (well, one toe-touch) which seems to help. But when I start running again the pain returns straight away. I stop again, but a lady walking a dog strolls in to view. I don’t want to look foolish in front of her, so I do some exercisey-looking movements as she passes. “Afternoon!” she grins.

I wait for Lady With Dog to disappear before I attempt to jog again. No good. I am stranded miles from anywhere with some form of degenerative back condition. I stroll tenderly back towards the village, which is actually only about 500 yards away, and go into the pub for a pint.

This seems to help.

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