100 Push-ups a day: wrap up

I achieve my target!!!

It’s done. One hundred a day, for a month. Three thousand push-ups. Honestly, you would not recognise me now, what with my powerful, overdeveloped forearms.

I look back in awe at the pessimism of the early stages. It turns out that my sister’s advice was right – they do get a little easier over time.

My initial plan, to break them down into regular batches of ten, was all very well, but – in practice – entailed me being available to do ten push-ups (plus recovery time) each hour for ten hours a day, which is a bit inconvenient if you’re in Tesco’s. I considered all sorts of potential coping strategies (massive doses of steroids; removing all clothes to lessen weight; tying helium balloons to my arse cheeks, etc.) before gloomily concluding that the solution to the Cancer Research challenge was going to be sheer, grim, hard work. Although not, it’s fair to say, as grim or as hard work as having cancer.

Anyway, after the first two weeks or so, I did get myself to the stage where I was ticking off fifty push-ups before breakfast. I don’t actually eat at breakfast time as a rule, but obviously saying that ‘I do fifty push-ups before breakfast’ makes me sound more sexually virile than ‘before I take the kids to school’. I’d have liked to have got to a stage where I could do the daily hundred in one go, but file under: ‘for the future’.

Besides, push-ups are an incredibly boring exercise. There really is not much to recommend them on the entertainment front, unless you are a particular enthusiast and aficionado of observing floor coverings at close range, and there’s not a lot that you can do to distract yourself whilst working through them. But – after a few days of pain – they do make you feel physically alive afterwards. Which, for me, is an unusual sensation.

Thank you – most genuinely – to everybody who encouraged and supported me. I needed that, and I’m quietly proud that I stuck with it. My daughter told me yesterday that she thought that this might have been the best thing that I’ve ever achieved, and my son agreed with her, which was a slightly moving moment between us, although he then added: ‘apart from that time when you put on that bear costume’, which ruined it a bit.

One thing still doesn’t feel quite right, however. Are they called ‘push-ups’ or ‘press-ups’? I always thought that it was the latter, but they’re called ‘push-ups’ on all the Cancer Research material, and I have spent the past month living in fear that by calling them ‘press-ups,’ I would prompt the man from Cancer Research to turn up at my house with a clipboard and say ‘aha! You have not been doing 100 push-ups a day after all, you fraud – you’ll need to start again, while I watch.’ And I’m still none the wiser. But push, or press, I’m going to try to keep them going.

If you’re interested, my Cancer Research page is here.

I agree to do 100 push-ups a day, to cure cancer.

One week in.

This is an out-of-the-blue update, as I have agreed to do 100 push-ups a day, in order to cure cancer. And whilst – given the current economic debacle – I wasn’t particularly actively seeking money for it, a few very kind people have been kind enough to sponsor me. And the least I can do is to post an update, so they know that the pain that they have now morally obliged me to endure, is being suitably – well – painful.

It would be fair to say that this is not one of those slightly suspicious ‘XXX is going to challenge himself to spend an entire month on a beach in Bali – will YOU help him reach his goal?’ type challenges. What happened was, child #2 came back from school enthusiastic to do it. And then it’s a bit of a blur, but I’ve always tried to be an encouraging parent, lead by example etc. etc., except when it’s stuff like leaving the pub. My fitness levels have not been at their optimum recently – it is a long while since my ironman days of going for a run, playing tennis with Short Tony, going out most nights and hitting the bowls green, etc. And it seemed like this thing might be a good framework to get me to sort myself out a little bit.

So before I knew it, I’d signed up, then broadcast it to people on the Internet, in order to prevent me from backing out.

I’ve had some time to reflect upon that last bit.

It’s not like I exactly thought: ‘how hard can it be?!?’ I was aware that it would be quite hard, as my previous push-up record was about nine, in total. It was really just the extent of the word ‘quite’ that was up for debate. But by spacing them out throughout the day, I threw myself into my task confident and determined. My sister had been encouraging, and given me some ‘push-ups get easier the more you do’ spiel. I was also massively and genuinely buoyed by my sponsors, and didn’t really pause to ponder the fact that pretty well the first financial backer I received upon my ‘I am going to battle my way to the pinnacle of fitness’ journey, was a pork pie manufacturer.

It’s just that, in my boyish enthusiasm, I’d not really given any thought to the idea that some training might be advisable. This would be a fact that would gradually dawn on me as day one progressed. When people set out to do strenuous physical challenges, they tend to undertake some form of preparation beforehand, probably starting some time in advance.

It had simply never occurred to me to do this. And it quickly became apparent that I had done the equivalent of turning up at the starting line for the London Marathon having just nipped in to Sports Direct for a pair of trainers, on my way from a long and convivial lunch, at Greggs.

Day two was the worst. My arms and stomach were like some painful flavour of jelly, and, by the end of the day, the maximum number of push-ups I could do in a session was precisely ‘one-half of a push-up’. (The downward bit). At which point I cursed myself for skipping all the advice on the Cancer Research website about how to still participate if you are old and/or disabled.

Fortunately, the recovery time from that seemed to be reasonably steady. My arms still ache – they ache all the time – but I have got into a routine which basically goes ‘get up, do some push-ups; have a bit of a rest, do some push-ups; wait a bit, do some push-ups; leave it til later; oh shit have I still not done all the push-ups, better do a few more push-ups; how many is that then, oh Lord.’

It would be a lie to say that it is pleasurable. Or anything but a trudge. They have been pathetic, feeble push-ups. But I have got through the week, and done my 700.

If you’re interested, my Cancer Research page is here.

I have a new privacy policy!!!

The European government has decided a thing called GDPR. I stare at it in some alarm.

I am more of a ‘big picture creative’ type person than an ‘attention to detail’ type person, as anybody who has been on the motorway in a car driven by me will attest. The words dance around the explanatory website in a mocking fashion.

As far as I can work out, people who write Private Secret Diaries (of which this is the original), and thus detail the minutiae of their lives on the internet for complete strangers to pour over – including taking in detail about their family, friends, builders, chickens, where they live, where they drink, where they play bowls; whether or not they are in the dogg house with their partner (and nature of said dogg house); the conversation they had with Man in Village Shop; repercussions of said conversation; gender, progress and nature of children; and latest humiliations at hand of opposition snooker teams – have to take steps to ensure those readers’ privacy.

This will all be so much simpler when Mr. Rees Mogg is in charge and I suddenly have thousands more readers again from all over the world, except people from the Rep. of Ireland who will no longer be able to see it.

I scratch my head in bewilderment, before typing the words ‘PRIVACY POLICY’ in important capital letters.


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That is it for now. Thank you for your continued interest.

Frédéric Debreu: live in Cheshire

I've been out and about a bit in 2018. A brand new hour-long talk/show about Sex & Bowls, Private Secret Diary, the early days of British Blogging and Generally Becoming a Writer seems to have gone down well on its first outing; being one of the 'authors in residence' at the inaugural RedDoor memoir writers' weekend in Eastbourne was a total pleasure and shedloads of fun.

And another world premiere coming up: courtesy of the Lymm Festival...

Saturday 17 February at 8pm

The Spread Eagle, Lymm

John Watterson, Paul Thompson & Alex Marsh

The Resurrection of Frédéric Debreu: A Comic Celebration

I'll be onstage with John (the great 'Fake Thackray') and Paul; short book readings and intros; songs by the great Debreu, plus the odd bonus bit of Georges Brassens and Jake Thackray.

Tickets and more information at http://www.lymmfestival.org.uk/event/the-resurrection-of-frederic-debreu-a-comic-celebration/

Do come along! Here's a Fred track to whet your appetite...