Diary of a fat man
I’ve always had the thought of what would happen if I had to defend myself. You hear stories about man getting boxed up or having to run from a bunch of guys who want to stomp you out. Growing up in an estate in Hackney, you needed to be on form. Just in case you get asked by some big dude to bring out your phone because he wants to know what time it was.
Being tall has got me out of a few potentially dangerous encounters. Towering over a man whilst speaking in a menacing voice has made a few guys reconsider their plans. What they didn’t know was, I was praying they would. Fighting hurts. It may look cool on Snapchat when some dude start spinning jaws, but trust me, punching a grown man in the face is not cool. Having to put your swollen hand in a jug of icy water because someone stepped on your creps is quite silly. But, as a man, I feel the need to put up some sort of perception that I shouldn’t be tested. But in this world of sin, man out here will test you regardless.
In my ends, if you weren’t a fighter, you were a runner. Sometimes we would be 10 deep in North London, slipping, about to get into a mad ting. Those who didn’t have something tucked or who weren’t a knockout specialist, ran.
Have you ever been chased? It is exhilarating. You turn into someone who doesn’t think about space and time. You don’t think about traffic lights. cars and people carry shopping on the high street. The only thought in your mind is, don’t fall. Not only if you fall at running speed it will flipping hurt, but the 4 guys chasing you will not have any mercy on you for making them run. I was a runner and a fighter. Not afraid to square up to a don, but if that don has a few friends, i’m hop-skipping it out of that situation.
Fast forward to today, years after I’ve moved out of the blocks where I was raised, I’ve become quite relaxed. No longer am I on the lookout for people wanting to empty my pockets and relieve me of my possessions. When I walk around, I see old ladies walking dogs and kids on scooters. It’s pretty cool.
The other day, I had to run for a bus. After I got on and walked up the stairs to my seat, my phone rang and I didn’t answer it. Not because I didn’t want to speak to whoever it was, it was because I couldn’t physically speak.
As I sat down looking out of the window as Bomani Jones podcast played through my headphones, I was fully focussed on stopping my lungs from bursting out of my chest. Trying hard to not making it obvious, I took deep breaths, trying to keep the sound to a minimum while I aimed to slow down my heart rate. As I calmed down, I thought to myself;
Courtney, what the rass happened to you?
Upon more reflection, I knew exactly what happened to me. I grew up, got a job and a place to live out of the ends. For years I would leave my bed to sit at a desk for 8 hours, then sit in a tube carriage to go home and sit in sofa. There was no more basketball, no more hockey, no more football in the park. All of that was replaced with YouTube, good food and live music events.
I went to a gym with my friend and used one of their fancy weight logging machines and found out that I was clinically obese. I was looking at myself like, what! How? Where i’m from, those who are closest to you fill with glee when they’ve found something to take the piss out of. Being technically fat was something I’m yet to get away from. Especially with witty friends like mine who are quick to release the banter. But, it did bring forward a change in attitude. I wanted to change.
Being faced with this realisation, I immediately went out and bought some running trainers. I had this fear that if I had to run from a group of guys that voted leave, I wouldn’t make it far. I didn’t like that scary thought. So I tied up my laces, downloaded a fitness app and went to my local park. The circular path around the vastness of green was daunting. As I started to jog, I quickly realised that I need to keep this up. Looking at my phone every minute to see how close I was to my 5km target, I really just wanted to go home. It was that feeling that encouraged me to stay the course and complete the distance. How I felt afterwards was bittersweet. I was in pain because I forgot to stretch and my calves were on fire, but I felt a sense of pride that I actually completed a goal I set for myself.
That was 12 months ago. Since then I’ve been working more in the world of photography and have found myself too busy to get fit. I was talking to my mum about this and she said;
“Son, you can’t take pictures if you’re dead”
Flipping ‘ell Mum! But as always, her wise words made an impression on me. So, it’s time to begin my transformation. Again. With more daylight, I can get home, complete a run and still have time to drive to a show to take pictures of artists shelling down on stage. I need to do this. I like living and I want it to continue as long as possible.
I will be returning to this subject with updates from my progression.