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Park life

I've started to do a trot round the park every other morning in an attempt to avoid my buttocks taking over the world. When I say trot what I really mean is that I sort of stumble and shuffle my way around the park, stopping to wheeze now and then whilst pretending to contort myself into the sort of complicated stretching positions that the more seasoned runners do so effortlessly.

I don't think I'm fooling anyone, in fact I seem to get a lot of scornful looks from females more toned of limb and glossy of hair than I (probably French Mamans, I should think, but kinda hard to tell when attired in lycra) but at least I'm trying. That's got to count for something, right?

The actual effort of getting myself around the park (all 3.5k of it, gah) is not at all enjoyable, nor is the searing pain experienced in the darkest recesses of my thighs for 48 hours afterwards, but there is one unexpected and totally delightful highlight - early morning in the park is a Class A people-watching paradise.

The local Emirati ladies are the most interesting as they walk and even jog around the park wearing full abaya and hejjab. Let's face it, jogging is hard enough at the best of times but doing it while draped in voluminous lengths of dark cloth? That's hardcore. And they even look cheerful while doing it. Hats off, ladies.

Some of the Western women look almost obscene in contrast. At one extreme are the teeny tiny short shorts and running bras worn by the more hard-bodied. The slightly wobbly tend to favour leggings or long shorts and a vest. The can't-be-bothered (i.e. me) wear whatever falls out of their wardrobe, such as a ratty pair of trackies and an old t-shirt belonging to Alpha. Which is probably why the French Mamans snort in disgust as I limp past, simultaneously tensing their rock-hard miniscule buttocks in horror just in case Fashion Crime is a disease... in which case I'm obviously highly contagious.

While vanity and showing off their perky posteriors appears to be a key motivator for the women, running is a testosterone-fuelled pastime for the blokes. I've lost count of the times I've spotted guys trying to make the other eat their dust, kind of like two Porches trying to burn the other off at the traffic lights. Yesterday a rather feminine looking chap - he had a very 'prancy' run and looked a bit like Bambi - totally humiliated an Arnie-style hunk o' man. It was beautiful. I nearly choked.

But one of the more unusual sights I've seen recently was an older Indian man wearing his regular clothes - jeans, shirt buttoned to the neck, lace-up leather shoes - sprinting at top speed around the park. It looked like he was taking exercise rather than trying to evade a pursuer, he was holding a bottle of water and plugged into what looked like an MP3 player, but I guess you can never be sure.

The excitement of my morning amble; it's better than the telly. You never know, this could become my new addiction...

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