Writ­ing a col­umn? It’s a walk in the park

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEATURES - SI­MON ROUND

OC­CA­SION­ALLY, WHEN I’M seek­ing in­spi­ra­tion for a col­umn, I go for a walk. For some rea­son I find it eas­ier to come up with ideas when I am mov­ing. This is some­times dis­con­cert­ing for col­leagues who think I am merely wan­der­ing aim­lessly about the of­fice, oc­ca­sion­ally trip­ping over wastepa­per bas­kets and ex­posed wires. So, for their ben­e­fit, I have taken to walk­ing out­side.

Which brings me to the sub­ject for this week’s col­umn – it’s about walk­ing. I don’t know why I find walk­ing so in­spi­ra­tional — maybe it’s be­cause the blood flow to the brain in­creases when you per­am­bu­late. And then again, per­haps it is be­cause things hap­pen to you when you walk. You see things in shops, you see other peo­ple walk­ing past you and you are forced to make the oc­ca­sional visit to Ac­ci­dent and Emer­gency af­ter trip­ping over a waste-pa­per bas­ket. None of this hap­pens to you when you are sit­ting mo­tion­less at a desk.

Ad­mit­tedly there are prob­lems. For ex­am­ple, when I am strolling in the park, my ed­i­tor as­sumes that I am not work­ing, whereas I am of course do­ing my most ef­fec­tive re­search. (I am of­ten sim­i­larly in­spired in the pub and also when walk­ing home from the pub. In fact, I think I de­serve a large pay rise given all the ex­tra hours I put in.) How­ever, it ap­pears that the great Bri­tish pub­lic do not share my en­thu­si­asm for strolling. Ac­cord­ing to new re­search, the av­er­age per­son in this coun­try walks only four miles a week, that is only a few hun­dred yards a day. Given that there plenty of peo­ple out there who are com­mit­ted hik­ers. This means that there must be hun­dreds of thou­sands of oth­ers who never take a step out­side their own front doors un­aided — clearly they do not write col­umns for a liv­ing.

I sus­pect there are plenty of Jews in this cat­e­gory, this de­spite the fact that our re­li­gion en­cour­ages walk­ing. For ex­am­ple, there is the walk to shul on a Satur­day, there is the Shab­bat af­ter­noon walk (past the elec­tri­cal shop to check on the foot­ball re­sults), there is the matzah ram­ble (the ac­cepted wis­dom is that you need to do ex­tra walk­ing to en­cour­age un­leav­ened bread to work its way through your sys­tem).

De­spite or per­haps be­cause of the Tal­mu­dic im­per­a­tive to walk, most of us don’t fancy it much. I sus­pect the in­ex­pli­ca­ble habit of jump­ing into the 4x4 to drive the 800 me­tres to the gym started in North-West Lon­don.

I, how­ever, en­joy both the health ben­e­fits and the re­lax­ation and peace of mind that a reg­u­lar walk gives me. Hav­ing said that, I am a very Jewish kind of walker. I do not do the kind of walk­ing that in­volves any kind of spe­cial­ist shoes or clothes of the Gore Tex variety. Nei­ther are there any dogs in­volved. My walks are all in ur­ban spa­ces. I don’t feel com­fort­able walk­ing any­where be­yond the M25 and I try to avoid par­tic­u­larly big, scary open spa­ces such as Rich­mond Park.

Be­cause I am eas­ily put off by ad­verse weather, sharp-eyed read­ers may have no­ticed that there is a mar­ginal in­crease in the qual­ity of my out­put dur­ing the warmer sum­mer months, whereas when I am un­able to put in the mileage due to a sud­den cold snap, my work is more pedes­trian (or should that be less pedes­trian?)

All of which is a round­about way of say­ing that if you didn’t en­joy this week’s col­umn as much as last week’s, don’t blame me, blame the snow.

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