Petrol prices bring out the Ma­sai war­rior in me

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEATURES - SI­MON ROUND

LAST WEEK­END I pulled into the garage fore­court and filled up my car with petrol. This is usu­ally a fairly un­mem­o­rable ac­tiv­ity and would have been this time had I not looked at the amount the garage was charg­ing me for my fuel. I’m not go­ing to tell you ex­actly how much I paid but I can di­vulge that both of my chil­dren have now been en­rolled in chim­ney-sweep school to help with the bills.

I im­me­di­ately be­gan to think of ways to keep my petrol bills down. My first thought was that maybe I should in­vest in a scooter. They are very handy across town and make a sat­is­fy­ingly an­noy­ing noise. How­ever, they are not much good for bring­ing back gro­ceries from the su­per­mar­ket or trans­port­ing one’s rather sooty chil­dren home.

Then I thought that maybe the way I drive the car might be con­tribut­ing to my petrol bill. So I have now de­cided to cut out the wheel spins and the hand­brake turns — at least in rush­hour traf­fic.

But I quickly de­cided that some­thing more rad­i­cal was re­quired. How could I get to work in a fuel-ef­fi­cient way? What, I won­dered, would a Kenyan Ma­sai war­rior do in such a sit­u­a­tion? Af­ter a while the an­swer came to me. He would run. They run phe­nom­e­nal dis­tances. Their chil­dren run miles to school and they jog end­lessly around the high African plains, tend­ing their cat­tle. And in so do­ing not only do they not need to fill up the fam­ily As­tra very of­ten, but they also have sleek physiques and low heart-dis­ease rates.

Why shouldn’t I, an Ashke­nazi Jew (ad­mit­tedly with­out many cat­tle to tend), do the same — de­scend­ing from the hills of North Lon­don, over the peaks of Muswell Hill to the grassy savannah of, er, Hol­born?

Ac­tu­ally, I used to be a bit of a run­ner. Friends say that on Lon­don Marathon day I still re­sem­ble Red Rum af­ter he re­tired from the Grand Na­tional — a lit­tle frisky. How­ever, I have got out of prac­tice and there­fore need to train pretty hard if I am go­ing to be able to tra­verse the eight miles home from work on foot. How­ever, when em­bark­ing on a phys­i­cal fit­ness pro­gramme, world fuel prices are a pow­er­ful mo­ti­vat­ing force. I will be get­ting fit and sav­ing the planet while I am at it (if you ig­nore the fact that both my run­ning kit and shoes are man­u­fac­tured from fos­sil fuel de­riv­a­tives).

Once I started train­ing I also started to re­call that I used to have the most fas­ci­nat­ing thoughts while run­ning. Im­me­di­ately, I had a fas­ci­nat­ing thought about how com­fort­able my arm­chair was and how tempt­ing it was to re­cline in it and watch the telly in­stead of run­ning. I also re­called that even when I was in my very finest nick — able to run 26 miles in well un­der four hours — I still didn’t ac­tu­ally look very fit, which up­set me a bit.

Hav­ing ran a cou­ple of miles and sus­tained a mild calf strain, I also re­alised with some­thing of a jolt that I wouldn’t be sav­ing a penny in petrol bills be­cause I never take the car to work any­way. In fact, I wouldn’t even be sav­ing the planet be­cause the train I take to Moor­gate ev­ery morn­ing makes the jour­ney whether I am on it or not.

Not only that, but I am sure all the car­bon monox­ide I have in­haled while run­ning (pro­duced at great ex­pense by pass­ing mo­torists) is ac­tu­ally in­jur­ing my lungs rather than mak­ing me a fit, lithe ath­lete in the man­ner of a Ma­sai war­rior.

If you ask me, they should put the price of petrol up.

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