Over the last two days I've driven to and from the Midlands for what was called an "Employee Engagement Day" at a large residential training complex. It was all presentations, speeches and team-building events such as building aeroplanes with brie and filling each others pockets with free cakes. Despite my latent cynicism about corporate BS, I had a reasonably good time. I ate far too much of the lovely free grub, and had one or two more glasses of red wine that I really should have during the evening social event.
For the trip down in the car I was joined by a young new recruit to the company. He is fresh out of university and was keen as mustard to absorb the information at the event and also mingle with his new colleagues. He asked lots of questions about the company and the projects we were working on, and I tried not to sound too world-weary when I answered them. Once the work talk had been exhausted on the three-hour drive, we started talking about music and books and films and all that good cultural stuff people have in common or otherwise. I was a little startled when more than a couple of a my cultural references went waaaaay over the young man's head. He hadn't even heard of the legendary band Simple Minds, for goodness' sake! I established that he had been born in the late '80s, and I started to feel every bit the archetypal Middle Aged man. When I had a little rant at the traffic (as is my wont) on the M1, he said I reminded him of Jeremy Clarkson. Oh sweet baby Jesus...
After the first day's presentations there was a chance for people to go and do some physical activity, be it football, swimming or jogging. I opted for a quick snooze in my room, after checking my e-mails and book sales numbers, naturally. If I'd had my mankini with me I may well have treated the swimmers to the sight of my body, but they were spared this particular ordeal. I mooched around for a bit near the social/fitness club and watched a few of the less fitness-minded people trying to play pool. I spied the footballers playing on the indoor court through a window. They were mostly young, fit things, but one or two were in their late 40s. I watched in wonder for a few minutes as they huffed and puffed gamely (as it happened they played for 2 hours straight) before heading back towards my room to get ready for the social event. I bumped into two other colleagues who were just back from a 10km run. They were soaked with sweat, red-faced and out of breath. I wasn't sure if I felt envious of them or sorry for them. I've decided that jogging isn't for me, having learned that the man who made it popular in the 1970s actually died of a heart attack whilst out jogging. Still, I half-wished I could motivate myself to run like these chaps.
At the social event after dinner I tried my usual trick of flitting between groups of people to see who was entertaining and who was easily annoyed by my presence. As the night wore on, people became more and more merry and relaxed, and started talking about possible venues to visit after the bar closed at 11.30. The night was definitely young for some of these people, even though many of us had started the day earlier than usual. I staggered to my room at the far end of the complex; that was more than enough exercise for me. I found out this morning that some had been in a pub in the nearby town until the wee hours.
How do they do it? Early start, long day of corporate stuff, sports, drinking, then on to even more drinking until some silly time in the morning. I wouldn't have been able to move this morning let alone get up at 7.30am for breakfast and breeze into the morning's events looking as fresh as a daisy. Well, OK, there were a few sweat-beaded foreheads and bags under eyes, but they lasted the rest of the day without too much trouble.
So I'm feeling my age tonight. Older than that, even. The drive home wasn't too bad, just tiring. I get very stiff sitting for long periods now and have to stop regularly for toilet breaks and stretches. My earnest colleague was still as lively as yesterday, and talked at length about the event. I tried to keep up with his energy levels but was just happy to listen to Radio 2 and mull things over. Radio 1 is too shouty and loud for me these days...
I guess that the last two days have shown me that I am approaching a mature age, but on the other hand I've seen people of my age, if not older, doing the sports and the socialising. I sometimes feel like I've got the body of a man twenty years older. I'm getting to one of those moments again, as I did in the New Year. Time to drag out the Wii Fit board and get my head around eating healthily again. I can't keep making excuses if I want to feel healthy and youthful again. There's no reason why I can't, right? Right!?