Downward Dawg

When I lived in Wapping, I was young, my hair was thick, my eyes bright and my body did what it was told. I knew the area as I had grown up in Aldgate, went to Canon Barnet school on Commercial Street and studied the piano at Toynbee hall. If you walk down the street now, and look up, you can see the wire netting the school erected to stop the children falling out of the playground onto the heads off passing Rabbis.
Aldgate is now Hipster trendy without a hint of irony. Back then Brick Lane was our shopping mall, Sarsaparilla stalls, barrels of pickled cucumbers, barrels of live eels, and my Aunty Freda flogging schmutterai. I was part of the Jewish influx, crammed together in dusty houses which now sell for millions.
When I moved into Wapping the Thames lapped outside our window and Waitrose didn’t exist. I drove my little mustard Mini to Camden Town and commenced my career in Television. To keep myself camera ready I went to a yoga class, round the corner from Toynbee Hall run by an Asian Postman. We learnt how to bend forward keeping our buttocks low, and how to sit crossed legged whilst we drew breath through alternate nostrils. Indira Nath, was lithe and smily, reinforcing in every class that daily practice was essential and that Yoga was a way of life.
I bought myself a cerise leotard with leggings to match, and worked my belly, biceps and buttocks until they wobbled less. Indira was kind and stressed that, though flexible, my body was not balanced, and neither was my mind.
Fifteen years later I no longer lived in Wapping, had moved to East Sussex, left breakfast television and after a stint at LWT was doing daytime at the BBC. I would have ideas in the back of a taxi, call them through to the team, and by the time I had reached Pebble Mill in Birmingham the wheels were in motion. yes it was that easy then.
I had a notion to do a series called ‘Ancient and Modern’ – older people who were inspirational. From a 100-year-old motor cycle dealer who went into his showroom everyday, to an 86-year-old geezer who taught Yoga in Battle. I sent my researcher to meet him having received a flier through the door about his classes. He passed muster so I went, with a directer and film crew, down to Battle to meet him. He was lithe and smily, lived in one room, arose every morning at 5.00 ate lentils did his practice, and then taught classes. It was the very same Indira Nath who had commented on my buttocks back in Aldgate. He remembered me, gently chiding me for giving up my practice, allowed me to link arms – even though he was an untouchable Swami – and sent me on my way.
When I got a flat in Battersea, I went to Bikram Yoga in Balham. Hot, sweaty, rammed full of tight buttocked women and actors
Hot yoga in Tunbridge Wells was effective but less star studded. Yoga at the gym was peopled with senior citizens, retired health visitors and heavy breathing vest-wearing men. Three different classes taught by three different teachers. The middle aged tutor concentrated on toes, the young one concentrated on us and the aging hippie concentrated on talking far too softly for me to hear any of the instructions.
I now work on my own with a video made by a Scottish Asian man and his actor son, and I’ve signed up to do a 30 day internet course with an American teacher who says ‘GOOOOOD JOB’ and makes me so tense that I need to do Yoga relaxation to dispel my irritation.
I like doing Yoga, I like stretching and breathing , I like closing my eyes and balancing on my shoulders, even though my belly travels down to my neck and strangles me. Doing it on my own means I can wear nothing at all, do it any time I like and not have anybody interfering with my buttocks, unless you count a nosy dawg.

2 thoughts on “Downward Dawg”

  1. Absolutely wicked blog!
    Thank you and thank you!
    Even the kiddies are asking now, whether you’ve written something!
    Mind you, they’ve probably already guessed, by the smile on my face.
    Mrs Jeni Barnett….. you have been a kind of constant in my life…….. I’m sort of going through some family ‘stuff’ at the mo……. but you, my wonderful wife and two amayzing kiddies keep me going!
    Walks down the avenue help too!
    Love, the Borowski’s

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