Taking a tumble in pursuit of the famed 10,000 steps | Jack Marshall’s column

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The irony wasn’t lost on me as I sat there, undergarments growing increasingly well-acquainted with the damp of the mulch under my behind, a chilling dark patch forming humiliatingly against the light of my jeans, advertising my embarrassment and prodding my bruised ego: hey look, this guy fell on his arse. What an idiot.

The irony being, of course, that here I was, in the midst of a hearty early morning stroll - the kind of piston-pumping walk that products flumes of steamy breath and rosy cheeks which bloom white to the touch in the thin air - to expressly get off my backside. I was spending far too much time sitting down thanks to my sedentary job, so I needed to get up.

But I was emphatically down at this moment in time. On a carefree whim, I’d decided to traverse some ancient stairs in the village in which I live, steps which lead down into an attractive copse through which runs a babbling brook (brooks only babble, they’re scientifically incapable of making any other kind of noise).

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Having recently dedicated myself to accomplishing the 10,000 recommended daily steps with relish, I’d taken to exploring, wandering up and down streets just beginning to settle of an evening, along scraggly rows of tucked-away terraced houses after lunch, and through dewy fields, chasing shortening shadows as the soft morning sun started to rise.

Pretty sights in pursuit of 10,000 stepPretty sights in pursuit of 10,000 step
Pretty sights in pursuit of 10,000 step

Smug with industry, I took one look at the stairs one morning and turned. They’re the kind of steps which have shifted with the sands of the centuries, now springing forth from the earth at a multitude of angles and depths, rendering each foot placement wholly unlike the last. In hindsight, they were also haphazardly strewn with soap-like leaves and the spray of overnight rain.

In hindsight, of course, I see the stairs for what they really were: an obstacle course of assorted deathtraps. An accident waiting to happen. But down I plodded, naive and increasingly arrogant, overconfident strides growing heavier. Then I was suddenly horizontal. A jolt scurried through my body upon landing. Mortifyingly, my hat fell off.

Pride literally comes before a fall, I thought as I sat there.

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