Tuesday, 15 July 2014

I Walk Like A Penguin

Sometime yesterday my back became painful.  It didn't happen in a moment - I didn't get the feeling I've sometimes had in the past of sudden slippage whilst lifting something awkward, or bending to wash my face at a basin - that 'Oh no!'-crunch-twang moment.  I realised something was wrong when I started walking like a penguin.

Walking like a penguin involves a bit of a shuffle, a waddle from side to side, and small steps.  My feet don't lift far off the ground; so there is little speed.  There is no dignity.

When my son was in year 5, we went to see 'March of the Penguins' for his birthday treat.  Some of his friends giggled and wriggled in their seats throughout.  I was mesmerised.

There's something about an emperor penguin's extraordinary struggle for survival which demands respect; something about the way the males and females take turns to incubate their one egg per couple per year to give themselves a chance of procreation; something about the cooperation of the group as they shuffle around, eggs balanced on feet, seeking to share warmth through an impossible Antarctic winter.

And there is something so comically vulnerable about a penguin negotiating the ice on foot.  In the sea, they cut through the water like swift black arrows.  On land, they waddle like middle aged women with back problems.

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