WANT TO GET AHEAD? Just back up. The ancient Chinese tradition of walking backwards for health is spreading like wildfire around the world. More than 20 countries have set up “retro-stepping” organizations, including Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, Argentina, France, The Netherlands, etc. It affects both body and brain.
I heard this from a reader who went to a walking backwards event in South Africa and had a brilliant time except for when he fell over a small Mexican and broke his skull. “A bit of brain fell out, but not much,” he told me. “I still have plenty.”
I walk backwards myself from time to time, and it DOES make your muscles feel pleasantly loose and flexible.
Here are the questions we’re always asked.
Q: When you walk backwards, how do you see where you are going?
A: You don’t! That’s the fun part.
Q: Don’t you crash into stuff like lampposts?
A: No, because you choose a path clear of those things. But you frequently hit phone-starers who wander into your way.
Q: Don’t they see you coming?
A: No. Phone-starers are primitive small-brained beasts who meander through urban areas, their souls sucked into the devices they clutch reverently in front of them.
Q: Does it hurt when you crash into them?
A: No. The back parts of your body and your head are tough, while the front parts of the body and the head are very tender.
Q: Do you apologize to people you bump into?
A: Yes, but I don’t mean it. Sometimes, I even manage not to laugh as I pick them up.
Q: Do you ever get hurt yourself?
A: Sure! From time to time we backward-walkers stroll off cliffs and die. This can really spoil your day. A guy walking backwards in mainland China fell into a lake and drowned. He gave up the sport entirely after that.
Q: Isn’t walking backwards really slow?
A: No. A guy called Garret Doherty in the UK ran a mile backwards in less than seven minutes last month. Most people couldn’t run a mile forwards in seven minutes, or in the case of my completely spherical former boss, seven years.
Q: What’s the best thing about walking backwards?
A: After a while, you feel like everyone else is going in reverse and you are in some sort of special-effects movie clip, especially if you take mind-altering substances like I do (a triple-shot cappuccino with chocolate AND cinnamon sprinkles).
Q: Is there anything bad about walking backwards?
A: Yes, three things. First, you look silly. (Some of us are used to this.) Second, observers always make the same joke, shouting: “You’re going the wrong way.” And third, if you see an incredibly cute person of the opposite sex, it’s REALLY hard to stalk them.
Q: Do you miss stalking people?
A: yeah, but a guy’s gotta make some sacrifices to keep in shape.
Q: What advice would you give to a beginner who has never done it before?
A: Choose your route carefully. Avoid piers, cliff edges, ships, hospital surgical theatres, chainsaw factories and bungee jump decks. Most importantly, watch out for small Mexicans.
Some of you will remember when my daughter, 14, made a video of me walking backwards. Then we reversed the tape (below) so that it looks (from about 0:50 onwards) as if everyone is walking backwards except me. This is SILLY AND DANGEROUS. Please make sure you do things like this regularly.
(Sign on The Bund, Shanghai)
IN OTHER NEWS…
Thanks Liftie and Grandpa for your usual insanity below the previous post: you guys are getting crazier – I think our campaign to increase the amount of absurdity in the world must be succeeding. Newspapers in India are starting to print this blog unedited. And I love Chris’s idea about taxing beautiful people to benefit ugly people—what a winner.
What irrational things do you do to keep life interesting?