.. and so that was Christmas. This is traditionally the time when the masses attempt to unmass the amassed. Yes – join the gym in other words. Well (with no particular feeling of smugness) I can at least say I’ve been there and done that. If you had asked me three years ago what I thought of people who had to use up their surplus energy on a treadmill I would probably have been less than sympathetic to the cause. I was however converted to the gym a couple of years ago – as a much more controllable (and less painful) alternative to running round the streets of Newcastle (or not, as the case may be).

So here is the newly reformed and remodelled me. A veritable living sculpture. Well ok – I’m getting too carried away now. Anyway – I describe this only to paint the backdrop of my artistic progress over the last week or so.

I had planned to really get into my Specials piece over the xmas break. I have sooo much material to digitise and review before I can begin the process of properly piecing it all together. This of course isn’t necessarily the most appealing part of the process , and can typically involve me swearing a lot at computer screens and generally getting frustrated with my ‘state of the art’ technology. To be fair to myself I did try and make the effort – an hour stolen here – a couple of hours in the evening when others in my household were watching the tele etc. – but I wasn’t really getting my teeth into the job as the lure of chocolate pudding and re-runs of rubbish films lured me away like sirens onto the fatal rocks, beckoning like the hopeless candidates for x factor that you just can’t resist laughing at… (or loony inventions on dragon’s den for that matter).

So it was in this state of mind that I finally arrived at the gym for the damage limitation exercise, my preferred weapon of choice being the cross trainer for the big burn and a bit of a sweat.

Of course, even though I may appear to the rest of the world to be engaged in absent minded daydreaming, I am often sifting through the stack of ideas that keep floating across my little landscape of creativity. Well, perhaps not floating, more blown really.. and not like tumble weed down some desert track either.. no, more imagine a man (and this did once happen to me in real life) with a briefcase full of documents walking down a windy train platform. The case bursts open and all its contents – from the sandwiches that just land with a dull thud – to the many crisp white sheets of A4 – scrawled on and generally abused, scatter, blizzard like, along the platform.

Well there I was – on the cross trainer, on my virtual platform, and chasing those ideas in an erratic attempt to get them back into the case, and into some order. And – hey – it worked!

The thing about repetition is it can tend to free the mind into another, clearer space, where the A4 sheets get retrieved and, amazingly, new combinations of those ideas can suggest previously unconsidered ways forward.

In short, over a distance of 5 miles (ok I lie – 5 kilometres) I had mentally mapped all that must be done, in such a way as to provide me with a genuine high, and a sense of achievement that had no link to the distance travelled on one spot!