That was the week that was

I reveal why I like gardening and I find a windmill. Plus there is a gym I duck into, says Richard Lutz.


The weather in this late February breaks to unveil cold cobalt blue skies. The earth is still asleep and I stumble out into my garden. I am not good with living things; they tend to not simply die on me as run away. I dive elbow deep into my pool of Jeyes Liquid. It is a thick, viscous black gloopy goo made up of indeterminate chemicals and I spray all of the patio surface then pour the gunk down the drains.

The patio stinks of it, as do the drains. As do I. It is a late winter ritual. I have no idea why I do it except it is written on the side of the container that I should do it. And so I do.

The sharp industrial smell gives me the feeling I have done something. There is a brief feeling of accomplishment thanks to the chemical odour that now sticks to me like a Teesside industrial stench. I feel competed.

With that out of the way, it is off to Tysoe. It is a honey coloured Warwickshire village in the north lee of the Cotswolds. Nothing happens there. But it is a nice place to leave the car and head into the rounded hills and deep valleys. The village is overlooked by a terrific windmill. It lords it over the fertile farmlands to the north and the roll of the ground to the south. Here it is:

The weather begins to close in and, for the next two days, I am reviewing productions.

One is a misconceived Midsummers Night’s Dream.  And then, staying with the Immortal Son of Stratford, a ballet of Romeo and Juliet. Reviewing is not as easy as it sounds. It is just too easy to slam a hard won performance just because your stomach is upset, you couldn’t find a parking space quickly or you are plain damn ornery. It is equally too simple to mindlessly laud it to keep everyone happy.

Your ultimate responsibility, honestly, is to the people who read the piece. It is they who are spending money – and some of these productions are really expensive. You have to be fair to them. It’s the only reason you have this access to comment; it’s a gatekeeping job.

End of the week and off to the gym. Some find working-out weird and boring and repetitive. But I know if I hit the gym in late morning midweek, it is relatively quiet and, as I go through my routine, I can grab a long forgotten movie off one of the flatscreens on a digi-channel such as Vintage Classic Gold Extra, Sky Movie Plus Gold Classic More Gold  or ITV-Gold Premier Intergalactic Extra 29. Lots of cowboy films with Audie Murphy and repeat after ancient repeat of Hawaii 5 O and Bonanza..

A gym gives you a rare chance to look to your own self. It is outwith the normal routine of a day when you bounce into people and are locked into schedules all day. Around me are a trio of massive rugby gargantuans on the free-weights, a  whippet-like marathon runner on a treadmill and someone whose torso was spawned and nurtured in a gym and had never seen real organic daylight.

I go through my slow reps with big lazy breaks. Afterwards, there is a shower and sauna. And, of course, a Mars Bar because it does something mysterious called ‘restoring lost sugars’. I go for that big time. Sometimes, I go for a second Mars Bar for added restoration of those sugars. I figure it will help me to ascend to new heights of good health. And they taste pretty good.

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