Life & Culture

Talking to Strangers: My GP's prescription almost got me killed and I head back to New York

Peter Rosengard's week: My doctor has told me I must briskly walk for 30 minutes a week but I’m a talker, not a walker


NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 16: Ahead of his Hall of Fame induction, former New York Yankees pitcher and unanimous Hall of Fame selection Mariano Rivera attends as Delta Air Lines dedicates Terminal 4's Gate 42 and a 757 aircraft to him on July 16, 2019, at JFK Airport in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Delta Air Lines)

Tuesday night.

Out at dinner I start talking to the man at the next table. He tells me he is an Equerry.
“An Equerry? Great! When you have a second, can you check if the lavatory I gave the Prince of Wales for his birthday in November 1981 is still working?”

(He collects loos, trust me. It was a publicity stunt for a club I was opening. “So HRH is going to be sitting on your throne, mate. You must be feeling pretty flushed with success!” an Australian radio talk said.)

Thursday 11am
Bond Street, Mayfair
l My doctor has told me I must briskly walk for 30 minutes a week.

“I’m a talker, not a walker. If God had wanted us to walk he’d have given us legs”, I said.
Instead of doing it in 5 minute daily chunks I decide to get it out of the way all in one go.

I’ve just sold Life Insurance to Sean, a fitness instructor, so I’ve hired him to take me ‘walkies’.

“But not on a lead,” I said.

“Hyde Park?” he asked.

“Certainly not! I’m a Londoner, Sean. I panic when I see trees at Chiswick. Meet me on Bond Street. We can walk to Piccadilly and back. I might do a little shopping on the way.”

We set off.

I am walking and talking non-stop to Sean. I don’t know about a trainer, but he’s a great listener.
I am crossing the corner of Piccadilly and Dover Street when Sean suddenly shoulder charges me and pushes me out of the path of a Mercedes that had just turned left.

“Sean, you just saved the life of a Life Insurance salesman!”

30 minutes later we’re back where we started.

“How far have we walked?” I ask.

Sean looks at his iPhone: “1.8 km.”

Amazing! I’ve never walked so far in my life.

“It doesn’t also tell you how many words I’ve spoken, does it.”
“No” Sean replies, “but if it did, you might just have smashed all previous records.”
Wednesday morning

Terminal3. Heathrow.

I am flying to New York to see my daughter.

Following the news of chaos at airports I don’t take any chances and arrive a little early, at 5am.

My flight is at 2.40 pm.

At check-in my passport picture still has my pandemic ‘Moses coming down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments’ beard. I’m now clean shaven.

The woman at the desk does a double-take: “You should have held up a bank “ she says, “and then shaved it off. They’d never have found you!”

At security I stand in the arch for the X-ray. “Raise both your hands above your head please, Sir.”

“Can you check my prostate at the same time? It will save me having an MRI.”
“Take off your belt please, Sir.”

My trousers fall down.

My bag is pulled aside to be searched.

“We have to check your liquids.”

“Is it my tiny tube of toothpaste? if you squeeze it out, please put it back in the tube afterwards.”

In the lounge, waiting for my flight — only 7 hours to go now before take-off — I WhatsApp my new best Equerry friend.

“I’m flying to NY - any chance of moving the Platinum Jubilee back a couple of weeks until I come back.”

l Jenni the waitress brings me a glass of ice water. I scoop out the large slice of lemon.
“I’m a member of the LLF.”

“Whats that?” she asks.

“The Lemon Liberation Front.”

On the plane I read a news story that after being sanctioned, Roman Abramovich’s staff are being forced to buy their own toilet paper as he struggles to pay bills. It’s not easy being a sanctioned billionaire, having to cut down on luxuries — clean sheets, soap, loo paper.

On arrival at JFK I have a WhatsApp from my doctor.

“How’s your daily brisk 30-minute walk going?”

‘DAILY? I thought you said ‘weekly’”, I reply. “Anyway, let me tell you something. Walking is dangerous. You almost got me killed!”

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