Life & Culture

The perils of a stroll in Regent’s Park

Peter Rosengard needs to exercise...but that's not so easy


Pink motor Scooter


l There’s a very large cardboard box downstairs in the communal hallway.

A huge fridge? It clearly isn’t the Knock ’em dead! Moth Killa sachet that I ordered yesterday.

SUNDAY 11.20am

l During lockdown I have been calling people who I haven’t spoken to for a while.

“Surprise, surprise! The last time we spoke you told me not to call you for 20 years … and I just looked in my diary!”

I ring Graham. We last spoke ten years ago. He’d told me he’d got out of bed in the middle of the night and turned right to go to the bathroom in his hotel in Vancouver — only he’d forgotten he’d just flown home and was in Henley-on-Thames — and fell down the stairs, knocking himself out, breaking both legs and ending up in hospital.

“ You’ve got jet legs!” I said.

Now, his phone just rings and rings.

MONDAY 9.05 am

l A man calls the landline and tells me he is from HMRC and I’m being investigated for tax fraud. If I don’t pay £19,520.27 immediately I will be arrested. Luckily I’d just been listening to the Radio 4 Money Box programme about a new fraud that begins with a call to your landline saying “It’s the HMRC and you’re being investigated for tax fraud and if you don’t pay…” I hang up. The BBC licence fee is worth every penny.

TUESDAY 10.30pm

l My iPhone tells me I have walked 58 steps today.

“So far?” I thought. “I must have gone to the fridge twice.”


l My daughter rings.: “Dad, you must go for a walk.”

I arrange to meet my friend Martin in Regent’s Park. I get on my Vespa — the fastest mobility scooter in the West — and zoom over. It makes a change to do a ‘Zoom’ that really takes you somewhere.

Martin is my friend who likes walking. Harvey’s got a bad back — he can barely make it to the fridge.Sam always says “Alright, if you come over to Rickmansworth.”

I called him last night. “What have you been you doing Sam?” I asked .

“I’ve just had sex in the garden.”

“WHAAAAT? Why are you telling me this? I don’t want to hear it! Did your wife catch you having sex?”

“ I said ‘SIX people for drinks in the garden!’ It’s now allowed.”

Martin and I walk round the park for an hour. I keep stopping to jump up and down in puddles.

“What are you doing, Peter?” he asks .

“I’m having fun … why should only little kids jump up and down in puddles?”

I say goodbye to Martin and go and sit on the Vespa and make a few calls. After 30 minutes I discover I left the ignition on and have a flat battery. I knew exercise wasn’t a good idea.

Samir at the AA tells me they will be there in four hours.

“We are very busy, sir.”

“How can you be busy? London’s deserted! Samir I am an elderly vulnerable Jewish Vespa rider.” He says he’ll make me a priority case and they’ll come in three and a half hours.

At seven o’ clock I’ve got cramp sitting in the saddle, it’s cold and dark and I’m still waiting.

I stop a black cab and go home.


l I go downstairs, the large box is still there.

I walk 100 yards to the newsagent’s to buy a paper. But I’ve forgotten to bring a mask so I’m not allowed in until I buy a box of masks for £4.50 — to buy a paper for £2.50.

l 11.15 am. Back home I get out my lockdown ‘to do’ list:

1) Begin to delete the 62,924 pics on my iPhone: only 42,918 of them are selfies.

2) Begin to delete the 525,843 junk emails dating from 2013. I see that ‘Lifetime Guaranteed solutions to Clogged Gutters’ are a particular favourite clogging up my junk mail inbox. ‘GPS vehicle trackers that Might Blow Your Mind’ come a close second. I know that NHS surgeries are overloaded, but isn’t that taking things a little too far? A tracker, just to get hold of your GP?

FRIDAY 11.30 am.

l The large box is still in the hallway. I go over and see that there is a tiny label with ‘Rosengard’ printed on it.

I pull the top open and there’s a lot of bubble wrap. I tear the bubble wrap and there’s more bubble wrap — somebody has sent me a surprise present! Or maybe I’ve won something? I keep tearing away the bubblewrap. I’m now leaning halfway down into the box.

That’s when I discover that it’s a box of bubblewrap.

I forgot that a week ago — after promising my daughter I would finally declutter— I had ordered two very large rolls of bubblewrap.

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