There are no shirt sizes big enough for these guys

  • Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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I cannot help myself, the holiday village where I go with my family, plus in laws, immediately suggests itself to me as one of the grimmest WW2 Stalag Luft POW camps. The gates are high, forbidding and stone and the security guards have voices that can crack rocks. They have shaven heads, big bellies and rippling biceps. There are no shirt sizes big enough for these guys, collars, sleeves and buttons creak under the immense pressure of the flesh they contain. The institutionalised feel continues as we stand in a long line for processing before receiving a glittery pass featuring a smiling mermaid. This must be shown to gain access to any attraction which is marginally more appealing than the laundrette. Our accommodation is a rectangular plywood box laughably described on the website as a caravan which is set amongst row upon row upon row of identical plywood boxes. Under these circumstances there is only one option, escape. Tunelessly whistling the theme from the movie I use a spoon and my head torch to tunnel from under the shower of the caravan to beyond the perimeter fence. My escape kit is simple, my running shorts, technical tee, mobile phone, lint encrusted slab of chocolate and my Vibrams. I leave the glittery pass behind. Outside it is a trail runners paradise, miles and miles of pathways crunching over shingle beach, snaking over seawall, wetland and field. Halfway through my run a moment comes when I stop, spent and sunk in swampy green bog and I feel a shift inside myself. (That's shift with an F Jerry) These shifts are rare and the increment can be small, they are a moment of emotional realignment, a breeze of the soul parting the veil for a heartbeat. Working my way back to firmer ground and the path I stood and looked at the vast space around me and up into the great vault of heaven above. I am not normally loud or demonstrative but I felt such a surge of happiness and freedom that I let out what Walt Whitman the American poet described as a barbaric yawp, part battle cry and part exultation, loud, heartfelt and delivered from the absolute centre of myself. I think what I learnt was this: freedom reignites and expands me. It allows me to rediscover myself and regenerate. It gives me eyes. I cannot keep living by template because it stifles creativity and I turn inwards and die. I must escape. I must.
Footnote: Poetic license has been applied to the holiday village. It was excellent. I drank too much Mexican Beer.         

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