The lower back trauma I wrote about in Gaining Groucho’s Gait, although significantly less uncomfortable, continues to plague me. Sporadic spasms when making sharp core movements reminding me the back injury still holds unwanted tenancy. The sprain’s eviction notice evidently not yet bearing fruit.

Bereft of pain while sitting, or laying in bed, occasionally the presence of this muscular trauma escapes my conscious mind. A temporary memory slip which’s swiftly negated when turning quickly; the resultant pain fleetingly rendering me breathless with discomfort.

There’s an old Tommy Cooper joke where he tells of visiting the doctor to inform him “Doc, when I lift my left arm above my head it’s really painful!”, only for the GP to respond “Well stop doing it then!

Following similar logic, you may proffer “If you find making sharp core movements painful, don’t do it, Gary!” A point which, if posited, would be a fair enough observation. Sadly, though, the predominant absence of pain occasionally robs me of the fact any movement must be undertaken tentatively.

This morning, on arrival at the kitchen table, my mum (whose home is yours truly’s current fixed abode) asked “How’s your back today, Gary?” to which I responded “Not as bad, thanks!”…… It wasn’t the most compelling discussion I’ve ever had with the family matriarch, however it was possibly the least idiosyncratic.

Around 2-3 minutes later,  as I applied marmite to my breakfast toast, mother chirpily queried “What’s your plans for today, Gary?!

“I was going to start building an edifice similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa!” I sarcastically countered.

“You can’t do that!!…… Well you’re supposed to be in lockdown!” mater exclaimed.

Oh!….. In that case, nothing!” I ruefully informed my forebear, tongue firmly pressed in cheek.

After a minute or so of welcome silence, mum averted her gaze towards me, as I commenced my inaugural bite of toast, to inquire “Anyhow, how could you make a West Yorkshire version of the Leaning Tower of Pizza?!…… You don’t own any land, have the necessary materials or tools to undertake the job….. And even if you had, you don’t possess the skills or planning permission to build a bloody great tower!”

“I’m pretty confident I could make it lean, though, mum!” I mischievously chirped, in between toast munches.

Fool!” mater rightly labelled me.

“Seriously, though, Gary!…… What’s your plans for today?!” mum probed further.

“Same as most days…… Writing, a trip to Tescos Express and cooking tea!” GJ Strachan informed his quirky forebear.


Oh, incidentally mum!….. I’m going to make a grilled halloumi pesto pasta for tea. You ok with that?” I enquired. Lightning a blue touch paper for the inevitable maternal response.

“You won’t catch me eating any of that foreign muck, Gary!….. I’ll make myself an omelette; we’ve loads of eggs!” came the retort I’d mischievously sought and expected.

Do you even know what halloumi is, mum?” I queried. Yet again rhetorically.

No, but I know I wouldn’t like it!” came another predictable maternal response.

“It’s only cheese!….. I’m using it instead of mozzarella to create a tricolour salad!…… You like cheese you’d probably love it!” I lied to the unenlightened one.

“I don’t like that type of cheese….. If it’d been Red Leicester and the dish not included pasta, or that pesto stuff in it, I’d have joined you. But no way am I gonna eat galloumi….. Or whatever it’s called!” my losing battle continued.

“What?!….. Are you telling me you’d prefer tea containing a block of grilled Red Leicester in isolation to a halloumi pasta salad?” I continued with my rhetorical line of questioning.

“Don’t be daft!!…… I wouldn’t want the Red Leicester grilled. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to effectively grill a huge block of cheese in isolation?” mater observed firmly.

In a grill pan, perhaps?!” yours truly sarcastically pointed out.

“Look, Gary!…… I’m gonna cook myself an omelette for tea. You can fill your boots with your falloumi salad!” mum re-affirmed.

Ok, mum!…… Your loss!” I proffered, battle lost.