Those of you who know me in real life, or those of you who are long-time Ploggers will know of my aversion to any type of exercise. It's not that I'm a massive fatty, I just don't enjoy any type of sport. Partly this is owing to my total lack of competitiveness (well, lack of competitiveness at anything I've got no chance of winning. I wouldn't test my competition commitment in a game of Scrabble, for example). Partly though, it's a hangover from how much I hated PE at secondary school.
As every school in England, by law, has to have masochistic PE staff who enjoy nothing more than seeing a group of fourteen year-old girls shivering in a tiny little skirt, gym knickers and a sports bra, whilst they themselves bundle up in puffa jackets from The North Face, thermal gloves and an industrial whistle. Our school was no different. Mrs Bakerhurst and Miss Simpleton were our two torturers, and they loved absolutely nothing more than shouting, "Come on girls! Go! Go! Go! Go!", whether you were on your way to the torture field (hockey pitch) or standing in the showers.
Autumn and winter I hated. I have always hated the cold. For some reason our winter sports kit was actually designed to be colder than our summer sports kit (which inexplicably allowed us to wear tracksuit bottoms for certain activities). No such joy for winter. An Aertex shirt (with initials embroidered in house colours), a tiny little skirt and grey, baggy gym knickers. The skirt was entirely pointless, as it flapped open. A pervert's dream. With autumn and winter came netball and hockey. I loathed netball. I hated hockey even more. Arming aggressive girls in puberty with wooden sticks didn't seem like the smartest tactic. But then being smart isn't usually one of the required, or even desirable, skills on the job spec for a PE teacher.
Spring and Summer were just as bad - athletics (running in circles), hurdles (jumping over a series of small fences - there's a skill I'll need in later life), throwing spears, throwing cannonballs, jumping in sand. Complete pissing waste of time.
The worst was cross-country.
Oh yes, we had a torture field (hockey pitch) but this wasn't enough for the PE teachers. They decided it was time for us to do cross-country in the actual countryside. One problem with this: our school was in the town centre. Luckily this didn't stop Mrs Bakerhurst or Miss Simpleton.
Recap: we were fourteen. We were all girls. We were wearing white Aertex shirts and grey gym knickers, with a pair of trainers. Literally nothing else.
And we were made to run through the town centre. It was a circuit of about a mile, and within the scenic cross-country route we went by McDonalds, Argos, Dorothy Perkins, Next, the Post Office, Greggs, WH Smiths and Tesco. It was also market day, so the town was especially busy.
We were fourteen. Did the PE teachers supervise us on this trip, running alongside us, shouting out encouragement? Did they buggery. They were too busy smoking a fag behind the bike sheds, probably.
Now, I've never been any good at any sport, but my stamina has always been particularly bad. Imagine this if you will - 25 teenage girls jogging through a busy town centre basically wearing underwear. One of them is flagging and is well at the back of the crowd, ready to be picked off by the local paedo like a lion takes down the weakest gazelle. It was surely only a matter of time before the Benny Hill music started playing.
Thankfully I made it back to the school un-raped. But if I ever have children, before they even enter the educational system, I will dedicate a large part of my time to writing a letter excusing them from every single PE lesson they may ever have to do. In fourteen years of enforced PE, the only thing I learned was: Avoid PE - Avoid PaEdos.