Across the River with Geoff Goodfellow: In defence of walking

Have we lost the art of walking, I wonder?  

Those of you who have visited other countries will have seen little old men and ladies powering up a steep hill, or rattling across the cobble stones on their way to the shops or the market each day. 

They have probably made the same journey for decades. In many countries you see processions of kids walking between home and school, laughing, chatting and getting some exercise.

A LOST ART: Many older people in other countries walk long distances to the shops or market until the day they drop. Photo: Geoff Goodfellow.

A LOST ART: Many older people in other countries walk long distances to the shops or market until the day they drop. Photo: Geoff Goodfellow.

Yet these days not many Aussie kids walk to school and hardly anybody walks to work. 

I have a chuckle when some people living only minutes away drive to the gym or the local pool for a fitness session.

I once worked with a bloke who would drive his car from the council office in Moss Vale to the newsagent across the road to collect his daily paper then back to the Moss Vale pool, next door to his office, for some lunchtime laps to get fit. 

There are able bodied people who never walk beyond their front gate. The house to the garage door is the only walking they get in.

Others only walk if they have a Fitbit to count their steps, or an electronic device plugged into their heads.

Like the bloke, so the story goes, who was lying in bed and asked his wife to get his Fitbit from the bathroom so he didn't miss recording those ten steps to the shower when he got out of bed. 

I just don't understand these things.

Whatever happened to walking for fun, aimless wandering, enjoying the fresh air, the scenery, hearing the birds chortling and letting your mind disconnect for a while.

Even some farmers don't seem to walk anywhere anymore. They all have quad bikes. 

Why anyone would need a quad bike on a 25 acre hobby farm mystifies me. Two legs and a solid wheelbarrow is all they'd need.

I don't get it at airports when there is often a bit of a walk to the baggage carousel after a long flight. 

That walk is bliss after you've been cramped into a sardine tin for twelve hours. 

Yet many able bodied people jump on those moving walkways rather than stretch their legs. 

And then there are those strange Segway things taking over footpaths in cities around the world. They are a menace. 

Why can't the tourists just walk? They would see more.

The weirdest evolutionary change I reckon has been the proliferation of golf carts. 

A brilliant invention for a keen golfer who can no longer walk, to be sure.

But why on earth wouldn't an able bodied person want to get out there in the fresh air for a blissful five mile stroll around a golf course carrying their sticks and playing the game as it was originally intended? 

Anyhoo we should finish on a lighter note with Dudley, who was playing golf with two blokes he had never met before. 

As the game progressed all three were getting on famously and as usual the conversation drifted to sex. 

They were discussing the old ‘how often’ question.

"I guess we do it a couple of times a week these days,” said Dudley.

The second bloke had only been married for a year and he reckoned they’d average at least ten times a week.

“And what about you?” asked Dudley, turning to the third golfer.

“Good question,” he said thinking. “Probably ten times last year and about the same the year before.”

“Wow! That’s a bit light on,” said Dudley. 

“I dunno about that,” said the third golfer. “Not too bad for a Catholic priest with a bloody small parish.”

Which brings us to Old Dud playing golf with two mates from the retirement village, all of whom were hard of hearing.

"Windy, isn't it?" remarked Old Dud between holes.

"No," his mate replied, "It's Thursday."

Then the third bloke chimed in.

"So am I. Let's have a beer."

 – Geoff Goodfellow