What's with all the pull-ups, Jack?

What’s with all the pull ups, Jack?

The answer to this question may surprise you.

Yukio Mishima died in 1970. I was fourteen at the time.

The Observer (a Sunday newspaper) ran a huge article about him in their colour supplement. It featured several photographs. My friend Martin (you may have heard his name mentioned in some of my other posts)  was bowled over by the piece and insisted that I should read it.

In truth, I didn’t need much persuading. I was already, at that age, a literary junky (just like my friend) and I was intrigued by the story of this oddly muscular Japanese author.

I decided that I had to make it my aim to have a muscular body just like his.

And so began a lifelong involvement with exercise in many different forms.

Even in my darkest days (my twenties) I kept in touch with physical fitness, while damaging my liver with drink, cigarettes, and other toxic substances (collectively referred to as ‘drugs’).

After I’d read the Observer feature, I (or maybe my friend Martin) managed to get hold of Mishima’s book Sun and Steel, in which, as I recall, Mishima states his philosophy on writing and bodybuilding, and somehow links the two. He describes barbell weights as “the darkness of the night condensed into solid form”. I love that metaphor!

My reading subsequently took me into Hemingway territory, and boxing, and I began to think, like Mishima, that writing and exercise are somehow inextricably linked.

I was wrong of course, but it set me on a path I don’t regret.

It has done much to keep me in good health, and physically capable at an age when many others are physically, well, not up to much at all.

My pull-ups and the other crazy things I do are all part of the journey I chose over four decades ago.

I commend that same path to you, the reader of this piece.

It behoves us all to work at being  fit and capable for as long as nature and fate allow us that privilege.

Photo by Martin Mulligan (the man responsible for getting me interested in Mishima all those years ago)

Photo by Martin Mulligan


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