Kung Fu Fighting

A post from the early days. We have a beautiful old mansion around the corner: the story of a dog walk followed by a little Saturday Night Fever.

Dank mist hung everywhere: above the mansion, above the great ornamental lake, above the doggie walking field.

Who wants to stir from the cosy front room on a day like this?

I’ll tell you who. Some mother who fancies herself the epitome of the British Nanny, and a dog with questionable provenance. My children were press-ganged along. They were plied with the proverbial King’s Shilling and marched off for a brisk constitutional.

As this slightly sorry expedition shuffled across the aforementioned forlorn field, not a soul stirred: with one notable exception.

Close to the terrace walls, where beerswillers often topple into happy oblivion in warmer moments, a man balanced precariously on one foot.

He was not altogether still. There was an air of comic apprehension about him. We all knew something must happen; no-one stays balanced on one trainer, swaying gingerly, forever. Sir Isaac would not approve.

I became aware that Felix, in particular, was transfixed. His tone of voice dripped amused scepticism as he voiced his concerns.

“Mummy, what is that man doing?”

Well, quite.

This was a silent place: voices carried cavernously across the misty grassland, and echoed off the walls of the old house. Felix had unwittingly thrown down a gauntlet to his mother.

Because I knew instinctively that the man was listening. “I think,” I announced, “that he is doing Tai Chi.”

Felix is his journalist father’s son. He was not about to stop there. “Tai Chi? What’s Tai Chi?”


I wished with all my heart that I had broader horizons, or alternatively visited a Tai Chi blog on a regular basis. There was only one thing for it: filibuster.

I waxed lyrical about balance and meditation and calm and control, about small movements meaning a lot and large benefits from such micro-muscular management. I employed that greatest of gifts, the Gab. And I walked very fast, striding past the man, with the dog and the children straggling behind, praying fervently that Felix’s next question would be out of earshot.

My closing gambit was: “Shhhhh. He’s trying to concentrate.”

Maddie started to tiptoe considerately.

Felix said no more that day, but I could tell he was impressed. This martial art thing could be quite interesting, he quietly concluded. I think he liked the slow pace; he is a careful young soul, and it seemed safer to him than quick-fire karate or judo.

It is a pity he did not pass this lesson on to his father.

From the sublime to the ridiculous: at the weekend Felix was not on top form. It was decided all his social engagements should be cancelled, and he should spend the weekend on the sofa.

I flew out to church early, leaving Phil in charge.When I returned, a sorry state of affairs met my eyes. “I’m afraid”, Phil announced, “Felix has had a bit of an accident.”

Now I have not heard the full story about this until today. It took a cosy chat over chicken kiev at the dinner table to weasel it out of everyone.

It went like this: when the cat’s away, the  mice put on funky seventies music and get in the groove.

I shut the door and flew off, and on went a selection of disco delights. The neighbours must have been delighted. Phil and the two children held their customary impromptu disco, and all was merriment and joy.

They were in extremely high spirits, then, when the number ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ came on. And of course, the jovial quasi-martial arts moves were brought on to great amusement.

Phil brought out the bottom wiggling disco moves. And this, to my children, is like a red rag to the most exuberant and over-enthusiastic bull you could imagine.

They took one look and scurried off to the porch, where nestle two fake-foam cricket bats.

And then they took it upon themselves to spank Phil as he shimmied around the makeshift dance floor. Not with any impact, you understand: fake foam is not an unforgiving task master. But just enough to provide the kind of slapstick comedy the under-tens adore.

Somewhere in the middle of this mayhem, Felix pulled a kung-fu muscle in his neck.

He looked very sorry indeed for his indulgence in martial arts, lying there on the sofa. And for the past three days, he has been walking around with that peculiar no-neck motion and timorous air one usually associates with Beaker from the Muppet Show.

I’m not sure what his views are on martial arts are right now: but I am fairly sure he will not be doing any King-Fu fighting any time soon.


Picture source here


44 thoughts on “Kung Fu Fighting

  1. haha – hilarious 🙂 You are such an entertaining story teller. Your hubby reminds me of mine (except mine loves heavy metal music and he does air guitar and rock moves with the kids.

  2. wonderful start to my day thanks – as a long retired real English nanny! I was with youall the way and what a gift of the gav – if you could bottle it many a mum would buy – you’d be rich overnight:)

    can just picture the mayhem – and foam cricket bats!

  3. So very funny, what a great image you have placed before us. Poor wiggle-waggle Phil being bombasted by the young ens and poor little Felix hurting himself whilst in the throes of such fun.

    You are a fun story weaver and always gets my day off to a great start.

  4. What a great and entertaining story. I have pulled a muscle in my neck and it’s really painful and seems to take a long time to get better. I hope he’s made a full recovery by now xx

  5. School children in these parts learn Tai Chi and participate in yoga as stress reducing methods as part of their physical education. It’s very common, and I’m sure has its critics. Kung Fu and Karate, quite a different discipline and injuries are probably common! I can picture Felix and his dad romping about and it must have been very disappointing to realize the mind couldn’t overcome the limits of the body–of course, better to learn that young…I’m still realizing that 🙂 Poor Felix… Debra

  6. Felix may not have been amused after he pulled his neck muscle but I sure am (since it’s long after the fact and I know he’s okay) – you are a storyteller of the first order, Kate.

  7. I have spent the better part of this morning reading many of your posts. thank you for a GREAT WAY TO START THE DAY

    1. What a lovely comment! Thanks! Lovely to hear some of the old posts are getting an airing. I always feel a bit wistful when so many just disappear into a dusty cyberarchive…

    1. Whoops! Now its put, it’ll never go back in the lamp, Cameron.

      Just an aside to say how much I loved today’s post. Adore Quaker meeting houses, the perfect backdrop for a bit of drama. It was so effective.

      1. I’m so glad you liked it. The location is actually based on a real Quaker burial ground near where I grew up, one that’s developed quite an unFriendly reputation for hauntings and the like. Too much fun to leave out of a story line!

  8. I guess some Kung Fu master would say something like Patience, young grasshopper, its a privilege to pull your first muscle.

  9. Hilarious!
    I would have taken the opportunity to point out that the fates were warning how unacceptable it is to whack at papa, even in fun and with harmless weapons.

  10. “Kung Fu Fighting at the Shrewsdays is far more entertaining than going to church . . . I’m sure. 😀

    You and Ruth both used “timorous” in your posts today ~ a great contrast to Kung Fu.

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