“What on earth are you doing young man?” blurts the utterly bemused dog walker, as I was about to complete a 200ft trip of backward dragging. Knowing that she’d struggle profusely in trying to piece together what was going on, I politely stated that I was just doing some ‘fitness exercises’. “Oh!” She replied, “I thought you were doing something with the grass!” “Of course I’m doing something with it. I’m preparing a runway for Lucifer’s Stork!” After digesting my reply, she and her dog (well, just the dog) carried on laying organic mines along the hedgerow. As the poor pooch was halfway through giving birth to yet another pick axe handle, she turned to me once more and said,“Why don’t you just go to a gym? There’s a really good one in town called ‘Starfish Fitness’. They’ve the very latest toning machines that only require a press of a button to leave you looking and feeling great! There’s a full range of Italian fashion wear, and even an advanced ‘thighs, bums, and tums’ session every Thursday night with Sebastian! He’s very popular with the housewives, fully qualified, and the leading innovator of ‘Procto & Go!’ He’s also the author of ‘Glutes: A whole new perspective!’ They’ll be no need for you to use that filthy contraption any more! And may I add young man, that what you’re doing looks very dangerous. Not only will you strain yourself, but you might end up running over a poor little dog, just like my Tinkabelle!” Her comments however did get me thinking, letting my mind drift from GPP for a short while as I figured out how to fix ‘woofy chews’ to the front of the sled. “Ah, never mind. Two more trips and I’ll do some rear raises.

And then there are the kids from the ‘in-bred’ village. You know the ones; they all look like one another, have tall foreheads, and frighten the Gypsies. Once they spot you, you might as well pack up and go home! They swarm around you like ‘take the piss’ hyenas. “Oi, Mister, what you doing? What’s that? Can we have a go? Can we sit on it!” That last request confirmed to me that I maybe in more trouble than I figured. Nevertheless, my interest in military history gave me a great idea for fending these bastards off!

We all know that the sled has a vertical metal bar for ‘plates only’. Well, my idea is that you get the gun turret of a large-scale model Tiger tank that fires .22 wooden matchstick ammunition. Place this on top of the bar; making sure that it rotates freely about its axis. In the turret will stand the commander ‘Hauptsturmfuhrer Jurgen Steiner’, a 1 foot tall, battle-hardened veteran of the Eastern front. That’s what it say’s on the package anyway! He keeps the kids occupied while you drag your way to GPPshire. One point that I insist on making here is that you must have complete trust in each other, and reward Jurgen well for his duty. The last thing that you need is to be shot in the butt by a disgruntled bodyguard while in the last few yards of bent over dragging!

Another point worth mentioning is to make sure your straps and rope are in good condition before piling on the plates. While ankle dragging and this is from past experience, the two ropes do rub against each other very intensely, start smoking, catch fire, and eventually snapping. This always happens unexpectedly, so that your unplanned last two steps become Jackie Chan’s ‘bull whip kung fu’, with the flailing ropes on your skyward ankles catching you right on your already stressed glutes! The hardest thing about this occurrence is explaining to the wife/girlfriend that you have actually been sled dragging and not to Auntie Margaret’s S&M palace for the ‘cabin boy special!’

This brings me back to ‘Tinkabelle’ again. Not all dogs crap on the side of the field, or in the hedge. The majority, have an in-built sense of ‘turd anarchy’. You know exactly what I mean. You’ve heard the expression ‘give an inch’. Well, give a dog a field, and it’ll curl out a big steamer right in the middle of it. Even if you’re lucky enough not to step on a recently released ‘gleamer’, the weighted sled is going to go right over the top of it, transforming Tinky’s original production model into a 14 inch, thin base ‘poozza’, stuck firmly to the underside of Jurgen’s Panzer! And Sod’s law usually always indicates a discovery that you’ve ‘smoothed one’, only when you have already placed the sled in the car.

Not all incidents with the sled however, involve poo. How many of you have been in mid-trip of heavy forward dragging, and heard somebody shout the comforting words “Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite!” while spotting a slavering Rottweiler running towards you at missile speed, with a strong ‘meat & two veg’ echo on his radar! It’s times like these you discover that emergency removal of belt and rope from your waist can take longer than anticipated. And by the way, Jurgen’s frantically signaling to you that he’s out of ammo! “Why me?” you ask yourself. Well think of it this way. What could be more appealing to a ‘ground-hugging cruise doggy’ than 100kg of steak dinner tied to an anchor!

At this time of year, the short winter days become long winter nights, and soon you’ll find yourself having to get your restoration done in the dark. “But you won’t be able to see the turds!” you say. Not to worry, with luck they’ll be frozen solid, so if you hit one full frontal, it’ll disintegrate on impact, or be cast off to the side like Casey Jones’ train hitting stray cattle! But even with defused turds out of the way; the dark can bring other, more sinister attention.

“Good evening, here’s the news. There are reports coming in that a dark ghostly figure resembling Nosferatu’s coachman has been seen dragging his woes on a local village soccer field. One dog walker reported that ‘Fluffy’ started to whimper and would go no further down the lane.” “Miss Teasdale, a nosey old bitch that lives nearby, told reporters that she noticed a hunched shadow that appeared to be ‘pained with burden’, and later added that it seemed to be ‘near the end’”.
“Other witnesses have described a mysterious figure repeatedly raising its arms up and down, making disturbing muffled sighs.”
“A couple in their teens who have used a secluded corner of the field for experimental physiology, have also reported the sighting. ‘Marcia’ said that it was the first time ever that ‘Duncan’ couldn’t probe the nights subject. She put this down to a ‘heavy presence filling the darkness’, which had put Duncan off from doing likewise.”

If you ever get asked the question “What are you doing?” by the local ‘care in the community’ idiot, or anybody else for that matter, here’s a few suggestions of pertinent reply:

· I’d have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!
· I’m a serial worm killer!
· I’m test-driving the new transport vehicle for nuclear sex toys!
· I’m a ballast courier for a major transatlantic shipping tycoon!
· I’m a stuntman for Lassie’s jealous boyfriend!
· I’m the poozza deliveryman! Who ordered the one with extra undigestibles?
· Ask Jurgen!
· It started as a pimple on my ass!
· Trying the economy package from Auntie M!
· I’m the crash test dummy for ‘Dog-O-Meat’ Inc!