So I got the news about Ian Thorpe coming out with zero interest.
Really? Does it really matter (apart of course from the fact he had to keep it quiet, now that certainly does matter)?
But some of the footage made me extremely whistful for the pool. Because I don't go swimming that much any more.
I just don't have the time. Because of these two beautiful monsters.
Which means my once a week thrash on a Sunday morning, while the kids have their lessons is that much more precious.
And after watching Thorpe's freestyle stroke, in the recent 'revelation', and realising my arm was coming in the water too low, the last time felt sublime. Even once a week, the simple joy of doing something well, for no reason apart from that, is so precious.
But that's not the end of it. Roughly 33 years of addiction to pain, suffering and the sheer endorphin rush of doing sport to the point where your muscles are running with molten lava and your heart might burst demands to fed.
It's not a recommendation, it's quite the opposite, but by the time you get to forty you realise what is a part of you, like it or not and what is not.
And this obsession is as much part of who I am as Star Wars, tea or and constant fear of not being good enough at my job, or the ever deepening joy of my children.
Enter cycling stage right.
What began as an experiment in grasping at something I liked doing as a teenager, has become an obsession.
To the point where I ride around 20 miles a day as a minumum.
To the point where I can see a justification for my bike costing more than my car.
Much of this is simply the joy finding out I'm sort of okay at it.
A lot is to do with doing something completely knew.
Mostly it's about convenience. Excruciating fitness stuff built into the commute or a Saturday 2 hour blast before family breakfast time.
But it's more than that. It being allowed into a new world.
So much history, legends, myths.
So much of brand stuff is about pretending. You wear an Omega watch and pretend to be Bond. You wear handmade selvedge jeans to feel a bit artisan and bohemian. You buy Chanel to get as scrap of what it must feel like to be Linda Evangalista.
When I get on the bike, it doesn't matter if I'm only doing 40 miles in Yorkshire. I'm in a black and white grainy shot somewhere in the Alps. .
It's no accident that road biking has eclipsed mountain biking by the way.
The archetype of the 'the man of action' in response to the 'other directed man' is one of the constants of marketing to men (and let's get with the 21st century, to women, it should be the 'other directed person') and meant towards the end of the last decade the non-conformist bourgous bohemian to acres of middle class folks. On the mountain bike in slouchy gear.
But with austerity etc, I'm convinced road biking with it's graft and sufferng is to do with the reaction against complacency and relative coolness of discpline and hard work.
And road biking has a timeless 'nobility'.
Me? Swimming gave me a hateful work ethic. I like it hurting and those feel like the clothes road biking gives me out of the pool.
It's hilarious discovering some of the 'rules' and distasteful elitism that come with the territory. But the generosity of most people on the road to help with a spare inner tube or a breakdown, the sense that 'we might be different but we're the same' is ace.
And how you get up a hill is a bloody great leveller.
So swimming will always be a part of me, but now so is cycling.
What does this mean for brands? Not much you'll be pleased to know.
But I do think it's worth thinking about the 'other directed man' in his current incarnation. And what needs are driving big shifts in culture like cycling. Marlboro has a solitary cowboy on his horse. Now he's wearing a helmet a lycra, on a carbon steed.
I also think it's shows how you shouldn't take any buyer for granted. Few love swimming more than me, but things change in customers lives. Culture moves forward too. You need to plan for it.
One of the great joys if riding is that a shy awkward man like me has something to talk about with so many strangers. Men's relationship is side by side, they need an activity to talk about or do. Worth thinking about.
I love that I could chat to so many strangers at the Tour De France. And that our socially stunted Country (or at least Yorkshire) could be happy together for one weekend withour a drop of irony or cynicism. The British are always looking for social ice breakers, especially the blokes.
So I guess cycling and swimming tell you something about me, but also where British culture is at and certainly what glues men together.