Tai Chi

3

MY FIRST TAI CHI LESSON

What do I expect? The movements look so peaceful – peace and a still waters heart.

No one here and there’s a chilly wind blowing. I try the door, press the intercom. Nothing. I manage to read a poster in the vestibule and discover I am half an hour early. Tai Chi doesn’t start until 10.30. I was already early by twenty minutes. Time enough to stop by the shore and walk down to water, listen to the waves and enjoy the sun.

Hope I manage to hold onto the two names in my head; Peter (on the phone) told me to ask for Bob (in the flesh).
Pacing in front of the hall a helpful passer by looks at his watch and tells me the bar doesn’t open for another half hour. The posters requesting ‘Leave in an orderly manner’, and ‘Please leave quietly’, now make alcoholic sense.

I listen to radio four in my car. A Supreme has written a book. ‘Motivational’, catches my ear. Someone parks beside me. Going to Tai Chi too? Another car and twenty minutes to go. I’ll wait. Don’t want to linger like an odd thumb.
’ll go in now.
The door is open, there is a bar and the barman is mopping the floor. He directs me to a wooden screen at the end of the bar, a panel is open.
‘Water there, help yourself,’ he says.
‘Perfect,’ I think.1

The room beyond has a dark stage at the far end with a DJ’s stand, flattened tinsels on the floor. Around the edge are tables and chairs on pattered carpet. The centre is wood block.
I drink lovely ice-cold water.
A man enters wearing a track suit.
‘Bob?’
‘No, my first time here.’
‘Me too.’
He has round, staring eyes and doesn’t quite know the person to person boundaries. I think perhaps he might be an ex alcoholic or drug addict though his teeth look good. He runs, he says, every day and has just run maybe seven miles or more.
‘I don’t need water,’ he says when I show him the drinks table.

The group is made up of three elderly folk from another class which didn’t have enough people attending, four already there, me and the runner.4

Bob, is Tod. Tai Chi has been healing for him. Peter taught him and Peter was taught by a Master.

I loved it, I didn’t manage to flow like water or fly like a bird and felt absolutely exhausted afterwards.

The class began with warm ups and I felt comfortable with the sound of people breathing. The man behind me sounded as if he was an expert. Then, the tutor remembered the music. Jokes followed, which I didn’t quite get, perhaps they have a ‘class history’. Music started quietly. Shame. I liked the breathing.

I can’t remember any moves, in fact they flowed through me out into space, but I have found Tai Chi for beginners on u tube; an 8 minute mirror-image lesson for complete novices like me. I shall do it every morning and perhaps my next lesson won’t be quite such a shock to the system.2