Walk This Way

In which our reluctant hero discovers that these boots are made for walking.

The week in which Auntie Beeb reported that exercise levels decline ‘long before adolescence’ (by age seven, apparently) has coincided with the launch of this year’s “Beat the Street” initiative in Wolverhampton.

According to the ever reliable Internet, Beat the Street is;

A fun, free game for the communities of Wolverhampton to see how far you can walk, cycle and run around your area and into space!

The game involves wandering around Wolverhampton and its surrounding areas (what could be more fun?) and tapping your game card on “Beat Boxes” attached to the occasional lamppost. Each tap logs the distance travelled between your taps and scores points. And what do points make? Prizes! Presumably the top prize being a trip to space, if the blurb is any indicator.

Society appears to be getting less active and, in a way, I’m surprised that the decline doesn’t really kick in until age seven.

Being active was much easier when I was a child in the seventies and eighties. Cars hadn’t been invented then and the Internet was only available in black and white, so it made sense to go out whenever possible. In the 21st Century, the age of hoverboards and Internet parties, somebody (else) will have to be blamed for this “lazy bones” epidemic. But who?

Suspect 1
The Schools – Apparently, there’s too much sitting about in schools. Although undoubtedly true, hasn’t this always been the case? I suppose the difference is that the cool kids now spend their breaks chatting on My Space and MSN rather than climbing trees and scrumping apples, like in my day. And does anybody remember that thing we used to have in the olden days called P.E.?

Suspect 2
The Government – Those fat cats and their stupid SATS. The kids are sat too long sitting flipping SATS. Is this why they is getting FAT?

(#couldhavebeenarapper #probably)

Suspect 3
The Parents – That’s right. Blame us again why don’t you? By the time we’ve finished eating our Pop Tarts, watching GMTVam and driving our little people the hundred yards to school, there just isn’t time for exercise thank you very muchy. So there.

Suspect 4
YouTube Kids – The absolute scourge of modern society. In the absence of any hard evidence to the contrary, I’m going with this. Down with this sort of thing.

We’re responsible-ish grownups. Sort of. So in an attempt to tackle the “war on obesity” (mostly mine to be honest – the kids are alright) my wife tried to obtain cards (beaters?) from our daughter’s nursery school, whereupon we encountered problem one. There weren’t enough.

Perhaps the school weren’t expecting nursery children to sign up, but to fall without getting to the stadium with the hurdles in, let alone attempting to leap over the things was disappointing. It eventually got sorted and we were back on track, so to speak.

On Wednesday morning, I was out at early o’clock to steal a march on my rivals (family) whereupon I hit problem two. The first Beat Box that I came to, at Tettenhall Pool, was broken. Undeterred, I carried on walking. To the bus stop no less, where I jumped on the bus.

After a glance at the online map and rules, I realised that catching the bus between boxes probably counts as cheating. It’s just as well that the box didn’t work then. One nil to me.

I arrived in town and jumped off the bus in Darlington Street, managing three taps in twenty-odd minutes before catching a train to work. I had amassed a paltry twenty points, although I managed a mile of walking in the early morning sunshine that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. And very nice it was too.

Meanwhile in Tettenhall, the rest of the family were up and out, and also failing to get their cards to work at Tettenhall Pool. They opted for a selfie and a ranty tweet to the council instead. All was well with the world once more.

On the mile and a bit walk to nursery, all three boxes failed to work. This seemed like a mean trick to play on a four and two year old, especially on day one. Good work in keeping the younger generation motivated, council.

Having dropped the little people off, my wife started to hunt down working boxes. A meandering route home via Tettenhall Wood ensued before collecting the kids.

The grand total of their combined efforts came in at;

  • Five miles walked
  • Seven boxes tapped
  • Three boxes registered taps
  • Twenty points amassed including none for the kids
  • One selfie
  • Two ranty tweets to the council

My walk home wasn’t much better. I soon realised that, once outside the inner sanctum of the ring road, Beat Boxes are more difficult to find than golden tickets in a chocolate bar, which I could have murdered after all the walking. “Eat the Street” more like.

Coincidentally, due to the lack of a box at the railway and bus stations, there are also only three potential taps on my three mile walk home. With the end one broken, my journey is worth twenty points and half a mile of registered activity. Bah. I decide to go off piste.

After half an hour, I finally find another beat box outside West Park School. I appreciate that it’s sensible to place boxes at schools as, if working, the children can tap away before lessons. This does, however, present an unforeseen issue of increasing the amount of sweaty, overweight, middle-aged men hanging around outside school gates, as I discovered while catching my breath on Wednesday evening. What would The Daily Mail think?

Having finally registered a tap, I headed as directly home as I could manage. With the endpoint not working, I decide to look for, and failed to find, the next nearest box which was supposed to be at the Old Bridge. Plumping for the one at Marks and Sparks (St Michael’s) instead, I gave up and headed for a well earned sit down.

Before bed, I checked my progress which revealed a rather disappointing;

  • Three miles walked
  • Sixty points scored

However, my fitness tracker had logged a whopping 19,108 steps (or 9.26 miles in old money) most of which were presumably spent trying to find a box, working or otherwise. I checked the Facebooks and lots of people were moaning about this too. Which I guess makes a nice change from them moaning about their usual stuff.

While the points and progress were somewhat disappointing, the overall gain was an extra four miles walking to any normal day, which is actually the point. The kids enjoyed it too as finding and tapping the boxes, even if they weren’t working, added a bit of excitement to their usual walk.

On Wednesday, I marked Beat the Street a B+ for the idea and D- (see me) for execution.

But all was not lost. By Friday, local keyboard warriors were reporting that some of the broken boxes were working again. Hurrah! Asides from the one at Tettenhall Pool. Boo! So, on we marched.

Comparing the positives and negatives, the positive is that the whole family is getting more exercise, which has to be a good thing. The negative is that with less time spent on trains and buses, there’s less time to blog. (Maybe that’s a positive?)

So if, in six weeks time, there’s no new post here, feel free to send a search party. Somewhere near a beat box would be a good place to start looking.


If all this hasn’t put you off, and your feet are getting itchy, NCT Wolverhampton have entered into the charities category of Beat the Street and are in with a chance of winning £250!

You can pick up your card from any civic office, library or at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. There will also be a limited number available at the Nearly New Sale on Saturday 18th March.

To register your card go to: https://beatthestreet.me/Wolves and select “NCT Wolverhampton.”

Every time you tap your card, you’ll be earning points for NCT. Which has to be a good thing, yes?


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