Belfast Telegraph

Why Rooster from True Grit didn't worry about the gym

By Nuala McKeever

I watched True Grit last week. That's True Grit, the remake, with Jeff Bridges as the hard drinkin', big hearted but tough bounty hunter, Rooster Cogburn.

I had only seen the original film with John Wayne in the role, a couple of weeks before that. Much as I never really liked John Wayne and much as I love the work of Jeff Bridges, I ended up preferring the original movie.

Anyway, so what, that's not really the point here. The point is that I now keep asking myself, in moments of indecision: "What would Rooster Cogburn do?"

There was a time when I'd ask myself, in moments of moral dilemma: "What would Jesus Christ do?" Not to sound too pious, but I still think there's usually a clear way to approach things, we just don't want to take the consequences sometimes, preferring to indulge in justification and 'whataboutery' instead.

I mean, would Jesus Christ, faced with the customer-before-him having left their change in the self-service checkout and walked away without realising, say to himself "Ach sure, that's their look out. I don't know who it belongs to. If I hand it in, it'll probably just go to boost the already huge profits of this supermarket, therefore my taking it would actually be a victory for the little guy?"

Yes, that did happen to me and I did hand it in. And yes it quite possibly has gone to boost the store's profits by £5.18, but, hey, I can sleep easy in my bed at night.

Or rather, I can't.

That's the problem.

See now I've got things to lie awake and worry about that the likes of Jesus Christ and Rooster Cogburn never had to concern themselves with.

The latest is exercise and weight loss.

As I joined a new gym last week I laughed to myself imagining Rooster suckin' on a bottle of blue coloured energy drink and announcing to his riding companions that he'd managed to lose four pounds the week before and half-an-inch off his waist, while showing them his before and after photos, laminated and attached to his 'World's Best Bounty Hunter' heart-shaped key fob.

And as I woke up the other morning to discover my mobile phone battery had died overnight despite being fully charged the evening before, I realised that the reason people in Rooster's day didn't need to join gyms was because in order to communicate with others, they actually had to move physically either to talk, ride, write and post or run after the person in question.

And if they had a few extra pounds on, nobody cared anyway, cos they weren't gonna have to show it off in skimpy outfits the minute the sun came out.

They had occasional baths, no phones and shorter life expectancy. We have daily showers, the pressure of always being contactable and longer life expectancy.

But, because we live longer, we now have to work longer and pay more and get back less to live on.

Our beds are more comfortable and we don't have to worry about snakes, but still we lie awake at night anyway 'cos the serpent of progress keeps biting us on the ass.

Oh for the days when all y'had to worry about was ridin' out for weeks on end, sleepin' rough, not washin', eatin' beans, trackin' down a known criminal and possibly losing your life in the process.

Simple.

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