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Article by Phil Brown

Phil Brown - Journalist - Author Profile | Email | Website
Phil Brown - Journalist - Author As a journalist I am a senior writer with News Queensland. As an author I write about myself and, if that sounds self-indulgent, you don't know the half of it. Mind you if you read either of my memoirs - Travels with My Angst or Any Guru Will Do, all will be revealed.
Available as Speaker - humorist focusing on problems associated with existential angst and life's journey.
Australia 2000
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When the physiotherapist suggested I try not to sit down for a while I was initially dumbfounded.

“But that’s what I do,” I protested. “I’m a writer. I sit down all day and write.” This has not been easy since I injured my back a few weeks ago.

I was surfing at the time and had just successfully navigated a triumphant re-entry in the shore break at Main Beach. I then jumped off my board into the shallows and felt that sickening twinge that I have experienced around once a year for the past decade.

I hobbled up the beach like Quasimodo. My wife, who had been watching, was wearing that expression which, roughly translated, means: “You bloody idiot!’

Since then I have attended my local physiotherapists rooms twice and on both occasions have been treated to the sort of torture I imagine the Gestapo used to dish out.  I have also been given a limited exercise regime and received that advice about not sitting down. This, I guess, means I should stand up.

But how would that affect my writing? Well, adversely, according to French author Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) who, in a letter to his protégé Guy de Maupassant (I love his short stories), wrote: “One cannot think and write except when seated.”

Flaubert was a sedentary sort and the German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche abhorred this attitude and when he heard of Flaubert’s advice to de Maupassant he apparently snapped: “The sedentary life is the very sin against the Holy Spirit. Only thoughts reached by walking have value.”

My physiotherapist would probably agree. And I do recall reading of various writers who have written standing up, notably my teenage literary idol Ernest Hemingway who worked in a vertical position

due to a minor leg injury he received in World War One. Apparently Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Winston Churchill also favoured this methodology. It’s a habit that is gaining currency again in this sedentary age when bad backs are endemic.

There’s actually something of a movement developing around the idea and you’ll find lots on the internet about the health benefits of standing at work and home. My wife was in Cairns on business recently and on a visit to the ABC Radio Far North’s studios discovered that their morning presenter, Fiona Sewell, does her show standing up, sometimes even dancing while presenting! This has, according to station manager Debbie Kalik, enlivened the program no end.

I wish I’d known about the virtues of standing in my youth when I had a Christmas holiday job labouring on the Hinze Dam in the Gold Coast Hinterland. There we were slaving away like extras in a scene from Spartacus. Sometimes we just couldn’t take it any more so we’d just stand around, resting on our shovels. That’s when the foreman would come over and shout at us. “What are you blokes doing just standing there?!” I could have mentioned Hemingway, quoted Nietzsche or spouted a line from Milton - “They also serve who only stand and wait” - but I have a funny feeling that would have been lost on him.

26 May 2013

Article/Information supplied by Phil Brown

Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.