What Andy Warhol did not teach me at all.

Andy Warhol was kinda a big deal when I was growing up. The Velvet Underground and Nico and that whole Factory thing was still a cornerstone of cultural identity. Debbie Harry in her Andy Warhol’s Bad t-shirt graced every teenage boy’s bedroom wall (actually she was on the back of my bedroom door)

when the Warhol diaries came out in 1989, so Google tells me, but it was earlier than that in my memory, it was also a big deal. I seem to recall the Sunday Times serialising it and everyone dissecting them for insights into his life, art and thoughts. In truth they are, for the large part, fairly mundane, but there was one bit that really stood out for me at the time.

In his later life, Warhol started going to the gym, I think on the advice of his doctor. Although initially sceptical he quite quickly found he enjoyed it and became a regular gym rat, and a keen weightlifter.  The concept of Andy Warhol pumping iron is still one I find difficult to visualise, to be honest, but it is nonetheless true. In the diaries he talks about how much he enjoys keeping in shape but that his great regret is that he had only discovered this at the age of fifty, and if only he had realised this earlier, he could have had the body he wanted all his life, but had never dreamed possible.

now I distinctly remember that really resonating with me at the time. I clearly recall thinking that if I took heed of that I could have whatever physique I wanted. Imagine what a waste it would be to get to 50 without having realised that.

So, of course, I promptly did absolutely nothing about it. I religiously went nowhere near a gym every day for the next 25 years and maintained a physique that progressed from skinny wastrel to fat hobbit without ever passing anywhere near buff, ripped or muscular.

until, finally, just shy of 50, I started working out seriously and was astounded to find my body changing as I stuck with it. My shoulders started becoming broader, my chest beginning to fill out and my arms growing bigger.  I could have the physique I wanted, and if only I had realised this earlier, I could…. wait… what….? Wasn’t that what Uncle Andy told me all those years ago?

Damn it.


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