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2nd September 2009
Bullworker Blues
by Mike Scott

I used to have a Bullworker, one of those chest-expander style keep-fit things that you press inwards, and I'd huff and puff with it for ten minutes every morning. It built up my arm muscles, and hardened up my chest, and I was disciplined enough about doing it that when i went off to do a few weeks' recording, during the making of This Is The Sea in early 1985, I took the Bullworker with me.

The studio was fifty miles southeast of London, near the town of Hastings, and when my co-producer were shown around, to my surprise I noticed a Bullworker leaning against the wall, just outside the studio control room.

"Whose is that?" I asked the assistant who was showing us around.

"Oh, that belongs to Level 42's bass player," came the reply. "They were in last week and he must have forgotten to take it with him."

Level 42's bass player was a huge musclebound geezer called Mark King who wore sweatshirts manfully marked "LONSDALE" and who's vast stature made me look like like a pin. I was amused to see that, despite the difference in our physiques, we used the same exercise gizmo.

Three weeks passed, during which much of the This Is The Sea album was recorded, which is another story, and when the day came to leave the studio I packed up my gear and stashed it in our van.

I was dropped off at my flat near Ladbroke Grove, in London's Notting Hill district, and went for a long walk. Spring had arrived in my absence and the leaves were blossoming on the trees that lined the West London streets. There was magic in the air. I see from my notes of the time that I stayed up that night listening to Steve Reich albums and writing lyrics.

Next morning I woke late and after a shower went to my Bullworker. I confess I'd let my daily exercise slide while I'd been in the studio. With the late nights of recording I'd forgotten all about exercising in the mornings. Returning to my discipline now, three weeks later, I expected to find the exercise tougher than usual; surely I'd have lost some musclepower during the layoff. But nothing could have prepared me for how difficult I found it to use the Bullworker! It was incredibly tough and hard to work. And bloody hell, it made my arms and chest ache something rotten. My God, I thought to myself, I've got really, really weak while I've been in the studio!

I'd been in the habit of marking on the Bullworker with a felt pen, to keep a record of how far I could move it. And I looked at it now to see how far short of my usual mark I'd got. But my felt-tip marks were gone! I looked again. No, they were gone all right.

And then it hit me. I'd brought Level 42's Bullworker home instead of mine!