Thursday, November 19, 2009

The 99 Steps

My projected date for moving out is now less than a week away, and I am suddenly starting to get a bit sentimental about the old place.  I am getting a bit teary each time I ascend or descend the 99-step staircase.  (I am going to miss this: it is, as I have commented before, an uncommonly nice stairwell.)
I wonder how many times I must have done this now.  Over nearly five-and-a-half years, it must be many thousands.  (Heck - when I was in serious training for the Great Wall Marathon three years ago, for a couple of months I was running up and down these stairs 20 or 30 times each day!)  I wonder how many more times I'll do it.  Only a dozen or so, I suppose.
I am reminded of the 33,333 Steps joke - the mother of all shaggy dog stories.  A guesthouse is improbably built at the top of a mountain, accessed by this huge flight of stairs with 33,333 steps.  The kitchen, however, is at the bottom of these steps, and there is no means of communication with the guests above.  So, the poor flunky responsible for room service has to rush up and down the 33,333 steps countless times each day.  It's more of a tongue-twister than a joke, really.  You spin it out for 10 minutes or so, with dozens of repetitions of the enormous number of steps - and the corny payoff is that you discover the poor chap has just done a spot poll as to whether cornflakes or rice crispies are the more popular breakfast food.  Very, very silly.  But it becomes a huge vogue for a while, around the end of Primary School.

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